Beyond the Wand: The Magic and Mayhem of Growing Up a Wizard by Tom Felton


Beyond the Wand: The Magic and Mayhem of Growing Up a Wizard by Tom Felton
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Genre: Non-Fiction, Memoir
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Nymphaea

From the magical moments on set as Draco Malfoy to the challenges of growing up in the spotlight, get a backstage pass into Tom Felton’s life on and off the big screen.

Tom Felton’s adolescence was anything but ordinary. His early rise to fame in beloved films like The Borrowers catapulted him into the limelight, but nothing could prepare him for what was to come after he landed the iconic role of the Draco Malfoy, the bleached blonde villain of the Harry Potter movies. For the next ten years, he was at the center of a huge pop culture phenomenon and yet, in between filming, he would go back to being a normal teenager trying to fit into a normal school.

Speaking with great candor and his signature humor, Tom shares his experience growing up as part of the wizarding world while also trying to navigate the muggle world. He tells stories from his early days in the business like his first acting gig where he was mistaken for fellow blonde child actor Macaulay Culkin and his Harry Potter audition where, in a very Draco-like move, he fudged how well he knew the books the series was based on (not at all). He reflects on his experiences working with cinematic greats such as Alan Rickman, Sir Michael Gambon, Dame Maggie Smith, and Ralph Fiennes (including that awkward Voldemort hug). And, perhaps most poignantly, he discusses the lasting relationships he made over that decade of filming, including with Emma Watson, who started out as a pesky nine-year-old whom he mocked for not knowing what a boom mic was but who soon grew into one of his dearest friends. Then, of course, there are the highs and lows of fame and navigating life after such a momentous and life-changing experience.

Tom Felton’s Beyond the Wand is an entertaining, funny, and poignant must-read for any Harry Potter fan. Prepare to meet a real-life wizard.

He’s a wizard, maybe, but he’s a lot more and fascinating, too.

I will admit here and now that I’m not a Potter-head. I read every one of the Harry Potter books, but I didn’t get into the movies as much as others. I waited until they were on TV or didn’t watch them. I had other things to do. But I did like the books and I read them because I was told they were good books.

I came across the actor Tom Felton through the TV show “The Flash”. The family watched it, so I did, too. That’s when I noticed him. He plays a good bad guy. I know that sounds odd. He’s good at being the heavy. So, when I saw this book recommended at my local library, I had to check it out. I’m glad I did.

This book talks about his Harry Potter days. I mean, it should. He spent a lot of his life doing it. But there’s so much more. It’s about him as a person. His struggles, his depression, his bouts in rehab. It’s not flowery or fancy. It’s a guy who happens to be famous writing about his life and struggles. It’s like talking to a friend through a book. That’s how it reads–very relatable.

If you’re looking for insight into Harry Potter or want inside scoops on the filming, you might not get what you’re looking for. If you are wanting a book about an actor who could take or leave acting, who has had ups and downs and is still standing, then this might be the book for you. I recommend it highly.

The Artist’s Page by Debra Rufini


The Artist’s Page by Debra Rufini
Publisher: Paragon Publishing
Genre: Inspirational, Children’s (0 – 6 y.o.)
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Chamomile

What would your response be to a group of small people, overlooking you,

to look at the masterpiece you’d lovingly made for them?

How would you feel by their admiration of your magnificent creation,

as they ignore your wonderfully creative hands?

Would you feel sad? Frustrated? Angry?

Imagine your relief when they leave your invisible side.

Picture your joy and gratitude with their replacement –

and appreciative group marvelling at your masterpiece,

undoubtedly produced by your love.

Would you feel glad,

grateful, relieved, believed,

like the Artist in this story felt?

The Artist’s Page by Debra Rufini is a wonderful children’s picture book that can be enjoyed with readers both young and old! Beautifully illustrated by Dina Kalo, this story tells of God’s love and His incredible gift. Rufini takes readers on a journey of looking at how different people might see of respond to this magnificent gift, and how sometimes they also choose to reject it.

This story is suitable, but the focus of the story might be slightly lost on younger children, and will have more meaning for those who read it more than once and over time.

I loved reading this story, and really felt it brought the story and lessons to life in a unique and beautiful way! Filled with creative imagery and enticing colors, The Artist’s Page is a pleasure to read!

Madly, Deeply: The Diaries of Alan Rickman


Madly, Deeply: The Diaries of Alan Rickman
Publisher: Henry Holt & Co.
Genre: Non-Fiction, Recent Historical, Memoir
Rating 5 Stars
Reviewed by Nymphaea

Madly, Deeplyis a rare invitation into the mind of Alan Rickman―one of the most magnetic, beloved performers of our time.

From his breakout role in Die Hard to his outstanding, multifaceted performances in the Harry Potter films, Galaxy Quest, Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, and more, Alan Rickman cemented his legacy as a world-class actor. His air of dignity, his sonorous voice, and the knowing wit he brought to each role continue to captivate audiences today.

But Rickman’s ability to breathe life into projects wasn’t confined to just his performances. As you’ll find, Rickman’s diaries detail the extraordinary and the ordinary, flitting between worldly and witty and gossipy, while remaining utterly candid throughout. He takes us inside his home, on trips with friends across the globe, and on the sets of films and plays ranging from Sense and Sensibility, to Noël Coward’s Private Lives, to the final film he directed, A Little Chaos.

Running from 1993 to his death in 2016, the diaries provide singular insight into Rickman’s public and private life. Reading them is like listening to Rickman chatting to a close companion. Meet Rickman the consummate professional actor, but also the friend, the traveler, the fan, the director, the enthusiast; in short, the man beyond the icon.

Madly, Deeply features a photo insert, a foreword by Emma Thompson, and an afterword by Rima Horton.

A fascinating man in an everyday setting.

I love reading the diaries of famous people. Not because I want to learn something salacious. No, it’s because I want to see the person as a person–not the image on a screen. This book does that. Granted, its Rickman’s diaries and I have no doubt he ever expected them to be made public. That’s kind of what made them fantastic and magical to me. It’s just him. Just his thoughts, his boringness, his sometimes snarly comments…it’s just him. It’s what he does day-to-day. To some, this will not be an explosive read, but a boring one. He goes to fittings, struggles with depression and not feeling well. He talks about friendships and some might think name drops, but how can one name drop when they’re talking about being with the people they work with?

The most touching part of the book wasn’t even his writing, to be honest. This was a full four star read throughout, but what really tipped it over the edge for me was the afterward by his partner, Rima Horton. She writes about his last days, the decline when the cancer was too great, how he planned his own funeral and insisted on having “Uptown Funk” played that day. It made me love this actor even more. I’d already been a fan, but seeing the human side, really helped.

If you want to learn great new stories about Alan Rickman from his own hand, then this might be the book you’re looking for. I recommend it heartily.

Wilde Treasures by K.M. Fawcett


Wilde Treasures by K.M. Fawcett
Publisher: Self-Published
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Mistflower

Rick McKinnon is on the hunt for booty…

…pirate booty, that is. With one week left to find the hidden trove before his mafia boss investor starts busting kneecaps, Rick discovers the location is inside a 200-year-old well on private property. Unfortunately, claustrophobic Rick gets stuck.

The last thing Willow Wilde needs after moving away from her thieving ex is to rescue a sexy hustler from her well. But when the fortune hunter offers a piece of buried treasure in exchange for her help, Willow gets swept into an adventure sure to solve her money woes and add to her man troubles. As long as she can guard against Rick’s sultry charms, she won’t get hurt again.

But the two aren’t the only ones searching for the lost loot, and rivals will stop at nothing to get the gold. It’s now a race against time as Rick and Willow chase a string of clues throughout the small town of Candlewood Falls. And to survive this dangerous game, they’ll have to learn to trust each other with their lives…and their hearts.

Oh, my goodness! Oh, my goodness! I have so much that I want to say. I started this book without any background. After I finished it, I did some research and discovered that I was the one who found the best treasure of all. I found a new series to escape into.

The “Dear Readers” note in the beginning of the book explains it all. Too bad I missed that page when I hastily started reading chapter one. In case you are an eager reader like me, let me tell you what it says. I don’t want you to miss it like I did. Wild Treasures is the fourth book in the Candlewood Falls series. (It can easily be read as a standalone.) “However, the end of one story doesn’t mean the end of your favorite characters. They can show up in any Candlewood Falls book at any time.” (That, folks, is my kind of series. Especially when I bond with the characters and hate to let them go when the story is over.) “Candlewood Falls is a unique world of connected stories by different authors whose characters, business, and events appear in each other’s stories.” (I’ve read one other series like this, and it is still my favorite. I sincerely will be checking out books one, two and three.) The “Dear Reader” note also says “Think of Candlewood Falls as a literary soap opera”.

Wilde Treasures is similar to my favorite movie, “Raiders of the Lost Ark”. Only set the movie in our modern times.

I was drawn into the story right away when I read the first paragraph. The leading man, Rick McKinnon, was love at first sight for me. He was sexy, smart and protective. He made me feel safe. The heroine, Willow Wilde, was spunky, smart and beautiful. When they were together, I could feel their chemistry sizzle off the pages.

I was thoroughly entertained, hunting for the treasure right along with Rick and Willow. Their bantering made me chuckle. The suspenseful parts made my heart race. Rick and Willow were both romantics at heart which I found heartwarming and endearing.

If you are looking for a swoon-worthy book, then I’d suggest this one. I’m still suffering from a book glow a day later. I’m ready to go on another treasure hunt with Rick and Willow.

This was my first K.M. Fawcett story, and it won’t be my last. I loved how her writing style brought the book to life. Like, I said, I’m the one that found the real treasure. Happy Reading!

Miss Memory Lane: A Memoir by Colton Haynes


Miss Memory Lane: A Memoir by Colton Haynes
Publisher: Atria Books
Genre: Recent Historical, Contemporary, Non-Fiction, LGBTQ
Rating: 5 Stars
Reviewed by Nymphaea

A brutally honest and moving memoir of lust, abuse, addiction, stardom, and redemption from Arrow and Teen Wolf actor Colton Haynes.

Four years ago, Colton Haynes woke up in a hospital. He’d had two seizures, lost the sight in one eye, almost ruptured a kidney, and been put on an involuntary psychiatry hold. Not yet thirty, he knew he had to take stock of his life and make some serious changes if he wanted to see his next birthday.

As he worked towards sobriety, Haynes allowed himself to become vulnerable for the first time in years and with that, discovered profound self-awareness. He had millions of social media followers who constantly told him they loved him. But what would they think if they knew his true story? If they knew where he came from and the things he had done?

Now, Colton bravely pulls back the curtain on his life and career, revealing the incredible highs and devastating lows. From his unorthodox childhood in a small Kansas town, to coming to terms with his sexuality, he keeps nothing back.

By sixteen, he had been signed by the world’s top modeling agency and his face appeared on billboards. But he was still a broke, lonely, confused teenager, surrounded by people telling him he could be a star as long as he never let anyone see his true self. As his career in television took off, the stress of wearing so many masks and trying to please so many different people turned his use of drugs and alcohol into full-blown addiction.

A lyrical and intimate confession, apology, and cautionary tale, Miss Memory Lane is an unforgettable story of dreams deferred and dreams fulfilled; of a family torn apart and rebuilt; and of a man stepping into the light as no one but himself.

At times, this is a run-of-the-mill autobiography, but at others, it’s heart-rendering and poetic.

I’ve never seen Colton Haynes on television. I guess I don’t watch the shows he’s been on and that’s okay. I didn’t pick this book up because of the star quality. I wanted an autobiography that would make me think and feel. This is one of those books. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t agree with everything that happened and there were times I cringed, but that’s life. It’s not always perfect or sweet. People can be mean to each other, can use each other and it’s up to those people to pick themselves up afterward.

Colton Haynes is a mess, it’s true. He grew up in a bad situation, was treated awfully and went into a profession that tends to chew people up and spit them out. Yet, he’s still here. There are moments of gut-wrenching seriousness and some of humor. I hated the way the author was treated, but I can see how it made him the man who wrote the book today. It made him stronger and appreciate what he has. At least that’s how it seemed in the book.

If you’re looking for something lurid, then this might be it. There’s underage sex, abuse and the like. It’s not an easy read. But if you’re looking for something to make you think and realize your life isn’t so bad, then this might be the one to read. Check it out.

When I Met You by Avery Easton


When I Met You by Avery Easton
Book 3 of the Hearts of Broadway series
Publisher: Uncial Press
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Mistflower

Broadway star Jazzy Summers doesn’t do showmances. The only thing she wants is to be the performer she’s been since she was a kid. And if that means she’s a bit of a loner, that’s okay by her. The work is her life.

Mateo Williams was the biggest pop sensation in the world fifteen years ago–until he wasn’t. When his third album flopped, the charismatic star mysteriously disappeared and was rarely seen again.

A chance meeting–and Mateo’s incredible smile–gives Jazzy butterflies. But when she learns more, she is quick to write him off. A workaholic like her and a slacker like him could never work.

And then they are cast as co-stars in a brand-new Broadway musical. Jazzy tries to remain professional. Mateo tries to remember his lines. But all of the secrets he’s keeping are hindering the work. Despite the undeniable chemistry between them, Jazzy’s patience is waning. As they fight toward opening night, tragedy strikes Mateo. And Jazzy realizes that friendships and a lifelong love do not have to be sacrificed. They might be everything she’s been working for.

This romance is interesting because I’ve been to one Broadway show, Wicked. I will never forget that show as long as I live because it was amazing. This story, When I Met You, was captivating because it gave me a glimpse of what goes on behind the scenes of a Broadway play. Without this story, I can’t imagine I’d ever get that perspective anywhere else. It’s not like I know anyone that performs on stage. I never did theater in school. When I saw Wicked, I was curious as to how in the world they changed the stage between acts. When I Met You, answered many questions for me. Now, I have no way of knowing how accurate this story is, but it felt real to me.

I felt a genuine connection with the cast of characters as if I was watching a reality tv show. The heroine, Jazzy Summers, is the star performer in a new Broadway play and her co-star is the hero, Mateo Williams. I got to see how the performers came together as a family. I felt as if I was part of the Broadway musical, from the hiring, to the rehearsal, to the opening night. I felt all their joys and struggles.

Jazzy and Mateo have different backgrounds and baggage to overcome but that is part of the draw to this story. They actually met prior to being co-stars and that plot thread was entertaining and made me smile.

I will warn you that the relationship between Mateo and Jazzy has very strong chemistry where everyone in the room knows they are in love but them. Mateo is hot and cold which drove Jazzy (and me) nuts. This story was written so well that the ‘on again/off again’ did not feel like a headbanger. I felt Jazzy’s frustration but her good friend, Simone, helps keep the situation light. The apologies between Jazzy and Mateo helped me as a reader to feel compassion instead of annoyance. I’m a pretty understanding person and could easily forgive Jazzy and Mateo for being stubborn and blockheaded. Speaking for myself, I felt overjoyed when Jazzy and Mateo finally let down their walls and opened their hearts and took a leap of faith to give into their love a chance.

The epilogue at the end was the icing on the cake. It gave me a nice book glow for a few hours.

I’d put this book on my keeper shelf and recommend it to others to borrow. Even though this is book three in the series, it can be read as a standalone. I’m thankful I made the choice to read it. Happy Reading!

Summer People by Corinne LaBalme


Summer People by Corinne LaBalme
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Mistflower

Jessica Stratton’s long-cherished dream of opening her own Folk Art gallery in an idyllic Cape Cod setting finally comes true. However, her start-up is anything but smooth sailing.

Her ten-year marriage hits the rocks and, when the hunk next door to her shop – a brooding ecologist on a mission to save the planet – proves too irresistible to ignore, she’s got to relearn the rules of the dating game while working overtime to lure clients to her boutique.

Unfortunately, someone’s already far too interested in a 19th century example of advertising art in her collection and will go to any means – legal or illegal – to acquire it.

Maybe the planet isn’t the only thing that has to be saved…

After a reading hiatus, I was relieved and thrilled that the first book of the new year that I recently finished, Summer People by Corinne LaBalme, inspired me to write this review.

The synopsis stated that Jessica’s marriage was “hitting the rocks”. The reason the heroine’s marriage was falling apart was unexpected. It was an interesting plot thread that remained solid throughout the story. I was thankful the hero, Rick, lived next door to Jessica. It just so happens he was gorgeous and available.

Rick is a prime example of a true hero. He bailed Jessica out of a few humorous situations. I know I mentioned he is a hunk, but did I mention he can cook? He’s my kind of book boyfriend!

The cast of characters are well-developed and one of my favorites was Nancy, who is friends with Jessica and Rick’s landlord. I enjoyed the relationship between Jessica and Nancy because they demonstrated what it is to be a best friend.

I was delighted that my interest was captured so quickly when the story started. If you’ve ever listened to one of those self-help CDs and rolled your eyes at them, then the beginning of this book might crack you up like it did me. I was entertained from the beginning to the end and still find myself smiling as I reflect on this romance story.

There is a suspenseful plot thread referred to in the synopsis about someone who is far too interested in a piece of Jessica’s art collection. This particular person will go to any means to acquire it. This wrongdoer really knew how to raise my blood pressure.

The romance between Jessica and Rick was sweet, heartwarming and endearing. They certainly went through their share of trials and tribulations which made their happily ever after extra rewarding for me.

I haven’t any reservations in recommending this entertaining read. Summer People was a win for me. Happy Reading.

White Lies by Jayne Ann Krentz (Author), David Colacci (Narrator), Kathy Garver (Narrator)


White Lies by Jayne Ann Krentz (Author), David Colacci (Narrator), Kathy Garver (Narrator)
Arcane Society, Book 2
Publisher: JOVE Books (Print), Brilliance Audio (Audiobook Publisher)
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal, Romance, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Mystery/Suspense/Thriller
Rating: 5 Stars
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

Relationships are challenging enough for most single, over-30 women. For level-10 parasensitive Clare Lancaster, they’re a minefield. The elite few who know her secret call her a human lie detector, and any falsehood, no matter how subtle or well hidden, sets her blood racing.
Over the years, Clare has come to accept that someone with her extraordinary talents is unlikely to find a suitable mate. And she’s even resigned herself to the fact that everyone, to one degree or another, hides behind a façade – including her recently deceased brother-in-law.

When Clare finds the body of Brad McAllister, the golden child of Stone Canyon, Arizona, the posh residents turn a suspicious eye in her direction. As Archer Glazebrook’s daughter, Clare is shielded from the law, but not the gossip. It seems that meeting the half sister and family she did not know until seven months ago was a mistake. Now her father summons her from California to play a role in his business empire, and Clare doesn’t intend on making the same mistake twice.

But after meeting Jake Salter, Archer’s “business consultant”, she is convinced that things aren’t what they seem. Salter’s careful conversation walks a delicate line between truth and deception, revealing and resisting. Something sparks and sizzles between them – something more than the usual electricity between a man and a woman.

Caught in a dizzying storm of secrets, lies, and half-truths, Jake and Clare will plunge into an investigation that demands every bit of their special gifts. Together, they must overcome their mutual distrust in order to unravel a web of conspiracy and murder.

This fast-paced story has it all. For starters, it has action, murder, narrow escapes, conspiracies, mad scientists creating designer drugs, psychical talents and powers, and best of all, a romance that thrills the senses and engaged my emotions. My most favorite term is what Clare calls Fallon Jones throughout the novel. If anyone has read the series, even out of order, Fallon’s personality is pretty much the same – abrasive. So, every time Clare says her pet-name for Fallon, I cracked up, giggled, grinned and thought it hilarious.

But Fallon isn’t the hero in this novel, Jake is. He makes for an interesting and fascinating hero. He’s not over the top in his actions, but the author uses words that kind of builds him up bigger than what he does and is. That’s okay because I’m glad Jake doesn’t do super-hero stunts; it made him more relatable and acceptable as an alpha-type hero. The good thing about Jake is that he likes a strong woman. Sure, he admits that he wished Clare didn’t do some of the things she did because it scares him spitless, but he doesn’t stop her or belittle her. He supports the heroine and backs her up whenever he can. He uses his brain, and yes, some of his psychical powers, but they aren’t infallible.

Seriously, I found the writing tight, the mystery well thought out, the dialogue great and the romance delightful with a few moments of spicy fun for those readers that prefer those scenes in a book. The story can stand on its own without them though – it’s that complete.

The above is my review of the print version. Now I want to mention the audio version that I listened to, twice. David Colacci does Jake’s voice and all the other male characters in the story, and Kathy Garver does Clare and all the rest of the female secondary characters. They are AWESOME! They both had emotion and clear differences between their characters. When a female villain breaks down and cries – it’s realistic and effective. When Jake is growly, or boldly laughs out loud or talks sultry to Clare, my heart goes pitter-patter. His voice for Archer cracked me up because it is brash, distinctive and LOUD, and David Colacci voiced the perfect Fallon Jones – crack me up!

I think the audio version was a real hoot. It kept me on the edge of my seat, and even when I listened to it a second time, I picked up things I missed on the first go-round, which helped me enjoy it just as much in the second reading/listening. It was a splendid experience and fans of the Arcane Society series really need to take the audio version of White Lies for a spin after reading the print version. Both are awesome because the writing and story are what makes it work. Romantic suspense has never been so fun!

In The Shadow of The Apennines by Kimberly Sullivan


In The Shadow of The Apennines by Kimberly Sullivan
Publisher: Self Published
Genre: Contemporary, Historical, Womens Fiction
Rated: 5 stars
Review by Rose

An American divorcée. An Italian shepherdess.
Separated by a century, united by common dreams

The sleepy little Abruzzo mountain town of Marsicano seems about as far as Samantha can flee from her failed marriage and disastrous university career. Eager for a fresh start, Samantha begins to set down roots in her Italian mountain hideaway.

At first, the mountain retreat appears idyllic, but an outsider’s clumsy attempts at breaking into the closed mountain community are quickly thwarted when the residents discover Samantha’s snarky blog ridiculing the town and its inhabitants.

Increasingly isolated in her mountain cottage, Samantha discovers the letters and diaries of Elena, a past tenant and a survivor of the 1915 Pescina earthquake. Despite the century that separates the two women, Samantha feels increasingly drawn into Elena’s life, and discovers startling parallels with her own.

What a beautifully written story! I absolutely love both the main characters – Samantha in the present and Elena in the past via the journals Samantha discovers in her new home.

I love the fact that Samantha takes back control of her life after her husband divorces her by completely moving away and trying to create a new life near the Apennines. What a beautiful area! The author’s descriptions make me want to go there myself.

Samantha, although wanting to fit in to the close-knit community, sabotages herself through her writing and finds herself completely isolated during the harsh winter- with only the journals of Elena for company.

The juxtaposition of Samantha and Elena’s lives make for fascinating reading. And I think this book would make a wonderful movie as well. Kudos, Ms. Sullivan! I’ll be on the lookout for more books by this author.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

*Second Chance Christmas by Alison Packard


*Second Chance Christmas by Alison Packard
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press, Inc.
Genre: Romance, Contemporary, Holiday
Rating: 5 Stars
Reviewed by Larkspur

Struggling actress Maddie Hart is home for the holidays in her small town and comes face-to-face with the last man she wants to see—the one she abandoned four years ago when she ran off to chase her dreams.

Police Sergeant Ben Ashford had an engagement ring in his pocket the night Maddie blindsided him. He doesn’t expect the gut punch of seeing her again or that she’d reignite feelings he’d thought long buried.

Ben’s not about to get tangled up with a woman who’ll just run again, but Maddie has never stopped thinking about him. Can she trade the bright lights of Hollywood for the twinkling Christmas lights of her hometown and a second chance at love?

I loved everything about Second Chance Christmas. It’s a wonderfully written Christmas story set in the small town of Summerwood, Oregon. The characters are likable and easy to connect with and I loved the small town feel of this story.

Maddie, a struggling actress trying to make it in L. A. returns home to Oregon to spend Thanksgiving with her family. She hasn’t seen Ben in four years, since she broke up with him to pursue her dreams. Ben, a Sergeant with the Summerwood police now has never forgotten Maddie and is surprised to see her again.

I loved reading this enchanting story. The characters are believable and easy to connect with and they share a lot of chemistry. This perfect Christmas story is full of wonderful surprises.