Category Archives: Poppy

Review: Belles by Jen Calonita

Belles by Jen Calonita
Publisher: Poppy
Release date: April 10, 2012
Source: Purchased
Series: Belles #1

Fifteen-year-old Isabelle Scott loves her life by the boardwalk on the supposed wrong side of the tracks in North Carolina. But when tragedy strikes, a social worker sends her to live with a long-lost uncle and his preppy privileged family. Isabelle is taken away from everything she’s ever known, and, unfortunately, inserting her into the glamorous lifestyle of Emerald Cove doesn’t go so well. Her cousin Mirabelle Monroe isn’t thrilled to share her life with an outsider, and, in addition to dealing with all the rumors and backstabbing that lurk beneath their classmates’ Southern charm, a secret is unfolding that will change both girls’ lives forever.
Warning: If you have the finished copy of this, DO NOT LOOK IN THE BACK UNTIL YOU ARE FINISHED WITH BELLES! There is a summary for the second book that could totally spoil you. I know because it spoiled me somewhat. Though that did only make me want to read it even more to see how stuff was revealed.
Anyways, THIS BOOK WAS AMAZING. As I know I’ve mentioned I do most of my reading at work on breaks, but this one I dug into and spent one evening doing nothing but reading Belles because it was that good. I love the southern atmosphere it conveyed. And the people. I don’t read contemporary too often, maybe once every other month on average. But these characters felt so real. And I felt like I was actually there while reading.
Izzie is amazing. She grew up faster than she should have had to to take care of her grandmother. She’s strong. Mira pissed me off most of the time, just because she’s so selfish. She does redeem herself a little bit at the end, just a little bit. I’ll be interested in seeing her character grow more in the second book after learning something shocking. My favorite character though was Mira’s brother Hayden. He’s just got everything together, and was one of the most welcoming when Izzie joined the Monroe family.
There was romance for both Izzie and Mira, and it was sweet. But it didn’t overshadow the overall story, which was nice. I’d definitely recommend this to anyone who loves contemporary young adult books, especially if you love southern settings! I’m seriously stoked for Winter White, which will actually get into the cotillion season, and I love those kinds of things.

Review: The Magnolia League by Katie Crouch

The Magnolia League by Katie Crouch
Publisher: Poppy
Release Date: May 3, 2011
Source: Finished copy from publisher for honest review
Purchase: Amazon or Book Depository

Summary from GoodReads:
After the death of her free-spirited mother, sixteen-year-old Alex Lee must leave her home in northern California to live with her wealthy grandmother in Savannah, Georgia. By birth, Alex is a rightful, if unwilling, member of the Magnolia League, Savannah’s long-standing debutante society. She quickly discovers that the Magnolias have made a pact with a legendary hoodoo family, the Buzzards. The Magnolias enjoy youth, beauty and power. But at what price?

As in her popular adult novels, Crouch’s poignant and humorous voice shines in this seductively atmospheric story about girls growing up in a magical Southern city.

My thoughts on The Magnolia League:
I’ve always had a small interest in debutante things, but not where I actively search for anything related to debutantes. So I was excited about that aspect of this book. And originally I thought it was voodoo, but I quickly realized while reading that it was hoodoo, and not voodoo, that was featured. And before this book, I hadn’t known there was a difference, so I’m glad to have been educated about that. And learning about the hoodoo culture, and the Gullah culture, and how in this town they’re intermixed in ways. Very interesting. Plus, I wanted to read a book set somewhere warm because I am so tired of my cold weather.

Let me just say, I enjoyed this book very much. I really liked that Alex was not your average barbie doll character. I wasn’t sold on the dreads though, but it definitely makes her unique in the current market of YA. I wasn’t thrilled when she first started buying into what hoodoo could give her, especially when she decides to do something she explicitly promised she would not do. I felt that weakened her as a character somewhat. And it was also somewhat predictable. She redeems that mistake a little near the end though, when she does something incredible for a friend. Can’t wait to see what happens with that.

I liked Hayes and Madison. Hayes especially, who surprised me. You’d think she would be the typical nasty queen bee, but she’s nothing but nice and welcoming to Alex. And Madison, who seems like a cold and uncaring person with others besides Hayes is actually a nice person. Thaddeus seems cold and uninterested at first, but warms up to Alex and their romance develops very nicely. And the Buzzard family. Boy do I want to know more about them, their history. Especially about whatever was between Sam and Alex’s mother.

I would have preferred a different ending. I was hoping Alex would go in one direction and embrace everything, since I rarely see that happen in situations like this. SPOILER ALERT: The next part will be whited out for those that don’t want to spoiled. I really wanted Alex to embrace hoodoo and The Magnolia League, instead of only staying to destroy it.

Overall though I really liked this book. The descriptions were vivid and I could picture myself in the settings while reading, and the flow of the book was smooth, didn’t feel jarring at all to me. A fun read. I’m definitely keeping my eye out for the sequel. I want to see how things are played out. This is definitely a book worth checking out.