Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Review: Magnolia by Kristi Cook

In Magnolia Branch, Mississippi, the Cafferty and Marsden families are southern royalty. Neighbors since the Civil War, the families have shared vacations, holidays, backyard barbecues, and the overwhelming desire to unite their two clans by marriage. So when a baby boy and girl were born to the families at the same time, the perfect opportunity seemed to have finally arrived.

Jemma Cafferty and Ryder Marsden have no intention of giving in to their parents’ wishes. They’re only seventeen, for goodness’ sake, not to mention that one little problem: They hate each other! Jemma can’t stand Ryder’s nauseating golden-boy persona, and Ryder would like nothing better than to pretend stubborn Jemma doesn’t exist.

But when a violent storm ravages Magnolia Branch, it unearths Jemma’s and Ryder’s true feelings for each other as the two discover that the line between love and hate may be thin enough to risk crossing over.

ebook, 336 pages
Expected publication: August 5th 2014 by Simon Pulse 
Genre: Young Adult

Kristine's Thoughts:

I received an advanced readers copy of this book from Simon Pulse via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!

Let me start off by saying that this is a YA book and I am a slightly out of my young adult years. OK, who am I kidding? I am quite a few years out of my teenage years. Did it make it hard for me to enjoy this book or relate to it? Absolutely not! What it did was take me back and remember those times when my future was up in the air, boys drove me crazy and parental expectations were high.

The story of boy and girl who hate (or do they?) each other but who are forced into situations together is not a new one. What makes Magnolia  a little different is the history between the two families and their overwhelming desire and pressure on Jemma and Ryder to finally connect the families on a larger scale. Their families are the best of friends dating back to Civil War. Both families have dreamt of connecting their families through marriage but circumstances and timing have never been on their side until Jemma and Ryder are born only weeks apart. While throwing them in cribs, sandboxes, vacations and Sunday dinners together, their mothers (not so secretly) dream and plan up a future for them together.


Seventeen years later, Jemma and Ryder can't stand each other. They are constantly fighting or ignoring each other and their parents hopes are anything but reality. After an incident in the eighth grade the two can barely stand to be in the same room together. Then something happens to Jemma's sister that pulls the family away unexpectedly forcing Jemma and Ryder to weather (literally) a horrific storm together.

Enough about the plot. Here is what I liked about it...

I loved the southern setting and charm of the book. I could see myself there, feel the environment and the old fashioned morals and traditions. Mostly I enjoyed reading about Jemma's struggles to break the mold with her desire to go to school somewhere other than where expected of her. It is more than just a boy meets girl story as she battles her desires against those that she loves most. There are real teenage problems and decisions to be made.

But I am forgetting something...

The most enjoyable part of this book for me was the storm. I could not put the book down when the storm hit and Jemma and Ryder were struggling through it alone. Forget about my family, work, errands and responsibilities. They all had to wait until I (and the storm) were done before they could get any attention from me. Not only was it the physical description of the storm that had me glued but also the interactions between Jemma and Ryder. I loved every little detail from the snake, flooded road and tornado sirens to the confessions, conversations and togetherness of the two characters.

Magnolia is a cute summer book that I am sure readers of all ages will enjoy. With a little young love, a terrifying storm, high family expectations, a little tragedy and other complications there is a little of everything for readers to enjoy. I certainly did!

About the Author
Kristi Cook also publishes adult titles under the names Kristina Cook and Kristi Astor. Her YA novels include Haven, Mirage, Eternal, and Magnolia. Kristi lives in New York City with her husband and two daughters.

Connect with Kristi

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