San Marcos High School ~ Santa Barbara, CA

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The King's Page

The King's Page

Book Reviews with Elizabeth

Hello lovely readers! Join me for the last printed book review of this school year (and possibly the last one in general)! Never fear, as I will be back next year with so many more books to discuss, though this column might have a new name. I am fresh out of ideas, so if you can think of anything, let me know! Anyways, thanks for coming back once again, and enjoy!

Playing For a Better Ending: 

“Endgame” Series by James Frey and Nils Johnson-Shelton

Book Order: “Endgame: The Calling,” “Endgame: The Sky Key,” “Endgame: Rules of the Game”

Genre: Science Fiction, Dystopian (kind of)

Twelve players from each of the original bloodlines have been training their whole lives for this. When the asteroids strike, signaling the beginning of the end, each player knows that the time has come. Their bodies are lethal weapons, their wits sharp as swords, their resources enumerable; plenty of ways to win. To win they must collect all three keys, Earth, Sky, and Sun, and prevent anyone else from doing so. In this race to win, who will succeed and save their line?

It is really hard to capture the essence of a book in a short review, but I think the one thing you need to know before diving in is that the text is left aligned. 

That may not seem like too big of a deal, but every new sentence starts back at that left borderline.

Yeah, it is weird.

Kind of headache inducing, right?

Imagine reading an entire book like this, but the whole right aligned thing is totally unexpected because the book is not in verse, nor was there any expectation that it would be like this. 

Not fun. 

Enough of that. Ignoring the odd formatting, the story is really good. I was totally drawn in, and will definitely finish the rest of the series. Surprisingly, I am actually invested, and want to know who wins. Chris (who is not even one of the players) started off as my least favorite character. I thought he was creepy, and kind of possessive. Well, as the game progresses, you find there are a lot more creepy people who are doing a lot worse things than Chris. Although Chris is a bit of a stalker, he did not kill anyone (which is more than I can say for the rest of them). As there are 12 players, the book switches between each person’s perspective. Now, some are more interesting than others, and while some may seem more pertinent, each character’s actions have a significant impact on the whole game. Between each chapter, there is an interesting graphic, quote, or cryptic piece of writing that serve as indicators of what is about to come. This book is set in modern day with society as it is, however there is an impending meteorite strike crisis, which is the indicator for the beginning of Endgame. I would classify the game itself as dystopian, or that its effects greatly impact the world. Yes, the whole world, as Endgame is a global phenomenon. Players traveled from across the globe to the start in China, and their subsequent adventures span the world as well! See if you can recognize all the cool locations they visit as you read! Although this is not my typical cup of tea, I am really enjoying all the action, and I am all in to find out who will win! I am only in book 2 now, but my money is on Aisling. 

Rating: 8/10 (action packed, but I really dislike certain peoples’ POV’s which brings down the score)

Fancy Victorians with Some Flair:

“The Wisteria Society of Lady Scoundrels” by India Holton

Genre & Tropes: Romance, Historical Fiction, Enemies to Lovers

Raised by her matronly aunt Miss Darlington, Cecilia Bassingthwaite has been taught to be a proper lady. However, their definition of a proper lady includes being a thief, blackmailer, and overall scoundrel. They, along with other piratical ladies, belong to the illustrious Wisteria Society. That is, until Ned Lightbourne, an assassin for hire, shows up with news that will change things. Cecilia’s dastardly father, the pirate captain Morvath has put the assassin on her tail, but Ned has other plans. When all the Wisteria ladies are taken, it is up to the unlikely partnership of Ned and Cecilia to fight against her evil father, save the Wisteria women, and stop his dastardly plots (and recitations of horrible poetry) for good. 

They have flying houses. If that does not immediately draw you in, I do not know how else to convince you. Oh, maybe I should mention the fact that Cecilia and Ned start off as enemies. And… well this is a romance so… possible enemies to lovers? I cannot confirm nor deny, but I will leave you with the possibility. I have found a ton of good historical fiction books lately, and I am happy to report that this is one of those. The descriptions of the houses and society were quite lovely, and I especially enjoyed the reminders of maintaining proper propriety. Ladies needed to always have decorum, they were not allowed to walk unchaperoned, they had to practice needlework, there were just all these ridiculous rules they needed to follow. Despite all of that, the Wisteria ladies still managed to live a life of crime! They are my inspirations in all things, especially in petty burglary and house piloting. Morvath made a most satisfying villain. His evilness was limited to dramatic readings of his poetry, and of course kidnappings. I would give him a five star review, very terrifying indeed! A fun feature was the cast of characters listed at the beginning. While the names did not mean much back then, upon completing the book, it was enjoyable to look back and see all the descriptions. My favorite belongs to the ghost of Emily Brontë – alleged. See, now you have to read the book! Otherwise you will not know what that means, and nobody wants to be left out. Pleasance and Cousin Frederick were the best characters, though Queen Victoria’s part cannot be denied. The historical accuracy is… well there were efforts made. I did not read it for accuracy, I read it for the thievery, knavery, and flying battlehouses. Ned and Cecilia’s adventure was splendid, and I hope that wherever they may be, they are still off scheming.  

Rating: 9/10 (I have no clue why, but this does not warrant a perfect score. Sue me)

Series Spotlight:

“Little Bridge Island” Series by Meg Cabot

Book Order: “No Judgment”, “No Offense,” “No Words”

Genre: Romance 

“No Judgment” Summary: 

Stuck on Little Bridge Island during a hurricane, waitress and animal lover Bree grows closer to resident bad-boy Drew. After hearing that many residents left their pets behind while evacuating, they joined forces to rescue all the animals, and grew closer during the process. When her ex reappears, can Bree and Drew’s new relationship survive the storm?

“No Offense” Summary:

Molly, the new librarian on Little Bridge Island is struggling to find herself in such a different environment. When a crime wave sweeps through the town and a baby is found abandoned in the library bathroom, she is forced into a partnership with the town sheriff John to find the mother, arrest the culprits, and possibly find true love along the way.

“No Words” Summary:

Jo, a children’s book author is invited to a book conference on Little Bridge Island, the home of her nemesis Will Price. She hoped to never see him again, but the newest movie adaptation of his books wrapped filming just in time. Joined by a bunch of zany authors, can they get over their differences, or will they continue to deny their chemistry?

Yes, Meg Cabot of Princess Diaries fame has written a ton more books! I knew that, but I had not read any other of her works before I found these. All the books are set on Little Bridge Island, an idyllic tourist spot in the Florida Keys, and they are all interconnected, which I love. Although I provided an order, you do not necessarily have to read them in the series order, as they all involve different people. In fact, I read them completely out of order, and had no difficulties with understanding. As you read more of the books, you recognize the characters from past books, and it is nice to see what they are all up to. My favorite of the three books was “No Judgment” because I read it the most recently, and because the setting is very dramatic. They are in the middle of a hurricane! Moments in the rain are the most romantic, and there are plenty of those. I loved the small town charm of this series, and everyone being up in everyone else’s business. If even the slightest scandal occurred, it was spread across town in no time. I also really enjoyed all the main characters being strong women. Did they need a man? No. Even when they were with said man, they still maintained autonomy, and remained focused on their goals. In so many romance novels the female lead is compromised by love, and loses all of her backbone. Ladies like Jo, Molly, and Bree are not common finds, especially in romance novels where women swoon once and are rendered useless. Each story was totally different from the others, something that is usually hard to find in series, and while they seemed trope-ish, I have never read another book with these specific pairings (I am sure that sheriff x librarian books exist out there though). The only warning I have to offer is that these are adult books, so there are some mature scenes. It is easy enough to skip over them if you are not interested in that, but they do exist. If you are an avid romance reader though, it is nothing unusual for the genre, and these are fairly tame. Spring is typically the season for consuming a ton of romance novels, but this year none of them were all that good. The charm of the town, the charm of the characters, and the love in the air were unparalleled, which made these books stand out. If you are looking for cute romances, give this series a try!

Rating: 10/10 (really really good!!)

Honorable Mention: 

The Silver Trilogy by Kerstin Gier

Book Order: “Dream a Little Dream,” “Dream On,” “Just Dreaming”

Genre: YA Fantasy 

Another brilliant recommendation by my friend Kaitlyn, this series takes us into the world of dreams. Olivia and her younger sister Mia have just moved in with their Mom and her new boyfriend. Along with the house comes his children, and increasingly weird dreams. Most of all a dream with four mysterious boys in a graveyard. If I saw a random person from a dream in real life, I would be extremely concerned (let alone four really cute guys), but Olivia seemed to take that in stride. She was of course a bit confused, but her determination to get to the bottom of it all is admirable. I was not expecting the love story aspect, but when Olivia first met all of the boys, I knew that something would happen. Secrecy (the school’s anonymous gossipy blog) was a surprising delight as well. They provided just the right amount of snark, and their identity was a longstanding mystery. It is only revealed in the third book, so you will have to read them all to find out! For a tad more explanation: in the dream world there is a corridor of doors. As the rules to this corridor were never defined, there was always a new loophole being found, and some new shenanigans occurring. I loved all the different doors, and I have spent a lot of time thinking about the design of my door. Unrelatedly, speaking of the plot, it was a masterpiece! The devious couple Arthur and Anabelle caused chaos, Olivia dealt with the move and her new family, Secrecy stirred the plot, ugh absolutely genius. The premise of the book sounds kind of childish, but it is very much about teenagers, and includes a lot of typically included YA topics, like drinking, mentions of sex, and mental health. For a seemingly simplistic dreamy series, this deserves a lot more attention than has been given.

Rating: 10/10 (give it a chance! If you are a YA reader who likes parties, late night revenge, and adorable au pairs, you will adore this)

Dishonorable Mention: 

“I Am Margaret Moore” by Hannah Capin

Genre: Paranormal Fiction, YA Thriller

This book takes the prize for my very first dishonorable mention! We’ve had some fairly low scores here in book review land, but never has a book been so disgraced. If you have read this column since the beginning, you might recall a glowing review of Hannah Capin’s book The Dead Queens Club. She actually earned the distinction as my favorite author… that is until this book came into existence. Conceptually, it has great promise: girls at a summer camp, but something mysterious occurred the previous summer. Well, the summer camp is a military training camp, which is fine, but there was a lot of lingo that was unfamiliar. That would be fine on its own, but coupled with the fact that the main character may or may not be alive is just overwhelming. For a good three-quarters of the book, I was so confused as to Margaret’s living status. Eventually, it was explained, but the beginning was kinda infuriating. I am disappointed that a potential feminist masterpiece failed so badly. The plot was perfectly set up for empowerment, but she failed to deliver it. The writing style was just weird, the characters did not seem fully developed, altogether it was below her usual writing standard. After reading this monstrosity, Hannah Capin dropped from my top author spot into humiliation. I would advise against reading this when there are so many better books out there (like others featured in this review)!

Rating: 0/10 (shameful. SHE SHOULD FEEL SHAME!!!!!)

Congratulations for making it all the way to the end! I will see you back next school year with more of everything you love about this column, and hopefully more. Summer reading is the best, so grab a load of books and enjoy! Happy reading, and goodbye for now!

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About the Contributor
Elizabeth Léka
Elizabeth Léka, Opinion Editor
Elizabeth is a senior at San Marcos High School. Opinion is her favorite section, and she has essentially monopolized it for two years now. She loves anything sweet, reading, playing board games (like Monopoly), and spontaneously going on walks. Her favorite subjects in school are history, and of course journalism.
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San Marcos High School ~ Santa Barbara, CA
Book Reviews with Elizabeth