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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.

306 pages, Hardcover

First published August 5, 2014

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About the author

Kristi Cook

10 books960 followers
New York Times bestselling YA author Kristi Cook is a transplanted southern gal who lives in New York City with her husband and two kids. Her YA debut, HAVEN, was released in Feb. 2011 by Simon Pulse. The last two volumes in the Winterhaven series, MIRAGE and ETERNAL, followed in 2012 and 2013. Her first contemporary, southern-set YA, MAGNOLIA, was released in 2014. She's currently working on a contemporary YA with paranormal elements set in Savannah, GA.

Kristi also writes adult romantic fiction as Kristina Cook and Kristi Astor.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 918 reviews
April 16, 2014
"We’ve hated each other since forever.”

“Love, hate,” she says with a smile. “Such a fine line between the two, isn’t there?”
Help. I have a Mississippi-sized grin on my face and it's not going away.

I wanted a sweet, wildly romantic, happily-ever-after romance, and I got it all. The characters can be infuriating sometimes, but they're teenagers, and I can absolutely relate to them. There were moments in the book when I wanted to slap Jemma and tell her "You have to tell him what he did wrong! Boys are STUPID! They can't read your mind! They wouldn't know a hint unless it danced in front of them wearing a purple lace thong!"

But to be fair, some people never learn this. Me, I realized early on in my dating career. For example, at Christmas, what you do is you drag your significant other to the store of your choice, you point to what you want, you tell him to get it for you.

Yeah, it's terribly unexciting, but it works.

I have never received a toaster, but I did receive a stuffed cat in a basket (true story). That was what made me realize that guys are idiots when it comes to hints. So yeah, Jemma. Live, learn, and then realize that you can't expect a boy to read your mind.

Other than that, this book was lovely. Adorable. I particularly loved the well-depicted small-town atmosphere of the South. The long history of the people who have been neighbors for generations, the quiet neighborly ease that you just don't get from a bustling, impersonal Southern California city. The drowsy atmosphere of a humid autumn night. It's all lovely.

It makes me want to live in the South. Except for the mosquitoes. And the humidity and heat. And all the churchgoing on Sunday. And the barbequeing. And the fact that your neighbors know everything about you. And the "y'alls." And the hunting. And the football-mad crowd.

Hold up.

Actually, you know what? I'll just stick to my Southern California, thank you very much! But I still loved the Southern atmosphere within this book! ^_^

This book is exactly what I seek from a sweet contemporary YA romance. I wanted friendship, I wanted sweetness. I wanted believable characters and authentic relationship building. Supportive friends, adorable parents. It was wildly romantic at times, I DON'T EVEN CARE.

The Summary: Jemma and Ryder are destined to be together (according to their family). And to that, they say "AAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHH!!!!!"

It's a long story that goes back 150 years. Back in the days of the Civil War (or The War of Northern Aggression, as Southerners know it---man, these people know how to hold a grudge), a Cafferty saved a Marsden's life. And since then, their families have been BFFs. Like seriously *this* tight, yo. They go together like chocolate and port. They party together. They have dinner every Sunday night together. And they've been waiting 150 years for their families to unite.For example, the current parental units of the Cafferties and Marsdens are super super close. Childhood best friends, neighbors, same college, same fraternity. Not only that, they...
...married BFFs who were invested in keeping the Cafferty-Marsden attachment alive and strong.
To say the families are close would be an understatement.

BOOM! Enter baby Ryder and baby Jemma. Just six weeks apart in age. They must be destined to be, right?! Well, it's not like they have any choice in the matter. Hint: get them while they're young.
You can imagine what it’s been like since our mothers first plopped us into a crib together, rubbing their hands in conspiratorial glee as they planned our wedding. Playdates followed where the adults smiled and cooed as they watched us dig in the sandbox, where Ryder tugging on my pigtails was a sure sign of his adoration, where me throwing sand in his face only proved my devotion.
Yeah, you know the thing about parental expectations? It'll usually backfire. Ryder and Jemma are going to hate each other.

Only it's not that simple. Ryder and Jemma were childhood friends, they got along, they liked each other like siblings. Until something changed between them in 8th grade. Friendship changed, developed into something more. But something happened that destroyed Ryder and Jemma's budding feelings for each other.

Jemma has hated Ryder ever since. And four years later, the feeling might be mutual.
“Great, here we go again.” He starts to walk away and then turns back to face me. “You know what? I have no idea what I did to piss you off, but—”

“Seriously?” I sputter. “I’ll give you a hint—eighth grade.”

“You’re mad at me about something I did in eighth grade, Jem? That was four fucking years ago. Whatever it was, why don’t you grow up and get over it?”
They're seniors, they're applying to college. This is a town with rigid traditions. Their parents have expectations for them, he as a future NFL player, she as his wife. College, babies, all planned out. Jemma's parents have drawn out her entire future for her. It's a nice future, but it's not what she wants.
It’s not that I don’t want to live out my days here. It’s just that I want the opportunity to...I don’t know...spread my wings and fly a bit before I come back home to roost, you know? If I end up back in Magnolia Branch, I want it to be because I’ve chosen to be here.
It's a rough time in her life. Jemma's family is going through an emergency, someone is seriously sick. On top of that, Jemma has to deal with her feelings for a local bad-boy, Patrick who's just started noticing her. The trouble is that the passion isn't there.
He deepens the kiss, and I feel myself pulling away mentally even as I participate physically. My mind begins to wander.
To top it off, a storm is coming. A huge hurricane.
“I wonder if it’ll be as bad as they’re saying.”
“Could be the worst to hit the coast since Katrina.”
Yes, it is. There will be nasty weather. Terrifying winds. Torrential rains. Tornadoes. Deadly snakes (who knew they came out during natural disasters!).

Ryder and Jemma will have to ride out the storm together. Forced into each other's company, they have no choice but to talk. They'll learn new things about each other.
I can smell something else too—fear. He’s terrified.
Of the storm?
Six foot four and scared as a puppy.
And maybe, just maybe, they'll realize that their family's hopes and dreams aren't too far off from their own.
“Are you scared, Jemma?”
I prop my head up on one elbow. “Yeah, I’m scared,” I say, carefully weighing my words. “But...we’ll be okay."
I hear him swallow hard. “I’m glad I’m here with you.”
“I’m glad you are too."
The Setting: The atmosphere of small-town South is just lovely. It's a small Southern town, ruled by family, football, and religion. The order may vary.
If you’re wondering what it’s like to grow up here, just consider this—there are six choices when it comes to places of worship, but only one when it comes to fast food.
There's diversity, too. Jemma's best friend is a black girl, Lucy. And racism? It's not tolerated.
Most everyone adores Dr. Parrish, except for Cheryl Jackson, who’d been very vocal about taking her children elsewhere because she couldn’t possibly trust her pre cious babies to one of “those” people. And by “those” people, she means black people. Of course, her son is a complete tool, and her daughter spent half of last semester in rehab, so there you go.
Yes, I know it's not totally realistic, but it makes me happy, ok?

It feels like an authentic place, with realistic people. I absolutely adored the high school setting. The teenagers are neither tropes nor caricature. They date, they have true friendships, they have fights, they have jealousies. They go to class, they go to dances, they go on dates. It feels like a high school I could have attended.

Mama taught me to sew, Daddy to shoot. That’s the way we roll here in Magnolia Branch.
No demure Southern Miss. Jemma is pretty damn perfect. She's smart, she's done everything right. Straight A-student, cheerleader, a good daughter, a loving sister. But her whole life has been planned for her, and she doesn't like it. I got frustrated with her at times, but I can't hate her, because I understand how she felt when she behaved foolishly. I sympathized with her acts of rebellion.
Am I dating him just to have someone to go out with? Or is the attraction real? Honestly, I’m not sure. Maybe it’s the whole bad-boy thing—which I realize is beyond stupid.

Besides, he’s not that bad of a boy. But he is the total opposite of Ryder, which means that going out with him is the complete opposite of what my family wants me to do. Maybe that’s it, then—a minor rebellion on my part.
Jemma is very self-aware. She constantly analyzes herself, and she does it well enough for me to understand her and like her, despite her faults. And I like her because of her faults.

He’s the star quarterback of our Division 1A state-championship football team. Top student in our class. He plays the piano like some kind of freaking prodigy. Oh, and did I mention that he’s gorgeous? Of course he is. Six foot four, two hundred ten pounds of swoon-worthy good looks.
SWOON. He's a young Tom Brady, that's what he is. You know what, if Jemma doesn't want Ryder, that's fine. I want him for myself.

Here is that awkward moment when a grown-ass woman places a 17-year old teenaged boy on her "book boyfriend" shelf. Ryder is just THAT awesome. He is a pure gentleman, without being overbearing. He is assertive without being patronizing. He is the type of boy your parents want for a son-in-law. And he's not as perfect as he appears. He, too, lives under the shadow of expectations.
"My mom already controls enough in my life. What food I eat. What clothes I wear. Hell, even my underwear. You wouldn’t believe the fight she put up a few years back when I wanted to switch to boxer briefs instead of regular boxers. Anyway, if my parents want it for me, it must be wrong. So I convinced myself...”
The Romance: DO I REALLY HAVE TO EXPLAIN THE ROMANCE? It was wonderful! It made a jaded old soul like me squeal with glee. I so completely "ship" these two. I loved their misunderstanding. I loved their arguments. But goddamn, the anger just makes it so much better. Much like make-up sex. But of course, this is an YA novel, so let's keep it PG.

Aw, what the hell.
“Is this okay?”

I tilt my head back against the wall, catching my breath. “Yeah,” I say, panting. “It’s definitely okay."

And, of course, that’s when the dang-blasted tornado siren decides to go off again.

Quotes were taken from an uncorrected proof subject to change in final edition.
Profile Image for Aj the Ravenous Reader.
1,030 reviews1,044 followers
February 10, 2017
That was really cute! After all the depressing and gloomy reads, I thought I deserved something light and romantic and Magnolia had been the perfect choice. It was like a Romeo and Juliet spinoff set in contemporary Magnolia, Mississippi (love the setting and the southern romance) and instead of the feuding families, it’s our hero and heroine who are at war with each other mainly because they wanted to rebel against their families’ wish to unit them (wishfully in marriage).

I really enjoyed the writing. I thought it’s fresh, light and genuine. For a romantic YA novel, I think the plot is more substantial than expected. There were a few sad themes but they weren’t there to make the story melodramatic. I basically got everything I wanted from this novel. I giggled, rolled my eyes (seems mandatory when reading YA romance), swooned and sighed contentedly at the happily ever after. I wouldn’t mind reading it again. ;)
Profile Image for Rachel  L.
1,826 reviews2,186 followers
March 1, 2015
3.75 stars!

 photo magnoliacorrectcollage.png

Magnolia is about Jemma Cafferty, a teenage girl who lives in Mississippi. Her family has always been best friends with the Marsden's next door, leading back to the War. You know, The Civil War. The two families are constantly pressuring Jemma and Ryder Marsden to get married and unite the families once and for all, the only problem being Jemma and Ryder can't stand each other.

When Jemma's parents go out of town for a family emergency, Jemma is left at home alone when a storm starts brewing. Both families insist that Ryder and Jemma remain together through the storm, and it's then that Jemma and Ryder are able to hash out their differences and clear the air.

I thought this was a wonderful character driven novel. Yes it had the generic "I hate you but I love you" plot, but the author took this and expanded upon it. The book deals mostly with Jemma's struggle to do what she wants with her life and not to live out her parents' expectations, the same exact thing Ryder was dealing with at home.

Ryder was an amazing book boyfriend, he took care of Jemma throughout the storm, despite his own fears. He also pushed Jemma to fight for herself, and was one of the few people who understood what she was going through.

I loved the setting of this book as well, the imagery was amazing.
 photo magnoliahome.png

Great teen read, I would be happy to read a contemporary book by this author in the future.

PS! Forgot to mention that I loved how this book acted as the opposite to a Romeo and Juliet storyline, very cute!
319 reviews1,886 followers
July 3, 2014
actual rating: 4.5

I've made it no secret that my favorite trope of all time is when characters who dislike each other, or have minor issues with one another, are stuck together in a fixed location due to harsh weather or a natural disaster. I've searched time and time again for a contemporary romance wherein the main characters are trapped together during a natural disaster, and when I discovered Magnolia, it felt like I had won the jackpot; the two main characters of Magnolia hate each other, but are forced together during a hurricane and must provide comfort and protection for each other throughout the storm. From this magnificent trope stems sexual tension that is off the charts, relationship development that follows suit, and fantastic swoons. If Magnolia were to be summed up in one sentence, that would be it.

A reverse adaptation of Romeo & Juliet, Magnolia features two neighboring families of a small town in Mississippi; here, the parents are the ones who love each other, and their children the opposite. The parents have been practically planning out their children's wedding since their births, and such plans are met with groans from Jemma and Ryder, the two main characters of the novel. First off, I absolutely loved the references and nods to Shakespeare, and how the parts of the novels are acts, and the chapters, scenes. Although the parts and chapters themselves are not much different from that of which in any other novel, the feel of a Shakespearean play in format added a fun layer to the story. Along with references to Shakespeare, there are wonderfully geeky moments with references to both Star Trek, Gone with the Wind, and Clue.

Jemma's voice is absolutely flawless for this type of story, in that it's sweet and light, despite some darker events to occur later on. Kristi Cook's writing style and direction with Jemma's narrative will either work for you or it won't, but I absolutely loved how at times it read like she was writing in a diary; there are moments in the writing that could be considered Jemma breaking the fourth wall, like when she references the reader as "you," or says that the reader has remembered something mentioned early on in the novel. I can see some readers finding this narrative choice disorienting, but I personally have always been a fan of breaking the fourth wall in TV and film, and I certainly was in here. As for Jemma's character, I absolutely loved her. She's self aware, and knows when she's doing something stupid or acting irrationally, and she understands her motives well. She's fiery but incredibly thoughtful; impulsive and emotional but kind and with the best intentions. It was easy for me to connect with her character, and I did so fairly quickly, and seeing the relationships with her friends flesh out was amazing. It's not all too often that a main character two female best friends are portrayed in YA in a loving manner through healthy relationships, but that's exactly what Kristi Cook accomplishes in Magnolia. Moreover, even with the girls whom Jemma does not consider a best friend, or even much of a friend at all, she's more than willing offer help and kindness during the storm, but also before and after, which added so much more to Jemma's character for me.

The love interest, on the other hand, and Jemma's relationship with him, is virtually flawless. Although it got a bit too sappy and unrealistic for me towards the very end, I absolutely adored everything about this romance. The two confided in each other their fears, trusting each other with their college hopes, worries of their futures, and what went wrong between the two of them so much so that they had begun to hate each other. As Jemma and Ryder have more conversations together, their relationship becomes more and more sincere, and their characters do as well. They're both in vulnerable states given the circumstances, and this allows them to see each other like they hadn't gotten the chance to before. Ryder on his own is, like Jemma, a wonderfully flawed and layered character, and he manages to be a gentleman without being a douche about it. The banter between Jemma and Ryder was amazing, and the ship sailed strong and will continue to do so, despite the overt sappiness and holes in the last few pages.

There is so much more that I love about Magnolia, and it is the novel I've been waiting so long for. With fantastically frustrating sexual tension, an unbelievable grasp of setting and scenery, strong and healthy friendships and familial relationships, authentically portrayed teen issues, and of course, swoons, Magnolia is bound to please fans of Southern romances. In fact, I'd go off on a limb and say it's almost impossible for it not to.
Profile Image for Hersh.
148 reviews415 followers
September 27, 2014
I was completely prepared to hate this book. I mean, I normally dislike contemporary novels and I forced myself to think that this was no exception. Yippee! I was bloody wrong!

Me at 1%

Please, please be good, book!

Me at 25%

Me at 100%

This book was absolutely cute and adorable. I was over the moon when I realized that I was actually enjoying this book. Ah, happiness!

The Story

Two families want to unite in marriage; the Caffertys' and the Marsdens'. And their perfect opportunity lies on Jemma Cafferty and Ryder Marsden. But there's one teeny tiny problem. Jemma and Ryder hate each other! And they have no intentions of giving in to their parents' wishes. (I'm giving ye no more! Don't look for more information about the story line. Try to go in blind!)

Sounds so much fun, right? I just love reading about love/hate relationships! So, let's give the summary a huge tick because that's what drew me in.


The Characters

Jemma Cafferty, our main girl, was a complete kickass! Trust me, that girl can wield guns and sew clothes! Talk about girl power! I loved her narration. It was funny, cute and I, on the whole, enjoyed it very very much!

Ryder Marsden was well, umm, you know, hot. And maybe a little bit stupid when it comes to girls.

So, basically we have two amazing leads! Ta-da!

This book was not only about Jemma and Ryder trying to like each other but it's also about finding about one's true self and pursuing your goals despite what others tell you to do. I really liked how independent Jemma was, sticking to her own ideas till the very end.

I had a really good time reading it. This was a short book so I finished it in one sitting and when I was done, I just had this content feeling, you know? Sometimes, we need books that don't have dense story lines, people dying all the time and too much crying and all the 'feels'. This book was just perfect for me. It made me giggle and grin like an idiot the whole time I was reading it! AND I WANT MORE!

Profile Image for Susan's Reviews.
1,074 reviews491 followers
August 21, 2021
Tornadoes, hurricanes, poisonous water snakes and a Romeo and Juliet romance - in reverse - this is what MAGNOLIA has to offer you.

Jemma and Ryder's parents are lifelong friends and neighbours and have been scheming to start a romance between their two offspring from their birth. But neither Jemma nor Ryder want to give their parents the satisfaction of caving in to those schemes.

They also loathe the sight of each other: or do they?

Kristi Cook turned a few tropes on their heads in this really well written story. Jemma is an expert shooter and this comes in very handy during the hurricane! I was definitely entertained: many laughs, a sad bit, sweet romance, and plenty of heart-stopping adventure.
I'm definitely going to check out Kristi Cook's other books now. Enjoy!
Profile Image for Liz* Fashionably Late.
435 reviews386 followers
September 10, 2016


I love YA. I do. So, this is not like I hate the genre and yet complain about it. I love it.

Jemma and Ryder are both beautiful and rich. They've known each other for ever so you could think it's meant to be, right? Or at least, that's what their parents say. The premise of the book is somehow refreshing: Romeo and Juliet, in reverse? I'm in! These two can't stand each other! Or that's what I though at first but Jemma has this tendency to fight, cry and gravitate around Ryder every time she has a chance.

But not everything is fun in Jemma's life. After the terrible news of , Jemma feels numb and weak, she can't bare it... in other words: she's making it all about her. I'd like my MC to say something like: "Life is short, someone I love is going through hell, I'm gonna be there for her." Because she's not twelve, I might add.

Jemma is not flawless, she's a human being... and a judgy one:
The thing is, Rosie’s pretty—really pretty. Sure, she’s dumb as a rock, but a lot of guys don’t care about that. She could have her pick of cute boys, but instead she continues to pine away for Ryder. Quite obviously, I might add.
Sometimes I think about pulling her aside and telling her to have a little self-respect, but what’s the point? She wouldn’t listen.
Well, it's a good thing you know self-respect, Jemma. Since you're going out with a boy you don't even like and he's shoving his tongue down your throat even when you know he's really into you.

I think we should call this book "Rich People Problems".

Come on, let me show you:
Rich People Problem #1: Your kid is gonna stay home alone for the storm season? Ask the boy who's AFRAID OF STORMS to look after your precious child.
(Or you could stay at home like the responsible parent you surely are)

Rich People Problem #2: No food? Send the cook to fill your fridge with lots of deliciousness so you won't starve (or have to cook, for that matter).

Rich People Problem #3: The tornado is coming? Go outside and look for the GUNS. Because it's important to have them at reach in case of Flying Cows. (In her defense, it was more like a soft tornado. a good tornado? a baby tornado)

Rich People Problem #4: In the eye of the hurricane? Go to your big house for the rest of the day and clean the pool. Atta boy. Yeah, worry your lady. Make her feel your pain.

Rich People Problem #5: Kiss the guy. Feel guilty. Why, the Tragedy.
For a fleeting moment, Ryder was my friend. Maybe more. And now? He’s not.
When did my life turn into a tragedy?.
Yep. People died. Houses were lost. Hell, sister has facial paralysis. But, I can totally relate, your man won't talk to you because you kissed him and kinda cheated on his friend. Tragedy is not the word I'd use.

My problem with Jemma is that she's not a likable character. She wants to make films, but there's a tornado out there and it's Ryder behind the camera? Where's the passion? She says she hates Ryder yet she talks about him all day. Where's the logic there? She judges, she has bad temper, she feels bad for the snake she murdered but not for Patrick. Where's the...? ugh. don't mind me.

The characters are okay but not memorable, the story is good but not amazing, the romance is flat and cheesy and the drama at the end was like watching a bad rom com.
Profile Image for Kath S.
354 reviews249 followers
August 13, 2014
RESEÑA EN EL BLOG: http://arcoirisdelibros.blogspot.com/...


¿Qué pasaría si la historia de Romeo y Julieta fuera al revés? ¿Si sus familias estuvieran tan unidas que han planeado su matrimonio desde que estaban en la cuna? ¿Si los que se odiaran fueran ellos en lugar de sus familias? Pues bien, Kristi Cook se hizo las mismas preguntas y escribió este libro, y amé cada minuto de él.


No sé si lo saben pero me encantan libros así como este: historias de amor sencillas, especiales y con protagonistas completamente agradables. Sin nada, NADA de drama inútil, sólo con el drama justo para que la historia se desarrolle bien. Así que no pude evitar enamorarme de cada capítulo de esta historia.

Jemma y Ryder se conocen de toda la vida. Sus familias son amigas desde la época de la Guerra de Secesión y desde entonces han sido inseparables. Siempre han querido unir las dos familias pero nunca han tenido la oportunidad. Hasta que nacen Jemma y Ryder. Separados sólo por seis semanas, sus madres los crían juntos y ellos desarrollan una amistad en la niñez que pasa a ser odio en octavo grado, cuando Ryder, siendo el chico que es, hiere a Jemma; y Jemma, siendo la chica que es, evita enfrentarlo y en su lugar se dedica a odiarlo profundamente. Ahora, ambos con diecisiete años se encuentran solos y en una situación de peligro: un tornado ha azotado la ciudad y se ven obligados a compartir bastante tiempo juntos, y las cosas, por supuesto, tienen que cambiar.


Los dos son perfectamente hermosos, inteligentes y un poco inseguros, y eso básicamente ha hecho que esta novela sea tan entretenida para mí. Ryder NO es un chico malo, Ryder es el chico dorado: buen futbolista, buen estudiante, buen hijo. Amé a Ryder completamente, aun cuando puede que fuera cobarde e inseguro en cuanto a su situación con Jemma. RYDER NO ESTÁ ROTO. RYDER NO TIENE TATUAJES, NI MOMMY ISSUES, NI DADDY ISSUES… RYDER ES TAN PERFECTAMENTE NORMAL QUE ENCANTADA LE HARÍA UN ALTAR PARA ÉL Y SUS PERFECTAS CUALIDADES!


Por otra parte está Jemma, que también es la hija perfecta, la hermana perfecta, la estudiante perfecta y la porrista perfecta. Pero también puede ser una chica caprichosa, gritona y muy muy cobarde. JEMMA NO ES TONTA, JEMMA SABE QUE NO QUIERE ESTAR CON EL CHICO MALO, JEMMA TIENE PROBLEMAS DE CONFIANZA PERO NO ES TAN MOLESTA COMO OTRAS PROTAGONISTAS. Jemma es perfectamente imperfecta y adoré estar en su cabeza.


Además de unos protagonistas bastante entretenidos, AQUÍ NO HAY PADRES MALOS. ¿SABEN LO GENIAL QUE ES ESO? El único pecado de los padres es trabajar demasiado tiempo (el padre de Ryder), ser demasiado genial (el padre de Jemma) y ser demasiado entrometidas (las dos madres, que aunque acosan a sus pobres hijos, son encantadoras y geniales).

Y entonces está todo lo demás que adoré de este libro:

1. La amistad entre todos. Es un pueblo pequeño y todos van a la misma secundaria, así que básicamente todos conocen a todos y, ¿qué creen? TODOS se llevan bien. Jemma tiene buenas amigas, Ryder tiene buenos amigos, y los chicos y las chicas son amigos. NO HAY SLUT-SHAMMING. ¡¿SABEN LO GENIAL QUE ES ESO?! Sí, hay un poco de celos, pero Jemma no insulta a otras chicas porque están detrás de Ryder. Es genial, de verdad.


2. NO HAY DRAMA INNECESARIO! El drama, aunque bastante típico y esperado, no se extiende más allá de lo necesario y eso hace que el ritmo de la historia jamás se vuelva pesado. Lo de la hermana de Jemma me pareció bastante acertado y me gustó. Lo de Patrick no me gustó demasiado, tengo que ser sincera. Y no porque fuese demasiado “dramático”, sino que sencillamente no esperaba que sucediera así y no terminó de convencerme completamente.

Leer otros libros demasiado dramáticos me ha jodido dañado la cabeza. Hubo momentos en donde pasaba algo sospechoso con los padres y yo pensaba: OMG, se viene el drama. Seguro X es un cheater, seguro X hará tal cosa para dañar a los protagonistas… Hmmm, seguro X no estará contento. Seguro Ryder vuelve a meter la pata y esto va a terminar en pelea. Seguro Jemma será igual de inflexible…. PERO NADA DE ESO SUCEDE! Todo es normal y genial y el drama está bien.


A estas alturas probablemente espanté a todos los que esperan una historia súper-hiper-mega-dramática, así que daré unos últimos consejos para los posibles lectores:

1. Si esperas una historia muy muy dramática tipo telenovela *cof cof* Colleen Hoover *cof cof* no leas este libro porque no es para ti.
2. Si esperas a un protagonista roto con miles de problemas sicológicos y siquiátricos que sólo el amor de una hermosa chica puede solucionar… Pues este libro no es para ti.
3. Si esperas un libro donde los padres hagan cosas muy malas… ¿Qué crees? Este no es para ti.
4. Si buscas un libro súper-hiper-recontra profundo, donde se descubra el secreto del universo y sientas que tu vida cambió y ahora eres una mejor persona… Este no es el camino.
5. Si buscas una historia de amor linda y especial y SENCILLA, con un HEA que te va a dejar escupiendo arcoíris e imaginando unicornios… Entonces este es para ti.
6. Si buscas un libro entretenido con el cual pasar una tarde agradable, lee este libro.
7. Si no te importa que los personajes puedan rayar en la perfección y que los protagonistas tengan que pasar dos días encerrados en casa por un tornado y huracán… Entonces puedes leer este libro.


589 reviews1,031 followers
November 20, 2014
See more reviews at YA Midnight Reads

Magnolia was exactly what I needed: light, fun and undeniably cute. I saw this one on Edelweiss ages ago, but I quickly looked past it because I wasn’t so sure about it at first. But then the reviews started rolling in and I was absolutely certain that I needed this book in my life. And I was right. I totally did because this book rocked my socks off.

Magnolia has been described as a reverse Romeo and Juliet story. The families are basically stuck together with super glue as they do pretty much everything together, but the teenagers—Jemma and Ryder hate each other’s guts. The two family’s history dates all the way back to the Civil War, when a Cafferty saved a Marsden’s life. Ever since, the two families have been trying to unite. And when Jemma and Ryder are born in the same year, they see their opportunity—they plan to marry them. But of course, Jemma and Ryder, now both 17, hate the idea. They want nothing to do with each other.

Jemma’s narration was easy to love, it’s light and engaging and you can really feel her personality jump off the page. She’s are self-able young woman—she can knit AND shoot, so you don’t wanna mess with her. As for Ryder, I felt that he was just a little too perfect. He’s the top student in his class, he’s the star quarterback, he can play piano like no one else’s business and is really good looking. I’m sorry, but I just find that a little too hard to imagine. (Even though at the time I was like SWOOOOOON.) But, kudos to the author, she still makes her characters three-dimensional and have a lot of depth. These characters really grow onto you, and really quickly too.

Jemma and Ryder’s relationship were written very realistically. It wasn’t too fast or unbelievable, and the chemistry is real. I think I might have loved their relationship more at the beginning because of the banter and how they would try to hide their feelings for one and another—I don’t know why but I do just love watching characters suffer like this. MWAHAHA. That said, the romance was one that I loved as well, even though it got a little corny and too perfect towards the end.

The tornado aspect was also pretty darn awesome. I haven’t read a book where the characters try to survive the tornado before (though I’ve read one that was trying to survive the aftermath—Torn Away by Jennifer Brown) and it was a really gratifying experience. I loved the intensity of the setting, and it was really well written and the author doesn’t skimp over the details.

An all round excellent read, Magnolia was everything that I expected and left me fully satisfied with the fantastic characters and adorable romance. READ THIS, you’ll want it.

~Thank you Simon and Schuster for sending me this copy!~

Profile Image for Jillian .
431 reviews1,779 followers
December 13, 2015
Magnolia was so damn adorable and so sweet! I just really recommend this if you want a cute, fluffy YA contemporary romance. Bonus if you really like couples who start out hating each other.
Profile Image for Jacob Proffitt.
2,937 reviews1,548 followers
September 15, 2015
It feels like I should have liked this book better than I did. I had a little trepidation when I realized that Cook was going for a reverse Romeo and Juliet. I mean, that has so many ways it can screw up, right? But that turned out not to be an issue, I don't think. It's subtle enough that it's really no more than a vague idea with little real penetration. Which, come to think of it, is kind of a pattern in the book.

Take Jemma. The idea is solid: a strong Southern girl who likes being pretty and shooting and her friends and her family (as much as she protests at their smothering presence). And I liked her, well enough. But that amalgamation doesn't really gel terribly well and I came away feeling like there was a generic overlay on a grouping of interesting ideas.

The same went for Ryder. He looks so good on paper. A star quarterback (and raised in football country, so that's saying something) with strong academics and true Southern gentleman style. And normally that'd draw me right in no questions asked. I mean, that's, like, three of my very favorite things right there. But it just felt flat.

So while I enjoyed the book well enough, and the relationship, and the characters, I just wasn't actually thrilled by any of it. I think I noticed it first when things kept happening to interrupt intimate discussions before Ryder and Jemma could overcome one of their many misunderstandings. And once I started noticing that, I started noticing other shortcuts and blandnesses.

So yeah, a lot of nice ideas that seem like they should have worked. And it was an enjoyable read. But not outstanding, if you see what I mean?
Profile Image for Rashika (is tired).
976 reviews712 followers
August 5, 2014
***This review has also been posted on The Social Potato

When I first heard about Magnolia, I was sold. Tornados? SURVIVING one? Love/hate relationships? What else could I want? Nothing. This book lived up to every single one of my expectations and then some. Okay, I was lying. I wanted more. SO MUCH MORE. This book was just not long enough and I was heartbroken when it came to an end.

This story is kind of like Romeo and Juliet in reverse, where the families are "like this" and the kids hate each other… or do they?

This is the kind of book you hate reviewing, because there are so many things you have to say, yet every time you try to think of those things, you end up drawing a blank. In other words, I loved this book.

One of the best things about this book was the presence positive relationships between siblings and friends. All the support Jemma's friends showed her warmed my heart, and I loved the bond between Jemma and Nan.

What I liked even better is that, in spite of the fact that both Jemma's and Ryder’s mothers are pushy, they aren’t portrayed as villains. They ARE mothers and they DO love their children, even if they do get a little (this is a slight understatement) carried away.

The main characters are SO LIKEABLE.

On one hand you have Jemma, who works hard and is the "good" daughter who follows the rules and does what her parents want. The problem is that she is now starting to realize that she doesn’t want what her mom has planned for her. What she wants is to be able to go to NYU to study film. But when tragedy strikes and her sister is diagnosed with a brain tumor, things get a little rocky, and suddenly she doesn’t know how to ask for what she wants.

On the other hand, you have--wait for it--RYDER. Ryder is the love interest and while he doesn’t he get his own POV (which is a real pity), he definitely plays a larger role than just being your typical eye candy--he has the exact same problem as Jemma (which really isn’t surprising once you get to learn more about the their family's dynamics). What makes him so likeable is that, under his tough exterior, he really just is a silly (and absolutely adorable) teen who isn’t quite sure of what he wants. And like all teens, he is just trying to figure it out. What’s even sweeter is that he isn’t a two-faced jerk. HE IS A SWEETHEART.

The romance between the two is just so well developed.  They have this love/hate relationship which isn’t so much "hate" as it is them not being sure about whether or not they want each other. Their moms have spent their entire lives pushing them together... and as the two start to realize that they don’t want what their moms want for them, they begin to question their attraction as well. What if their moms are wrong about that as well? An incident that occurred in 8th grade made things slightly more complicated. As a result, they stopped being friends and started pulling away from each other.

The tornado forces the two together. With both of their parents out of town, they will have to rely on one another to get through the storm--that’s what ACT II is all about. Act II was my favorite part of this book, and I so desperately wished it had been longer. The details Cook included about the tornado, the destruction, the fear, the sirens, and generallyall of it, was just marvelous. I have always enjoyed a good survival story, and I just wanted the survival aspects of this to be given more stage time, especially since our main characters were FINALLY together without anyone to interrupt them.

I think, had ACT II been longer, or if the book focused on the storm more, it would have been a 5 star read for me. If we got a better glimpse of the aftermath instead of fast-forwarding 2 weeks to when things were getting back to normal, I would have been so much happier.

ACT III was where things became a lot weaker, in my opinion. I guess it was kind of like the whole storm was forgotten about, and that was slightly upsetting. Don't get me wrong, I loved seeing the whole family come back together--especially Nan. I loved seeing the relationship between Jem and Ryder develop further, but it just felt like the storm was basically swept under the rug.

That aside, this book was really heart-warming. I adored it and would recommend it to everyone looking for a generally positive book with great relationships, cute couples and a very fun premise.
Profile Image for Angela Maria Hart.
163 reviews250 followers
April 10, 2020
"Magnolia" by Kristi Cook is a book for anyone who loves YA romance. Jemma and Ryder have been next door neighbors for years; their families are best friends and have been for generations. According to family legend, back during the Civil War, Jemma’s ancestor and Ryder’s ancestor saved one another and have been friends ever since. The two families get along very well and so Jemma and Ryder were always thought to be the ones that were going to unify the family trees. While their families are pushing them together, Jemma and Ryder did not necessarily see it that way; Jemma more so than Ryder. Kristi Cook made this an anti-Romeo & Juliet story. Rather than have the two families trying to desperately keep these two individuals apart, they are trying to force them together in the most awkward scenarios imaginable. The families are pushing them together so often, and have been for years, Jemma looks at Ryder with disgust at times rather than a potential boyfriend.

I am not going to give away any spoilers but there are a couple of things I do want to talk about. I really appreciated the setting of this book. I am from New England and so it was fun for me to read about a Southern romance. The only things I know about the South are from what I have been told or what I have read or have seen in movies over the years so I really enjoyed the setting.

I thought the writing was very well done in regards to the town's description and general overview. I could visualize everything. Cook gave enough information so that I could easily follow the story, while not adding too much detail, which would have bogged down the narrative.

At one point Jemma and Ryder are outside during this huge storm and Ryder is about to be bitten by a poisonous snake. Jemma shoots the snake down. First of all, I was surprised that there was a snake, let alone a poisonous snake, let alone that she shot it! I really enjoyed that scene and that action sequence. The writing was particularly well done in that scene. The families also had a giant barbecue outside, Jemma was kayaking. There were certain outdoor things that I was not used to. I am mentioning this because I think it relates to the characters and the setting.

Whenever I have read books about the South before, usually they take knowledge for granted and glaze over certain things so that I am left wondering what they were referring to or I do not necessarily understand why that is impactful. If that is the case, I end up going on Google to find out what they were referring to and that is a mark of bad writing because I took myself out of the scene to go research something that should have been clear via dialogue. I really appreciated the fact that Cook made it easy to follow. I understood what was going on. I was given context; she gave enough detail where I understood what was going on but she did not bog down the narrative. That is a fine line and something very difficult to balance but yet she did it masterfully in that sense. I loved the setting of this book.

Cook also did something different in regards to how she broke the book down; instead of having chapter headings, she had scene headings. She paid homage to her inspiration of Romeo & Juliet in that way; it is very rare that you see that in books because they know that they are not supposed to be plays. I appreciated her doing something rather unique because it differentiated this book from other YA romances on the shelf. Having it broken down into acts and scenes was a nice detail for me.

Magnolia was a quick read. I read it in one afternoon. I enjoyed the storyline but I did find the setting to be the most enjoyable element for me. As a New Englander, I thought the setting was very well selected and explained extraordinarily well; that was something I really enjoyed with the book. If you have any recommendations on other YA romances that are probably lesser known but should be read, please let me know. I would love to read them in the future.

This was one of my very first YouTube channel book reviews: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nCgQi....
Profile Image for Jasprit.
527 reviews747 followers
October 3, 2014
Magnolia was one of those read in one sitting sort of books. I was in the mood for something light, funny and being a huge fan of antagonistic characters I knew I would end up loving Magnolia.

Ryder and Jemma have grown up together with a huge amount of pressure and expectation on them. As their families have been close friends for the last few generations, they all expected some romantic relationship to develop between the Marsden/ Cafferty families. So everyone especially Ryder’s and Jemma’s mums are over the moon when Ryder and Jemma are born, in their eyes they are perfect for one another. Having this idea enforced upon you every time you meet one another would be hugely annoying. And I can see why the way Ryder and Jemma’s relationship ended up. Of course there were those little miscommunications that ended up putting a splinter in the works too. But knowing me if I was in Jemma’s shoes I think I would have reacted the same way too. (I’m known to hold a grudge for a while too, and never one to reveal to the person for a long time what they did wrong in the first place). But I loved the snippy relationship Ryder and Jemma had at the beginning. Despite encouragement from all around them, they stood their ground on how their relationship should be, and that’s one of the things I liked about them. Despite it being obvious that they would make a great couple, bad attitudes aside they both did what they wanted to do, I’m glad to see that this theme continued later in the book too.

Jemma and Ryder were both fantastic characters, despite having this bravado when the other was around. I loved how when they were experiencing difficult times, they would be there for one another; these short sweet bursts of tenderness were definitely worth waiting for. Cook was also able to include a fantastic set of secondary characters, I loved reading the minor storylines that Cook included into this story, and she certainly went on to show just how important family could be to both of these characters. I also enjoyed the set of friends that both Jemma and Ryder had, they were funny, loyal and I enjoyed the banter they could bring within a tense scene.

Magnolia was a fantastically written story by Cook, with the bad couple of reading months I had been having, it was definitely something I needed. I only had a few minor irks Despite these minor irks of mine, they didn’t reduce my overall reading experience of this book. I will definitely be buying a finished copy, so that I can re-read those sweet lovely scenes again which totally melted my heart and those scenes which left me with a big goofy grin on my face. I highly recommend giving Magnolia a go, it is certainly one of those books which will cheer you up when you need a quick pick me up and will leave you with a spring in your step for the rest of the day!

This review can be found on The Readers Den
Profile Image for Sophia Sardothien.
155 reviews519 followers
April 23, 2015
A sweet cute contemporary, overall quite entertaining. I definitely like it but I did not love it enough to give it four stars
Profile Image for ✿kawehi.reviews.
1,453 reviews410 followers
June 12, 2014
“Love, hate. Such a fine line between the two, isn’t there?”

☆2 stars is just me being generous; I would have actually rated this a 1. I get that this is a YA book but boy did it not meet up to my expectations.☆

Childish. Silly. Unrealistic. And boring.

Yep, these are the describers I would use to describe this book. The whole whole premise of this book sets up a Romeo and Juliet type of vibe, only two families aren’t feuding with each other (/they are besties who are planning out Jemma and Ryder’s wedding and future) and the two kids in question hate each other (/or so they both think!).

But then! A big storm ensues and a family crisis rears their ugly head and the two find themselves putting aside their differences. *rolls eyes*

And right when you think they’re in the calm of the storm…a tragedy occurs and the two are put right back two square one. *rolls eyes again*

Are they meant to be together? Or should their parents put aside their wedding bells and college plans and call it quits?

My thoughts: Magnolia confirmed why I don’t do YA reads. It was just ridiculous.

I mean, the main guy and girl are seniors in high school but act like middle schoolers bordering on early high school students. And their parents are no different! Well, their mothers anyway.

Quite honestly, throughout the entirety of this read, I just kept thinking to myself:
❋ “this story is so predictable and the outcome is blatantly obvious”
❋ “when is it going to reflect on reality?”
❋ “these characters’ feelings are quite transparent from the very beginning.”

So in short guys, while Ryder and Gemma may be a match made in heaven according to their families, their story was just not for me. I am so disappointed. :(
Profile Image for Ellis.
444 reviews232 followers
January 10, 2015
I'm so disappointed that I ended up feeling really meh about a book that's gotten so much love from friends and trusted sources. Magnolia is a perfectly fine book and a really quick read, but sadly I never connected with it. Nothing about it was particularly memorable to me. It was very romance-heavy, which isn't really a bad thing in itself, the characters were rather bland and on occasion the plot felt a bit disjointed.

Read the rest on The Random Transliterator.
Profile Image for Alyssa.
1,069 reviews838 followers
July 29, 2014
***Review posted on The Eater of Books! blog***

Magnolia by Kristi Cook
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication Date: August 5, 2014
Rating: 4 stars
Source: eARC from Edelweiss

Official Summary:

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.

What I Liked:

AHHH, I ENJOYED THIS BOOK SO MUCH!! I had a feeling that I would, because several things from the synopsis called to me, but it's so wonderful when something you think will be awesome actually IS awesome! Really awesome! YAY!

Jemma Cafferty and Ryder Marsden don't like each other very much. Their families have been waiting for two generations in each family to line up. The families are the opposite of the Montagues and the Capulets - the Caffertys and the Mardsens LOVE each other, because one ancestor saved the other, during the Civil War. So Ryder's family and Jemma's family keep pushing Ryder and Jemma together. But Jemma has Ryder all figured out, and Ryder is chasing after her cousin, Rosie, anyway. But when a freak hurricane sweeps through Mississippi, stranding Jemma and Ryder in Jemma's house, things don't necessarily change - they become clearer.

There are so many things I would like to share with you all about this book! First, let me tell you how much I loveeee books that feature a romance in which the protagonists hate each other and then fall in love. That's not *quite* the case in this novel (I'll explain later), but it mostly is, and I LOVE IT. The tension, you all, it is palpable! Cook did a really great job of developing this type of romance. I seriously need more books with romances like these! If you know of any, please tell me!!

I also loveeee that this book is set in the Deep South. You didn't find too many of these books in YA these days, set in the Deep South. South, yes - Florida, sure. Texas, even. But not necessarily states like Mississippi, Arkansas, Alabama, Georgia. The South is veryyyy different from the good old North, Mid-Atlantic, New England, West, etc. Personally, I've lived in Baltimore for forever, so I'm happy to see a setting in the Deep South. That's diversity too!

LET'S TALK ABOUT THE ROMANCE!! This book is Romeo and Juliet backwards - meaning, the families aren't feuding, they're totally best friends, and WANT their children to date, go to school together, get married, etc. There are a lot of great Romeo and Juliet parallels in this book, like the first letters of the first names and last names, a sort-of balcony scene, Rosie, etc.

The thing is, over the years, Ryder has found that he really does like Jemma Cafferty. And Jemma has found that she really does like Ryder Marsden. But one night changed everything, when Jemma overheard Ryder saying things about her. Now, Jemma is determined to stay away from Ryder. And Ryder - well, Jemma is sure that he is just an arrogant, smug, stuck-up player who doesn't miss a chance to aggravate her.

So as you can see, it's not quite hate-at-first-sight-then-love, because the two of them liked each other a lot at first... then grew apart. I LOVE THIS. Jemma kisses some other guy, Patrick, and then goes out with him a few times. This shakes things up, upsetting Jemma's mother, and making Ryder... jealous? Maybeeee.

Then the hurricane happens. I'm neither a fan nor a hater of crazy natural disasters that throw the protagonists together. This one served well though, especially since a hurricane isn't too uncommon in the Gulf south (not like here in Baltimore). I loved every moment of Ryder and Jemma, stuck in that house, in the storage, in the bedroom. The tension was thick enough to cut open! Jemma never really "got over" her feelings for Ryder - in fact, they may or may not have developed more, especially with that hurricane.

All the wonderful alone time due to the hurricane is amazing. Ryder and Jemma's relationship blossoms on the romance side, without becoming too cliche or overwhelming. And the aftermath of the hurricane is perfect, strained, awkward, and perfect.

There is more to this book than the romance. Jemma and Ryder are seniors, and both are expected to go to state schools. Ryder is an amazingggg quarterback, so he could get his choice of any division 1 school, it seems. Jemma is a cheerleader with excellent grades, so it's expected of her to basically go to a state school, and still cheer on Ryder (on the sidelines or in the stands). But Jemma has always had the dream of making films, and she wants to go to NYU for film school. But her parents are like, no, state schools only. I like that this is such a huge deal, because it totally makes sense. Moving allllll the way to a huge, mass-populated city is a big deal of anyone in this quaint town.

Also, something really significant happens with Jemma's older sister, Nan. This isn't a spoiler because you have no idea what happens! I promise it's probably not what you think. But it's huge, and takes up a lot of Jemma's thoughts. Her parents put her college application process on hold, because of Nan's situation (which makes sense, but really, it's the perfect excuse for them to say no, we're not going to consider letting you apply to NYU).

So it's not just all about the romance. BUT THE ROMANCE IS AWESOME. I just *knew* I would enjoy this book, but I LOVED it! I'm so glad I pushed myself to be on this tour, to read this book!

What I Did Not Like:

Perhaps everything ended a little *too* perfectly? I wasn't too bothered by this, but this is something I would usually note. So, you are warned. Happy endings are, well, happy. Not a bad thing, necessarily.

Would I Recommend It:

YES, YES I WOULD!! I loved this book a lot, and as someone who isn't the biggest fan of contemporary romance novels, that's impressive. I've pushed myself to read more contemporary romance novels this year though, but I've been really picky. So far, so good! This is just one more that I really enjoyed!


4 stars. A lovely standalone novel! I love books with hate-turned-into-love romances - if you know of more, let me know! This one certainly featured an awesome one. And much more!
Profile Image for Susana.
988 reviews243 followers
April 25, 2014
2.5 stars

Release Date: August, 5th

Arc kindly provided by Simon & Schuster

Be careful what you wish, people use to say...

A little more than a week ago, I read the most glowing review of this book an author could wish for. lol
In the follow up of that experience _ the review _, I was ready to buy this book wherever I could get it! Really! The review was that good!

But, to my despair, I found out that this story was only available as an arc, since the book is only going to be released in August.
Imagine my despair *Oh, woe is me!*
This prompted me to immediately log in to Edelweiss and request it asap.

This is what I may have said to convince the publishers to give me the book:
(not the actual phrasing and without having resorted to capital letters, but yes, this was basically what I said...)

Following that line, I can't even say that this story was too sweet for me, because I did ask for chocolate...

What I can actually say is that if you like stories that take place in the south, with the southern way of thinking, and southern way of talking, this story is for you. Of course never having lived there, I'm not the right person to judge the exactness of the descriptions... but they do sound very... Gone With the Wind... if all the people were nice to each other, and if racism wasn't allowed...

This is written in a very straightforward manner. An easy, smooth read, it tells us the story of two teenagers whose parents would love to see them planning a future together.

Think Romeo and Juliet, and then imagine what would happen if the Capulets and Montagues weren't long time enemies... but instead great, GREAT friends!

Romeo: It is the east and Juliet a... bore!
Juliet: Oh, Romeo, Romeo, why is thy name Romeo, deny thy father, and refuse thy name... so that our families would leave me the hell alone!!

Nothing kills romance quicker that having one's parents pointing at your future significant one!

This has a good premise, and it's a nice story. It has the necessary ingredients to make a cute romantic story work. But I'm afraid that I needed more in terms of "spices".

The writing is okay, but with this setting I feel that it deserved a language a little more finely worked.

The characters are supposed to be likable... but I honestly couldn't develop any interest for Jemma. It's like when you're talking to someone who loves a character, and you hate it. That person will go and on on the fine attributes of said saint... and you will go:

"Yes, I may pity the guy, but I don't have patience to put up with him!
"Oh, but he suffered so much..."
"Yes, but having to live with someone like that, would leave me depressed... which in turn would make me suffer!"

By then you will be receiving long emails describing the poor character's mental state... and you couldn't care less...

This is a little of what I feel happened here. The author tried to describe Jemma in the most favourable light. She's kind, and sweet to her parents, friends, animals...
She likes to fire arms...
She's on the cheerleading team... but she's nice to strangers...

It's too much. At least for me it was. Especially when I remember some comments she makes about her cousin... and the five bedroom house.

Despite that, of course it is possible to enjoy a story even when one doesn't feel a connection to one of its characters.

The plot... I'm afraid that, notwithstanding the main characters supposed dislike, there isn't much in terms of conflict to fill the story.
Jemma has her moments of tstl, which wouldn't be anything surprising considering she's a teenager. But the thing is, we get these occasional moments in which she points out how much she's not stupid (not wanting to be driven by someone who is known to drink), but then she goes and just proves otherwise (opening the door in the middle of the night to a drunk, when she's home alone).
I'm sorry, but survival instincts surpass good manners... since she's so clever...

The attempted love triangle with a bad boy was kind of a mess... he's a preppy rich teen who walks in the same circles that Jemma. A preppy teen who likes to drink and drive at the same time, and who thinks himself a lady's man... this is not my definition of bad boy.

Ryder, for instance, doesn't have enough substance to pass from the good guy stereotype to an actual "feels-real" character, I'm afraid. I see him in the future being one of those sweet guys who gets to be bossed around by his... wife.

Then we come to the situation that finally places these two together in a single setting, a tornado, and all its repercussions...
Not a year ago I was offered this amazing book. A YA romantic survival thriller, you could call it.
The book is called "Lost In the River Of Grass" and it's pretty much amazing. In it we can definitely feel the characters struggle for survival... in this one, not so much.

Honestly, I couldn't help feeling this was some sort of "soft tornado" wanna be situation.
Two teenagers home alone in a "not" mansion _Ryder has the antebellum mansion, poor Jemma has the house with five bedrooms _, therefore they're at Jemma's house, having to constantly herd 2 dogs and three cats from one place to another...

And then there was a scene in which Ryder was able to transport three cats in only one arm, and with the other he brought the cake... well being a cat owner... were they stuffed animals? o_O A little unrealistic...

The neighbours left them piles of food...

Only some trees were affected by the tornado...

The barn disappeared but, before that, they had been able to save the precious guns...

There's a scene with a snake, but Jemma proving to be Miss Perfect takes care of that...

And that's my bigger issue with this book.
Everything and everyone was close to perfect! And if you weren't, sooner or later fate would get you.

The romance is kind of weak.
Honestly I don't know why Ryder would be in love with someone who hasn't paid the least attention to him in the last couple of years...
And Jemma besides ogling Ryder's physique also doesn't show that much... love for him...
She does show her temper tantrum side... so maybe that's how people do it in the South.

Thank you so much to the publishing house for allowing me to read this "chocolate". It's not your fault that this didn't turn out to be my "type of chocolate"... ~I'm starting to sound like George Clooney in One Fine Day~ o_O
But do give it a try. You may end up enjoying it more than I did :)

Author's Official Site

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Profile Image for Keertana.
1,126 reviews2,164 followers
April 29, 2014
Rating: 3.5 Stars

Magnolia is a delightfully light, quick summer romance. Cook attempts to set up a reverse Romeo & Juliet situation in Magnolia as her romantic leads, Jemma Cafferty and Ryder Marden, absolutely detest one another while their families--old, Southern-style households determined to uphold decades-long traditions--are eager to see them together, if only to finally witness their families joined together by more than friendship. But Jemma and Ryder are determined to keep those dreams exactly as they are--dreams. While the two used to be friends, recent events have created a rift between them they aren't keen to breach. Until, that is, a deadly hurricane sweeps through town and Jemma and Ryder find themselves alone, dependent solely on each other for survival. While the hurricane unearths even the ground itself, Jemma and Ryder finally unearth the secrets in their past, realizing that the line between love and hate is far more transparent than it seemed.

Without a doubt, Magnolia is a lovely, tickle-me-pink love story, full of the tension we crave between romantic leads as we witness them--grudgingly--grow to love one another, putting aside their former emotions. Cook writes the focal hurricane scene believably, at least for this Northern girl, building suspense to drive forward the plot line while sustaining the atmosphere of Southern charm she creates within the first few chapters. There are a decent number of story lines running through this tale: Jemma coping with her older sister's sudden brain tumor; dealing with the attentions of Patrick, a cute boy whose DUIs indicate a persona not entirely suited for Jemma; and realizing that she, Jemma, may not want to attend the local universities her parents have picked out for her but may, instead, want to attend film school in New York City. Yet, Cook manages to weave these together for they all contribute to the general confusion Jemma feels during the time, while simultaneously getting to know the boy who she has self-declared her very own Public Enemy #1, Ryder.

I found it easy to slip into Jemma's narration and rather enjoyed it, with the exception of a few scenes where I felt as if her voice distanced the reader rather than included them. Ryder, too, is the complete package of swoon, proving to be far more than the "villain" Jemma paints him out to be from the onset of the story. In fact, I found myself anticipating their interactions, merely because both Jemma and Ryder were mature and self-aware enough to know when to put aside their differences and work together, but they aren't above throwing a jab or two at one another regardless. Their tentative journey to an ultimate relationship, despite balancing their own desires from that of their parents, is more than just a little rewarding. While one particular plot point towards the end of the story forced me to raise my eyebrows in annoyance, for the most part--those personal narrative moments aside--Cook's latest novel certainly surprised me. Don't expect an ocean of depth and you may just close this book with a grin. I know I did.
Profile Image for Kels.
315 reviews165 followers
September 23, 2016
There’s a lot of things that annoyed me with this book.

It's overly dramatic, highly predictable, barely any character development, no romantic growth (helloooo insta-love), filled with plot convenience and cliches, flat characters...

Yet my biggest problem with this novel is that I read it and felt absolutely nothing while doing so. This may not be Kristi Cook's first novel (I checked), but it does read like one.

One of my biggest pet peeves--and something I think truly separates a good writer from a great one--is their ability to make your emotions surge while reading their work. A writer's talent isn't in just writing "pretty" sentences. But it's in the way they're able to bring a story and characters to life. It's how they leave you heartbroken over a character's sorrows. It's how they are able to bring tears of joy to you over a character's triumphs. It's how after you close that last page in that book, you're still thinking about what's next? in this story, because for a moment you forget it's all make believe. This is the mark of a truly gifted and seasoned writer.

Unfortunately, I didn't feel this way about Magnolia. It's an interesting story, but the execution more than suffers. The ability to master showing vs telling is often a deal breaker for me if not done well, and in this novel there were way too many info dumps paired with passive writing that hindered me from ever getting emotionally involved in it.

Another thing that truly annoyed me was there was a moment in the book where the tense changes for an entire paragraph. That made me cringe a little. Then there was Jemma's parents who were dead set on having their daughter hook up with Ryder (okay that's not exactly what happened, but it's not all that far from the truth either). That made me cringe a lot.

Honestly, I'm not sure how or why I even finish this book. I’m not saying this is a terrible book, but it’s not a great one, and I wouldn’t even consider it a mediocre book. Especially if you’re looking for something fresh and original on the YA scene. But I think that’s the least of Magnolia's problem.

Profile Image for Natalia.
254 reviews59 followers
August 24, 2018
This was a cute and light book.
The story follows Jemma and Ryder. Their families are really close, but they can't stand each other. During a huge storm they are stuck together.
I really liked that Jemma wanted to go to film school and make films. I love, when the main character can do something artistic.
The characters and relationship weren't the best and they could've been better developed, but it was overall really cute.
Profile Image for Stacee.
2,709 reviews703 followers
February 6, 2017
I do love a book set in the south. Jemma was a bit more dramatic than I remember, but I did love her and Ryder together.

I can't wait for the novella-sequel-thingy next month.
Profile Image for Zoe.
406 reviews939 followers
June 24, 2022

Sometimes you just need to escape reality and engross yourself in something completely light and fluffy, and Magnolia fits that bill perfectly. It is satisfying and adorable, and everything - from the romance to the characters to the setting - is virtually perfect.

Ever since the Civil War, the Cafferty and Marsden families have been as tight as tight can be. So when a baby girl and a baby boy are born at almost the exact same time, the families see their chance to finally unite themselves by marriage. The only problem? Jemma Cafferty and Ryder Marsden, 17, hate each other to the core. But when a storm threatens to ravage their small Southern town, Jemma and Ryder realize that they may need each other more than they hoped.

The story is told through the perspective of Jemma, and she is an amazing protagonist. She is not perfect by any stretch of the imagination - she's extremely stubborn - but it is those flaws that make her come off the page with such a realism to her. You understand her; her thoughts, her desires, her dreams; and that is a huge aspect of what makes the story so successful.

Jemma's relationship with Ryder is what steals the book. It is one of the most authentic and well-written romances I can remember reading in a long time - maybe even since Flipped or These Broken Stars. The slow burn development of their romance is written absolutely perfectly. You can feel the hatred they have for each other in the beginning slowly morph into respect and soon into something more than that.

All in all, I couldn't recommend this enough. It has a wonderful Southern atmosphere and an unforgettable romance. Anyone who is a fan of YA contemporary or romance won't regret giving this a try.
"We’ve hated each other since forever.”
“Love, hate,” she says with a smile. “Such a fine line between the two, isn’t there?”
Such a fine line, such a fine line indeed.
Profile Image for Liv.
7 reviews2 followers
October 30, 2015
I absolutely adored this book. It was so much fun to read and a really fun book. At first, it took a hard time to get into but once things set into place it got a whole lot better. The book started off with Ryder and Jemma (neighbors) hating each other. Ever since they were born their mothers have wanted them to be together but they never approved themselves. Ryder never really knew why Jemma hated him so much until she told him it was because of the 8th grade dance. But once the hurricane hit Magnolia Branch and Jemma's sister got a brain tumor, Ryder was super supportive the whole way through. He was such a fun loving character that really cared for Jemma and wasn't afraid to show it. This goes the same for Jemma but it was on and off with her. Especially when Patrick died in the car crash. But in the end, they ended up together and it was the sweetest thing. Especially because their going to the same state for college. Some may say that books like this are "cliche" but this one wasn't because it was real. Highly recommend this novel!
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Kuroi.
276 reviews133 followers
October 12, 2014
Rating - 2.5 stars.

A cute book I started reading during an interminable wait at the clinic. So, yeah, it's good to pass time with.

My main issue was that the characters were a little too perfect...or maybe I was just jealous. But the story is good, has nice pacing and no one is horrible in a tropey way, so it was all good.

I like Ryder and Jemma, but didn't really feel attached to them for some reason. I did get Jemma's worry about her sister, which I thought was great, in the sense that we have a genuine loving sister relationship. And yes, I would encourage my little sister to do what she really wanted, not what my parents wanted for her.

Also, the old-world Southern chivalry was really nice. I can't help it, I like men who hold open doors. Feminism be damned.

It didn't really tug at my heartstrings, more like gently brushed on them, but I would recommend this book. 'Cause, tornadoes and romance, y'all.
716 reviews3 followers
June 24, 2016
I thought it was going to be cute, funny and fluffy southern romance. Well, it wasn’t exactly what I wanted. Cute? Not really. Funny? No. Not funny at all. Fluffy? No. It was actually a lot more serious than I thought. And that includes some unnecessary drama.

Magnolia is about teenage girl, Jemma, who basically hates a guy her mother wants her to be with. Ryder is this perfect human being, who did something in the past that hurt Jemma, and after that they stopped being friends. And that’s where this book starts off. There were many things I didn’t like about it, so please keep that in mind. Ok, let’s do this…

I really didn’t like the main character. She was extremely annoying in my opinion. I understood why she was mad at the main guy in this story, but the thing that was infuriating was the fact that she was convinced he hated her, but he was always nice to her! I don’t recall a scene in which he was mean or even unkind to her! Where’s the logic in that? Yes, I know- he hurt her in the past, but it was YEARS ago. Also, Jemma is super judgmental- I mean, saying that another girl is pretty, but ‘dumb as a rock’, even if you do it in your head, is very, very mean. And I don’t like either mean, or judgmental people.

Also, this book is pretty much typical 'rich and beautiful people's problems'. There is a part about a family drama in here, and what’s Jemma’s reaction? She makes it all about her, and isn’t very supportive. There were so many moments that I just wanted to scream at the main character- going to a party while your family is going through something horrible is just not right! Also, Jemma says she’s very passionate about making film and she wants to go to college to pursue her dreams, but she ISN’T PASSIONATE or DETERMINED at all! She needs a guy to do everything for her. And that’s what makes me think… WHY Ryder even likes her? I don’t get it.

Don’t even get me started on a ‘relationship’ she ‘had’ with the other guy. They went out a couple of times, and didn’t even talk after that, and everybody (including her friends and Ryder) thought they were together? I don’t understand that. Especially the whole thing at the end, to me it was simply ridiculous. Did I mention she didn't even like him? And that he was drunk most of the time?

Two more things that just made me angry:

"There’s also intelligence—check. Talent—check. Character—check." She ticks each one off on her fingers. "As far as I can tell, he’s got it all—the total package."

I HATE that phrase. Honestly? The total package? It’s like saying everyone except that one person is incomplete and not worth your time, and that person with ‘the total package’ is perfection, so why would you even look for someone else? Let me tell you something- no one is perfect, and even if someone is considered ‘the total package’ doesn’t mean he’s the right person for you.

"That was when I realized you were the prettiest girl in Magnolia Branch," he says. "Hell, maybe in all of Mississippi."

Ok. I know that phrase was supposed to be romantic. But to me it wasn’t. Complimenting the girl’s beauty is fine, but that’s not why people truly fall in love. Looks are one thing, personality is the other, so I don’t understand why calling a girl ‘pretty’ instantly makes her crazy about the guy who said it. The main character was constantly thinking about it, and it really didn’t sit well with me.

This book just didn’t work for me. I know that I might overanalyze some aspects about it, but that’s how I am with YA contemporary novels. I just can’t understand teenage girl’s perspective, and how ridiculous and annoying it is. It lacks logic. And I hate that. This book includes all of the reasons why I don’t read YA contemporary’s. It was a reminder why I shouldn’t pick that genre up if I want to have a good time reading.
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