Review: Magnolia by Kristi Cook

I received this book for free from the author in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: Magnolia by Kristi CookMagnolia by Kristi Cook
Published by Simon & Schuster on August 5, 2014
Pages: 384
Format: ARC
Source: the author
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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.

Kristi Cook has done it again! Her Winterhaven trilogy is one of my all-time favorite paranormal trilogies! And now with Magnolia, Cook tackled contemporary and it was epic! The plot, the characters, the situations the characters were put in – It was all amazing and incredible!

First of all, Cook is a gorgeous writer. She really sweeps the reader in, making you feel as though you can clearly picture everything that’s happening, like you’re really experiencing everything with the characters. She’s also brilliant when it comes to character development. All her characters, even the secondary and tertiary ones, have distinct voices, extensive backgrounds and a role to play. No character is insignificant.

I adored Jemma. She felt very real and down-to-earth. She wanted to escape her hometown and do what she wanted to do with her life, not what her parents wanted her to do with her life. Jemma knows how to properly handle a gun, which made her just a tiny bit scary… I would certainly NOT want to get on her bad side!

Ryder was hilarious and swoony! On the outside, he seemed like the typical perfect jock – especially from Jemma’s POV. But he had his own share of problems and concerns. Even when Jemma pushed him away, he never really left her alone. He was always there for her. And what he decided to do in the end? So awesome and swoony!!

I loved Jemma and Ryder as an “anti-couple.” They were both so head-strong and stubborn. The anti-love interest concept was so fascinating, too – it was a nice change from insta-love, which seems to dominate most YA books. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind some insta-love (when done right), but this was such a refreshing concept. This book was basically the exact opposite of Romeo & Juliet. Jemma and Ryder’s families wanted them together more than anything, so they fought against that. They hated each other and refused to even attempt a friendship because of it. The banter between them was just hilarious!

The storm section was really scary and creepy. Cook successfully guaranteed that I will NEVER move to Mississippi, that’s for sure! Between the bugs (the spiders, specifically), the storm/hurricane and the resulting tornadoes… *Shudders!!!!* The storm really brought Ryder and Jemma together, though. It forced them to work together, to trust each other, to rely on each other. Their will to survive forced them to put their feelings and differences aside. When they could do nothing but sit inside their make-shift storm shelter and wait out the tornadoes, they opened up to each other and slowly became friends – and then much more!

My heart was in my throat for the entire storm section! I kept waiting for something truly terrible to happen – though the storm itself and the ensuing damage was horrible enough. As an animal lover, I appreciated that Jemma and Ryder always looked after and protected the animals.

And most of all, the storm section really made me think. I kept wondering, what would I do in this situation? Would I be as brave as Jemma and Ryder? Would I make it through? How would I react to some of the things that happened? With one storm, so many things were lost – It really makes you appreciate what you have in life.

The secondary storyline with Jemma’s sister was heart-breaking. It was very difficult to read those sections, but it was also necessary to the story. Also, the Patrick storyline. Jemma needed him in her life to see that she was truly destined to be with Ryder. But the way Patrick’s storyline wrapped up… I NEVER expected that. It was such a shock, I still can’t believe it, even though it has been days since I read the book.

Overall, I adored Magnolia. It was a fantastic book with amazing characters and an interesting plot. I loved the anti-Romeo and Juliet concept. The storm was a fascinating way to bring Jemma and Ryder together, though it was scary to picture. I loved, loved, LOVED the end! It was both hilarious and perfect. Kristi Cook is an amazing writer and she’ll always be on my Auto-Buy list! I can’t recommend her books enough! If you haven’t read them, they’re a must!


Review: Perfect Ruin by Lauren DeStefano

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: Perfect Ruin by Lauren DeStefanoPerfect Ruin by Lauren DeStefano
Series: The Internment Chronicles #1
Published by Simon & Schuster on October 1, 2013
Pages: 356
Format: ARC
Source: the publisher
Buy on Amazon

On Internment, the floating island in the clouds where 16-year-old Morgan Stockhour lives, getting too close to the edge can lead to madness. Even though Morgan's older brother, Lex, was a Jumper, Morgan vows never to end up like him. She tries her best not to mind that her life is orderly and boring, and if she ever wonders about the ground, and why it is forbidden, she takes solace in best friend Pen and her betrothed, Basil.

Then a murder, the first in a generation, rocks the city. With whispers swirling and fear on the wind, Morgan can no longer stop herself from investigating, especially when she meets Judas. He is the boy being blamed for the murder — betrothed to the victim — but Morgan is convinced of his innocence. Secrets lay at the heart of Internment, but nothing can prepare Morgan for what she will find — or who she will lose.

With Perfect Ruin, Lauren DeStefano has written an amazing, imaginative world filled with incredible, lovable characters. She’s descriptive and elaborate, and the reader will feel as though they are on Internment, living out the events of the story right alongside the characters.

Morgan, the MC, is a daydreamer. She has a unique voice and through her eyes, we see what it’s like to live in a world in the sky. Morgan is the perfect balance of curious and obedient. She’s curious about the ground, yet smart enough to know she shouldn’t think about it. Because of her brother, Lex, she knows all too well what thinking of the ground will do to a person. I found her character fascinating, and I loved seeing the story through her eyes.

Pen, Morgan’s best friend, is an incredible character. She has all these beliefs and all this faith. She’s the obedient one, with her feet planted firmly on Internment. And yet she seemed like a wild card to me, throughout the majority of the book. I had this feeling she would end up getting into a lot of trouble. My suspicious were pretty accurate!

Lex is a particularly interesting character. I don’t really know how to describe him without spoilers, but he’s a very insightful character, offering clarity at times when clarity is needed. And yet, he’s troubled and he knows more than he is letting on. We learn more about that as the story progresses.

And then there’s Basil. I absolutely adored Basil. He was sweet and romantic, open-minded and loyal. He’s the perfect Book Boyfriend and I loved the chemistry and attraction between him and Morgan. He has some incredibly sweet moments throughout the book and I adored him for it.

There are so many fascinating characters in this story, I could go on forever just discussing what I loved about them. But then I would also spoil the entire book for everyone. So just know that the characters in this book were fascinating and interesting. There were certainly some characters that were unlikeable. Every book has some unlikeable characters; without them, there is no conflict or resolution. And, in true DeStefano fashion, the characters never have an easy time of it. If you’ve read The Chemical Garden trilogy – all three books, I mean – you’ll probably read that, groan, and grab some tissues before sitting down with Perfect Ruin!

And then there was that ending… Uhm, whoa! First of all, I totally guessed one thing and sort of guessed another, yet they were still shocking to read and I was thrilled! But that cliffhanger!!! The suspense!!! I seriously can’t wait a whole year to see what happens next!

All in all, Perfect Ruin was an incredible read. I loved every second of it, I would definitely recommend it and I can’t wait to see what happens next! DeStefano is a truly incredible story-teller and I can’t wait to read more books by her!