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.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Not Waving, Drowning

Not Waving, Drowning, Linda Sands, 2011, (Kindle e-book)

This is the story of three generations of women in Savannah, Georgia.

Bobbie, from the early 1900s, sepnt time in the equivalent of the child welfare system. She is now a New York City newspaper reporter, in Savannah for a story, who is not above the occasional theft. As the years go on, she marries Sam, and they live in New York City. He is a good husband, except for his tendency to take off for a week or two, with no explanation as to where he is going or why. During World War I, she volunteers to write letters home for wounded soldiers who are unable to do it themselves. She and Sam slowly drift apart (he is dying from some sort of lung disease); in the 1930s, several of her newspaper columns are about Flora, the Waving Girl. Something of a Savannah tradition, she would wave to every ship that used Savannah's port; every ship, every day for many years.

Flora, from 1940, is the Waving Girl. She lived with her brother George, who took care of a local lighthouse (that is why she could wave to all those passing ships). She tells her story as an old woman, making arrangements for George's funeral. She also talks about the involvement of her brother, now a Monsignor, during the days of Prohibition and speakeasies. The city erected a bronze statue of her to acknowledge her service. A question that she is asked frequently is why she waved to all those passing ships for all those years. Was it unrequited love? Was she waiting for someone?

Maggie, from 2011, is an architectural photographer living in Philadelphia. She flies to Savannah after receiving a late-night phone call saying that her husband, David, is missing and presumed dead after a boating accident. Their marriage had also seen better days; David liked to go to Savannah alone. Maggie begins to realize that David had a whole other life in Savannah, of which she was not a part. She is told all about Flora, and sees the cottage where she and George lived, along with the lighthouse that he kept in operation. Maggie also starts to fall in love with a local lighthouse restorer.

This is a very "quiet" novel, all about feelings and finding yourself. It has a lot of excellent writing, but it is not a very optimistic story. The reader will not go wrong with this one.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Sun, Sand and Rock n Roll

Sun, Sand and Rock n Roll, Nikhil Lakhani, 9ine Inc., 2011

This is the story of a man who seems to have it all. That is, until the day that it is taken away from him.

JB Strassenberger is the leader of a 4-piece rock band called Generation Rebel. Wherever they play, they gather more and more fans. Whatever that undefinable "it" is that distinguishes a great band from an average band, Generation Rebel is overflowing with "it." The sky seems to be the limit. During a mass audition for Atlantic Records, JB meets KG, a guitarist who is every bit JB's equal. After getting over his initial jealousy that he may not be the best guitarist in the world, JB arbitrarily invites KG to join Generation Rebel. As a 5-piece band, if anything, their rist to the top picks up speed. One day, they take a helicopter to Las Vagas to play some concerts. The helicopter crashes, and JB is thrown clear.

He wakes up several days later in an Indian village called Shaktipur. Located in an isolated bit of Nevada, it is behind some sort of mental barrier, so it is not accessible to the average person. JB is angry, sarcastic to everyone, and a little scared, especially when he is told that his was the only body at the crash site. There are several escape attempts, all unsuccessful. The people of Shaktipur welcome JB, despite his bad behavior, because of a prophecy that a white man will join their village.

JB decides to totally change his attitude, and accept being in Shaktipur, after he meets a beautiful woman named Saraswati, the chief's daughter. Red Rage, his beloved guitar, thought to have been lost in the crash, is returned to him, so he is able to show the villagers what he is all about. One night, the village is attacked by a shakti, a four-legged carnivorous beast that is all teeth and claws (another good reason why no one leaves the village). There are many casualties. JB finds the lair, and, with a little help from his friends, does battle with the shakti, armed only with Red Rage. During JB and Saraswati's wedding celebration, a helicopter suddenly appears and lands. The guitar battle was heard many miles away, and the authorities were notified. Does JB return to "civilization" or does he stay in Shaktipur?

Here is a great piece of writing. For those who are any sort of rock music fan, the guitar battle with the Shakti deserves to be read more than once. For everyone else, this story also has heart and emotion. It is very highly recommended.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Global Warming for Beginners

Global Warming for Beginners, Dean Goodwin, For Beginners LLC, 2008

Global warming is a very important subject in the present day. This book attempts to explain how and why Earth's climate interacts with the atmosphere.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is a group of several hundred climate scientists from all over the world. Their job is to look at all the scientific data on various aspects of climate change. In their latest reoprt, in 2007, they concluded that "warming of the climate system is unequivocal. . . many natural systems are being affected by regional climate changes. . . global greenhouse gas emissions due to human activities have grown since pre-industrial times, with an increase of 70% between 1970 and 2004."

Earth has experienced warming and cooling cycles in the past. Some people think that this is another of those warming cycles, and not really a cause for concern. Most sunlight is absorbed by the Earth's atmosphere, while the rest is reflected back into space. Water vaopr, methane and carbon dioxide, present in the atmosphere, are very good at absorbing infrared radiation. Some global warming is need to keep Earth from turning into a giant ice cube. But too much of a good thing is just as bad. To get an idea of what happens with high levels of carbon dioxide, look at Venus, with its runaway greenhouse effect.

The rapidly rising amount of burning fossil fuels leads to more carbon in the atmosphere. It has a positive feedback effect, raising the Earth's temperature. Deforestation that is happening all over the world reduces the level of photosynthesis, which reduces the amount of carbon being removed from the atmosphere. If the forest has been burned, which is usually the case, then the carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere rises, and the amount of carbon removed by photosynthesis drops at the same time.

The book also looks at the consequences of global warming; we are witnessing some of the hottest years on record; snow cover on mountain ranges is decreasing; as ice melts, it raises sea levels worldwide; ocean currents could change; biodiversity could also be affected. It also lists simple things that anyone can do to help reduce the effects of global warming.

This book is easy to read, and tries to adopt a facts-only approach. To get away from the hype on both sides of the issue, start right here.

The Murder Diaries: Seven Times Over

The Murder Diaries: Seven Times Over, David Carter, Trackerdog Media, 2011

The northwestern England town of Chester (near the Welsh border) is being menaced by a serial killer. Inspector Walter Darriteau is on the case.

If there is such a thing as a "quiet" serial killer, that is the situation in Chester. There are no cases of multiple stab wounds, or blood all over the walls. A woman is drugged, and her head is completely wrapped in brown tape until she suffocates. Her body is stuffed in a suitcase, and dumped in an abandoned quarry. An old fisherman is pushed into a canal and drowns. An elderly woman is drugged and taken to a quiet patch of forest. The car is left running, and the exhaust is pointed back into the car with the windows rolled up. The police don't know if they are dealing with one or more killers, or their gender. There are the usual taunting letters, specifically intended for Darriteau. The killer/killers have a specific grudge against Darriteau, a native of Jamaica who is nearing retirement age, and wants him to suffer. A fellow member of the police department is attacked at the local race track. Is Darriteau next?

This is also the story of a boy named Armitage, more interested in singing, dancing and flower arranging than in the usual activities enjoyed by boys. Dad runs a failing car dealership, and Donna, his second wife, who handles the finances, has been embezzling thousands of pounds from the company. She also hates Armitage. When he is 11 years old, they are killed in a car accident. Armitage assumes that he will live with Mrs. Greenaway, the owner of the local florist shop, but she says that she does not have the space, or the desire, for Armitage. He spends the rest of his childhood in an orphanage. After he is released, he drifts from job to job. At one job, he crosses paths with Desiree, and falls instantly in love. She feels the same way.

Desiree is a brilliant student, and beautiful, who has been recruited to work at one of those super-secret research installations. She begins to have real doubts about her work, which involves experiments on live people. She starts bringing home samples of her work, and keeps a copy of her files off-site. Paranoia starts to set in. Desiree comes to an untimely demise.

Published in England, this is a kind of "quiet" novel, but a really good novel. The reader will stay interested until the end. Here is a first-rate piece of writing.

The Trillion-Dollar Conspiracy

The Trillion-Dollar Conspiracy: How the New World Order, Man-Made Diseases and Zombie Banks are Destroying America, Jim Marrs, William Morrow, 2010

This is a look at the world around us, and how America is being systematically destroyed, but not from the "usual" sources. It is not a pretty picture.

Anyone who takes vitamins or nutritional supplements needs to know about the Codex Alimentarius Commission. Under the auspices of the UN and the World Health Organization, it is an international commission whose aim is to ban the sale of all herbs, vitamins and minerals for therapeutic purposes, and to have all nutritional supplements available only through a doctor's prescription. Do an internet search for "National Security Strategy Memorandum 200." Written by Henry Kissinger, it became official US policy in 1975. It advocates the radical de-population of the Third World, and is in line with elite support of eugenics, to get rid of all those "useless eaters."

Politicians keep talking about how American schools will prepare students to thrive in the 21st Century. The problem is that American schools, based on the Prussian model, were never designed to prepare students for anything, except to be quiet drones, who are paid to work, and not think. Normal activities like taking pictures around town can get a person arrested by Homeland Security. Do you remember President Obama's 2009 speech to schoolchildren across America? According to some, it was political indoctrination that would turn America's young people into mindless, Obama-loving zombies.

All banks pay into an FDIC reserve fund, which is supposed to help banks in trouble. In 1981, the federal balance sheet said that there was $11 billion in the fund. One day, the FDIC Chairman called the Treasury Secretary and asked to visit and see the money. He was told that there is no money; it was all put into the general fund long ago. So if a bank is in trouble, the Treasury simply borrows the money. Simple, no?

This book touches on a whole host of other subjects, including FEMA camps, TSA airport body scans that are not deleted, the 2008 financial crisis, implanting people with microchips, and ways to not become a "zombie." As with nearly anything by Jim Marrs, this easily reaches the level of Wow. It has something to upset nearly everyone. It is very highly recommended.  

Thursday, October 6, 2011

The Cursed Man

The Cursed Man, Keith Rommel, Sunbury Press, 2011

First of a series, this book is about a man who believes that Death has taken an unnatural interest in him, killing everyone with whom he comes in contact. Can he really be cursed, or is he just mentally ill?

Alister Kunkle is a patient at the Sunnyside Capable Care Mental Institution. For the past 25 years, he has been secluded from the staff, and the outside world, at his own request. He is convinced that anyone who communicates with him, in any way, is dead within a day, for Alister is Cursed.

His first exposure to death came when he was a child, and he attended the funeral of a beloved aunt. As a married man, Alister became convinced that Death had cursed him when he came home to find his wife and child dead. He rushed into the street, and laid down in the middle of the road, hoping that someone will put him out of his misery. A driver narrowly misses him, and rushes to Alister's aid, to see if he is alright. The driver suddenly keels over, dead from a heart attack. Taken to Sunnyside in an ambulance, Alister distinctly remembers a number of staff members, including big, muscular orderlies used to mental patients, dropping like flies. Looking out the window of his room, Alister sees a dry, dessicated landscape full of dead plants.

A psychiatrist named Anna Lee comes to the Institution, demanding to see Alister. The Director does his best to dissuade her, telling her about Alister's "situation," and showing her news articles as proof. She is not to be denied, so she enters Alister's room, talks with him for a while, then leaves, saying that she will be back the next day. Lo and behold, she returns the next day; she is not dead. Moving one step at a time, she takes Alister outside. The grounds are green and lush, not brown, dry and lifeless. She tells Alister that he is mentally ill, and not cursed. The beloved aunt, whose funeral Alister distinctly remembers, died several years before he was born. The mass deaths at the Institution on Alister's arrival never happened. Dr. Lee reveals that she is not exactly who she says she is. Then things get weird.

This is a very well-written book, with a little bit of Stephen King-like horror. It will keep the reader interested, and it is a gem of a story.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

The Ten Commandments for a Successful Retirement

The Ten Commandments for a Successful Retirement, Corine T. Norgaard, Wormwood Hill Press, 2010

You have just arrived back home from your retirement party. Now what do you do?

The first thing you do is to find productive ways to fill your time. Spending your days playing cards at the local Senior Center, or spending your days on the golf course, does not qualify. Possibilities include: getting a part-time job in your field or a different field, starting your own business, becoming an entrepreneur or volunteering your time.

If volunteering or giving to charity is not for you, there are things anyone can do to make the world a better place. Do at least one good deed per week. Smile and greet those that you meet during the day, and give at least one sincere compliment per day.

You need to take an active role concerning your health and well-being. No one else will do it for you. Keeping your brain in shape is just as important as keeping your body in shape. Be willing to stay current and learn new things. Keep your family relationships in perspective. Don't expect anyone else to provide you with a full and meaningful social life. Discussion, and coming to agreements, will be needed concerning spouse, children/grandchildren and nearby relatives.

Get involved in activities that keep you in contact with your freinds and expose you to new people. Join a group activity, reach out to new people and don't forget your relatives. Come up with an "elevator speech." It's a short statement that tells people something about you. For instance, say "I'm Joe, and I'm involved with . . ." Don't say "I'm Mary, and I'm retired." Look for chances to interact with people covering a wide age range. Resist the temptation to start your sentences with phrases like "Back in my day." Doing so will get you branded as an old fogey who can be ignored so fast you won't know what hit you. When you look for new adventures, it can be something as small as attending an event in your hometown that you have never before attended.

This book is short, very easy to read, and is full of useful information. For anyone even near retirement age, reading this book is time very well spent.

The Rise of the Einix

The Rise of the Einix, Tina D. Miller, Black Rose Writing, 2010

This is a tale of individualism and identity. It takes place in the small town of Baldric, where sexual acts are bartered for goods and services.

Einar and Trixie are twins who have been kept confined by Lola, their mother, all their lives. Lola's funeral brings out people like alcoholic Aunt Evelyn, and Eleanor, their next-door neighbor, who has had a long-running dispute with Lola concerning a willow tree. The reading of Lola's will is practically the social event of the year, because Lola sent out over 100 invitations before her untimely demise. The twins are allowed to stay in their house, as long as they procure employment. Joining in the Baldric "tradition" of sex as payment is not possible for them.

Loki Kluge, local attorney and administrator of Lola's estate, offers a number of options. The least impossible oprion is to become part of a musical production of the film Modern Times with marionnettes, at a local theater. Run by a hermaphrodite named Gertrude, the other member of the cast is Morton, an African-American dwarf. After several days of long hours for little pay, the three go on strike. Gertrude totally ignores the strike, and orders them back to work. When they refuse to back down, Gertrude closes down the whole production, and absconds with the money, leaving the three high and dry.

They return to Loki Kluge, who, among his other business interests, owns the Kluge Traveling Circus. Seeing dollars signs around the twins, he gives each of them a spot in the circus. Morton becomes a clown, while Einar and Trixie are placed in a giant clear plastic tube. They can dance, or cavort, or do whatever they want, as long as the customers keep paying their quarters. Financially, it is a good night, but, for Trixie especially, it is not a good night. After the circus closes for the night, things get very serious. The reason that the twins are such a curiosity in Baldric, and why they are kept confined for their whole lives, is not mentioned until late in the book.

Einar talks in a very stilted, or formal way, which is different, if nothing else. This book is short, it is interesting and the author does a very good job with it. This is well worth reading.

Profileactics: A Guide for the Prevention of Ill-Conceived Personal Ads

Profileactics: A Guide for the Prevention of Ill-Conceived Personal Ads (Baby Boomer Edition), Donna F. Ferber, Purple Lotus Press, 2009

This book looks at the world of online personal ads from the perspective of how not to do it. There are a distressingly large number of examples from which to choose.

Why is this the Baby Boomer Edition? Genxers and Millennials are entering the dating world for the first time. They are looking for someone to settle down with and start a life together. Baby Boomers have Been There, Done That. They have been through divorce; they have experienced the pain of losing a loved one through death; they have children that must be part of the equation.

The first rule of online personal ads (if there is such a thing) is Use Spellcheck. Nothing says "Delete Me" like misspelled words. The second rule is Leave Out the Bitterness. A potential date is not interested in how big of a jerk is your ex. It is perfectly reasonable to mention "deal breakers" in your ad (like smoking or being a "cat person"), but there is no need to be mean and sarcastic about it. Creativity in your ad is good, but don't overdo it.

Men are well known for objectifying women, insisting that they look good in heels and a black dress. Women can be just as bad, insisting that he not have a comb over. There are some men who work out a lot, or look younger than their chronological age, and are not afraid to let everyone know it. Self-confidence is good, arrogance and conceit is bad. Women, on the other hand, tend to play down their looks. The sooner men stop looking for a Little Mermaid (or some other female Disney character), and the sooner women stop looking for Prince Charming to sweep them off their feet, the better. Leave your deceased spouse out of the ad; no one wants to be considered a "replacement." Also, leave the "(insert pet peeve here) need not apply" out of your ad. Tell people what you want in an ad, not what you don't want. Last, but not least, if you have not yet found out what you want out of life, or don't know what you are looking for in a relationship, then why on earth are you submitting a personal ad? The only one who can find whatever it is you are lacking in your life is staring at you in the mirror.

The overwhelming feeling after reading this book is: What Were These People Thinking? This is a fascinating and easy to read book, and, yes, it does look at what should be in a personal ad. It's recommended for anyone who has ever submitted a personal ad, or for those who just want to snicker and shake their heads in disbelief.

The Skinny On the Art of Persuasion

The Skinny On the Art of Persuasion, Jim Randel, Rand MediaCo, 2010

Why are some people so good at persuading others to buy their product or service? How are some people able to (as the saying goes) sell ice to eskimoes? Here is the answer.

Once again, the characters are Billy and Beth. Billy is a real estate broker who is not doing so well. Mary, one of his co-workers, gets all the phone calls, and is selling many more houses. Billy thinks of Mary as an insincere flatterer who simply tells people what they want to hear, so she is "cheating," right? Billy doesn't know that the first step in fixing your frustration is to look in the mirror. You can't control other people, only yourself. Beth is a paralegal going to law school at night. She invites Billy to attend a session of a course on persuasion taught by Jim Randel, the book's narrator.

The book also explains the rules of persuasion. People are persuaded by people they "like." Find some common ground with the person you are trying to persuade. Consider adopting the vocabulary and speech patterns of the other person; it helps put them at ease. Effective persuasion does not just happen; preparation is vital. Learn to listen to the other person (put another way, know when to shut up). A good way to be "liked" by the other person is to listen to them. You might also pick up clues to what the other person is thinking, and how they can be persuaded. Try very hard for consistency with past commitments and statements. To make decisions, some people tend to use shortcuts. People follow celcbrities, crowdsm and authorities. Logic is rarely used in making decisions. Learn how to access people's emotions. Integrity is very important in persuasion.

Perusasiveness can be learned, without needing to resort to manipulation. Understand the rule of repicrocity; people don't like to feel indebted. Do not overdo it; subtlety works equally well.

This is part of a series that distills a large subject (like how to be persuasive) into a short and easy to read book that is made for busy people. It saves the reader from having to read many books on the topic. This book (along with the rest of the series) is very highly recommended.