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

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  1. What's Rebecca Rotert reading?

    Books

    Nightstand

    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.
  2. What's Andrea Brunais reading?

    Books

    Nightstand

    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
  3. WWII flier, Italian still allies after all these years

    Veterans

    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.
  4. Five Questions with Episcopal priest, fighter of human trafficking

    Religion

    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.
  5. What's Vernon Bryant reading?

    Books

    Nightstand

    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.
  6. What's Cheryl Morales reading?

    Books

    Nightstand

    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.
  7. New leader for county library cooperative arrives

    News

    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.”
  8. What's Kate Pullinger reading?

    Books

    Nightstand

    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.
  9. What's Ron Suskind reading?

    Books

    Nightstand

    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.
  10. What's Rick Reilly reading?

    Books

    Nightstand

    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.
  11. What's Ace Atkins reading?

    Books

    Nightstand

    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.
  12. What's Laurie Talerico reading?

    Books

    Nightstand

    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.
  13. Armed Forces History Museum combines fun with honor

    Military

    LARGO

    Workers at the U.S. Armed Forces History Museum will be on a mission Monday to ensure the original meaning of Memorial Day — to honor the sacrifices of our fallen soldiers — is kept alive. At the same time, they'll incorporate what the holiday also has come to symbolize — the start of summer fun.

    They'll do this with the Family FunFest. In its sixth year, the program includes activities for those well-versed in military knowledge as well as civilians wanting to spend a leisurely day with the family....

    Model Japanese planes hang in the Pearl Harbor displays at the Armed Forces History Museum.
  14. The Oldsmar Trail: a place to wind down while you wind through the city

    Local Government

    OLDSMAR

    Within a mile of busy State Road 580, an osprey is perched on a bench in Sheffield Park near the Oldsmar Trail. As two cyclists approach, it takes flight, moving westward over the Lake Tarpon Outfall Canal. "I have seen so much wildlife out here, gators, red-tail hawks, herons, rabbits and armadillos,'' said Becky Afonso, as she pedaled her Trek Five 20 touring bicycle. "And not all Oldsmar residents know the trail exists.''...

    This wildlife identification sign is posted along the Cypress Forest section of the Oldsmar Trail.
  15. What's Abigail Gibbs reading?

    Books

    Nightstand

    Abigail Gibbs

    At the young age of 19, Gibbs recently published Autumn Rose, the second installment of her paranormal romance series, The Dark Heroine. Gibbs caught the attention of editors at William Morrow in 2009 when she posted what would become her first novel, Dinner With a Vampire, chapter by chapter on Wattpad, an amateur fiction publishing website. "When I wrote my first story, because it was online, it was quite long and sprawling. ... So when I got together with William Morrow, the editor and I had to do a lot of editing and cutting. About 50,000 words were cut for the first book,'' said Gibbs, who grew up in Devon, England, and is studying English at the University of Oxford....

    Abigail Gibbs, 19, recently published Autumn Rose, the second installment of her paranormal romance series, The Dark Heroine.