Welcome!! My name is Paul Lappen. I am in my early 50s, single, and live in Connecticut USA. This blog will consist of book reviews, written by me, on a wide variety of subjects. I specialize, as much as possible, in small press and self-published books, to give them whatever tiny bit of publicity help that I can. Other than that, I am willing to review nearly any genre, except poetry, romance, elementary-school children's books and (really bloody) horror.

I have another 800 reviews at my archive blog: http://www.deadtreesreviewarchive.blogspot.com (please visit).

I post my reviews to:

2 yahoo groups
Amazon and B&N (of course)
and on Twitter

I am always looking for more places to post my reviews.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Government Opportunities for Small Business

Government Opportunities for Small Business, Harriet Grayson, Ocean Breeze Press, 2011

The federal government has a seemingly unlimited number of grant opportunities. This book attempts to simplify the grant-writing process.

The first step is to find the grants that are being offered. There are a number of places to look, including the Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance. Apply for grants only in areas where your non-profit is qualified (if you are an arts organization, why are you applying for an agriculture grant?). Get a copy of the instructions from the grantor, usually called something like Request for Proposal, or RFP. Read it thoroughly, then read it again. The grantor may get very picky about what should, or should not, appear in your application. You don't want an otherwise first-rate application to be rejected because you couldn't follow directions.

How do you get a government agency to notice your little-old non-profit? Have you handled similar projects in the past? Is your non-profit, or your staff, distinctive in some way? As you put together your application, follow exactly the directions in the RFP. Give the grantor some sort of idea about your anticipated budget, and the financial records you will keep about the project. When the application is done to the best of your ability, send it to the grantor.

The RFP should indicate the waiting time for an answer from the grantor. If the answer is Yes, the celebrate and rejoice (and start work on your next application). If your application is rejected, it is not the end of the world. The grantor will usually tell you why it was rejected. That way, you will be much more prepared for next time.

This is a short, and very interesting, book about a potential source of revenue for groups and individuals. It is very easy to read and understand, and is very much worth the reader's time.

Murder is a Lousy Way to Die

Murder is a Lousy Way to Die, Robert L. Hecker, World Audience, Inc., 2012

This novel is about Benjamin Roan, a government security consultant who someone wants to kill - again.

The book opens with Ben regaining consciousness in the middle of the Nevada Atomic Test Site. Next to him is a woman also just regaining consciousness. A simulated atomic bomb will be tested in just a couple of minutes. If they don't get under cover, now, the bomb will not only kill them, but incinerate them, and then turn them into dust.

After barely surviving the bomb blast, Ben learns that his companion is Taja Singh, owner of the Mojave Research Center, a private lab with Top Secret government contracts. She is also beyond gorgeous. The two have nothing in common, so who was the target, and who was in the wrong place at the wrong time?

If anything illegal was going on the Center, Taja was confident that Roger Stillwell, the Center's day-to-day manager, would know something about it. But he is killed by an unknown assailant right in front of them. As an added wrinkle, Jim Carr, a friend of Ben's, is worried about his sister, Paula, an employee of the Center's marketing department. She hasn't been seen for several days, so he asks Ben if he can ask Taja to look into it. Could the big conspiracy be something "normal" like industrial espionage, or could it be something much more sinister? The end of the book finds Ben and Taja in a small private plane, several thousand feet in the air, with the culprit pointing an Uzi machine pistol at them.

This is a first-rate piece of writing. The author is a veteran writer, and it shows. It is well done from start to finish, and it has plenty of action, along with a bit of romance. The reader will not go wrong with this one.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Mesmer's Disciple

Mesmer's Disciple, Edward Swanson, River Run Select, 2012

This historical novel is about a man forced to confront evil beings directly from Hell.

Alvord Rawn is a police captain in 1840's New York City. He is not afraid to fight violence with violence, until the day that he goes too far. Now an ex-police captain, he is traveling to St. Louis, the gateway to the frontier, on a private matter. Charles Deas is an up-and-coming artist, whose letters home to his mother, a member of New York's high society, have become increasingly dark and bizarre. She asks Rawn to find her son, and bring him back home.

Deas has fallen under the influence of Count Abendroth, a practitioner of mesmerism. It's an early form of hypnosis, but, in Abendroth's hands, it is a lot more than just hypnosis. In looking around Abendroth's estate, Rawn sees a woman literally climbing the walls. He also hears hideous sounds, not of this earth, coming out of people's mouths. Abendroth's plan is to train disciples in mesmerism, and use them to control the state of Missouri, then control the neighboring states and territories, and then, who knows?

Rawn gets his own taste of mesmerism (which has led to a population explosion in the psycho ward of the local jail). He is exposed to black, unspeakable beings who are just waiting for a chance to suck an innocent soul to Hell. Rawn fights his way out of it, but, to get to Abendroth, he has to get past Otto Volkmar, A Prussian giant and Abendroth's chief enforcer. Who wins the epic, no holds barred battle? What happens to Deas and Abendroth?

This is an excellent novel. It feels historically accurate (Charles Deas was a real person who lived in St. Louis, and later went insane in New York City), and is very easy to read from start to finish. It also has plenty of action. This is highly recommended.

How to Get What You Want For Girls

How to Get What You Want For Girls, Zanna Anne Jezek, CreateSpace, 2010

This short book, written by a teen for teens, shows how to get more out of life by setting and achieving goals.

The goal could be something small, like earning enough money to buy a new mp3 player. The goal could be something bigger, like spending more time with your family, or improving your academic performance in your worst subject in school. It needs to be specific; vague goals like "I want to get healthy" or "I want to win the lottery" are not acceptable. It needs to have a time limit attached to it. It is totally OK to break a large goal into smaller, more manageable pieces. Write your goal on a piece of paper, and post it somewhere that you can see it every day. Putting it on paper is more permanent than leaving it in the back of your mind.

When you write your goal on paper, put it in terms of what you want, and not what you don't want. For instance, if your goal is to lose 20 pounds before the start of summer vacation, write "I want to lose 20 pounds before the start of summer vacation so that I can feel better about myself, and so that I can look hot at the beach." Don't write "I want to lose 20 pounds before the start of summer vacation because I don't want to be overweight anymore."

There will be days when you don't want to do anything toward your goal; you might have to dig deep to find the discipline and motivation to keep going. Consider doing just one goal-oriented thing per day. After a couple of weeks, you will be that much closer to your goal. When you reach it, be sure to celebrate, then start looking for your next goal.

This book is short, very easy to read, and goes step-by-step through the whole process of setting goals. My only criticism is that it needs a trip, or another trip, to a proofreader or copy-editor. Get past that, and this book is well worth reading, for teens and adults.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

The Navigator

The Navigator, Eoin McNamee, Wendy Lamb Books (Random House), 2006

This novel is about a young boy who finds himself in a very strange situation.

Owen's father committed suicide, and people around town whisper that Owen will follow in his father's footsteps. Mom has sunk into a fog of depression. In Owen's forest hideaway, there is a huge flash, and everything has changed. Geographically, Owen is in the same place, but everything, and everyone, that he knew is gone. A person called the Sub-Commandant tells Owen that a rag-tag group of humans called the Resisters are at war with ethereal beings called the Harsh. They have succeeded in causing time to run backwards. The intention of the Harsh is to go back to a time before humans, take over Earth, and turn it into a frozen wasteland.

Some of the Resisters think that Owen is a spy for the Harsh, or, at minimum, a collaborator. Before he died, Owen's father played a significant part in causing the war. The only way to end the war, and to get time going in the right direction, is to bring a special piece called the Mortmain, to the Puissance, or Great Machine, far to the north. Then Owen must go down into the earth a great distance, and place the Mortmain in the right spot. Naturally, the Harsh will be waiting. Does Owen succeed? Does Own even survive? Is everything restored to the way it was?

As you may have guessed, this is a young adult novel, and, as such, it is pretty good. There are good characters, and plenty of action. Older young people, and adults, will also like this book.


Uncategorized, Sue Lange, Book View Cafe, 2010

Here is a group of previously published stories on a variety of subjects.

There is a story about suicide, from the "inside." A small-town tinkerer builds a mobile anti-bullying device. Its artificial intelligence is able to learn the difference between teasing and real bullying. In a world where the weekend entertainment consists of watching bulls be slaughtered and cut into pieces, while still alive, what is the worst, most disgusting thing that a person can do with their spare time?

A woman runs the bar at a run-down, isolated hotel. Just before she calls a plumber for a water-pipe problem, an elderly woman walks up the road to the hotel, saying that she is a plumber. But, she is more than just a plumber. The workers on a mining planet are about to stage a wildcat strike. Having spent years on the planet, they figure they can easily get jobs on other planets. A female worker, who recently came to the planet from outside, and who supposedly has no management aptitude, quickly corrects the notion: there are no jobs out there.

Will there come a time when a company health plan includes quotas? For instance, Company X is required to have a certain number of pregnancies, or cases of cancer, per year. What if that quota is not reached? A female worker is able to spend a lot of time, unprotected, in the radioactive part of a nuclear reactor. It is because of a cell-transformation process that uses a special protein to cause her cells to secrete the biological equivalent of lead. A central ingredient in that protein is male sperm. Company policy says that she has to have sex a minimum of once a year, taking time off work, if necessary. If she doesn't do it, her cell walls break down and she dies.

The only thing these stories have in common is that they are all really good, and well written, and pretty thought-provoking, too. This is very much worth reading.