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.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Daughter of the Sun

Daughter of the Sun, Three Phoenix, Capital Apple Press, 2012

The people of the valley of East Mountain are looked after by Elana, the Daughter of the Sun. Whenever she smiled, the sun would join in and spread happiness and joy over the whole valley. The people thought she was magic.

For unknown reasons, a feeling of unhappiness has come over the people. AhMun, the corn grower, and a couple of his friends decide to visit Elana and ask for her help.

Naturally, getting to Elana is not easy. When they reach her, AhMun receives a beam of sunlight from her, and imagines that the bad feelings in the village have disappeared. He gives a big smile back to Elana, who relays it to her father, the sun. AhMun and friends return to the village and everyone is happy. One day, a thundercloud comes by and learns that Elana has a very different interpretation of her dealings with the villagers than do the villagers.

This book is made to be read to children under 10 years of age. Older children will also enjoy it. Yes, it is worth the time.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

GPS Your Best Life

GPS Your Best Life: Charting Your Destination and Getting There in Style, Charmaine Hammond and Debra Kasowski, Bettie Youngs Books, 2012

This book compares the journey through life to going on a trip using your car's GPS system.

When using a GPS, you need to start with entering your present location. The book has a questionnaire to help determine where you are now, emotionally and psychologically. Then you can enter your destination, or your ultimate goal (it can range from losing a few pounds to starting your own business). Your journey will be difficult if your windshield is dirty, or covered with bugs. Make sure your goal is clear and attainable, and regularly evaluate yourself to make sure you are still on course.

How do you get from here to there? Start a vision board to show what your ideal life looks like. Visualize your best life; it will help you focus. Resolve to do five GPS actions every day. It does not matter how small they are; after a week, a month, or a year, you will be that much closer to your destination/goal.

Make sure there is nothing holding you back, like forgetting to release the parking brake. Fear, worries and excuses are like radio stations on your car radio. Just as you can change to another radio station, you can stop listening to the negative internal chatter, and replace it with positive thoughts.

Roadblocks and potholes are a part of life. Are you going to give up on your goal because the road has gotten bumpy, or are you going to find a way around it? Having a backseat driver in your car is never fun. How do you deal with an emotional backseat driver?

When you reach your destination/goal, go right ahead and celebrate. Send yourself an e-card of congratulations, take a picture of the "new" you, take a day off with no cell phone or computer to distract you, look yourself in the mirror and say "Thank you." Now, it is time to start thinking about your next goal.

This is a really good, and really easy to read, piece of writing. It is better than most self-help books in that it explores the journey to an emotional goal in terms that anyone can relate to, using a car's GPS system. It's short, and it's recommended.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Madam President

Madam President (American Myth Series), Jerry Beller, 2013, Kindle e-book

This novel looks at the presidency of America's first black, female President.

In 2012, things are not going well for Kalinda Resbo. She can't get anything through Congress, mostly because Congressional Republicans have decided to say No to anything she advocates. Congressional Democrats are not much better, being too cowardly to stand with her. Her CIA and FBI Directors, along with her Vice President (they were forced on her by the Democratic leadership), are neo-cons who really want to start a war with Iran over their nuclear program. Because Resbo does not agree, they are actively hostile to her, undermining her whenever possible. In the eyes of some, as an unmarried black woman, she is automatically an America-hating lesbian socialist. With election season here, her poll numbers are not good, mostly due to her abrasive campaign manager.

There are some good people in her administration. Among them is J.B. Wellers, her Chief of Staff, who also ran her first presidential campaign. He is one of those who is not afraid to tell the unvarnished truth, even to her, which is why she values his advice so strongly. She asks him to take over her campaign again, and things start to improve. Resbo makes a bold move by announcing that she is running for re-election as an Independent, and with a new running mate. Unconstrained by party requirements, she makes a series of gutsy proposals for her second term. Among the things she advocates are: replacing the federal income tax with a national sales tax; geting rid of the two-party system; term limits for the Congress and President; campaign finance reform, filibuster reform and closing all foreign military bases. her two opponents, Mitt Romney and Leroy Skittles (her current VP) can't keep up with her and have to rely on the usual political nonsense. Resbo is ahead in the polls, but not enough to keep the election out of the House of Representatives. Meantime, a secret plan is brought forward to make sure that Resbo is a one-term President, using a method that was last used successfully in 1963 in Dallas.

This is not a liberal or conservative story, but it is a really good story. Both parties share the blame for America's current condition, and, if both parties can somehow put America ahead of Party, maybe some of it can get fixed. This is well worth the reader's time.  

Thursday, March 14, 2013

The 7-Minute Miracle: The Breakthrough Program to Banish Spot Fat Forever

The 7-Minute Miracle: The Breakthrough Program to Banish Spot Fat Forever, Sheldon Levine MD, Lifeline Press, 2002

This book describes a way to get rid of your body's spot fat, without special diets or joining a gym. All it takes is seven minutes a day.

It looks at the areas of troublesome fat, your arms, belly, hips, butt and thighs. The idea is to get adrenaline (also called epinephrine) to your trouble area, where it will tell an enzyme in fat cells to start the fat-burning process. The book gives pictures of exercises intended for each specific area. General exercising, like aerobics or jogging, might help your body overall, but it will do little, or nothing, for your trouble area.

Here is what you do. For instance, do belly exercise #1 until you can't do anymore. Go right to belly exercise #2, without stopping, and then go right to the third belly exercise, again without stopping. Continue through the cycle until you reach seven minutes, then stop. Do not eat or drink anything, except water, for the next 40 minutes. You don't want to bring the fat-burning process to a screeching halt by eating something filled with carbs or sugar. Then you should have your daily healthy meal. If you exercise in the morning, make breakfast your healthy meal. If you exercise in the late afternoon, make dinner your healthy meal. If it is not possible to follow the menus in the book, the author looks at the kind of foods that are healthy, or unhealthy, to eat.

If you have more than one trouble area, then, for instance, do your belly exercises on one day, your hips exercises the next day, and your butt exercises on the day after that. Don't combine them. If you workout regularly, separate your regular workout and your seven-minute workout by at least three hours, allowing your adrenaline level to return to normal. Simply adding seven minutes to your regular workout is a waste of time.

This fat-loss system seems to be easy enough for everyone. Anyone can spare seven minutes a day, even stay-at-home moms. Best of all, there are no special meals, or exercise gadgets, to buy. This is very much worth reading, for everyone.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Digital Disruption: Unleashing the Next Wave of Innovation

Digital Disruption: Unleashing the Next Wave of Innovation, James McQuivey, Amazon Publishing, 2013

The increasing digitization of our world has turned the business world upside down. In every industry, some companies are getting closer to their customers and undercutting other competitors. This book gives the details.

There are many, many free digital tools available to potential innovators. Next, a digital platform is needed to get it, whatever it is, to the customer as quickly as possible. These are usually very inexpensive. Keep a very close eye on your feedback. For example, if it says that upgrades should move in this direction, instead of that direction, don't wait until next quarter, or even next month, to do the upgrade; start on it today.

"Our company is innovative." "Our customers are totally loyal to us." "Our company is un-disruptable." Can you really afford to take such a chance? Companies no longer sell products or services; they sell total product experiences. It starts when a person visits your company online for the first time, and goesall  the way until they get the product home and open it. There are ways to measure just how much time a person spends at your website or Facebook page. A company goal might be to get people to spend more time there, instead of simply increasing sales.

Don't ask "What new thing can we sell?" Instead, you should ask "What is next thing our customer needs? What adjacent need can we fill that our customer does not even know that they have?" It's tempting to fill any new product or service with benefits for the customer, to be all things to all people. Don't do it. Pick just a couple of the biggest benefits, and concentrate on those.

This book is full of examples of how even non-digital experiences like selling shoes can be digitally disrupted. It does a very good job of helping any company to be the disrupter, and not the one being disrupted. It is very much worth reading.

The Slow Fix

The Slow Fix: Solve Problems, Work Smarter and Live Better in a World Addicted to Speed, Carl Honore, HarperOne, 2013

In this speed-obsessed, quick-fix world, it has become almost normal to expend the minimum amount of effort, in business and in life. But that approach is never quick, and usually makes things worse.

If you make a mistake, admit it. Don't try to blame someone else. If you are the boss, don't treat that mistake as a disaster that requires that someone be fired. Instead, treat it as an opportunity to take a very close look at your entire process. It may seem preferable to worry only about immediate problems. Is that really better, and cheaper, than going through every bit of your business, top to bottom, to make sure everything is working properly?

An underlying, fundamental problem rarely has just one cause. Try linking the various pieces of that fundamental problem. Don't focus just on today; look at tomorrow, too. Will fixing Problem X now lead to other big problems next month, or next year?

Naturally, the devil is in the details. Be willing to see things in a new light. Preparation ahead of time, being ready for anything, will help keep problems from rearing their ugly heads. Don't be afraid to collaborate, especially with someone who has a different field of expertise. A different set of eyes may be just what is needed to solve your problem. There are times when crowdsourcing is the best place to go for an answer to your problem. Don't underestimate the power of games to solve problems.

Meant more for groups than individuals, this is an excellent book. It is very thought-provoking, and is recommended for everyone.