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Colette Bancroft, Times Book Editor

Colette Bancroft

Colette Bancroft is the book editor of the Tampa Bay Times. She joined the Times in 1997 and has been a news editor, general assignment features writer and food and travel writer, as well as a frequent contributor of reviews of books, theater and other arts. She became book editor in 2007. Before joining the Times, Bancroft was a reporter and editor at the Arizona Daily Star in Tucson and an instructor in the English departments of the University of South Florida and the University of Arizona. Bancroft grew up in Tampa.

Phone: (727) 893-8435


  1. Review: Franzen's 'Purity' superior to 'Freedom' with less hype


    Since Jonathan Franzen's last novel, Freedom, appeared in 2010, he and his publishers seem to have thought a lot about great expectations.

    The publication of Freedom was touted as a major literary event, marked by Franzen's appearance on the cover of Time magazine with the headline "Great American Novelist."

    Freedom garnered some ecstatic reviews, some skeptical ones, but it didn't vault Franzen to the pinnacle of the literary pantheon. In fact, it was one inspiration for a phenomenon dubbed Franzenfreude, the author's running battle with some female writers about whether his career and work embody white male privilege....

  2. Notable: city stories



    City stories

    These books offer new perspectives on cities and the human relationship to them.

    Metropolis: Mapping the City (Bloomsbury) by Jeremy Black is a fascinating history of how city maps have been drawn through the ages, from the Renaissance to the present, filled with rich and often beautiful illustrations.

    Symphony for the City of the Dead: Dmitri Shostakovich and the Siege of Leningrad (Candlewick) by M.T. Anderson is the gripping true story of how the great composer created his Leningrad Symphony during the horrific bombardment and siege of the city....

  3. The Girl With the Unnecessary Sequel


    If you loved Stieg Larsson's Millennium trilogy like I did, you might be disapppointed in David Lagercrantz's The Girl in the Spider's Web. Punk hacker and avenging angel Lisbeth Salander gets too little ink, and Mikael Blomkvist is now a big old Mary Sue.

    Read a review of the book here....

    Noomi Rapace played hacker Lisbeth Salander in the 2009 version of "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo."
  4. Review: New 'Dragon Tattoo' book a weak shadow of its predecessors


    Its full title is The Girl in the Spider's Web: A Lisbeth Salander Novel, Continuing Stieg Larsson's Millennium Series, but they might as well have called it The Girl Who's Going to Help Us Milk a Few More Million Out of This Dragon Tattoo Thing.

    The fourth novel about punk hacker and dark avenging angel Lisbeth Salander and her sidekick, journalist Mikael Blomkvist, publishes today. The first three, written by Swedish journalist Stieg Larsson and published after he died at age 50 in 2004, have sold 80 million copies worldwide....

  5. Drink of the Week: With Florida lobster, serve Four Vines 2013 Naked Chardonnay

    Bars & Spirits

    You've scored some fresh Florida lobsters — or, better yet, just caught them yourself. Before you fire up the grill (the best way to cook them), consider what wine would make them taste even better.

    These are not delicately flavored Maine lobsters. Florida lobsters, affectionately called "bugs," are meatier in both texture and taste, and grilling or broiling them adds those delicious bits of browning you don't get with steamed lobster....

    Drink of the Week: With Florida lobster, serve Four Vines 2013 Naked Chardonnay
  6. Sue Grafton, Sara Paretsky 'turn the tables' on depictions of women in crime fiction


    Back in 1982, when they both published their first mystery novels, did Sue Grafton and Sara Paretsky think they were starting series that would still be charting on the bestseller lists 33 years later?

    "Well, I was cheeky enough to snag the alphabet," Grafton says of her series, which began with A Is for Alibi and, this month, reached the one-letter title X. "I had high hopes and no expectations, so it's all been a jolly surprise."...

    Sara Paretsky, 68, has written 17 novels about Chicago investigator V.I. Warshawski. She also penned two stand-alone novels.
  7. Notable: the usual suspects



    The usual suspects

    Here are new books by three more terrific writers with long-running mystery series.

    And Sometimes I Wonder About You: A Leonid McGill Mystery (Doubleday) by Walter Mosley is the prolific author's fifth book about complex New York private detective McGill (my second favorite after Mosley's great Easy Rawlins series), whose family life is as full of mysteries as his work. ...

  8. Events: Surfing champion Clay Marzo to sign his book at Inkwood


    Book Talk

    Pro surfing champion Clay Marzo (Just Add Water: A Surfing Savant's Journey With Asperger's) will discuss and sign his book at 7 p.m. Sept. 1 at Inkwood Books, 216 S Armenia Ave., Tampa.

    The University of South Florida master of fine arts in creative writing program will present a reading of debut novels by two of its graduates, Phillippe Diederich (Sofrito) and Kimberly Karalius (Love Fortunes and Other Disasters), at 6 p.m. Sept. 4 at USF Graphicstudio, 3702 Spectrum Blvd., Tampa....

  9. Crossword creator Merl Reagle dies in Tampa at age 65


    TAMPA — Merl Reagle has crafted his last clue.

    The Tampa resident, a superstar in the world of crossword puzzles, died Saturday morning in a Tampa hospital. He was 65.

    Mr. Reagle was a nationally syndicated crossword puzzlemaker who created a monthly puzzle for the Tampa Bay Times' Floridian magazine as well as crosswords and other puzzles for the New York Times and many other publications. ...

    Merl Reagle created a monthly puzzle for the Tampa Bay Times’ Floridian magazine.
  10. Review: Koryta kicks off a dark and promising series with 'Last Words'


    It's not often I have to put a book down close to bedtime because I fear bad dreams. I consume crime fiction like potato chips — and ordinarily sleep soundly afterward.

    But I wasn't more than a third of the way into Michael Koryta's Last Words late one recent evening when I closed its covers and started browsing Netflix for silly sitcoms. I knew that before I put my head on the pillow I needed to shake the searing image of the book's protagonist waking up drugged, naked and freezing, lost deep underground in the utter darkness of a vast cave — or risk having it show up in my dreams....

    Michael Koryta, who will be a featured author at the Tampa Bay Times Festival of Reading on Oct. 24, will discuss and sign Last Words at Barnes & Noble Tampa on Aug. 27. 
SCOTT KEELER   |   Times (2009)
  11. Notable: Ten years after Hurricane Katrina



    Ten years after the storm

    A decade after Hurricane Katrina ravaged the Gulf Coast, these books tell the stories.

    Drowned City: Hurricane Katrina and New Orleans (HMH Books for Young Readers) by Don Brown is a vivid, carefully researched graphic novel that brings to life the story of the storm and its effects on the people of New Orleans for readers ages 12 and older. ...

  12. Events: Shane Hinton to sign 'Pinkies' at Inkwood


    Book Talk

    Plant City author Shane Hinton (Pinkies) will discuss and sign his book of short stories at 7 p.m. Thursday at Inkwood Books, 216 S Armenia Ave., Tampa.

    Maura Satchell (The Gray Lady of Long Branch) will read and sign at a launch party for her novel at 1 p.m. Saturday at Krazy Kup Cafe, 101 E.J. Arden Mays Blvd., Plant City.

    Vietnam veteran Jim Lamb (Orange Socks & Other Colorful Tales: How I Survived Vietnam and Kept My Sense of Humor) will read from and sign his memoir at 5:30 p.m. Saturday at Oasis Coffee Spot, 9213 Little Road, New Port Richey. ...

  13. Review: Kent Wascom's 'Secessia' a darkly beautiful novel of Civil War New Orleans


    Secessia opens with a stunning image: A beautiful 14-year-old girl in a midnight blue gown, her face streaming with blood not her own, flees through the costumed crowd at a grand ball in New Orleans in 1844. Elise Durel searches fruitlessly for her mother or her chaperone, "feels the dancers shiver at her passage." Her only savior is a sickly looking boy named Emile Sabatier. When the crowd turns on her, he helps her escape, then loses track of her — for more than a decade....

  14. Notale: grand dames



    Grand dames

    Now in paperback, two books about wonderful women and one about the man who invented Wonder Woman.

    Mademoiselle: Coco Chanel and the Pulse of History (Random House) by Rhonda K. Garelick is a meticulously researched, readable biography of the fearless designer who transformed how women dress, with lots of gorgeous photos.

    The Secret History of Wonder Woman (Vintage) by Jill Lepore is a totally fascinating account of the life and times of William Moulton Marston, who besides being the creator of Wonder Woman was a psychologist, inventor, feminist, polygamist and con man....

  15. Review: 'Kitchens of the Great Midwest' a satisfying literary meal


    Daughter of a chef and a sommelier, born in the early years of a revolution in how Americans eat, Eva Thorvald is a child of culinary destiny.

    In J. Ryan Stradal's captivating debut novel Kitchens of the Great Midwest, Eva is the character around whom everything revolves, the main dish in a tasty literary meal. Rising from childhood tragedy to develop an extraordinary palate and a driving ambition, Eva cooks up a unique fate for herself, a modern fairy tale that foodies will want to believe....