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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

Email: cbancroft@tampabay.com

  1. Perspective: A history as right as 'Rain'


    Even though her fascinating book Rain: A Natural and Cultural History covers its subject in almost every way imaginable, from rain's role in the formation of our planet and of human civilization to its interplay with contemporary politics, Cynthia Barnett regrets the things she had to omit.

    "I hated to leave out the part about the chimpanzee rain dances observed by Jane Goodall at Gombe Stream Preserve," she says....

    Author Cynthia Barnett will be a featured author at the 23rd annual Tampa Bay Times Festival of Reading on Oct. 24.
  2. Review: Grissom's 'Follies of God' captures Tennessee Williams


    The story of how James Grissom came to write Follies of God is almost as remarkable as the book itself.

    When Grissom, a Louisiana native, was 20 years old and an aspiring writer, he wrote a long letter to Tennessee Williams, asking his advice, even though they had never met.

    It was 1982, and the great playwright was depressed, fearful that critics and audiences were turning away from his works, that his creative days were behind him, that his achievements would fade — unlikely as that seems for the man who created A Streetcar Named Desire, The Glass Menagerie, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and other classics of American theater, garnering two Pulitzer Prizes and countless other honors along the way. But Williams' insecurities and self-doubt were nearly as legendary as his talent. ...

  3. Review: Miss Dreamsville returns in Amy Hill Hearth's Southern sequel


    Back in 1963, Naples was just a tiny Florida town, populated by a few hundred people and swelling by a few hundred more during tourist season. Its flossy restaurants, posh resorts, sprawling suburbs and billionaires' mansions were decades in the future.

    How much trouble could a bunch of book club ladies get into in a sleepy town like that? As you'll find in Amy Hill Hearth's Miss Dreamsville and the Lost Heiress of Collier County, plenty of it....

  4. Notable: Best of the "Best American" series



    Best of 'Best American'

    My favorite sign of fall: the annual "Best American" series, anthologies in many genres.

    The Best American Mystery Stories (Mariner/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt), edited by James Patterson, gathers 20 great short stories by such authors as Lee Child, Thomas McGuane, Joyce Carol Oates and a Michael Connelly-Dennis Lehane collaboration....

  5. Events: Robert Macomber to sign 'Assassin's Honor' in Tampa


    Book Talk

    Friends of Mirror Lake Library presents "An Evening With Jonathan Kile," discussing his novel The Grandfather Clock, at 5:30 p.m. Ocgt. 5 at the library, 280 Fifth St. N, St. Petersburg.

    Robert Macomber (The Assassin's Honor) will discuss and sign his nautical historical thriller at 7 p.m. Oct. 8 at Inkwood Books, 216 S Armenia Ave., Tampa....

  6. Drink of the Week: 2012 Plungerhead Lodi Zinfandel wine

    Bars & Spirits

    Last week, the calendar said it was fall; the Florida weather said otherwise. But I was so tired of my summer whites — not the ones in my closet, but the sauvignon blancs and chardonnays and sparklers that had been refreshing me all these hot months. If I uncorked a red, I reasoned, maybe the cool weather would follow.

    Well, I didn't exactly uncork it. The 2012 Plungerhead Lodi Zinfandel boasts, along with its Monty Python-esque label, a Zork, a cute plastic topper with a zipperlike thingy holding it to the bottle's neck. No corkscrew needed, just pull and pour (and easily reseal), but it looks classier than a screwtop....

    2012 Plungerhead 2012 Lodi Zinfandel
  7. Notable: Janeites, rejoice!



    Janeites, rejoice!

    It is a truth universally acknowledged that Jane Austen fans welcome new books, serious or silly, about their favorite.

    Emma: 200th Anniversary Annotated Edition (Penguin Classics) by Jane Austen adds a lovely new cover plus notes, maps, glossaries and essays to amplify the beloved novel on its bicentennial.

    First Impressions (Penguin) by Charlie Lovett is a contemporary mystery-romance about an Austen enthusiast and antiquarian bookseller who finds a mysterious book that casts doubt on the authorship of Pride and Prejudice....

  8. Review: Deborah Johnson's 'Secret of Magic' a multilayered mystery


    In its five-year history, the Harper Lee Prize for Legal Fiction has had four winners: bestselling novelists John Grisham (twice) and Michael Connelly, Stanford University law professor Paul Goldstein and, most recently, Deborah Johnson.

    Johnson, a former translator and editor, might not be as well known as the other three, but her winning novel, The Secret of Magic, deserves its place in that august company. ...

    Deborah Johnson will be a featured author at the 23rd annual Tampa Bay Times Festival of Reading on Oct. 24 at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg; festivalofreading.com.
  9. Book events: Andrea Chapin will read from her novel at Saint Leo


    Book Talk

    Cartoonist Stephan Pastis (Pearls Gets Sacrificed), whose Pearls Before Swine strip appears in the Tampa Bay Times, will appear in conversation with Times movie critic Steve Persall at 2 p.m. Sunday at the Palladium, 253 Fifth Ave. N, St. Petersburg. A book signing will follow.

    Andrea Chapin (The Tutor) will read from and sign her novel about a young William Shakespeare at 12:30 p.m. Sept. 30 at TECO Hall, School of Business, Saint Leo University, 33701 State Road 52, St. Leo....

  10. Review: Jefferson's 'Negroland' a memoir that reveals American culture


    When an author tells her readers that she grew up in a culture in which she was taught "you don't tell your secrets to strangers — certainly not secrets that expose error, weakness, failure," those readers might not expect her memoir to be very revealing.

    In some ways, it isn't. But in many others, Margo Jefferson's Negroland shines a spotlight on a fascinating slice of the American experience of which many people are barely aware. ...

    Photos courtesy of Margo Jefferson. Excerpted from Negroland by Margo Jefferson. 
Copyright ? 2015 by Random House 
The U-High varsity cheerleaders, with co-captain Margo Jefferson in center back, in 1964.
  11. Review: Key's 'World's Largest Man' a hilarious memoir of Southern fatherhood


    If David Sedaris and Roy Blount Jr. had a love child, that county clerk in Kentucky probably still wouldn't give them a marriage license. But that baby might grow up to be as funny as Harrison Scott Key.

    Key's memoir, The World's Largest Man, is a splendid exercise in Southern storytelling about growing up in rural Mississippi with a father who was, he writes, "a man better suited to living in a remote frontier wilderness than contemporary America, with all its complexities and progressive ideas and paved roads and lack of armed duels. Despite all the hitting, I knew, he was a good man, and he taught me many things: How to fight and work and cheat and pray to Jesus about it, how to kill things with guns and knives and, if necessary, with hammers."...

    Harrison Scott Key will be a featured author at the 23rd annual Tampa Bay Times Festival of Reading on Oct. 24 at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg; festivalofreading.com.
  12. Notable: papal prose



    Papal prose

    In honor of Pope Francis' visit to the United States this week, here are some books by and about him.

    Encountering Truth: Meeting God in the Everyday (Image) by Pope Francis and Anthony Spadaro samples 400 of the homilies delivered by the pope when he celebrates Mass each morning in the small St. Martha chapel in the Vatican to an audience of gardeners, cooks and office workers. ...

  13. Events: Five poets to read at Inkwood on Sept. 24


    Book Talk

    Inkwood Books presents "Michigan to Matanzas: Around the World in a Poetry Hour," a reading by Gianna Russo (Moonflower), Silvia Curbelo (Falling Landscape), Heather Sellers (Drinking Girls and Their Dresses), Lorraine Monteagut and Erin Scheffels, with music by Damien Contessa, at 7 p.m. Thursday at the bookstore, 216 S Armenia Ave., Tampa....

  14. Stephen King and John Grisham to appear together in Bradenton


    In March, the Manatee Library Foundation scored big with a fundraiser featuring a local (well, part time) author. "An Evening With Stephen King" sold out the Manatee Performing Arts Center and raised $100,000 for the library system's digital update.

    How can they top that? With an event featuring King and fellow hugely bestselling author John Grisham in conversation. It's coming up Jan. 19, the foundation announced Tuesday....

    THROWBACK ALERT. Stephen King, left, and John Grisham arrive at the National Book Awards ceremony at the Plaza Hotel in New York, Nov. 17, 1993.
  15. Featured authors for the 2015 Tampa Bay Times Festival of Reading


    Festival authors

    These books and authors will be featured at the free 23rd annual Tampa Bay Times Festival of Reading, which is from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Oct. 24 at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg (festivalofreading.com).

    Fabrizio Aielli, Sea Salt

    Ace Atkins, The Redeemers and Kickback

    Cynthia Barnett, Rain: A Natural and Cultural History...