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, March 31, 2011

Be a Dog With a Bone

Be a Dog With a Bone: Always Go For Your Dreams, Peggy McColl, Hay House Inc., 2009

There seem to be a million self-help books available at the local bookstore. This book gets its inspiration from an unlikely source; the family dog.

Have you ever tried to take a bone away from a dog? The harder you pull, the more determined the dog gets. Do you have that sort of determination when it comes to accomplishing your goals in life? Do you ignore those who say that you are being stupid or impractical? Perhaps the naysayers are jealous because they don't have a goal for their lives? Don't be concerned if you haven't yet found "it."

Think of a dog who digs several holes before he finds the bone. Write down your goal in life, and post it prominently. Use only positive words, and write it in present tense, like you are accomplishing your goal right now.

How long is your leash? Do you place restrictions on yourself? Do you reject any thought of leaving your comfort zone? Consider expanding your beliefs, and you may find that your leash has started to get longer.

How is your attitude? Add optimism and positive feelings together with keeping your focus on your goal, and most negative emotions will shrink or disappear. Negative emotions can start with something small, like the weather or commuter traffic, and grow and grow unless you stop it, and change your thinking.

Everyone does things that waste time and don't accomplish anything, like a dog chasing its tail. Perhaps they serves a purpose in the past, but if they don't help in meeting today's goal, it's time to put on the brakes and change your ways.

Consider the famous saying "What goes around, comes around." If you are nice to everyone you meet, even if they may not deserve it, you will get those positive feelings returned to you. Dogs are very good at unconditional love; they don't hold grudges, like people do. They are also very good at showing appreciation. Even if you have only been gone a short time, the dog is jubilant at your return. Think about expressing appreciation to others, whether it's for something they have done, or simply being who they are.

This book can be read in an hour or so, but it will give the reader plenty to think about. It shows that wisdom can be found in all sorts of places. 

Twitter Power 2.0

Twitter Power 2.0: How to Dominate Your Market One Tweet at a Time, Joel Comm, John Wiley and Sons, 2010

A person might wonder how Twitter, with its 140-character limit, can be of any use in present-day marketing. This book gives the answer.

After you sign up, the first thing you should do is to set up your profile page, including a recent photo of yourself. This is where you put the link to your product, company, website, etc., not in each tweet. Put some effort into your page. A profile page that looks like it was thrown together in ten minutes will not do any good. If you are not the creative type, get some help.

Now that your profile page is done, the biggest thing to remember in tweeting is to type things that people will want to read. Few people will waste their time with the written equivalent of someone who is running off at the mouth. Pick a few people in your field to follow, whether they are entrepreneurs, politicians or sports stars. If a person asks a question that you can answer, do it. If a person says something about which you can intelligently comment, do it. Not only have you Paid It Forward, you may just get noticed by the other followers, along with the person you are following. If you are not feeling very profound, repeating quotes from famous people always works. Soon, you will start getting followers of your own.

It's a very good idea to set up a system on Twitter where you are alerted at any mention of your user name or product name. Just one unsatisfied customer can quickly turn into a lot of negative publicity that is hard to counteract. Make an effort to directly contact that person, and work with them to fix the problem. You may just turn an unsatisfied customer into an evangelist for your company.

It is very tempting to follow as many people as possible, assuming that some of them will automatically follow you (Instant Followers!). It is also a very bad idea. For instance, say that you are following 3,000 people, and you have 28 followers. To those who run Twitter, such a large difference between Following and Followers says that you are a spammer. They don't like that, and they will close your account.

This is a gem of a book, and I really enjoyed reading it. Whether you are a novice or veteran marketer, you will learn something from this book.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

It Could Happen Again

It Could Happen Again, Sonia Rumzi, Heart Press, 2011 (Kindle e-book)

This novelette looks at the world of domestic violence. It is not a pretty picture.

Set in present-day Boston, Truvi and her four boys are living with Jake, her boyfriend (two of the children are his). Noor, her friend and co-worker, is the recipient of several frantic, late night phone calls from Truvi saying that Jake is drunk (again), he has grabbed her by the throat, and pushed her against the wall, etc. Noor lets Turvi and her children live with her for a while. After some time, Truvi tells Noor that they are going back to Jake. Crying on the phone, Jake has promised to do better in the future. Noor tells Truvi that there will be no more rushing over to her place. If she wants to leave Jake, Noor will help her any way she can, but Truvi has to make the first move.

As the months go on, Truvi's normally vivacious personality disappears. She barely says two sentences to Noor in weeks, she brings her lunch, so she can stay at her desk, and not have to talk to Noor, and she starts wearing scarves and turtlenecks to work (to hide the neck bruises). One day, Truvi announces to Noor that she has found an apartment, away from Jake. Noor helps them move in; there are now five boys (the latest child is Jake's). Things are relatively stable, for a while.

Jake continues to demand his visitation rights, and the courts continue to agree with them. Bringing the boys over for one such court-mandated visit, Jake walks out of his condo, carrying a shotgun. He makes it clear to Truvi that he intends to use it. Demanding that Truvi open the car doors (everyone is still inside the car), Jake seems surprised when the police come and arrest him. Searching his condo, the police find a pigsty, a large arsenal of weapons and lots of Nazi paraphernalia. The police criticize Truvi for sending the children into such an atmosphere; she tells them, in no uncertain terms, that she had no choice. Now that Jake is in custody, is Truvi's nightmare over? Is this one of those stories that will end only when someone is dead?

This is very unpleasant, but very good, reading. The author does a really good job at putting a human face on a subject like domestic violence. It is very much recommended.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

100 Simple Things You Can Do to Prevent Alzheimer's

100 Simple Things You Can Do to Prevent Alzheimer's and Age-Related Memory Loss, Jean Carper, Little, Brown and Company, 2010

For anyone in middle-age or older, Alzheimer's Disease is a major concern. This book shows easy ways to delay its onset, perhaps for years.

If the recommendations in this book can be reduced to one sentence, it might be: Eat Right and Exercise Regularly. Eat lots of deep color berries, like black raspberries, cranberries, plums and strawberries; they are full of antioxidants. Apple juice can boost the brain's production of acetylcholine, just like the popular Alzheimer's drug Aricept. Large doses of caffeine, like several hundred mg per day, may help clean up your brain if you are showing signs of mental problems (people react differently to high doses of caffeine, so be aware of the side effects). If you have cholesterol problems, get it under control, now. Cinnamon gives a boost to malfunctioning insulin, allowing it to process sugar normally. Weak insulin can lead to diabetes, and can damage your brain cells. Did you know that coffee helps block cholesterol's bad effects on the brain, is anti-inflammatory and reduces the risk of depression, stroke and diabetes, which all promote dementia?

Mental exercise is just as important as physical exercise. Fill up your brain with lots of interesting stuff, like education, marriage, language skills, etc. You can actually grow your brain with lots of physical, mental and social activities. If you can join a health club and work out regularly, do it. If going for a walk after dinner is more your speed, do it. Conscientious people are better able to cope with setbacks in life, and can better dodge chronic psychological distress, which boosts risks of dementia. If you are clinically depressed, get it treated, or you are more likely to develop Alzheimer's. Symptoms that look like Alzheimer's can easily be something else (and something easily treatable). Go to a geriatric neurologist and get the right diagnosis, now.

The best way to prevent Alzheimer's is to reduce your personal risk factors, sooner rather than later. No one is expected to do everything in this book. Pick a dozen or so things that you can do every day, and stick with them. Anything that reduces the possibility of getting Alzheimer's, even by a little bit, is automatically a good thing. This book is very easy to read, and it is excellent.

Monday, March 28, 2011

The Fun of Dying

The Fun of Dying: Find Out What Really Happens Next, Roberta Grimes, Greater Reality Publications, 2010

It's practically human nature to want to know, ahead of time, what happens when we die. Does Heaven really exist? This book attempts to answer that question.

This book is based on nearly a century of near-death experiences, not on the teachings of any particular religion. There are enough similarities in the experiences to build up a generally consistent idea of what happens after death. In recent years, those for whom death is imminent are usually so sedated that they can't see or hear anything (not necessarily a good idea).

In the hours before death, the patient becomes lucid, and is able to converse with loved ones. They are also visited by the spirits of departed loved ones. Sometimes, the patient can verbally communicate with them, leading the living loved ones to think "hallucinating," and sometimes the communication is telepathic. After death, finds themselves standing next to their body; the bond with the body slowly fades away. The departed loved ones are there to guide the patient on their way; the actual departing has to occur pretty quickly, because there is a real danger of the patient getting stuck there with their body.

Some people walk through a tunnel, others cross a bridge, while still others just find themselves in a new reality. The "reception center", for lack of a better term, is a giant garden full of sentient plants that never lose their leaves. Some people wear clothes from when they were alive, but most people wear the famous long white robes. There is a review of each person's life. It could be an informal review, with one Spirit Guide, taking place in your childhood home. It could also be a more formal affair, in front of people sitting at a long table. This isn't Judgement, where if you don't "make the cut" you are going to Hell, but every instance where you tormented someone, or treated them badly, is going to be mentioned. It's not easy to forgive yourself for such actions; some people just can't do it. Those are the ones who end up on the lowest level of Heaven, a dark, scary sort of place (think "wailing and gnashing of teeth").

For everyone else, after the review, comes a party or reception; perhaps a Welcome To Heaven party. For shy introverts, it's a get together with a few close friends. For veteran partiers, it's like the Ultimate Party. Then is the time to decide what you want to do with eternity. Would you rather sit and read every book ever written, or would you rather help other new arrivals? The choice is totally up to you.

This book is fascinating and very thought-provoking. It contains a long list of books to read, for those who want to go further. It is very much worth reading. 

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Life After Weight Loss Surgery

Life After Weight Loss Surgery: Achieving and Maintaining Massive Weight Loss, John Simone, Three Pyramids Publishing, 2010

After trying every diet and weight-loss plan on the market, you are now considering weight loss surgery. This book looks at the things you need to know ahead of time.

If you need to lose only a few pounds, forget weight loss (bariatric) surgery. It is only for those who are morbidly obese. Find a doctor who specializes in bariatric surgery, not your regular family doctor. The book looks at the different types of bariatric operations; most are not reversible.

A common misconception is that, after surgery, you will be able to eat as much as you want of whatever you want, and still lose weight, and that you will eventually look like you did in high school, or before having your first child. The size of your stomach has just been greatly reduced, so the quantity of food you can eat at any one time is also greatly reduced. You may be able to reach your high scholl or pre-child weight, but Mother Nature has ways of letting you know that those days are gone forever.

You may become intolerant to food that you enjoyed pre-surgery. Digestion problems, along with sudden eating disorders, are very possible, so regular check-ups with your bariatric doctor are essential. With the greatly reduced amount of food you are eating, you may not be getting enough vitamins and minerals each day. Your bariatric doctor will then prescribe nutrition supplements to be taken daily for the rest of your life. It's stupid to go through weight loss surgery, and then end up back in the hospital with, for instance, a vitamin deficiency, because you didn't feel like taking your supplements.

Exercise is also required after surgery. Some people can join a health club, while others would rather exercise with a personal trainer. Make sure they know about your surgery. Your relationships with others will probably change. Your spouse may fear that once you become thin, you will look for companionship elsewhere. Friends and relatives may be jealous that you are actually doing something about your weight problem, while they are not. If you lose weight too quickly, your body may not be able to keep up with you and re-absorb all those fat cells. Therefore, be prepared for plastic surgery to get rid of all that excess skin.

The author, a veteran of weight loss surgery, has put together a very thorough book. For those considering such surgery, it does a fine job of answering your questions before you even have questions. This is very much worth reading.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Oil Pulling Therapy

Oil Pulling Therapy: Detoxifying and Healing the Body Through Oral Cleansing, Dr. Bruce Fife, Piccadilly Books, 2008

Here is a safe and very easy way to vastly improve your health without special pills or diets. All it requires is swishing a spoonful of vegetable oil around your mouth for at least 15 minutes at a time.

Many scientific studies have chronicled a link between chronic illness and the health of our mouths (the book references over 150 such studies). Think about it; our mouths are constantly warm and moist, like a tropical rain forest, which is a great breeding ground for germs. They are also open to the outside, so it is very easy for bacteria to enter our mouths and take up residence. From there, the bacteria can enter the bloodstream and travel to any part of the body. There it can cause anything from arthritis to constipation to eczema to hypertension to sinusitis (all of which have been reported as responding to oil pulling).

What do you do? Take a tablespoon of nearly any vegetable oil (the author recommends coconut oil) and swish it around your mouth for several minutes, then spit it out. That's all. Teeth are very porous, full of tiny tubules where the bacteria can hide. Brushing, flossing or mouthwash will not clean out those tubules; oil pulling will. This is not a cure for whatever ails you. Oil pulling simply removes the infection from your mouth so that your body's natural healing properties can do their job.

This is totally safe for children and pregnant women, as the only ingredient is vegetable oil. It can also be done several times a day, if necessary. If you experience side effects, like coughing up mucus, or the sudden onset of what feels like the flu, don't worry about it; it's your body cleaning itself out. Also, don't worry if you don't see any immediate improvement in your health; some people simply heal faster than others. Also, after you are done swishing, do not swallow; spit it out. You don't want to remove the bacteria from your mouth, just to deposit it in your stomach.

Improving your health is not supposed to be this easy. This book is very easy to read for anyone, and is very highly recommended.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Beautiful Sins: Leigha Lowery

Beautiful Sins: Leigha Lowery, Jennifer Hampton, Hampton Publishing, 2009 (Kindle e-book)

Set a few years from now, this is a paranormal romance about a young woman suddenly thrown into a very different world.

America is on the verge of splitting into two pieces. The West Coast is now called the Dark Coast. Living under perpetual dark clouds due to a US military experiment gone bad, it is about to be handed over to King Royce. This is in exchange for his help in America's war with Russia.

Leigha Lowery is a resident of Detroit. One day, her mother abruptly tells her that they are moving to a small town in Oregon, so that she can marry Randy, a very handsome man that she met on the Internet. Leigha is not happy. Once in Oregon, she makes a few friends at the local high school. Some of the women look like they just stepped out of a fashion magazine, and some of the men are very handsome, and with very hypnotic eyes. From the beginning, Leigha realizes that things around here are very different.

She eventually finds out that Randy is King Royce's personal physician, so that makes her an important member of Royce's Court. A number of disappeared in the local forest, and never been found. Leigha attracts the attention of Prince Alexander, heir to the throne, and also very handsome. That is because Randy and Alexander, and a number of people all over town, are vampires. Leigha unknowingly puts herself in danger, more than once, and has to be rescued by Randy and Alexander. Why don't the vampires attack the humans, and drink their blood? It is now official vampire "policy" to co-exist with the humans, instead of killing them. Leigha has no interest in entering the world of etiquette and fancy parties as part of Royce's Court; she would much rather be Ms. Average High School Student.

On the positive side, this is a very good and easy to read teen romance story with just a bit of weird in it. On the negative side, if there are to be future printings of this book, it really needs a trip to an editor, or, at minimum, a proofreader (which the author acknowledges in the beginning of the book). 

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Jiroboy: The Mechnorganic Kid

Jiroboy: The Mechnorganic Kid (Volume 1), Anthony Jappa, Jappa Publications, 2011

Part 1 of a series, this graphic novel is about a near-future Earth in crisis. Its survival rests on the shoulders of one young man.

Earlier in the 20th Century, an alien spacechip crash-landed on Earth (in the Black Forest, not at Roswell). In exchange for help repairing their ship, they gave humanity certain very advanced technologies, which the leaders of Earth have passed off as their own discoveries. Recently it was discovered that the alien technologies are also destroying Earth. The natural production of oxygen is noticeably dropping. All possible Earth-based methods to remedy the situation have failed. Earth has one alternative to destruction, and his name is Koji Kanna.

Through the new science of mechnoragnics, Kanna is genetically engineered from birth to be the perfect astronaut. Sent into space with Egi, his databot, and Khanokia, his robot dog, Kanna's mission is to find those aliens who visited Earth years before. Of course, no one knows just who the aliens were, or where they came from, so finding a needle in a haystack would be child's play in comparison. Kanna does have some help from a special suit that encloses him almost instantly, and allows him to fire energy weapons while flying through interstellar space (think Iron Man).

Not all stars in the galaxy are giant glowing balls of gas and rock. Some are actually eggs holding solar serpents, ready to be born. Solar serpents are supposed to be able to create gateways from one part of the galaxy to another (like wormholes), or to another time or dimension, or to somewhere totally unknown. A group of scientists called the Enigmium force one such birth, prematurely. A piece of the star that exploded to bring about the birth lands on a planet, and de-evolves the nearby inhabitants millions of years, in seconds. While fighting the de-evolved inhabitants, who are now very strong and very mean, without killing them, Kanna comes up with a way to reverse the effects. Millions of pieces of that star are now flying through the galaxy. They all have to be tracked, and retrieved, before they can land on other planets and create more havoc.

Here is some good old-fashioned space opera. It's a quick read, and it has plenty of action, so it will keep the reader entertained. This is very much worth the reader's time.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

The Skinny On Time Management

The Skinny On Time Management: How to Maximize Your 24-Hour Gift, Jim Randel, Rand Media Co., 2010

Here is another in a series of books that attempts to boil down a large subject area into an easy-to-read format. Intended for busy people who want just the bullet points, this book looks at how to best manage your time.

Write out a time journal for an entire week to see just how you are spending your time. You may think that you are being efficient and productive, but seeing it on paper may change your mind. Can changes be made in your schedule, with more time given to more productive activities? You need to set goals for yourself, whether long-term or short-term. Then you will know how to get from where you are to where you want to be. If your goal is important enough to you, then some other thing you are doing may have to be dropped totally. Choices were never meant to be easy.

The book then covers many ways to maximize your time. Fight the urge to procrastinate. Touch a piece of paper, or email, only once; either respond to it, get rid of it or put it in your file to be worked on later. Are there gaps in your day, like when you are sitting in a waiting room, when you could be working on your Blackberry? Are you a "morning person" or a "night owl?" Work on your hardest and most unpleasant tasks when you are most alert and awake. Learn to plan your day, but don't go overboard with the planning. Prioritize your tasks; which ones come first, and which ones can wait. Break a huge task into smaller, more manageable pieces. Can you batch several appointments, for instance, and get them done in one day? Doing crossword puzzles is a good way to improve your memory. Learn how to focus when you are on a task, and not let distractions get in your way. De-cluttering your office, and your email inbox, will always help. The act of writing a daily To Do list helps focus your mind on what you need to do that day.

Instead of reading a bunch of books on how to manage your time, read this book. It can be read in an hour or so, and does an excellent job of telling the busy person just what they need to know. It is a gem of a book.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Haint Blue

Haint Blue, Carl Linke, Philip-Forest Publishing, 2010

Set in present-day South Carolina, this novel is about a man pushed in several different direstions at the same time. Hoodoo is one of those directions.

Kip Drummond is the owner of an oyster-processing plant in Beaufort, South Carolina. It's a ramshackle place, and a money loser, but it's also sitting on a very prime piece of real estate. That is why Taggett & Vystroon, an American subsidiary of a Japanese multi-national corporation, is pushing very hard to buy Drummond out.

The plant, full of rumors, is the only source of income for the older women who work there. Being poor, and Gullah (descended from slaves), there are no alternatives for them if the plant is sold. Gunny, the black manager of the plant, does some snooping in Drummond's office, and finds just enough evidence to make Drummond's repeated declarations that he has no intention of selling the plant hard to believe.

Things are no better for Drummond at home. His wife, Sandi, a native of Charleston, is a blond bombshell. She comes from Old Money, and is sick of the lack of parties and culture in Beaufort. Drummond has a terrible record of spending time with Chris, his stepson, along with attending his football games. There is always something to take care of at the plant. As if that wasn't enough, Drummond thinks that someone has put a hex on him (taken very seriously among the Gullah) to force him to sell.

He pays a couple of visits to a tarot card reader, an elderly woman who lives far away from anyone else. He finds a very specific playing card (not just any playing card) under the windshield wiper of his truck. His faithful dog is found butchered and dismembered. A major rainstrom, practically a hurricane, hits the area during one of Chris' football games. In all the confusion, Chris is missing; his parents can't help but fear the worst. Drummond and his lawyer are called to Taggett & Vystroon's corporate offices in Philadelphia to negotiate the plant's sale. When Drummond gets back to Beaufort, he comes clean to Gunny about just how he got the money to buy the plant.

This is a very well-done story about a culture unique to most Americans. The author does a fine job putting the reader right in the middle of the story. Yes, it's worth reading.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Hell Can Wait

Hell Can Wait, Theodore Judson, Edge Science Fiction and Fantasy Publishing, 2010

This modern-day fantasy story is about a soldier from ancient Rome who has been given a second chance.

Maternus (mentioned in Gibbon's "Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire") has spent the last 1800 years in Hell because his file was lost. When it is retrieved nd processed, he gets a chance to prove that he is not just a killing machine. When he was alive, there were a number of instances where Maternus would kill only those who deserved to die, and spare the innocent. But Mr. Worthy, and angel, and Banewill, a demon, make the stakes very clear to Maternus. If he loses his temper, and lets out his inner warrior, even once, a new, and very permanent, level of Hell will be created just for him. Is Maternus sent back to the days of the Roman Empire to show that his soul has not totally vanished? He is sent to present-day Aurora, Colorado.

Mr. Worthy sets up Maternus (now Matthew August) with an apartment, and a janitor job at the local middle school. Maternus is also given the ability to read, and he is introduced to the local public library, where he spends much of his time. There he meets Stephen and Shen, both residents of a local rooming house. Stephen, who is white, is one of those who is constantly writing letters to the editor of the local newspaper about some Major Crisis (next week it will be some other Major Crisis). Shen, who is black, is very handsome, and attracts the ladies like flies to honey. He is also a poet, performing at local poetry nights, which Maternus attends.

Mr. Worthy and Banewill give Maternus several seemingly impossible tasks to perform. They inlcude bringing some joy and companionship into the lives of Edith Pink, a student at the school where Maternus works, and Margaret Lambkin, a resident at a local nursing home. Both Edith and Margaret are the sort of people for whom the description "mean, rotten and nasty" is much too generous. Through it all in this strange new world, Maternus is comforted by the memory of Maria, a woman he met during his soldier days, and whom he has never forgotten.

This story is surprisingly good. It's got heart, it's got intelligence and it says a few things about present-day America. The reader will not go wrong with this one.