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.

Saturday, October 3, 2020

The Game of Life

 The Game of Life, Chad Vegas, 2020, self-published

This novel is fourth in a series about Chad and Max, two men involved in the California marijuana trade. Max bought a piece of land in Peru for some high-volume weed growing. There are squatters on the land, and Max has to deal with corrupt gold miners and the Peruvian justice system, which seems to move at the speed of continental drift. Max is ready for the challenge. That leaves Chad in charge of growing, harvesting and selling high-quality weed back in California to make money to send to Peru.

Large-scale marijuana growing is very labor-intensive. There is a fine line between a successful crop and total failure. After it is harvested, there is a short window of opportunity to trim the bad parts off of each plant, leaving only the good parts. Then comes the problem of selling it for a good price.

Everyone is getting into weed growing, causing the price per pound that Chad can get to plummet. There are only a certain number of dispensaries to sell to, forcing Chad to drive farther away to sell his crop. Chad begins to wonder if growing and selling weed is still worth it.

Is Max successful with his legal case, despite the Peruvian justice system? Does Chad get out of the drug business?

As with the previous books in this series, this is not a boring book. Some might have a problem with the insane amount of drugs that are consumed in this book. Get past that, and there is lots of good writing here that will certainly keep the reader's attention.

Friday, October 2, 2020

The Three Brothers

The Three Brothers: When George Washington and Edmund Barton Sat Down to Dinner, Stephen Marantelli, Waratah North Books, 2018 

Set in World War I London, this novel is about a rather strained dinner conversation between George Washington and Edmund Barton, who, from 1901 to 1903, was Australia's first Prime Minister.

The book is full of behind-the-scenes looks at the creation of each country's federal Constitution. In neither country, was it a case of tall, square-jawed individuals, united and agreed on the future. There was a lot of disagreement, frustration and false starts. There were times when a person might wonder how a Constitution ever came into existence, in both countries.

This book is not exactly an exciting, action-packed page turner (it has been likened to an arm wrestling match), but, for anyone interested in the building of America or Australia, this is very highly recommended. The amount of detail and research on the American Constitution, in particular, is incredible.

100% Choice: Becoming a Conscious Creator of Your Life

 100% Choice: Becoming a Conscious Creator of Your Life, Sharon Shahaf, Amazon.com Services, 2020

There seem to be a million self-help books available these days. You understand, intellectually, what needs to be changed. When it comes to actually doing it, nothing happens. You feel frustrated and ready to give up.

Among the chapters in this book are "Awaken from the Bad Dream" and "Changing from the Outside In." Instead of "God" or Fate or Them (whoever Them is) being against you, and making you miserable, consider the possibility that you are doing it to yourself. Your thoughts, and your emotions, are helping to create your reality (good or bad).

This book goes into lots of detail about exactly how to change your life story and one day wake up as a totally new person. This book feels different than all the other self-help books that are on the market. It is clearly written, and is recommended for  anyone in an emotional rut, or who wonders "Is this all there is to life?"

Shadow Talker

 Shadow Talker, Sergei Katz, Amazon.com Services LLC, 2020


Part 1 of a series, this book takes place on a world where a series of intellectual and athletic games determines a person's profession. James is happy to be assigned to the elite School of Detectives. Finding the School is east, but gaining admittance is much more difficult (you don't just knock on the front door). The sentient School makes it clear that James must solve his first case to stay at the school.

Paired with an enchanted panther and a woman with unique abilities of her own, James must find out who is stealing people's souls. They spread out in the city, looking for clues. A soul cannot survive outside a body indefinitely, so there is a big time constraint included. There is a lot of Sherlock Holmes-style deduction and observation going on. Can the trio find, and stop, the culprit before James gets added to the list of people missing their souls?

This is a really good start to a series, with lots of good writing. It works as an urban fantasy novel, and it works as a detective novel. This will appeal to a lot of people, and it is very much worth reading.

The Leprechaun Wars

 The Leprechaun Wars, Wes Snowden, Corvent Creative, 2020

Set in Ireland of the 1840's, this story is about Gwydion O'Dubney, son of a rival clan leader who is murdered at the hands of King Ortho. Gwydion's narrow escape cause Ortho to spare no expense to get him back (and kill anyone who he even suspects of knowing his whereabouts). Ortho's top enforcer, a hunchback name Extor the Cruel (the name is richly deserved) is hot on his heels.

Many people want Extor, and his son, Horluxx the Head, to die in the most painful way possible. After that is accomplished, focus turns to Ortho. It will take time to build an army against him. It is decided to strike against him at a special event several years in the future. While preparations are being made, Gwydion must hide. His capture would mean the end of the rebellion, and Ortho's obsession with him has gone to the next level (like it or not, Gwydion is now head of Clan O'Dubney). Gwydion decides to live in the world of humans, returning twice a year for progress reports.

While living among humans, Gwydion falls for a widow living alone on a farm. They have a son together. When the time comes, to move against King Ortho, Gwydion faces a heartbreaking choice: stay with the woman he loves, as a human, or return to his people? Does Gwydion fulfill his blood oath to his father/ Does King Ortho get what he so richly deserves?

This is a really good novel. It's got action, suspense and some romance. There is lots of good writing, and this book will keep the reader interested.

Onward: The Art of Leadership

 Onward: The Art of Leadership, Mark Joseph Huckabee, Telemachus Press, 2019


Leadership has many different forms (not just business or military leadership). Leadership is a never-ending journey; there is no knowing "everything" about leadership. Leaders never stop growing and learning. This book gives the details.

The book explores concepts like Living Your Principles, The "How" of Leadership, Building Great Teams and Managing Your Life. He uses many present-day examples to illustrate each concept. Steven Spielberg makes an appearance in this book, along with Muhammad Ali, Elon Musk, Nelson Mandela, Hunter S Thompson and Ayn Rand. Also included in this book are movies like Black Panther, To Kill a Mockingbird, Star Wars, Cloverfield, Avengers, Deadpool and Avatar.

Each section is only a couple of pages long. They end with the leadership lesson reduced to one or two sentences in bold font, making this book very easy to read. It is the sort of book that can be picked up and read starting on any page. This is certainly recommended for anyone in a position of leadership, and for everyone else, too.

Natural Solutions for Diabetes

 Natural Solutions for Diabetes, Sudhir Ahluwalia, 2020, self-published


For anyone with diabetes, natural solutions to manage or control the disease is a popular research subject these days. YouTube videos and popular literature are full of advice and "miracle" cures. Using a science-based approach, this book analyzes a range of natural options to combat diabetes.

Ayurveda and Traditional Chinese Medicine have a number of herbal remedies to treat diabetes. The downside is that the scientific studies that have been done have not gone any farther than testing on rats. Therefore, they have not yet been proven to work on people. Much more well known to Westerners are exercises like yoga and tai chi.

Which foods are best for people with diabetes? Which form of exercise is best? Should I adopt a plant-based diet? Can I stop my regular diabetes medication and rely on herbal medicines? Can acupuncture help relieve some of the side effects? This book attempts to answer these questions and more.

As with any medical book, a visit to your local doctor before starting anything in this book is a very good idea. This contains 15 pages of references of the scientific studies mentioned in the book. It is short, easy to read, and for those looking for an alternative to Western diabetes treatment, it is an excellent place to start.

Miranda and the D-Day Caper

 Miranda and The D-Day Caper, Shelly Frome, BQB Publishing, 2020


Set in present-day North Carolina, Miranda is a local real estate agent dealing with the sudden arrival of Skip, her whimsical cousin from New York. He is on the run, because he intercepted coded messages like "Countdown to D-Day" and broadcast them on his nationwide radio show. Skip has gotten powerful people upset with him.


Miranda starts asking questions around town and discovers links to white nationalists, firebombed churches (that were empty at the time), a crucial vote on a homeland security bill in the US Senate, and the kidnapping of Duffy, Skip's beloved tabby cat. Can Miranda and Skip figure out what "it" is, and stop it before anyone gets hurt or killed?


This is a "quiet" mystery/thriller story, in that there are no explosions or hair-raising escapes until the end. It's also a really good story; the reader feels like they are in the Blue Ridge Mountains. It is very much worth reading.

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Sex, Drugs and Rocking Code

 Sex, Drugs and Rocking Code: The Uncensored Autobiography of an Anonymous Programmer, Paul W Carter, Capraro Press, 2020

Written by an anonymous IT programmer (for good reasons), this book looks at one person's search for the true meaning of work and life, while working sixteen-hour days.

On the subject of relationships, is your internal software compatible with hers? Are your sine waves in phase? (Are you compatible with each other?) Learn the art of compromise. Occasionally, do things that she wants to do, but you don't want to do. Not learning to say "No" will turn you into a doormat, in business and in life. 

Achieving a state of "flow" is when you become one with your task, whether it is writing code for several hours, or something like snowboarding. Music is usually a good tool to get there. Find music that works for you, whether it is ambient, chill-out music, or heavy metal. Boredom is part of daily life. How a person deals with boredom, at home, or at work, is what, figuratively, separates the men from the boys. It's OK to do something silly, but do something. Don't just sit in a chair, staring out the window.

Stress and strife are also parts of daily life. A little bit of stress can actually be good for a person; continuous stress is not good. The book explores how to use such negativity to your advantage. After several days, or weeks, working on a coding project, you will be burned out. Find out what works for you when you can't take it anymore. For some people remedy may involve finding an isolated spot in the forest, or overlooking the ocean. For others, the remedy may involve staying home with your phone unplugged.

This book is short, honest and really well written. For anyone in the IT field, or of millennial age, this is very much recommended. It's recommended for everyone else, too.

Monday, July 27, 2020

Sex, Drugs and Corruption: Welcome to Peru

Sex, Drugs and Corruption: Welcome to Peru, Chad Vegas, Amazon.com Services, 2017


First of a series, this novel is about a young man named Chad, living in present-day California. Construction jobs are few and far between, because of the Great Recession. He meets an older man named Max, and they decide to get into the marijuana business.

Growing marijuana on a large scale is extremely time-consuming. If the plants are not harvested at exactly the right time, the crop is almost worthless. Night time dew on the leaves can cause them to rot, making the crop almost worthless. After harvesting, each leaf has to be individually trimmed in a very short time, or the crop is almost worthless. But, the payoff can be huge. This was the time when California had legalized medical marijuana, so everyone was growing their own. This led to a huge glut in the market.

Meantime, Max had married a woman from Peru, and he bought an isolated piece of land, deep in the Amazon, for more large-scale growing of marijuana. The land has suddenly become very valuable, so Max is faced with constant bureaucratic and legal attempts to steal it from him. Max is very much up for the battle. Traveling to Peru, Max and Chad learn that the Peruvian justice system does not just have a "laid back" attitude, they honestly don't want to work without appropriate bribes.

Being a red-blooded, and very horny, young man, Chad finds a couple of women in Cusco, the nearest large city, who want to have a good time. They are interested in going to a local discoteca, getting totally drunk and/or high, then going back to Chad's room, for a night of wild, no-holds-barred sex. Chad learns some very interesting things about Peruvians. Drunken Peruvians tend to become mean drunks. Get a Peruvian woman angry at you, for some reason like alleged infidelity, and you take your life in your hands.

This book is very easy to read, but it is not for everyone. Some might have a problem with the huge amounts of drugs, sex and alcohol in this story. Get past that, and this will certainly keep the interest of the reader.

The Oak and His Friends

The Oak and His Friends, Anna Tyumentseva, 2020

This story, for young children, is about an acorn. It was dropped by a badger rushing home in a bad rainstorm. Covered by a leaf, the acorn went to sleep. When it woke up, it was no longer an acorn, but a sprig. As it grew into an oak tree, the local animals made it their home. Bees and magpies made nests in its branches, and rabbits dug burrows among its roots. The oak provided leaves and acorns to help the animals through the winter. Everyone was welcome, including the woodpecker, who made its nest inside the tree. Life was good. Years later, during a bad thunderstorm, the oak is struck by lightning and catches on fire. Is this the end for the oak tree?

Young children will love this book. It's cute, heartwarming and easy to understand. It might also teach them a thing or two about natural science, and why trees lose their leaves each autumn. This is very much worth checking out.

Devil Be Damned

Devil Be Damned, Stuart Masters, Outskirts Press, 2020


Set during the days of the Old West, Toby Grimes is a teenager who witnesses his mother beaten to death by her husband (and Toby's father). Over her dead body, Toby vows to find, and kill, his father.

After he turns 18 years old, Toby is made Sheriff of the local town; he has shown that he knows how to take care of himself. He accepts on the condition that if he hears any news about his father, he is out of there. Pa has spent the last couple of years in jail. He is out again, and is leaving a trail of dead bodies behind him. As Sheriff, Toby runs into various thieves, desperadoes and other unsavory people. He finally tracks down his Pa. Is there a tearful family reunion? Does Pa admit the error of his ways? Who is still alive at the end of the story?

This is a very fast read. It's got the Old West, romance, violence and dead bodies and lots of good writing. It's the sort of story that could take place anywhere and anytime. This will keep the reader very interested.