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.

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

Week three of the Forbidden Forest Read-a-thon is behind us and I still have 4 books to finish! Up until this week I was able to finish three books a week but this week had a really long book. It is taking me longer than anticipated. How is everyone else coming along?

Of the two books I finished I really enjoyed both of them. Below I attached my review for the new Elton John autobiography, Me. But I also read Carrie by Stephen King. I have never seen the movie but I had a basic understanding of the story line. I was shocked by how much I liked it. If you want to read my review sign up for our monthly newsletter. It will be in the November 2019 issue.

Me by Elton John

First line: I was onstage at the Latino club in South Shields when I realized I couldn’t take it anymore.

Summary: In his autobiography, Elton John takes us through his life from his childhood as Reginald Dwight to his life with his husband David. He gives us a look into the world of a rock star. He is very honest about his drug usage and other addictions. He discusses his friendships with other musical legends like John Lennon, Freddie Mercury and even Lady Gaga. After years of pain and loneliness he decides that he has had enough of the rock ‘n roll lifestyle and enters rehab and starts his own charities for AIDS relief.

My Thoughts: I loved this book! And look at that cover! Gorgeous. First of all I listened to the audio book version which is read by Taron Egerton, who played Elton in the biopic, Rocketman, released earlier this year .

I found Elton’s life to be unbelievable. He knows everyone. He has done so much. I loved how honest he was about his struggles. He took every drug known to man. He tried to commit suicide several times. I cannot imagine living his life and coming out of it okay. He does though. He survived stuff that would have ruined many others and did. But he is still standing. He has met the love of his life, has two beautiful boys and tries to help others around the world.

I learned a lot about him. And I found him even more interesting than I did before. He is currently doing his final tour and I wish that I could see him in concert. My parents did in 1984 in Tacoma, Washington. I am super jealous. Oh well I will just watch concerts on Youtube and rewatch Rocketman again.

FYI: I highly recommend the audio version but also grab a copy of the book so you can see the pictures!

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!

Random Reading Thoughts: How do you get out of a reading slump?

Drawing of book wity images coming out of it representing a story narative
Tell us in the comments how you get out of a reading slump.

If you’re a reader, you’ve experienced it: a reading slump. You know, that week, or month, or longer, when no matter what book you pick up, you just can’t seem to get interested in it.

If you’re in a slump now, here are 10 tips to help get your reading back on track. If you’re not in a slump, save this for later, because you know one will hit sooner or later.

1. Reread one of your favorite books. Not a re-reader? Give it a shot. There’s a reason we love our favorite stories and revisiting them can rekindle the feeling we had when we first read them.

2. Read a book completely out of your comfort zone. Normally read romantic comedies? Try a thriller. Love mysteries? Give a fantasy novel a shot. Picking up something completely unusual for you can pique your interest.

3. Judge a book by its cover. Go ahead. Do it! That cover that just grabs your attention? The book inside might just do the same and help break you out of a rut.

4. Pick up a nice short, easy to read book. If you’re in a slump, picking up that giant doorstop of a book might feel like too much. Give yourself permission to read a short, fluffy, brain candy kind of book.

Sometimes a new format can kick your reading back into gear.

5. “Read” in a different format. Do you usually read on an e-reader or mobile device? Try print. Always read print books? Listen to an audiobook. Consuming that story in a new way may prod your brain to respond more actively to the story.

6. Visit the library or a bookstore. Just browsing the shelves and being around books might get your brain back into a reading mode.

7. Participate in a reading challenge. Reading challenges abound on the internet, challenges with a few books or a lot of books. Locally, check out the Wichita Eagle #READICT Challenge group on Facebook. The Eagle’s annual challenge is to read 12 books from 12 categories.

8. Or, participate in a read-a-thon. The library has a month-long read-a-thon coming up Oct. 1-31, where you can journey through the Forbidden Forest as you read.

9. Join a book club. It can be motivating to have a deadline to finish and then meet and discuss what you loved — and didn’t — about the book. The library has three active book clubs, all open to everyone.

10. Take yourself on a reading date. Set aside some time for just you and your book. Find a comfortable place and have a cup of your favorite tea or coffee. Take a couple of hours and surrender yourself to the words on the page. Have a few books to choose from, in case the first “date” doesn’t quite work out.

The Wheel of TBR: September 2019

When it comes to reading, I’m not much of a planner. Or at least, I used to not be. I’ve known various readers who have a pre-determined to-be-read (TBR) list for the month or even for the next six months, but I never understood how a reader could plan exactly what they were going to read for a period of time longer than a week. What if I don’t feel like reading that book at the time I need to read it? What if I discover a new book that grabs my attention more than the ten books I planned to read in the month? And what if I don’t read what I planned?

This all changed over the summer when I participated in two read-a-thons. If you’re curious about what a read-a-thon is, feel free to check out my previous blog post about them here.

I did the Book Junkie Trials Read-a-thon in the month of July and managed to read a whopping seventeen books in the month! Then in August, I participated in the Magical Read-a-thon: NEWTS 2019 and read eighteen books in the month!!

I’ve never read this much in such a short amount of time, and I think my success has been actually coming up with a list of books to read ahead of time and sticking to that list as much as possible. I knew exactly how to plot out my reading by knowing the length and content of every book. I also had a destination in mind. After I finished a book, I didn’t mindlessly roam until I found another book that caught my interest or left my decision up to fickle emotions. The books on my list were books I was genuinely interested in, and I prioritized just those for the month.

I haven’t found any read-a-thons to participate in for September, but I did find this awesome YouTuber named Codie who creates a monthly to-be-read list using a wheel! Each space on the wheel is a topic and with every selection, she finds a book that fits.

I decided to make my own Wheel of TBR just to see what came up. After having read so many books in the past few months (and with many of those books being smaller), I thought to just go for ten books. Spin the wheel, and let fate decide.

Here were the topics I included. Of course, if you make a wheel of your own, you can include whatever topics you want!

  • Young Adult Fantasy
  • Adult Fantasy
  • Paranormal Romance
  • Tome Tackle (book over 500 pages)
  • Short Read (book under 200 pages)
  • Graphic Novel/Manga
  • Middle Grade
  • Erotica
  • Random Pick– Select a random book from my goodreads list
  • Highest Rated – organized books on goodreads by rating
  • Poetry
  • Mystery/Thriller
  • TBR Vet – a book that has been on my goodreads forever
  • Non-Fiction
  • Classic

I used WheelDecide to make the wheel, and I spun ten times. After I got my selections, I made my September TBR list from books on my Goodreads, books I had on my own shelf at home, and books that I’d recently discovered.

These are my Wheel of TBR September Selections:

I’ve spent the last week of August gathering these books from the library or by requesting them through Interlibrary Loan. I’m so excited to start with one of these books for the month and see if I can make my way through them all!

Do you think having a set TBR pile for the month would help you read more? Would you make a Wheel of TBR and let fate be your guide? Let me know if you give this a try!

Happy Reading!

P.S. If you’ve ever wanted to try a read-a-thon of your own, be on the lookout in the month of October. The library is planning something very special!

Go to Hogwarts and Read!

Most muggle students are in the thick of their first month of school, but I have recently been facing an academic feat of my own; taking my O.W.L.s. That’s right! I have been taking my Ordinary Wizarding Levels at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Well, maybe not actually taking them, but I’ve been participating in the Magical Read-a-thon created by Book Roast on YouTube, and it’s been both an exciting and challenging experience!

What is the Magical O.W.L.s Read-a-thon?

Here is Book Roast’s announcement video about the read-a-thon. Though the read-a-thon itself was hosted back in the spring, I’ve decided to jump into it on my own.

In a nutshell:

The Magical O.W.L.s Read-a-thon is a month-long challenge to successfully “sit and take exams” by reading a book based on each challenge inspired by a course one would take at Hogwarts.

Book Roast created this fancy Hogwarts letter which explains what each course’s challenge is and the grading score. To pass one’s O.W.L.s, a reader must complete five books from five different subjects (no doubling up!), but a reader could potentially finish 12 books if they so desired.

My Experience

In classic Hermione fashion, I set out to complete all 12 O.W.Ls for this challenge. I went through each subject and chose a book then created my own very official exam schedule to keep track of each challenge.

My exams started on August 5 and I have until September 5 to finish.  I’ve earned an O or Outstanding Score on my O.W.Ls after having finished eight books, but I don’t know if I’ll be able to meet my final goal of 12. The biggest challenge I found with this read-a-thon was actually locating books that met both the criteria of the course and my own personal criteria (currently interested, already on my TBR, and under 300 pages). I’ve also had to change the book that I chose a number of times because it either wasn’t a captivating read or I lost interest in reading the book in the first place. Overall, though, this challenge has been so much fun and is such a creative way to get some reading in.

If you are interesting in taking your O.W.Ls then go for it! Print off the course descriptions from Book Roast’s letter, choose your books, set a month-long beginning and end date, maybe design an official Hogwarts exam schedule of your own, and get to reading. If you manage to get through your O.W.Ls, then you can join me in taking the N.E.W.Ts

…but that’s for another blog post!!

Booktube-A-Thon 2018

From planning programs to signing up summer readers to a full week of editing our Moviecraft films, it has been one busy summer, and I have definitely been neglecting my reading. Goodreads tells me every time I log in that I am four books behind on my yearly reading goal. For shame! Now with summer winding down, I think it’s time to catch up on that goal, and what better way to tackle a lot of reading at once then with a read-a-thon! Luckily, the annual Booktube-A-Thon starts on Monday, and as Spongebob says

What is the Booktube-A-Thon?

According to the Booktube-A-Thon website,

“The BookTube-A-Thon is a week-long readathon hosted by Ariel Bissett! The first BookTube-A-Thon took place in 2013, co-hosted by Raeleen Lemay, and is now in its fifth year! It is the largest readathon on YouTube and an opportunity for the BookTube community to come together to celebrate reading by creating bookish content and reading lots of books!”

This year’s Booktube-A-Thon starts on Monday, July 30 to Sunday, August 5. It is a wonderful way to have fun with reading, push yourself to prioritize reading, and see all kinds of video and reading challenges on YouTube. Here is this year’s announcement video with all the details.

The best way to get ready for any read-a-thon is to plan a TBR (to be read) pile, and as with most week-long read-a-thons, there are seven challenges that readers are dared to complete. If you do, you get a super cool 2018 Booktube-A-Thon Certificate in your email!

My TBR Pile

Reading Challenges Announcement Video

Challenge 1: Let a coin toss decide your first read

So whether I’m lazy and didn’t want to pick two books or I’m courageous because I upped the risk, I actually had a random number generator pick my book instead! I made sure that all of my TBR books for the week were under 300 pages because I’m trying not to set myself up for failure.

I’m reading: The Count of Monte Cristo Manga by Alexandre Dumas, Crystal Silvermoon, and Nokman Poon

Challenge 2: Read a book about something you want to do

Fun fact about me: I’m a mermaid! No, really, I actually practice swimming in a mermaid tail. It’s so much fun and a really good workout. I’ve had this book on my Goodreads TBR for a while, and it’s just the right length. I want to be a mermaid and living in Kansas, I’m as landlocked as I can get.

I’m reading: A Survival Guide for Landlocked Mermaids by Margot Datz

Challenge 3: Read and watch a book to movie adaptation

I wanted to pick a book that would be a quick-read and a movie that I readily had access to so I chose this one because the movie is on Hulu, and I’ve never watched a comic book to movie adaptation before.

I’m reading: I Kill Giants by Joe Kelly and JM Ken Nimura

Challenge 4: Read a book with green on the cover

No matter the version of this book, it seems every one of them has green on the cover, and it’s a classic fantasy story that I’ve been wanting to try for a while.

I’m reading: Dragonsong by Anne McCaffrey

Challenge 5: Read a book while wearing the same hat the whole time

I’m not really a hat person, but I have a few hats crammed into my closet, specifically a black fedora that makes me feel super fancy. I used a random number generator again to pick this book.

I’m reading: Stolen by Lucy Christopher

Challenge 6: Read a book with a beautiful spine

While straightening books in the middle grade section, I actually pulled this book of the shelf to look at it because the spine caught my eye so much. The illustrations on the cover are incredible, and I can only hope the book is just as awesome.

I’m reading: If the Magic Fits by Susan Maupin Schmid

Challenge 7: Read seven books

This last challenge is a “freebie” and an encourager to get through seven books. Once again, I threw my number of Goodreads Want-to-Read books into a random number generator and out popped this book.

I’m reading: Bonfire by Krysten Ritter

The last two read-a-thons that I attempted left me sleep-deprived and sick with a cold. Hopefully with a TBR that I’m really excited about and with a few books that should be quick reads, I’ll be able to get through the Booktube-A-Thon unscathed. If you’re up for the challenge and thinking of trying the Booktube-A-Thon, let me know in the comments and share your TBR pile!

Happy reading!