From Berkeley to San Diego

Summer is slowly tilting into fall, although the shift is not visible and tangible in California as it will soon be in Maine where I will be in September and October.

My summer has been a blend of the two states I know best in the US, with some southern California discoveries along my journey. I had never stayed in Ojai (Oh Hi) until now and San Diego is etching its map on my mind. I’m telling you, having three kids all over the state is a full time job. But such a treat when my husband and I get to visit them on their territories.


Many, many books have accompanied me over this summer.


IMG_2334Dr. Seuss and his cat on the UC San Diego campus.

My three best of the best:

Simon Vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli won my heart from the first page and kept it drumming wild until the last. I’m positive teenagers will feel the same way.

Funny but heartfelt, moving but never sentimental, with authentic dialogue and a solid sense of setting, the novel is the story of sixteen-year-old Simon who knows he’s gay but hasn’t told anyone, even his loving, adorable and supportive friends until he falls for Blue, a boy he doesn’t know yet. A must read for boys and girls, gay or straight.


The Girls by Emma Cline is perhaps the novel we’ve seen most in any bookstore since its publication last June. Set in Northern California at the end of the 1960s, it is an extraordinary well-written story that won’t leave any female reader indifferent. Although it can only remind of the Manson Family the book is a work of fiction. The author explores girls’ vulnerability and strength and even though a lot has happened between 1969 and 2016, this remains a timeless poignant realist portrait of being a girl and of the woman a girl becomes.


Ghosts in the Garden by Beth Kephart belongs to the memoir category, although it is mostly a book about land and how land and humans are in constant change. I think the small, gorgeously written and illustrated book will talk to any middle age woman who’s asking to herself: what’s next for me? It certainly spoke to me in a deep poetic way that reminded me of the memoir The Dance of the Dissident Daughter by Sue Monk Kidd. Beth Kephart has written so many books for adults and teens that it is best to find out more from her blog.


IMG_2316Botanical Gardens at Balboa Park in San Diego, CA.

Last but not least, I’ve entered the Pitch Wars contest for my new Young Adult novel All the Mountains We Can Climb (working title).

The Pitch Wars is the baby of author Brenda Drake and a competitive contest with hundreds of submissions, so I keep my fingers crossed.

The decision to enter has forced me to write a 35-word pitch and a 500-word synopsis, both required for any accepted submission. Better be prepared, right? Writing a synopsis is a challenge for most writers and a nightmare for me, since my novel has many characters and sub-plots that I had to eliminate from the synopsis. I like my characters and my subplots, so I hated to focus on three characters and the main plot. But I got it done.

As I am now waiting, I leave you with a few pics taken from Berkeley to San Diego, via Santa Cruz and Ojai, to wish you a great end of summer, happy back to school and work. See you around.

IMG_2242Berkeley Marina, CA

photo(70)Santa Cruz, CA

photo(74)Santa Cruz, CA

photo(71)Ojai, CA

photo(73)Ojai, CA

IMG_2313Balboa Park, San Diego, CA

IMG_2252Balboa Park, San Diego, CA

IMG_2336School of Engineering, UC San Diego, CA

photo(72)Stone-built California bear on the UC San Diego campus

photo(68)Old Town, San Diego, CA

IMG_2254La Jolla, San Diego, CA

P.S. You know that I like food. Along this trip I ate great California food, and while I had too many of those to-die for fish tacos, I stuck to fresh fruit, oatmeal, granola and plain yogurt for breakfast.



  1. Gorgeous photos, rich summer, exciting books I’m going to look up and a competition! (Good luck!) What a summer – and what an uplifting post.

    • Thank you, Gulara. It’s a great summer and good books help to enjoy it fully. Got some computer issues that keep me away from your blog and others. Soon to be resolved, I hope. 💐

  2. Lovely photos and you visited some great areas. I’ve been up and down California s couple of times. It is a beautiful state. My daughter just got back from camping/hiking in Maine, another beautiful state. Enjoy the travels and be safe.

    • California and Maine are both gorgeous places to discover while camping. Although your are has gorgeous beaches and beautiful towns too! See you around when my computer is back from the shop. I miss it!

  3. Summer has truly fled by. I’m glad you’ll be in Maine for the autumn. It’s the best time. My favorite.

  4. Great photos and sounds like a very nice vacation. I live fairly close to Ojai. Hope you made it to the famous Bart’s Books.

    • I did remember you mentioning living near Ojai. In town, the bookstore was closed for total renovation. Is it Bart’s Books? I didn’t see any other but looked for one as I’m trying to do one bookstore and one dinner wherever we top by. We had a great dinner in an unusual place called the Ranch House. The food was good but not unforgettable. But the location is definitely worth it. Do you know this restaurant?

      • Bart’s is getting renovated? I’ll have to go when it’s done. Ranch house is an old place, but I always heard it was good, but expensive-never gone. There are several great places in Ojai and Ventura.Glad you had fun.

      • Actually the Ranch House has a reasonably priced menu. As for the bookstore if it’s located on the Main Street in Ojai then it’s in total renovation. To be honest I don’t remember the name but there is a sign telling it’s closed during the work. I had a great time in SoCal. See you soon, Mona.

  5. Your road trip through California looks like a grand adventure with a perfect combination of new discoveries and places that hold dear memories.
    Roxanne’s (my youngest) roommate’s sister wrote The Girls. It was our summer book, too.

    • Is Roxanne in touch with Emma Cline? I am impressed by her maturity. Both in terms of topic, level of emotional content and the writing itself. I loved the descriptive aspect of California too. Very accurate and filled with sensory details. Great read. Would make a terrific movie too. See you soon, Claire.


  1. […] One of my very, very favorites this year, I already spoke about it in this post. […]

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