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.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Everything Will Be All Right

Everything Will Be All Right, Douglas Wallace, Amazon Digital Services, Inc., 2012

This is the memoir of a person who was born into extreme poverty, and who never let go of his life-long dream of becoming a lawyer.

The author was born in a ramshackle house in the backwoods of Tennessee. Part of a large family, the children helped out in the garden, or spent their days in the local woods hunting and looking for edible plants. Mom was the rock that held the family together. Dad worked occasionally; the rest of the time he was drunk, abusive or absent. Nearby relatives were a big help.

The family was forced to move every few months, because Dad had no intention of paying rent on whatever run-down house they were occupying. As the "new kid" in school, Wallace attracted the attention of the local bullies in whatever school he was attending. He got a reputation as someone who was not afraid to fight; he knew that "not fighting" was not an option.

As a young boy, one night, he received an overwhelming feeling of total peace and total love, maybe from God. He also received the words "everything will be all right," which has been his mantra ever since. The family spent his high school years in a government-run housing project. All-night drunkenness and violence were common. Wallace was "invited" several times to take part in fights where his physical survival was not a sure thing.

After a couple of detours, he received his GED, and enrolled in the University of Wisconsin. An academic miscalculation caused him to be drafted into the Army. Instead of going to Vietnam, he was a Company Clerk (like MASH's Radar O'Reilly) in Korea. Returning home, he got a decent job with a company that eventually sent him to their Atlanta office. He finished his college education, and found a small law school nearby. Did he hold on to his dream of becoming a lawyer? Does he succeed in becoming a lawyer?

No matter how bad a person's personal situation is, everyone has two choices. The first choice is to wallow in alcohol, violence and dead-end jobs, blaming "the man" for your plight. The second is to get your high school education, get a good job with some sort of future, or go to college, and then get a good job with some sort of future. Many people, including several of the author's siblings, chose the first route. If this book can get just a couple of people to see that there is an alternative to their current situation, it will have done its job. It is highly recommended. 

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Business Plans That Work

Business Plans That Work: Why Some Do and Most Don't, Cynthia Kocialski, 2013, Amazon Digital Services, Inc.

Writing a business plan is a necessary part of starting a new business, because all of the how-to-start-a-business books say that it is. Even the best business plan is little more than fiction. There is an alternative.

A concept plan helps to identify the guesses and estimates in the average business plan, and helps to eventually turn them into facts. The idea is to help discover the right business model and right product. Find a way to test your product before actual customers, so that you will have something factual to show to potential investors. If your product, or your whole business idea, neeeds major changes, it's better to find out now, instead of after several years of struggle and money losses.

When it comes to deciding on a purpose or vision for your company, please come up with something better than "the leading supplier of (your product)." What business or consumer problem does your product solve? Do some consumer research to find out what sort of actual problems your product can fix. Are you ready to sell this product, and remain passionate about it, for the next 20 years? What will the product look like? Doing a demo with an actual example of your product will help greatly. Who is your customer? Why should they buy from you, a start-up, instead of an established company? Who are your competitors?

It's never too early to start marketing. How will you make your money? There are many different ways to do it. What is your pricing strategy? How will your product actually be made? If overseas, how will it be shipped from there to here? What about all the other parts of running a business, like accounting, HR and funding?

This book is short, and it is excellent. Written by a Silicon Valley veteran, it is full of information for start-ups of any kind. This easily reaches the level of Must Read for entrepreneurs.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Conversations on the Bench: Life Lessons From the Wisest Man I Ever Knew

Conversations on the Bench: Life Lessons From the Wisest Man I Ever Knew, Digger Cartwright, Xlibris Corp., 2013

Inspired by actual events, this book is about two men with a bond closer than that of brothers, though they could not be more different.

The author is invited to a high-class country club in South Carolina, to a meeting of Thinking Outside The Boxe (with an "e"). It's a non-partisan think tank with the intention of coming up with real, not "liberal" or "conservative," solutions to America's problems. The two people behind it are Robbie, a serious younger man who is always seen in a black three-piece suit, even while playing billiards at the local sports bar, and Sebastian, a very obese older man who knows everyone, and is the epitome of "larger than life." During a private round of golf, Robbie asks Cartwright to write a book giving Sebastian's view of life, without tellin Sebastian.

The book consists of a number of short stories, with Robbie and Sebastian at their local bar, having dinner, playing billiards and solving the world's problems. If you are not satisfied with the current condition of your life, are you going to do anything about it, or just whine and complain? Don't be upset if you can't be a whatever-you-studied-in-college; the world will always need plumbers and bartenders. Always give your personal best, no matter what; don't fear failure. Some things, and some people, in this world just can't be explained. If you ever find yourself in a position of strength, don't let go; you will never get it back. There will always be negative people in this world; don't let them drag you down. Showing anger toward others is a sign of weakness.Sometimes, it's best to swallow your pride. Never live your life for someone else, no matter who it is, but live it for yourself.

I know what you are thinking: not another self-help/motivation book! This one is different, and is much, much better than the average book. Instead of trying to tell the "right" way to live, Sebastian shows just how to do it. This is extremely highly recommended.