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.

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

For Travelers (and Digital Nomads) Not Tourists

For Travelers (and Digital Nomads) Not Tourists: A Guide on How to Connect With a Destination for a More Fulfilling Travel Experience, Daniel Vroman Rusteen, 2019, Optimizemybnb.com

You have suddenly decided that you want to try living, and working, in another country for a month or two at a time. Now what do you do? This short book attempts to give the answer.

Start with Google searches for, for instance, "popular neighborhoods Singapore" or "party neighborhoods Rio." Do you want to be downtown, or in the local equivalent of the suburbs? Make sure that the neighborhood has things like a food store, gym, park, library, etc. You will be doing a lot of walking, or using public transportation, so you don't want to be in an isolated area.

When you reach your destination, visit the local tourist office. If there is a bus tour of the city, take it. The tour will be a good introduction to the city, and show the touristy areas to be avoided. Staying in a traveler's hostel is good for your first few days, but you will find that the sooner you can find an airbnb or other accommodation, the better.

Make an attempt to learn some of the local language. The locals might appreciate the effort, no matter how badly you mangle it. When you are at the gym or food store, talk to people. They might know of an inexpensive room for rent, or show you places the tourists don't know about. At minimum, you have someone to visit the next time you are in town. It's important to connect with the locals, if only to get out of your comfort zone. On the other hand, it's acceptable to hang out with other expats, or expatriates, who are living in the area.

For anyone planning to live overseas, even if only for a couple of weeks, this book belongs in your suitcase. It is very short, less than 100 pages, and is full of information. It is a gem of a book.

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Natural Relief for Anxiety and Stress

Natural Relief for Anxiety and Stress: A Practical Guide, Gustavo Kinrys and Alexandra Gold, Boston Press Group, 2018

Physical or mental stress and anxiety seem to be part of daily life. A little bit of stress, off and on, is not a bad thing. The problem is when the stress is chronic. This book offers ways to combat it.

Anxiety can manifest itself in many different symptoms, ranging from chest pain to dry mouth to sleep disorders to depression. The book talks about the common symptoms of stress and fear.

There are a number of nutrient-based supplements that are available, including lysine, magnesium, melatonin and omega-3 fatty acids. There are also a lot of herbal-based remedies available, including chamomile, ginkgo biloba, lemon balm, lavender and valerian root. Don't forget about other natural remedies, including deep breathing, choosing the right foods, staying hydrated and exercise.

These therapies may lessen, or eliminate, the effects of your anxiety, but they won't do anything for whatever is causing the anxiety. That might call for yoga or acupuncture, meditation or biofeedback. If the cause of your anxiety is a phobia, you might need cognitive behavioral therapy.

As with anything medical, a trip to your local doctor is a very good idea. The book also includes a shopping list of fruits and vegetables that will help reduce the effects of your anxiety. This book is short, and very easy to read and understand. For those suffering from constant stress or anxiety, the "answer" may be right here.

Friday, October 18, 2019

Global Career

Global Career: How to Work Anywhere and Travel Forever, Michael T. Swigunski, 2018, New Nomad Publishing

Have you ever felt the desire to live, or work, overseas? This book tells how to do it.

Most universities have some sort of study abroad program. It is never too early to start figuring out things like finances and academic requirements. Don't choose a destination based just on the beaches, or the nightlife; choose one that will actually help your career. The classes and other activities will be pretty structured; you will not have much time to explore on your own. Learn how to network, network, network. You never know who, in your group, or at the foreign school, will know about a further educational opportunity, or an internship.

Internships are much less structured than study abroad programs. You will get work experience, which will certainly help your resume, but you will also be much more on your own. Ask, far in advance, if there is any sort of stipend available. When you are traveling, be flexible in your itinerary; don't plan every single day. Leave room to travel this way, instead of that way, or to investigate an educational, or work, opportunity in another city.

If you want to work overseas, and you work for a large company, see if you can transfer to one of their foreign offices. When you reach your destination, apply at local staffing agencies; they can point you in the right direction. Several countries, including Ireland, Singapore and Australia have a reciprocal arrangement with America that helps getting a work visa pretty easy. The book also covers money, credit cards and what to pack (a lot less than you might think).

This book is "one-stop shopping" for anyone who wants to live, or work, in another country. It is very easy to read, and understand, and is very much recommended.

Sunday, October 13, 2019

Confessions of a Crypto Millionaire

Confessions of a Crypto Millionaire: My Unlikely Escape from Corporate America, Dan Conway, Zealot Publishing, 2019

This is the story of Everyman. The author was slogging his way through corporate America, living with an addiction that he thought was behind him. He had to deal with insane bureaucracy, and the dark, cynical side of his personality that turns on at inconvenient moments. There had to be something better.

He did a lot of research about this thing called cryptocurrency. It seemed like an excellent way to exit the "rat race." He wanted to invest the family's life savings, a substantial amount of money. His wife's "price" for her agreement was the taking of several expensive trips with their two young children.

Like any other investment, losing it all was a distinct possibility. Conway watched as his investment went up, with no sign of stopping. For him, it was not about simply making a lot of money. It was all about a lifestyle change, about never having to return to corporate America. Others urged him to sell some of his investment, to pay bills and the mortgage.

As fast as the price went up, it also went down. Did Conway panic and get out? At the end of the book, did the family move to some exotic place, like Ireland, to live off their wealth, or did Conway return to corporate America?

This is an excellent introduction to the world of cryptocurrency. It is very easy to read and understand. It is the kind of book that could have been written by anyone.

Saturday, October 12, 2019

Bosnian Phoenix

Bosnian Phoenix: How Bosnia Saved Europe and Made Possible the Modern Age, Miljan Peter Ilich, 2018, iUniverse

This is a history of Bosnia, in southeast Europe. It became well-known in the late 20th century, when Yugoslavia, of which it was a part, violently fell apart.

Bosnia has been inhabited for the past several thousand years. It provided many soldiers for the Roman Empire. Bosnia was right on the border between the western and eastern Roman Empires. When the western Empire collapsed, Bosnia became part of the eastern, or Byzantine, Empire.

A variant of Christianity called Bogomilism flourished in Bosnia. It began to spread into Europe, and is said to be the precursor for all of Protestantism. In the 1200's, there were several Vatican-approved Crusades into Bosnia, to try and wipe out Bogomilism, but they were unsuccessful.

Over the years, Bosnia has had really good leaders, and some who were not so good. There were many battles with neighboring groups, including the Serbians, and the Hungarians, who made no secret of their desire to add Bosnia to Hungary. Through it all, the territory of Bosnia has generally stayed together.

More recently, Bosnia was a bulwark against the Turks of the Ottoman Empire. Bosnia's influence in starting World War I is included, and so is Tito, and the breakup of Yugoslavia.

This is heavy history. Do not try to read this book in one sitting. It is most recommended for historians, and those whose ancestry is from that area. But, for the average reader. . . maybe not.

Monday, October 7, 2019

Red AI

Red AI: Victories and Warnings from China's Rise in Artificial Intelligence, Nina Xiang, Amazon Digital Services, 2019

Over the past few years, a person could be forgiven for thinking that China is about to, figuratively, take over the world in the area of artificial intelligence. According to this book, the reality is very different.

China does lead the world in the use of facial recognition software. That is because China has about one-third the number of police per capita that America has. It also helps that the average Chinese citizen is rather ambivalent or unconcerned about the possible loss of personal privacy. This is in great contrast to the huge backlash that happens in America at the mere mention of the words Facial Recognition Software.

When it comes to driverless cars, America is way ahead. There are a number of Chinese companies in this area, and China is actively building autonomous driving zones for driverless cars all over the country. Cars from Waymo (part of Google) can drive themselves over 130 times as far as cars from the Chinese company Baidu before needing human intervention. Also, at some point, those Chinese driverless cars will have to drive themselves on Chinese streets, where anything can happen. Chinese regulators have not yet given their approval.

Recently, a Chinese AI company had their system do simultaneous translation from Chinese to English at a major international conference. The results were horrible. China is able to build its own low-level computer chips, but the sophisticated, high-level chips all come from America. If that supply should ever stop, the entire Chinese AI industry would grind to a halt.

In the area of industrial robots, China has many companies involved, but they are starting from farther behind than the rest of the world. Until recently, China did not need robotics, but with an aging population, it is now a requirement.

This is a fascinating book. The author's biggest recommendation is that China must become much more self-reliant in AI. It is pretty easy to read, and is certainly up-to-the-minute. It is very much worth reading for everyone.