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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 north Pinellas County. 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


  1. What's Garrison Keillor reading?



    Garrison Keillor

    Although he bid farewell to A Prairie Home Companion and Lake Wobegon in July, Keillor, 74, is far from retired. He is currently writing a memoir as well as penning a column for the Washington Post that is seen frequently in the Tampa Bay Times. On Dec. 12, Keillor, who started his radio career on Minnesota Public Radio in 1969, will appear at Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater....

    Garrison Keillor, host and creator of “A Prairie Home Companion, at home in St. Paul, Minn., June 9, 2016.
  2. Armed Forces History Museum in Largo to close in January


    LARGO — John Piazza Sr. first became interested in collecting military artifacts when he received a gift, a World War I German mortar from a friend's father.

    That was more than 60 years ago. Before he died in October, his collection had grown to include items large and small — countless weapons, from bows and arrows to sticky bombs and flamethrowers, a uniform worn by Saddam Hussein, a Russian MiG-21 supersonic fighter jet, an M8 Greyhound and a World War II reconnaissance tank. It had grown so big that in 2008 Piazza established the nonprofit Armed Forces Military Museum, to share his collection with the public....

    The Largo Armed Forces History Museum will be closing in January. It opened in 2008. [Douglas R. Clifford, Times]
  3. What's Nikki Giovanni reading?



    Nikki Giovanni

    Giovanni is a poet and an outspoken advocate for civil rights who has been honored with seven NAACP Image Awards. She is a University Distinguished Professor at Virginia Tech, and in 2007 her poem We Are Virginia Tech was credited with helping to heal the community immediately after the mass shooting that killed 33 people. Last month, Giovanni, 73, received the Library of Virginia's Lifetime Achievement Award. Her book Gemini: An Extended Autographical Statement on My First 25 Years of Being a Black Poet was a finalist for the 1973 National Book Award. Her other works include Ego Tripping and Other Poems for Young People, A Dialogue: James Baldwin and Nikki Giovanni and Hip Hop Speaks to Children....

    Nikki Giovanni, 73, received the Library of Virginia’s Lifetime Achievement Award in October.
  4. What's Steve Alten reading?



    Steve Alten

    Alten is the author of Meg: A Novel of Deep Terror, a science fiction story about a Carcharodon megalodon, a prehistoric 70-foot shark. The book is currently being made into a motion picture with Rainn Wilson and Jason Statham. Alten, who also writes under the pen name L.A. Knight, is a Philadelphia native who now lives in West Palm Beach. His newest book is Dog Training the American Male, a funny look at the dynamics between husbands and wives. "The book came about after a bad argument with my wife. In the middle of the fight, she yelled at our dog, and the dog reacted, doing what he was trained to do,'' said Alten, 57. "I realized, wow, men and dogs are really a lot alike, and if dogs can be trained, men can too.''...

    Steve Alten’s “Meg: A Novel of Deep Terror,” a science fiction story about a prehistoric 70-foot shark, is being made into a movie.
  5. White House recognizes fisherman and John's Pass business owner: Five questions with Jason DeLaCruz



    If he had his way, Jason DeLaCruz, 46, would spend more time spearfishing at his favorite area — the Florida Middle Grounds, about 100 miles offshore, with its reefs filled with grouper, hogfish and snapper. Instead, on most days, you can find him at Wild Seafood Co., a full-service fish house at John's Pass that he and his wife, Vicky, own.

    That's where we caught up with him on a recent Monday, as he monitored the unloading of one of his fishing boats, the Miss Ruby. DeLaCruz, a Pinellas County native, also serves as executive director of Gulf Wild, a nonprofit organization focused on sustainable seafood, and as vice president of the Gulf of Mexico Reef Fish Shareholders' Alliance, an organization designed to protect the region's fishing communities....

    Jason DeLaCruz, owner of Wild Seafood, arranges freshly-caught fish on ice for delivery to restaurants and retail markets on his dock in Madeira Beach. He was recently honored as a White House Champion of Change.
  6. What's Marcia Clark reading?



    Marcia Clark

    Recognized as the lead prosecutor during the O.J. Simpson murder, Clark has made a mark as an author as well. First came Without a Doubt, her 1997 memoir about the infamous trial. In 2011, Clark launched her first crime series, featuring protagonist Rachel Knight, Los Angeles Special Trials prosecutor. This year, with Blood Defense, she introduced readers to Samantha Brinkman, who is on the other side as a criminal defense attorney. We caught up with Clark, 63, on Nov. 3, just a few days before Moral Defense, the second book of the Brinkman series, was released....

    Author Marcia Clark.
  7. Largo business conducts presidential cookie poll: The treats have Hillary by 180 cookies


       Frida Alipour's presidential cookie poll has successfully predicted the outcome of the election ever since Alipour started it at Frida's, her bakery in Largo, back in  2004. She conducts the poll by keeping track of the number of cookies sold with either Trump or Clinton decorated on top, When we checked in about two weeks ago, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump were neck and neck....

  8. What's Craig Pittman reading?


    Craig Pittman

    Pittman, 55, will be one of the featured authors at the Times Festival of Reading on Nov. 12 with his newest book, Oh, Florida! How America's Weirdest State Influences the Rest of the Country. It is a peculiar history book on the Sunshine State, including such true-life tales as the one about the woman whose career goal was mermaid and whose tail caused friction with her homeowners association when she violated the "no fins" pool policy. A Pensacola native, Pittman is the environmental reporter for the Tampa Bay Times, and the author of Scent of Scandal: Greed, Betrayal and the World's Most Beautiful Orchid, Manatee Insanity (named by the Florida Humanities Council one of the 21 "essential'' books for Floridians) and Paving Paradise, co-written with Matthew Waite. Pittman and his wife have two sons and live in St. Petersburg....

    How America's Weirdest State Influences the Rest of the Country Book written by Craig Pittman, Tampa Bay Times staff writer.
  9. Oldsmar's Woodlands Square hints at Earth Fare store


    OLDSMAR— The secret is out, sort of. Officials will not give it a public confirmation, however, signs are pointing to Earth Fare, an Asheville, N.C.-based organic supermarket chain as the next, big tenant at Woodlands Square Shopping Plaza, widely known for AMC Woodlands 20.

    At a recent city council meeting, as the city and RAM Realty Services discussed the development agreement and plans for the 30-year-old center, a sketch of the plaza with a marquee touting "Earth Fare'' was displayed. "Oh, look at that. It's in print,'' said Mayor Doug Bevis, of the nod toward Earth Fare, whose first Tampa Bay location opened in September in at the new Seminole City Center....

  10. What's Rosemary Yvonne Borel reading?



    Rosemary Yvonne Borel

    Borel's book, Thriving in the Care of Many Mothers, is a testament to how family is more than being related by blood. The author's mother was a hard-working single parent forced to rely on friends and relatives to raise Borel so she could manage a hotel in Jamaica, a job requiring the pair to often live apart. On Nov. 12 at the Times Festival of Reading, Borel, a graduate of the University of Leeds in England and a Carnegie Fellow who served at the Jamaican Mission to the United Nations, will discuss the memoir, her adventurous childhood in Jamaica and her years as a young wife and mother in Trinidad and Tobago. Borel, 76, is the mother of two adult children, Denise and Julian. She lives in Wesley Chapel with her husband, Charles Hull....

    Rosemary Yvonne Borel will be at the Times Festival of Reading.
  11. Trump, Clinton supporters state their loyalties in cookies


    LARGO — Just west of the cannolies, Donald Trump and HiIllary Clinton can be spotted smiling, side-by-side, at least ontop of the cookies, that is. For the fourth presidential election in a row, Frida's Bakery on Ulmerton Road, is the site of an ongoing political poll. It is unofficial, of course, but tasty. The data: cookies. Customers purchase sugar cookies, $1.99 each, with either Clinton or Trump's photo on edible paper, on top. The cashier logs the vote. "Sales had Donald Trump ahead for a long time, but now it's close. Hillary fans have been worried. You could see it,'' Frida Alipour, the business owner, said. "Everytime we have done this, we seem to have same results as what happens nationally, but of course, we are selling cookies. You never really know.''...

    Clinton and Trump cookies are neck and neck at Frida's Cafe in Largo. SCOTT KEELER   |   Times
  12. What's Kristy Woodson Harvey reading?



    Kristy Woodson Harvey

    In her latest novel, Lies and Other Acts of Love, Harvey opens with a hurricane and a grandmother named Lovey who believes there are two types of people, those who flee and those who wait it out, "hovering over their possessions as if their fragile lives offer any protection against a natural mother that can take them out of the world as quickly as she brought them into it.'' Although the characters, members of a tight-knit family in North Carolina, are fictional, the author admitted that her own family has a few women like Lovey, perhaps not stubborn but at the very least "headstrong and self-assured.'' Harvey, whose book Dear Carolina was longlisted for the Pat Conroy Southern Book Prize, will be a featured author at the Times Festival of Reading on Nov. 12....

    Kristy Woodson Harvey
  13. What's Kelli Stuart reading?



    Kelli Stuart

    Stuart, who lived for a short time in Kiev, wrote her book Like a River From Its Course after meeting Maria Ivanovna, a survivor of a Nazi slave labor camp, while she was on a trip in Ukraine. "I heard her story, and her father's, who survived the massacre at Babi Yar, and I realized I wanted to fictionalize the story,'' she said. For 10 years, Stuart, 38, gathered research, including interviewing more than 100 veterans, and in June, the author saw the release of her historical novel based on the real-life stories. An Odessa resident, Stuart holds a degree in English and a minor in Russian literature from Baylor University. On Nov. 12 she will discuss Like a River From Its Course, and the people who inspired it, at the Times Festival of Reading as a featured author....

    Kelli Stuart
  14. What's Shana Smith reading?



    Shana Smith

    Smith is best known as Florida singer Shana Banana, a guitar-toting, ABC-wielding nature mom, but she is also a marine biologist-yogi who co-directs the Gainesville Retreat Center with her husband, Dan Smith. In the introduction of her new book, Meditation for Moms and Dads: 108 Tips for Mindful Parents and Caregivers, Smith stressed that while mindfulness, achieved through meditation, can help us "fulfill our ultimate job as parents and effect compassion, peace and loving kindness,'' meditation and spiritual focus "just don't synch" at times when you are caught up in what she calls "the householder scenario.'' ...

    Shana Smith is best known as Florida singer Shana Banana. Her new book is “Meditation for Moms and Dads: 108 Tips for Mindful Parents and Caregivers.”
  15. J Balvin, Wisin and Gilberto Santa Rosa headline Sunday's Hispanic Heritage Concert at Coachman Park

    Music & Concerts


    As the scents of mojo and sofrito float through the air and percussions echo over Clearwater Bay, no doubt concertgoers will be dancing to a "threefer."

    Concierto Herencia Hispana 2016, Clearwater's annual Hispanic Heritage Concert, will take place Sunday in Coachman Park. The lineup includes three headliners — reggaeton artists J Balvin of Colombia (Best Urban Song at the 2015 Latin Grammy Awards) and Wisin of Puerto Rico (part of the duo Wisin and Yandel), and Gilberto Santa Rosa (nicknamed Puerto Rico's Gentleman of Salsa)....

    Gilberto Santa Rosa