Friday Fun: Autumnal Landscapes from Corylus Books @CorylusB

I thought I’d offer you something a little different this week: a series of autumnal landscapes to inspire and delight us, but all of them in settings featured in the books we have published thus far at Corylus (because we do like to travel with our reading and crime fiction). Maybe even a few hints as to upcoming titles! N.B. Of course, autumn is not necessarily the season during which the action in each book takes place. Here we go, in order of publication:

  1. In Anamaria Ionescu’s Zodiac, four murders take place in four different locations, with four strange and different marks on the victims – and the only thing they have in common is that all of them were born in the little spa town of Voineasa in the Romanian Sub-Carpathians.
Voineasa, photo from BalneoMedica.ro

2. Bucharest is the setting for Teodora Matei’s police procedural Living Candles featuring the unlikely duo of Anton Iordan and Sorin Matache – a city of dark shadows, wet pavements and damp basements.

Photo credit: Gabriel Furtuna, on Reddit.

3. Snagov Lake to the north of Bucharest is the place where many Romanian politicians have their villas, and where they conspire with the media to cover up the politically embarrassing story of a vigilante killer in Sword by Bogdan Teodorescu.

Snagov Monastery on an island on Snagov Lake, photo credit: travelminit.ro

4. We first meet Sólveig Pálsdóttir’s police officer Guðgeir Fransson in The Fox, far away in exile in the picturesque but isolated settlement of Höfn on the east coast of Iceland.

Höfn landscape, from Rough Guide to Iceland.

5. Guðgeir is back in Reykjavik in the next book in the series, Silenced, in a tense story about appearances and reality, class and gender differences.

Iceland’s capital is also the setting for the forthcoming book Deceit by our new Icelandic author Jónína Leósdóttir.

Colourful Reykjavik in autumn, photo credit: Cristine Zenino.

6. Although the ‘port town in the west of France’ is never explicitly named in Jérôme Leroy’s clever novella Little Rebel, it might resemble Le Havre a little bit…

Photo credit: Arnaud Pointdefer on Instagram.

7. Some of the key conspiracy scenes in Bogdan Hrib’s spy thriller Resilience take place in Iasi in the north-east of Romania (close to the border with the Republic of Moldova).

The Culture Palace and panorama of Iasi, photo credit: Palas Iasi.

8.  Óskar Guðmundsson’s hard-hitting tale of trauma and revenge The Commandments takes place in the supposedly tranquil north of Iceland in Akureyri. How can anything bad ever happen in this beautiful little town?

Akureyri, photo credit: Rajan P. Parrikar

9. Harm, the third book featuring Guðgeir Fransson and his team of investigators alternates between Reykjavik and the breathtaking scenery of the Westman Islands – you know, the ones that often feature in wishlists of remote houses in inaccessible landscapes.

Photo credit: Adventures Iceland.

10. Bonus entry: in our novella Skin Deep, our first book to be translated from Spanish (estimated publication date spring 2023), we meet a group of cross-border investigators in the Basque region. The body, however, is found in Biarritz.

Photo credit: euskoguide.com

Phew! Ten books since we launched at the start of 2020. That’s not bad, is it? Wonder where our literary travels will take us next! Well, the clue might lie in what I’m currently translating… And the action does take place in autumn!

Photo credit: vacantevacante.com

Friday Fun: Needing Holidays Again!

Another week of horrendous ill health (I’ll spare you the details) and generally feeling quite helpless and low about most things. I’m ready for another holiday, aren’t you? Escapism is more needed than ever before, so here are some pictures to put you in a more positive frame of mind.

Fairytale house and courtyard, with Encanto vibes, from Pinterest.

Nothing better than an inner courtyard with a water feature, from Mosaicstiles.com

A dream restaurant in the French Antilles. From Antillespassion.com
An unusual but spectacular inner courtyard at a hotel, from behance.net

A beautiful garden and sea views, what’s not to like, from wattpad.com

I do believe this is the Amalfi Coast? I don’t think I would want anyone sitting on those comfy seats, covering the view though. From extrapetite.com

Back from Holidays – and Books Acquired!

There is no such thing as a relaxing holiday with the extended family back in the home country… but there were many pleasant moments, and a complete break from the treadmill, so I can’t complain! I’ve been boring everyone with endless holiday pictures on Twitter, but here are a few of my favourites, to give you a flavour of the landscapes and ‘vibes’. I will share more in my next few Friday Fun posts. [None tomorrow, though, as I have a lot of catching up to do still]

Barajul Vidraru – reservoir and dam

The Black Sea coast

The Bran-Rucar pass in the Carpathians
Sibiu

Although I had no time to browse in bookshops (unbelievable, I know!), I brought back a whole pile of books with me, some were old favourites languishing on my parents’ bookshelves, others that I had ordered online a few months ago and got delivered to their address. Meanwhile, a few books made their way into my letterbox here in the UK while I was away.

Here’s the result!

Romanian books:

  • As part of my search for contemporary Romanian authors to read and possibly translate, particularly women authors, I’ll be reading Raluca Nagy, Nora Iuga, Magda Cârneci (this one has been translated by Sean Cotter) and Diana Bădică. All recommendations via Romanian newsletters to which I subscribe.
  • A mix of contemporary and more classic male authors as well: Gellu Naum is better known for his avantgarde poetry and prose in the 1930s and 40s, or his wonderful children’s book about the wandering penguin Apolodor in the 1950s, and this is his only novel as far as I am aware (this too has been translated into English, see some reviews here); Max Blecher’s Scarred Hearts, which I previously read and reviewed in English, but wanted to own in Romanian; one of my favourite modern poets, Nicolae Labiș, who died tragically young; an English translation by Gabi Reigh of my favourite play by one of my favourite writers, Mihail Sebastian; finally, two young writers that I want to explore further, Tudor Ganea and Bogdan Coșa.
  • Last but not least, a dictionary of Romanian proverbs translated into English – just to remind myself of some of the old folk sayings.

Other books:

  • Another expat in Berlin story, imaginatively entitled Berlin by Bea Sutton. I read Susan’s review on her blog A Life in Books and couldn’t resist.
  • Two Japanese crime novels: Fish Swimming in Dappled Sunlight by Onda Riku (I was bowled over by The Aosawa Murders by the same author) and an older crime classic by Matsumoto Seicho entitled Tokyo Express.
  • Two volumes of poetry, Reckless Paper Birds and Panic Response by the English poet John McCullough. I recently attended a workshop with him and found him very inspiring indeed.
  • Last but by no means list: a whole flurry of chapbooks of Swiss literature, translated from all four official languages of Switzerland, published by the wonderful Strangers Press at the UEA. I am hoping to convince them to do a series on Romanian literature too someday, fingers crossed!

Friday Fun: Beautiful University Campuses

My older son has just finished his first year at university and will be coming home for the summer. So I am in the mood to check out some university campuses around the world: while architecture and functionality are both important, I am always more impressed by beautiful locations and gardens.

Of course I will start with my favourite place and alma mater, Cambridge. The sun setting on the mellow stone of the colleges along the backs will always make my heart sing.
But I’m not biased just by universities I attended: for example, this one is Heidelberg, which is slightly more beautiful than Marburg, I admit. From Schiller University site.
American universities often try to copy European models, rather than embracing the new, but this small Berry College in Georgia looks charming.
What a library in the baroque University of Coimbra in Portugal!
The oldest university in Europe (or so they claim) is Bologna, and, this being Italy, the decor is outstanding. From Visiting Italy magazine.
But I quite like the bold, brash new universities in Asia, such as Xiamen University in China, in such a glorious location. From Study in China website.
The University of Tasmania has a rather blocky modern warehousey architecture, but who cares when you can go up Mount Wellington and see this view?

Friday Fun: Painters in Curtea de Argeş

One final blog post about my trip to Romania, but you will be relieved to hear that this time you will not have to rely on my puny photographic skills. Instead, I would like to introduce you to some painters associated with the little town of Curtea de Argeş. I was surprised to discover there were far more than I had expected, when I went to visit the local museum. Alongside painters who were either born or made their home here, this part of the country seems to have been a popular source of inspiration for well-known painters living in Bucharest. Not to mention, of course, the medieval church frescoes.

Starting with the oldest: 14th century altarpiece in the church at the Royal Court (Biserica Domneasca). From Trecator.ro
Interior of the Curtea de Arges monastery (frescos dating from the 16th century but renovated in 2010). From transfagarasantravel.ro
The famous ‘family portrait’ of Neagoe Basarab, who ordered the monastery to be built.
Iosif Iser: Peasant Family in Arges, 1918, from Universulargesean.ro
The artist who restored many of the church frescos in Arges, Dumitru Norocea. His house (painted here by himself) now houses a collection of art and ethnography. From Am Fost Acolo blog.
Ion Theodorescu-Sion: Street in Curtea de Arges, 1922, from Pictura Zilei, ziuaconstanta.ro
Porch in Arges by Rudolf Schweitzer-Cumpăna, 1927, on WikiArt.
Emil Ivanescu Millan was renowned in the 1930s as a painter of church frescoes. From adevarul.ro
After the Second World War, Ivanescu-Millan settled in Curtea de Arges and painted landscapes and portraits, from adevarul.ro
Nicolae Darascu: Landscape from Arges, 1950s. From WikiArt.
Not in Curtea de Arges itself, but at the Cotmeana Monastery nearby, this rather fine depiction of hell. From povestidecalatorie.ro.

Friday Fun: Where Should Marina Retire?

Every couple of weeks I start looking at property websites and planning my next move. The house in which I live now is probably the one I have spent the longest amount of time in (we bought it the year my younger son was born, 16 years ago), but we lived there intermittently, moving abroad twice during that period, for a total of seven years away. I fought tooth and nail to keep it in my divorce settlement, because I couldn’t face the hassle of yet another move. Yet, once both sons have swanned off to university or jobs or whatever they plan to do, I am planning to ‘downsize’. In my case, however, the downsizing might be more a case of moving abroad (in the EU, to be precise), where houses are more affordable (although not the ones I am showing below). I will obviously be spending some of the year in Romania, in a landscape somewhat like this:

But for the rest of the year, there are three places that are calling to me, each with its pros and cons.

Option 1 – France – for the skiing, food and culture

Lyon has that big city vibe but is close enough to stunning mountains, from Barnes International.
The apartments in the old part of Lyon are just perfectly proportioned, from AK.SO Conseils.
And this chateau just outside Lyon would allow me to invite Emma from BookAround over, and we could run reading retreats for all of our friends. From AK.SO Conseils.
If Lyon is too expensive, then Grenoble might prove a good alternative, and is closer to the pistes. From Espaces Atypiques.

Option 2 – Berlin – for the friends and lifestyle

Berlin is all about apartments or penthouses, and I like these stairs going up to a roof terrace. From FarAwayHome.
This penthouse flat overlooking the Bundestag is or was apparently the most expensive apartment in Berlin, from Peach Property Group.
I personally prefer the villas on the outskirts of Berlin, close to the lakes, such as this Villa Am Grunewald.
This Villa Bermann also overlooks a lake, and is probably big enough to accommodate a few reading and writing retreats.

Option 3 – Ireland, County Cork – for its natural beauty and remaining in an English-speaking environment

A view from the kitchen to die for, especially if you start sailing in your old age. From Christies Real Estate.
Maureen O’Hara’s house was up for sale a short while ago, nicely tucked away amidst the green. From Cork Beo.
But there are some surprisingly modern constructions as well, like this bungalow in Kinsale. From Irish Times.

So where would you advise me to move in a few years’ time? Where would you like to join me for writing and/or reading retreats, coupled with a bit of hiking or Nordic walking?

Friday Fun: Passion for an Architects’ Studio

Earlier this month I came across a dream villa in a dream location on the shores of Lake Geneva, designed by Olson Kundig Architects. I was so intrigued by it that I stalked them on their website and systematically worked my way through their portfolio. Alongside public buildings all over the world, they also have a knack for very modern private houses, with huge windows, in stunning locations, really allowing nature to mingle with the indoors. When I win the lottery (or a whole dozen of them, I think), you know whom I will employ to build me the dream home. All the photos are from their website

It all started with this view from the Chemin Byron villa on Lake Geneva.
Seamlessly going from the outside to the inside in this Californian home.
The sea can be heard and seen from this terrace/living room in Hawaii.
The forest is peeking into the house in this Canadian home.
This house in Rio has the jungle as a backdrop for the living room.
These wide open spaces are fine in summer – but what might they look like in the rain and snow of Washington State?
This is from another architecture firm, Villa Aquamarine by Mykarch in Mykonos, but I couldn’t resist adding it here as the perfect blend of indoors and landscape, and combining my favourite colours.

Friday Fun: Venturing Out into the World

We’ve spent a lot of time in home libraries, cosy reading nooks, even under the stairs over the past few weeks. So it’s high time we looked at inspiring contemporary architectures (hopefully well insulated and far away from peeking eyes) set in amazing landscapes. Welcome to spring, Easter, and nature’s rebirth!

Mountain home designed by Kelly Stone Architects, from OneKindesign.
Canadian lakeside home, photo credit: Maciek Linowski, from Contemporist.
Semi-underground ecological home from the Netherlands, from architectureideas2live4.com
Marataba Trails Lodge in South Africa is more of a hotel but I wouldn’t mind living here all year round, from extraordinaryjourneys.com
‘Cottage’ may be an understatement for this house set on its own island on New Zealand’s Bay of Islands, designed by Bossley Architects.

Friday Fun: Homesick for Romania

I was supposed to go to Romania this summer to celebrate my parents’ 80th birthdays (they are on different days, but both in the same year). I was hoping to take the boys for a hike in my beloved mountains, but instead will have to make do with these pictures instead. The first few pictures are from places that were within easy travel distance from Bucharest, so I used to go hiking and skiing there at least once a month when I was a pupil and a student. The last batch show the four seasons in different parts of the country.

N.B. I left Romania in the mid 1990s because it had a corrupt government, merciless exploitative capitalism combined with nostalgia for communist strong men, and because young people seemed to have no future there to fully develop their talents. There are still plenty of things wrong there, but I’m seriously thinking of moving back there in retirement at the latest.

One of my favourite places: the Sphinx on the summit of the Bucegi mountains. From Turist de Romania website.

Not far from there, Cabana Stana Tarla above Sinaia. From Booking.com

A little bit further away, sunset over the Caltun Lake in the Fagaras Mountain range, from muntii-fagaras.ro

The Seven Staircase Gorge near Brasov, photo credit Ionut Stoica. Not recommended if you suffer from vertigo!

Spring in the Apuseni mountains, from events.in

Summertime in the Retezat nature reserve, from Icar Tours.

Autumn is always spectacular in the mountains, from travelminit.ro

Last but not least, winter in Bucovina, with its traditional wooden churches. From The Romania Journal

Friday Fun: And Breathe… in New Zealand

This Friday Fun post is pure escapism, nothing political about it at all… but for some reason all of today’s houses seem to be located in New Zealand. A country I very much hope to visit some day. Most if not all of these pictures are taken from the wonderful website ArchitectureNow.co.nz

Villa in Wairarapa, photo: Simon Devitt.

House designed by Strachan Architects, photo Patrick Reynolds.

House on Lake Wakatipu, photo Paul McCredie.

Kawau Island bach, photo Alex Wallace.

This house is not about the view, but about the rather lovely inner courtyard. Photo: Samuel Hartnett

The perfect beach house? Sorry, not sure of photo credit, but I couldn’t resist sharing it.