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 28, 2019

Speed Reading Techniques, Exercises and Tips

Speed Reading Techniques, Exercises and Tips: Learn Faster and Achieve More by Improving Your Reading Speed and Comprehension, Michael Cobble, Digital Media Life, 2019

Everyone wants to be able to read faster and understand more of what they read. This book presents some easy ways to get there.

Try putting your finger, or a pencil, at the end of each line. Move it down the page at faster than your normal reading speed, forcing your eyes, and your comprehension, to keep up. Put a ruler under each line, and do the same. Try reading just the first, and last, sentences of each paragraph. Focus your eyes on the center of each line, and let your peripheral vision read the rest of each line.

Another possibility is to read the first full line of the page, focus on the center of the line for the rest of the page, and then read the last full line of the page, like the letter "I." There are many exercises included, for when your eyes get tired or sore. Like any new skill, this will require lots of practice.

If it is not possible to become one of those people who can read an entire novel in less than one day, don't worry. Any increase in reading speed is automatically a good thing. This book is short, easy to read and very much worth checking out.

Friday, December 27, 2019

Treadmill Called Life

Treadmill Called Life, Digital Nomads, Amazon Digital Services, 2019

Set in present-day Florida, this short novel is about a high school student named Cricket (her real name is Elise). She, and her parents, feel that her ticket to college is via a sports scholarship. Cricket's life now revolves around sports. If she isn't swimming, or playing basketball, she is involved in softball, or some other sport. If she isn't actually competing, she is at home, in the free-standing workout room that her parents built for her. Cricket is very diligent about not missing practice or competitions, but the word "prison" comes to mind.

Brady is another student at the same high school. His cavalier attitude toward education has gotten him expelled (for one prank too many). He is all about having fun with life. Brady and Cricket get together, and Brady begins to think that Cricket is special. Maybe it is time to start easing up on the pranks, and the getting in trouble. Brady convinces Cricket that occasionally skipping class, or skipping practice, is not the end of the world.

The police get involved, because, one night, Cricket's workout room burns to the ground. Brady has been arrested several times on various juvenile charges. An adult charge, like arson, will send him to jail for a long time. Cricket tries to confess, saying that she left a candle unattended. The police are not even close to accepting her story. Does Brady go to prison? Do Cricket and Brady start an official relationship?

On the positive side, this is an interesting tale about high school like that is worth checking out. On the negative side, this book really needs a trip, or another trip, to a proofreader whose native language is English.

Thursday, December 19, 2019

Rough Justice

Rough Justice, LifeTree Publishing, 2019, Amazon Digital Services

Set in the present-day American South, April, a local investigative reporter, is working on a biography of Judge Trulock, a well-respected local judge. She brings Clay, a local private investigator, with her, and they find the judge dead. The Sheriff's Office is called.

April and Clay do some investigating on their own. Attention shifts to a man named Alden Mallory. He was on trial several years previously for allegedly beating his wife to death (it was not the first time). He was convicted on a lesser charge, and will be released in the next couple of months. Perhaps he is settling some old scores. April and Clay find evidence of jury and witness tampering.

Clay learns, through his "sources," that someone wants him dead. Perhaps Mallory is that someone; maybe Clay has gotten too close to the truth. Is the "bad guy" found? Do April and Clay survive until the end?

This is a very good story. Sometimes a person needs a good old fashioned, well done, present-day murder mystery. This is that mystery. But, this book also needs a trip, or another trip, to a proofreader whose native language is English.

Friday, December 13, 2019

The CEO Next Door

The CEO Next Door: How to Beat Sexism and Self-Doubt to Become a CEO, Daniela Palaez, Amazon Digital Services LLC, 2019

The number of women in senior positions in American corporations has slowly risen over the past few years, but there is still a long way to go. This book is for any woman with aspirations to occupy the CEO's office.

The first thing a woman should do is to look inside themselves and remove any self-doubt. How can anyone consider you worthy of being a CEO if you don't consider you worthy? In college, a degree in business or marketing, for instance, is simply going to be more valuable than a liberal arts degree.

Don't discount the importance of being on time and prepared, every day, for every meeting, especially if you are the one leading the meeting. For all other meetings, have some questions, or other contributions, ready. For years, women have been taught to keep their heads down and their mouths closed. It is time to ignore that "advice." Again, how can anyone consider you worthy of being CEO if you don't start showing them what you have between your ears?

As you ascend the corporate ladder, don't wait for other people to bring you more work; ask for more work. If you reach a concrete ceiling, not just a glass ceiling, move to some other company where there are better chances for upward mobility. Don't be afraid to ask another woman to be your mentor; be a mentor if a younger woman asks. Work-life balance is something that each woman has to work out for themselves. There is a fine line between promoting yourself and your accomplishments, and bragging. Last, but not least, network, network, network.

This is an excellent book. It is worth reading for all women, including those who just want a better job, but not rise all the way to the C-Suite. For those women who have their eyes on the CEO's office, here is the place to start.

Haliden's Fire

Haliden's Fire, Chris Sendrowski, 2019, self-published

This fantasy novel takes place in the land of Alimane. Haliden Stroke is a well-known artist. The only hole in an otherwise good life is the loss of his love, Milane. Things quickly change, for the worst, because the Breath is coming.

Think of the Breath as a magical, continent-wide forest fire that destroys everything. Putting out the fire is not an option, so the only choice is to flee to the Block, a long way away. It is a giant wall of granite that was built several centuries ago, the last time the Breath made an appearance.

Haliden stops in his home village, and is nearly beheaded in retribution for a murder his father committed many years previously. Haliden agrees to take the village's venermin to the Block. It is a large chest that contains the village's institutional memory (seeds, documents, etc.). It is needed to rebuild the village after the Breath is done.

With a constantly changing group of companions, Haliden continues to the Block. The path goes through the town of Marigel, which was sealed off by a plague many years ago. Those who are left openly live in filth and raw sewage. Their attitude is one of No One Leaves This Town.

Haliden and companions, also carrying Marigel's venermin, finally reach the Block. Along with them are many desperate refugees, and veraxes, carnivorous beasts who love to eat humans. Is the front gate open to welcome everyone, or are guards posted at the gate, along with bows and arrows, with orders to kill everyone?

This is a really good thriller story that also looks at human nature in the face of disaster. Some people, like Haliden, want to stay alive, while others welcome, and worship, the fire. Yes, it is worth reading.

Sunday, December 8, 2019

DUAL 14-Day Detox

Dual 14-Day Detox: Complete With Tasty Recipes and Detox Tips, DUAL GmbH, Amazon Digital Services, 2018

What is detoxing? It is an attempt to live a healthier lifestyle by removing as many toxins as possible from the environment. Some toxins, like air or water pollution, cannot be easily removed by the average person. However, when it comes to food or personal hygiene products, it is very possible to reduce. or eliminate, such toxins. That's what this book is all about.

Greatly increase your consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables (organic items are preferred). Greatly reduce, or eliminate, your consumption of fried food, sugar and processed food (the typical American diet). This book specifies which foods are healthy, and why.

Try pronouncing some of the ingredients on a bottle of shampoo or body wash. Those chemicals are being absorbed, through the skin, into your body. Look for alternatives that have fewer, or pronounceable, ingredients. Consider making your own shampoo or body wash. That way, you know what is in it.

This is a short (less than 50 pages) and very good book. Even if a complete detox is not possible, any movement toward a healthier lifestyle is automatically a good thing. This works really well as an introduction to detoxing.

Monday, December 2, 2019

Memory Improvement Guidebook

Memory Improvement Guidebook: Exercises and Techniques to Enhance Your Brain and Memory With Easy to Follow and Implement Examples, Michael Cobble, 2019, Digital Media Life

This short book presents some easy ways to improve one's brain and memory.

What sort of learner are you? Do you need to see it, hear it or do it before you learn it? If you are memorizing a long string of numbers or words, try bunching them together into groups of numbers, or phrases, instead of trying to memorize them individually.

The brain is like any other muscle; the more often it is used, the better it will function. Consider taking up daily puzzles, like sudoku or crossword puzzles. But don't do the same kind of puzzle every day; you brain will get bored. Try writing, or moving your computer mouse, with your non-dominant hand. Several apps are mentioned that do various kinds of brain training. Learning a new language will certainly engage your brain. Chewing gum can actually be good for your brain (!).

Physical or emotional stress is a normal part of daily life. A little bit of occasional stress is not a bad thing. Chronic, or continuous, stress is a bad thing. Find some way to let go of it, like with moderate exercise. Which sounds more doable, going for a walk a couple of times a week, or doing yoga or tai chi? Don't forget the need to eat right, drink plenty of water and get a good night's sleep. The book gives details about Good and Bad foods.

The book also contains several other, more specific, memory techniques. It is an interesting book that is good for anyone from any walk of life. But, the book loses half a ratings star because parts of it needed a trip, or another trip, to a proofreader. There were also problems with the layout. It is still well worth reading for everyone.