Audrey’s Guide to Witchcraft, by Jody Gehrman
Falling in Love, baking a magical cake, fighting an evil necromancer—it’s all in a day’s work for Audrey Oliver, seventeen-year-old witch-in-training. When her mother goes missing and her twenty-one-year-old witchy cousin shows up out of the blue, Audrey knows something’s gone horribly, dangerously wrong. Now it’s up to her to get her own magical powers up to speed before everyone she loves is destroyed by the sorcerer intricately connected to her mother’s secret past.
Thank you to Jody Gehrman for providing me a copy of this book for review!
From the instant I started reading this book, I knew I would like it. Of course, Audrey’s a baker and I love to bake, so the inclusion of a recipe on the first page piqued my interest (and made me hungry!).
Just as I had hoped, Jody Gehrman created a fun and magical ride for her readers. I loved Audrey’s character, as well as her sister Meg, and appreciated how different they both were. The inclusion of music, with Meg being the rocker chick, was a lot of fun, and the arrival of a mysterious cousin added a bit of intrigue and drama.
Of course, I was a little skeptical about this mysterious cousin, who was supposedly sent to stay with Audrey and her sister — while I loved her character, I thought that the girls where just a little too accepting of a stranger coming to live with them. As were they a little too accepting of their mother disappearing. Part of me wanted to tell them to phone the police! Something sinister is afoot! But, then I reminded myself that I was reading a book and to just stay patient — things would work their way out.
The story was a lot of fun to read. I thought it was well-paced and well-written. There was a little bit of something for everyone within its pages, even a little romance.
I really enjoyed the romance in this book! Audrey’s romantic interest had me on my toes for the entirety of the novel and I loved the butterflies I would get in my stomach when they were together. I will admit that part of me wanted just a little something more — maybe a little more romance? Maybe more mystery? Maybe a bit of a twist? I don’t want to spoil the book, so I won’t tell you which one I was hoping for, but the lack of that one element was something that took this book down just a few notches for me. BUT, maybe it was good that the thing I was expecting didn’t happen.
Aside from romance and witchcraft, there was also a bit of creepiness going on! I loved the bit of necromancy that was included, sometimes giving me a bit of a shiver or chill down my spine — this was the definite mystery of the book and it kept me guessing as to what was going on. There were times when my heart was racing and I thank Jody for writing one of those villains that you just HAVE to hate in a book.
There were a few things that I disliked in the book — the inclusion of things like Facebook, or Harry Potter, would date the book and I would have preferred them not being included. The dialogue also got to be a bit wordy and unnecessary at times.
While this wasn’t a novel that totally thrilled me — it was slow in the beginning and I found myself skimming through some parts — it was still a fun read and one that I would recommend if you’re looking for a read with a mix of magic and a blend of evil and the creep factor.
Q&A With Jody Gehrman
There was no one experience or person who lit the fire under me, though I’ve had many wonderful teachers and have always had a variety of inspiring friendships with other writers. It seems like everything I’ve ever read, every book enthusiast I’ve ever met (writer or reader) contributed in some way to my passion for writing. I’ve always loved living inside imaginary worlds–other people’s and my own. It’s magical, in a way, having the power to touch someone’s imagination, to subtly shape their inner life. I can’t imagine my days without it.
What is the atmosphere like when you write – completely silent, or do you listen to music?
I prefer nature sounds: babbling brooks or waterfalls are my favorites. I hook into a loop of watery noises on my computer and it seems to put me in the right space. The thought of writing while listening to music with lyrics makes me insane. It’s like trying to have a conversation with two totally different friends on two totally different topics simultaneously. Song lyrics pull me into them and distract me from my own sentences.
I’m a musician and I feel most inspired to write in the springtime. Is there a certain season when you feel most compelled to put pen to paper?
Since I teach during the school year, summer and winter breaks have become big writing times for me by necessity. I think I’m most naturally creative in the winter, though, when everything turns inward and stormy weather makes sitting at a computer seem cozy rather than reclusive.
What book are you reading right now?
I just started Sarah Addison Allen’s The Girl Who Chased The Moon. I really love her work; I’ve read almost everything she’s ever written. She has the ability to weave magic into her novels without ever making it seemed forced or unnatural.
Your book Audrey’s Guide to Witchcraft is about WITCHES! If you were a witch, what kind of spells would you like to have?
Audrey learns this spell called the Witch’s Wardrobe that enables her to conjure outfits that fit her mood precisely at any given moment. I’d like to think I’d be a humanitarian witch and cast spells to cure cancer, but the truth is I’d probably use that wardrobe spell several times a day!
When you’re not writing, what do you do in your spare time?
Yoga, kickboxing, theatre, audio books, and thrift shopping are a few of my passions.
Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?
One: Write on a regular schedule. It shouldn’t be a chore, but it’s a skill like any other and it takes practice to get good.
Two: Surround yourself with people who support your writing dreams.
Three: Keep in mind that external validation (getting published, getting praise) can only take you so far. You have to love the process itself, savor it every day. That’s what keeps real writers coming back.
Can you share any details on what you might be working on next? Any exciting projects in the works?
I’m very superstitious about sharing details of works-in-progress, but I do have plans for a sequel to Audrey’s Guide to Witchcraft (and a third book after that, if all goes well. It’s planned as a trilogy.) The working title for the second book is Audrey’s Guide to Slaying Zombies and Breaking Hearts.
About the Author
Jody Gehrman is the author of seven novels and numerous plays. Audrey’s Guide to Witchcraft is her most recent Young Adult novel. Her other Young Adult novels include Babe in Boyland, Confessions of a Triple Shot Betty, and Triple Shot Bettys in Love, (Penguin’s Dial Books). Babe in Boyland won the International Reading Association Teen Choice Award and has recently been optioned by the Disney Channel. Her adult novels are Notes from the Backseat, Tart, and Summer in the Land of Skin (Red Dress Ink). Her plays have been produced in Ashland, New York, San Francisco, Chicago and L.A. She and her partner David Wolf won the New Generation Playwrights Award for their one-act, Jake Savage, Jungle P.I. She is a professor of English at Mendocino College.
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