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.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Death of Patsy McCoy

The Death of Patsy McCoy, Levi Montgomery, Inflatable Rider Press, 2010 (Kindle e-book)

This is a novella about life in small-town America. It is not a very pretty picture.

It was summer in Bumford, Kansas, it was hot, and there was nothing for four adolescent boys to do. That is, until Babyface, Spittle, Farm Boy and Stud, the leader, met a new kid whom they named Patsy. He was kind of fat, and looked like he waddled, so, of course, he was continually tormented and made the butt of their jokes. They held out the promise that when the local high school started the fall semester in a few weeks, Patsy would be part of the group. No one wants to be the "new kid" in high school. Their treatment of Patsy started with the usual adolescent hazing, then quickly degenerated into cruel and downright evil treatment.

The story consists of reminiscences about Patsy and those days by several of the group as they return to town twenty years later for a funeral. They knew then that they could have stopped Patsy's torment, or at least reduced it, but they didn't do it. Perhaps it was some sort of groupthink, or wanting to be one of the crowd, that stopped them from speaking up. They were tracked down on the Internet by Patty, Stud's younger sister. She stayed in Bumford, and is a waitress at the local diner. She remembers the many quickies she gave the local boys in her family's barn.

In a way, this is very unpleasant reading, especially for anyone who was on the receiving end of such treatment. It is also really good reading. The author does a fine job with this tale of regret and bad choices from several different perspectives.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Poisoned for Profit: How Toxins are Making Our Children Chronically Ill

Poisoned for Profit: How Toxins are Making Our Children Chronically Ill, Philip and Alice Shabecoff, Chelsea Green Publishing, 2010

Have you wondered why there seems to be an epidemic of serious childhood illnesses, like cancer, asthma and birth defects, in America? It has a lot to do with the huge increase, over the past 50 years, of toxic chemicals dumped into the environment. This book gives the details.

There are a number of towns all over the country, ranging from Dickson, Tennessee, to Pittsfield, Massachusetts, to Toms River, New Jersey, suffering much higher than normal numbers of severe childhood illnesses. Each town just happens to also contain a large industrial plant that handles lots of toxic chemicals. Are the illnesses all "isolated instances" or "just one of those things?"

The authors say that the CEOs of the major chemical companies are not evil people who deliberately want to poison innocent children, but profit is most important. It is very hard to prove, absolutely, that a particular case of asthma or cancer, for instance, was caused by chemicals from a particular industrial plant, though the circumstantial evidence is pretty strong. The chemical companies use that uncertainty to delay the paying of any fines or cleanup costs.

Scientists-for-pay are willing to say what the chemical companies want them to say. The evidence is not conclusive and more study (read: delay) is needed. Washington is no help. Through lobbyists and campaign contributions, it has been made clear to members of Congress that bills to add new regulations are to be watered down or defeated. Only a few of the thousands of chemicals in the environment have been tested at all. Those tests have been very short-term, and have looked at adult exposure to chemicals. The level of toxicity for children and fetuses is much lower.

What can a parent do? If you plan on having children in the future, adopt a healthy lifestyle. Get proper amounts of vitamins and minerals, starting today (men and women). If you already have children, let them play outside and open the windows in your house for at least a few minutes a day (to let out any built-up toxins). Stay away from pesticides and dry cleaning, buy organic food as much as possible, buy furniture and flooring made from solid wood instead of particleboard, which is treated with formaldehyde. There are also plenty of websites to visit with safer alternatives to everyday items.

This book easily reaches the level of Wow. It is very easy to read, and is quite an eye-opener for all parents and parents-to-be. This is highly recommended.