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.

Monday, July 27, 2020

Sex, Drugs and Corruption: Welcome to Peru

Sex, Drugs and Corruption: Welcome to Peru, Chad Vegas, Amazon.com Services, 2017


First of a series, this novel is about a young man named Chad, living in present-day California. Construction jobs are few and far between, because of the Great Recession. He meets an older man named Max, and they decide to get into the marijuana business.

Growing marijuana on a large scale is extremely time-consuming. If the plants are not harvested at exactly the right time, the crop is almost worthless. Night time dew on the leaves can cause them to rot, making the crop almost worthless. After harvesting, each leaf has to be individually trimmed in a very short time, or the crop is almost worthless. But, the payoff can be huge. This was the time when California had legalized medical marijuana, so everyone was growing their own. This led to a huge glut in the market.

Meantime, Max had married a woman from Peru, and he bought an isolated piece of land, deep in the Amazon, for more large-scale growing of marijuana. The land has suddenly become very valuable, so Max is faced with constant bureaucratic and legal attempts to steal it from him. Max is very much up for the battle. Traveling to Peru, Max and Chad learn that the Peruvian justice system does not just have a "laid back" attitude, they honestly don't want to work without appropriate bribes.

Being a red-blooded, and very horny, young man, Chad finds a couple of women in Cusco, the nearest large city, who want to have a good time. They are interested in going to a local discoteca, getting totally drunk and/or high, then going back to Chad's room, for a night of wild, no-holds-barred sex. Chad learns some very interesting things about Peruvians. Drunken Peruvians tend to become mean drunks. Get a Peruvian woman angry at you, for some reason like alleged infidelity, and you take your life in your hands.

This book is very easy to read, but it is not for everyone. Some might have a problem with the huge amounts of drugs, sex and alcohol in this story. Get past that, and this will certainly keep the interest of the reader.

The Oak and His Friends

The Oak and His Friends, Anna Tyumentseva, 2020

This story, for young children, is about an acorn. It was dropped by a badger rushing home in a bad rainstorm. Covered by a leaf, the acorn went to sleep. When it woke up, it was no longer an acorn, but a sprig. As it grew into an oak tree, the local animals made it their home. Bees and magpies made nests in its branches, and rabbits dug burrows among its roots. The oak provided leaves and acorns to help the animals through the winter. Everyone was welcome, including the woodpecker, who made its nest inside the tree. Life was good. Years later, during a bad thunderstorm, the oak is struck by lightning and catches on fire. Is this the end for the oak tree?

Young children will love this book. It's cute, heartwarming and easy to understand. It might also teach them a thing or two about natural science, and why trees lose their leaves each autumn. This is very much worth checking out.

Devil Be Damned

Devil Be Damned, Stuart Masters, Outskirts Press, 2020


Set during the days of the Old West, Toby Grimes is a teenager who witnesses his mother beaten to death by her husband (and Toby's father). Over her dead body, Toby vows to find, and kill, his father.

After he turns 18 years old, Toby is made Sheriff of the local town; he has shown that he knows how to take care of himself. He accepts on the condition that if he hears any news about his father, he is out of there. Pa has spent the last couple of years in jail. He is out again, and is leaving a trail of dead bodies behind him. As Sheriff, Toby runs into various thieves, desperadoes and other unsavory people. He finally tracks down his Pa. Is there a tearful family reunion? Does Pa admit the error of his ways? Who is still alive at the end of the story?

This is a very fast read. It's got the Old West, romance, violence and dead bodies and lots of good writing. It's the sort of story that could take place anywhere and anytime. This will keep the reader very interested.

Jews Who Rescued Jews During the Holocaust

Jews Who Rescued Jews During the Holocaust: 100 Stories of Jewish Rescue I, Moshe Gromb, Nadav Books, 2020


Yad Vashem, the official Holocaust memorial in Israel, has a long list of non-Jews who helped Jews escape the Holocaust; they are called Righteous Among the Nations (the Holocaust Museum in Washington DC has a similar list). When it comes to Jews who helped Jews escape to safety, Yad Vashem has nothing. Evidently, no European Jews ever helped other Jews reach safety during World War II. (Really?) this book starts to fill in that historical hole.

A variety of methods were used to help Jews who faced deportation and death, all over Europe. Some rescuers were able to forge, and distribute, residence permits. Some were able to travel from ghetto to ghetto, relaying information, and bringing food and medical supplies. Others were able to take care of orphan children, and were able to get them over the border to safety in neutral Switzerland (for example). The stories in this book, only two or three pages each, are heartwarming and heartbreaking at the same time. Some rescuers survived the war, while others were not so lucky.

For anyone who wants to know about a "hidden" part of the Holocaust, this is very much recommended. For anyone who thinks that Jews didn't fight back during World War II, this is very much recommended. Here is a gem of a book.

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

A Song Apart

A Song Apart, Jeffrey H Baer, Amazon.com Services LLC, 2011

On a Manhattan street, rising teen pop star Shannon Kistler sees college Kevin Derow wearing one of her concert t-shirts. She slips him her phone number, and, meeting a few days later, their unlikely friendship/romance begins.

They find that they have a lot in common: dysfunctional families, a passion for music, lonely childhoods and choosing the "wrong" (according to other people) paths for their lives. Kevin unwittingly blows the lid off a payola scandal at Shannon's record label, which could destroy her career. He also loses the respect of friends and family, because of this younger girl that he nearly idolizes. Do Shannon and Kevin Live "happily ever after" at the end? Does Shannon's career survive the payola scandal?

Aside from teen romance and the music business, this novel also touches on things like 9/11 and autism. It's a good, and well-written novel that almost reaches the level of being an excellent novel. 

Sunday, July 12, 2020

Coronavirus & COVID-19

Coronavirus & COVID-19: What It Is, How to Avoid It, How to Survive It, Peter Kent, Amazon.com Services, 2020

This book attempts to prevent facts regarding COVID-19.

It gives some background on exactly what coronavirus is, and is not. COVID-19 is just another form of the flu, right? (Wrong.) SARS-CoV-2 is the official name of the virus, while COVID-19 is the disease that comes from the virus. The author looks at exactly how it spreads.

What can the average person do to slow the spread? Stay home, if you can. If you have to go out, like for grocery shopping, the book tells what to do. If you think you have been exposed, self-isolation is a very good idea. How do you get a COVID-19 test? Last, but not least, how can a person build up their immunity?

An inherent limitation of a book like this is that whenever it is published or posted online, it is instantly obsolete. There are plenty of links throughout this book for further information. It was updated in the last month or two. It presents facts, as known at the time of writing, not suppositions, rumors or conspiracy theories. It is not meant to replace a trip to your local doctor, but it easily deserves six stars.

Friday, July 10, 2020

Suicide Kills

Suicide Kills: Powerless to Powerful, Klaude Walters, Ridgestone Publishing, 2020

This is the story of one person's journey through extreme levels of despair and heartbreak, until she emerged into the Light.

Growing up in eastern Canada, she had to deal with an alcoholic father, multiple rapes and huge feelings of invisibility and inadequacy. Since she was little, she thought about suicide, and actually tried it. Her older brother succeeded at suicide, and it sent her into an emotional tailspin. Along the way, there was sexual assault at work, the breakup of three marriages, and an abortion (at that time, she felt that she was nowhere near emotionally ready to be a mother). What finally got her to start turning her life around? The first of two bouts with cancer.

The author's top suggestion for anyone in a similar situation is to start a journal, whether on paper or on a computer. Getting those negative feelings out of your head may help to deal with them. For anyone who thinks that no one knows what they are feeling, this author has probably been there. This book is very inspirational, and almost reaches the level of Wow.

Sunday, July 5, 2020

Pandemic Capitalism

Pandemic Capitalism: From Broken Systems to Basic Incomes, Chris Oestereich, Wicked Problems Collaborative, 2020

The Covid-19 pandemic has totally changed American society, maybe permanently. Perhaps the biggest change has been economic. Millions of people were laid off, because nearly everything was closed. Some of those jobs are starting to return, but other jobs are gone forever. What is a lower-paid retail or hospitality worker (usually a minority) to do? Enter the Universal Basic Income, or UBI.

It is a monthly cash payment, from the government, that goes right into a person's bank account. It is intended to provide some financial stability while a person is looking for work, or waiting for their job to return. No doubt, some people will use that money to buy unhealthy things, like liquor or cigarettes. Most people will use it to stock up on groceries, or pay overdue bills, or make a long-delayed trip to the doctor. That money will actually be spent, thereby helping the economy, instead of being stashed in some investment account. Isn't nearly anything better that pushing more people into the confusing and overwhelmed welfare system/

This book does not attempt to answer questions like: the size of the monthly check, is there an upper income limit for recipients, or how it will be paid for. It is short, easy to read, and if it simply gets people thinking about a UBI, it will have done its job. This is very much worth reading. 

Friday, July 3, 2020

Connecting Beyond

Connecting Beyond: Observing and Learning Relationships, Amazon.com Services LLC, 2020

This book looks at relationships by comparing them to the human body.

The spine represents the bedrock social and moral principles with which we were raised. Just as tendons and cartilage allow the body to be flexible, experiencing new people and places allows for emotional flexibility to adapt to our environment. Any living organism will experience cuts, bruises, broken bones or chronic illness. In interpersonal relationships, pain, frustration, abandonment and trauma are almost part of the landscape.

The author also includes her autobiography. She was raised in Israel, of Yemeni origin. Her darker skin caused some unpleasant moments while she was growing up. Her father's alcoholism brought about a very hard life at home; any residual love between his parents was gone. She left as soon as she could; eventually heading to America.

Several exercises are included to help the reader understand whatever is, emotionally, ailing them. This book is very easy to read and understand. It is recommended for anyone dealing with emotional potholes in their journey through life.