Wednesday, April 16, 2014


My, that lucky old sun looks wonderful in a bright blue sky after the cold, dreary winter we’ve just experienced.  Yes, spring is here and summer is fast on the way.  We welcome beautiful sunny days but must also be wary of them.  Now’s the time to prepare for sunning, swimming, sailing and all the fun that warm weather brings by protecting ourselves from sunburn and premature skin aging.  Glytone is at the ready with two super protective sunscreens - Glytone Spray Mist Sunscreen and Glytone Sunscreen Lotion.

A broad spectrum SPF 50 Glytone Spray Mist is composed of an oil and paraben free formula plus it is water resistant (ideal for swimmers).   It is presented in an easy to use continuous spray that allows you to spray wherever, especially hard to reach places such as your back.   Youngsters can happily splash as there is maximum water resistance for up to 80 minutes - then simply reapply.  And, glad to say it is fragrance free and doesn’t whiten skin.

With a lightweight formula that is water resistant for up to 40 minutes Glytone Sunscreen Lotion is ideal for applying to your face as well as your body.  I love the unique combination of micronized transparent Zinc Oxide in this formula for I well remember the days of white noses and faces to assure sun protection.  No more zombie-like appearances when out in the sun!

Find these must-have Glytone sun protectors at and enjoy summer!


Admittedly I really enjoy Pinot Noir - with almost anything but especially steak (barbecued out of doors), all of my favorite Italian cheeses and, yes, pizza!  However, this is a very special Pinot Noir that enhances flavors with its dark fruit aromatics and lush texture, a silkiness on the tongue.

From Cambria, a family-owned estate winery set in the well known Santa Maria bench in Santa Barbara County, this Pinot Noir is the delightful offspring of several decades of notable winemaking and vineyard experience.  We have heard it said that “great Pinot Noir can only reach its most eloquent expression with a good amount of vine age.”  This bottling is anchored by one of the oldest commercial plantings of Pinot Noir in Santa Barbara County.  What a recommendation!

We understand that in the spring and summer of 2012 fruit quality was sound and the flavors and characters of the grapes exceptional all resulting in this outstanding dark purple Pinot Noir - a pleasure for the eye, tempting for the nose, and deeply satisfying for the palate.



Monday, April 14, 2014


                                      "The April shower

                                        That brings a May flower

                                         Also succeeds

                                         In bringing weeds." - GC

ALL I HAVE IN THIS WORLD by Michael Parker

The latest from award winning author Michael Parker (The Watery Part of the World) may initially be a bit of a puzzler for some as the main character is a car.  Albeit not just any car but “a 1984 Buick Electra....It was a sweet low block of a ride, light blue with a strip of black vinyl along the bottom of the doors, perfect for rumbling around town with the windows open.”
It has somehow wound up in a used car lot in the unremarkable town of Pinto Canyon, Texas.  How and why it came to this place we learn by the magical pen of Parker who weaves in the Electra’s travels during the past 20 years.  Who owned it and what did it mean to them?

In the present day we meet two surprising protagonists, both down on their luck, both seeking forgiveness.  Marcus Banks is a young man who had a dream - he wanted to build a farm and educational center on his family’s land in North Carolina.  Not such a great idea as the property is foreclosed on by the bank.  He has not only lost his inheritance but his sister’s as well.  Running is all he knows to do so he hops into his pickup and heads for Mexico with a stopover in Pinto Canyon.  Once there impressed by the beauty of the land he decides to take a hike and explore some of it.  While he’s communing with nature his pickup is stolen.

Maria is nervous about seeing her mother who is waiting for her in the El Paso airport’s Baggage Claim.  It has been ten years since Maria has been in Texas - a decade since she ran away from Pinto Canyon after her boyfriend, Randy, killed himself.  Now, for reasons that she may not be able to articulate she is returning home, taking a leave of absence from her job as a chef in Oregon to help her mother run a motel.  Both are chary of the other, careful of what is said or unsaid.

Eventually Maria decides that she needs her own car and as fate and Parker would have it she meets Marcus at the local used car lot.  Both of them are eying the Electra and as Maria knows nothing about cars she asks Marcus to do a test drive for her.  He’s a bit taken aback wondering, “What sort of place is this, anyway?  A lithe and lovely woman, blown up from nowhere, had just asked him to test drive a car for her.”  As it happens that is the car he wants.  Since both are somewhat strapped for cash they come up with an unusual solution - they will buy the car together and share its use.

It is through this relationship that the pair overcome their reticence and initial suspicions to become friends.  In the doing of this readers are treated to descriptions of the heartbreak and hopelessness each has suffered.  Parker has an eye, an awareness of human hearts and finds perfect words to describe their condition.

At times funny, sometimes sad, always gentle All I Have In This World holds something for those who have experienced the pain of being lost and the grateful joy of being found.

- Gail Cooke

Thursday, April 10, 2014

MIMI MALLOY AT LAST by Julia MacDonnell

Perhaps being 68-years-old and forced into retirement isn’t exactly a bed of roses.  Neither is living on a fixed income or as Mimi Malloy puts it “fixed just above the poverty line - enough so you can survive, but not enough to have much fun.”  Nonetheless, Mimi’s making the best of it.  She’d be content to smoke her True Blues, listen to Frank Sinatra records and sip a Martini.  Oh, if only she could do this in peace and quiet.

Mimi, the third of seven daughters once known as the glorious Sheehan sisters, is alone now.  Some 15 years ago her husband divorced her and ran off with his bookkeeper.  But she does have six daughters, one especially determined one - Cassandra who wants to see Mimi in an assisted living facility.  No way as far as Mimi is concerned, although her financial situation is certainly precarious.   And then there are those strange black spots on her brain that showed up on a recent MRI.

She does hear quite often from her four surviving sisters or as she calls them the Yik Yak Club.  They love to talk about the past, remembering their youth.  But Mimi has no desire to do this; she’d much rather forget about her impoverished childhood.  However, it soon seems she has no choice.

Mimi’s grandnephew wants her help in making a genealogical chart.  All are in favor of this and pester Mimi to contribute.  Then she accidently comes upon her mother’s blue pendant whhich she had not seen in years.  Her dear mother had died in childbirth, and was soon replaced by a stepmother, the beautiful Flanna who is the epitome of every evil stepmother seen or imagined.

As Mimi’s thoughts begin to coalesce she thinks of her younger sister, Fagan, who was only five when their mother died.  Despite tongue lashings and slaps Fagan refuses to kowtow to Flanna.  The other sisters were told she had been sent to live with a family in Ireland but would return to them....or would she?

Mimi Malloy At Last is a sad, funny story of life and family as well as a reminder that it’s never too late to love.

- Gail Cooke

Monday, April 7, 2014

THE STORIED LIFE OF A. J. FIKRY by Gabrielle Zevin

Gabrielle Zevin has expressed in her story a respect and love for books that I feel but cannot put into words.  She does it with warmth, wit and tenderness as she relates the life of a rather curmudgeonly book dealer on Alice Island, A. J. Fikry.  One of A. J.’s more endearing qualities is to describe moments or situations through an author’s work, such as (heaven forbid) a Danielle Steele moment or a Raymond Carver situation.  His world is books, totally books, since his beloved wife died.

A.J. is still shy of 40 but drinks too much as his bookstore, Island Books, teeters toward bankruptcy.  Then, quite suddenly his life changes.  His prize possession, a copy of Poe’s Tamerlane (valued at $400,000) is stolen, and a girl, a very small girl, Maya, who is 25 months old “very smart and verbal for her age” is left in his bookstore.  Maya develops a great affection for him, and once he learns her mother has drowned herself he doesn’t have the heart to abandon the child to foster care.  He adopts her - an unlikely pairing if there ever was one.

Many changes will occur as the islanders visit Island Books to make sure A.J. is taking proper care of Maya.  And, there is the arrival of Amelia Loman, a publisher’s representative who paints her nails yellow on the ferry from Hyannis to Alice Island, adores Humbert Humbert “while accepting the fact that she wouldn’t really want him for a life partner, a boyfriend or even a casual acquaintance.”  Among the books she is pushing for Knightley Press is her favorite, The Late Bloomer.  To say that A.J. greets Amelia and her books with indifference is putting it politely.

But then, things may change.   After all, they both love books and a shared sensibility is important.  As the plot carries us along we meet a local police chief who befriends A.J. and in turn expands his own small world.

Each one of Zevin’s characters is unique and empathetic.  Her writing is zingy, insightful, alive and thoroughly satisfying.  Have I mentioned that The Storied Life Of A. J. Fikry is quite simply a marvelous book?  It is.

- Gail Cooke

Wednesday, April 2, 2014



Opening a new book by premier raconteur Peter Mayle is very much like returning to your favorite restaurant - you know dinner will be delicious and you cannot wait to taste it.  So it was for me upon beginning The Corsican Caper - eager to meet the intriguing characters, to vicariously enjoy gourmet meals, well chosen wines, and visit luxurious only to be dreamed of places.  (In this case, one of the places is a yacht, The Caspian Sea.  Or as Mayle puts it “the mother of all yachts” - three hundred feet of dark blue with four decks, radar, helicopter pad and two speedboats behind.  Plus, of course, an interior so luxe it would put a Park Avenue penthouse to shame.)

Mayle’s  characters always travel First Class and eat in 5 star restaurants - what a joy it is to join them!  Once again we’re in the company of Sam Levitt who well knows how to solve a crime without missing a meal or a glass of wine.  He and the beautiful Elena Morales are coming from California for an extended visit with their dear friend, Francis Reboul..As it happens (and you knew it would) Reboul lives in a palatial Corsican estate, El Pharo, one of the most prime properties in all of the Mediterranean.

While awaiting his guests Reboul notices the mega yacht just several hundred yards offshore.  It slows, comes to a stop and several figures appear on the top deck - they all appear to be looking directly at him.  Of course, Reboul finds this a bit disconcerting, and he would be more than disconcerted if he knew that the owner of the yacht was an unscrupulous billionaire Russian, Oleg Vronsky.

Vronsky has been checking out the coast for a suitable home, and he wants El Pharo.  Problem is the Russian always gets what he wants, sometimes leaving a dead body or two behind.  He’s never been charged with a crime since when the deaths occurred Vronsky had been away in another country.  The Russian begins his quest for El Pharo by hiring a reputedly clever real estate agent, donating large sums of money to ingratiate himself with the local populace, and then offering to pay whatever price Reboul demanded.

Reboul remains adamant in refusing to sell.  What can Vronsky do?  You’ll find out as Sam worries about Reboul’s safety and then concocts a plan.

Mayle is as ever a charming entertaining guide as action shifts along the bounteous Mediterranean coast with twists and turns (sometimes comedic), glorious scenery, and gustatorial delights aplenty.


- Gail Cooke