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, November 30, 2020

Waiting for Gary Cooper

 Waiting for Gary Cooper, Gabriel Bensimhon, 2020

Set in Israel of the 1950's, this is the story of Jonathan, a young boy who, along with his family, emigrated to Israel from a small town in Morocco.

Jonathan is in love with Nurat, a Sabra (born in Israel) girl who listens to the opera "Carmen." He get a copy of the record, and immerses himself. But, she only has eyes for someone else.

Jonathan's uncle is an exorcist; there is not much need for them in modern-day Israel. After the family made it to Israel (Jonathan and his younger brother travelled separately from their parents), Dad, a carpenter, got the required permissions to turn an old, abandoned building into a synagogue. He did everything the right way, and built it all himself. Everything was good, until the members of the synagogue started arguing about what songs should be sung during the service. Dad got fed up, and left, to build a new synagogue, and another, and another, with the same arguments breaking out. Jonathan got a job at the local movie theater running the translation machine. Someone else did the actual translating into Yiddish. His job was to get the translation on the screen at the same time as the English words spoken.

This has lots of politics and culture, but it is not a political novel. It does a very good job of showing life in 1950's Israel, warts and all. It has lots of good writing, and will certainly keep the attention of the reader.

Thursday, November 26, 2020

Italian Culture Today

 Italian Culture Today, Thalby Originals, 2020

Part of a series, this book is an introduction to present-day Italian culture.

New novelists are bringing about a boom in contemporary fiction. The Italian film tradition is justifiably world-famous. It started with Benito Mussolini wanting to make propaganda films. The Italian hip-hop scene has flourished in recent years, partly due to TV collaborations. There is something actually different about Italian sunshine; maybe it has to do with the high altitudes, or less dust, and other pollutants, in the air.

The Italian fashion industry is starting to emerge from a financial crisis. The making, and drinking, of wine is a very important part of everyday life. Vatican City is the place where politics, culture and religion meet. Old, abandoned buildings are being given new lives as communes, clubs and creative spaces. Did I mention Italian motor racing, of which Ferrari and Formula 1 are pivotal parts?

Like the other books in this series, this book contains several helpful extras, including great festivals to attend, some phrases in Italian and helpful etiquette tips. Also, this book does not try to be a comprehensive guide, but a brief introduction to Italian culture. It works very well at that, and is well worth reading.

Italian Society Today

 Italian Society Today, Thalby Originals, 2020

Part of a series, this book is a basic introduction to present-day Italian society.

Family is still everything in Italy, but more and more families are multicultural. There is much more of a regional identity among residents of Italy than a national identity. It is more important to say, for instance, "I am from Venice" or "I am Sicilian" than to say "I am Italian." Italy's citizenship laws are based on blood, not birth.

Italy has one of the lowest rates of condom use in Europe. Part of the reason is because of the influence of the Catholic Church, and part is because Italian sex education "needs improvement."

Education in Italy is more and more inclusive, affordable and usually public. You can't talk about Italy without talking about food, and the Italian appreciation for beauty, whether in cars or fashion. The Catholic Church still dominates Italy, but it is becoming more progressive. Things have started to improve for women, but Italy still has the highest gender inequality in Europe.

As with the other books in this series, this includes a list of places to visit while in Italy. It also includes some Italian phrases (learning a few words of the local language is always a good idea), and some Italian etiquette (dinner starts at 7:30 PM; if you are an early eater, you are out of luck). This does not try to be a comprehensive guide to Italy. It is a brief introduction to Italy, something to read while on the plane. In that respect, it works really well. It is very much worth reading.

Sunday, November 22, 2020


 Shapers: Reinvent the Way You Work and Change the Future, Jonas Altman, Wiley, 2020

Everyone wants to work at a job where they feel empowered and engaged, and want to make the world a better place. This book gives the details.

The problem with such an attitude is that few people actually work at such an empowering job. Large numbers of people treat their job as just a paycheck. What's worse is that some people actually hate their job, and are honestly considering sabotage. What can a company do to increase the engagement level, since an employee will be there for only a couple of years? It will take a lot more than a foosball table, and free pizza on Fridays.

If there is one buzzword to take from this book, it is "fluidity" or "flexibility." Employees, and employers, must realize (if they haven't already done so) that the days of spending your entire career at one company are gone forever. The average employee will change careers several times during their working lives.

Good bosses sometimes get noticed, but bad bosses go to the top of the list of Reasons To Quit. A great salesman may make a horrible Regional Sales Manager. It is not always his (or her) fault.

This is a very interesting book. It is recommended for everyone, but especially for those who want to feel engaged at work, but don't know how to get there

Monday, November 16, 2020


 Investpreneur: Real Estate Lessons for the Determined Investor, Kristen Cripps, Leaders Press, 2020

This is the story of one woman's rise from massage therapist and part-time bartender to real estate mogul, buying her first home before she was 20 years old.

According to the book, several questions must be answered before you buy your first investment house. Is this to be a short-term, or long-term, rental? Will it be posted on a site like Airbnb? Have you watched too many home renovation shows on TV, and are convinced that flipping houses is an easy way to make money?

The author then looks at the next question to be answered, which is getting financing from your local bank. After that, do your homework on your potential purchase. Visit the neighborhood at night. What is the sale price of nearby comparable houses? Have a local real estate agent look up the house's history. Has it been on the market for a long time; why is it selling for a lot less then nearby comparable houses? Get a home inspection.

If the house is to be a relatively inexpensive first home, than a little bit of skimping on the furnishings is acceptable. If it is to be a high-end house, worthy of a magazine photo spread, do not even consider skimping on anything (potential buyers will notice).

The book also looks at what to do if the house is to be a rental (the ups and downs of being a landlord). Get everything in writing, and be very clear about what is, and is not, covered in the rental agreement.

For anyone who is determined to get into the real estate business, reading this book ahead of time is a very good idea. At least your eyes will be wide open when you sign on the dotted line. This book is very clearly written, and is very much recommended.