. Jay Allison
Allison's new book, This I Believe II: More Personal Philosophies of Remarkable Men and Women, is based on the popular NPR series he hosts and curates. Allison's work has earned him five Peabody Awards. He is also the founder of two public radio stations that serve Martha's Vineyard, Nantucket and Cape Cod, where he lives.
A critic's view: These "pithy, personal, and stealthily affecting essays grapple with life's big questions from myriad perspectives and with refreshingly positive energy . . . Infused with gratitude and hope, these declarations are at once grounding and uplifting." — Booklist
If you like this book, try: Listening Is an Act of Love: A Celebration of American Life from the StoryCorps Project by Dave Isay
. Bob Bass
Bass' new book is When Steamboats Reigned in Florida, a history of the craft that helped open the state to trade and development. Bass has been a professional photographer and freelance writer since 1993 and has written for national magazines, including Lost Treasure, Boys' Life and Savannah Magazine. He belongs to the Florida Outdoor Writers Association and has served on its board of directors. Bass is an avid outdoorsman and has recently started flying again after 50 years. He lives in Lakeland with his wife and grandson. His Web site is southernfreestyle.com.
If you like this book, try: A Journey into Florida Railroad History by Gregg M. Turner
. Shawn Bean
Bean, an award-winning journalist, has twice been named Writer of the Year by the Florida Magazine Association. His book The First Hollywood: Florida and the Golden Age of Filmmaking recounts the state's history as the early center of the film industry. Bean has a degree in film from Southern Methodist University and has contributed to Florida Travel & Life, Miami, Florida International Magazine and Baltimore Magazine.
A critic's view: "Although nonfiction, at times it reads like a fast-paced novel, telling the story of how it was Jacksonville — not Hollywood — that served as this country's first film capital." — Author Patrick D. Smith
If you like this book, try: Florida on Film by Susan Doll and David Morrow
. Rick Bragg
Bragg is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist who has written for the New York Times and the St. Petersburg Times. His latest memoir about his father, The Prince of Frogtown, is his third book about his Alabama family; the first two were the bestsellers All Over But the Shoutin' and Ava's Man.
A critic's view: "The Prince of Frogtown is a story by turns gut-wrenching, hilarious and heartbreaking. By the end, you won't love Charles Bragg, but you'll understand how he got that way . . . for (Rick) Bragg and his stepson, the book feels a little like an exorcism, a way of looking hard at the past in order to break free of it." — St. Petersburg Times
If you like this book, try: A Place Called Canterbury by Dudley Clendinen
. Robert Olen Butler
Butler has published 10 novels and five volumes of short fiction, one of which, A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain, won the 1993 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. His most recent book is Intercourse, which contains 100 short stories voicing the inner monologues of 50 mostly famous couples during sex. Butler is presently at work on a novel titled Hell. He teaches creative writing at Florida State University.
A critic's view: "Some of these stories are insights into how little we communicate in the most intimate act; others are just laugh-out-loud funny. Either way, you just might find yourself thinking about them next time you're, well . . ." — St. Petersburg Times
If you like this book, try: The Book of Vice by Peter Sagal
. John Capouya
Capouya is a professor of journalism and writing at the University of Tampa. His new book, Gorgeous George: The Outrageous Bad-Boy Wrestler Who Created American Pop Culture, takes an insightful look at a once-famous figure. Capouya was an editor at Newsweek, the New York Times, SmartMoney magazine and New York Newsday. He is the author of Real Men Do Yoga and has written for Sports Illustrated, Travel & Leisure and LIFE.
A critic's view: "Capouya introduces this shrewd media manipulator to a new audience and helps us appreciate the part he played in creating the new world order of American popular culture in the last half of the 20th century." — St. Petersburg Times
If you like this book, try: Chronicles: Volume 1 by Bob Dylan
. Daina Chaviano
Chaviano is the author of literary and fantasy-science fiction novels published in Spanish; she won the Azorin Award for El hombre, la hembra y el hambre (Man, Woman and Hunger). Her novel The Island of Eternal Love won the 2007 Florida Book Awards Gold Medal for best Spanish language book and was translated into 20 languages. A Havana native, Chaviano has lived in Miami since 1991.
A critic's view: "The novel's considerable pleasures lie in . . . the wonderful and strange interweaving of Chinese, African and Spanish family strands in a place where every inch of soil, every living creature (and many dead ones) shimmers with supernatural power." — St. Petersburg Times
If you like this book, try: Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
. Dudley Clendinen
Clendinen is a former reporter and writer for the New York Times and St. Petersburg Times and the co-author of Out for Good: The Struggle to Build a Gay Rights Movement in America. His latest book, A Place Called Canterbury: Tales of the New Old Age in America, is the story of his mother's life and death in a Tampa retirement community.
A critic's view: "Many people in Canterbury Tower are longtime Tampa residents, making its culture a microcosm of the city's social elite . . . they're indelibly alive, full of old stories and new mischief, loyal to friends they've known (and been annoyed by) for half a century." — St. Petersburg Times.
If you like this book, try: The Prince of Frogtown by Rick Bragg
. Cody Fowler Davis
Davis is a Tampa trial attorney. In addition to his own legal experience, he draws on his family background for his legal thrillers: His grandfather was president of the American Bar Association and the American College of Trial Lawyers, his father a judge and his brother, Jim Davis, a member of the U.S. House of Representatives. The plot of Davis' latest novel, Implied Consent, revolves around several controversial court cases.
A critic's view: "Davis' writing skills are as accomplished as his professional achievements. His ability to create compee compelling characters and real-world legal scenarios is outstanding." — Reviews of Good Books
If you like this book, try: The Lincoln Lawyer by Michael Connelly
. Bob Delaney
Delaney is a longtime NBA referee, but he had another, very different career before the one on the basketball court. His memoir Covert: My Years Infiltrating the Mob, co-written with Dave Scheiber of the St. Petersburg Times, recounts his work as an undercover officer of the New Jersey State Police, which involved posing as a trucking business owner to gather inside information on the Mafia. Delaney also writes about his struggle with post-traumatic stress afterward.
A critic's view: "Delaney captures perfectly the daily routine and perils of undercover work, and describes the psychological challenges he faced during the three years of Project Alpha." — Publishers Weekly
If you like this book, try: Donnie Brasco by Joseph D. Pistone
. Martin Dyckman
Dyckman, retired associate editor of the St. Petersburg Times, is the author of Floridian of His Century: The Courage of Governor LeRoy Collins. His new book, A Most Disorderly Court: Scandal and Reform in the Florida Judiciary, recounts a 1970s scandal that led to profound changes in the judicial system.
A critic's view: "As Dyckman plays out the individual narratives, the drama takes unexpected turns . . . Dyckman's detailed accounts of the reform efforts serve as a textbook on ridding a system of long-lived corruption." — St. Petersburg Times
If you like this book, try: From Yellow Dog Democrats to Red State Republicans: Florida and Its Politics since 1940 by David R. Colburn
. T.J. English
English, a noted journalist and screenwriter, is the author of Paddy Whacked and The Westies, both national bestsellers, and The Changing Face of Organized Crime, which was nominated for an Edgar Award. His latest book, Havana Nocturne, interweaves the true stories of the Mob's reign in Havana and the event that would overshadow it, the Cuban Revolution.
A critic's view: "The author's natural storytelling skills propel the narrative through to the mob's ultimate collapse, as Castro took over . . .Those glitzy days may be gone, but Havana Nocturne is a worthy reminder of a unique saga of politics, culture, gangsterism and corruption." — St. Petersburg Times
If you like this book, try: Dancing to "Almendra" by Mayra Montero
. Richard Paul Evans
Evans is the author of 11 New York Times bestselling novels, including The Christmas Box and The Gift, and five children's books. His new novel, Grace, deals with the harrowing subjects of sexual abuse and domestic violence. Evans has won two first-place Storytelling World Awards for his children's books. He is also founder of the Christmas Box House International, an organization dedicated to helping abused and neglected children.
A critic's view: "The tightly honed narrative (of The Gift), brimming with good intention to find courage in shared suffering, soon brings everyone together." — Publishers Weekly
If you like this book, try: Matters of Faith by Kristy Kiernan
. Martha Hall Foose
Foose, a noted chef and raconteur, invites you into her Mississippi kitchen to share recipes that bring alive the landscape, people and traditions of Southern cuisine.Screen Doors and Sweet Tea, her debut book, is filled with humorous and touching tales and useful information on ingredients, techniques and variations, a must-read for anyone who craves a return to what cooking is all about: comfort, company and good eating. The book has been featured on Good Morning America and The Early Show and was a top cookbook pick on NPR's Weekend Edition.
A critic's view: "Gently humorous stories about family and friends form a seamless part of her instructions for community recipes." — Publishers Weekly
If you like this book, try: The Gift of Southern Cooking by Edna Lewis and Scott Peacock
. Debra Frasier
Frasier is both artist and author, working with words, cut paper, dyed fabrics and oils to create her books. Her first book, On the Day You Were Born, is an international favorite, and the accompanying video won the American Library Association's highest honor for a children's film, the Andrew Carnegie Medal. Her newest book, A Birthday Cake Is No Ordinary Cake, tells the story of our planet moving in a great circle around the sun, all while collecting ingredients for a birthday cake.
A critic's view: "This unique book blends a melodic, metaphorical look at nature with scientific topics. It is perfect for one-on-one sharing and is sure to prompt discussion." — School Library Journal
If you like this book, try: Happy Birthday to You! by Dr. Seuss
. Stephen Frey
Frey is a managing director at a private equity firm who has worked in mergers and acquisitions at JP Morgan and as a vice president of corporate finance at an international bank in Manhattan. He is a New York Times bestselling author whose thrillers include The Fourth Order, The Successor, The Vulture Fund and The Takeover. His new novel, Forced Out, is the story of a retired New York Yankees scout who lives in Sarasota and whose life has become entangled with a young baseball phenom and a Mob hit man.
A critic's view: "Readers will enjoy unraveling the mysterious backstories." — Publishers Weekly
If you like this book, try: Always Say Goodbye by Stuart Kaminsky
. Harvey Frommer
One of the most respected sports authors and oral historians in the United States, Frommer is the author of an autobiography of sports legend Nolan Ryan and the baseball classic New York City Baseball 1947-1957: The Last Golden Age. Remembering Yankee Stadium is his 40th sports book, the eighth on the New York Yankees. A professor at Dartmouth College, Frommer teaches oral history in the master of arts in liberal studies program.
A critic's view: "In this, the last year of Yankee Stadium's storied existence, Frommer's Remembering Yankee Stadium becomes an essential keepsake for wise fans who know that newer isn't always better." — Time Out New York
If you like this book, try: Yankee Stadium: The Official Retrospective by Al Santasiere
. Bonnie Glover
Glover was born in Florence, Ala., and raised in Brooklyn. She graduated from Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University in Tallahassee, worked at the Tampa Housing Authority and is now a lawyer in private practice in Florida. In her second novel, Going Down South, Glover weaves the stories of three generations of African-American women in a tale both familiar and surprising.
A critic's view: "While the arc may seem familiar, Glover does an admirable job of avoiding cliche . . . and provides readers with an absorbing setting and a complex family." — Publishers Weekly
If you like this book, try: The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd
. Peter Golenbock
Golenbock has written some of the bestselling sports books of the last 30 years, including Idiot (written with Johnny Damon), Red Sox Nation and The Bronx Zoo (written with Sparky Lyle). He has recently completed an autobiography with Tony Curtis and is writing a biography of George Steinbrenner. His latest book, In the Country of Brooklyn, collects the firsthand stories of the life and times of the people of Brooklyn — and how they changed the world.
A critic's view: "Brooklynites of varying ethnic and religious backgrounds tell their stories in this oral history of the newly hip New York borough . . . Many of these stories are engrossing and authentic." — Publishers Weekly
If you like this book, try: Brooklyn Then and Now by Marcia Seiss
. Mitchell Graham
Graham is the author of a fantasy trilogy, The Fifth Ring, The Emerald Cavern and Ancient Legacy. A former lawyer, Graham drew on his legal background to write his new book, Majestic Descending, a murder mystery and legal thriller. Dead Docket and Stone Mountain will follow as sequels. Majestic Descending was named one of the year's top mystery novels by Strand Magazine and was selected by Booklist and the American Library Association of librarians as a main selection.
A critic's view: "The author relies on strong characterizations rather than shopworn plot devices to propel the story, and he uses compelling dialogue." — Booklist
If you like this book, try: The Night Stalker by James Swain
. Margo Hammond and Ellen Heltzel
Hammond, the former book editor for the St. Petersburg Times, and Heltzel, a freelance book reviewer, first teamed up as the Book Babes in 2002 to write a weekly column for Poynter Online. They have also written columns for the Book Standard and GoodHousekeeping.com. In 2007, they launched a monthly radio show on WMNF-FM 88.5 in Tampa. Their new book is Between the Covers: The Book Babes' Guide to a Woman's Reading Pleasures.
A critic's view: "Between the Covers is a smart, reader-friendly compilation of 55 lists of 10 books each, all related to a single theme but approaching it in a different way." — St. Petersburg Times
If you like this book, try: Leave Me Alone, I'm Reading by Maureen Corrigan
. Marcella Hazan
Beloved teacher and bestselling Italian cookbook author Hazan delivers her long awaited memoir, Amarcord, a collection of memories and adventures from the godmother of Italian cooking. Recipient of two Lifetime Achievement Awards (from the James Beard Foundation and IACP) and a knighthood from her own country, Hazan is the author of six classic cookbooks. She lives in Longboat Key with her husband, Victor, her lifelong collaborator and writing partner, himself an authority on Italian food and wine.
A critic's view: "In addition to the infallible and often brilliantly simple recipes these books contain, there's splendid prose." — New York Times
If you like this book, try: Comfort Me With Apples by Ruth Reichl
. Janet K. Keeler
Keeler joined the St. Petersburg Times in 1992 as a copy editor. She was named food editor in 2000; in 2006 she added travel editor to her responsibilities and now oversees travel coverage in the Sunday Latitudes section. The Taste section that she edits has been named Best Section by the Association of Food Journalists, and her work was included in Best Food Writing 2001. Keeler is a regular guest on local television and has been an adjunct professor at University of the Pacific and a frequent guest lecturer. She also hosts a regular Web video feature called "Janet's Kitchen" at tampabay.com. Her book is O Christmas Treats! Favorite Cookies from St. Petersburg Times Readers.
If you like this book, try: Christmas Cookies: 50 Recipes to Treasure for the Holiday Season by Lisa B. Zwirn
. N.M. Kelby
Kelby's latest magical-realist Florida mystery is Murder at the Bad Girl's Bar & Grill. Her other books include Whale Season, In the Company of Angels and Theater of the Stars. Kelby was named an Outstanding Southern Artist by the Southern Arts Federation. Her work has been translated into several languages and offered by the Literary Guild, Doubleday Book Club and Quality Paperback Book Club.
A critic's view: "Kelby's brand of Sunshine State satire has a gentle, even enchanted touch . . . she spins a funny, sexy, slightly surreal story of love, death and a Shih Tzu that looks just like Barry Manilow." — St. Petersburg Times
If you like this book, try: Bermuda Schwartz by Bob Morris
. Alexandra Kerry
Kerry, the daughter of Sen. John Kerry, earned a master's degree in directing from the American Film Institute. Her thesis film, The Last Full Measure, earned her the Richard P. Rogers Spirit of Excellence award. While traveling on her father's presidential campaign in 2004, Kerry visited 33 states, exploring the American landscape on political and personal levels. These observations became her new book of photographs, video stills and text, Notes from the Trail: Presidential Politics from the Inside Out.
A critic's view: "A poignant and candid new memoir and art book . . . Her intimate prose is complemented by evocative photos." — Newsweek
If you like this book, try: Ms. Cahill for Congress by Tierney Cahill and Linden Gross
. Kristy Kiernan
Kiernan's first novel, Catching Genius, published in 2007, has become a book club favorite and gone into multiple printings. Her second novel, Matters of Faith, about a Florida family dealing with a medical crisis, was published in August 2008 to outstanding reviews. With its themes of faith versus medical intervention, marriage and family, and everyone's need to believe in something, Matters of Faith is quickly becoming a book club phenomenon.
A critic's view: "Kiernan's compelling narrative offers a heartbreaking study of the fragility of family ties." — St. Petersburg Times
If you like this book, try: Keeping Faith by Jodi Picoult
. Jeff Klinkenberg
Real Florida columnist Klinkenberg writes about the culture and the people who make the state unique. He joined the St. Petersburg Times in 1977, and his work takes him from Pensacola to Key West. His new book, which collects favorite columns, is Pilgrim in the Land of Alligators. Another anthology, Seasons of Real Florida, is also in print.
A critic's view: "Klinkenberg comforts himself with the thought that, come the apocalypse, the gators will still be here. It's a thought that ought to bring solace and a smile to the rest of us as well. So will this gracefully written, endlessly entertaining book." — St. Petersburg Times
If you like this book, try: The Man Who Invented Florida by Randy Wayne White
. Frank Laumer
Laumer is the author of two histories of the annihilation of Maj. Francis Dade's soldiers during the Second Seminole War, Massacre! and Dade's Last Command. Laumer's new novel, Nobody's Hero, the story of Pvt. Ransom Clark, one of the three survivors of the battle, is based on 46 years of research. Laumer found the location of the road that Dade's command traveled from Tampa to the battlefield in Sumter County. He walked 50 miles wearing the uniform of the period, camping at Dade's campgrounds.
A critic's view: "A marvelous novel about the unsung hero of the Second Seminole War." — Jeff Klinkenberg
If you like this book, try: Reminiscences of the Second Seminole War by John Bemrose
. Dennis Lehane
Lehane's bestselling new novel The Given Day is a riveting story of America in a time of turmoil, set in Boston in the years after World War I. Lehane is also the author of the bestsellers Mystic River, Shutter Island and Gone, Baby, Gone. He is co-founder of the annual Writers in Paradise conference at Eckerd College and lives in the Tampa Bay area.
A critic's view: "Lehane deftly makes (history) part of the compelling personal stories of Danny and Luther, their struggles to discover their ideals, to reunite with the women they love, and simply to survive in an America not so different from our own." — St. Petersburg Times
If you like this book, try: Shadow Country by Peter Matthiessen
. David Liss
Liss is the author of five novels; the latest is The Whiskey Rebels. His four previous novels were bestsellers: A Conspiracy of Paper, winner of the 2000 Edgar Award for best first novel, The Coffee Trader, A Spectacle of Corruption and The Ethical Assassin. He lives in San Antonio, Texas, with his family and can be reached via his Web site, www.davidliss.com.
A critic's view: "The Whiskey Rebels is a highly entertaining blend of historical fiction and swashbuckling . . . while you might learn something by reading it, don't worry — your education will be painless." — St. Petersburg Times
If you like this book, try: Rise to Rebellion by Jeff Shaara
. Sandra Tsing Loh
Loh is a writer and performer whose previous books include If You Lived Here, You'd Be Home By Now and A Year in Van Nuys. Her new book, Mother on Fire: A True Motherf%#$ Story About Parenting!, is a hilarious memoir about her battle to get her daughter into the right kindergarten. Her solo stage version of Mother on Fire ran for seven months in Los Angeles, where she has a weekly radio commentary series, The Loh Life, and a daily show, Loh Down on Science.
A critic's view: "All parents who have searched for an ideal school for their youngster (and even those who haven't) will be snared by Loh's crackling prose." — Publishers Weekly
If you like this book, try: When You Are Engulfed in Flames by David Sedaris
. Charles Martin
Martin is the author of six novels: Chasing Fireflies, Maggie, When Crickets Cry, Wrapped in Rain, The Dead Don't Dance and his latest, Where the River Ends. Martin graduated from Florida State University and has worked in business and as an English professor before becoming a full-time writer. He lives in Jacksonville with his wife and their three young sons.
A critic's view: "His writing shines in his almost mystical descriptions of the St. Marys River . . . fans of Florida fiction and inspirational fiction should find much to interest them." — St. Petersburg Times
If you like this book, try: Matters of Faith by Kristy Kiernan
. Brad Matsen
Matsen is the author of Descent: The Heroic Discovery of the Abyss, as well as many other books about the sea and its inhabitants. He was a creative producer for the television series The Shape of Life, and his articles have appeared in Mother Jones, Audubon and Nature. His latest book is Titanic's Last Secrets: The Further Adventures of Shadow Divers John Chatterton and Richie Kohler.
A critic's view: "Here, in a project impressive in scope and as impressively realized, they have managed to tell us so much that we did not know before about the most famous disaster of the 20th century, and to do it, thanks to Matsen, clearly and concisely." — St. Petersburg Times
If you like this book, try: Shadow Divers by Robert Kurson
. William McKeen
McKeen is the author of Highway 61, Rock and Roll Is Here to Stay and several other books about American music and popular culture. His latest is Outlaw Journalist: The Life and Times of Hunter S. Thompson. McKeen is a professor and chairman of the University of Florida department of journalism and has been a newspaper reporter and magazine editor. His next book will be a collection of stories about childhood in Florida.
A critic's view: "The most valuable part of McKeen's lucid, fluent account is in its reckoning of just how innovative Thompson was as a storyteller and chronicler . . . the best on Thompson to date." — St. Petersburg Times
If you like this book, try: Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson
. Dick Meyer
Meyer's new book, Why We Hate Us, looks at all the things about our culture that drive us crazy — and what we can do about them. Meyer was a reporter, producer, online editor and columnist at CBS News in Washington for more than 23 years. He is now the editorial director of digital media at National Public Radio. He lives in Washington, D.C.
A critic's view: "Meyer's book is basically a compendium of things that irritate us in others, although sometimes, inevitably, those others are us . . . you know the kind of thing, and here you'll find it cataloged with wit, enthusiasm and a certain amount of requisite breast-beating." — St. Petersburg Times
If you like this book, try: I Am America (And So Can You!) by Stephen Colbert
. Deanna Michael
Michael is an associate professor and the associate dean of the College of Education at USF St. Petersburg. Her areas of interest are the history of education in the United States and state and federal educational policy, including Florida and Georgia educational policy. Her book Jimmy Carter as Education Policymaker analyzes educational reform in the second half of the 20th century through the political career of Jimmy Carter and his influence on educational policy.
A critic's view: "It examines how Carter's need to respond to the conservative electorate in Georgia was often at odds with his personal beliefs." — Alan Sadovnik
If you like this book, try: Keeping Faith: Memoirs of a President by Jimmy Carter
. Tom Miller
Miller's books include the travel classic Trading With the Enemy: A Yankee Travels Through Castro's Cuba, which has just been released in an updated edition, as well as The Panama Hat Trail and the award-winning Jack Ruby's Kitchen Sink. He has written for the New York Times, the New Yorker, Smithsonian, LIFE and Natural History. Miller has visited Cuba regularly for more than 20 years. His latest book is How I Learned English: 55 Accomplished Latinos Recall Lessons in Language and Life.
A critic's view: "The result of this informed and adventurous journey is a vibrant, rhythmic portrait of a land and people too long shielded from American eyes." — Publishers Weekly
If you like this book, try: The Island of Eternal Love by Daina Chaviano
. Gary Mormino
Mormino holds the Frank E. Duckwall professorship in Florida history at USF St. Petersburg, where he directs the Florida Studies Program. In 1986 he authored Immigrants on the Hill, followed by The Immigrant World of Ybor City. The Florida Humanities Council named him Humanist of the Year in 2003. His latest book, Land of Sunshine, State of Dreams, has just been published in paperback. He is working on two projects, a study of Florida and World War II, and a book weaving a history of food and culture in Florida.
A critic's view: "How we have changed, and why, makes a fascinating story — or rather, a whole bunch of them." — St. Petersburg Times
If you like this book, try: Dream State by Diane Roberts
. Susan Orlean
Orlean has been a staff writer for the New Yorker since 1992 and has contributed articles since 1987. She is the bestselling author of seven books, including The Orchid Thief, a New York Times bestseller that was made into the Oscar