Skip to main content


Magnolia by Kristi Cook captured my attention because it takes place in the south and seemed from the synopsis to be exactly the sort of love story I like. The thought of a reverse Romeo and Juliet (where the families are super close but kids are not having it) is an intriguing one. The promise of those things in the synopsis is fully delivered, and despite a little more melodrama than I typically like in my contemporary YA, it was a fun and enjoyable read.

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.

Magnolia is told in first person from Jemma's perspective, but it is equally Ryder's story. Due to the close relationship between their families, he is there for every important event in Jemma's life and highly present through the entire novel. I liked both of their characters a lot. She is fiery, stubborn, and temperamental. He is loyal, patient, and all around good guy. Both of them make some mistakes very typical of their ages. I loved how brave both of them were though in pursuing their dreams and wanting to carve out their own futures, and not live the lives the parents were dreaming for them. I also liked how they are not your typical modern YA characters. He is the quarterback of the football team and she is the co-coptain of the cheerleading squad. They are not part of the quirky outcast group, who thumbs up their noses at the popular kids and demonizes them. They ARE the popular kids. And why shouldn't there be some YA books that has those kids as the heroes? It just isn't something we see as much anymore and it was refreshing. The evolution of their relationship is one that I loved. It is sort of a hate to love story, but it is ALSO sort of a best friend to lovers story. I love both of these types and never in a million years thought they could be successfully combined, but here you go. The chemistry between Jemma and Ryder is strong and there are some intense and outright hot scenes in the book. It is a slow burn type romance full of tension and heated glances and a longing for them to just get on with it already. All things I like in a romance.

The plot revolves around the life Jemma and Ryder lead, the parties, the old southern traditions, and football. I liked the way the setting is handled. I have little patience for southern novels that don't portray the south correctly, and this one does. However, the plot veered a little bit more into the melodramatic than I typically like. Jemma's sister has a benign brain tumor that needs an operation which is how her and Ryder end up alone at her house when a hurricane hits. Her parents and his mom have taken her sister to Houston for her surgery when the storm comes. And to me, brain  surgery plus tornado spawning hurricane plus romantic tension is plenty of drama for one story. That part was working just fine. Except something ELSE is added to that post hurricane that tipped the story into the too much category for me. I was invested enough in Jemma and Ryder that it is only a minor quibble for me, but it did have me rolling my eyes when it happened. 

I very much enjoyed Magnolia overall and am looking forward to reading more books by this author.

I received an e-galley from the publisher, Simon & Schuster, via Edelweiss. Magnolia is available for purchase on August 5. 


Popular posts from this blog

TTT: Most Recent Additions to My TBR List

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly themed blog hop created by  The Broke and the Bookish  and now hosted at  That Artsy Reader Girl . This Week's Topic: Most Recent Additions to My TBR List From Most Recent to Least: What books have recently caught your eye?

Favorite Kissing Scenes

When thinking of a favorite things post I could do for February I decided it would have to be kissing. I've already done couples and I was feeling in the mood to do something fluffy and Valentine's related. So kisses it is. I read more MG than YA, and the YA I read tends to not focus on romance so this was actually harder than I expected it to be though a few jumped into my head right away. (And one of my choices does actually come from a MG book. One is adult. Gasp!) The actual scene from the book is quoted followed by my thoughts. The king lifted a hand to her cheek and kissed her. It was not a kiss between strangers, not even a kiss between a bride and a groom. It was a kiss between a man and his wife, and when it was over, the king closed his eyes and rested his forehead against the hollow of the queen's shoulder, like a man seeking respite, like a man reaching home at the end of the day . - The King of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner Turner doesn't write the


Shadowshaper  by Daniel José Older is everywhere. Best of lists. Award buzz. Blogs everywhere. It's one of those books everyone is reading and talking about. I had it on my TBR but decided I definitely needed to read it before the year was out just so I could weigh in on one of the most talked about books of 2015 if asked. It is deserving of every good thing said about it. Every. One. Sierra was looking forward to a relaxing summer break. Her plans involved hanging out with her friends and painting. They did not involve being chased by zombie like creatures and threatened by a magical power connected to her family's heritage she has never heard of. When murals begin fading all over her Brooklyn neighborhood, Sierra is perplexed. When her grandfather, who had a stroke, begins to apologize and starts repeating strange phases and insisting Sierra get the help of a boy she barely knows to help her finish her mural, Sierra is concerned but mostly about her grandfather. Then at a

Jinx's Fire

I have been a big fan of Jinx and company from the very first book, which felt like such a perfect Brandy book. The conclusion of Sage Blackwood's trilogy, Jinx's Fire , finished the story beautifully and is definitely my favorite of the three. Spoilers for first two books abound. Read those first: Jinx Jinx's Magic The Urwald is in danger from more than one direction and has no hope of defending itself if there is not unity amongst the people. Jinx, Sophie, Elfwyn, Wendell, and a dedicated group of others are working to make this happen as quickly as they can. Time is running out. At the same time, they are still dealing with the threat of the Bonemaster from within, and the Urwald's magic is fading. Where is it going? Can it be restored? And where has the Bonemaster put Simon? Jinx is the only one who can find the answers to these questions, and harnass the Urwald's power to save them all, but only if he is willing. Jinx has some serious attitude in this

Serafina and the Black Cloak

Serafina and the Black Cloak  by Robert Beatty is a thrilling tale of mystery and adventure set at the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, NC in 1899. Having lived in Asheville and visited the house several times, there was no way I was going to pass up a chance to read this. (Also it's MG fantasy, always a bonus for me.) Serafina lives in secret in the basement of the Vanderbilt's spacious vacation home. She has lived there most of her life. Her father worked on the house as it was being built and is the mechanic who runs the massive generator and keeps the electricity going. Serafina is the chief rat catcher, slipping through the halls of her massive home secretly and quietly. She is light on her feet, sees well in the dark, and is quick enough to catch the vermin and keep them out. Serafina knows she if different and strange. Her father insists she stay hidden. But all that changes when one night Serafina witnesses a horrible crime. A little girl, a guest in the house, is fleein