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, October 3, 2020

The Game of Life

 The Game of Life, Chad Vegas, 2020, self-published

This novel is fourth in a series about Chad and Max, two men involved in the California marijuana trade. Max bought a piece of land in Peru for some high-volume weed growing. There are squatters on the land, and Max has to deal with corrupt gold miners and the Peruvian justice system, which seems to move at the speed of continental drift. Max is ready for the challenge. That leaves Chad in charge of growing, harvesting and selling high-quality weed back in California to make money to send to Peru.

Large-scale marijuana growing is very labor-intensive. There is a fine line between a successful crop and total failure. After it is harvested, there is a short window of opportunity to trim the bad parts off of each plant, leaving only the good parts. Then comes the problem of selling it for a good price.

Everyone is getting into weed growing, causing the price per pound that Chad can get to plummet. There are only a certain number of dispensaries to sell to, forcing Chad to drive farther away to sell his crop. Chad begins to wonder if growing and selling weed is still worth it.

Is Max successful with his legal case, despite the Peruvian justice system? Does Chad get out of the drug business?

As with the previous books in this series, this is not a boring book. Some might have a problem with the insane amount of drugs that are consumed in this book. Get past that, and there is lots of good writing here that will certainly keep the reader's attention.

Friday, October 2, 2020

The Three Brothers

The Three Brothers: When George Washington and Edmund Barton Sat Down to Dinner, Stephen Marantelli, Waratah North Books, 2018 

Set in World War I London, this novel is about a rather strained dinner conversation between George Washington and Edmund Barton, who, from 1901 to 1903, was Australia's first Prime Minister.

The book is full of behind-the-scenes looks at the creation of each country's federal Constitution. In neither country, was it a case of tall, square-jawed individuals, united and agreed on the future. There was a lot of disagreement, frustration and false starts. There were times when a person might wonder how a Constitution ever came into existence, in both countries.

This book is not exactly an exciting, action-packed page turner (it has been likened to an arm wrestling match), but, for anyone interested in the building of America or Australia, this is very highly recommended. The amount of detail and research on the American Constitution, in particular, is incredible.

100% Choice: Becoming a Conscious Creator of Your Life

 100% Choice: Becoming a Conscious Creator of Your Life, Sharon Shahaf, Amazon.com Services, 2020

There seem to be a million self-help books available these days. You understand, intellectually, what needs to be changed. When it comes to actually doing it, nothing happens. You feel frustrated and ready to give up.

Among the chapters in this book are "Awaken from the Bad Dream" and "Changing from the Outside In." Instead of "God" or Fate or Them (whoever Them is) being against you, and making you miserable, consider the possibility that you are doing it to yourself. Your thoughts, and your emotions, are helping to create your reality (good or bad).

This book goes into lots of detail about exactly how to change your life story and one day wake up as a totally new person. This book feels different than all the other self-help books that are on the market. It is clearly written, and is recommended for  anyone in an emotional rut, or who wonders "Is this all there is to life?"

Shadow Talker

 Shadow Talker, Sergei Katz, Amazon.com Services LLC, 2020


Part 1 of a series, this book takes place on a world where a series of intellectual and athletic games determines a person's profession. James is happy to be assigned to the elite School of Detectives. Finding the School is east, but gaining admittance is much more difficult (you don't just knock on the front door). The sentient School makes it clear that James must solve his first case to stay at the school.

Paired with an enchanted panther and a woman with unique abilities of her own, James must find out who is stealing people's souls. They spread out in the city, looking for clues. A soul cannot survive outside a body indefinitely, so there is a big time constraint included. There is a lot of Sherlock Holmes-style deduction and observation going on. Can the trio find, and stop, the culprit before James gets added to the list of people missing their souls?

This is a really good start to a series, with lots of good writing. It works as an urban fantasy novel, and it works as a detective novel. This will appeal to a lot of people, and it is very much worth reading.

The Leprechaun Wars

 The Leprechaun Wars, Wes Snowden, Corvent Creative, 2020

Set in Ireland of the 1840's, this story is about Gwydion O'Dubney, son of a rival clan leader who is murdered at the hands of King Ortho. Gwydion's narrow escape cause Ortho to spare no expense to get him back (and kill anyone who he even suspects of knowing his whereabouts). Ortho's top enforcer, a hunchback name Extor the Cruel (the name is richly deserved) is hot on his heels.

Many people want Extor, and his son, Horluxx the Head, to die in the most painful way possible. After that is accomplished, focus turns to Ortho. It will take time to build an army against him. It is decided to strike against him at a special event several years in the future. While preparations are being made, Gwydion must hide. His capture would mean the end of the rebellion, and Ortho's obsession with him has gone to the next level (like it or not, Gwydion is now head of Clan O'Dubney). Gwydion decides to live in the world of humans, returning twice a year for progress reports.

While living among humans, Gwydion falls for a widow living alone on a farm. They have a son together. When the time comes, to move against King Ortho, Gwydion faces a heartbreaking choice: stay with the woman he loves, as a human, or return to his people? Does Gwydion fulfill his blood oath to his father/ Does King Ortho get what he so richly deserves?

This is a really good novel. It's got action, suspense and some romance. There is lots of good writing, and this book will keep the reader interested.

Onward: The Art of Leadership

 Onward: The Art of Leadership, Mark Joseph Huckabee, Telemachus Press, 2019


Leadership has many different forms (not just business or military leadership). Leadership is a never-ending journey; there is no knowing "everything" about leadership. Leaders never stop growing and learning. This book gives the details.

The book explores concepts like Living Your Principles, The "How" of Leadership, Building Great Teams and Managing Your Life. He uses many present-day examples to illustrate each concept. Steven Spielberg makes an appearance in this book, along with Muhammad Ali, Elon Musk, Nelson Mandela, Hunter S Thompson and Ayn Rand. Also included in this book are movies like Black Panther, To Kill a Mockingbird, Star Wars, Cloverfield, Avengers, Deadpool and Avatar.

Each section is only a couple of pages long. They end with the leadership lesson reduced to one or two sentences in bold font, making this book very easy to read. It is the sort of book that can be picked up and read starting on any page. This is certainly recommended for anyone in a position of leadership, and for everyone else, too.

Natural Solutions for Diabetes

 Natural Solutions for Diabetes, Sudhir Ahluwalia, 2020, self-published


For anyone with diabetes, natural solutions to manage or control the disease is a popular research subject these days. YouTube videos and popular literature are full of advice and "miracle" cures. Using a science-based approach, this book analyzes a range of natural options to combat diabetes.

Ayurveda and Traditional Chinese Medicine have a number of herbal remedies to treat diabetes. The downside is that the scientific studies that have been done have not gone any farther than testing on rats. Therefore, they have not yet been proven to work on people. Much more well known to Westerners are exercises like yoga and tai chi.

Which foods are best for people with diabetes? Which form of exercise is best? Should I adopt a plant-based diet? Can I stop my regular diabetes medication and rely on herbal medicines? Can acupuncture help relieve some of the side effects? This book attempts to answer these questions and more.

As with any medical book, a visit to your local doctor before starting anything in this book is a very good idea. This contains 15 pages of references of the scientific studies mentioned in the book. It is short, easy to read, and for those looking for an alternative to Western diabetes treatment, it is an excellent place to start.

Miranda and the D-Day Caper

 Miranda and The D-Day Caper, Shelly Frome, BQB Publishing, 2020


Set in present-day North Carolina, Miranda is a local real estate agent dealing with the sudden arrival of Skip, her whimsical cousin from New York. He is on the run, because he intercepted coded messages like "Countdown to D-Day" and broadcast them on his nationwide radio show. Skip has gotten powerful people upset with him.


Miranda starts asking questions around town and discovers links to white nationalists, firebombed churches (that were empty at the time), a crucial vote on a homeland security bill in the US Senate, and the kidnapping of Duffy, Skip's beloved tabby cat. Can Miranda and Skip figure out what "it" is, and stop it before anyone gets hurt or killed?


This is a "quiet" mystery/thriller story, in that there are no explosions or hair-raising escapes until the end. It's also a really good story; the reader feels like they are in the Blue Ridge Mountains. It is very much worth reading.