Happy July!

Summer is in full swing which means book lovers like me are chipping away at or planning their summer reading list. I’ve been collecting my book choices and adding them to my list ever since.

I have been almost exclusively an e-reader for a few years, buying books for my iPad via the Kindle app. But lately the e-reader just isn’t doing it for me. Yes, I enjoy being able to adjust the lighting, making it less annoying to my husband when I read in bed at night. And I do like the immediate gratification of picking out a book I want on Amazon, buying it, then having it instantly appear on my iPad.

However, I dearly miss holding a book in my hand, turning the pages, reading the jacket and admiring its art and design. And I enjoy taking it with me, throwing it in my tote bag. I love to dog-ear pages and I quite like the way a stack of real book looks on a table.

summer reading list 15

So this summer, I have decided to give my iPad a rest and return to REAL books. I’ll save the e-reader for long plane rides.

I have collected 11 books these last few weeks. Some were recommended to me by friends, a couple I bought while shopping at a book store (one of my very favorite types of shopping), one my mother mailed to me and a few I found out about on Instagram and Amazon.

It’s a mix of fiction and non-fiction, biography and mystery, some with modern settings and some historical. I have included the summary of each book, taken directly from Amazon, to make it easier for you to find out what the book is about without having to click back and forth between sites.

Here is my Summer Reading List for 2016!

summer reading list 2

Thirty Chic Days by Fiona Ferris

summer reading list 11

My friend and fellow blogger Fiona Ferris, who writes the popular blog How to be Chic, wrote this wonderful and inspiring book. Fiona was kind enough to mail me a copy and I have had it on my nightstand for weeks. Inspired by the French lifestyle, this book has 30 days worth of advice for living your most satisfying, joyful and fulfilling life.

I love to open to a random chapter and read it, taking it all in slowly and in pieces. Fiona inspires to try new ways of doing and thinking about thing, to slow down, appreciate and savor.  One chapter, Day 9, motivated me to jump into action. It was about picking out a signature charity to support. It was the push I needed to begin working with Pets Lifeline in Sonoma, helping them with promotions. I’m so excited to have a charity to work with again and I have Fiona to thank for taking that step.

“Is it possible to live a chic and elegant life if you don’t live in Paris, or even France? Instead of daydreaming about running away to the City of Light, ‘Thirty Chic Days’ invites you to put on your French-tinted sunglasses and view your everyday through an enchanting and motivating filter. Inside this book you will find thirty chapters (or ‘days’) full of joie de vivre sharing fun and exciting ways to bring your ideal chic life into being. ‘Thirty Chic Days’ is a warm, encouraging and fanciful guide on living a simple and beautiful French-inspired life. Enjoy dozens of delicious no-cost ideas and feel inspired to uplevel yourself and your surroundings in an effortless and enjoyable way. Through her popular blog howtobechic.com author Fiona Ferris provides thousands of women from all around the world with tools and inspiration to elevate the everyday from mundane to magical.”

Start Here: Master the Lifelong Art of Wellbeing by Eric Langshur and Nate Klemp, Ph D

summer reading list 5

I found out about this book on Instagram. I can’t recall who posted it but I was curious enough to read more on Amazon and buy the book once I read the reviews. Who doesn’t want to become more emotionally fit, less stressed and enjoy lifelong wellbeing? I know I do!

“Imagine being less stressed, more focused, and happier every day of your life. Start Here outlines a program designed to help you do just that by cross-training the skill of lifelong wellbeing.

If given the choice, we would all choose to be less stressed, to feel happier, and to experience a more optimal state of wellbeing. So why are these outcomes so hard to achieve? The answer is quite simple. No one has taught us how. It turns out that just as you train your body for fitness, you can train your mind for wellbeing. We call this Life Cross Training (LIFE XT), and Start Here is the manual for anyone seeking to achieve emotional fitness. Combining ancient wisdom with modern neuroscience from the world’s leading experts, LIFE XT is a groundbreaking training program to master the art of wellbeing. The program teaches practices proven to rewire the brain for increased focus, engagement, and resilience to stress. By offering specific practices, habits, and assessments to manage your training and by helping to build up core skills such as mindfulness, gratitude, and compassion, authors Eric Langshur and Nate Klemp lay out a thorough and sustainable program that anyone can integrate into their daily lives.”

The English Boys by Julia Thomas

summer reading list 7

I follow Julie on Instagram and when she posted a photo of her book with the caption, “Early copies of my book arrived today!” I knew I wanted to know more. I read the summary and thought it sounded rather intriguing.

“Daniel Richardson and his best friend, Hugh Ashley-Hunt, both rising British actors, are in love with the same woman, the free-spirited Tamsyn Burke. Daniel reluctantly steps aside when Tamsyn decides to marry Hugh, but right before the wedding ceremony, Tamsyn is murdered. Suspicion falls on the family, friends, and associates in attendance.

Motivated by both Hugh’s grief and his own, Daniel joins forces with Tamsyn’s younger sister, Carey, to find the killer. As he digs into Tamsyn’s past, Daniel unearths secrets she was hiding, and begins to discover why someone wanted her silenced forever.”

The Gravedigger’s Daughter by Joyce Carol Oates

summer reading list 12

My mother, who lives in North Carolina, sent me several books a few weeks ago. She raved about all of them, but this one stood out for me the most. Once I read it, it will be fun to discuss with her during one of our long phone conversations.

“Fleeing Nazi Germany in 1936, the Schwarts immigrate to a small town in upstate New York. Here the father—a former high school teacher—is demeaned by the only job he can get: gravedigger and cemetery caretaker. When local prejudice and the family’s own emotional frailty give rise to an unthinkable tragedy, the gravedigger’s daughter, Rebecca heads out into America. Embarking upon an extraordinary odyssey of erotic risk and ingenious self-invention, she seeks renewal, redemption, and peace—on the road to a bittersweet and distinctly “American” triumph.”

The Girls by Emma Cline

summer reading list 4

This is the book I am currently reading. Cline Cellars is a Sonoma Valley winery not far from where I live. Via social media I found out the author, Emma, is the daughter of Nancy and Fred Cline who began Cline Cellars in the early 1990s.

The Girls has received a lot of attention and rave reviews from the press, which is especially notable being that this is Ms. Cline’s debut novel. It’s loosely based on the Manson cult and takes place in the 1960s. I am about a third of the way done with the book and am enjoying it so far. It’s definitely holding my interest!

“Northern California, during the violent end of the 1960s. At the start of summer, a lonely and thoughtful teenager, Evie Boyd, sees a group of girls in the park, and is immediately caught by their freedom, their careless dress, their dangerous aura of abandon. Soon, Evie is in thrall to Suzanne, a mesmerizing older girl, and is drawn into the circle of a soon-to-be infamous cult and the man who is its charismatic leader. Hidden in the hills, their sprawling ranch is eerie and run down, but to Evie, it is exotic, thrilling, charged—a place where she feels desperate to be accepted. As she spends more time away from her mother and the rhythms of her daily life, and as her obsession with Suzanne intensifies, Evie does not realize she is coming closer and closer to unthinkable violence.”

My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry by Fredrik Backman

summer reading list 10

I bought this at a local book store. It was on display near the front of the shop on a “Summer Reads” table. I read the overview and knew I had to bring it home with me. It sounds fascinating!

“Elsa is seven years old and different. Her grandmother is seventy-seven years old and crazy—as in standing-on-the-balcony-firing-paintball-guns-at-strangers crazy. She is also Elsa’s best, and only, friend. At night Elsa takes refuge in her grandmother’s stories, in the Land-of-Almost-Awake and the Kingdom of Miamas, where everybody is different and nobody needs to be normal.

When Elsa’s grandmother dies and leaves behind a series of letters apologizing to people she has wronged, Elsa’s greatest adventure begins. Her grandmother’s instructions lead her to an apartment building full of drunks, monsters, attack dogs, and old crones but also to the truth about fairy tales and kingdoms and a grandmother like no other.”

The Winemakers: A Novel of Wine and Secrets by Jan Moran

summer reading list 9

This novel was also on the “Summer Reads” table at the book store. I am drawn to books that take place in Wine Country, not surprisingly, whether it’s in California’s Wine Country or somewhere else. The Winemakers takes place in both California and Tuscany.

“Many years ago, the Rosetta family’s hard-won dreams of staking their claim in the vineyards of California came to fruition. Now high-spirited, passionate Caterina Rosetta, who has inherited both her mother’s talent for crafting the finest wines and also her indomitable will, wants nothing more than to win her mother’s approval and work at her side. But that can never happen, because Caterina is keeping a secret that could ruin her: a daughter of her own, fathered by the love of her life, who left her without explanation. Just as she feels she has nowhere to turn, Caterina discovers that she has inherited a vineyard in the Tuscan countryside in Italy, from a grandmother she’s never heard of, and she seizes the chance to start a new life for herself and her child.

But the past is not so easily outrun. In the country of her ancestors, Caterina meets the family of the father she never knew, and discovers that her mother is also hiding her own secret―a secret so devastating it threatens the future of everything her family has worked for. As an old murder comes to light, and Caterina uncovers a tragedy that may destroy the man she loves, she realizes her happiness will depend on revealing the truth of her mother’s buried past―if she has the strength to face it.”

Circling the Sun by Paula McLain

summer reading list 14

A friend who knows my taste in books recommended this historical fiction novel to me.

“Paula McLain, author of the phenomenal bestseller The Paris Wife, now returns with her keenly anticipated new novel, transporting readers to colonial Kenya in the 1920s. Circling the Sun brings to life a fearless and captivating woman—Beryl Markham, a record-setting aviator caught up in a passionate love triangle with safari hunter Denys Finch Hatton and Karen Blixen, who as Isak Dinesen wrote the classic memoir Out of Africa.

Brought to Kenya from England as a child and then abandoned by her mother, Beryl is raised by both her father and the native Kipsigis tribe who share his estate. Her unconventional upbringing transforms Beryl into a bold young woman with a fierce love of all things wild and an inherent understanding of nature’s delicate balance. But even the wild child must grow up, and when everything Beryl knows and trusts dissolves, she is catapulted into a string of disastrous relationships.

Beryl forges her own path as a horse trainer, and her uncommon style attracts the eye of the Happy Valley set, a decadent, bohemian community of European expats who also live and love by their own set of rules. But it’s the ruggedly charismatic Denys Finch Hatton who ultimately helps Beryl navigate the uncharted territory of her own heart. The intensity of their love reveals Beryl’s truest self and her fate: to fly.

Set against the majestic landscape of early-twentieth-century Africa, McLain’s powerful tale reveals the extraordinary adventures of a woman before her time, the exhilaration of freedom and its cost, and the tenacity of the human spirit.”

Everybody Behaves Badly: The True Story Behind Hemingway’s Masterpiece The Sun Also Rises          by Lesley M. M. Blume

summer reading list 3

Also recommended by the same friend, Everybody Behaves Badly is a biography of Ernest Hemingway’s early years in Paris and his literary masterpiece, The Sun Also Rises, which I read in my mid-20s. It has fantastic reviews. I am very much looking forward to diving in to this one.

“In the summer of 1925, Ernest Hemingway and a clique of raucous companions traveled to Pamplona, Spain, for the town’s infamous running of the bulls. Then, over the next six weeks, he channeled that trip’s maelstrom of drunken brawls, sexual rivalry, midnight betrayals, and midday hangovers into his groundbreaking novel The Sun Also Rises. This revolutionary work redefined modern literature as much as it did his peers, who would forever after be called the Lost Generation. But the full story of Hemingway’s legendary rise has remained untold until now.

 Lesley Blume resurrects the explosive, restless landscape of 1920s Paris and Spain and reveals how Hemingway helped create his own legend. He made himself into a death-courting, bull-fighting aficionado; a hard-drinking, short-fused literary genius; and an expatriate bon vivant. Blume’s vivid account reveals the inner circle of the Lost Generation as we have never seen it before, and shows how it still influences what we read and how we think about youth, sex, love, and excess.”

The Murder of Mary Russell by Laurie R. King

summer reading list 8

I stumbled upon this novel while wandering around Amazon. This will be my first novel to read in the Mary Russell-Sherlock Holmes mystery series. I suppose I should have started with the first book in the series, but this one sounds so tantalizing!

“Mary Russell is used to dark secrets—her own, and those of her famous partner and husband, Sherlock Holmes. Trust is a thing slowly given, but over the course of a decade together, the two have forged an indissoluble bond.

And what of the other person to whom Mary Russell has opened her heart: the couple’s longtime housekeeper, Mrs. Hudson? Russell’s faith and affection are suddenly shattered when a man arrives on the doorstep claiming to be Mrs. Hudson’s son.

What Samuel Hudson tells Russell cannot possibly be true, yet she believes him—as surely as she believes the threat of the gun in his hand. In a devastating instant, everything changes. And when the scene is discovered—a pool of blood on the floor, the smell of gunpowder in the air—the most shocking revelation of all is that the grim clues point directly to Clara Hudson.

Or rather to Clarissa, the woman she was before Baker Street.

The key to Russell’s sacrifice lies in Mrs. Hudson’s past. To uncover the truth, a frantic Sherlock Holmes must put aside his anguish and push deep into his housekeeper’s secrets—to a time before her disguise was assumed, before her crimes were buried away.

There is death here, and murder, and trust betrayed.

And nothing will ever be the same.”

Three-Martini Lunch by Suzanne Rindell

summer reading list 6

I was drawn to this book initially because of its title. It just sounds so entertaining! But when reviewers compared it to Mad Men, the popular AMC series that I adore, I was sold.

“In 1958, Greenwich Village buzzes with beatniks, jazz clubs, and new ideas—the ideal spot for three ambitious young people to meet. Cliff Nelson, the son of a successful book editor, is convinced he’s the next Kerouac, if only his father would notice. Eden Katz dreams of being an editor but is shocked when she encounters roadblocks to that ambition. And Miles Tillman, a talented black writer from Harlem, seeks to learn the truth about his father’s past, finding love in the process. Though different from one another, all three share a common goal: to succeed in the competitive and uncompromising world of book publishing. As they reach for what they want, they come to understand what they must sacrifice, conceal, and betray to achieve their goals, learning they must live with the consequences of their choices. In Three-Martini Lunch, Suzanne Rindell has written both a page-turning morality tale and a captivating look at a stylish, demanding era—and a world steeped in tradition that’s poised for great upheaval.”

I hope you’ve enjoyed this list I put together. I plan on spending many summer days this year reading books on my favorite picnic quilt or in My Happy Place.

summer reading list 16

What books are on your Summer Reading List for 2016?

Have you read any books on my list?

Are you an e-reader or do you prefer real books?

summer reading list collage


A reminder: How I Wear My’s theme for July is Tunic. Jill and I postponed HIWM a little later this time due to the Independence Day holiday. Send in a photo of you showing us how you wear your tunic and be sure to include a description of your look. Email to [email protected] by July 11th to participate. We can’t wait to see how you wear your tunic!

How I Wear My Badge

Make it a rich day!




Fire season is in full swing here in Northern California.  No matter where you live, you have likely heard about the painful drought we’ve been suffering for four years.  This drought has made California particularly susceptible to destructive, dangerous and fast-moving fires. There are numerous fires burning in California right now, particularly north of San Francisco.

Just a few days after returning from a fire in the Grass Valley area in early August, where he was for six days, my husband turned around and left for yet another wild land fire.

I worry about Bill often – too often – and feel his absence every morning when I wake up and have coffee alone and every evening when it’s time to eat dinner and talk about the day. Knowing he’s sore and exhausted and constantly putting himself in dangerous situations is unsettling but I know he’s a professional, he’s strong and smart and he can handle it. Me worrying about him doesn’t help anyone.


Photo of Bill fighting fire at the Humboldt Lightening Complex.

That being said, it’s hard for me to remain calm and worry-free at all times. I needed distractions – pleasant distractions!

A few weeks ago, I saw a beautiful image on my Instagram feed. Someone I follow posted a photo of her finished madala diagram she’d colored during a long flight. It was so vibrant and beautiful!

I immediately remembered how much I used to love coloring books. I had few of them in my early 20s when I lived in San Francisco and used to color when I was bored or while watching tv (well before social media and smart phones!).

In fact, that was exactly what I was doing on October 18th, 1989 when the big earthquake struck. You know how you recall with details moments like that? I can even remember the pattern of the diagram and the colors of the pens I was using.

Once I decided I would take up coloring for calmness, I headed over to Amazon and shopped for some colored pencilsI bought this set for about $25. They aren’t bad and they do the trick but I would soon learn there are even better pencils!


Of course I needed a coloring book or two! And since I was seeking calmness and stress relief, the first book I chose is Balance by Angie Grace.

And at our local art supply store, Village Art Supply, I found Secret Garden by Johanna Basford, which is a very detailed coloring book full of flowers, gardens, insects and birds.


I received my pencils and the Balance book in the mail a couple of weeks ago. That evening, in front of the tv, I got to work on my first mandala. I colored a little bit every night until it was done. I love the way it turned out!


I was immediately hooked on coloring, once again. Soon after Bill left for another fire, I would finish them in one sitting rather than taking three or four days to work on them. Often I stay up well past midnight coloring away!

I soon upgraded my pencils to Prismacolor.  A few friends told me about them so I bought some singles and fell in love. What a difference! They’re not waxy at all and have deep pigments. They are well worth the extra cost.


Coloring books have officially become my new hobby and my new favorite stress-reliever. It keeps my mind focused on the present and my hands busy, away from the comfort snacks. Although I don’t fancy myself an artist, I can still feel like one while I am in the coloring zone. Coloring books allow me to make beauty with color, choose hues that I think best work for my image and get creative!


This is one of the diagrams I am currently working on. I love the hearts and vines!


And this is a mandala from the Balance book, in progress. I started using gel pens (Gelly Roll) on some of my diagrams. You can be more precise with their fine points. I love the day-glo and metallic colors. They are so much fun!


While I color, I like to turn on my new toy. I call it my “calmness generator” and I love it!  This SpaRoom Aromamist Ultrasonic Essential Oil Diffuser not only diffuses essential oils (that I add to water) but it changes color.


I can’t color around the clock – nor do I want to – and I only let myself color at night. If I start working on a diagram during the day, I get nothing else done!

One of my other projects is also a result of Bill being gone. I am creating a home photo studio in our barely-used living room.


Bill takes all my fashion photos for the blog. With him away so much this summer, I decided I wanted a back-up. Hopefully having a studio will give me more freedom and flexibility where photos are concerned.

Malia of Style by Malia told me about this Limo Studio light kit. For about $130, I now have four standing lights, three muslin backdrops, umbrellas, deflectors and a stand for the backdrops. I added a lace panel for texture and to break up the white backdrop.

I am almost ready to start taking photos and doing videos here. I am so excited!


I am very much looking forward to being arm-in-arm with this special man again – hopefully before the week is over!


Many, many thanks to all the fire personnel – especially here California –  for putting themselves at risk to protect the lives and properties of strangers. Their bravery and strength is awe-inspiring.


My husband and his crew

Are you into coloring books for grown-ups?

If so, what are your favorite books? Pens? Pencils?

What do you do to keep yourself calm during worrisome moments?

Make it a rich – and calm – day!