Monthly Archives: September 2013

New book opens the door for new Neapolitans

Moving to Naples: the Un-Tourist Guide, by Alysia Shivers. Voyager Media. 150 pages. Paperback $24.95. Also available in Kindle and Nook ebook editions.

If, like me, you have been trying to keep people from moving to Naples, you’ve discovered that it’s a losing battle. They come no matter what roadblocks we put in their paths. To satisfy the needs of newcomers to our beloved Naples area, and especially to help those who are considering or planning to make Naples their home, Alysia Shivers has created a guide that is user friendly, packed with information, and fun to explore. MovingtoNaplesCover

“Moving to Naples” is not the usual tourist guidebook that tells us how to enjoy a visit; rather, it gets down to the nitty gritty of living here. Ms. Shivers provides concise and often colorful information about the school system, outdoor life, shopping, getting around, public services, jobs and businesses, health care, the housing market, neighborhoods, night life, and almost anything one can think of.

“Moving to Naples” is the first in a series of similar books that Voyager Media is making its publishing niche. “Moving to Sarasota” and “Moving to Charlotte” are soon to follow.

The book is attractively designed, with color-coded headers identifying main sections with inviting titles.  These include “Naples Is a Shopping Mecca,” “Florida Seasons,” “Assimilate: Associations and Social Ties,” “The Economy” and “Can You Live Well Here?”  Ms. Shivers also provides a “Practical Notebook on Moving” and a list of key online resources.

The book is abundantly illustrated, though the color reproduction is mediocre. I guess the cost needs to be kept under control.


I appreciated Ms. Shivers industry in comparing and contrasting the cost of living in Naples to that in other desirable locations across the country. She provides statistics about home prices, property taxes, and utilities to make the case that living in Naples in not beyond the means of normal wage earners. However, I found the housing cost comparison lacking because it does not take into account the skyrocketing costs of homeowner’s insurance in Florida, especially in the coastal areas. Maybe she’ll attend to that issue in the next edition or online update. . . .

To read this review in its entirety, as it appears in the September 26, 2013 Naples Florida Weekly, click here: Florida Weekly – Alysia Shivers

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A spy thriller that rings with important issues for young adults

Two Lies and a Spy, by Kat Carlton. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers. 256 pages. Hardcover $16.99.

Karina (“Kari”) Andrews is not your ordinary teenager, though she has the normal teenage angst about boys, her appearance, and high school. What makes her unusual and interesting is that Kari is the sixteen year old daughter of parents who work undercover operations for the CIA. Coincidentally, she goes to a fancy prep school in Washington D. C. where she has a crush on Luke Carson, whose father just happens to head the agency!

Kari has advanced martial arts skills, knows how to hastily improvise a disguise, and is a shrewd problem-solver. She has confidence, energy, and a strong sense of loyalty.  TwoLiesandaSpy

All of her skills and traits are tested when she receives a code text-message from her father that sends her into action. The message suggests a threat to the family. Kari has previously received instructions on what to do, where to go, and what to bring if she ever receives this message.

Taking charge of her younger brother Charlie – a computer geek who reads encyclopedia articles for entertainment – Kari begins to take action when she is befriended by two men who at first seem to be colleagues of her parents, but turn out to be would-be abductors. She discovers that these men are trying to capture Kari and Charlie as a way of gaining leverage against their parents, now perceived as Russian double-agents working against U. S. interests. Irene Andrews has been locked up in a CIA secret prison, and her husband Cal is missing.

Kari soon rallies her forces in an attempt to prove her parents’ innocence and rescue her mother.

The interaction of the teenagers is as powerful an ingredient as the thriller premise. One of Kari’s gang, Rita, is an expert hacker. Kale, who goes to a public school and is from a working class background, is Kari’s friend from martial arts classes.  He plays a major role in the rescue effort and also in the adolescent class warfare when he runs into conflict with Luke’s snooty sister, Lacey. Lacey is a slutty femme fatale addicted to her own appearance and bewildered by Kari’s inability to take fashion or makeup seriously. She’s not much help in the group’s quest.

Evan, a misplaced Brit, is an outsider who has somehow attached himself to this group. He seems a bit older and a bit wiser, but his way of playing the battle of insults with the others, especially Kari, seems immature enough even while witty. However, there’s more to Evan that I can’t reveal. I can tell you that he is quite attracted to Kari, but she keeps fawning over gentlemanly Luke. . . .

To read the entire review, as it appears in the September 19, 2013 Naples Florida Weekly, the September 25 Fort Myers edition, and the September 26 Bonita Springs edition, click here: Florida Weekly – Kat Carlton

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“Garage Sale Mystery” a big winner

News from Jonathan Axelrod, producer, via Carole Greene, agent.

The September 14th premiere of the Hallmark Channel original movie “Garage Sale Mystery” (9-11P) delivered a 2.1 HH rating with 1,847,000 households.

“Garage Sale Mystery”  is the highest September original movie premiere in network history!

GSM PosterCompetitively, “Garage Sale Mystery” ranked as the #1 rated  cable movie of the WEEK .

In its Sat 9-11p time period, “Garage Sale Mystery” ranked #1 in HH rtg .

“Garage Sale Mystery” [based on the novel “Garage Sale Stalker” by Suzi Weinert] helped boost Hallmark Channel to be the #1 rated cable network in Prime Time for the day among HH(2.1 HH rtg)

“Garage Sale Mystery” was seen by more than 3.3 million unduplicated viewers (P2+)!

Jonathan Axelrod
Axelrod-Ett Productions

The film, which was shown again on September 18, repeats tonight (Saturday, Sept. 21) on the Hallmark Channel at 6pm EST.


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Sanibel Island Writers Conference 2013

Location: Sanibel Island, Florida

Event Date: November 7-10, 2013
Application Deadline: September 30, 2013
E-mail address:

The eighth annual Sanibel Island Writers Conference, sponsored by Florida Gulf Coast University, will be held from November 7 to November 10 at the BIG ARTS center and the Sanibel Public Library on Sanibel Island, Florida. The conference offers workshops in poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction, as well as manuscript consultations, readings, panels, concerts, and book signings. Faculty and visiting writers include poets Richard Blanco, Beth Ann Fennelly, Kathleen Rooney, and Emma Trelles; fiction writers Lynne Barrett, Lisa Borders, Christopher Castellani, Brock Clarke, Benjamin Percy, and Laura Valeri; and creative nonfiction writers Steve Almond, Roxane Gay, Kristen Iversen, Darin Strauss (author of prize-winning memoir Half a Life), and Nahid Rachlin. The cost of the conference ranges from $250 to $400. For a manuscript consultation, submit up to 10 pages of poetry or prose with a $75 fee by September 30. General registration is first come, first served. Visit the website for an application and complete guidelines.

halfalifepaperbackParticipants at all stages of development—from notebook scribblers to published novelists—are invited to attend a variety of morning workshops in fiction, poetry, songwriting, children’s literature, journalism, screenwriting, and creative nonfiction; afternoon panels in publishing & editing; and nightly readings & concerts.  All scheduled events are presented by celebrated and experienced writers and teachers, and open to full-time registrants. The conference welcomes any aspiring writer who wants to create new work or refine a project already in progress.

Sanibel Island Writers Conference, Reed Hall 111, Florida Gulf Coast University, 10501 FGCU Boulevard South, Fort Meyers, FL 33965-6565. (239) 590-7421. Tom DeMarchi, Conference Director.

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Elie Wiesel: Jewish, Literary, and Moral Perspectives

Steven T. Katz and Alan Rosen, eds. Elie Wiesel: Jewish, Literary, and Moral Perspectives. Indiana University Press. 312 pages. $30.00.

This comprehensive critical survey of Elie Wiesel’s profound and variegated achievement goes beyond previous anthologies, as Wiesel has gone beyond the scope of his early body of work. One of the great merits of the collection is the compactness of the essays. Not one goes on longer than it needs to. In growing a book out of what must have been a powerhouse conference, the editors have not allowed too much growing by way of over-elaboration.  elie_wiesel

The twenty-four essays are grouped into five parts: “Bible and Talmud,” “Hasidism,” “Belle Lettres,” “Testimony,” and “Legacies.” Though these groupings are useful courtesies for the reader, they in fact underscore the interrelatedness of Wiesel’s concerns and modes of expression. “Legacies” could just as well have been named “Pedagogy,” and an essay not now placed in that section would fit there just as well as the ones already there.

Most of the essays take great pains to establish a critical, historical, or theoretical context – to create a lens through which to view Wiesel’s contribution. In a few cases, the context dwarfs the commentary that is directly focused on Wiesel. Such is the academic habit. Nonetheless, we come out of this chorus of scholarly voices with a much-enriched understanding of Wiesel’s place in the cultural pantheon of the twentieth century. And not only the Jewish spectrum. . . .

To see the full review, as it will appear in the Winter 2013 issue of JEWISH BOOK WORLD, click here: Elie Wiesel: Jewish, Literary, and Moral Perspectives edited by Steven T. Katz

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Heart, head, and habits complicate multi-cultural romance

A Sahib’s Daughter, by Nina Harkness. Tollymore Publishing. 266 pages. Trade paperback $13.99, Kindle ebook $2.99.

This gorgeous, exotic romance takes readers through almost half a century beginning in 1933, but its main focus is the twenty years of 1959-1979. These years focus on three generations of Indian and Anglo-Indian women: Prava, Ramona, and Samira – and ends soon after the birth of Samira’s daughter. Written in an elegant, vivid prose style, the novel explores the relationships between adventurous men from England and Northern Ireland who leave their lower middle-class situations for opportunities on tea plantations in India and the women they meet there.  CoverSahibsmaller8.5by11copy

“Sahib” is a respectful title for white Europeans of social status living in colonial India, roughly equivalent to sir or master, and it applies to the young Brits we meet who hold minor administrative positions on the vast, remote tea plantations that employ large numbers of native functionaries, field workers, and household helpers.

The pivotal year in the decades the novel embraces is 1947, when India becomes an independent nation and yet maintains patterns of its colonial heritage, including patterns of social and economic hierarchies based on class and race. How these patterns play out in the lives of the principal characters is among the book’s most fascinating elements.

Who is an appropriate mate for an Indian woman? Is marriage to a white planter a desired goal or a pairing doomed to grief?  What is that status of racially blended individuals? How is it different in India from the U.K.? What are the chances for a comfortable entry or re-entry into English or Irish lifestyles for the family created in India? Where is home? The answers vary with the outlook and circumstances of the people themselves. In the end, they are individuals just as much as they are representative figures.


The most complex set of circumstances has to do with Samira. She is courted by two men. First comes Ravi, the exceedingly handsome and dashing Indian man for whom she feels enormous passion. But Ravi’s attentions to her are inconsistent and his periods of inattention are not sufficiently explained. We eventually find out that Ravi’s parents are not at all pleased with mixed-race Samira as a proper wife for their son, and they are putting enormous pressures on him to accept an arranged marriage. . . .

To read this review in its entirety, as it appears in the September 12, 2013 Naples Florida Weekly, the September 18 Fort Myers edition, the September 19 Bonita Springs edition, and the October 3 Palm Beach Gardens/Jupiter edition, click here: Florida Weekly – Nina Harkness

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Suzi Weinert Update

Here is the latest news on NPC member Suzi Weinert’s Garage Sale Stalker novel, now called Garage Sale Mystery as a Hallmark Channel movie:

“Hello Phil —

Several exciting things have happened with the book/movie connection for “Garage Sale Stalker”: Hallmark upgraded “Garage Sale Mystery” (as they call it) from the Hallmark Movie Channel to the Hallmark Channel and they changed the date to September ( in TV land apparently a fall airing is more prestigious than a summer airing).
Also, I finished Book Two (“Garage Sale Diamonds”), which should be published in the next ten days.DiamondCov
Hope you enjoy the link below and get to see the Sept. 14th movie based on my book.

— Suzi”
I hear there is a release-date screening and party taking place in Pelican Marsh. Go to this link:

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Newspaper business romance brings loss and recovery

Godspeed: A Love Story, by Dan Chabot. Babop Publishers. 308 pages. $14.95 trade paperback.

Mr. Chabot, a features editor and columnist at the Milwaukee Journal for twenty-five years, knows the newspaper business from the inside out. Now a resident of Bonita Springs, he uses his working background and detailed knowledge of Milwaukee to provide a totally authentic setting populated by a group of richly drawn characters who are really “characters.”

Along the way, Dan Chabot learned  Adobe Photoshop PDFmore than a few things about writing. I never felt the need to find my red pencil. In graceful, evocative prose, he rolls out an inspiring love story that transforms into personal tragedy and then into gradual recovery from loss. He takes the potential “this is too good to be true” reaction into “this is so good I just have to believe it.”

The main narrative, the love story between copy editor and sometimes news writer Derry Danaher and the breathtaking Amadee Beauchene, opens with their meeting upon Amadee’s arrival at the Milwaukee Ledger. Amadee, who had worked at the New Orleans Times-Picayune, is a bright Louisiana girl who immediately captures Derry’s heart. Everyone sees that they are perfect for each other, and Amadee sees it as well. Neither has had a serious relationship before, just flirtations, and now in their later twenties they need to grown into a new and overpowering dynamic.

Their relationship develops within the environment of workplace and Milwaukee neighborhoods that the author paints with care and effect. There are a couple of unpleasant, self-absorbed people in the workplace, but there is a core of comrades who know each other well and form a kind of family. Amadee fits right in, and all are happy for Dan. The courtship includes lovely scenes: not only the behavior evidences of passion and caring, but also the exquisitely drawn places they share with each other. This part of the story is launched in 1971.

Dan Chabot

Dan Chabot

Another thread of the story has to do with chapters of quite another sort. Most of these are set in 1974. In these, we eavesdrop at the funerals of relatively obscure individuals. In each case, an outsider shows up, usually someone who knew the deceased way back when or knew something special about him (or her). He makes his way to the lectern and presents an unexpected story about all the good the mourned individual had done, selflessly and without fanfare. These vignettes comfort and inspire those gathered at the funeral. They leave uplifted by new layers of understanding about their relative and friend. Then the speaker vanishes and is not seen again. . . .

To read the entire review, as it appears in the September 5, 2013 Naples Florida Weekly, click here: Florida Weekly – Dan Chabot

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