Tag Archives: Fort Myers

Blood, bullets,brutality abound in latest from Jeffery Hess

Tushhog, by Jefferey Hess. Down & Out Books. 330 pages. Trade paperback $17.95.

Set in 1981 in Fort Myers, Florida and nearby Lehigh Acres, Mr. Hess’s second Scotland Ross novel abounds in blood, bullets, and brutality. Rival crime cadres vie for power, alliances are reshaped, and conditions are such that not taking sides can be an act of courage. Scotland, still mourning the death of his young son, is preoccupied with trying to achieve a life on the right side of the law, but all around him forces are at work to push him over to the wrong side.  

Though he has a sense of right and wrong, Scotland has a history of poor choices. Also, he has difficulty in checking his instinctive reactions to situations that come his way.

Does he have a girlfriend? Well, course. What would a tall, trim, muscular dude be without a beautiful girlfriend? Gorgeous Kyla, his sexy drummer girl, has an independent streak that makes Scotland nervous. He wants to take care of her – to keep her safe. But she has other ideas. Kyla is a fine character, and one can hope that she has a future in the next installment. Like all of us, she keeps secrets. Finding the balance of intimacy and independence is difficult for each of them, and Mr. Hess paints their ups and downs with convincing precision.


For an action novel, this one has a lot of talk. Ordinarily, I would find dialogue this detailed and prolonged to be out of balance with the other elements of story-telling. However, Jefferey Hess has a flair for orchestrating the various voices (characters) he has created, individualizing them and giving their interplay rhythm and force. The voices project social class, ethnicity, education, and personal style. It’s mostly a southern smorgasbord, with a bit of New York and Cuba thrown in depending upon which part of the novel’s criminal spectrum is being represented. . . .

To read the entire review, as it appears in the September 19, 2018 Fort Myers Florida Weekly as well as the September 20 Charlotte County edition and the  September 13  Naples, Bonita Springs, and Palm Beach editions, click here:  Florida Weekly – Tushhog

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An engaging history of Fort Myers through the lens of its private residences and their owners

River & Road: Fort Myers Architecture from Craftsman to Modern, by Jared Beck and Pamela Miner. University Press of Florida. 208 (oversized) pages. Hardcover $45.00.

This copiously illustrated book is a lifestyle junkie’s delight. Delightful story-telling traces the history of the city’s architectural heritage while providing engaging stories of the houses’ various owners. Landmark neighborhoods get special attention, as does the interplay of the natural and man-made environments. 

The prose style of this book, at once technically professional and adoring of its subjects, makes one wonder just how the selection process was made. How many residences had to be eliminated so that the twenty-eight survivors could be presented to tell the story?

After an efficient and yet alluring introduction, the book jumps into high gear with the exploration of a Craftsman bungalow with an oriental motif. Most people think of Craftsman structures as being fairly small, but this one on Osceola Drive in the Riverside Subdivision has imposing dimensions as well as the character of an edgy individual.


The blending of styles is not unusual, or perhaps it’s a characteristic that the authors value highly. The very next representative, a “Spanish-Italian-Moorish hybrid,” introduces readers to the all-important McGregor Boulevard area, the proud spine of Fort Myers. The photographs, here and elsewhere, are dazzling and make a powerful contribution to the book. These, credited to Andrew West, are exceptional.





One of the features of sub-tropical living is the interaction of indoor and outdoor living. This factor is evidenced in the discussions of most of these homes, including the “porch-centric bungalow” (another Crafstman), which also is notable for its evolution through layers of renovation over the years. This feature is inevitable for older homes too attractive to demolish and yet not up to the needs of modern family life. The question is, how faithful to the essential character of the original dwelling are the renovations and additions? This Poinciana Park property evidences judicious compromises. . . .

To read the full review, as it appears in the October 25, 2017 Fort Myers Florida Weekly and the October 26 Bonita Springs, Charlotte County, and  Palm Beach editions, click here: https://fortmyers.floridaweekly.com/pageview/viewer/2017-10-25#page=56

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Naples writer-photographer follows up on award-winning travel book

A (mostly) Kids’ Guide to Sanibel & Captiva Islands and the Fort Myers Coast, by Karen T. Bartlett. Mostly Kids Guides LLC. 80 pages. Oversized paperback $19.95.

Wow is the word for this second entry in Karen T. Bartlett’s Mostly Kids Guides series. And while these dazzling, humorous, and information-packed books are aimed at kids, even a 75-year-old like yours truly can enjoy them. What’s not to like? sancapcovernov2016

An intense color palette, high-energy graphics, and the friendly voice of a caring story-teller combine with a treasure trove of data and plenty of kid friendly attitude.

This book is as thorough as 80 oversized pages can be while keeping the focus on children, their parents, and grandparents. Excitement is everywhere, as are helpful hints. Ms. Bartlett also includes quirky quiz questions to keep readers engaged.

Maps help set the scene, and abundant photographs detail it and stimulate our appetites for exploration.

Manatees, roseate spoonbills, iguanas, loggerhead turtles, bald eagles, and all kinds of regional animal life parade through the books. All the places that offer environmental education (and there are far more than you’d think) are lovingly described. Places that are just plain fun are enumerated with fondness and precision.


Annual festivals, pirate lore, the distinctions of the various beaches, local transportation, Indian mounds, fishing guides, miniature golf, picnic spots – it’s all here.

And there’s more than just what’s indicated in the title. The other barrier islands that protect the Fort Myers coast also receive attention: Cabbage Key, Gasparilla Island, Pine Island, and Cayo Costa are on the itinerary of the imagination. So is the “sand castle capital of the universe,” better known as Fort Myers Beach, with all its vacation attractions. It takes up Estero Island. On another Island is Lovers Key State Park, whose joys Ms. Bartlett sings.

There’s plenty here, as well, about “mainland” Fort Myers.

Can you overuse works like ”fantastic?” Just in case, Karen Bartlett indulges her penchant for coinages such as “sand-sational” and “ginormous.” She’s got a gazillion of them! A kind of laugh-out-loud, raucous music for a child’s ear. Hey, if the kids are laughing, then the adults who are taking them through the wonders of this stretch of Southwest Florida are going to be happy too. . . .

To read the entire review, as it appears in the February 8, 2017 Fort Myers Florida Weekly and the February 9 Naples, Bonita Springs, and Palm Beach editions, click here: Florida Weekly – Kids’ Guide to Sanibel & Captiva

You can buy this book online and at many area shops, including: Barnes & Noble – all three stores: Naples, Estero & Fort Myers.


Cottontails Children’s Boutique, Collier County Museum (main)


 Sunshine Booksellers

Lee County

Annette’s Book Nook – Fort Myers Beach, Bailey’s General Store – Sanibel, Edison and Ford Winter Estates – Fort Myers, Gene’s Books – Sanibel, MacIntosh Books & Paper – Sanibel, Nanny’s Childrens Shoppe – Sanibel, The Shell Factory – North Fort Myers, Traders Gulf Coast Grill & Gifts – Sanibel, Tween Waters Inn Island Resort – Captiva, South Seas Island Resort – Captiva



Naples-based publishing company Mostly Kids Guides, LLC took top honors in Salt Lake City this past spring in the IBPA (Independent Book Publishers Association) Benjamin Franklin Awards. The winning book, earning the Silver award for travel, was “A (mostly) Kids’ Guide to Naples, Marco Island & The Everglades.” It was the only travel book among the top three winners featuring a U.S. destination. The other two winning books featured Paris and Naples, Italy. sticker art interior for mockup

With over 3,000 members, IBPA is the largest publishing trade association in the U.S. The Benjamin Franklin Awards are among the highest honors in the industry.”

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P.J. Boox – not your ordinary bookstore

Phil Jason interviews Patricia Jefferson  

Phil (on left) with Michael and Young Richards

Phil (on right) with Michael and Young Richards

On June 25, I had the pleasure of meeting the proprietor of this unique bookstore, which is located on Reflections Parkway just off Cypress Lakes Drive. I knew right away that it was a special place. On that day, thriller author M. A. Richards was also at the bookstore with his wife Young for a book signing. After strolling around and enjoying the distinctive layout of the store, I just had to share Patti Jefferson’s vision with my readers.

  1. How — and why — is P. J. Boox different from other bookstores?

In many ways we are just like every other bookstore you have ever been in. We offer great mysteries, romance, poetry, children’s books and a bunch of other genres. In spite of that, almost everyone who walks through our doors knows that we are definitely NOT like any other bookstore that they have ever seen. I suppose it starts with the fact that our books are all displayed face out. You can see the cover of every book that we offer. Turns out that the old adage of “don’t judge a book by its cover” is really about making assumptions about people and not books at all!

Patti in her Boox store

Patti in her Boox store

Of course the biggest difference is the fact that the books we sell are all by independently or small press published authors from around the world. What does that mean for the average reader? Not much actually. I have never yet met a reader who cared who the publisher of a book was — they just want a good story with characters they can love or hate. Working with these authors directly gives us different advantages than a big box store does. For instance, most of our books are signed by the author and we can Skype or Facetime with them for a book club. Readers can connect and follow the authors on social media because they are accessible to their fans. It’s just a different way to connect authors and readers.

  1. How does your selection process work?  

    A woman and her Boox

    A woman and her Boox

For a long time, independent or small press publishing had a bit of a stigma as being an inferior product to traditionally published books. In the recent years, however, independent authors have fought to correct that ill-conceived notion so it vital for us to be able to present the best books available to our readers. We get submissions on our website directly from authors and we also solicit select authors on-line. We judge the books by their cover designs, whether the manuscript was professionally edited, and we look at reviews in places like Amazon and Goodreads. We check out the authors other marketing platforms, and we are especially interested in books that have won national or international book awards.

  1. Clearly, you must have a different business model from the “usual” bookstore. Will you describe it? . . .

To find the answer and the rest of the interview, as they appear in the August 24,2016 Fort Myers Florida Weekly and the August 25 Naples, Bonita Springs,   and Palm Beach Gardens / Jupiter editions, click here: Florida Weekly – P.J. Boox

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Jewish Book Fair features fourteen authors

As part of its participation in Jewish Book Month (November), the Jewish Federation of Lee and Charlotte Counties in Southwest Florida is putting on the latest edition of its Annual Jewish Book Fair. The Fair’s chairperson, Mindi Simon, is pleased that “the Jewish Book Fair offers something for everyone. The topics of the authors’ books range from humor to politics and from history to fantasy.” 

The Fair’s initial event takes place on Sunday, November 20 from 10:00-11:00am at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Fort Myers. It features authors of books for children. Ms. Simon observes, “We are trying something new with our children’s event – separate presentations for three different age groups.” Anne Marie Asner (“Shmutzy Girl and Noshy Boy”) will do a presentation for children in grades 1-3, and author Dori Weinstein (“Sliding into the New Year”) will present her book to 4th through 7th grade students. Rabbi Alyssa Auster from Temple Judea will present a program for teens 8th grade and up based on Milton Steinberg’s book “As a Driven Leaf,” a work of modern fiction that brings the Talmud to life. The event is free of charge. 

“Every year we try something new at the Jewish Book Fair,” says Federation’s program director, Naomi Rubin. “This year we are having a Sunday morning Café at the Jewish Federation.” That event takes place on Sunday December 4th at 10:00am at the Federation facility, 9701 Commerce Center Court, (off Bass Rd.) in Fort Myers. Authors Michael Wex (“The Frumkiss Family Business”) and Michael Levy (“Kosher Chinese”) will present their books while attendees enjoy coffee and bagels. There is a $5 charge for this event. RSVP to Naomi Rubin (contact info below).

On Tuesday, December 6th, from 7:00-9:00pm, this moveable book feast travels to Lakes Regional Library, 1520 Bass Road, Fort Myers. Featured are Jennifer Griffin (Fox News) and her husband Greg Myre (“New York Times”) who co-wrote “This Burning Land” about their experiences reporting from Israel from 1999-2007. Also featured is author Marilyn Berger, whose book “This is a Soul” tells about the life and work of Dr. Rick Hodes in Africa. This is a free event.

Back at the Jewish Federation on Thursday December 8th at 7:00pm, readers can enjoy hearing three Florida authors speak at “Local Author Night.” Mindi Simon, is “pleased that we are having a local authors’ event to promote local talent.” The authors are Ella Naylor (“Anne Frank: Faces of Intolerance Past and Present”), Cantor Lyle Rockler (“Chazzanos”) and Gerald A. Honigman (“The Quest for Justice in the Middle East”). Anne Frank theme artwork by Sanibel Artist Myra Roberts will be on display at the Jewish Federation during the Fair.  While there is no charge for this event, donations are accepted.

The Jewish Book Fair moves to Miromar Outlets in Estero (near Godiva Chocolates) on Sunday December 11that 3:00pm. The authors are Mary Lou Weisman (“Al Jaffee’s Mad Life”) and Ronda Robinson (“Beyond Politics: Inspirational People of Israel”). Though there is no charge for the event, donations are accepted. 

The Jewish Book Fair 2011 culminates with an Author Luncheon at the Crowne Plaza Hotel at the Bell Tower, Fort Myers, on Tuesday, December 13 at 11:30am. Make the required reservations at 239-481-4449 ext. 3. The cost is $20 for the luncheon and authors’ lectures; books are sold separately.  Register online at http://www.jewishfederationlcc.org. The luncheon speakers are Dr. Leonard Felder (“Here I Am: Using Spiritual Wisdom to Become More Present, Centered and Available for Life”) and novelist Michael David Lukas (“The Oracle of Stamboul”). 
 That evening these authors will make a presentation at Temple Shalom of Port Charlotte and the Gulf Islands at 7:30pm. RSVP to Naomi Rubin as indicated below.  “Each author speaks well,” says Ms. Rubin, “and even if you have not read the book, you will enjoy the book presentation.”

At each event, the Jewish Federation will be selling the authors’ books and other new titles with Jewish content or books written by Jewish authors. The books will be discounted 10% off list price. Authors will be happy to autograph their books at their events. All Jewish Book Fair events are open to the public. For more information, visit http://www.JewishFederationLCC.org or contact Naomi Rubin at 239-481-4449 ext. 3 or NaomiRubin@JfedLCC.org.

See also: 2011 Jewish Book Fair schedule

And this write-up in the November 16, 2011 Fort Myers Florida Weekly: Jewish Book Fair 2011

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Sara Williams’ Hawaiian Itch

OneBigItch-CoverSara Williams, who spends a good part of each year in Fort Myers, has mixed a high-energy mystery cocktail laced with more than a little Hawaiian punch. One Big Itch, Williams’ third novel and the second to feature private eye John Spyer, intrigues and puzzles both protagonist and reader with an array of evidence, motives, and false trails. There are two sure things:  the first is that academic superstar Randy Haverhill has been murdered. The second is that his childhood friend, Spyer, will not rest until he discovers the perpetrator. Then there is a third, less sure, thing: that Hawaii is haunted, and its local spirits will spin you around until they have brought what is hidden to light.


To read the complete review, as it appears in the July-August issue of Fort Myers Magazine, click here: Ft.Myers magazine – Sara Williams

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