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 22, 2012

Stop Alzheimer's Now

Stop Alzheimer's Now! How to Prevent and Reverse Dementia, Parkinson's, ALS, Multiple Sclerosis and Other Neurodegenerative Disorders, Bruce Fife, Piccadilly Books, 2011

Dementia is a huge problem for a rapidly growing number of people all over the world. This book shows how to prevent its onset, and even reverse the symptoms, without drugs.

Dementia, which includes Alzheimer's, ALS, Parkinson's and other such diseases, can come about in a surprisingly large number of ways. Did you know that Alzheimer's is also known as Type III Diabetes? The connection between them is that strong. The toxins can come from an improperly cleaned out tooth that is getting a root canal (it is very difficult to properly clean out such a tooth). For some people, the cause can be getting the wrong anesthesia during a routine operation. Be very careful when taking a statin drug, or any drug that alters brain chemistry (the book contains a list of drugs that seniors should avoid). Other things to be reduced, or avoided altogether, are aluminum, like in frying pans, and excitotoxins like aspartame. The author does not mean to say that being diabetic, or taking an over-the-counter medicine, or living on diet soda will automatically to Alzheimer's or ALS, but that such people are more susceptible than the average person.

Now, on to the important part: how to stop dementia, or at least greatly slow it down? Raise your body's ketone levels by consuming at least 5 tablespoons of coconut oil (available at your local health food store) every day. It can be used in food preparation, or taken separately like a supplement. Go on a low-carb diet; how low depends on your fasting blood glucose level. If you don't already do so, get in the habit of reading nutrition labels. Get your teeth checked, and correct any existing infections. Take dietary supplements, including an iron-free multivitamin, Q10, Magnesium and Vitamin C. Get some Vitamin D in your body, either through taking a supplement or being outside. Have at least 1 serving of fish per week. Last, but not least, get some moderate physical and mental exercise.

Stopping dementia does not get much easier than this, especially if your family has a history of it, or the symptoms have already started to show themselves. For those who are Alzheimer's caregivers, consider trying some of the things mentioned in this book (you have little or nothing to lose). This book is extremely highly recommended, for everyone.

Wagons to Hangtown

Wagons to Hangtown: A Story of the California Gold Rush, Diana M. Johnson, Superior Book Publishing Co., 2010

Set in the 1850s, this novel is about a trio of young men who travel across America, seduced by that word: gold.

Edward Daingerfield, his cousin, Richard, and their friend, Lewis, are not the only ones heading west. In St. Joseph, Missouri, they buy provisions, and have to wait their turn crossing the Mississippi River. Eventually, they join a wagon train. Trying to make the crossing on your own is, on many levels, a really bad idea. After many trials and tribulations, including a couple of deaths from cholera, and passing the skeletons of wagons and animals that didn't make it, the train reaches California.

The trio find a spot to start their gold prospecting, and immediately get to it. They do find some gold, enough to buy supplies, but their luck is generally bad. After several months, Edward takes a part-time job at the local post office, in order to provide a more steady income. He becomes an early mailman, delivering mail by stagecoach to the nearby towns and villages. Edward gets involved in writing for a couple of local newspapers. After a couple of years, Richard and Lewis head back home to Indiana, having actually made some money. Edward decides to stay in California.

Edward can't get Mrs. Gould out of her mind. She is an older woman who came west as part of the same wagon train, and whose (second) husband was one of the cholera casualties. She now runs a rooming house in Sacramento, which Edward visits every week for a home-cooked meal. Also coming west is Ellen, Mrs. Gould's 10-year-old daughter. During the trip west, she boldly announces that, one day, she and Edward will be married. Does it happen?

This story is full of excellent writing. Edward Daingerfield is an actual ancestor of the author, so the research is meticulous. It's interesting from beginning to end, and is very much worth the reader's time.


Crooked, Brian M. Wiprud, Bantam Dell, 2006

This is a rather quirky mystery novel that involves a very valuable stolen painting, drilling for gold in New York Harbor, and various types of dysfunctional relationships.

Nicholas Pahlinic is a hustler and retriever-of-missing-items for big insurance companies. He is the family black sheep who knows every lowlife and nook & cranny in the city. His brother, Garth, is a taxidermist. His latest job leads him to Beatrice Belarus, a high-powered art dealer who has no problem with rolling over people to get what she wants. She also has a very large cash-flow problem.

Drummond Yager has spent his adult life traveling around the world retrieving things for Newcastle Warranty. Usually, the assignments took him to places like deep in the Amazon rain forest, or deepest, darkest Africa. He is in New York City while his employer looks for the best way to get rid of him. Barney Swires is a city employee with a 'sixth sense' about finding things like abandoned maintenance tunnels and unused sewers deep under the city. He is confident that he has found the site where, in the 1850s, a ship went down carrying millions of dollars in gold. The spot is now part of an unofficial island in New York Harbor. Some "unofficial" drilling is needed, so the Pazzo brothers are hired. They are roughnecks who play in a local hockey league. It's the sort of game where the broken bones and concussions are counted at the end. Everything manages to come together at the end of the story.

This is a really good piece of writing. The mystery part will keep the reader's interest, along with the unique characters. It feels like it was written by someone who knows his way around the less well-known parts of the Big Apple.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The Winnowing

The Winnowing, Chris Fyles, Lulu, 2012

This novel is about a young man who seems to have lost his moral compass.

Set in northwest England, Richard is living in a strange city, friendless and an alcoholic. After an encounter with a transsexual prostitute one night, and seeing a couple get intimate against a stone wall, Richard tells how he got to this point.

Richard strongly believed in moral absolutes; certain things are Right or Wrong. It came from his parents. On his way to school, Richard sees a couple of boys who are torturing a cat. It has been tied to a fence post by its neck, and the boys are throwing gravel at it. Richard chases them away, and tries to untie the cat. At that monent, the cat's owner drives up, rescues the cat, and loudly accuses Richard of causing the cat's torment. Richard falls in lust, not love, with Laurie, a friend of his mother's, who does little to dissuade him.

Bullying and fighting seem to be common at Richard's school. He is usually one of the targets; rarely does he have the guts to defend himself. On one occasion, Richard and another student circle each other, both waiting for the other to throw the first punch. A teacher stops it, both students are dragged inside, and Richard is suspended for a week. His parents are very upset. Later, Richard is told by other students that his punishment would have been less severe if he had let the other student beat him to a pulp.

Richard also seems to acquire a liking for violence. He tries to firebomb a neighbor's detached coal bin. A friend has gotten involved in the White Power movement, so Richard is dragged along to the commission of a hate crime. Laurie introduces Richard to Jack, an elderly man who is attempting to put his life back together after some, shall we say, emotional challenges. Richard visits Jack several times; Jack seems like a decent person, except for his hair-trigger temper. At the end, Richard learns the exact nature of Jack's emotional challenges.

In a way, this is not very pleasant reading, but it is very good reading. It's the sort of story that could take place anywhere, and happen to nearly anyone. There is lots of good writing here, and it is very much worth reading.

What Sex is a Republican?

What Sex is a Republican? Stories From the Front Lines in American Politics and How You Can Change the Way Things Are, Terri McCormick, The Capitol Press, 2010

This book gives and inside look at present-day state government in America. It is not a pretty picture.

The author, a resident of Wisconsin, first got involved in state politics while working to get a law passed establishing charter schools in Wisconsin. It was intended to help those students who don't fit in the usual classroom setting. The state teacher's union was not happy. McCormick ran for the state legislature on the Republican ticket, but with a populist philosophy. Solving problems that affect the people of Wisconsin should be uppermost in the minds of all state legislators, right?

Republicans are all about cutting spending, and shrinking the size of government, at least in public. But, heaven forbid that a Republican legislator should propose a bill to actually cut spending. The Republican leadership will make sure that the bill never sees the light of day, and the legislator will be told that if they even think of ever doing that again, they can expect a primary opponent at the next election. Many members of the Wisconsin legislature are there simply to line their own pockets (while McCormick was in the legislature, several senior Republicans were under indictment for fraud). The next most important job for a Wisconsin Republican legislator was to do whatever was necessary to make the Democrats look bad. Helping the people was at the bottom of the list.

Intending to keep McCormick busy and quiet for several months, the Republican leadership gave her a task force, involving Medicare Cost Sharing. After several months of meetings and public hearings, McCormick wrote a bill that would actually save the state some money. She was not supposed to do that.

This is a very eye-opening look at the condition of state government in America. If you think Congress is partisan and inflexible, read this book and see that, frequently, state government is just as bad. This is very much worth the reader's time.

Red Alert: How China's Growing Prosperity Threatens the American Way of Life

Red Alert: How China's Growing Prosperity Threatens the American Way of Life, Stephen Leeb & Gregory Dorsey, BusinessPlus, 2011

America is in a race with China that will go a long way toward determining our future quality of life. Few Americans know that this race is underway.

World supplies are growing very tight of certain key minerals (sometimes called strategic minerals) that are absolutely vital for the smooth running of a 21st century economy. Names like neodymium, europium, indium and niobium may sound very boring, but you can't run a high-tech economy without them. China has spent years, and a lot of money around the world, getting its hands on every bit of such materials that it can find. China is doing it not just to keep their economy growing, but because, one day, the supply will run out, and they want to be in the driver's seat.

For a number of other, equally important, minerals, of which America imports all of its supply, the world's biggest supplier is China. The American attitude is that technology will save the day. How is that going to happen if China decides that some vital mineral will be much less available?

Estimates put the cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan at nearly $3 trillion. Even a portion of that money would have been much better spent on renewable energy, especially solar energy. China is the world leader in making solar panels, and their lead widens every day. How can America have any hope of catching up when federal investments are in the hundreds of millions of dollars (at the most), and China's investments are in the billions of dollars?

Everyone has seen pictures of acres and acres of electronic equipment dumped all over China. The methods to extract the metals inside may be low-tech and toxic, but even a small amount of gold, for instance, per monitor, multiplied by millions of monitors, is a substantial amount of gold that China can use elsewhere.

America can not depend on new sources of oil to power its economy, because the authors assert that "peak oil" has arrived. It is the point at which the era of "easy" oil extraction has ended, and any new discoveries will be harder and harder to extract ("Drill, baby, drill" is simplistic, at best).

This is a fascinating and very important book. It is very much worth reading for all Americans, and especially for all members of Congress.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Job Searching With Social Media For Dummies

Job Searching With Social Media For Dummies, Joshua Waldman, John Wiley & Sons, 2011

Everyone says that using social media is the contemporary way to find a job. This book attempts to painlessly take the reader through the process.

First, do an online search of your own name to see what the Internet says about you. If there are any drunken or racy photos of you on Facebook, for instance, restrict their availability, or delete them, now. You can count on a potential employer doing the same search. If an online search comes up empty, the author explains how to fix it. Why should a potential employer consider someone who doesn't exist online? Next, you need to come up with your own personal brand. What do you want potential employers to know about you? How will you distinguish yourself from the millions of other online job seekers? Use keywords that search engines will recognize, but don't go overboard.

For those interested in any sort of professional job, LinkedIn should be the first site to visit and fill out a profile. Consider joining, and contributing to, a few groups, to let as many people as possible know that you exist. Put your resume online, with an appropriate number of search engine keywords. Target it for different companies. Find some way to tell a potential employer what you can do for them, how you can make their lives easier. Don't tell them what you have done in the past. Consider a video resume, especially if you are interested in an arts or creative position.

Strongly consider signing up for Facebook and twitter, if you have not already done so. They are both good ways of expanding your network, of letting more people know that you are job hunting. Be sure to follow your target company/companies. The book also looks at connecting with the specific hiring manager at your target company. In more and more cases, they will be doing the hiring, not the Human Resources Department, which has been scaled back, or abolished.

There is a lot to job searching online, and this book does an excellent job at explaining it, clearly and succinctly. Even if you do only a few things in this book, and not all of them, you will be far ahead of most job seekers. It is very much worth the money.

Black Market Billions

Black Market Billions: How Organized Retail Crime Funds Global Terrorists, Hitha Prabhakar, FT Press, 2012

Shoplifting (now called Organized Retail Crime) is no longer perpetrated just by people from the inner city needing money for drugs. It is a multi-billion dollar, worldwide industry enriching various terrorist groups all over the world.

These are very tight-knit groups, akin to Mafia "families." The "boosters" travel certain routes around America, doing the actual shoplifting. They give the items to a Level 1 fence, who might give or sell them to a level 2 or 3 fence. These could be legitimate import/export businesses doing the fencing, with the illegal part as a sideline. By this time, it is nearly impossible to track the items. Sometimes, the items are sold right back to the retailer from which they were stolen. They could also be sold on online auction sites (like ebay), and they could show up at your local flea market. There are occasional high-profile seizures of millions of dollars in fake or stolen goods, but, in general, the thieves are several steps ahead of the authorities.

Various law enforcement agencies, from the local to the federal level, either can't, or don't want to, share information. They all want the "big score." Individual state laws are full of loopholes, or are ambiguous, about basic things like the definition of "shoplifting." When someone is arrested, the local District Attorney's office might not want to spend the time following the money, or may be interested only in "Mr. Big." There are a number of ways to move money overseas that get around the federal $10,000 threshold. Thieves are certainly using them, but legislation has yet to catch up.

What can the average mall retailer do about it? They can start by training their employees to watch for shoplifters. Especially during the holidays, many part-timers are hired who are not trained in loss prevention, or who don't care (very often, employees are doing the stealing). Stores need to balance increased spending on loss prevention against not driving away customers. During the current economic uncertainty, everyone wants a bargain. Is that "discounted" designer handbag or infant formula really such a bargain knowing that your money could end up in the coffers of Colombia's FARC or Hamas?

To call this book an eye-opener is a huge understatement. It is a very interesting book that is highly recommended. 

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

To Be Rich Be Lazy

To Be Rich Be Lazy: How to Start an Online Business with No Time, No Money and No Skills, Linh Hoang, 2011, Kindle e-book

Here is an easy way to start an online business that really does not require any money upfront, or items to sell. The magic word is: outsourcing.

The "usual" way to start a business is to set up a bricks and mortar storefront, but there are all sorts of upfront expenses. The business owner has to think about rent, utilities, purchasing items to sell, state and federal business taxes, paying employees a decent wage, providing benefits like health insurance, all the way down to free coffee in the break room. Starting an e-commerce site, like through eBay or etsy, is less costly, but there is still the possibility of being stuck with boxes and boxes of items to sell, before the site gets popular. All you need to start an outsourcing site is a computer with a reliable Internet connection.

Consider becoming one of those individuals who brings together business owners who need help with the less-important parts of their company, and those who are willing to do the work, even if they live overseas. Whether you are a business owner who needs help, or a budding outsourcing entrepreneur, visit some of the major outsourcing sites, like odesk or elance. Check out some of the available jobs, and profiles of some of the workers. Get an idea of the rates being charged; if you price yourself too high or too low, you may get no response.

If you start your own outsourcing site, it may take some work to get workers to become your "employees" (for lack of a better term) and to believe that you will pay them on time. This gives you a chance to use your sales and persuasion skills. Another question to consider is how much you will charge the client as your fee. For example, say that a job is worth $100. How much will you add on as your fee; 25%; 50%; maybe even 100%?

This book is short, less than 100 pages, and it is full of information and very easy to read. It is recommended for everyone; business owners who need help, would-be entrepreneurs, and those who want to make some extra money doing things like data entry, computer programming or web design.