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.

Friday, March 13, 2020

Nature, Spirituality and Illegal Gold Mining

Nature, Spirituality and Illegal Gold Mining: Welcome to the Amazon, Chad Vegas, Amazon.com Services LLC, 2019

Part of a series, the narrator is living in the Amazon jungle in present-day Peru. He is occupying a piece of land, on which marijuana is grown, for Max, the owner of the whole operation.

Along with a couple of local men assisting in holding the land, the narrator faces many battles. On one hand, he has to watch for illegal, scorched earth, gold miners, who have no problem with killing anyone who gets in their way. Along with the always-encroaching jungle, there are also squatters on the land, who will not go quietly.

Max, who is arriving soon, wants Chad, the narrator, to go through the police, and legally remove the squatters. Chad learns, through experience, that Peruvian police don't just have a laid-back attitude, they actively don't want to work without appropriate bribes. They treat squatter removal day as a joke. Several of the police spent the previous night drinking, then show up very hung over.

As a young man with a very active libido, Chad travels to Cusco, the nearest big city, every month or so, to satisfy his sexual needs. He has a couple of women that he calls whenever he is in town. As long as their boyfriend/sugar daddy is away, they are more than happy to have sex with Chad. He already has a bad ulcer, from excessive drinking, and he is very familiar with cocaine. This leads to a practically non-stop alcohol and drug-fueled sex binge, from the time he arrives in town until he has to return to the jungle.

This is certainly not a boring book; it will keep the reader interested. The author has, justifiably, been compared to Hunter S Thompson. There is lots of really good writing, along with lots of drugs, alcohol and sex, so it is not for the faint of heart. Other than that, it is very much worth reading.

Spin Off: CEO's Version

Spin Off: CEO's Version, Yehuda Holtzman, Simple Story, 2019

This is a chronicle of one person's time as CEO of a company that was spun off from another company. It is a software company dealing with smartphones, and had fallen on hard times.

The first thing a new CEO has to do is to find out how bad things are. In this case, it was not good. Any technological superiority the company had was gone. Software updates took a long time to download, and they were filled with bugs. The Customer Service department needed a lot of help.

Next, a CEO has to do a lot of listening to the employees. If the company is small enough, give every employee a chance to speak their mind. Travel to all (or as many as possible) sales offices in other states, asking for the unvarnished truth from employees. If there are offices in other countries, get out your passport, and hop on a plane.

Now the CEO must put together a new management team to turn the company around. It must include departments like Operations, Manufacturing, Marketing and Quality Assistance. The group must go to an off-site location, without distractions, and ask a lot of hard questions. Is this company more interested in growth or profit? If the company has applied for few, or no, patents over the last several years, why? Can any sales offices be combined, or eliminated? Can any products be combined, or eliminated? If a certain country, or region, accounts for only a small portion of sales, is an office there really necessary? After those questions are answered, then comes the hard part of actually turning the company around.

This is a very interesting book that is very easy to understand. It works for all kinds of companies (not just high-tech companies), and for companies of any size. This is a really good inside look at being a CEO. It's really worth reading.

Thursday, March 5, 2020

Nutrition Facts

Nutrition Facts: A Guide to Good Health, Sudhir Ahluwalia, Amazon.com Services LLC, 2020

This book does not promote the latest diet or weight-loss plan. It does attempt to provide some facts so that the reader can make an informed decision about the best way to proceed.

It talks a lot about organic food; how many hectares are under cultivation worldwide; what countries are the biggest importers and exporters, etc. Fruits and vegetables with thin skins, like strawberries and blueberries, probably have pesticides in them. If at all possible, look for their organic equivalent. Thicker-skinned items, like bananas, are much less likely to be carrying pesticides.

The book also looks, specifically, at foods like broccoli, tomatoes and citrus fruits. Where did they start? When did they start? What country is the biggest importer, and exporter? What chemical do they contain that is healthy? What will it do for the human body? Also included is a nutrition label for each item. This so the reader can see, for instance, just how much fiber or vitamin C or saturated fat is in each item.

This book does not reveal the latest Guaranteed Weight Loss system. However, it does a very good job at showing how healthy fruits and vegetables and grains really are. This will help the reader come up with their own healthy eating plan. Yes, it's worth reading.

Tuesday, March 3, 2020

The Parable of the Spirit That Whispers

The Parable of the Spirit That Whispers, Melvin Douglas Wilson, Yorkshire Publishing, 2019

This is a young adult fable about a far land run by a king called Americus. He built great worship centers so that the people could praise the Good Spirit. Americus also learned about the Spirit That Whispers, by reading the Books of Old, and trained his people to resist the bad spirit. Life was good.

On the death of Americus, Europa, his son, became king. He kept the worship centers open, and embraced the Good Spirit. But, he stayed away from the Books of Old, and told the people that the Spirit That Whispers was just a myth; don't worry about it. The young people of the kingdom started to turn away from the Good Spirit.

When Europa died, Asiaia, his son, assumed the throne. He kept open the worship centers, but he didn't believe in the Good Spirit. Bad people started spreading discontent and turmoil throughout the kingdom. No one could explain the cause. Things got so bad that the king barricaded himself in his castle. To pass the time, he started reading the Books of Old, and he learned the truth about the Spirit That Whispers. As he is pulled from the castle by the bad people of the kingdom (all of the good people are gone), he tries to warn them about the Spirit That Whispers. Does it have any effect? Is he too late?

This is a very interesting story for middle grade students. It will give them (and their parents) something to think about. Yes, it's very much worth reading.