Piper Castillo, Times Staff Writer

Piper Castillo

Piper Castillo grew up in Ft. Lauderdale and received her English degree from Florida Atlantic University. As a community news reporter for the Tampa Bay Times, she covers Oldsmar and Palm Harbor. She also writes the "Nightstand" column for the Sunday book pages and thinks the only thing better than a good read is a day in the sun with her family.

Phone: (727) 445-4163

E-mail: pcastillo@tampabay.com

  1. Church of the Bayou members serve the community as a family


    TARPON SPRINGS — On a recent Tuesday, Church on the Bayou Presbyterian Church was bustling with activity.

    In one classroom, workers for the Shepherd Center were holding an orientation for a mentoring initiative for women. In another, a yoga class was in session.

    In the library, the church's missions committee was working on the Hurricane Relief Bucket Project, an initiative designed to ensure that the Florida Presbyterian Disaster Assistance Network has enough clean-up supplies for whenever they're needed....

    From left, the Rev. Kathleen Dain, Susan Conrad and Tee Fonseca prepare buckets of cleaning supplies for the Church on the Bayou Presbyterian Church to distribute in emergencies.
  2. What's Kim Stolz reading?



    Kim Stolz

    Since Unfriending My Ex was released in June, Stolz, a former MTV News correspondent and America's Next Top Model contestant, has heard many crazy stories concerning social networking mishaps. The book is Stolz's humorous take on how social networking has changed our society and on the pitfalls of obsessive connectivity. "Just last night at a signing a woman told me about how she was starting to get to know a new guy. They were texting back and forth, and she texted him at 2 a.m. telling him to come over to her apartment. It turned out she erroneously texted her dad,'' said Stolz, 31. The author holds a degree in government and intergovernmental politics from Wesleyan University and currently works as vice president of equity derivatives sales at Citigroup. We caught up with her by phone recently while she was in Los Angeles on book tour. ...

    Kim Stolz released Unfriending My Ex in June.
  3. Senior Center of Clearwater will close in September

    Local Government

    CLEARWATER — The five friends gathered around the wooden table for their biweekly game of pinochle at the Senior Center of Clearwater. But before they could shuffle the first deck of cards, they received sad news from Robert Wittenberg, the executive director of Senior Citizens Services Inc.

    "I wanted to let you know, in September, the center will close,'' said Wittenberg, 69. "But we are not abandoning you. We will do everything in our power to relocate you wherever you'd like to go because we value your participation.''...

    Mary Heckenbach, 92, clockwise from lower left, Patrick Husereau, 80, Millard Neal, 85, Viola Browning, 68, and Jerry Lipscomb, 77, play cards last week at the Senior Center of Clearwater. “Some of us have played cards together since 2001,’’ Heckenbach said. 
  4. What's Rebecca Rotert reading?



    Rebecca Rotert

    In her first novel, Last Night at the Blue Angel, Rotert moves between 1960s Chicago and 1950s Kansas to tell the story of Naomi, a self-absorbed nightclub singer, and her young daughter, Sophia, who is caught in her shadow. Rotert received her master's degree in literature from Hollins University in Virginia, where she also received the Academy of American Poets prize, and is currently a teacher with the Nebraska Writers Collective. We caught up with her by phone from her home office in Omaha....

    Rebecca Rotert is author of Last Night at the Blue Angel.
  5. What's Andrea Brunais reading?



    Andrea Brunais

    Brunais sets her new novel, Mercedes Wore Black, against the backdrop of the 2014 Florida governor's race while introducing the reader to Janis Pearl Hawk, a journalist who heads out to uncover corruption involving murder, public money and the fate of a pristine Florida bay.

    Brunais, a former editorial writer and editor for the Tallahassee Democrat and Tampa Tribune, is currently working as communications director, outreach and international affairs, at Virginia Tech. She is scheduled to sign her book at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Inkwood Books, 216 S Armenia Ave., Tampa....

    Andrea Brunais
  6. WWII flier, Italian still allies after all these years


    PALM HARBOR — Frank Bolek arrived in Lesina, Italy, as part of the U.S. Army Air Forces 325th Fighter Group in December 1944.

    Bolek's assignment with the 325th, known as the Checkertail Clan because of the black and yellow checkered pattern on the tails of their aircraft, was to escort B-17s and B-24s on bombing missions against the Germans.

    On farmland not far from the town's center, the U.S. military built a temporary airstrip. Every morning, the 22-year-old would climb out of a tent he shared with three other pilots and into the cockpit of a P-51 Mustang....

    Tom Ricci, whose family hails from Lesina, Italy, visits with Frank Bolek in Palm Harbor. Bolek was based in Lesina in 1944.
  7. Five Questions with Episcopal priest, fighter of human trafficking


    It was just a few days before terrorists attacked the World Trade Center and Washington, D.C., targets in 2001 that Father Ray Bonoan took over as the rector at the Episcopal Church of the Holy Spirit in Safety Harbor. "On 9/11, I was still moving in. We decided to leave the church open. So many came and just sat. … All our hearts were broken. I will say it was difficult. As a priest, sometimes you need to be a healer when you are wounded, too.''...

    Father Ray Bonoan has diversified his Episcopal church in Safety Harbor and leads anti-human trafficking efforts from there.
  8. What's Vernon Bryant reading?



    Vernon Bryant

    Bryant, 58, is the branch executive director of the Greater Ridgecrest YMCA, where he has launched the Million Page Challenge, a summer reading program that has young people and adults joining together to read 1 million pages by Aug. 10. He believes that, in order to instill a lifelong love for reading in youth, adults must "show them by example.'' Bryant, a Chicago native, holds a master's degree in public administration from the University of Illinois as well as a master's degree in horticulture from Iowa State University and a bachelor's degree in botany from Eastern Illinois University....

    Vernon Bryant, 58, is the branch executive director of the Greater Ridgecrest YMCA.
  9. What's Cheryl Morales reading?



    Cheryl Morales

    When Morales, the new executive director for the Pinellas Public Library Cooperative, first arrived here from Pago Pago, American Samoa, she caught up on her sleep, then she took her two daughters to Gulf Beaches Public Library. "I know it sounds stereotypical that I did that as a librarian but that's where we went, and I registered my children for the library's summer reading program,'' she said....

    Cheryl Morales previously was the territorial librarian in Pago Pago, American Samoa.
  10. New leader for county library cooperative arrives


    When we caught up with Cheryl Morales on June 11, she acknowledged she was suffering from a bit of jet lag. Just days earlier Morales, the new executive director of the Pinellas Public Library Cooperative, had arrived from Pago Pago, where she worked for 16 years as the territorial librarian in American Samoa.

    With a salary of $90,000, she replaces Mary Brown, who resigned last year during an overhaul of the organization's governing board....

    Cheryl Morales, 50, says she’s good at adapting. “All the places I’ve lived, I’ve found I’m adaptive to climate and culture. There are so many different cultures and populations here in Florida. ... It’s a rich place to be.”
  11. What's Kate Pullinger reading?



    Kate Pullinger

    In Pullinger's new novel, Landing Gear, she expands on a story she started as a multimedia project in 2007, Flight Paths: A Networked Novel. The story follows Harriet, who is finding that her domestic duties in suburbia prove tougher than her former life as a radio host. During a mundane trip to the supermarket, her world is turned upside down when a man falls out of an airplane and onto the top of her car — and survives. In 2009, Pullinger won Canada's Governor General's Literary Award for fiction for her novel Mistress of Nothing, a fictionalized tale of Sally Naldrett, a lady's maid for Lady Duff-Gordon, who traveled to Egypt with her in Victorian times. We caught up with Pullinger, who teaches creative writing and digital media at Bath Spa University, by phone from her home office in London....

    Kate Pullinger, the recipient of Canada’s Governor General’s Literary Award for fiction in 2009, recently released a new novel, Landing Gear.
  12. What's Ron Suskind reading?



    Ron Suskind

    For Father's Day, we caught up with journalist Suskind, who won the 1995 Pulitzer Prize for feature writing while at the Wall Street Journal. His most recent book is Life, Animated: A Story of Sidekicks, Heroes, and Autism. It is a memoir that details 20 years in Suskind's life as he, his wife Cornelia and eldest son Walt find themselves departing from "the land of normal'' to navigate life with Owen, their second son, who is autistic. The family came to recognize Owen's ability to make connections with the world around him by relating it to Disney's animated movies. The discovery came on Walt's ninth birthday, like a thunderbolt through the kitchen, according to Suskind, 53. Walt had become weepy at the end of the party, not wanting it to end. Owen looked up at his parents and said, "Walter doesn't want to grow up ... like Mowgli or Peter Pan.''...

    Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Ron Suskind’s most recent book is Life, Animated: A Story of Sidekicks, Heroes, and Autism.
  13. What's Rick Reilly reading?



    Rick Reilly

    In the newest collection of his columns, Tiger, Meet My Sister, Reilly tackles a variety of subjects, including Lance Armstrong's deception and soccer star Oscar Pareja's experience playing a game against drug lord Pablo Escobar, as well as his own funeral. (Reilly would like it to include Guinness, the Cure and the Miami Dolphins cheerleaders.) Reilly, 56, graduated with a degree in journalism from University of Colorado Boulder and swiftly moved up the ranks writing for the Denver Post, the Los Angeles Times and Sports Illustrated, where his column, "Life of Reilly," appeared on the magazine's back page for 10 years. In 2007, Reilly joined ESPN, writing for ESPN: The Magazine and espn.com. He has announced he plans to retire, or at least semiretire, this summer. He lives in Denver with his wife, Cynthia....

    Sports writer Rick Reilly, 56, recently announced he will retire, or at least semiretire, this summer.
  14. What's Ace Atkins reading?



    Ace Atkins

    When asked to describe Robert B. Parker, Atkins said the late crime novelist was "the consummate pro. I was so impressed by his writing style, his distinctness and his ability to boil down a great story.'' In 2011, Atkins was handpicked by Parker's family to continue Parker's bestselling Spenser detective series, and his third installment, Cheap Shot, was published May 6 to rave reviews. Atkins, a former Auburn football player, started his writing career in Tampa Bay, first as a news correspondent for the then-St. Petersburg Times and later as a police reporter for the Tampa Tribune, where he earned a Pulitzer nomination for a feature series about an investigation into a long-ago Tampa murder. Part of the story became the core of his novel White Shadow (2006)....

    Ace Atkins began his writing career in the Tampa Bay area.
  15. What's Laurie Talerico reading?



    Laurie Talerico

    The tiny Indian Rocks Beach Library, serving the gulfside community of about 4,100, has one full-time employee: Talerico, who became the city librarian in November, replacing Jane Mitchell. Talerico's background includes stints with the Tampa-Hillsborough County Public Library system, the Pinellas Talking Book Library and the libraries of St. Petersburg College. Talerico received her undergraduate degree from the University of South Florida and a master's degree in library and information science as well as a second master's in arts in the humanities from Florida State University. Talerico, 52, is also a freelance writer who is currently at work on a novel....

    Indian Rocks Beach Library librarian Laurie Talerico is penning her first novel.