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.

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Katja From the Punk Band

Katja From the Punk Band, Simon Logan, Chizine Publications, 2010

Katja is a young woman with a partially-shaved head and a tracheostomy tube coming out of her throat. Playing in a local punk band on an 8 by 12-mile island work camp called home, like everyone else, she wants to get to the mainland by any way possible.

Katja shoots her boyfriend and takes a very valuable vial from him (perhaps it's a new chemical drug). There will be someone on the mainland waiting for the vial, but the deal is for two people, so Katja enlists the help of Nikolai, a local junkie. The ship is leaving for the mainland in a couple of hours.

Unfortunately, Aleksakhina, Katja's corrupt parole officer, chooses tonight to do his job and detains her for not checking in on schedule. He is not the only one who wants the vial as the ticket to the mainland. There's Vladimir Kohl, a local chemical dealer; there is his boss, Szerynski, along with Dracyev, a rival chemical kingpin, and Ylena, his lover.

Katja and Nikolai regain possession of the vial. Their next problem is getting on the ship. The area is full of police who are authorized to kill anyone who attempts to stow away on the ship. If a stowaway is found on the ship while it is in transit, getting shot and thrown off the ship in the middle of the ocean is the least of their problems. Do Katja and Nikolai board the ship? Do they get off the ship on the mainland, also without the police finding them?

This is a really good industrial crime/suspense tale. The reader can almost hear the punk rock soundtrack all throughout this book. It is raw, fearless and very much worth reading.

Friday, December 30, 2016

Who Rules the World?

Who Rules the World, Noam Chomsky, Metropolitan Books, 2016

Here is the latest book of political analysis by "America's most useful citizen" (so says the Boston Globe). Chomsky is a linguistics professor emeritus at MIT, and has been writing about political issues for many years.

The Charlie Hebdo attack in Paris has been called the most threatening assault on journalism and free expression in living memory. Evidently, the April 1999 NATO rocket destruction of Serbian state TV headquarters doesn't count. There were no calls for inquiries into western Christian culture in its aftermath.

Why wasn't the US military budget cut after the collapse of the Soviet Union? America must maintain its "defense industrial base" because of the growing "technological sophistication" of Third World countries. America invaded Panama, killed thousands of people, and installed a client regime with no Soviet threat. The pretexts given were nonsense, the invasion was a huge violation of international law and the media neglected to mention the US veto of a unanimous Security Council resolution condemning crimes by US troops during the invasion.

Elites and the political class consider Iran to be the primary threat to world peace. The average person does not agree. Polls in Europe show that Israel is the biggest threat to peace. In Egypt, only ten percent of the people regard Iran as a threat. Only a quarter of Americans regard Iran as an important concern. There is strong opposition to military engagement in an Israel-Iran war. A good step toward peace in that part of the world would to be declare it a nuclear weapons-free zone. America will never let that happen.

This book is a huge eye-opener. It has revelations on nearly every page, revelations that will never be mentioned by the US political class or US media. It deserves six stars, and is extremely recommended.

A Mind of Your Own

A Mind of Your Own, Kelly Brogan, HarperWave, 2016

For women, anti-depressant drugs are prescribed for problems ranging from depression to anxiety to PMS to insomnia. This book explores a very different approach.

According to the author, the assertion that depression is caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain that is easily fixed by a drug like Prozac is total nonsense. Rarely do such drugs help at all. In fact, they may make things worse by permanently disabling the body's self-healing mechanism. Depression, and other such mental and emotional problems, are not separate diseases. They are symptoms of physical problems elsewhere in the body.

There is a well-known physical connection between the gut and the brain, as an example. A digestive or intestinal problem could easily manifest itself in the brain. Inflammation seems to be the cause of of most physical problems that are common today. Some inflammation is quite normal, then it goes away. When the inflammation is "on" all the time, that can be a serious problem, and needs to be addressed.

The author's prescription starts with getting rid of all processed food and going organic. The cause may be those unpronounceable chemicals that are listed in the ingredients. Next, get rid of your artificial cleaning products with more unpronounceable chemicals. There are household cleaners available that are a lot less harmful. The author also talks about what blood tests should be performed at the next doctor's visit. Get a good night's sleep, every night, and start exercising; they will help a lot.

This book is better than excellent. It is highly recommended for everyone. It is especially recommended for those whose anti-depressant does not seem to be working. Your problem may be somewhere else than in your head.

The Girls' Book: How To Be The Best at Everything

The Girls' Book: How To Be The Best at Everything, Juliana Foster, Scholastic Inc., 2007

Intended for tweens, this book gives short descriptions (one to two pages each) on how to do a lot of different things.

Some are light-hearted, like how to survive in a horror movie, how to make sense while talking nonsense, how to annoy people in an elevator and how to cope if zombies attack. Other selections are a bit more serious, like how to deal with bullies, how to save the planet, how to persuade your parents to get a pet, how to avoid jet lag and how to survive in the desert.

This is a really interesting and easy to read book, with very simple instructions. It is recommended for all tweens (there is a separate book for boys, and maybe some adults will also try some of these items.

Dark Tangos

Dark Tangos, Lewis Shiner, Subterranean Press, 2011

This is a thriller and love story set during a very dark time in recent world history.

Rob Cavanaugh's life has hit the skids. He is separated from Lauren, his wife, and Universal Software, his employer, has transferred him to their office in Buenos Aires, Argentina. There, he falls for Elena, and they dance a lot of the tango. In Argentina, the tango is more than "just" a dance; it is part of the national soul.

Rob also learns that Elena is part of Argentina's "dirty war." During the 1970's, a series of military governments arrested, tortured and killed thousands and thousands of political opponents, under the guise of fighting communism. America was a supporter of these military governments. This is the period that gave the world the noun "disappeared." Elena's mother was such an opponent. Mother and daughter were separated at birth, and Elena was given to another family to raise as their own.

Elena's real father, also a political opponent, is still alive, but he has to be very careful. The military governments may be gone, but the mindset of killing political opponents, and torturing anyone who gets in the way, is still very much alive. Robe finds that out first-hand when he is kidnapped, and brutally tortured for several days. He is rescued, and while in hospital, Lauren suddenly appears, and whisks him away to America for medical treatment. Is this the end of Rob and Elena? Does Rob return to Argentina?

This is an excellent story, where the reader will learn more than they ever wanted to know about the tango. It has great characters, and plenty of action, and it also explores the meaning of justice. It is very much worth reading.  

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

The One-Minute Cure

The One-Minute Cure: The Secret to Healing Virtually All Diseases, Madison Cavanaugh, Think-Outside-the-Book Publishing Inc, 2008

Are you interested in a simple medical therapy that has been known for at least 150 years, that creates conditions inside the body where disease cannot thrive, that is currently being prescribed by over 15,000 European doctors, and that can be self-administered and costs less than 2 cents per day? The magic ingredient is . . . hydrogen peroxide.

The human body is approximately two-thirds oxygen. It has been shown that unwanted germs and viruses cannot thrive in an oxygen-rich environment. Unfortunately, in our increasingly polluted world, and with the American sedentary lifestyle, most people don't get enough oxygen. It requires more than just being outside and deep breathing.

Several things have to be kept in mind. The hydrogen peroxide found in the local pharmacy is good for use on cuts and bruises and acne, but it should not be taken internally. It is necessary to find 35% food grade hydrogen peroxide (it can be found online). Then it has to be diluted by a lot, down to a 3% strength (taking "straight" hydrogen peroxide internally can be fatal). The diluting has to be done with distilled water, not regular chlorinated water. It also has to be taken on an empty stomach. The hydrogen peroxide could react with the food's bacteria and cause nausea or vomiting. You may feel sick for a few days after starting this therapy. Don't worry about it; it's just your body getting rid of toxins and dead cells.

Why don't American doctors prescribe this therapy? Blame Big Medicine and Big Pharma. This has the potential to revolutionize American healthcare and they are not shy about intimidating any doctor who says nice things about hydrogen peroxide.

Needless to say, this book is not meant to replace your primary care physician. That being said, this book is short, easy to understand, and extremely highly recommended.  

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

The Cancer Killers

The Cancer Killers, Ben Lerner, Maximized Living, 2013

This book asserts that it is possible to not just survive cancer, but to actually make it go away, even after a doctor has used the c-word.

First, change your mindset. Get rid of the "poor me" and "it's all over" attitude. You created the cancer, and you can reverse it. Wake up every day totally believing "it's possible." Second, you may not realize it, but there may be a blocked connection between your central nervous system and your immune system, preventing the immune system from doing its job. Talk to a chiropractor.

Third is the big one; change your diet. Unhealthy food doesn't just lead to weight gain. It can lead to hormone imbalance, thyroid problems and cell inflammation, among many other complications. The book goes into what foods to eat, and what to avoid. Fourth is get moderate exercise. Getting more oxygen into your body is a very good thing. Cancer cells can't survive in an oxygen-rich environment. Last but not least, reduce or eliminate your exposure to toxins in daily life. They do seem to be everywhere, from plastics to water to car exhaust to personal care products. There is a list of recommended vitamin supplements. There is also the story of a doctor with Stage 4 cancer that had metastasized in his brain. With weeks to live, he was able to reverse the cancer without radiation and chemotherapy (of which the author thinks very little).

This book is short, and very straight-forward. For those who have a family history of cancer, and are convinced that they are next; no, you are not next. This book will show anyone how to keep cancer away. It's worth reading.

Monday, December 26, 2016

A Short Guide to a Long Life

A Short Guide to a Long Life, David B Agus MD, Simon and Schuster, 2014

This short book attempts to answer some of the most common health questions.

What should I eat? Real food (that does not come with a label). Understand basic bio-vocabulary; know the difference between vitamin and supplement, or define inflammation. Consider getting a dog; it will force you to get some exercise, along with leaving your desk and forgetting about multi-tasking. There seem to be a million different diets available. Find the diet that works for you, and stick with it. Grow a garden (or, at least, a window box). Practice good hygiene. Maintain a healthy weight. Caffeine is OK in sensible amounts. Consider getting a DNA test.

Get in the habit of taking a baby aspirin daily. Be smart about being sick. Maintain good posture and strengthen your core. Adopt a positive attitude. Smile. Try an activity that is out of your comfort zone. Eat at least three servings of cold-water fish per week. Never skip breakfast. It's a good idea to be a little obsessive-compulsive about washing your hands. There is no such thing as doing it too often. There is no shame in asking for help.

The book also includes things that should be avoided. They include: fad diets, detoxes, dangerous sports and risky behavior, sunburns, airport x-ray scanners, insomnia, juicing, smoking and vitamins and supplements (!)

No one is expected to immediately do (or not do) everything in this book. Pick just one thing, incorporate it into your daily life so that it becomes a habit, then pick another. Anyone who cannot find just one health aid here needs more help than this book can provide. For everyone else, this book is short, very easy to understand, and very much worth reading.

Germs That Won't Die

Germs That Won't Die, Marc Lappe, Anchor Press, 1982

The consequence from the extreme overuse of antibiotics is thought to be a new, 21st century problem. This book, published during the Reagan Administration, says otherwise.

A broad-spectrum antibiotic, like penicillin, might kill most of an infection. Some tiny portion of the surviving infection will suddenly acquire a resistance to penicillin. When it comes back, or is passed to someone else, the doctor will have to try some other antibiotic, which may or my not help at all. That same broad-spectrum antibiotic might kill some of the "good" bacteria living in your intestines, allowing "bad" bacteria free rein to cause havoc.

Approximately three to four percent of hospital patients will get a nosocomial infection (an infection gotten while in the hospital). No doubt, that infection has mutated more than once, and is resistant to several, or all, antibiotics. Hospitals need to do a better job in ensuring that instruments, catheter tubes and doctor's hands are properly cleaned or sterilized ahead of time. It seems to be standard hospital practice to give all new patients a shot of broad-spectrum antibiotics, regardless of their infection. This is done without medical testing to see if a different antibiotic is "made" for that infection. This can only increase the spread of antibiotic-resistant infection.

Giving antibiotics to animals as part of their daily care is another potentially big source of antibiotic-resistant infection. The drugs are not given when an animal is not well, but as part of their daily feeding. Another big problem is the average primary care physician prescribing antibiotics much too often, even for things like acne or the sniffles. Eventually, all antibiotics will be useless, after a person's infection builds up resistance to them.

Ignore the year that this book was published; it is still a really interesting book. It shows that overuse of antibiotics is not a new phenomenon. This is a good book to read to get some background on the subject.

The Healing Power of Cayenne Pepper

The Healing Power of Cayenne Pepper, Patrick Quillin, The Leader Co Inc, 1998

There is an herb right under our noses, that for many years has been prized for its healing power. More recently, clinical studies have confirmed its incredible healing abilities. The magic herb is. . . cayenne pepper.

Cayenne pepper, or, more specifically, capsaicin (the ingredient that gives cayenne its spiciness) thins the blood. That can only help blood vessels that are full of cholesterol and sugar. Capsaicin stimulates the conduction of nerve impulses, which will help the common American complaint of fatigue. It is also a mild irritant to mucus membranes, which will increase the flow of mucus from the lungs and sinuses. That will help flush out viruses, bacteria and debris. Capsaicin protects the stomach from alcohol and aspirin, it inhibits cancer, it is full of nutrients, and, believe it or not, it also releases endorphins.

The book also explores how cayenne pepper can help with specific ailments. Angina can be helped because capsaicin triggers the release of calcitonin gene related peptide, which is a potent dilator of the blood vessels that surround the heart. High cholesterol can be reduced because it reduces the absorption of fats and cholesterol in the intestines, and slows the creation of excess cholesterol in the liver. Cayenne encourages sweating and detoxification, which can help remove toxins from the body. It increases the flow of juices in the intestinal tract, which helps move food along and encourages regularity, getting rid of constipation. Capsaicin's ability to warm the body is well known; this can help those suffering from frostbite. It can also reduce pain of various kinds by depleting the body's nerve endings of Substance P (pain). For those new to hot peppers, it can be ingested through capsules, powder or salsa.

Sounds pretty good, doesn't it? Needless to say, a talk with your doctor, before starting, is not a bad idea. Cayenne can be gotten at any grocery store, and after reading this book, which includes recipes, maybe it should be slowly added to your diet. If a copy of this book can be found, it is short and says a lot.

Maid in India

Maid in India: Little Wonders of Hope, Laveena, Amazon Digital Services, 2016

Maya is an average woman living in present-day India. She and her sister, both of whom have Master's degrees, run a tutoring center for students. The birth of her first child forces her to stay home and become a housewife. Her husband, Mohit, says so. A second child makes Maya feel even more like a prisoner in her own home. Maya is very bored and frustrated, and takes it out on Mohit.

Growing up, Maya was a quiet type of person who enjoyed writing. She returns to writing poetry while the children are asleep. A book of her poems is published and becomes very popular. Maya is now a celebrity. She realizes that she needs help around the house, and looking after the children, while she deals with her new writing commitments.

Through informal, family connections, Maya is introduced to Pooja, a teenage girl from a local township. Pooja does an excellent job as a maid and babysitter, but something is very wrong with her. After several months, Pooja tells Maya what is bothering her. Her mother got sick and died, because her father drank away all of their money. Her two younger sisters live with different grandmothers back home, and she wants nothing more than to have all three of them living under the same roof.

After giving it lots of thought, Maya decides to have Pooja work for her only part of the day, and spend the rest of each day attending a local makeup and beauty academy, paid for by Maya (giving her a hand up instead of a hand out). After graduation. Pooja goes back home to set up shop. Does it work? Does her father get in the way? Is she able to help her sisters?

This is a short tale that can be read in less than an hour. It can be set anywhere in the world, and it has something to say. If I wanted to be particular, I would suggest that it needs to go to a proofreader whose native language is English. But don't let that get in the way of reading this very interesting story.

A Short History of Film

A Short History of Film, Wheeler Winston Dixon and Gwendolyn Audrey Foster, Rutgers University Press, 2008

This book is an attempt at nothing less than a history of film, from the beginning to the present.

It starts in the beginning, with Thomas Edison and George Melies and the film of the Jules Verne story From the Earth to the Moon (that's the one where the Man In The Moon suddenly gets a spaceship in the eye). From there, the book explores the silent film era, the coming of sound, the patriotic and propaganda films that were produced during World War II, film noir, the sudden freedom in subject matter that happened in the post-war era and French New Wave. The book ends with an exploration of new digital technology, and the fact that films no longer have to be shot on actual film.

It also looks at films around the world, during each era, including from countries that were not known for their cinematic output. It also specifically mentions many, many films, some of which are probably gone forever.

This book may be a little light in the overall film analysis, but, remember, the title is A Short History of Film, not A Long and Detailed History of Film. For everyone else, this book is very much worth the time. The casual reader and the film lover will learn more than they ever wanted to know about film history.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Blogging for Smarties

Blogging for Smarties: Blogging for Authors and Speakers, Yvonne Wu, 2014, The YP Publishing

For most authors, especially small press and self-published authors, having a blog to showcase your stories (and offer them for sale) is an absolute must. This book painlessly explains the process of doing it.

Before you get started, decide on your target audience (please be more specific than "everybody"). Do you write romances, mysteries or young adult stories? Orient your blog in that direction. There are several different blog-creation platforms; this book concentrates on Wordpress. Included are screenshots to show exactly how to start your blog. Do you want to host your blog on your computer, or do you want Wordpress to do it? Have a couple of different blog names and URL's in mind in case your first choice is taken.

Wordpress has many widgets that can be added to your blog. Don't go overboard; simple is best. You want to make it as easy as possible for people to buy your stories. You also want to make it easy for the search engines, like Google, to find your blog, so search engine optimization (SEO) is essential.

The most important part is how to make money with your blog. Potential advertisers won't know that you accept ads unless you tell them, so put an "advertise with us" banner on your site. You can also create a membership site that, for a price, will include bonuses, multiple membership levels, endorsements and a contact form to request specific information. It's also possible to do a written podcast to get your name, and your blog, before the public.

Starting, and maintaining, a blog, can be a very confusing process. This short book does a fine job at demystifying it all. Here is a really good place to start.