Friday Fun: Villas with a View

It’s that silly time of the week. Especially when you’ve been writing all week in a heatwave with no air conditioning. So let’s escape to dreamier places.

Let me start off with a few from the area I currently live in. If you lived in a house like this, you would feel permanently on vacation, wouldn’t you?

manorhouseMontreuxfurerch
Manor house near Montreux, from furer.ch

And here’s the view from the terrace:

 

manorhousefurer

Here is a more modern house also on that side of the lake:

Wine cellar of a villa on Lake Geneva, from furer.ch
Wine cellar of a villa on Lake Geneva, from furer.ch

And the view outside:

furer2

 

You might remember I raved about those waterfall-type Amanzi villas in Phuket before?

From homedsgn.com
From homedsgn.com

Well, here’s the view towards the sea:

From viahouse.com
From viahouse.com

Finally, how could I not mention Greece, particularly the Cyclades islands? The interior is typically modest, white-washed stone.

From luxuryholidayhouses.com
From luxuryholidayhouses.com

But the view from the terrace…

From luxuryholidayhouses.com
From luxuryholidayhouses.com

 

 

 

Friday Fun: Plain Old Home Libraries

When I say ‘plain’, I mean for those folks who have the luxury of a whole room in their house dedicated to books, reading, thinking, escaping…

Reading nook, from apartmenttherapy.com
Reading nook, from apartmenttherapy.com
Keep it dark and moody... From Architectural Digest.
Keep it dark and moody… From Architectural Digest.
For the colour-coordinated. From BHG.
For the colour-coordinated. From BHG.
For collectors of exotic memories. From Decoist.
For collectors of exotic memories (and dog lovers). From Decoist.
For those who can never have too many places to lounge upon... From Domaine Home.
For those who can never have too many places to lounge upon… From Domaine Home.

Finally, for those who are thinking of converting their garage, here is a brilliant idea from Dwell. Instead of housing a car, why not house all your books on three storeys, with a sunken bathtub in which to relax?

Haffenden House, from Dwell.com
Haffenden House, from Dwell.com
Interior of Haffenden House, from Dwell.com.
Interior of Haffenden House, from Dwell.com.

OK, that last one might be stretching the definition of ‘plain’ somewhat…

Reading Plans for the Summer Holidays

Only one week of summer holidays has gone by. A week only. Nothing but a week. ONLY one week with both children at home (2 1/2 weeks with the older son, who started earlier)… and I can see my plans for writing and reading are going to suffer… Add to that admin or professional things such as arranging house rentals, visa applications, travel arrangements for September, course preparation and tax returns, plus some writing-related projects which are more fun, but still require a lot of time. So you will not see me blogging very regularly over the next few weeks.

busybee

Instead, let me me tell you about my tentative reading plans. I’m very happy to have finished my #TBR20, but it’s only made a small dent in my reading pile. I will need to do a rerun at some point in September/October.

But first, I want to read those books I borrowed from the library, which have been waiting patiently in queue for #TBR20 to be over.

  1. Fred Vargas: Temps Glaciares – the latest Adamsberg book, not yet available in English
  2. Caroline Deyns: Perdu, le jour où nous n’avons pas dansé (Wasted, the Day We Did Not Spend Dancing) – a fictional account of Isadora Duncan’s life
  3.  Emannuel Carrère: L’Adversaire

Women in Translation Month (August)

WITMonth15

  1. Valeria Luiselli: Faces in the Crowd (Mexico) – this will count towards my Global Reading Challenge as well
  2. Tove Jansson: The True Deceiver (Finnish)
  3. Therese Bohman: Drowned (Swedish)
  4. Alice Quinn: Queen of the Trailer Park (French) – this will count towards my Netgalley Challenge as well

Netgalley Challenge – trying to get my bookshelf in order, as I’ve been ‘overfeeding’ my already obese e-reader

netgalley

  1. Sarah Ward: In Bitter Chill
  2. Renee Knight: Disclaimer
  3. Karin Fossum: The Drowned Boy (also counts towards WIT challenge)
  4. Sarah Leipciger: The Mountain Can Wait (also counts towards Global Reading Challenge)
  5. Lucy Atkins: The Other Child

You may notice there is a pronounced chiller thriller feel to the list above – just what I like reading on the beach (although there won’t be much beach featuring in my summer this year).

I reserve the right to chop and change within each category (except for the library books, which are due back end of August). I also hope at some point this summer to reread ‘Tender is the Night’ – quintessential summer read, to my mind (OK, depressing as hell, but still…).

Still, those are but shadowy plans and, as the Romanians say (as the Greeks are finding out): ‘your calculations at home never match the calculations in the marketplace’.

 

 

Friday Fun: Cooling Down in Basements and Water Gardens

We’re having such a heat wave that the thunderstorms typical of the Lake Geneva area have been rendered toothless. They hardly dare to make an appearance and never seem to cool down the sky even at night. So I had to turn to basements and water features in gardens for any hope of coolness… Thank you to Emma from BookAroundtheCorner for the suggestion!

Winecellar, from Domaine Home.
Winecellar, from Domaine Home.
Entertainment room, from ghoofie.com
Entertainment room, from ghoofie.com
This would be my son's dream basement: for Lego builders, from houzz.com
This would be my son’s dream basement: for Lego builders, from houzz.com.. The bar is for a weary mother at the end of a day of holiday fun!

And if the lack of natural light gets to you after a while, here are some refreshing exteriors.

Japanese garden, from Your-garden-design.com
Japanese garden, from Your-garden-design.com
Waterfalls always sound cooling and relaxing, from soundshoregarden.com
Waterfalls always sound cooling and relaxing, from soundshoregarden.com

Or perhaps a combination of the two?

Modern basement-cum-pool, from thefhd.com
Modern basement-cum-pool, from thefhd.com

Friday Fun: Out on the Patio

Who wants to spend time inside, when there are such pools, patios and views beckoning? In this hot weather, however, don’t forget your sunscreen, floppy hats and books to cover your faces (tablets are just not the same thing…).

Zinc House, from Decoist.com
Zinc House, from Decoist.com
Spanish villa, from Architectural Digest.
Spanish villa, from Architectural Digest.
Greek villa, photographer credit Prue Roscoe.
Greek villa, photographer credit Prue Roscoe.
Oriental theme, from jetsetter.com
Oriental theme, from jetsetter.com
Roof garden, from Domaine Home.
Roof garden, from Domaine Home.
Armani's house, Architectural Digest.
Armani’s house, Architectural Digest.

Things to Look Forward To: Livre Sur les Quais 2015

lelivresurlesquais2014Last year I waxed lyrical about the great atmosphere of this book festival for readers and authors in Morges, on the banks of the bonny Lac Léman. This year it’s taking place between the 5th and 7th of September and I’ll be heading there again for what promises to be a great line-up and a chance to enjoy the last days of summer in congenial surroundings. There is a giant book tent where you get a chance to buy books and get them signed by your favourite authors, as well as a number of panel discussions or Q&A sessions with authors.

From actualitte.com
From actualitte.com

This year too, you’ll find the usual suspects of Swiss and French-speaking writers, including old favourites of mine (or those I look forward to reading), such as: Metin Arditi, Joseph Incardona, Yasmina Khadra, Martin Suter, Alex Capus, Emilie de Turckheim, Tatiana de Rosnay, Alain Mabanckou, Timothée de Fombelle.

From website of the festival.
From website of the festival.

They will be joined by a diverse bunch of writers who also speak English (not all of them write in English): Esther Freud, Jonathan Coe, Louis de Bernières, Helen Dunmore, Amanda Hodginskon, Jenny Colgan, Tessa Hadley, Elif Shafak from Turkey, Petina Gappah from Zimbabwe, Gabriel Gbadamosi from Nigeria, Frank Westerman from the Netherlands, Paul Lynch (the Irish writer rather than the Canadian filmmaker). Also present: several members of the Geneva Writers’ Group who’ve had new books out recently, writers I’m proud to also call my friends, such as Michelle Bailat-Jones, Susan Tiberghien, Patti Marxsen. The Geneva Writers’ Group will also be hosting a breakfast on the boat from Geneva to Nyon to Morges, a wonderful opportunity for readings and Q&A sessions with some of our authors.

Boat rides on Lake Geneva, www.genferseegebiet.ch
Boat rides on Lake Geneva, http://www.genferseegebiet.ch

 

This year’s guest of honour is poor, battered Greece, a reminder that art and creativity can nevertheless survive like wildflowers peeking through cracks in austere cement. Here are a few of the writers I look forward to discovering there:

  • crime writer and masterly painter of the Greek crisis, Petros Markaris
  • Christos Tsiolkas – Australian of Greek origin, who needs no further introduction
  • Ersi Sotiropoulos: an experimental, avant-garde writer, whose novel about four young Athenians musing about their future, Zig-Zag through the Bitter Orange Trees, has been translated into English. She is currently working on ‘Plato in New York’, described as a hybrid of a novel that uses fictional narrative, dialogue, and visual poetry.
  • Yannis Kiourtsakis – suspended between France and Greece, novels exploring the heart of displacement and emigration
  • Poet Thanassis Hatzopoulous, whose wonderful words (translated by David Connolly) I leave you with:

DAEMON
The clacking of prayers persists
And the rattles of the temple where
The beauteous officiates

And yet no one
Can bear this beauty, the touch
Everything glows and fades incomprehensibly
By itself carrying so much desolation
And charm peculiar to verbs

The seasons rotate under the veil of rhythm
And the people who bear them
Return more vigorous full of freshness and breeze
Conveyed in their steps
Dripping their tracks

And whatever life gives them they return
So equally the soul’s universe is shared
Rendering in radiance whatever
In at times its own way avaricious
Nature intends

Yet beauty has no justice
All turmoil, prey to chance is meted
And finds peace.

Approved but Still Too Greedy

Frequently Auto-Approved

Professional Reader

What, you may ask, is this little stamp of approval that I am supposed to add to the sidebar of my blog? It is a new badge from Netgalley designed for members who are auto-approved by four or more publishers. (The one below is what every reviewer registered on Netgalley receives.)

So what does this mean? Does it mean that my gorgeous writing style and incisive reviews have wooed the great and mighty of the publishing world? That they crave my approval and are falling over themselves to put my words of wisdom on their book covers?

Nope, it means I am far too greedy for my own good still. And that, despite my efforts to clear a little of my TBR list, I still have 30 (thirty!) unread books on my Netgalley shelf. That website will be my undoing…