Tag Archives: Boca Raton

Selfless, caring healer is found to be too good for this world

Jordan, by Victoria Landis. BookPainter Press. 355 pages. Trade paperback $16.99.

Do you believe that certain exceptional people have supernatural powers? Healing powers? This novel might just convince you. It will certainly convince you that people who manifest such a gift are likely to be idolized, looked upon with suspicion, considered agents of the devil, exploited, and otherwise tormented. 

Petra Simmons and her younger brother Andy help an attractive young woman who seems disoriented and down on her luck; they try to be of assistance. The woman, they discover, has recently returned to her family after having been missing for three years. She does not feel comfortable with her family, and she has no memory. What she does have is the ability to heal by touching the ill, the crippled or the wounded. The speed of recover for these individuals seems to be influenced by their ethical dimensions. Good folks are more susceptible to her healing power that more mean-spirited ones.

The woman, who is named Jordan, is befriended by Petra, who provides Jordan with shelter and friendship. They form a strong bond. Before long, Andy falls in love with her.

Landis

Jordan has a special relationship with birds and other animals. They are sensitive to her special nature and, quite literally, flock to be near her.

Jordan’s memory stays blank for a long time, but her sense of her individuality is strong on many levels. She is driven to use her gift. She is also, at first, something of an innocent – but the ways in which she is perceived and treated test her good nature.

Her presence in Boca Raton, along with bits of fact and tons of rumor, go viral on the social media. People fight for a chance to see Jordan or, better yet, be healed by her. Others would rather denigrate her gift and her motives. Still others, often those already powerful and wealthy, would like to find ways to control her and take advantage of her for their own purposes. . . .

To read the entire review, as it appears in the July 24, 2019 issue of the Fort Myers Florida Weekly and the July 25 issues of the Naples, Bonita Springs, Charlotte County, Palm Beach, and Venice editions, click here: Florida Weekly – Jordan

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Murder at drug rehab spa brings scares and laughs

Boca Undercover, by Miriam Auerbach. Bell Bridge Books. 160 pages. Trade paperback $10.95. This slim and sassy novel is the fourth installment in Ms. Auerbach’s Dirty Harriet Mystery Series. Harriet Horowitz, a private investigator, is also a reformed material girl rebelling against the glitzy ostentation of Boca Raton. These days, she embraces the natural beauty of the Everglades and unwinds riding her Harley Hugger. Turning forty, no longer the bedazzled babe she once was, and detoxed from addiction to the trivialities of her former lifestyle, Harriet answers a friend’s call for help. BocaUndercover-600x900x300

The friend, Gitta, a patient at a posh “resort spa / drug rehab facility for the rich and famous” known as The Oasis, claims that people are getting killed there. Gitta is frightened. Going undercover by posing as an addict ready to kick her habits, Harriet hopes she can explore Gitta’s suspicions and solve the case. The novel engages readers by describing Harriet’s skills at remaining undercover, at asking the right questions, at sizing people up, and at making fun of both The Oasis and the addicts whom it serves. Such a lavish facility becomes an emblem of Boca/Palm Beach excess.

Auerbach’s satiric treatment is lots of fun. Because she has made Harriet the narrator, we get her impressions first hand in her edgy, smart-mouth style. It isn’t long before events prove Gitta’s fears to be correct. At Harriet and Gitta walk through an arboreal treat known as the Meditation Maze, they come across the body of a teenage boy with hedge clippers planted in his chest. It’s Demarcus Pritchett, a member of the group residing in the adolescent unit. Before the police arrive, Harriet is able to do a cursory examination: in one hand, Demarcus grasped an empty Coke bottle; in the other, half of a torn phone book. Other clues suggest a violent struggle. When Maria Stillwater, medical doctor for The Oasis, comes upon the scene, her only concern is that she may have to postpone her Italian vacation. So, we don’t like her already!

Auerbach

Auerbach

Official and unofficial snooping reveals that the epidemic of death at The Oasis only strikes those from the adolescent unit, and that all of those kids go to the same school. A connection between the head of that special school and the funds that pay for its students’ treatment at The Oasis makes a bell go off in Harriet’s head.

“Boca Undercover” has several other interests besides the mystery plot and Harriet’s intriguing personality. There is the relationship between Harriet and an Israeli boyfriend, Lior, whose visit she is anxiously awaiting, as well as the romance between her friend Gitta and Gitta’s beau, police detective Kevin Reilly. There are those other inmates of The Oasis, some of whom are candidates for the Total Purification Detoxification, a flawed branding effort that makes Harriet think of a colonic. There is Leonard Goldblatt, paramour of Harriet’s mother, a retired CIA agent whose connections are helpful to the investigation. There are the various, more or less peculiar, staff members of the Oasis whose mannerisms and professional roles are targets of Ms. Auerbach’s satire. . . . To read the entire review, as it appears in the February 25, 2015 Fort Myers Florida Weekly and the February 26 Naples, Bonita Springs, Punta Gorda/Port Charlotte, and Palm Beach Gardens / Jupiter editions, click here: Florida Weekly – Auerbach

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Invite the essential Florida into your life before it’s gone

“Bitten: My Unexpected Love Affair with Florida,” by Andrew Furman. University Press of Florida. 192 pages. $24.95.

Florida is blessed with writers devoted to its natural splendors and to exploring the relationship between human endeavor, the environment all creatures share, and the severely threatened nonhuman creatures. I’ve had the privilege over the years to read and write about such passionate and skilled guides as Bill Belleville, Doug Alderson, and Jeff Klinkenberg. Andrew Furman, a professor of literature and creative writing at Florida Atlantic University, joins this company with his totally engaging collection of short essays about his seventeen year journey towards a deep understanding of the place he has chosen to make his home.  Bitten_cover

This place is not the Boca Raton with which most of us are familiar.

Prof. Furman’s quest was a search for understanding and belonging. He sought to remove the distance between the patterns of his daily life – the routines of suburbia and academe – and the coexistent but largely unnoticed patterns of wildlife and plant life. Over the course of many years, the accumulation of observations and knowledge took on, more and more, a spiritual dimension.

With the exception of an extended meditation on squirrels, the essays mostly concern fish, birds, and trees. The author’s amateur “field work” is accompanied by a great deal of reading and by interaction with those who share his developing passion. He finds that it takes determination – even hard work – to  make the time and effort. Energy and hours need be stolen from set responsibilities and ingrained habits. That’s where family comes in.

One of the several charms of this inspiring book is how Andrew Furman and his wife, Wendy, involve their children in this experiment. Child-rearing is enhanced by the ways in which the author shapes his children’s informal education through shared experiences of nature. A redirected use of family time deepens relationships.

Furman

Furman

The essays reveal Prof. Furman’s keen descriptive skills. He can pin down not only what we need to know, but also what we need to see in order to value the importance – the essential distinction and dignity – of the live oak, the Geiger tree, and the coontie plant. Each essay includes the author in the act of seeking and discovering. Exposition, description, and narration interact with grace and power.

This slim book includes beautifully fashioned fishing essays; gardening essays; detailed appreciations of burrowing owls, painted bunting, the ivory-billed woodpecker, the snail kite; and many essays of moral import.

Andrew Furman and his family are fighting against time, indifference, poor resource management decisions, and the seemingly inevitable consequences of paving paradise. People still don’t get it: remove a grove of trees and you remove the birds that nest only in that particular kind of tree. Every action we take in our shared environment has expected and unexpected consequences. Endangered species? What isn’t? . . .

To read the entire review, as it appears in the July 10, 2014 Naples Florida Weekly, the Punta Gorda / Port Charlotte edition, and the July 16 Fort Myers edition, click here: Florida Weekly – Furman

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Nancy J. Cohen heads Naples Writers’ Conference

To see this article as it appears in the March-April 2011 issue of Fort Myers Magazine, click here: Ft.Myers magazine – Nancy J. Cohen

When Nancy J. Cohen retired from her first career as a clinical nurse specialist in order to write full-time, she continued keeping people in stitches. This witty writer, who had earned a bachelor’s degree in nursing from the University of Rochester and a master’s degree from the University of California in San Francisco, knows that vicarious adventure and the release of laughter are effective cures for what ails us.

Cohen’s most recent title, Silver Serenade, is a smashing good combination of two genres: romance and science fiction. Two highly motivated, extremely able, and extremely attractive characters have goals that both intersect and interfere. Jace Vernon, a young leader from the domain of Kurash, has been charged with the murder of his parents. Jace needs to bring the intergalactic plunderer, Tyrone Bluth, to justice so that his name can be cleared and his ancestral estate restored.  Government security agent Silver Malloy, an Earthling, has been tasked with the assassination of Bluth, but her motives are highly personal as well as official. 

Cohen manages the novel so that the missions of the two dynamic figures bring them into conflict even as an all-consuming passion draws them together. Jace cannot clear his name and prove that his own cousin had plotted the murders and framed him if Bluth does not live to testify. Silver cannot allow anything to interfere with her monomania about ending Bluth’s life as soon as she can. Jace and Silver are suspicious of one another, but form an uneasy, fragile alliance – one that is complicated by the magnetic attraction each has for the other.

They are both suffering from overwhelming personal losses. As Ms. Cohen puts it, “They both carried around enough emotional baggage to fill a cargo hold.”

The author draws a fascinating world of intergalactic politics, futuristic technologies, and clashing moral priorities. She also paints a delicious cast of secondary characters – a population drawn from the variegated worlds that intersect in her plot.

Principal among these is Mixy, the Elusian, who is bonded to Jace as his valet. Elusians, who have essentially emotionless lives, are programmed to bond with species whose emotional dimension is powerful. This bonding is not physical, but psycho-spiritual. Their garments absorb and reflect emotional waves from those to whom the Elusians are bonded, signaling the emotions by changing colors. Elusians have a kind of telepathic awareness of emotion – and they can magnify and retransmit it.

This characteristic provides a paranormal dimension to the novel, a dimension that links Silver Serenade to Cohen’s earliest books, written under the pen name of Nancy Cane. It also provides, in this novel, a good deal of comic relief, as the guarded feelings that Jace and Silver have for one another are vividly revealed through the warmer colors radiating from Mixy’s garments, creating some embarrassment. Mixy, appearance-conscious and finicky, is a delightful, over-the-top comic character who is almost unbearably loyal.

The sex scenes between Jace and Silver are hot and heavy, but in themselves do not resolve the issues of trust, respect, and conflicting loyalties. Nancy J. Cohen teases the readers along to see if Jace and Silver can each achieve mission success without abandoning the growing need each has for the other, and if the need transcends physical attraction.

But wait, isn’t Nancy J. Cohen the author we know from her popular “Bad Hair Day” series? The series with the catchy titles like Died Blonde, Highlights to Heaven, and Permed to Death? The series whose protagonist, hairdresser Marla Shore, gets caught up in crime-solving in South Florida’s resort towns while building her relationship with detective Dalton Vail? Yes, she’s the one. Cohen packs mystery, humor, popular culture, and plenty of attitude into this delightful series, and several of these books have been listed as best sellers by the Independent Mystery Booksellers Association. Her next “Bad Hair Day” mystery, Shear Murder, will appear early in 2012 from Five Star Publications.

Nancy J. Cohen knows her worlds well, both the complex, imagined worlds of outer space, which she draws with sure-handed detail, or the more familiar worlds of the beauty shop and the sunshine state. Just as important, she knows how to craft plots, develop characters, and – what it all adds up to – satisfy her readers.

Aspiring writers can learn a lot from this talented and successful writer, who is also well-known for giving her time to writers’ organizations and speaking at conferences. She has served as President of Florida Romance Writers, and as Secretary for the Florida Chapter of Mystery Writers of America. 

Nancy J. Cohen

On April 9 and 10, Nancy J. Cohen will be featured at the Naples Press Club’s 9th annual Writers’ Conference / Authors and Books Festival. On April 9, she will be giving a keynote address at the Celebrity Author Luncheon, to be held at Vergina Restaurant on Fifth Avenue South. Cohen will discuss the digital devices that promise to morph tomorrow’s reading—and publishing—experiences. She’ll also delight and entertain attendees with anecdotes from her writing life.

On the morning of April 10, Ms. Cohen will present “Writing Fiction for Fun and Profit” as part of the Writers’ Conference.

Other Conference presenters include fantasy author Sandy Lender (conference chair); forensic mystery novelist Lisa Black; marketing guru Randy Jones; financial news reporter and editor Lawrence J. DeMaria; Diane Gilbert Madsen, author of the “Literati Mysteries” series and fact-checking expert;  and Zachary Petit, managing editor of Writers’ Digest.

Conference sessions will separate into three tracks: “Business and Marketing,“ “Creative Writing,” and “Journalism.” However, conferees will be able to switch from one track to another. A selected number of conferees will be able to schedule pitch sessions with representatives of Barringer Publications and Night Wolf Publications.

Registration for both the Luncheon and the Conference can be achieved by clicking on the Naples Writers’ Conference tab on the website http://authorsandbooksfestival.org.

Authors and publishers who wish to exhibit during the book fair along Fifth Avenue South on April 9, should check out the information on the same website and register via the Authors and Books Festival tab. [Note: exhibitor registration is now closed.]

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