Review: Magnolia by Kristi Cook

Friday, September 5, 2014

Title: Magnolia
Author: Kristi Cook
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Date of Publication: August 5, 2014
Genre: contemporary YA romance

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.

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My Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Thank you to Simon and Schuster and Edelweiss for the eARC in exchange for an honest review!

I've had a lengthy debate with myself whether to give this 2 stars or 3. Ultimately, I've decided on 3 but I refused to post my review during the tour. Because although I've enjoyed reading Magnolia, I found a lot of things I didn't quite like. The most superficial thing I didn't like is the cover. Now, don't get me wrong, the cover is actually cute and very apt, given that this is a Southern romance with a hurricane involved. All those dark clouds are very foreboding in nature. Really, I just don't like that the guy looks like Liam Hemsworth. Haha!

I like the reverse Romeo and Juliet plot and the forced close proximity trope used during the hurricane. Close proximity, even if it's a cheap trick, never fails to bring a smile on my face. However, I find Ryder a bit of a flat character and Jemma kind of superficial? I mean, sure, Jemma's cool, what with her being the best shot (as in target shooting) in Magnolia Branch, but meh, I just couldn't place myself in the characters' shoes and see what they like about each other. Ryder's hot, Jemma's beautiful, both have their own strengths (Ryder in school and Jemma in film). But nothing. I got giddy at times because they were all alone in Jemma's house during a hurricane but in general, I wasn't down with the pairing. There were hot scenes too, MEHEHE, so that is appreciated, thank you very much. Then I wasn't a fan of the randomness of the events in the novel too. SPOILER ALERT: What the heck? Why did Patrick have to die? We get a death scare with Nan's disease and I thought she'd die to give depth to the novel but then Patrick died without so much as a footnote. I don't get it. It just felt so out of field and the way they dealt with his death was very fleeting and simple. It was like, let's kill Patrick off so Jemma and Ryder can ride off into the sunset. Whuuuuttt??? That was really random and blase. END OF SPOILER

So while I enjoyed reading it for all the shenanigans and the teen rebellion where they could get it (Jemma and Ryder sneaking out because they don't want to give their families the satisfaction of seeing them together), I wasn't convinced with the romance and the story. This was just a bit over-the-top to me. Maybe with a different set of characters or a different set of plot devices, I would have loved this reverse Romeo and Juliet set-up to bits.

About Kristi Cook

As a child, Kristi Cook took her nose out of a book only long enough to take a ballet class (or five) each week. Not much has changed since then, except she’s added motherhood to the mix and enjoys penning her own novels as much as reading everybody else’s. A transplanted southern gal, Kristi lives in New York City with her husband and two daughters.

That’s the official version–here are some other fun facts:

~ As an undergrad, I majored in History and minored in English at the University of Southern Mississippi. While at Southern Miss, I was a member of Phi Mu sorority, and I was a Dixie Darling. And yep, Brett Favre was our quarterback at the time!

~ I studied American History in grad school at Columbia University. I *love* history, especially the Civil War era (U.S.) and Regency- and Edwardian-era British history.

~ My all-time favorite book *and* movie is GONE WITH THE WIND. My favorite literary characters are Rhett Butler, Atticus Finch, and Mr. Darcy. I kind of want to add Peeta Mellark to that list!

~Weirdly enough (or maybe not so weirdly?) I’m also a big fan of STAR TREK (the original series). I never can remember if I’m supposed to call myself a “Trekkie” or a “Trekker,” though!


  1. I read this one a little while ago, and I agree, this one could have been better.
    Great review.

    Em @

    1. Thanks, Em! You don't know how much relief your comment brought me. I've been feeling weird because almost everyone I know seem to love this and I just don't understand. Thanks for dropping by!

  2. I would like to check this one out, but after reading several reviews that were basically meh about it, I will definitely go into it guarded. It just sounds like it might be worth a read, even if it is far from perfect!

    1. But there were lots of raving reviews. I think it's either you love it or you found it meh. Sometimes I feel like I read a different book from all those who loved it. I don't know. You should still try it, Jaime! And thank you for stopping by!


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