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.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Single Guy: How to Live Smarter, Date Better and Be Awesomely Happy

Single Guy: How to Live Smarter, Date Better and Be Awesomely Happy, Joe Keller, Scruffy Olive LLC, 2013

You suddenly find yourself single, either by choice or by divorce. Now what do you do?

If your soon-to-be-ex agrees, hire a mediator or write the divorce agreement yourselves. It will save both of you a lot of money over hiring divorce attorneys, and it will cut down on the arguing (very important if there are children involved). If you are the one who is moving out, look for a new place now (don't put it off). Make sure your children have a space of their own when they visit your new residence.

Your new home will probably need a good cleaning; even if it looks clean, a thorough cleaning is still a good idea. The author looks at various cleaning products that have worked for him. After all that cleaning, you are going to be hungry. In the kitchen, the author suggests sticking with the basics for now, like pots, pans and measuring cups. The fancy, high end items can come later.

At some point, you will want to invite women to your home. No to pictures of your ex, or of scantily clad women. Yes to plants, candles or pictures by your children. Other good ways to impress a woman are by showing her that you know how to cook (easy recipes are included), and that you know your way around the world of wine; the author helps with the basics.

How else can a single guy meet women? Volunteer your time, learn how to dance, join a fitness class or shop in a women's clothing or personal care store. Make sure you look presentable, approach her with confidence, and say something interesting (more than "Hey, you wanna go to a nightclub?"). When creating a dating website profile, it's OK to get a bit creative with your photo. Don't make it look like a mug shot, but don't make it part of an obviously cropped group photo. Give her a reason to open your message before all of the others she receives.

This book is excellent. It puts things very simply, for guys who have never been on their own, or whose wife has done all the cooking and cleaning. This gets two strong thumbs up.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Extreme College 101

Extreme College 101: How to Aggressively Fast-Track Your College Degree by Applying Your Already-Acquired Life Knowledge, Eli Caplin, CreateSpace, 2013

You have been working for the past several years. You feel that now is the time to get, or finish getting, your college degree. Is there any way to get college credit for what you have already learned, thereby reducing your time in the classroom, and the overall financial cost?

There are a number of things that can be done. Did you take any professional development courses as part of your job? They may be eligible for college credit. It's possible to take an Advanced Placement (AP) exam without taking the course. Talk to your local high school to find out when the exams are offered. The College Level Examination Program (CLEP) tests cover material taught in a two-year program. Other organizations offer similar programs.

If you are already in school, visit the Admissions Office, or the office that deals with lifelong learners, and ask what sort of programs they offer. If you are looking for a school to attend, a visit to their lifelong learners office might be more advantageous than taking the usual college tour. Always be aware of "diploma mills" and unaccredited online schools.

Consider taking online courses from well-known, legitimate schools. If you have the time, take a summer course or a course over winter break. The tuition, and the time required, will be less than the usual semester-long course. Need to brush up on a course before the exam? Do an internet search for "open courseware." It's a program where top schools all over the world put some, most, or all of their courses online, for Free. The only things the student does not get are access to the teacher, and credit for the course (they are not mentioned in the book, but other places to visit for free online courses are Coursera and EdX).

Some schools may ask you to write an essay explaining why you deserve credit for a specific course. Get a copy of the syllabus, which will include the learning objectives, and incorporate them in your answer.

For anyone who has been away from school for a few years, this book is a keeper. It can be read in an hour or so, and is full of information for students of nearly any age.

Monday, September 23, 2013

The Broken Gift

The Broken Gift, Daniel Friedmann, Inspired Books, 2013

It may seem impossible to reconcile the scientific and religious conceptions of Man's creation. Did Man, in his present form, come into existence as part of a week-long process several thousand years ago? On the other hand, did it happen as part of a much longer process over hundreds of millions of years?

It starts with the definition of the word "day." On the planet Venus, a day equals 243 Earth days, whereas, on the International Space Station, a day lasts for about 90 minutes. There are three different measurements of time to consider. God communicates with us using Creation Time, The universe operates on Divine Time. Human time is what we measure with our Earthly clocks.

The author goes into a lot of detail in the book, but one Creation Day equals 7,000 Divine Years. According to psalms as interpreted in the Talmud, one Divine Day equals 1,000 Human Years. Therefore, one Divine Year equals 365,000 Human Years. To turn one Creation Day into Human Years, multiply 7,000 times 1,000 times 365.25 (the number of days in one Human year), and you get 2.56 billion years. Multiply that by the six "days" of Creation in Genesis, and you get approximately 15 billion years.

Where was the Garden of Eden? According to ancient Jewish commentaries called the Midrashim, clues place it in Ethiopia, the Arabian Peninsula, India and/or Egypt. How is that possible? The land masses are constantly moving via plate tectonics. Several hundred million years ago, the continents were much closer together, so it is very possible for the Garden of Eden to be in, seemingly, four different places.

There is no evidence for a worldwide Flood. The geological evidence does not support it. There is not enough water on Earth and in the atmosphere to cover all the land. Perhaps it was a local Flood, affecting only the Biblical area.

This is certainly an eye-opener of a book. For anyone who might be concerned, how can attempting to answer some of the major questions of the Bible be considered anti-Christian? This will give the reader quite a mental workout, and it is very much recommended.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

The Solution Revolution

The Solution Revolution: How Business, Government and Social Enterprises are Teaming Up to Solve Society's Toughest Problems, William D. Eggers and Paul Macmillan, Harvard Business Review Press, 2013

Government, by itself, can no longer fix all of society's problems. Perhaps it is time for a partnership between government, business and new organizations that that are shrinking the gap between what citizens need and what government can provide.

Does your town have a rather dismal home recycling rate? Instead of spending tax money on a recycling PR campaign, visit a site called Recyclebank. They have helped towns to double or triple their recycling rate in just a few months. Is downtown clogged with traffic? Instead of imposing some sort of downtown driving fee, consider a car-sharing service like ZipCar.

It is now possible to mobilize huge amounts of resources around societal problems, while the costs plummet. In this new solution economy, the exchange and creation of value (currencies) are happening in new ways. The new currency could be data, credits, reputation or social outcomes (like reduced sickness). There are also new ways to trade these new currencies. They range from prizes and challenges, to crowdfunding platforms, to two-sided markets (with no middleman), to arrangements that pay for success. Can the same system work for international issues, like human trafficking or providing inexpensive housing for India's poor?

How can government or business help to bring about a solution economy? Government can use their purchasing power to create demand, be open to other avenues to reach a desired outcome, open up public data, avoid over-regulating the solution economy and recognize social enterprises as a new kind of business. Business can help by looking at their operating procedures against social criteria, make a bold commitment, change their sourcing practices, and find a way to leverage that open data.

This is a really interesting book. Perhaps it will inspire others to find social needs that are not yet being met, and do something about it. The only bad part of this book is the lack of a list in the back of the websites mentioned in the book (there are quite a number of them). Aside from that, this book is very much worth reading, for businesses and individuals.

Thinking in New Boxes

Thinking In New Boxes: Five Essential Steps to Spark the Next Big Idea, Luc de Brabandere and Alan Iny, Random House, 2013

Your company makes buggy whips. It has always made buggy whips. Sales have been flat for the past several quarters. As CEO, what, if anything, are you going to do about it?

First of all, doubt everything about your company (but not to the point of paralysis). Put everything about your company, and your view of the market, under the microscope. Don't assume that anything about your company will stay the same in the future. Next, you need to look around and consider your options. It's
normal to keep your minds in the box labeled "buggy whips" (thinking that the only allowable options are those that involve buggy whips). Get that thought out of your head right now.

Set up an off-site meeting of at least half a day with your senior management, or your entire company, if it is small enough, to brainstorm ideas for the future of your company. As a bit of mental exercise, describe your company's product without using the five most obvious words. Quantity of ideas is more important than quality. Do not denigrate any idea, no matter how strange it sounds. With a little tweaking, what sounds like a terrible idea could become your company's economic lifesaver.

A later session, preferably with a different group of people, is dedicated to converging those many ideas into something more manageable. Now you can cross out the ideas that are just not feasible for your company, and combine similar ideas. Get down to a small number (three or four) new ideas or concepts or potential new products that your company can put into practice; then, do it. No idea will work forever, so constantly re-evaluate your new ideas, and don't be afraid to replace an old idea with a new one.

 This may seem like a rather dry and boring concept, but the authors do a very good job at making it not so dry and boring. It's interesting, and it has a lot to say to companies of any size.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Vic: Time Doesn't Matter

Vic: Time Doesn't Matter, Jerry Gill and Edgar Rice Burroughs, CreateSpace, 2013

This is the story of a love that really does span the ages.

The first two parts of this book are actually abridged versions of a pair of Edgar Rice Burroughs novels (that is why he is listed as a co-author). They tell the story of Victoria Custer, your average resident of the early 20th century. She likes candy, her favorite color is pink, and she is very interested in hats and barrettes. She is also deathly afraid of earthquakes, and she is very troubled by dreams and visions of a handsome young man whose name, she learns, is Nu.

A millenia ago, Nu was part of a tribe living in an earthquake-prone part of Africa. It was a time when death could come anywhere and anytime, whether from a snake bite, or being devoured by a large, carnivorous beast. Nu is very interested in taking Nat-ul as his mate. Her "price" is the head of Oo, a very large lion who has caused their group many problems in the past. While off on his solo hunt, an earthquake knocks out Nu, and seals him in a cave, for 100,000 years. Another earthquake opens his cave, and he awakens in the 1920's. For Nu, it's a very boring place, except for meeting Victoria, who is there on a vacation. She could be Nat-ul's identical twin sister. The attraction is immediate, and mutual.

The third part (the part written by Gill) takes Victoria from the family farm in Nebraska to the Yucatan Peninsula, in Mexico. By now, she has embraced her inner cave woman (Nat-ul is now a part of her), and she is planning to visit the Mayan ruins at Chichen Itza. Her brother, Barney, goes with her, knowing that Vic is quite prepared to go by herself. While there, Vic has many adventures, including helping to release several young children from being sold into slavery, killing a jaguar single-handedly, and falling into an underground river, which leads to her almost being devoured by a hideous flying beast. Of course, Vic has a bigger reason for her trip than simply becoming an adventure addict.

I really enjoyed this book. Gill does a very credible continuation of the story of Victoria/Nat-ul. Nearly anything written by ERB will have good writing, and lots of action; so does the third part. This is very much worth the reader's time.