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. Thomas Berger, author of 'Little Big Man,' had distinctive voice


    When news came July 21 of the death of author Thomas Berger, many people — even those who love literature — probably said, "Who?"

    That's a shame, although Berger might have raised an ironic eyebrow and smiled. A critically acclaimed and often bestselling novelist whose heyday spanned three decades and whose greatest novel became a classic movie, Berger stepped away from fame and lived a very private life for the last 30-plus years, although he continued to write — his 20th novel, Adventures of the Artificial Woman, was published in 2004. In his final years he had become so reclusive that news of his death, at age 89 on July 13, didn't become public until a week later....

    Thomas Berger, a reclusive and bitingly satirical novelist who explored the myths of the American West in Little Big Man, as well as the mores of the 20th century in other novels, died July 13.
  2. Review: Haruki Murakami's 'Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki' strikes emotional chord


    When Haruki Murakami's latest novel, Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage, was published in his native Japan last year, Tokyo bookstores reported crowds of hundreds of people lined up for its midnight release. The book sold 1 million copies in its first week.

    Its publication in the United States in an English translation on Aug. 12 is unlikely to evoke such an avid response. Murakami is a superstar in his country, but Americans aren't much given to lionizing literati (at least those that don't write about boy wizards). Even so, fans of elegant, intelligent fiction will welcome this book. ...

  3. Events: Author Barbara Brown Taylor to speak in Clearwater


    Book Talk

    Suncoast Hospice will present bestselling author, Episcopal priest and professor of religion Barbara Brown Taylor (Learning to Walk in the Dark) discussing and signing her book at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at 5771 Roosevelt Blvd., Clearwater. Reservations required; call (727) 523-3427.

    Author and vendor applications for the 2014 Tampa Bay Times Festival of Reading, which will be Oct. 25 at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg, are available at

  4. Notable: New novels from three thriller masters



    Just for the thrills

    Three bestselling masters of the thriller have new novels, just in time for midsummer reading.

    The Heist (Harper) by Daniel Silva sends art restorer and spy Gabriel Allon across Europe on the trail of a ruthless killer — and a Caravaggio painting that is the world's most famous stolen artwork.

    The Lincoln Myth (Ballantine) by Steve Berry brings ex-agent Cotton Malone back into action to untangle a conspiracy that involves a powerful U.S. senator, a flaw in the Constitution and a secret tie between the Mormon religion and President Abraham Lincoln....

    This book cover image released by Ballantine Books shows "The Lincoln Myth," by Steve Berry. (AP Photo/Ballantine Books)
  5. Review: 'War of the Whales' dives deep into a real-life mystery


    Ken Balcomb had been studying whales for decades by March 15, 2000, work that often involved encounters with marine mammals stranded onshore. But that morning a whale beached itself alive just 100 yards from his home and research station on Great Abaco Island in the Bahamas — a Cuvier's beaked whale, a deep-water denizen rarely observed and even more rarely stranded.

    As Joshua Horwitz writes in his engrossing new book, War of the Whales: A True Story, Balcomb was both intrigued and concerned — but that whale was just the beginning. All that day, phone calls and radio messages streamed in from four Bahamian islands, reporting strandings of other Cuvier's as well as Blainville's beaked whales, minke whales and an Atlantic spotted dolphin (dolphins are small whales), some alive and others dying or dead. Balcomb soon realized he was in the middle of what turned out to be "the largest multispecies whale stranding ever recorded." ...

    Book jacket for Joshua Horwitz's book, "War of the Whales," published by Simon and Schuster. 2014
  6. Events: Deanna Bennett to launch 'Anna: American Journey'


    Book Talk

    East Lake Community Library will host a book launch for Deanna Bennett (Anna: American Journey), who will discuss and sign the second novel in her trilogy at 6 p.m. Friday at the library, 4125 East Lake Road, Palm Harbor.

    Author and vendor applications for the 2014 Tampa Bay Times Festival of Reading, which will be Oct. 25 at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg, are available at

  7. Review: 'The Forsaken' is a darkly exciting thrill ride


    Quinn Colson, former U.S. Army Ranger and veteran of "thirteen tours of Iraq and Trashcanistan," has returned to his hometown of Jericho, Miss., and become the county sheriff. But as The Forsaken, Ace Atkins' fourth novel about Quinn, begins, the lawman isn't so sure he wants the job anymore.

    Atkins, formerly a reporter for the St. Petersburg Times (now the Tampa Bay Times) and the Tampa Tribune, is one busy novelist these days. Each year, besides a book in his series about Quinn, he writes a book in the bestselling Spenser series created by Robert B. Parker, who died in 2010....

  8. Notable: The U.S. space program beyond the moon landing



    Beyond the moon

    Neil Armstrong's moon landing was the first step; these books deal with later developments in the U.S. space program.

    Curiosity: An Inside Look at the Mars Rover Mission and the People Who Made It Happen (Prometheus Books) by Rod Pyle looks at the engineers and scientists who made the mission possible (including "Mohawk Guy") and the adventures of Curiosity, the most advanced machine ever sent to another planet....

  9. Review: James Lee Burke's 'Wayfaring Stranger' a terrific tale


    James Lee Burke's terrific new novel, Wayfaring Stranger, is a departure from his three crime fiction series about former New Orleans detective Dave Robicheaux and two Texas lawmen, the cousins Hackberry and Billy Bob Holland.

    But as I was reading it, a line from a crime fiction classic, Raymond Chandler's The Long Goodbye, kept ringing through my head: "There ain't no clean way to make a hundred million bucks." It's a lesson Weldon Holland, the book's hero, learns most vividly and violently....

    The main character of Wayfaring Stranger has a brush with bank robbers Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow that will reverberate in surprising ways.
  10. Florida Humanities Council features state's writers in Forum magazine summer issue


    For a fine crop of summer reading, you can depend on the Florida Humanities Council's magazine, Forum.

    The quarterly publication, available in print or online at, builds its summer issue around the winners of the Florida Book Awards. This year its online edition includes excerpts from books by David Kirby, Laura Lee Smith and Randy Wayne White, a photo slideshow from a book by Carlton Ward Jr., audio and video interviews with authors and historians, and more....

  11. Notable: Winding up three fantasy trilogies



    Three by three

    These new books round out three bestselling fantasy and science fiction trilogies.

    The Book of Life: All Souls Trilogy (Viking) by Deborah Harkness completes the series about Diana Bishop, a globe-trotting, time-traveling historian-witch in pursuit of a mysterious alchemical manuscript.

    The Magician's Land (Viking) by Lev Grossman is the third act in the story of Quentin Coldwater, a young magician now cast out of Fillory, the enchanted but imperiled land he once ruled as king....

  12. Events: Lynn Combes to discuss 'Garden Full of Butterflies'


    Book Talk

    East Lake Community Library's Author Showcase presents Lynn Combes (Garden Full of Butterflies) discussing and signing her novel at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at the library, 4125 East Lake Road, Palm Harbor.

    Tampa Bay Times Real Florida writer Jeff Klinkenberg will be the featured reader at Wordier Than Thou, an open mic storytelling series, at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Studio@620, 620 First Ave. S, St. Petersburg. Open mic readers get 10 minutes each for short stories or nonfiction prose; $5 suggested donation. ...

  13. J.K. Rowling serves up new dish on Harry Potter and pals


    Not all of the Harry Potter news is coming out of Orlando. Some of it is datelined Patagonia, site of the current Quidditch Cup World Final.

    On Tuesday, author J.K. Rowling posted a witty new short story on, her online source for everything Harry. Writing under the guise of Rita Skeeter, that aptly named incorrigible insect of a gossip columnist (played in the films by Miranda Richardson), Rowling drops some tidbits updating her beloved characters as well as gleefully getting her digs in at the tabloid press....

    Author J.K. Rowling has spun a new short Harry Potter story on
  14. Readings, panel will salute Maya Angelou in Brandon


    When poet, memoirist, cultural icon and Medal of Freedom recipient Maya Angelou died on May 28, her passing was marked and mourned around the world.

    A local salute to Angelou will take place on Saturday, sponsored by the Tampa Bay Times, Barnes & Noble Brandon and the Hillsborough County School District.

    Times columnist Ernest Hooper will lead a panel discussion by Times book editor Colette Bancroft, poet and Saint Leo University instructor Gianna Russo and others. The event will also feature readings of Angelou's poetry and art inspired by her work and life....

    Poet and memoirist Maya Angelou died May 28 at her Winston-Salem, N.C., home. She was 86.
  15. Notable: Historical British royals in fact and fiction



    Battles royal

    In fiction or fact, readers just can't get enough of the flamboyant histories of British royals.

    Sisters of Treason (Simon & Schuster) by Elizabeth Fremantle is a novel about the two sisters of Lady Jane Grey trying to survive and thrive in the courts of Mary Tudor and Elizabeth I after Jane's execution.

    Tudors Versus Stewarts: The Fatal Inheritance of Mary, Queen of Scots (St. Martin's) by Linda Porter is a British historian's account of the several generations of sometimes violent conflict in the 16th century between two powerful families....