Ashleigh Paige

I'm a full-time college sophomore pursuing my B.A. in English with hopes of one day working as an editor. Cats, musicals, documentaries about cults/disasters/tragedies, and curse words are just a few of my favorite things. Also, check out our blog or I WILL FIND YOU.

The Magnolia League (Magnolia League Series #1)

The Magnolia League - Katie Crouch Also appears on The Screaming Nitpicker. My copy was provided to me by the publisher through NetGalley and I thank them for that.After her mother's death, sixteen-year-old Alexandria "Alex" Lee is forced to pack up her things and move from her Mendocino, California commune to Savannah, Georgia. If all goes according to her grandmother Miss Lee's plans, Alex will become a proper Magnolia girl and take over the League's reins when Miss Lee retires or dies or something. To help Alex get caught up, Hayes Anderson and Madison Telfair, two fellow Magnolia girls, will help her. As she settles into her new high-class life, Alex notices how the Magnolias have so much money, beauty, and power that it seems supernatural. And it is--the Magnolias use hoodoo to keep themselves rich and beautiful, but that power comes with a price.The book's opening passage, a diatribe against sweet tea that made me laugh for all the right reasons, seems to promise a good book ahead, one with a heroine who's going to fight tooth and nail against her grandmother's silly society group. If only that were what it actually promised. The novel's closing line ("The White Glove War has begun.") was cool too. The material between that wonderful opening passage and that final line could have used some more work.I've been to the city of Savannah before, though it was when I was eleven or twelve and my memory is foggy, and most of my knowledge of Savannah comes from a book about the city's many famous ghosts. Crouch manages to really bring the city to life in her descriptions and make me feel like my trip to Savannah happened just last week. The descriptions of the city are vivid and for the most part, but then the descriptions of the people get repetitive. Almost everything Miss Lee does seems to be tagged with "patiently" and I'm amazed at whoever can forget that Thaddeus is hot and snobby.Despite slow pacing that suddenly explodes at the end of the novel, The Magnolia League flew by as I read it. My interest in Madison, Hayes, Alex, and hoodoo's part in the Magnolia League kept me reading through annoyances both big (you shall see later) and small (many predictions I made came true). The present tense point-of-view got on my nerves at times, but that's just my personal pet peeve. What little we saw of the other characters through the small pieces that were in third person made me wish we spent more time with them instead of in Alex's head. Hopefully, future novels in the series will shed a little more light on Madison and Miss Lee, the two characters who had the most potential for true depth.At the beginning of the novel, I liked Alex. She didn't care about designer labels and would rather spend her money on a charity that helps people in impoverished nations than on a new purse. As time went on, I began to like her less and less. Most of the Magnolia girls are unbearably shallow and and care far more about their appearances than anything. Alex, healthier than her friends (as we are constantly reminded by people calling her names or Alex herself pointing it out) and wearing dreadlocks, was a great contrast. Then Alex is informed of all the hoodoo and it gets worse from there. Alex goes from the unique, interesting person she is to the same sort of shallow girl she criticized Hayes and Madison as being.There are all sorts of underlying messages there, but I'll talk about just one. Hayes and Madison use hoodoo to replace Alex's dreads with normal hair and give Alex a talis (bracelet) that will make her skinny. Shortly after this makeover, her love interest Thaddeus finally takes the plunge and asks her out. It was obvious before the makeover that they both liked each other, so why couldn't they have admitted their feelings beforehand, when Alex was still fat and had dreads? A comment from Madison in the middle of this event about how Alex looks great now, combined with the timing of this event, implied an anger-worthy message to me and could do the same for a lot of people. Anti-fat books aren't entertaining, and I'm glad I directed a friend who is very insescure about her weight away from this book.Alex gets called out at least twice for how she's gone from being the unique girl from California who refused to be a Magnolia girl to the same shallow girl her friends are. She reflects so little on this that it's infuriating and did little to make my experience with the novel any better. I really thought she would be better than using hoodoo to change herself and so easily becoming what she detested, but it looks like I was wrong. She had touches of naivety, but not enough of them for some of her actions to seem in-character. It surprised me when only one person took serious notice of Alex's rapid changes and had a feeling something was wrong. So much about Alex changed so quickly that I find it implausible that only one person had serious suspicion something other than hard work was at... well, work.Coverwise, that blurring effect on the bottom half of the cover kills me. I like the part of it that's crisp and clear, but hate that they did the blurring thing. Ruins the cover for me. Her facial expression also strikes me wrong. Naturally, my impression of the cover did not affect the book's rating--I just love examining book covers when I can and wanted to mention what I thought of it this time.Starting out strong, The Magnolia League started going downhill shortly after all the hoodoo hoopla was revealed. It gained some strength back at the end when Alex got called out by multiple people for what she was doing, but it wasn't enough to save it completely. I'm definitely picking up The White Glove War when it comes out next year because I want to see where it can go from here. Will Alex take a look at what she's become and change or will she continue with her hoodoo use? We shall see.Pretend the line I scratched out never happened. Thanks to an article written by the author(s), I will not buy a copy of this book for myself or read the sequel. If they don't feel like they need to put forth any work or effort when writing YA, why should I give them my money?