Title: The White Glove War
Series: The Magnolia League (Book #2)
Author: Katie Crouch (& Grady Hendrix)
Summary: Every society has its secrets.
The members of Savannah’s Magnolia League have it all: money, beauty, power, and love. Some may call them lucky, but we know better. Spells, potions, and conjures are a girl’s best friends, and thanks to the Buzzards — a legendary hoodoo family — the Magnolias never run out of friends.
Golden girl Hayes Anderson would never dream of leaving the League or Savannah, where there’s no problem that can’t be fixed with a cup of Swamp Brew tea — served in a bone china cup, of course — and no boy who can’t be won over with a Conjure Up a New Love spell.
But when danger lurks and family secrets are unearthed, Hayes discovers that her life may not be charmed after all.
Review: Well, it wasn’t as terrible as its predecessor–I can give it that much. I received this ARC from my supervisor at the library, and although I hated the first book in this series, I had nothing to lose in reading the second one. (Except maybe six or so hours of my time, that is.) Like I said–it wasn’t as horrendous as The Magnolia League was, and miles less offending in its stereotypes and holier-than-thou personality, but based on this book, I would not tell you to read the series. It was still disappointing (even though I wasn’t expecting much to begin with), and unenjoyable. I read this often with my sister-in-law present, who is visiting us right now, and every time I groaned, moaned, or rolled my eyes, she would demand why I didn’t just quit the book. Sometimes books get better at the end!
Unfortunately, that doesn’t apply here.
What I Liked: Spoilers!
- There simply aren’t words to describe how much I appreciated Hayes’ narrative. Part of the reason I hated the first book so much was because I could not stand Alex’s character, and I literally despised everything about her. Hayes was one of the more bearable characters, and I had hope because parts of this book were in her perspective (although don’t be fooled into thinking the whole book is, because it’s not). She was a new voice–a better voice–and I almost enjoyed reading from her point of view. She doesn’t generally hold an air of “I’m so much better than you”, like her Magnolia sisters, or hippie Alex. Her narrative alone is the reason this book as two stars instead of the one I almost gave it.
What I Didn’t Like:
- We’ll start with the thing that bothered me most. During this book, one classmate of the Magnolia Girls’ is killed. The students think that he was either drunk or suicidal and crashed his car into an oncoming semi truck, and his body obliterated–his eyes also pecked out by birds (although the reader knows better). And how do they react? Anna comes up to Alex and starts gossiping about it, and Alex, as Owen’s (the kid who died) alleged girlfriend, she does nothing. She says something like, “Oh, that’s too bad,” or something and then freaks out because it’s her fault, and she needs to take care of the Gray Man and get her mom back. Anna just walks away, Madison barely reacts at all, and it seems like nobody, nobody, is mourning this kid. This is a suspected suicide! I’m sorry, but that is not in any way a believable response. This is a topic that I’m much more sensitive to after this year (for reasons in my Thirteen Reasons Why review), and it bothers me, thoroughly and wholly, when it’s not treated with the proper respect. Killing teenagers in your books needs to at least be done respectfully. Don’t just a kill a kid and then not have anybody care that he’s dead. That’s just not okay. Not only is it not realistic, but it’s not respectful, and that is important beyond what my words can convey. The shock and aftermath of losing a classmate, however close or not close you were, is stunning and it’s wrenching, and it’s a terrible experience. But everybody was okay after fifteen minutes, and it didn’t matter to anyone. Even when Madison confronts Hayes’ mother over it being her fault Owen is dead, nobody cares. Nobody.
- Here’s my second pet peeve with this series. Alex is convinced she’s fat. Granted, she got over it a bit more in this book, because she’s skinny as I’ll get out. However, the way everyone else refers to her at fat and pudgy, when she wasn’t even fat to begin with, seriously grates on my nerves. Sybil talks to Hayes and refers to Alex as her “fat friend”, and when Alex goes to see Dr. Jacobs, he calls her “fat face”. Ugh! All the people judge Alex for her weight and stuff, and she’s not even heavy. She was a size six before the Magnolia League, and basically a size zero during this book. Imagine how that makes a girl like me feel–size fourteen and already self-conscious enough about it as it is. I don’t want to feel like when I walk into a room, people are calling me fat face, or referring to me as the fat friend behind my back, like they do to Alex. By these standards, I–and any other normal sized girl–am a freaking blimp, and that’s really insulting. I do not see myself as fat, as self-conscious as I am about my weight, and Alex and everyone else in this book, has no place to make fat jokes about a skinny girl. It just makes the rest of us feel terrible about ourselves. I hope the authors realize that when writing the next book.
- There’s just plain bad writing. The book starts off introducing Hayes with her full name and family history–something we were taught not to do in creative writing starting from sixth grade and up. That’s a huge writing no-no in itself, because it’s amateur and a terrible hook. There are also just sad grammar mistakes that should be part of Writing 101; for example:
“Hayes.” Dorothy says. (ARC 39)
Everybody knows that that is just wrong. Also, this is a present tense book. However, there’s a total slip up in the writing on page 225:
“Dex saw you going out to that island one day a couple of months ago,” Madison said.
If you’re going to write your book in present tense, please at least be thorough about it.
Here’s a couple other easy mistakes that simple editing could have fixed:
“I did it for my daughter,” my mom hisses. “That Lee girl parachutes in and snatches everything away from Hayes,” my mother hisses. (ARC 230)
“And I am so sorry,” my mom’s voice is gin-calm. (ARC 231)
We get out. of the car At least the sound of sobbing is starting to fade behind us. (ARC 249)
The other Magnolias stand by silently as the two women look at each other like pregnant cats in July. (ARC 289)
Not to mention my personal favorite! The book starts with Hayes full name, which is given as Hayes Mary McCord Anderson. They loop back around to that in the last chapter in Hayes’ point of view, where she introduces herself as Hayes Mary Elizabeth Anderson. The authors couldn’t even be bothered to remember the name of their own character. To read the first page of their own novel. I don’t see a reason why I should care about their characters, either.
- As with the first book, much of this was unpleasant and trying-too-hard-to-be-cool. Madison and Dexter spend all their time together and are even caught break dancing at a party together (break dancing = trying too hard to be cool); and Madison jumps in as the see-all-know-all girl at the end who brings Hayes to her sense (trying too hard to be convenient). There’s even a blatant The Great Gatsby reference-but-not-a-reference when Hayes describes the people coming into their party–one couple is described as the “old-money Buchanans”. Old-money, I can understand is a cool reference. But actually using the last name of the couple from the book the term old-money came from? That’s stretching it a bit far. Plus, things like the relationship between Thaddeus and Alex, Hayes and her boyfriend Jason, Madison and Dexter…it’s all overwhelming and just makes me want to throw the book down in frustration. Thaddeus and Alex swear they love each other, under a relationship that has no rhyme or reason to it. Just…the little things pile up, one on top of another, until you just want to explode and quit the book altogether.
Overall: As with the first book, I wouldn’t recommend this one. If you aren’t sure you want to read this one, I’d tell you it’s not worth it. There’s practically nothing redeeming about it, except the Hayes’ narrative (and even she gets on my nerves a lot of the time)–most of it was just insulting and upsetting, especially the issues concerning Alex’s weight and the reaction of the classmates to Owen’s death. I will not be recommending this book to anybody, and nothing about my reading experience was pleasant in the slightest.