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, October 28, 2013

The Diet Dropout's Guide to Natural Weight Loss

The Diet Dropout's Guide to Natural Weight Loss, Stan Spencer, Fine Life Books, 2013

After trying every diet known to man, you keep getting frustrated when the weight does not stay off for very long. Perhaps it is time to change your attitudes toward food. That is what this book is all about.

Are you an emotional eater? Do you turn to food when life gets emotionally overwhelming? Do not worry about what might happen in the future; focus on now. Relax your mind by focusing on the present, but limit that focus to a single perception or physical sensation. You can also try meditation, or repetitive activity, like lawn mowing or vacuuming the floor, to trigger the relaxation response. Remove thoughts like "I'm so stupid" or "Life isn't fair" from your brain right now. Your way of thinking will become more rational and you will be less of a slave to your emotions. Accept those things that you cannot change.

It's easier to avoid temptations than to resist them. get junk food out of your house, or, at least, hide it. Start buying healthy food at the supermarket. Decide, in advance, what you will do when you pass by the candy dish on the co-worker's desk. When the craving comes, think about something else. A craving is a psychological need, rather than a physical need. Look up "calories burned calculator" online, and see just how much exercise is needed to burn the calories in a bottle of soda. Tell yourself that you are not interested. If all else fails, take a brisk walk. When confronted with, for instance, a plate of chocolate chip cookies, mentally make them boring so as to remove the emotional need for them. Add a couple of hairs to the plate, or add a bit of mold to a couple of the cookies. You don't need to go so far as to, mentally, turn them into a plate of toxic waste; keep it simple.

It is possible to eat less without going hungry. Add fresh fruit, vegetables and nuts to your diet. Don;t skip a meal; it will leave you tempted to snack on junk food. Get enough sleep, and watch less TV. Physical activity will help to boost your metabolism, and help you lose weight. The book also debunks a number of weight loss myths.

This book is short, and it is excellent. This is weight loss without pills, special meals or other gimmicks. It is highly recommended for anyone who has ever tried to lose weight.


Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook

Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook: How to Tell Your Story in a Noisy, Social World, Gary Vaynerchuk, HarperCollins, 2013

It is getting increasingly hard for companies, big and small, to tell their story in this noisy, chaotic, social media world. This book attempts to make that task a little easier.

Most companies are on social media because it is "expected," or because their competitors are already here. But they have little, or no, idea as to how to do it the right way. Perhaps the biggest rule is to Create Interesting Content. Give people a reason to visit you on Facebook or Twitter more than once. Post something funny, or something that makes the reader think. Later, you can ask for their money ("Buy Our Stuff"). It should be obvious that the link included with the request for your customer's money should go right to your website's ordering page, not the main page. Make it as easy as possible for people to buy your stuff.

What works on Facebook will not work on Twitter or Instagram, nor should it. You need to get creative and tailor your posts to each site. The author spends much of the book looking at actual marketing campaigns, from big and small companies, on various social media sites. He explains exactly how Company A got it right, Company B got it half-right, and Company C really shouldn't have bothered.

The days of a company choosing a motto or a face of the company, and using it everywhere for several months, are also gone. Don't be afraid to change your marketing often, even every day. If your Twitter or Pinterest approach is not working (there are ways to gather, and analyze, such information), dump it, now. It is not going to suddenly get better.

The author makes it easy in showing, instead of telling, how to do social media marketing. Even those companies who have yet to "get it," will be able to understand. This book is recommended for companies of all sizes; if your company is not already active on social media, why not?

Eat Move Sleep

Eat Move Sleep, Tom Rath, Mission Day, 2012

In his 20's, the author was diagnosed with a rare genetic condition. It shuts off his body's tumor-fighting capabilities, and makes it very easy for him to get cancer. While adjusting to a life of annual CT scans and MRI's and operations to remove small tumors, he became very interested in health and wellness. Here are some of the things he learned.

The closest thing the human body has to a vaccine for the common cold is a good night's sleep. Permanently forget fad diets. Focus on eating the right foods. Look at the nutrition label of your favorite food or snack. If the sugar content is greater than 10 grams per serving, find an alternative. Carry a healthy standby snack wherever you go. Do not use your alarm's snooze button for an entire week. Then, see if you can stretch that week to permanently. Select restaurants based on how easy it is to order something healthy. If you are having trouble sleeping. try exercising for a few days before reaching for medication.

Plan your days to eat more early in the day, less later in the day and nothing after supper. Identify something that regularly stresses you out. Work on a plan to keep it from happening. Limit yourself to no more than two hours of seated television daily. To get a really natural tan, eat more tomatoes and carrots. To improve your hair and skin, add some salmon and flax to your diet. Use vigorous exercise to clear your mind and body. Consider a new micro-activity, like parking far away from the door or taking the stairs. Replace all sugary drinks with water, coffee or other unsweetened drinks. Make sure you get at least eight hours of sleep every night. Last, but not least, be active every day; take a few more steps tomorrow than you did today.

Sounds pretty easy, doesn't it? As with other books of this type, no one is expected to do everything in this book starting on the first day. Pick a few actions, and integrate them into your daily life, then pick a few more. This book is easy to read and follow, and is recommended for people from all parts of society.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Milligan and Murphy

Milligan and Murphy, Jim Murdoch, Fandango Virtual, 2011

This is the story of a pair of half-brothers in contemporary Ireland. Milligan and Murphy were born to the same mother. Their first names were both John, so they became known by their surnames; hence, Milligan and Murphy.

Their mother, with whom they both live, will never be nominated for Mother of the Year. Her parents and grandparents are all deceased, so no one taught her how to be a mother. The duo's teenage carnal needs were taken care of by the town whore, who asked for payment in Guinness Stout. They live in a place called Lissoy, which is not on any map. Consisting of little more than a bunch of cottages clustered around one road, Lissoy is the sort of place that, on a good day, might just reach the level of being a village.

One day, in their 40's, Ma sends Milligan and Murphy to a neighbor's farm, a couple of miles away, for a day of work. Along the way, they reach a literal crossroads. There is no grand declaration, but the pair decide that they would like to see the sea (which neither of them have ever seen). Maybe they can get a ride on a boat to England or France. Therefore, they take the road away from the neighbor's farm. Potential obstacles like their total lack of money, their lack of any sort of camping equipment and having no idea how to reach the coast are not considered.

After they are away for a few weeks, Ma hires a local detective to find them. It's less out of any parental concern for their safety, and more because the neighbors will expect them to make some sort of attempt to find her children. The detective is successful. Again, there is no grand declaration, but the pair tell the detective that they are not going home, and are continuing with their quest. Are they successful in gaining ship's passage away from Ireland?

As you might have guessed, not a lot happens in this book. What it does have is a unique tone of narration, and unique tone of conversation between the two brothers. The reader will either enjoy this tale, or think that it is a boring waste of time. I enjoyed it (maybe my Irish ancestry has something to do with it).

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Doc Savage: Death in Silver

Doc Savage: Death in Silver, Kenneth Robeson, Golden Press, 1975

Doc Savage is a very unique individual. With his bronze skin, off-the-scale intellect, and strength to match, he has dedicated his life to rooting out all forms of evil. His adventures were also an important part of 1930s pulp fiction, which is where this novel was first published.

New York City has seen its share of crime waves, but this is different. This time, the perpetrators are a group of people who wear identical head to toe silver suits, including silver masks that cover their entire heads. They are able to rob an armored car, or kill someone who knows too much, and make a clean getaway. The police have no idea who, or where, they are. The city is in an uproar.

Usually, Doc has five assistants, each of them an expert on their own, to help him in his never-ending battle against evil. This time, three of them are overseas, and the others, Ham and Monk, spend part of the book being kidnapped. Doc survives several assassination attempts; the gang's leader knows never to underestimate Doc Savage. The story shifts to the bottom of the East River in Manhattan, where a battle takes place between the occupants of a couple of submarines.

A certain shipping company has a record of getting close to a competitor, interested in a merger. Suddenly, the other owner suffers an "untimely demise," or the other company suffers a severe financial setback, allowing it to be taken over. As this novel opens, another shipping company owner, whose shipyard was used for a secret purpose, gets cold feet, and tells "Mr. Big" that he is going to the police. Moments later, his office, with him in it, is destroyed by a massive explosion.

This one is pretty good. I can easily see this novel serialized over three or four months in a pulp magazine, right next to a science fiction, detective, or sports pulp magazine. For those who appreciate such literature, this has plenty of action, and is worth checking out.

Monday, October 14, 2013

John Smith: Last Known Survivor of the Microsoft Wars

John Smith: Last Known Survivor of the Microsoft Wars, Roland Hughes, Logikal Solutions, 2012

This is a dystopian novel about life after a pair of worldwide catastrophes, one of which was man-made.

Near-future Earth now has 12 continents. America is gone. The vast majority of Earth's population has perished, along with a similar percentage of human knowledge. If a machine stops working, for any reason, it is not used any longer. That is because no one alive knows how to fix the machines, along with having no facilities to make new parts to fix those machines. As far as those still alive are concerned, recorded history began about 60 years previously.

Susan Krowley, a reporter for The Times (printed twice a month, with a circulation of 5,500), interviews Smith to ask about the Microsoft Wars. Smith feels that she does not have the right frame of reference; it's like Susan was asking to read the last chapter of a mystery novel without reading the rest of the novel. Smith starts by spending a lot of time talking about Atlantis.

It was a very advanced society, the superpower of its day. The elite lived in complete luxury, while lower-class workers kept everything working. As the centuries went on, it became necessary to leave Atlantis before it was destroyed (nuclear explosion?). They took to the water in city-sized submarines (when Smith mentions computers, submarines or the Internet, Susan has no idea what he is talking about). They had mastered the science of human cloning, so a person could live for thousands of years. Their overall influence on very early humanity was huge.

More recently, as the world fell apart, Smith's family built a shelter out of a bank vault. His parents died before they could join him in the shelter, so Smith and his grandfather used it. Grandpa did not survive (there was no possibility of going outside to bury him), so Smith spent his puberty years alone in the shelter with a dead body. His shelter contains racks and racks of DVDs, filled with human knowledge. When his computer stops working, all those DVDs will become worthless, as there will be no way to read them. At the end of the book, Smith finally tells Susan all about the Microsoft Wars (no, they did not try to take over the world).

This may be rather dry reading, because it is all in interview format, but don't let that be an obstacle. This book is very interesting and well-done, it's plausible, it's a bit spooky, and it is highly recommended.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

The One-Percenters

The One-Percenters, John Podgursky, Damnation Books LLC, 2009

This is about a man who finds his purpose in life, but not through any of the usual ways.

Edward is your average married man. He is now on the receiving end of the wrong kind of notoriety, after his wife was a victim of a serial killer. After several months of dealing with people's attempts at sympathy, Edward abruptly moves several states away. His plan is to make a fresh start.

Already in a downward emotional spiral, Edward hooks up with Cristen. They exchange stories of their difficult childhoods; as time goes on, they find themselves in a relationship. On a camping trip, Cristen drowns (with Edward's help). He takes off, knowing that it will not be long before the police get involved. While on the run, Edward realizes something about himself.

Evolution is a funny thing. The vast majority of people on Earth will make no noticeable contribution to society. They will simply live and die, probably breeding more useless people. Edward thinks of himself as part of the One Percent (not the financial One Percent). They have the right, and the duty, to decide who lives and who dies, with the intention of bettering humanity.

Over the next couple of years, Edward is constantly on the run, carrying out his "duty." He murders several people, thereby, supposedly, improving the gene pool. One night, in a seedy bar, Edward learns that there are others like him. Throughout all of this, Edward knows that, sooner or later, he will get caught by the police.

This is a pretty dark novel, almost a psychological horror novel. It will give the reader a mental workout, with plenty to think about concerning the present state of mankind. It's also a short novel, told in flashback, that is very much worth the reader's time.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Unions For Beginners

Unions for Beginners, David Cogswell, For Beginners LLC, 2012

The forty-hour work week, pensions and safe working conditions became part of the American employment landscape because employers felt that it was the proper thing to do, right? No, those things came into existence because of strikes and agitation by labor unions.

Why are unions supposedly at the root of America's financial problems, despite the huge drop in numbers of unionized workers over the past half century? The American corporate class (the 1 percent) wants nothing to stand in the way of their pursuit of profit. Employee wages are seen as an expense, which must be reduced as much as possible, in order to push up the stock price. A person might think that societies like Nazi Germany or Soviet Russia are the world leaders (for lack of a better term) in using propaganda on their own citizens. By far, the world leader is the United States. People are taught to equate free market capitalism with everything that is good in America. Any opposition to corporate power, like unions, is supposed to equal tyranny, oppression and communism.

Unions came into existence because of a fundamental bit of human nature. If people get together in a group, they can accomplish things that a single person can not accomplish. People have gone on strike for better working conditions since the early days of America. This book looks at some of the famous events in union history. In 1835, children in Patterson, New Jersey's silk mills went on strike for an 11-hour day and a six-day work week. There's Chicago Haymarket Incident (or Riot, or Massacre) in 1886. There's the Great Railroad Strike of 1877, and the Homestead Strike of 1892. In the 20th century, there is 1913's Ludlow Massacre. More recently, the book explores the Conservative Resurgence of the 1980s, and the attacks against unions by people from Ronald Reagan to Scott Walker. Union leaders are only human, so, throughout American history, they can be just as evil and corrupt as the rest of society.

This is a partisan book; it is probably not possible to write a totally non-partisan book about unions. This book is still recommended for everyone. It's recommended for those interested in the less well known parts of American history, it's recommended for union members who are unfamiliar with their history, and it's recommended for part of the explanation as to how America got into its present financial mess.  

Thursday, October 3, 2013

The Skinny On Networking

The Skinny On Networking: Maximizing the Power of Numbers, Jim Randel, Rand Media Co., 2010

This is another in a series of simple, but not simplistic, books that teach a "large" subject very painlessly. This one is all about networking.

Billy is a high school history teacher. He would like to be a college music teacher, but such vacancies are few and far between. Randel, the narrator, tells Billy to start by asking his network, like friends and family, if they can help. Maybe someone knows someone who knows someone. He shouldn't assume that they already know about his desire to be a college music teacher; he has to tell them, specifically. If he sends an email, he should be very careful about who gets it. Don't just send it to everyone on your e-mail list.

If that doesn't fulfill the request, expand your horizons. For instance, dust off your college yearbook, and start looking up old classmates. Cold calling is never fun, but it is an essential part of networking. The book talks about connectors, those who seem to know people in many different "groups." If you come in contact with such a person, becoming acquaintances or friends with them is a very good idea. Think of social capital as a form of karma; you can never have too much of it. Try very hard to do things for other people (increasing your social capital supply) before you ask for things from other people (reducing your social capital supply).

Billy's wife, Beth, is a lawyer who would like to be partner. She knows that it involves bringing in more clients, but she is uncomfortable asking total strangers for their business. Randel suggests that she join business and professional groups that will put her in the company of people who may need her services in the future. Networking is not supposed to be quick or easy, so don't get discouraged if "it" doesn't happen very quickly.

This is another excellent book that is made for busy people. The idea is to distill the major points from many books on a subject, like networking, into an easy to read format that still has a lot to say. Along with the rest of the series, this is very highly recommended.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Xander Caine and the Alien Prophecy

Xander Caine and the Alien Prophecy, Alexander Scruggs, CreateSpace, 2012

This young adult novel is about a person's physical and emotional journey.

Xander has lived a life of wealth and privilege. It has taken him a long time to realize that people are living in the slums outside the city walls, including his friends, Kai and Priya. Xander's home planet has recently finished a century-long war between the two civilizations that inhabit it, forcing them to work together.

Xander asks his father why he never talks about his family, and receives a really sickening answer. Despite the "peace" between the two civilizations, there are those who really don't like what Xander's father represents (he is more than just a world-famous scientist). They plan to do something about it, forcing the families (Kai, Priya and their mother are now included) to flee, several times. Along the way, Xander learns that his destiny is to get very involved in what is to come, and not just be a spectator.

This is a solid, well done piece of writing, in which the author has left room for a sequel. Teens will enjoy it.