Review: Magnolia by Kristi Cook

Posted October 17, 2014 by valeranne in Reviews / 7 Comments

Review: Magnolia by Kristi Cook


by Kristi Cook
Published on August 5th, 2014
by Simon & Schuster
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult
Format: Paperback
Source: Purchased
Amazon | B&N | Goodreads

Also by this author: Magnolia

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.

5 Stars

Six hours. Six hours is how long it took me to devour this book. I started it at midnight (poor decision on my part) and stayed up until 6 am to finish it because let me tell you, this book is AMAZING! Oh man, I could just gush and gush about this this book but I will actually try to review it, as hard as it might be. I have been in a funk of just reading okay books (besides Belzhar) and Magnolia successfully got me out of my funk!

There was so much that was right in this book that it is impressive. The premise is brilliant yet simple; Jemma and Ryder’s families have been friends for decades (going back to The Civil War) but they have never had a boy/girl match that could finally unite their families in marriage until Jemma and Ryder. It is essentially the exact opposite of Romeo and Juliet and it is AMAZING! I thought that the allusions to Shakespeare were WONDERFUL and the scenes/acts just fit perfectly into the story. Jemma and Ryder have both been told over and over again that they are perfect for one another which have caused a very distinct wall to form between them; neither of them wants to give into their families’ insane tactics and planned out futures.

This is a romance book at its core but like great YA romances, it is grounded in real life with real life situations; these characters are both trying to figure out what they want from their futures which makes it easy to relate to both of these characters (for me, at least). I loved seeing how their passions were sprinkled throughout the book because then choices of majors/schools make complete sense to the reader. Both Jemma and Ryder choose not to take the road that is carved out for them and it’s so cool to see how alike they really are even though they’ve been strained since 8th grade. We get to see these characters acting immature and mature, the good and the bad, but they are constantly growing and learning which is great to read about. Jemma and Ryder are distinctly different people with different life goals and I loved seeing how these two came to understand one another.

Kristi wrote two real characters that both had flaws and passions which made for two highly believable characters; they fought and were stubborn but they also worked through these differences and got to see the other person’s point of view. It was a really well-crafted story and the characters were amazingly written. 

This ship. This ship is the most wonderful thing. The buildup is amazing and I loved seeing how Jemma’s thoughts changed towards Ryder during the book. It was amazing and beautiful and wonderful. I’ve already gone back a few times just to read the highlights because they make me SO HAPPY!

Just go read it, it’s amazing.


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 well as reading everybody else’s. A transplanted southern gal, Kristi lives in New York City with her husband and two daughters. Visit her online at

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