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, December 27, 2012

Quexistence: The Quest For the Meaning of Existence: Time Dreams

Quexistence: The Quest For the Meaning of Existence: Time Dreams, Tom Stafford, 2012, Kindle e-book

This story is about a man who does not just wonder where man came from, he attempts to find the answer.

While granddaughter Angie puts up the family Christmas tree, Gork (so named because of a noisy stomach), tells the story of how he met her grandmother Amani. In the 1960s, Gork joins an archaeological dig in an isolated bit of California. Like many people, he wants to know what his purpose is on Earth. Hiking alone in the hills, Gork has all sorts of adventures.

Gork meets a large being named Mchani, who speaks English and bears a strong resemblance to Bigfoot. He falls in a cave of bat droppings, which forces him to strip naked and wear fur pelts provided by Mchani. He is shot, and severely injured, by a couple of poachers who mistake him for a bear. When he sleeps, or is passed out, he finds himself soemwhere else in time and space. He meets a woman named Amani, who he knows is his soul mate, the other half of his being.

Gork also learns how Man came into being on Earth. Think "alien laboratory experiment." The aliens decide to eliminate those specimens that are deemed "unsatisfactory." It involves ships with ray guns blasting away on a mountain where Gork, Mchani and some "unsatisfactory" specimens are hiding. Gork also learns the truth about free will. If Man's existence on Earth is not exactly natural, what are the chances that Man's free will is somehow restricted, no matter how little? Does Gork meet Amani in the flesh? Does he survive his gunshot wound?

This is a very interesting, and contemporary, novel that will certainly get the reader thinking. Those looking for a different view of Man's origins would do well to start right here.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Local Dollars, Local Sense

Local Dollars, Local Sense: How to Shift Your Money From Wall Street to Main Street and Achieve Real Prosperity, Michael Shuman, Chelsea Green Publishing, 2012

A good way to achieve real prosperity in America is to invest money in local businesses, instead of the multi-national conglomerates of this world. This book shows some ways to do it.

First of all, forget about the usual method, that of buying shares in a local store. The vast majority of investors are "unaccredited," and for a local store to legally offer shares to the public requires an accountant, a lawyer, and several thousand dollars in expenses. A way around that is for the business owner to, for instance, offer a $100 gift card for sale to the public. The buyer then gets $125 in goods or services on that card. The business owner gets extra money coming in, and the customer gets something extra for their "investment."

The average Mega-Bank is getting less and less interested in approving a loan for someone who wants to start a business. They would much rather put their money in a higher-risk investment that offers a higher rate of return (credit default swaps, anyone?). Depositors should consider moving their money to a community bank or credit union, which is where loan-seekers should go for a loan. These are institutions where the head office is in your town, or a neighboring town, instead of a neighboring stsate. They will be much more interested in helping local businesses, and treating depositors and loan seekers as more than just a number.

Consider resurrecting regional stock exchanges, which would trade only companies from that state or region. Consider changing the SEC (Securities and Exchange Commission) rules, to make it easier for smaller companies to sell shares to the public, and make it easier for the average person to buy those shares. If you do nothing else, invest in yourself. Pay off your credit cards, pay down your mortgage as fast as possible, consider going (or going back) to school, to increase your available skills as much as possible, and consider a DIY retirement fund.

This will certainly change perceptions about finance. It is easy to read, and gives a number of ways to keep your money in your town (where it belongs).

The Like Economy: How Businesses Make Money With Facebook

The Like Economy: How Businesses Make Money With Facebook, Brian Carter, Que Publishing, 2012

This book shows that it really is possible for any business to increase their revenue through Facebook.

Among the first things a business owner should decide is just what they want from Facebook. Do they simply want "Likes" and popularity? Alternatively, do they want Facebook to drive people to the company's e-commerce website to buy something? If the latter, then it should be obvious that the buying process on the website should be as easy as possible.

Before you create your ads, you need to decide on your target audience. Please be much more specific than, for instance, "women 25-54." Plan your ads accordingly. Even the best ad is good for only a period of time, not forever. There are ways to keep your ads fresh.

Now it's time to come up with some ads to be tested (it's OK to test more than one ad at the same time). There are ways to analyze their performance; look at things like Cost per Click and Click-Through Rate. It's also necessary to break down an ad into separate parts (headline, color, photos, text, etc). Don't be afraid to delete the parts that performed badly. It's also tempting to come up with a cute and creative ad to show the world how "cool" and "cutting edge" you are. Forget it. How can you make your customer's life easier? How can your product or service fulfill a need that they don't even know they have?

Monitoring your Facebook page is an important part of customer service. Depending on your corporate response, an upset customer can either turn into an evangelist for your company, or be the beginning of an online "boycott" of your company.

This book is not Facebook for Business for Beginners. It does not specifically say it, but the book assumes that the reader has a working Facebook for Business page, and knows how to make changes to it. This is well worth reading for any business owner, small or large.