Mini Review: To Get to the Other Side

Rating: 3 stars 

Format: eBook (Digital Review Copy via NetGalley)

To Get to the Other Side (out December 6th, 2022) was one of my most anticipated NetGalley reads this year. The premise of a woman who rescues a chicken that’s crossing the road, then finds herself in need of a new place to live, grabbed my attention from the get-go. Add in the fact that she responds to a quirky roommate advert and winds up in a forced proximity, mutual pining situation? Yes, please. 

Many thanks to NetGalley and Alcove Press for the digital review copy. 

I wanted to love this book. It has cute animals and a forced proximity romance, and what more can a girl ask for? There are definitely some great laugh out loud moments and plenty of mutual pining to be had in this rom com. I also appreciated the author’s efforts to tackle the impact of gender stereotypes and how they can influence the way men and women are comfortable behaving in public. 

However, there were some aspects that felt a bit heavy-handed and repetitive. In particular, both characters are explicitly working through some issues from their past. While it’s great that they’re both self-aware, their thoughts around these challenges took up a lot of space witout necessarily moving the plot or character development forward. This pulled me out of the story after a while because it became a bit repetitive, so I wasn’t able to enjoy the book as much as I wanted to. 

In all, this was a cute story that delivered on the adorable animals and the occasional laughs. I just wish it was a bit more streamlined and that the characters had a bit more breadth to them. To Get to the Other Side is a great fit for animal lovers and fans of a close proximity romance with a lot of tension between the leads. 

Mini Review: Beyond the Wand

Cover image from Image edited in Canva.

Rating: 2.5 Stars

Format: Audible Audiobook

Like many a millenial, I grew up reading and watching Harry Potter. And like many, my relationship to those original texts has become more complicated over the years, for reasons I won’t get into here.

Nevertheless, when I saw that Tom Felton, who played Draco Malfoy in the movies, had written a memoir, I knew I was going to read it. Beyond the Wand: The Magic and Mayhem of Growing Up a Wizard promised a bit of insight into the filming of the movies that formed so much of my youth, and I’ve always sort of liked Tom Felton without knowing much about him at all.

The book does indeed have plenty of stories from the set of Potter and from Felton’s life. The writing, though, didn’t wow me. Not every celebrity memoir is, or is intended to be, a great feat of literary accomplishment, and that’s fine. In these pages, we get to know Tom Felton quite well. He is open, earnest, and charming. But the book itself is, if I’m honest, a bit of a hodge podgey mess.

He starts with some stories about his childhood, then goes into talking about what it was like being a child actor. This includes a series of not-very-interesting chapters detailing his experiences with various members of the Harry Potter cast. This is all well and good, and is probably what many fans want from such a memoir, but for me there was something missing in these stories.

Towards the end, Felton takes a sharp dive into talking about substance use and mental health challenges he’s experienced as an adult. It’s admirable to want to talk openly about mental health, but this is a bit tossed in at the end and therefore not handled with the most delicacy or depth. I felt shocked when I saw we had 15 minutes left in the audiobook and we were talking about going to rehab. Not a lot of time to unpack such a big experience, and after so much time spent with cheery little stories.

To me, this felt like it was trying to be two books at once — the fun, light memoir from the Harry Potter set, and the autobiography of a child star who realized he needed more normalcy in his life. They could have been woven together, but here it feels that they… aren’t. I did appreciate the attempt to normalize mental health challenges at the end of the book but it felt quite tossed in and rushed at the last minute, like looking for a “big meaning” with which to end the book.

Felton performs the book beautifully on audio, and I do think diehard Draco fans will really enjoy the book. There are a lot of stories from the set of the Potter films, which is of course what most fans will go into the book hoping for. But for me, this didn’t quite deliver as a book in and of itself.

This post originally went up on our Medium publication.