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.

Sunday, May 31, 2020

Reverse Engineering God

Reverse Engineering God: Irreligious Answers to Fundamental Questions, Michael Rothschild, Amazon.com Services, 2020

This book attempts to use science to answer some of the great religious and philosophical questions that have occupied mankind through history.

Religion contributes to the survival ... of itself only. Why do we empathize? The unquestionable fitness of evolution. Why did the Big Bang bang? Do we live in the Matrix? A paradox is always an error in judgment. The meaning of life. Free will: real or imagined?

This will certainly give the reader quite a mental workout. It 's a very thought provoking book. It may not be a page-turner, but, for those who stick with it, it is very much worth the reader's time.

Saturday, May 30, 2020

How to Live the Dream

How to Live the Dream: Things Every Van Lifer Needs to Know, Kristine Hudson, 2020

Whether by choice or necessity, hopping in a van and traveling the highways and byways of America is becoming an increasingly popular choice. This book attempts to give the details.

If you are traveling solo, a Volkswagen bus might be your vehicle of choice. If children and/or pets are included, something bigger will be needed. Do you want a vehicle that is "move-in ready," or, are you ready to do some re-habbing? Where do you go to find out how to rehab an old school bus? Whatever vehicle you choose, high mileage is acceptable, as long as a mechanic goes through it from front to back, and approves of it. Learn some basic auto maintenance on your vehicle. If possible, get a paper copy of the repair manual. Rest assured, your vehicle will break down, at the most inconvenient place and time.

Do you need creature comforts, like an actual mattress, stove and/or toilet, or, are you OK with "roughing it"? You will have only a certain amount of storage space in your vehicle, so make every inch count. Figure out some sort of power source, in order to charge up your cellphone and/or laptop. Set a financial budget, and stick to it like glue. Resist the temptation to eat in a restaurant every day. Do you have one of those "remote" jobs that can be done on a laptop from anywhere? If so, that can be a good way to make some money while you are on the road. When your vehicle is all ready, and everything is packed, try a short -term trip, for a long weekend, or an entire week. Better to fix any glitches now, instead of later.

This is an excellent book that is very easy to understand. It belongs on whatever electronic device you are taking on your Grand Excursion. It is very much worth reading.

Monday, May 25, 2020

AIPAC'S Grassroots Path to Congress

AIPAC's Grassroots Path to Congress: How Isaiah Kenen Built AIPAC To Be A Powerhouse, Kobby Barda, Simple Story, 2020

This book looks at how the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) became one of the most powerful lobbies in Washington.

What became AIPAC was started during World War II. It was a way from American Jews to influence the American Government to help European Jews who were fleeing to Israel. Early on, it became clear that the way to influence Congress to be more pro-Israel was to flood it with telegrams and phone calls from constituents (this was before e-mail and smartphones).

A man named Isaiah "Si" Kenen became CEO in the early 1950's, and took the organization to the next level. AIPAC was registered as a lobbying organization, not a foreign agent. There was only a small staff in Washington, with a few lobbyists. AIPAC established an inverted pyramid structure, with the CEO at the bottom , and the individual members, in cities and small towns, were at the top. He started a national newspaper, to get AIPAC's point of view out to as many people as possible, as quickly as possible. For instance, Kenen calls ten regional leaders to alert them to a bill in Congress important to AIPAC. Those ten people will call ten more people, each of whom will call ten more, and on, and on. Within one or two days, Congress will be flooded with comments from constituents about that bill. Even those members of Congress who may not be pro-Israel were forced to admire AIPAC's ability to get their members to communicate with Congress.

This is a really interesting book. It takes years to create an organization that can effectively influence Congress; this is one way to do it. Any new political organization could do a lot worse than read this book. It easily gets four stars, maybe even four-and-a-half stars.

Changing World

Changing World: Origin, Sergei Katz, Amazon.com Services, 2018

First of a series, this novel is about Dave, a well-known computer analyst. A disability has left him unable to smell, taste or see color. When a Japanese company needs beta testers for a new virtual reality full immersion game, Dave jumps at the chance.

The only catch is that he has to remain in the game for at least one year (in real life). If his character dies in the game, rebirth is not possible. A computer glitch puts him right in the game, without any tutorials.

While enjoying his new senses, Dave teams up with a small woodland creature who can turn into almost anything (and who really likes his liquor), a young boy named Alex (who is on a quest of his own) and a hawk who he calls Copper Wing. They battle lots of monsters, and engage in several smaller quests, while Dave's in-game numbers, in categories like Intuition and Herbalist, keep going up and up. Can Dave extend his time in the game while in a fairy forest full of killer spirits?

This is a really good fantasy novel, intended for lovers of games like Dungeons & Dragons. Non-gamers may have a hard time with the constant listing of abilities like Craftsman, Scout, Attentiveness and Intellect. Get past it, and this is a very worthy start to a series.

Perception vs Truth

Perception vs Truth: Spirituality in Simple Words, Eyal Cohen, Amazon.com Services, 2020

Believe it or not, it is possible to change your life for the better. It involves opening your mind, and changing your perception of reality. That is what this book is all about.

This book consists of short sections, one or two pages each, with titles like: Point of Reference, Victor or Victim, The Principle of Simplicity, Religion, Polluted Minds, Become What You Are and Wisdom of Life.

In order for our hope to connect to reality, we have to act in a way that facilitates the thing we hope for. The seed of change exists solely inside of us. We can decide for ourselves -- either we are a victim or a victor of life. Instead of agonizing over the past, we can learn from it. Why is life so difficult? Because we have lost our Simplicity of Being. A sense of wisdom comes when we are being mindful. Religion is the underlying principle of all that is good, noble, honorable and beautiful.

Our perceptions of reality are shaped by many forces, including society, parents, culture and the internet. Maybe it is time for a change, and this book will help. It is very short, and is the sort of book that can be picked up and read starting on any page. It is well worth reading.

Changing World: The Fast Flow

Changing World: The Fast Flow, Sergei Katz, Amazon.com Services, 2019

Part 2 of a series, this continues the story of Alder, who is testing the ultimate in virtual reality role-playing games. There are those, inside the game, who do not want him there. The slightest error on Alder's part, and he will lose everything he has accomplished until then. Also, his new found friends will lose everything, permanently.

As with the first book, there is lots of good writing. Fantasy fans, and especially gamers, will love this story, with plenty of action. Non-gamers might have a hard time with the constant listing of abilities like Intuition and Herbalist and You Have Completed This Quest. It is still very much worth reading.

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

The Big Deal

The Big Deal: A 6-Step Formula to Kill Your Low Sales Stress and Help You Close the Biggest Deals Ever, Hisham Al Gurg, Amazon.com Services, 2019

This book shows a way to greatly increase the chances of a favorable outcome for any business salesperson.

As an example, let's assume your product is HR software. The first thing you should do is make that product as perfect as possible. Why should anyone even consider buying your software if it is full of bugs? Among the objects of selling is to fulfill a need that the customer foes not know that they have. If your software fulfills only a small need, again, why should the customer buy it? Make sure it fulfills a big need of the customer.

After you have chosen your target company, stay away from the CEO (for now). Going right to the CEO, with a PowerPoint presentation that basically says "Buy My Software," will guarantee an answer of No. Meet with senior people at the target company, and learn everything you can about it. What is their fiscal year? Are more approvals than the CEO's needed for purchasing decisions? What sort of person is the CEO? Does he have to see it, hear it or touch it before he understands it? Know the company, inside and out. Also, know your competition. When the CEO asks, "We have dealt with your competitor for many years. They charge less than you, and we are very satisfied with their customer service. Why should we switch to you?", make sure that you have an answer handy. Now, you talk to the CEO.

Don't ask the CEO to buy the software (yet). Instead, ask for authorization to set up a Proof of Concept (or POC). It's a chance for the target company to test-drive the software. How long will the POC last? What features of the software will not be available? In the target company, who will have access to it? In the selling company, who will be on-site for questions or problems? If the target company wants changes to the software, how far is the selling company willing to go? Assuming the POC was a success, and HR loves the software, go back to the CEO, with plenty of built-in fans of the software.

If the answer is Yes, the job is not done. How will the software get onto the target company's mainframe? Will everyone in HR have access to it, or just certain people? How much customer service will be available, days or months?

This is a very thorough, and very easy to understand, book. It is good for businesses of any size. It is very much worth reading.