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.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Paul Robeson for Beginners

Paul Robeson for Beginners, Paul Von Blum, For Beginners LLC, 2013

Who was Paul Robeson? He was a lot more than just the singer of "Ol' Man River."

A native of Princeton, NJ, Robeson received a four-year athletic scholarship to Rutgers College. He was twice named All-American in football, and also played basketball, baseball and track. Graduating as class Valedictorian (an member of Phi Beta Kappa), Robeson attended, and graduated from, Columbia Law School. His attempt at a legal career did not go well. Robeson continued to play semi-pro football on the weekends, and tried his luck as a stage actor.

He became a huge star on the stage, including almost 300 performances as Shakespeare's Othello. Robeson also became a world-famous concert singer. He couldn't help but notice that during trips to Europe, especially the Soviet Union, he was treated much better than he had ever been treated in America. From the 1920's through the 1940's, Robeson made about a dozen films, including a couple of silent films. On the positive side, audiences could actually see a strong, intelligent black man in the lead role. On the negative side, Robeson's performance was usually the best part of the film. It was otherwise filled with clownish stereotypes about blacks. In frustration, Robeson walked away from Hollywood.

Robeson was not afraid to speak out on political issues, ranging from the Spanish Civil War of the 1930's, to racism in America, to opposition to the Vietnam War. Such activities made him a victim of the 1950's Blacklist, along with having his passport seized. This, plus his wife's diagnosis of terminal cancer, brought on a huge bout of depression. When he was next allowed to travel overseas, the "magic" was gone. There was time in a sanitarium, and a suicide attempt. For the last dozen or so years of his life, he lived quietly with his sister in Philadelphia, and saw very few people.

This is a wonderful book. Robeson's erasure from 20th century history should be on the level of a national embarrassment. This book will start to correct it. It is very highly recommended for everyone.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Modern Disciples (Volume 3)

Modern Disciples (Volume 3), Ian Anderson, Outskirts Press, 2013

This is the third in a series of novels about several people who learn that they are the offspring of various ancient gods of antiquity. They also have unique abilities to help them fight non-human evil.

Lisa Mikoto (daughter of the Japanese god Izanagi) travels to a Japan in crisis. An unknown force has put a sort of permanent black cloud over the whole country, cutting Japan off from the sun. Electric power plants have been attacked, leaving electricity sporadic over the whole country. The famous Tokyo nightlife is dead. Anyone who can leave Japan, by any route, is doing so. Those who remain do not go out after sunset, because of carnivorous flying creatures looking for a meal.

Lisa's initial task is to look for a young woman from Texas who vanished, without a trace, several years previously. She is rescued from a sex slavery ring, and put on a plane back to America. The other five members of the group fly to Japan, and join Lisa to find the cause of the black cloud. Many evil creatures are thrown in their way to stop them, or, at least, to slow them down.

A Shinto ceremony will encourage Lisa's sister, the sun goddess Amaterasu, to bring back the sun. An important part of the ceremony is the use of three very old mirrors, from Japanese folklore. The group has to travel considerable distances to get them. Naturally, the mirrors are not exactly in plain sight, just waiting to be found. This leads to more battles with inhuman creatures, including goblins and a giant spider. A major complication in the ceremony happens when the Shinto priest is murdered by the "bad guy" before he can finish. Does the sun return to Japan? Do all members of the group survive?

It's rare when the first three novels in any series are all excellent, but this author has done it. It has plenty of action, and the reader will learn more than they ever wanted to know about Japanese folklore. The reader will not go wrong with this book.