August 1, 2014

Magnolia Blog Tour: Review, Dream Cast + Giveaway

Author: Kristi Cook
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Release Date: August 5, 2014
Rate: 3.5 Stars


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 felt like a cross between a "Romeo and Juliet" type romance only backwards. The Cafferty family and the Marsden family have been close neighbors since the Civil War. They do everything together - from barbeques to parties, vacations, and holidays. The only thing they believe could bring their families closer together would be a marriage between the clans. It seems as though their wishes come true when Jemma Cafferty and Ryder Marsden are born at the same time. Fast forward seventeen years - the two families are still pushing the marriage between Jemma and Ryder, only they can't stand each other. Jemma has big dreams of leaving Magnolia Branch and going to film school and Ryder thinks Jemma is stubborn and fiesty. They absolutely don't have marriage on their minds - especially when they're only seventeen. When a huge storm hits their small town, it brings Jemma and Ryder's true feelings about each other to the surface. They always say that it's a thin line between love and hate - but are Ryder and Jemma willing to cross it?

I thought the concept of this book sounded light and fun - a sweet contemporary romance. It turned out to be just that, with a couple of curveballs thrown in for good measure. I immediately felt like the author did an inversion of the Romeo and Juliet story - in this story the families adore each other and want nothing more than a marriage to unite them, but the two in question hate each other. It's an interesting flip on the star-crossed lovers tale. I liked all the characters in the book, although I found some of them to be a bit flat - especially the secondary characters. Jemma and Ryder were both well rounded with their flaws and strengths, making them realistic and accessible to the reader. Jemma had a serious attitude problem, which was funny at times and a tad annoying in others. Ryder was the typical "golden boy" with secrets underneath. The attention to detail and description throughout the book made the setting come alive - which I absolutely loved. I felt like I was right there in Magnolia Branch alongside the characters. The writing as a whole was well done, except for the few issues I personally had with the predictability and flat characters. The author included some twists in the plot to keep things moving - and those definitely blindsided me. Overall, it was all a little predictable for my taste, but made for a fast and entertaining read. I'd recommend it to readers who enjoy sweet YA contemporary romance novels.

Jemma played by Emma Watson
Ryder played by Liam Hemsworth
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Follow the FFBC Magnolia Blog Tour and don't miss anything! Click on the banner to see the tour schedule.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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