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Gameboard of the Gods
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The Magnolia League - Katie Crouch After the sudden death of her mother, Alex is forced to leave the free spirited commune where she's spent most of her life to live with her very traditional and very southern grandmother in Savannah, Georgia. Alex is like a fish out of water in Savannah. She doesn't fit in with the pretty, superficial girls her age and she certainly has nothing in common with her grandmother. Alex's grandmother, Miss Lee, is the head of a social group called The Magnolia League. The group elicits both fear an awe in town. Alex initially rebels at the idea of the League but hangs out with a couple of the girls in the League in order to appease her grandmother and some of her boredom. It's quickly apparent however that things are not what they seem and that there are secrets in the League - secrets that go back many years and may have had something to do with Alex's mother's death. The books starts of pretty strong. Alex is an independent you woman who is afraid to be herself. She has the same insecurities that most young women have (am I fat, do boys like me, etc.) but in general she comes off as a confident individual. Her two friends, Hayes and Madison are interesting as well. They can be catty and mean but, at the same time, you can see the beginnings of friendship forming and some of the dialogue is truly funny. Crouch's descriptions of Savannah are also very good, providing a moody atmosphere rich with history in which to lay out her story. Alex is a smart person and she soon figures out that something fishy is going on with members of The Magnolia League. Her grandmother and all of the other women seem unnaturally young and she becomes friends with Sam Buzzard, who seems to know something about her mother and her family. Then comes the big reveal in which the League performs a spell on Alex in order to get her to stop pining for her lame ex-boyfriend back in California. After that, the cat's out of the bag and Alex finds out that the League has made a pact with the Buzzards to keep them in spells that provide youth, power, money and whatever else the members wish for. Alex dives into this world quickly, not asking too many questions. Her insecurities get the better of her and she signs up for a spell that makes her thin along with skin and hair spells. Before you know it, Alex is a size 0 and is one of the most popular girls in school. It's around this point that the book goes a little downhill for me. I just expected a bit more from Alex. She becomes everything she didn't like about the Magnolia League. The independent young woman from the commune is replaced someone I am not sure I like. Pieces of the old Alex are still there but they're being overshadowed by the new Alex, and she ends up doing something she swore she would never do. At the end of the book, we do see the spark of the old Alex come back. The ending does seem somewhat abrupt though. Everything seems to happen in the last ten pages and then sets itself up for a sequel. I am definitely interested in seeing where the story goes though. Will Alex live up to her potential and break the curse of the Magnolia League? Guess we'll have to wait and see.