Tag Archives: Gulf Coast

Beach reading par excellence

Review by Phil Jason

No Sunshine When She’s Gone, by Kate Angell. Kensington Books. 288 pages. Paperback $9.95.

You like baseball? You like beaches? You like shapely, hot babes? You like chiseled, sexy guys? You like lavish houseboats and penthouse condos? Yes? Then grab ahold of the third title in Kate Angell’s Barefoot William Series and get ready for waves of tension-filled romance.  NoSunshineWhenShesGone

Jillian Mac and her good friend Carrie have been sent to the Gulf Coast beach town of Barefoot William by their employer, the Richmond Rogues major league baseball team. Both women are in their early thirties, good-looking (though Jill has the edge here), and – of course – single. They are tasked with the community relations effort accompanying the new spring training facility that the team is building in this laid back resort town.

The town seems to be the private domain of one extended family – the Cates family. They own many of the businesses, including a successful construction company run by Aidan Cates. This company has the contract to build the Richmond Rogues complex.

However, the town recently made peace with its more upscale neighbor, Saunders Shores, in conjunction with a marriage that joined the Cates and Saunders families.

In the launching scene of the book, Aidan Cates is coaxed into visiting a fortune teller by a woman named Lila who seems to be chasing after him with some success. There is a gathering of well-known psychics taking place on the Barefoot William boardwalk. Though most of the booths for psychic readings have long lines, one is not busy. Lila and Aiden soon engage with an attractive clairvoyant named Aries Martine, but the shapely psychic exposes Lila as a two-timer who is only a using Aidan.

Or so it seems. Certainly Lila is exposed, but the woman in the chair is Jillian Mac. She had sat down to rest at the empty station and just played along with the false assumption that she was Aries the clairvoyant. It was her idea of fun, but it led to bad feelings and mistrust before the powerful connection felt between Jill and Aidan began to develop.

As Aidan is witness to Jillian’s professional skills at work – including arranging all the details for a promotional, community-building softball game between Rogue alumni and locals – he begins to admire her more and more. However, her attraction to telling little white lies keeps Aidan cautious. In this situation, he is the more conservative one while Jillian seems more spontaneous and flamboyant. . . .

To read the entire review, as it appears in the May 29, 2014 Naples Florida Weekly, the June 4 Fort Myers edition, and the June 5 Bonita Springs and Port Charlotte/ Punta Gorda editions, click here Florida Weekly – Angell 1 and here Florida Weekly – Angell 2

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Novelist Ken Pelham debuts with a perfect storm of menace

Brigands Key, by Ken Pelham. Five Star. 374 pages. $25.95.

Some books have plots sprung from contagion and epidemics. Others feature natural disaster plots, like hurricanes. Still other books involve tales of buried or sunken treasure, or a mysterious disappearance. Many authors build plots around intriguing misfits, loser types who win in the end. Brigands Key knots together all of these plot strands and more. It begins with an unusual mystery. Archeologist Carson Grant, a man with a tarnished reputation, thinks he’s onto something big.

On an unfunded research dive in the Gulf of Mexico, over twenty miles from the coast and a long way down, Grant finds a cave out of which gushes a freshwater spring. Nearby, he finds a marvelously preserved corpse. It looks like a recent death. However, the autopsy reveals a strange assortment of facts that don’t fit together, making the time of death impossible to determine.

This same Gulf area has also attracted a fisherman turned fortune hunter, Roscoe Nobles, and his teenage assistant, computer geek Charley Fawcett. Roscoe is one of Brigands Key’s real characters. He’s a schemer and a dreamer. And suddenly he is gone, without a trace.

Okay, we’ve got a dead guy (whose finder is under suspicion) and a missing guy. Soon, a mysterious illness breaks out. Maybe a virus, but maybe not.  Some kind of poison? The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) headquarters in Atlanta sends an investigator, a Japanese American named Kyoko whose career is in jeopardy. Before long, she is in jeopardy.

Hurricane Celeste is bearing down on Brigands Key. Now the head of the local police and the town mayor are at odds about how to handle the twin situations, and soon the Florida governor and the federal government are involved. Official orders of evacuation and quarantine bump heads. Should the folks on Brigands Key be saved from the hurricane at the risk of exposing others to the spreading, undiagnosed illness?

Ken Pelham

This novel progresses like one of those suspenseful juggling acts in which the juggler gets three balls into rotation and then adds the third, the fourth, and the fifth while the audience waits for the next increment of complication or the ultimate collapse. Maybe the juggler will add bowling pins, axes, or flaming torches to the routine. These acts can be breathtaking, but they are over in a matter of minutes. Brigands Key is similarly breathtaking, but reading it takes a lot longer. . . .

To read this review in its entirety, as it appears in the November 21, 2012 issue of Fort Myers Florida Weekly, as well as the November 22 Naples and Punta Gorda/Port Charlotte editions and the December 13 Palm Beach Gardens/Jupiter edition, click here: Florida Weekly – Pelham 1pdf and here: Florida Weekly – Pelham 2pdf

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A delightful inventory of the Gulf Coast’s natural delights

“The Living Gulf Coast: A Nature Guide to Southwest Florida,” by Charles Sobczak. Indigo Press. 512 pages. $26.95.

People who live in and visit Southwest Florida are drawn by its natural beauty. In spite of many decades of development, the region still has a remarkable diversity of life forms and relatively unspoiled habitats in which they thrive. Furthermore, public and private efforts have done much to insure the future of these natural treasures. “The Living Gulf Coast” is a generous, lavishly produced, and inspiring guide to this distinctive paradise. 

Charles Sobczak

Mr. Sobczak’s encyclopedic effort is divided into two major sections of approximately equal size. The first section is the field guide itself. Defining the region as including Sarasota, Charlotte, Lee, Collier, Glades, and Hendry counties, the author provides detailed information on the birds, mammals, reptiles, and amphibians to be found here. He employs an efficient set of symbols and abbreviations to map basic facts of size (for birds, length, wingspan, and weight), degree of endangerment, where found, the various names applied to the species, and so forth. Mr. Sobczak also provides vivid descriptions of each creature’s appearance, behavior, habitat, and diet.

Blending information and entertainment, Charles Sobczak entices his readers to move beyond the passive engagement of entering a book. He urges them to engage directly and actively with their fellow creatures. Whether introducing the Green Iguana, the Everglades Mink, the Pileated Woodpecker, the Florida Banded Water Snake, or the lowly Nutria, the author gives each critter its due. Often, his discussions are leavened by humor and wit.

Where to engage? That’s what the second half of the book is all about.

Nature lovers will revel in Mr. Sobczak’s survey of “managed lands” available for public exploration and enjoyment in this six-county region. Over 2,000 of the region’s 6,000 square miles are under federal, state, or local public or private management, providing countless opportunities for birding, hiking, kayaking, camping, and just plain meditation. The author provides information about 162 destinations, 61 in elaborate detail and the others in a more compact overview.

This latter half of the book is arranged by county, with a north-to-south plan within each chapter. With Charles Sobczak as our guide, we can travel from Sarasota’s Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium to Punta Gorda’s Peace River Wildlife Center to Boca Grande’s Gasparilla Island State Park to the Naples Botanical Garden and to various eco-destinations out east in Hendry and Glades counties.  Many of these destinations are well-known, while many others are relatively obscure. The author locates each entry not only by address, but also by GPS coordinates. You won’t get lost.

To read this review in its entirety as it appears in the May 25, 2011 Fort Myers Florida Weekly, the May 26 Naples Florida Weekly, and the June 2 Port Charlotte/Punta Gorda Florida Weekly, click here: LivingGulfCoast pdf – 1 and then here: LivingGulfCoast pdf – 2

See also: Florida Weekly – Living Sanibel and https://philjason.wordpress.com/2006/12/27/book-beat-24-charles-sobczak/

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