Welcome!


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:

booklore.co.uk
midwestbookreview.com
2 yahoo groups
Amazon and B&N (of course)
Librarything.com
Goodreads.com
Bookwormr.com
Books-a-million.com
Reviewcentre.com
Onlinebookclub.org
Pinterest.com
and on Twitter
(seriously)

I am always looking for more places to post my reviews.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Give and Take

Give and Take, Adam M. Grant, Viking Press, 2013

American business is supposed to be a tough, ultra-competitive arena where only the strong survive, and nice guys get trampled, right? According to this book, that is not totally true.

This book looks at three different kinds of people. Takers claim as much value for themselves as possible. If, for instance, they are the CEO, they are the sort of person who has a full page picture of themselves in the company's annual report, where most other CEO's will have a much smaller picture in their annual report. Takers are very deferential to superiors, and very mean and inconsiderate to subordinates. They use words like I, me and mine, as if they single-handedly caused their company to have a profitable year.

Matchers aim to trade value evenly, as if they want to keep their spiritual inbox and outbox equal. Givers contribute to others without expecting anything in return.

The giving could involve something like arranging a business introduction, or mentoring a younger employee. There is a fine line between being a giver and a doormat; a giver must also make sure that their business duties are not being ignored. In the short term, takers may do better than givers, but, in the long term, a giver's networking, collaboration and leadership skills will come to the forefront. A giver uses words like we, us and ours.

How can a person increase their giving capacity? Take a test to see just how much of a giver you really are. Start a reciprocity ring at work. A group of employees meet weekly to make requests of each other. The intention is that everyone do what they can to fulfill those requests. It may seem a bit silly, but someone in your circle may know someone who knows someone who can fulfill your request. Publicly recognize givers at work. If you would rather give on your own, start a Personal Generosity Experiment.

This is a very thought-provoking book, which shows that nice people can finish first. The average CEO, or division head, could do a lot worse than read this book, and start to implement its recommendations.

Modern Disciples (Volume 2)

Modern Disciples (Volume 2), Ian Anderson, Outskirts Press, 2013

This is part 2 of a series about a group of average humans who are actually offspring of the gods of antiquity. It is not just Greek gods, but also Norse, Japanese and Aztec gods, who are alive and well, and mating with present-day humans.

In this book, the group of six has been given three different tasks, forcing them to split up. Jane and Ryan head into the Nevada desert, looking for a drug factory that is creating a very powerful and very addictive drug. It happens to look and taste exactly like regular tap water.

After several days of hiking, they find the drug factory (by being taken prisoner). Among the other prisoners are several women who are used in all sorts of unspeakable ways, and members of a US Army unit who were ambushed while on a training exercise. They are guarded by a number of dark elves, and members of the Army unit who were induced to go over to the "dark side." It is run by Andre Wittenburg, the local crime boss, who knows exactly what Jane and Ryan really are.

To call conditions "brutal" is a huge understatement. Jane and Ryan free the other prisoners, and destroy the camp. They have to fight a mythical creature or two along the way. After a few days to recover, the six are back together and off to their next challenge. The tears of Freya (Norse goddess and Jane's mother) were encased in amber a millennia ago. It is very important that they not fall into the wrong hands. The group heads to a very restricted part of the Atlantic Ocean, just off the Florida Keys. It's the sort of place that no sane ship's captain would ever visit. There they meet another couple of mythical creatures (who really are not so mythical).

Most times, literary sequels are not as good as the previous book. That is not true in this case. If anything, this book is better than Volume 1, because the reader gets more of the back story. This is very much worth reading.  

Monday, August 19, 2013

Ctrl Alt Delete

Ctrl Alt Delete, Mitch Joel, Business Plus, 2013

Digital technology and the Internet have changed American business from top to bottom (what else is new?). What can you, or your company, do to survive in this new landscape? This book gives some answers.

If your company doesn't already have a social media presence, forget about hiring some college kids to create one, while the rest of the company continues with its 20th century mentality. The entire company has to embrace social media, starting with the CEO. Most companies assume that they know who their customers are. Do some research, and find out for sure.

There are ways to measure, for instance, who visits your website, what pages they click on, and how long they stay. If your company is not already up to its eyeballs in analyzing such data, you are missing out on a lot of potentially useful information.

When you are talking to your customers, ask them how they stay connected. It's not a case of web or mobile or tablets being most important, but whatever screen the customer is using now. How can you make your customer's lives easier?

This book also looks at how individuals can thrive in this new landscape. It is very rare for a person to, for instance, grow up wanting to get into marketing, and then spend their entire career in marketing. It's even more unlikely for it to happen at one company. You career path is going to resemble a squiggly line. Embrace the squiggle.

As much as possible, get rid of cubicles and internal walls at your company. Encourage collaboration between different parts of your company. Such collaboration may create the new must have "killer app." The office itself is becoming less of a requirement, as it is now possible for a person's "office" to be anywhere they can use their laptop, tablet or smart phone.

Many books have been written about the new digital world. This one belongs high on the list. It is easy to read, and is full of information for employers and employees.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Kingdom Come: The Mayan Answer

Kingdom Come: The Mayan Answer, Margaret Evans, Moonlight Mystery Press, 2012

Last of a trilogy, this book is about a new age on Earth with the coming of the Mayan Sixth World. This time, something is really going to happen.

Several years previously, Amy Magee, archaeologist and expert on Mayan hieroglyphics, discovered some real Mayan pyramids that were buried. . . in central California. It seems that the Spanish wiped out only some of the Mayan race several hundred years ago; they did not wipe out the entire race.

Today, Mayan workmen are busy unearthing the new Mayan city of Ixabal, getting ready for the coronation of the new King. Amy has a major part in the ceremony, as the Bringer of the Sixth World. Everything has been kept very quiet, so that the public does not know what is happening. The exception is a nosy newspaper reporter, who has been asking questions.

A major complication happens when Will, a major figure in what is to come, gets conked on the head during a cavern cave-in, and loses a large chunk of his recent memory. That includes the memory of just what he is supposed to say and do in a couple of weeks. Candis, Will's sister, knows and accepts her part in the coming ceremony (think "human sacrifice"). Leo, her boyfriend, most assuredly does not agree. He comes up with a bold plan for the both of them to flee to someplace where they will never be found. Rumors of a huge treasure attract the attention of several international bad guys. Meantime, Amy races to interpret an ancient Mayan book which may have a very different interpretation of the start of the Sixth World.

As with most trilogies, reading the first two books first is a good idea. It's also a good idea because this book, and the whole trilogy, is that good. It's interesting and plausible and it will certainly keep the reader interested.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Star Power Astrology

Star Power Astrology: Your Red Carpet Guide to Living a Totally Fabulous Life, Suzan Hayden, NorLights Press, 2013

This book shows how to look at your life through astrology. It also explores how famous people recognized their abilities and how those abilities were used.

The first thing a person must do is to have their natal chart created. It's much more specific than the average newspaper horoscope, in that it looks at the position of the planets at the exact date, time and place of your birth. It will help identify major obstacles in your life. The position of Saturn at the time of birth means a lot. The other planets of the solar system correspond to areas of your personality (any angles or connections between them can be very good, or very bad).

The author spends much of the book with astrological biographies of famous people, ranging from Elizabeth I to Albert Einstein to Lady Gaga. Read about their childhood challenges, and perhaps they will sound very familiar. After each negative part of their personality, the author lists ways that the reader can overcome such obstacles.

Here are some examples. If your Sun opposes Neptune, maybe one or both of your parents demeaned you when you were younger (like Angelina Jolie). Find someone you can trust who can help you decide if your goals make sense. If your Mercury is square with Uranus (like Lady Gaga), you have a know-it-all attitude with a short attention span. Ask yourself why are you rebelling; is it just to challenge authority? If your Sun opposes Jupiter, you tend to promise more than you can deliver (like Nostradamus). You need to learn your limitations and develop some self-control. If your Mercury opposes Pluto, you tend to obsess about everything (like Pablo Picasso). Think before you speak, especially when you feel emotional.

This is a very interesting book, and will help people, both astrology believers and skeptics, make their way through life. I admit to being an astrology skeptic, but I am always ready to change my mind. This is very much worth reading.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Modern Disciples (Volume 1)

Modern Disciples (Volume 1), Ian Anderson, Outskirts Press, 2011

In a world where the gods of antiquity take human form and have been mating with present-day humans, one man begins to learn his destiny.

Ryan Hunter has been on his own for most of his life. One night, while accompanying a bounty hunter, Ryan sees some very strange things, and feels his godly "abilities" awakened within him. He soon finds himself, along with five other Disciples, in a hotel conference room in Orlando, Florida. Each are sitting next to their godly parents. It is not just Greek gods who are alive and well, but gods from many other cultures, including Norse, Aztec and Japanese.

The six are given a mission. They must travel into the Everglades, and kill a very special alligator. After several days trudging through the swamps, they find the alligator. Think of a giant, mutant alligator on steroids (that can climb trees). Later, the group finds a small town where they think can rest and recuperate for a few days. Strange things are going on in the town. All the women are dressed in very revealing outfits, and they all have blank looks on their faces. There are separate gatherings for men and women every night. Attendance, even by visitors, is expected. The group has to fight their way out of town.

Back at the same hotel conference room, the group learns of a fancy charity ball happening in the hotel. The organization's official address is an abandoned warehouse, and the people listed as the Board of Directors are all dead (no, they're not zombies). The group infiltrates the ball, and learns that, among other beings, vampires are involved. Do all members of the group survive their tasks? Do any of the group, three men and three women, hookup with each other? Do they stay together, and become the newest group of superheroes?

This book is better than excellent. The author does it the right way from start to finish. It has action, it has weirdness, and it has lots of good writing. I am very interested in reading future books in this series.