Interesting reads at the Florida Heritage Book Festival

Florida Heritage Book FestBy Caitlyn McCrea |

The Florida Heritage Book festival is one of the biggest literary conventions to take place in Florida. Authors local to Florida and national alike are invited to share their novels and biographies with St. Augustine at Flagler College. Organizers say if you’re partial to Florida themes within books, this is definitely the festival for you.

“Our selection is a little different from other book festivals in the state,” said Margo Pope, festival president. “We select from authors who live in Florida and write all forms of literature, and authors who live outside Florida, but write about Florida themes.”

There are a total of 19 authors presenting their books on Saturday, Sept. 26. “While the Book Festival is free of charge to the public, we do fundraising events throughout the year in order to pay for the festival,” said festival Vice President Debra Gibson. “We have some grant funding that requires matching funds from us, as well as provides two scholarships to Flagler students, funds for the Newspapers in Education program utilized by teachers throughout St. Johns County schools and funds to the seven Friends of the Library organizations. Flagler College, The St. Augustine Record and the Friends of the Library are all sponsors of the Florida Heritage Book Festival. The libraries use the Book Festival funding to provide additional literary programming in each of their buildings the rest of the year.” 

While every book in the festival is sure to be interesting, Festival Executive Director Dr. Jim Wilson gave some insight on top authors giving presentations on Sept. 26.

1. The Thriller
Robert Macomber: “The Assassin’s Honor”
Student Center 235, 2:05 p.m.
Dubbed “A Spy Thriller Right out of History,” this fast paced read is the 12th novel in Macomber’s “Honor Series.” Inspired by true events, this turn of the century novel has everything: a beautiful love interest, a handsome navy captain, sailing along the Caribbean, an assassin’s conspiracy and a murder that started it all. Commander Pete Wake takes readers on a thrilling ride through the Caribbean to uncover the murderous plot and espionage he thought he’d left behind. The true magic in this novel is the based on true events and Florida/Caribbean history masterfully woven around the plot, making Macomber’s a must-see presentation.
2. The Comedy
Kathrine Clark: “The Headmaster’s Darling: A Mountain Brook Novel”
Student Center 234, 2:05 p.m.
This novel is the delightful comedy of the festival, a satirical southern social critic featuring an overweight, unorthodox English teacher at the high and mighty private school Mountain Brook in Birmingham. Often making comments on his weight and commitment to art, Clark tells a fascinating tale about an outsider ‘muscling’ his way into a privileged society that, while seemingly to the contrary, does not want him there. Irony runs thick in this novel, and the unlikely protagonist Laney and his charming world view note the wonderful outcome of students who have dedicated teachers willing to go the distance to teach them no matter what.
2. The Rom Com (Chick Flick)
Phoebe Fox: “The Breakup Doctor”
Gamache-Koger Theatre, 3:20 p.m.
This novel has everything a chick flick novel should: a cynical in love psychiatrist who reaches rock bottom and starts an unhealthy (but sexy) rebound relationship with a local bartender. Brook Ogden knows what to do during a breakup, but the advice columnist can’t help but ignore her own advice when it comes to the bartender. The cynical psychiatrist turned columnist comes full circle in this romantic novel, making readers swoon and laugh at the same time. Fox’s debut rom-com novel is a must see contender at the festival.
4. The Dystopian
Mark Powell: “The Sheltering”
Gamache-Koger Theatre, 12:50 p.m.
This contemporary war novel takes readers back to the housing crisis of 2008, where Luther Redding becomes a Reaper Drone Pilot after almost losing everything. A second protagonist emerges in Bobby Rosen, a military veteran who did lose everything during his tour in Afghanistan. The lives of the Redding’s and Rosen’s are intersected by fate, bringing death and destruction to both families as a terrorist war emerges across America. Powell makes it clear that war is never far; especially from previous combatants trying to make a civilian life for themselves when everything they love has been lost. This militaristic novel will have fans of the dystopian genre and historical war novel’s cheering at Powell’s flawless combination of the two. Love, loss, and warfare take the center stage in this must read.

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