Welcome!


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:

booklore.co.uk
midwestbookreview.com
2 yahoo groups
Amazon and B&N (of course)
Librarything.com
Shelfari.com
Goodreads.com
Bookwormr.com
SoulofWit.com
Books-a-million.com
Reviewcentre.com
Lunch.com
Bookblogs.ning.com
Chatabout.com
Flickr.com
Pinterest.com
and on Twitter
(seriously)

I am always looking for more places to post my reviews.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Mindhealer

Mindhealer, Lilith Saintcrow, ImaJinn Books, 2008

Part of a series, this book is about a modern-day society in the middle of a long-term war between the forces of Light and Dark.

Caroline (Caro) Robbins is a Mindhealer, a special kind of witch. She has the ability to go into the mind of someone who has been psychically ravaged by Dark forces, and repair the damage. During an ill-advised drive to a safe house in the city, Caro almost becomes the next victim. She is rescued by a Watcher named Merrick, and brought to the safe house.

Watchers and Witches are never supposed to physically touch; if they do, the physical reaction is something like a severe electric shock. When Merrick touches Caro, and nothing happens, he realizes that the two are bonded. The Watcher/Witch relationship is much more than just a lifelong, 24-hour bodyguard.

Merrick is bound by honor and duty to never let Caro out of his sight, and to sacrifice his life, if necessary, to keep her alive. This is despite Caro's extreme disinterest in having another Watcher. Her previous Watcher died in the line of duty, and she is determined to not go through that again.

The safe house is under nearly constant attack by Dark forces, despite being covered in magical protection spells. Being saved by Merrick, more than once, has not blunted Caro's very wide stubborn streak. During one trip inside a victim's mind, a waiting Dark carnivore almost makes a psychic, and physical, meal out of Caro. Merrick is tormented by not wanting to disobey her, wanting to handcuff her, and sit on her, to keep her out of danger, and the tendency of his crotch to do the thinking, instead of his brain. Do they survive the attacks?

 My only complaint about this book is that it is not the first in the series; I am one of those who has to read a series in order. It's a first-rate piece of writing, with enough romance and emotion between Caro and Merrick (maybe a little too much). Even for those who don't think that they like dark fantasy stories, this is very much worth reading.  

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Missing Microbes

Missing Microbes: How the Overuse of Antibiotics is Fueling Our Modern Plagues, Martin J. Blaser, MD, Henry Holt & Company, LLC, 2014

This book looks at the harm that is being done to the human body by modern medicine, especially by the overuse of antibiotics, one of the greatest health discoveries of the last century.

First of all, if a person is suffering from some major ailment, and antibiotics have been shown to work in the past, then don't hesitate to take them. But, taking antibiotics for every sniffle and sore throat is a terrible idea. Penicillin, for instance, is a broad-spectrum antibiotic. That means that it does not just kill the "bad" bacteria, it also kills beneficial bacteria (yes, there is such a thing). Out of, say, a million cold germs, at least one will be resistant to penicillin. With the "good" bacteria, that may have neutralized all of those cold germs, out of the way, that penicillin-resistant germ is now free to multiply without restrictions. Maybe it turns into penicillin-resistant flu, or even worse, pneumonia. What does the person do now?

According to the author, overuse of antibiotics starts in early childhood. A baby spends nine months in a sterile environment before being born. It's first exposure to beneficial bacteria and microbes comes from going through the mother's birth canal. Wiping babies clean, as soon as they are born, while understandable, is a bad idea. Taking a baby by caesarian section, purely for convenience, totally bypassing the birth canal, is an even worse idea (if the life of the mother or the baby is in danger, then, by all means, do a c-section).

Nearly all types of farm animals are fed antibiotics to keep them healthy, or fatten them up for slaughter. Some portion of those antibiotics will end up in the milk you drink, or the meat you eat. The lack of "good", disease-fighting, bacteria in the human body may be behind the recent huge rise in allergies, digestive diseases, asthma or some types of cancer.

This is a huge eye-opener, and it will give the reader plenty to consider. It is very highly recommended for everyone.  

Will There Be Donuts? Better Business One Meeting at a Time

Will There Be Donuts? Better Business One Meeting at a Time, David Pearl, HarperCollins, 2013

Meetings are the bane of modern-day business. Is there any way to make them not so long, boring and unproductive?

First of all, exchange the donuts and soda for something much healthier, like water and protein bars. The sugar rush, followed by the mid-afternoon sugar crash, helps no one.

Why do people attend meetings? It's a nice alternative to doing actual work, technology makes it possible, we confuse "efficient" and "effective", and we forget that there is an alternative.

Looking at the anatomy of meetings, there is a big difference between what a meeting is about, and the intention. Make sure the "right" people are at your meeting, like the Leader, the Recorder, the Facilitator and the Coach. Look at things from the point of view of your customers. Read magazines that you would not normally read; listen to other radio stations. Who attends meetings? Do they have to be there?

What can be done? The average hotel "business conference room" is a windowless room in the basement with harsh artificial lighting. Stay out of that room. Hold your meeting in the hotel lounge, or, even better, hold it outside. Back at the office, consider getting rid of your big, rectangular conference table, and replacing it with several smaller tables with swivel chairs.

Have an agenda, and stick to it (but leave room for the unexpected). Is this meeting to brainstorm new ideas, or to keep everyone informed on recent developments? Don't let anyone change the focus of the meeting, or otherwise monopolize it. Impose a Fine Jar, where all participants are required to pay if they are caught texting during the meeting.

This book is very much worth reading for companies of all sizes. Even small changes in a company's meetings can only help. Some sort of summary or bullet points would have made this book even better, but, yes, it is worth the money.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

How to Fight Presidents

How to Fight Presidents: Defending Yourself Against the Badasses Who Ran This Country, Daniel O'Brien, Three Rivers Press, 2014

Did you know that a number of former American Presidents would fit in quite well in a Bruce Willis or Arnold Schwarzenegger action film? Imagine that they now want to beat you to a pulp. What do you do?

Thomas Jefferson designed his own tombstone (among many other things). He intentionally left out any mention of his time as President, because he didn't think it was that important. To quote from this book, "If "leaving your Presidency off of your tombstone" isn't the nineteenth-century equivalent of "walking away from an explosion without turning around to look at it," then I don't know what is." John Quincy Adams was involved in fighting the British when he was eight years old (What were you doing at eight years old?). He also swam the width of the Potomac every day at 5 AM, and thought that having sex outside in the snow was a good idea. James Madison may have been short and scrawny, but he did grab a couple of pistols and a horse, and rode out to the front lines to fight the British during the War of 1812 (as a sitting President).

It takes a peculiar amount of ego and ambition to want to be President, but Andrew "Old Hickory" Jackson belongs in a category by himself. At age thirteen, as a British prisoner of war, Jackson was forced to march forty miles, barefoot, with an undressed head wound, and suffering from smallpox. If there were no wars to fight, Jackson liked real duels. On one occasion, Jackson allowed the other man to shoot first. The bullet almost hit his heart. Jackson then shot and killed the other man.

If a person wanted a private word with Lyndon Johnson, the person frequently had to follow Johnson into the bathroom and watch him poop. Johnson's sexual conquest numbers, while President, were comparable to John Kennedy, the King of Presidential Sexual Conquests. Chester Arthur is compared to Lex Luthor, and Ronald Reagan is compared to Wolverine. William Howard Taft once got stuck in a bathtub; it took four men to extricate him. The biography of Calvin Coolidge reads like the origins of a serial killer. Every day, Herbert Hoover played a game with his friends called Hooverball. Think of volleyball played with a ten-pound medicine ball.

Get past the foul language in this book, and this is a huge eye-opener. The reader will look at the past inhabitants of the Oval Office in a whole new way. It's also really funny. This is highly recommended for everyone.  

An Abduction Revelation: The Comeback Kid Returns

An Abduction Revelation: The Comeback Kid Returns, Thomas L. Hay, Balboa Press, 2012

(Kindle Book Review)
This book is about an average person with an almost unbelievable story to tell, a story that involves abduction by aliens.

Hay lived a rather normal life. He joined the Navy after high school, becoming a radioman, and getting very good at sending Morse Code. After the Navy, he married Claudia, and settled down to a normal life, except for the part about being abducted by aliens. With no prior warning, one night Claudia asks for a divorce (at the end of the book, Hay learns that she had a very good reason).

While living and working in Saudi Arabia, Hay falls in love with Fiza, an Arabian woman (very bad idea). They keep their relationship very quiet, but the male members of her family find about it, so Hay has to practically run to the airport to catch the next plane out of the country. They re-connect outside of Saudi Arabia, get secretly married and live in America, but things end very badly.

In the depths of depression, Hay is visited by a couple of men from NASA, with an invitation to join a Top Secret project. It seems that all the reports of UFO sightings and abductions since the mid-20th century are not all mass delusions; they happen to be true. Hay is able to telepathically communicate with a real alien, who really is not so alien after all. He also learns why, during an earlier visitation, the aliens took some sperm from him. The alien race is sterile; Hay is asked for his assistance. This is one of those decisions where there is no going back. What is his decision?

Hay had some memories of his abduction experiences, so he wrote a book about them. Claudia discovered a way to totally neutralize the alien mental blocks that were put in her head. Hay tried it, and he suddenly remembered everything that happened to him. He felt compelled to write a revised and updated book about his abduction experiences; this is the book. The reader can decide if this is fiction or non-fiction; the author insists that it is a true story. Either way, it works really well. It's very well-written and easy to read, with more than enough "strange" in it. Yes, this deserves five stars.

(The Kindle Book Review Received a free copy of this book for an independent, fair and honest review. We are not associated with the author or Amazon.)

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Guardian Dragons

Guardian Dragons, Catherine L. Vickers, Kindle Direct Publishing, 2013

(Kindle Book Review)
Part of a series, this fantasy novel takes place on a very divided world.

Aarabassa is one of those planets where one side is always light, and the other side is always dark. A magic Wall separates the two sides, a Wall which none may cross, except for Guardian Dragons (keeping watch on the Dark side) and a powerful human mage called the Changeling.

Heather is the newest Changeling. She is an impetuous teenager who can't wait to try out her abilities. She turns into a huphin, a human/dolphin hybrid, and meets Prince Gadon, the huphin leader. Heather's friend, Prince Leon, tries to get her to slow down, but to no avail. She is one of those who doesn't know the meaning of "no."

Meantime, Leon's father, King Alfred, has simply given up on everything. He is no longer interested in being King, or even in taking care of himself. His beloved wife, Elma, died several years previously, giving birth to Alfred's son, Raphael. Alfred is still in mourning. He knows it is wrong, but he can't help but hate Raphael.

The Master (the Dark side Emperor) is not standing still, content with simply hating the Light side. He is able to take control of humans on the Light side, and have them serve his wishes, knowingly or unknowingly. The mother and son duo of Rikka and Fedros are among them. She is a healer around whom the sick tend to die. She isn't incompetent; she is making it possible for the Master to feed on their souls, and subject them to eternal torment.

There is a lot of introducing of characters in this book, and not much in the way of action. That is quite reasonable; the author has to introduce the characters sooner rather than later. The author does a really good job with the characters and the society-building. I hope the action and the "sword and sorcery" will come in later books.

(The Kindle Book Review received a free copy of this book in exchange for an independent, fair and honest review. We are not associated with the author or Amazon.)