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.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Declutter Your Mind

Declutter Your Mind: Simple Action Plan to Quiet Your Mind and Negative Thoughts, Sandy Quinn, 2017, self-published

Many books have been written about de-cluttering your house or your life. This short book focuses on de-cluttering your mind.

First of all, you should set aside twenty minutes per day, preferably in the early morning or evening (it can be done anytime during the day). You are not too busy; how much time do you spend on Facebook, every day? Set the timer on your smartphone, but set it to Silent notifications. It can also be done anywhere. Sit on a yoga mat at the park or beach; drive to a quiet spot and do it in your car; do it at the local library or sit in an unused closet in your home. You can also do it in the bathroom while sitting in the bathtub or on the toilet. The book includes several mantras that one can chant to help focus the mind.

Your mind will wander, to work or kids or what's for supper. Don't get discouraged; figuratively, attach a leash to your mind and pull it back. Do it everyday, make it a habit. Anxiety and negative thoughts are a normal part of life; letting such thoughts take over is not normal.

Why should a person bother with this mindfulness stuff? It is not religious, it is psychological. There are many health benefits, including improved memory and problem-solving ability, increased productivity and a raised serotonin level can lead to a level mood balance and restful sleep. The amygdala is the "fight or flight" part of the brain. When it is "on" all the time, an inability to relax, a tendency to get sick easily and gastrointestinal problems can result. Regular mindfulness practice can shrink the amygdala. Physically, mindfulness practice can lower your blood pressure, help your immune system and reduce or prevent diseases ranging from asthma to epilepsy to fibromyalgia to Alzheimer's Disease.

On the positive side, this is a short book that is easy to read. If it can help the average person even a small amount, then it is worth the money. On the negative side, this book needs a trip, or another trip, to a proofreader or copy editor.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Forgotten Reflections

Forgotten Reflections, Young-Im Lee, CreateSpace, 2017

This historical novel takes place in South Korea, both during the mid-20th century, and in the present day.

In 1945, Korea's Japanese occupiers had just left, leaving a devastated country behind; there was very little to eat. Iseul was a young woman living in a village called The Wasteland, which was part of Yeoju (back then, Yeoju was a county; it became a city in 2013). People believed that village carpenters, like Iseul's father, could put ghosts in chairs and tables that they made, so Iseul was not looked down on.

A young man named Jung-Soo, part of a well-off family, was brought to the village, as an attempt to get him "out of the way." His father may, or may not, be a Communist spy from the North. In the beginning, the relationship between Iseul and Jung-Soo is pretty rocky.

A few years later, war returns to Korea. Starvation is a constant danger, the local forest around The Wasteland is pretty much cleaned out of any edible fruits and vegetables. All able-bodied men, including Jung-Soo, are conscripted into the South Korean Army. Plain white writing paper has become almost impossible to get, so Iseul leads the women of The Wasteland, and the neighboring villages, to make paper from the bark of the local trees. They are quite successful, making thousands of sheets of paper. The women include blank sheets of paper with letters to their husbands, intending that they give them to other soldiers.

The war is not going well for the South, including the Americans. Jung-Soo learns that the North, including the Chinese, intend to push the South between two mountain ranges. At the point of the mountain ranges is Yeoju. Some of the battle will reach The Wasteland. Jung-Soo is convinced that he has to get back to the village and warn the women. They already know; some join the exodus of refugees heading south, while others want to stay and fight. The armies may be coming because of a rumored huge storehouse of rice. Does war come to The Wasteland again? Do Iseul and Jung-Soo get back together/

This is a first-rate piece of writing. It may take some effort on the part of the reader; give it a chance. It is the sort of novel that could take place anywhere in the world, and during any war. Yes, it is very much worth reading.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Live With Purpose

Live With Purpose: Creating Positive, Lasting Change, Nathalie Virem, 2016 (self-published)

This book aims to help anyone, average person or entrepreneur, to find their purpose in life.

Before starting any journey, personal or physical, you need a starting point. Take a thorough look at yourself. Complete a personality test, like the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. Ask your friends and family how they perceive you. What are your talents and strengths? What are you passionate about? Does anything make you want to get out of bed each morning?

Be grateful for what you have. If you feel like you have little reason to practice gratitude, start with being grateful for being alive, and go from there. You can't always control your environment, but you can control your reactions to it. Visualize what you want, and ask for it. Don't just do it once or twice, but do it often. Say it in terms of what you want, and not what you don't want ("I want to get healthy" instead of "I don't want to be sick any longer").

Why are you in business? What is the purpose or vision of your business? Please say something other than "to make lots of money". A well-defined purpose channels innovation, and is a force for transformation. Steve Jobs started by answering the "Why" question. It is perhaps best summed up in the slogan "Think Different." Then came "How", the strategy for turning that slogan into reality. After that comes "What" the business will do to achieve that purpose. Does your business purpose align with your personal purpose?

Set a goal for yourself, whether personal or professional. Look at it from many different perspectives, including the Skeptic. Break it up into several smaller goals, and resolve to do one goal-oriented thing every day. If you can't visualize the ultimate goal, don't worry about it. A step, then another step, then another step will get you that much closer to that ultimate goal.

This is a really good book. It is short; each chapter is only a couple of pages long, so it is easy to understand. It is made for busy people, who want just the highlights on how to improve their lives. It is very much worth reading.