Tour Stop: MAGNOLIA by Kristi Cook Book Review

by Kristi Cook
Publication Date: August 5, 2014
Publisher: Simon & Schuster

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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Book Review:
Rating: 3.2 of 5 stars

The Good:
I love the twist to Romeo and Juliet. I've read a book or two of a retelling of the story so it's nice and refreshing to see a different, more unique version of it in Magnolia. It felt like Romeo and Juliet in reverse. That instead of them having to repress their feelings because they can never be together they're actually doing everything they can to not be together. It's actually one of the reasons I was ecstatic to read the book. I have been a huge fan of Kristi Cook ever since I read Haven so I was very excited to see how she'll pull this one off. And it turned out really good.

I love that the main protagonist, Jemma, isn't portrayed as someone too feminine. I mean, how many times have I come across a heroine who's hobby is to shoot guns? I don't think I have honestly. It gave her character an edge and made her more intriguing. Granted she doesn't jump from moving trains or fight off demons. But let's admit it, she's great at what she does and that to me makes her a kickass.

I can relate to Jemma and Ryder's situation. Not because I have my whole life planned out for me by my parents and by the parents of the guy who they tell me I'm going to be with forever but because I know what it feels like to want to be in control of my life. To do or not do something just because our family said so. It feels so freeing to do the one thing we're not supposed to do. Haven't we all been a rebel at one time? From the chocolate cookie we're not supposed to eat before dinner to the midnight curfew we broke - all these little shows of rebellion just so we'd feel like we're still the ones who make the decisions.

I admire the relationship between the Caffertys and the Marsdens. This for me highlights one of the great things about Magnolia. I have never seen such loyalty, closeness, familiarity and affection between people. It was sweet and humbling.

Lastly, I love the culture and the traditions incorporated in the story. I wish this was explored more but the little I read about it made me want to live in Magnolia Landing. Or just go and visit Mississippi. And is it just me or does the book remind you of the movie The Blind Side?

The Bad:
I did not feel any connection towards Jemma. I can't sympathize with her and even after reading the whole book, she still feels like a stranger to me. I could count off in one hand the few things I know about her.

Jemma lead Patrick on, stringing him along when she clearly knew that she did not feel any romantic feelings for him.
Meanwhile, Patrick is clingy and way too overeager. Poor guy, he seemed nice and likable but he just got on my nerves. And after what happened to him I feel terrible saying that but seriously, something just felt wrong with him.

Some of Jemma and Ryder's interactions sounded way too cheesy and felt insincere.

Lastly, Jemma, Ryder and the members of both families were portrayed perfectly. Too perfectly in fact I just didn't find it believable at times.

Magnolia is a great book with a unique twist. It wasn't as amazing as I expected but I enjoyed it a lot.

I received a free ecopy of the book as part of a blog tour.

Follow the tour here.

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