Hello and welcome to my wrap up of the books I read in April! This month, I read eight books, but this won’t be quite that long, since several books are part of a series. Let’s get into it!
Lost in the Never Woods by Aiden Thomas. A reimagining of the classic Peter Pan story set in the small coastal town of Astoria, Wendy Darling has been carrying trauma for five years of having gone missing with her little brothers in the woods, losing them, and having no memory of what happened. Children are starting to go missing again, echoing what happened with the Darling children. People are starting to ask questions, bringing back all of that trauma for Wendy. One night driving home, she nearly runs over somebody, and when she goes to check on them, she discovers it’s the Peter from the stories she was told growing up, the ones she told to her brothers, and to the kids at the hospital she volunteers at now. It’s the person she’s been unconsciously drawing over and over, along with a mysterious tree. Her world is shaken as she has to reevaluate everything she thought she knew, and help Peter figure out what happened to the missing children, and hopefully, her brothers too. — *takes a deep breath* I LOVED THIS. Thomas hit it out of the park again. Their first published book is Cemetery Boys, and I absolutely loved that. This is their second book published, but the first one they wrote. I really enjoyed the twists that Thomas put on the classic story – how Peter’s powers work, what the Lost Children are, Peter’s shadow, the Darling family and Wendy. I really don’t want to spoil major things for this story, so I’m not going to tell you any more details. This book does go deep in on PTSD, trauma, mental health, so that’s something to be aware of going in. I preordered my copy, and it’s gorgeous! The hard cover is this beautiful blue color, and the endpapers are light pink! I also signed up for the preorder campaign, and got three beautiful cards with illustrations and an enamel pin. First card is of the Darling children smiling and posing for a family picture, flip side is Wendy alone, looking sad. Second card is of Peter Pan, mischievously smiling, flip side Peter is back-to-back with his shadow who looks malicious. The third card has Wendy alone in a window nook looking out, flip side Wendy and Peter smiling at each other on the floor. The enamel pin is of a silver acorn with a moonlit forest scene on it, a purple ribbon around it that has the title on it. Just beautiful, like this story. If you liked Cemetery Boys, you’ll probably enjoy this as well but they are not similar in any way! For a more detailed, but still spoiler free, review, I’d recommend watching Adri’s reading vlog.
I’m going to go out of order a little here, and jump to the third book I read this month. The Last Fallen Star by Graci Kim. Riley Oh is part of the Gom clan, a powerful lineage of Korean healing witches. She’s excited to see her sister, Hattie, finally get initiated and get her Gi bracelet, allowing her to be able to cast spells on her own. Riley would love nothing more than to follow in her sister’s footsteps, but she’s saram, a person without magic. She was adopted and has always been the outsider in her family and the gifted community. During a conversation, Riley and Hattie discover it is possible for a gifted to share their magic with a saram, and decide they’ll cast the spell during the initiation. What could go wrong? *stares in foreshadowing* They discover that Riley is not exactly what they thought she was, and Hattie’s life is now in danger. To save her, Riley is given the task of finding the last fallen star, which is just impossible. Riley has no idea how to find it or what it even is. On the journey, her beliefs are challenged by what she learns, she meets all sorts of magical creatures and people, and she has to figure out what being a witch is, what family means, what belonging means to her. — This is a Rick Riordan Presents, and I absolutely enjoyed it, like I have pretty much every other RRP book. I have read Dragon Pearl by Yoon Ha Lee, which also has Korean mythology, but that had a heavy focus on the gumiho, or fox spirit, mythology with others sprinkled in. It’s also sci-fi! Fallen Star is more about the six clans, which have different types of magic – protection, healing, illusions, among others. We also meet various mythical creatures, and some deities. This is set in modern-day Los Angeles, and the Korean witches are hidden in plain sight, their temples and buildings hidden by magic from passerby. The world that Kim created is just fantastic, and it never felt like she was info-dumping on us, we learned bits as we went. Part of that was because Riley was learning some herself, so we learned along with her. The story does have a main character and focuses on her journey, but the side characters were all fantastic and they had their own journeys too, they weren’t there to serve as just props for Riley. The whole message of this book—feeling like an outsider and having nothing to offer, or having two identities you care about very much, struggling to figure out where you belong—is just fantastic, and I can tell it will resonate with a lot of people, especially those who come from several cultures. To end, the plot twists!! There are multiple, and they’re all good! This is a book people need to read, and it JUST came out so it’s available everywhere now.
Now, back to the second book, which is Deep Wizardry, the second book in the Young Wizards series. I did the moving around because after Fallen Star, I read three more from the same series: High Wizardry, A Wizard Abroad, and The Wizard’s Dilemma. I’m currently reading this series for a Title Talks, where I’ll go more in-depth about each book. I didn’t say anything about the first book when I mentioned it in my February wrap up, so I’ll do a quick summary now. So You Want to be a Wizard is about Nita, a preteen that stumbles across a book and discovers that wizardry is real and she has the ability to use it. She meets Kit, and they both go on an Ordeal, where they have to prove themselves and probably save the world in the process. Deep Wizardry takes us under the ocean where whale-wizards are doing a big piece of wizardry to calm the Sea and protect the world. High Wizardry rips us away from Earth as Nita’s powerful little sister goes on her own Ordeal, hopping across the universe. A Wizard Abroad drops us into Ireland, where layers of old wizardries are so dense, you can’t do any spellwork without accounting for ancient magic first. The Wizard’s Dilemma forces us to face our own mortality, and how complex life can be, especially when it comes to diseases like cancer and viruses. That’s it for that series, for now anyway!
The Magic Fish by Trung Le Nguyen. Tiến loves his family, and enjoys reading his favorite stories with his parents, like they’ve been doing for most of his life. Tiến has grown up with communication challenges, since he speaks both Vietnamese and English, but his parents are struggling with English, being immigrants. Tiến is trying to figure out how to tell his parents he’s gay, because he doesn’t know if there’s even a word in Vietnamese for what he’s experiencing. He and his mother navigate life with fairytales weaving through their story. — This is a gorgeously illustrated graphic novel. The story of Tiến is interspersed with various fairytales that are very familiar to us, but their reinterpretations are the ones that are told. We read the German Allerleirauh, the Vietnamese Tấm Cám, and The Little Mermaid. I really enjoyed seeing these different reinterpretations, along with the styles of art/fashion for each story. The style of fashion was based on who was telling the story, and the period of life that the storyteller was in, giving us strong parallels between that person’s story and the fairytales. I absolutely recommend this, if nothing else but to read the fairytales and see this gorgeous art.
One Last Stop by Casey McQuiston. August is a cynical twenty-three-year-old that moved to New York City to get away from her mother’s obsessive and all-consuming search for August’s missing uncle. She moved to New York to prove that being alone is the best way to go through life, true love and magic is all made-up. August ends up getting a job at a 24-hour pancake diner, even though she has absolutely no experience, thanks to her weird roommates. And she doesn’t expect her subway commute to be anything but boredom, full of strangers, and electrical issues. Until one day, August sees this gorgeous leather-jacket-swoopy-hair-soft-smile girl on the Q. She quickly develops a crush, and learns her name, Jane, and falls for her charming, mysterious persona. August tries to learn more but Jane evades almost any questions about her past, and August eventually discovers that Jane doesn’t just look like someone from the 1970s, she *is* someone from the 70s, trapped on the Q line. August decides she has to help Jane get unstuck, and ends up having to call upon all the skills and knowledge she tried to leave behind with her mother. A whirlwind of a pancake fundraiser slash drag show slash heist planning goes down to help Jane get to where she’s supposed to be. — I loved Red, White & Royal Blue and I ABSOLUTELY LOVED THIS. August, a bisexual and plus-size woman, and Jane, a Chinese-American lesbian, are wonderful, I love their relationship and banter, but I also loved the whole supporting cast. August’s roommates, who don’t blink an eye when they’re told Jane is a girl out of time, the neighbor who is also a drag queen, the colorful characters who work at the diner, and just everything. This is a book full of queer characters across the spectrum, with a sapphic romance between two completely useless people at the center. It’s full of aching loneliness in a city full of millions, people finding each other and creating little families out of love, self-discovery, and of course, so much food. There’s a lot that happens in here and I really don’t want to spoil anything! I absolutely recommend this amazing book. Quick note – this isn’t published until June 1st. I received an eARC through NetGalley for review. But when it is published, read it!!
That’s all of the books I read in April! Let me know what you want to read next!
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