What’s Ashley Reading?: The Forbidden Forest Read-a-thon Week Four

Well the Forbidden Forest Read-a-thon is over! And I did it. I finished the challenge with 2 days to spare. I was getting a little nervous at the end but I finished in time. I really enjoyed having a set list of books to read. I was not sure how I would feel but it was almost freeing knowing exactly what was next on the list. How did your challenge come along?

In the last week I completed four books. First was I Know Why the Caged Birds Sings by Maya Angelou. I had previously read Mom & Me & Mom. I liked both and found them very interesting. Next I finished Master and Apprentice by Claudia Gray. She is a wonderful writer for the Star Wars books. The writing is great and the story is always fun. Then I finally read Virgin Earth by Philippa Gregory. I had read the first in the duology years ago but never finished it. I am glad I did. It spanned years of English history and two continents. I was constantly looking up plants mentioned in the book. And it was a perfect companion to our Big Read theme. But my favorite of the week was Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.

*Beware this may contain spoilers!*

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by Jack Thorne, John Tiffany and J.K. Rowling

First line: A busy and crowded station.

Summary: In the eighth book in the Harry Potter series we find out what happens years after the Battle of Hogwarts. The wizarding world is at peace. Voldemort is defeated. And Harry Potter is a father. His son Albus is heading to Hogwarts for his first year when he meets Scorpius Malfoy on the train. They become close friends to the chagrin of their fathers. When rumors begin to appear about a Time Turner that escaped the destruction at the Ministry, Albus tries to step out of the shadow of his legendary father by changing the past in hopes of saving someone his father could not.

My Thoughts: I had been putting this off for years. I have owned the book and loved the rest in the series. But knowing that it was not written by J.K. made it not a priority. It is written as a play for the stage in London. The format seemed a little intimidating and strange. Kind of like the first time I picked up a graphic novel. It does not feel comfortable at the beginning but as it progresses it becomes much easier. When Alyssa announced the Forbidden Forest Read-a-thon I knew that I had to include this book on my list.

I can see how many other Potter fans are not happy with it but I really enjoyed it! A Potter and a Malfoy best friends?! Seriously. I loved their friendship. I felt that the playwright was able to capture the spirit of Harry Potter and bring the story further. The little twists and turns were fun. I loved going back into the past and seeing how someone’s actions can affect the present. And it was great to see how Harry, Ron, Hermione and Draco changed after their years at Hogwarts. They each matured and learned some important lessons along the way.

I really hope that one day I can see this performed on stage! If you have been a little skeptical about picking this up then listen to me and give it a try. The story is good. It revisits everything that made the original so good while adding to it as well.

FYI: J.K. Rowling has accepted this as part of her canon. It is considered Harry Potter #8.

Welcome to the Forbidden Forest Read-a-thon!

I dare you to read twelve books in one month. I dare you to enter the Forbidden Forest, face cursed ponds, trickster fairies, and a witch’s spells. I dare you to follow the path through the forest, forgoing that hour of Facebook scrolling or Netflix binging to brave the treacheries of the woods. Only you can answer the call, and only you can make it through unscathed. I dare you to try!

Now I know that for most of us, it seems impossible to read that much in a single month, but I can assure you that if you choose your books well and prioritize your time, you can make it through this challenge. Welcome to the Forbidden Forest Read-a-thon!

What is the Forbidden Forest Read-a-thon?

In honor of this year’s NEA Wichita Big Read, the library is hosting its first read-a-thon. Here’s a link to a previous blog post that may answer any questions you have about what a read-a-thon is.

The Forbidden Forest Read-a-thon will take place during the entire month of October and is open to both adults and teens in sixth grade or higher. Each of the twelve reading challenges are themed around obstacles you would find in a forbidden forest.

Who can participate?

This challenge is for both teens in 6th-12th grade and adults over the age of eighteen!

How do I participate?  

Step One: Pick up a tracking log at either the front desk or youth services desk OR print out the log yourself at the link here.

Step Two: Choose twelve books to read for the month by following the prompts. E-books and audiobooks count as do children’s books, middle grade books, and graphic novels/manga. A good rule of thumb is if the book can be found in the Goodreads database, it counts towards your read-a-thon!

Step Three: Read! You have until October 31st to complete all twelve challenges.

Step Four: Write down the twelve books you read on the submission form and turn it in to either the front desk or youth services desk at the library by October 31st. You will be entered to win one of two $50 Barnes and Noble Gift Cards!

We are so excited to be hosting a read-a-thon this year and hope you join us on this adventure!

Book Review: The Latehomecomer

The Latehomecomer by Kao Kalia Yang

First line: From the day that she was born, she was taught that she was Hmong by the adults around her.

Summary: A memoir by Kao Kalia Yang, an author, activist, and public speaker. She was born in a refugee camp in Thailand. Her family are Hmong. They spent many years running and hiding from Vietnamese soldiers who were hunting the Hmong people. She spent her first years in the camp. When the chance to travel to America became available, her family took it. The first years in Minnesota were hard. They had to learn English, live off welfare checks, and try to feed their expanding family. Over years, her parents got jobs, learned to drive and encouraged their children to better themselves. As a young woman, she now looks back at her life and the strength of her family.

Highlights: I had never heard of the Hmong people. While reading this I was earning a history lesson as well as a social one. Refugees have to be strong to leave their homes and try to start over in a new country. Yang has a great way with words. I was scared for her family. I was happy when they were happy. It surprises me that something this terrible was happening in such modern times. Most of the events happened during my lifetime. This book can open the reader’s eyes to troubles of refugees. It is easy to overlook these people. But many of us are here because of “refugees” even though we call them immigrants. We need to have more sympathy and help for people who have lost everything and are trying to begin again.

Lowlights: I have no complaints about the book. I am just sad I could not go see Yang speak when she was in Wichita.

FYI: Big Read Wichita 2017 book.