Three Summers

READ THE WORLD – Greece: Three Summers by Margarita Liberaki

Translated by Karen Van Dyck.

Living in a big old house surrounded by a beautiful garden in the countryside outside Athens are Maria, the oldest sister, as sexually bold as she is eager to settle down and have a family of her own; beautiful but distant Infanta; and dreamy and rebellious Katerina. Over three summers, the girls share and keep secrets, fall in and out of love, try to figure out their parents and other members of the tribe of adults, and worry about and wonder who they are.

The majority of Three Summers is told from Katerina’s perspective and in the first person. Though there are the odd chapters from other characters perspectives, mainly the other two sisters, and those are written in the third person so it’s easy to tell when you’re momentarily stepping away from Katerina’s viewpoint.

Three Summers is set in the 1930s before the Second World War and the sisters do all seem to live an idyllic life. At the start of the novel, so during the first summer, they are twenty, eighteen and sixteen. They spend their time lying in the fields, talking to one another about their thoughts and dreams, and also generally getting the attention of the young me they know. They also think about their separated parents and other family dramas. They live with their mother, aunt and grandfather while their father, who is both a banker and an inventor, lives in Athens.

I found Three Summers quite slow going. At times that suited the story as it evokes the feeling of lazy summer days where the days blur into one, but on the other hand it made it more difficult to connect with the characters and on the whole I didn’t really care about them.

Maria was the sister that was the easiest to understand, she knows what she wants and decides who and when she’s going to marry quickly. Infanta is more reserved and at some points I wondered if she was written to be asexual or aromantic because of how distant she was towards the young man who clearly likes her. It could have been natural shyness or nerves but some of her reactions to strong emotions sometimes seemed more extreme for that. Katerina is more bold than her sisters and her curiosity and actions often made her mother despair. She doesn’t seem to fit in this family and while she does say she falls in love with a neighbour, it’s hard to tell if she really has and she’s not using him as a gateway to adventure.

The writing in Three Summers is quite flowery and paints vivid pictures of the old house and the surrounding countryside, but that sort of thing isn’t really for me and it wasn’t keeping my attention by the end of book. Maybe it’s because I did find myself skim reading the last section of the book, which was about the events of the third summer, but I did find it difficult to keep track of some of the friends and neighbours, how they were connected to the sisters and what they thought of them.

Because it’s set just across three summers and is more of a slice of life type story, there are some things that are open ended and potential relationships not yet pursued which is a little frustrating but that’s the nature of this kind of story. Three Summers is a coming of age story and it’s one that fans of period dramas may like a lot. It has the will they/won’t they relationships but with more of a stiff upper lip as young women weren’t allowed to be forthright with their wants in the 1930s.

My Reading Rush 2020 TBR

The Reading Rush starts in a couple of weeks and I’ve put together my TBR. The Reading Rush is a weeklong readathon that starts at midnight your times zone on Monday 20 July and finishes at 11:59pm on Sunday 26 July. The Reading Rush has its origins on YouTube and there’s a YouTube channel, a Twitter, an Instagram and a website.

There’s reading challenges but you don’t have to try and do all of them, the main point of the readathon (as with most readathons) is to read as much as possible. The reading challenges are:

1. Read a book with a cover that matches the colour of your birth stone.
2. Read a book that starts with the word “The”.
3. Read a book that inspired a movie you’ve already seen.
4. Read the first book you touch.
5. Read a book completely outside of your house. With everything going on at the minute, you can change this up to mean sit in front of an open window, listen to outdoor ASMR videos while reading etc there’s more suggestions on the website.
6. Read a book in a genre that you’ve always wanted to read more of.
7. Read a book that takes place on a different continent than where you live.

I know I won’t read seven books and have one for each challenge so I’m all for using books for multiple challenges. Out of the seven challenges the one I definitely won’t be doing is “Read a book that inspired a movie you’ve already seen” as while I’ve seen a few films that were book adaptations that I haven’t read the source material, I don’t have any of those books.

Read a book with a cover that matches the colour of your birth stone
The Gloaming by Kirsty Logan
I’m a September baby so my birthstone is sapphire and one of the only blue books I have is The Gloaming. One of my Twitter pals read this a few months ago and said positive things about it so that has made me want to get to it sooner.

Read a book that starts with the word “The”
The Matter of Desire by Edmundo Paz Soldán or The Restless by Gerty Dambury or The Gloaming
Got a few options for this one which is always nice.

Read the first book you touch
The Restless or Hawkeye: Kate Bishop Vol.1: Anchor Points by Kelly Thompson, Leonardo Romero, Michael Walsh and Jordie Bellaire
I got together all the books from my Summer TBR that I hadn’t read yet (which is eight books), shut my eyes, waved my hand around a bit and then touched one. Well I wasn’t smart and put my whole hand down and ended up on two books so again, I’ve got options here.

Read a book completely outside of your house
Three Summers by Margarita Liberaki or Hawkeye: Kate Bishop Vol.1: Anchor Points
As this challenge is open to interpretation, my thinking is if I do decide to read outside (there’s some grassy areas where not many people are near where I live) I’ll read the comic because it’s shorter, or if I don’t fancy that, I’ll read Three Summers as it’s set in the countryside and has a very outdoorsy cover.

Read a book in a genre that you’ve always wanted to read more of
Three Summers
Is “classic” a genre? I’m gonna say it is for this challenge. Three Summers is called a “modern Greek classic” so I’m just running with that.

Read a book that takes place on a different continent than where you live.
The Matter of Desire or The Restless
My Read the World Project comes in handy for this one. I live in Europe and The Matter of Desire is set in both the United States and Bolivia while The Restless is set in Guadeloupe – so that covers North America, Central America and the Caribbean.

That’s five books on my TBR and as there’s some overlap with challenges I could read four of them and complete these six challenges. Are you taking part in the Reading Rush? If you are, I hope it’s a very successful reading week for you.

TOP TEN TUESDAY: Summer TBR

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Artsy Reader Girl. I don’t often take part in Top Ten Tuesday (I forget or it’s not a topic I feel I have ten books that fit etc) but I do always do the seasonal TBR posts. That’s mainly because I find it interesting and somewhat entertaining to see how many times a book ends up on a TBR – please do go through my TBR tag if you also want to see books repeatedly appear. It’s not because I don’t want to read them, all books I mention in my TBR posts are books I own and want to read, it’s just that I’m a mood reader and easily distracted by other books.

So, after that bit of context, here are ten books I’d like to read in the coming months but who knows how many of them I actually will.

Life for Each: Poems by Daisy Zamora
This poetry collection is literally 70 pages long. I could read it in the morning before work it’s that short.

Three Summers by Margarita Liberaki
An historical fiction about three sisters growing up in the countryside in Athens before the Second World War. It’s a coming of age story with romance, secrets and family drama. From the title alone it seems like a good book to read during the summer months.

The Restless by Gerty Dambury
Set in 1960s Pointe-à-Pitre, Guadeloupe, The Restless follows a nine-year-old girl who is struggling with the sudden disappearance of her teacher and her father at the onset of a workers’ strike.

Dangerous Remedy by Kat Dunn
Had not heard of this book before I got it in a subscription box but it seems to be a story about a ragtag group of outcasts in Revolutionary France and it has some Frankenstein elements? Sounds good to me.

Scarlet Odyssey by C.T. Rwizi
An epic fantasy set in a landscape inspired by the history of southern and eastern Africa and its myths and magic. I got this via Amazon’s First Reads as the premise of a young man who wants to become a mystic in a society where women do magic and men are warriors caught my eye.

Thirteen Months of Sunrise by Rania Mamoun
This is another super short book of less than 100 pages and is a collection of short stories – both things making it something that I should read quickly and soon.

Hawkeye: Kate Bishop Vol 1 – 3 by Kelly Thompson, Leonardo Romero, Michael Walsh and Jordie Bellaire
I’m kind of cheating and combing three books into one choice here, but it’s a graphic novel series and as I have them all, I will be reading them one after the other. I love Hawkeye – both Clint Barton and Kate Bishop – and have been meaning to read Kate’s latest story arc for a while now.

The Sisters Grimm by Menna van Praag
Another book I got in a subscription box and it’s a story of four sisters trying to find one another and there’s magic I think? As you may probably tell, when it comes to subscription box books I haven’t heard of before, I like going into them knowing as little as possible. I do know The Sisters Grimm is set in Cambridge which is where I work so it’ll be cool reading a book set somewhere I know pretty well.

13 Colors of the Honduran Resistance by Melissa Cardoza
Feminist author and activist Melissa Cardoza tells thirteen stories about women from the Honduran resistance in the aftermath of the 28th June 2009 coup against President Manuel Zelaya.

A Phoenix First Must Burn edited by Patrice Caldwell
Guess what, this was a book I got from a subscription box! It’s a collection of short stories by Black authors that explore the Black experience through fantasy, science fiction, and magic.

What books are on your TBR for the next few months? If you’ve read any of these and think I should read them ASAP, please let me know.

O.W.L.’s Magical Readathon 2020

The O.W.L.’s Magical Readathon returns next month! This month-long readathon is the brainchild of Gi at Book Roast on YouTube and it’s the third year it’s happened. Last year was the first year I took part and after successfully completing my O.W.L.’s and N.E.W.T.’s I qualified to be a Ministry Worker in the Department of International Magical Cooperation.

The challenge is based on the Hogwarts examinations in the world of Harry Potter, but you don’t need to know a lot about it or be a Harry Potter fan to take part in the challenge. The basic premise is that each Hogwarts subject has its own prompt, you read a book that fits that prompt and then you’ve achieved an O.W.L. in that subject. This readathon lasts the entirety of April so it gives you plenty of time to try and cram in as many O.W.L.’s aka books as possible. For more information on the readathon see Gi’s announcement video. It’s clear she puts in a lot of work into this challenge, she makes study guides and a career guide that has information on lots of magical careers and the subjects you need to study in order to be able to progress in that career.

This year there’s some new careers and bonus courses, seminars and training if you want to challenge yourself. I’ve decided that my chosen career this year is Mage of Visual Arts. This sounds like a fun career as you make the pictures and portraits move and it’s the most like the muggle world of film. The O.W.L.’s I need to earn are in Astronomy, Charms, Divination, and History of Magic. That’s four books I need to read but I would also like to push myself and do an extra training course. I would like to learn to operate locomotive trains aka the Hogwarts Express. I love driving cars, so as there’s no course on learning how to drive a flying car (yet!) it’d be fun to learn how to drive a train. The O.W.L.’s I need for that are Defence Against the Dark Arts and Muggle Studies. So, the total number of books I need to read in April is six. That’s doable for me.

I’ve had a look at my bookshelves and below are the books I plan to read to get my O.W.L.’s to become a Mage of Visual Arts. I’ve also got books for the other O.W.L.’s in case I do better than expected and can fit in a couple more books during the month.

Ancient Runes – Heart rune: heart on the cover or in the title
A Dream So Dark by L.L. McKinney
I’m reaching a bit here, but it has the word “heart” and a heart shaped key on the cover, so I think it counts. I read A Blade So Black last year for my N.E.W.T.’s so it’d be cool to read the sequel for my O.W.L.’s.

Arithmancy – Magical qualities of number 2: balance/opposites – read something outside your favourite genre
Gemina by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
I’m not even sure what my favourite genre is anymore (I’m going to probably do a blog post about that at some point) but a genre I don’t read that often is sci-fi so that’s the reason I’ve chosen Gemina.

Astronomy – Night classes: read majority of this book when it’s dark outside
Three Summers by Margarita Liberaki
This book is relatively short at 240 pages and is about sisters growing up in the countryside in Athens before the Second World War.

Care of Magical Creatures – Hippogriffs: creature with a beak on the cover
Infinite Son by Adam Silvera
After going through all my books because I really wasn’t sure if I had a book that had creature with a beak, I found one!

Charms – Lumos Maxima: white cover
The Bloodprint by Ausma Zehanat Khan or The Architect’s Apprentice by Elif Shafak
The Bloodprint is a book I bought just because the cover was super pretty and all I know is it’s a fantasy. The Architect’s Apprentice is a historical fiction and is set during the Ottoman Empire. Both have white covers.

Defence Against the Dark Arts – Grindylows: book set at the sea/coast
Viper by Bex Hogan or The Gloaming by Kirsty Logan
Both books take place on islands and heavily involve the sea. I think Viper is more of a pirate book while The Gloaming is more of a mermaid/fairy tale book – I think!

Divination – Third eye: assign numbers to your TBR and use a random number generator to pick your read
Hawkeye: Avenging Archer by Jim McCann, David Lopez, Duane Swierczynski, Manuel Garcia and Paco Diaz
Putting together all the unread books I have on my kindle, on audio and in my flat (there’s more unread books at my mum’s) I had 47 books for the random number generator to choose from. It picked number 17 which was Hawkeye: Avenging Archer which I couldn’t have picked better myself as comics/graphic novels are always a good idea in a readathon.

Herbology – Mimbulus mimbletonia: title starts with an M
Mama Hissa’s Mice by Saud Alsanousi
Turns out I have one book that has a title that begins with the letter M so I guess I’m going to be reading Mama Hissa’s Mice.

History of Magic – Witch hunts: book featuring witches/wizards
Angel Mage by Garth Nix or Truthwitch by Susan Dennard or mystery book
This one was surprisingly difficult. I’m not sure if Angel Mage has witches or wizards in it but there is magic. Based on the title and the premise I’m pretty sure Truthwitch features witches. Or the last witchy-book I could read for this prompt is one I don’t have yet. I’ve ordered April’s Wildest Dreams book box and the book apparently has “Witches and scientists, sisters and lovers, priestesses and rebels” so that could work too.

Muggle Studies – Book from a perspective of a muggle (contemporary)
The Places I’ve Cried in Public by Holly Bourne
This looks like it’s a sad contemporary about a relationship that’s ending and it’s potentially wasn’t a healthy relationship either.

Potions – Shrinking Solution: book under 150 pages
A Small Place by Jamaica Kincaid
I’ve got A Small Place on audiobook and according to Goodreads it is 81 pages long so definitely works for this challenge.

Transfiguration – Animagus lecture: book/series that includes shapeshifting
Downfall by Rob Thurman or The Invasion by K.A. Applegate
This subject was hard to find a book for as I don’t really read many books with shapeshifting in them and I don’t think any of my unread books have it in either. After looking at my bookshelves, the only book I could find that would fit was Downfall. It’s an urban fantasy and I remember earlier on in the series there were werewolves so that’d count. The other option is the fact I recently learnt that apparently all the Animorphs books are available online for free. Animorphs isn’t a series I read as a child but I have vague memories of the TV show, and as they’re children’s books they’re likely to be short and easy to read (which is always a good thing for a readathon) so I could pick up the first book in the series.

That’s my TBR for this years’ O.W.L.’s Magical Readathon. Are you taking part in the readathon and what career are you aiming for? In August there’s the N.E.W.T.’s which can be even more challenging and will be the final hurdle for achieving your chosen career. Wish me luck!