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
Pinterest.com
and on Twitter
(seriously)

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

Saturday, April 27, 2019

Out-of-Work to Making Money

Out-of-Work to Making Money: 21 Comeback Stories Every Job Hunter Should Hear, Anne Emerick, Aboon Books, 2019

Being unemployed, for a short or long period, is part of life in the present day. This book presents short contributions from people who have been there, and successfully come out the other side.

You might receive an offer for your "dream job." Several weeks, or months, later, the offer disappears. In the meantime, other job offers are declined, waiting for this dream job. You might be a nanny, and about to get married, whose employer suddenly stops returning your phone calls. You might be close to retirement age, and one day, you suddenly find yourself without a job. You have received a severance check from a previous employer. Do you do something you have always wanted to do, like open a bakery (for instance), or do you stay home and binge-watch Netflix? What if a major medical condition (including pregnancy) causes the phone to stop ringing?

You are out of work; now what do you do? Take some time to grieve the loss of your job, but don't make it a habit (chocolate ice cream helps). Read a recent job search book. If the goal is a white collar, corporate job, set up an account on LinkedIn. Advertise your skills on a gig site like Fiverr. It is a good way to keep some money coming in, while you are job searching. If your resume needs more than just updating, visit Fiverr to find someone to do it. Network, network, network; you never know where a job opening will arise. Don't be afraid of new situations. Consider starting your own business.

This is an excellent book. The individual contributions are short, only a couple of pages each. Whatever your tale of unemployment, someone in this book (or the companion website) has been there. Included is a section on good, and bad, advice given to the unemployed. Here is a gem of a book. 

Friday, April 26, 2019

Effective Leaders and Leadership

Effective Leaders and Leadership, Mildred Stallworth, Amazon Digital Services LLC, 2017

Leadership involves much more than simply calling yourself a leader. This book gives some easy-to-follow guidelines to becoming a real leader.

Effective leaders make it a habit to help others, and put others first. Effective communicators equal successful leaders. They help create an atmosphere where people feel rewarded and appreciated. A leader needs to show that they have the confidence in their leadership to stay the course, even through thick and thin.

The book looks at basic leadership skills, including integrity, etiquette, listening abilities, accountability and compassion. It also explores topics like leadership in politics, the workplace and religious/spiritual leadership at home. Leadership also means mentoring and coaching, which is also included in this book.

There is lots of good information here, and this book is worth reading. However, it loses at least one ratings star (perhaps one-and-a-half stars) because it really needs a trip, or another trip, to a professional editor. Also, there are many inspirational quotes about leadership included, which is totally acceptable. Personal opinion only, they should be clustered at the start and/or end of the chapter, not spread throughout the chapter, with no attempt made at a different font or different indentation (could this have been an earlier, less-edited version of the book?).

Thursday, April 18, 2019

We All Die Once

We All Die Once, Larry Kessler, 2012, Amazon Digital Services LLC

Many books about present-day healthcare have been written from the perspective of how to make it more efficient, while reducing the very high cost. This book looks at the rest of the medical field.

A doctor, especially an Emergency Room doctor, will run into many different ways to "handle"death. Having a loved one die at home is not always the best solution. It is understandable for a patient to expect zero errors from a doctor; it is also impossible. Doctors are only human; mistakes will be made. Also, everyone is going to die, whether sooner or later (hence the book's title). In the final analysis, the doctor will have a zero success rate.

A dirty word in the medical field is "rationing", but it happens every day. Penicillin was discovered in the late 1920's, but it wasn't until after World War II that it became available to the general public. Closer to the present, when there is more demand for a flu vaccine than supply, who decides who should get the shot? When an organ becomes available for transplant, who decides who is most needy?

Malpractice suits are a fact of life in the medical field. ER doctors and OB/GYN's can plan on being involved in at least one such suit during their career. It has become increasingly common for patients to walk into a doctor's office wanting a prescription for a pill that was advertised on TV. It doesn't matter if the doctor doesn't think they need it, or it will react badly with some other medication the patient is taking. Patients also want health insurance to be less expensive than at present, and to cover Everything, including cosmetic surgery (the author does not agree).

Written by someone who has been "in the trenches", this is a very interesting and eye-opening book. It should be required reading for anyone who wants to be a doctor; at least the student will enter medical school with their eyes wide open. This is very much worth reading.

Sunday, April 14, 2019

Cyber Smart

Cyber Smart: Five Habits to Protect Your Family, Money and Identity from Cyber Criminals, Bart R McDonough, John Wiley & Sons, 2019

Every week seems to bring news of another data security breach, affecting millions of people. By now, it seems like everyone in America has been victim of at least one such security breach. What can be done to slow down, or stop, the cyber criminals?

Get a copy of your credit report from all three credit agencies. Get a copy of your child's report, too (a popular target for criminals). Put a credit freeze on these reports; that way, no one can open a new credit card account. Get a copy of your medical records, and make sure that, for instance, no one has given you AIDS when you don't actually have it, or deleted your allergy to penicillin.

Use a password management program, or write down your passwords and keep that list somewhere safe, like in a locked safe. It is tempting to recycle a strong password among several sites. It is also a really bad idea; once that strong password is cracked, several sites have just been opened. To create a password, put together a couple of words like "willow" and "september". Add in a couple of numbers and special characters. Delete and/or capitalize a couple of letters.

Use nonsense answers to security questions. (What is you mother's maiden name? Chocolate bunny.) Use two-factor authentication; the book explains just what it is. If your bank or the IRS has a legitimate problem with you, they will send a letter. They will not send an email that says Please Click Here. They will also not call you with an attitude of "Pay up now, or you're going to jail!"

For some people, this book is nothing more than common knowledge. For everyone else, the tips in this book cannot be repeated often enough. This book is very easy to read, and is very much recommended.

Saturday, April 6, 2019

The Distance Travelled

The Distance Travelled, Brett Alexander Savory, Necro Publications, 2006

Stu is a resident of Hell. A group of obnoxious young people in a dune buggy drive by, one day, and throw a live pig through Stu's kitchen window. Stu captures one of them, and calls him Pigboy. He has found a portal to Hell from Upside, and has come to rescue his kidnapped sister. This starts Stu on an epic quest.

Along for the ride are Gus, a walking skeleton who runs the local gas station. Tom is a ten-foot-tall HellRat who fixes cars for Gus. Tom is head-over-heels in love with the beautiful Miss Appleton (the feeling is very mutual). They attempt to answer a set of riddles written years before by a clairvoyant child. To do so, they travel all over the territory of Hell.

It is also a place where the torture sessions are scheduled. We are talking extreme torture, accompanied by fountains of blood everywhere. Give the person a day or two to recover, and they are physically good as new. When Stu misses a torture session because of his quest, Salinger, the Chief Torturer, sets off after him. Does everyone survive until the end? Is the sister ever found?

This is a very bloody and violent story, so it is not for the faint of heart. For everyone else, be prepared for a wild rice, accompanied by a soundtrack of 80's pop music. Think Clive Barker meets Jim Thompson. For those with a strong stomach, this is a gem of a book.

Outside

Outside, Gustavo Bodoni, Guardbridge Books, 2017

A ship from the human civilization on Tau Ceti II heads for Earth, intending to re-establish contact after a treaty-mandated gap of 500 years. Earth is deserted. There are no signs of an apocalypse, or mass graves. Where is everybody?

For the past 500 years, everyone on Earth has been permanently living in a virtual reality world. Free from disease and pain, their bodies are supposedly being taken care of in vast underground chambers. In VR-land, big problems are happening. A huge wall suddenly cuts Denver in half. Monsters are ravaging cities all over the world.

An interface is created, so that the visitors can communicate with the people of Earth, who are less than thrilled to see them. Rome, from the visitors, falls in love with Emily, from VR-land. She is involved in attempts to get the bottom of the computer problems, whatever they are. Are some mainframes about to crash, possibly snuffing out millions of "people"?

Rome asks Emily to return to Tau Ceti with the ship, which has been ordered to leave by an Earth that wants to stay in VR-land. First, they have to find her body. Are those millions of chambers still in nice, neat rows, maintained by an army of robots?

This is a first-rate piece of writing. The author, whose first language is not English, does an excellent job with the characters and storytelling. It is very much worth the reader's time.

America: The Farewell Tour

America: The Farewell Tour, Chris Hedges, Simon & Schuster, 2018

"America's best days are still ahead." That's what politicians and business leaders are supposed to say. This book gives a very different view.

A chapter looks at one family's journey through the nightmare of opioid addiction. Another chapter gives a Very Detailed look inside the porn business. The Taj Mahal Hotel & Casino in Atlantic City may still be officially open. The gaming tables are empty, and large numbers of the hotel rooms are unusable. Maintenance in the rooms that are used is a thing of the past, so a guest may have to deal with, for instance, leaky toilets or cockroaches.

Antifa and the alt-right are two different manifestations of the same phenomenon; people who are frustrated and feel left behind by global capitalism. The factory which provided a decent living for residents of a small Midwest town has closed, and moved to Mexico, leaving them with no alternatives, and no hope. The average minority resident of New York City is more than tired of being repeatedly stopped and frisked, or given a ticket for something like jaywalking, simply because a white cop feels like it.

People who are in prison will get paid a few cents for working, usually for some large corporation, if they get paid at all. Especially in private prisons, they will get financially gouged for everything else, including phone calls to their loved ones.

Donald Trump may have ridden this frustration to the White House, but that does not mean that he can do anything about it, until corporate control of America is eliminated. This is certainly not an optimistic book, but it is a very eye-opening book. It is highly recommended for all Americans.

Thursday, April 4, 2019

Who is Jeb!!!

Who is Jeb!!! John Ellis "Jeb" Bush and His Horrendously Horrible Histories, Patrick Andendall, Fact Over Fiction Publishing, 2015

This book is all about Jeb!!! Bush (it's not Jeb, it's Jeb!!!), former Governor of Florida, and 2016 candidate for President. He seemed to be a shoo-in to get the nomination, until he actually started to campaign. This was also before Donald Trump "sucked all the air" out of the campaign.

The Bush clan is extremely secretive, almost like a cult. The CIA has always been a part of George H.W. Bush's life (also known as "Poppy" or "Bush 41"). He started Zapata Petroleum in 1953. Is it simply coincidence that the Bay of Pigs operation was called "Operation Zapata" and that the base of operations was Bush's drilling-rig site on a remote island between Florida and Cuba? A 1963 FBI memo says that the day after the Kennedy assassination, the FBI briefed two individuals. A member of the Defense Intelligence Agency was one of them. The other person briefed was "George Bush of the Central Intelligence Agency".

The author looks at the history of the Bush family in the early 20th century. A number of American corporations, including Standard Oil, IBM and Coca-Cola, openly traded with Germany, and used German slave labor, while Hitler was taking over much of Europe. It also talks about the 1936 coup attempt here in America. (What coup attempt?) A group of industrialists wanted to turn America into a fascist state, like Germany or Italy. They asked Smedley Butler, a famous WWI General, to lead an army of half a million men to Washington. Instead, he blew the whistle to a Congressional committee.

Closer to the present, Jeb!!! is an intellectual lightweight, like his brother, W. Florida was about the only "blue" state to not take part in the expansion of Medicare, paid for by the federal government. Why? Florida has the second worst income discrepancy problem in America. Almost half of Florida's residents live below the federal poverty line, or otherwise have problems making ends meet. The book also looks at the Terry Schiavo case, Jeb!!! wanting to privatize Social Security, his total disinterest in foreign policy, his assertion that workers need to get more hours at work, or get a second (or third) job, and 200's Bush v. Gore fiasco. Did I forget to mention Skull and Bones, the secretive Yale society that is a central part of Bushworld?

This is a scathing book. The author makes no secret of his feelings toward what he calls the Stupidparty (he is not talking about the Democrats). This is a huge eye-opener that is highly recommended.