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Toil & Trouble

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Member Reviews

Thank you to St. Martin’s Press for providing me with a copy of Augusten Burroughs’ memoir, Toil & Trouble, in exchange for an honest review.

I’m a huge fan of Burroughs and I was thrilled to have the opportunity to read his latest memoir. Much like his previous best sellers, Toil & Trouble dives into Burroughs’ life, including his difficult relationship with his mother and his relationship with his husband, Christopher. Burroughs has a quirky outlook on life and a wry sense of humor that cracks me up. He has a knack for great phrasing and I often pause while reading to admire his off-beat descriptions.

In Toil & Trouble, Burroughs claims to be a witch. His witch powers are hereditary, passed down from his mother. He is told that he is a witch as a young child and several incidences, particularly those involving premonition, lead him to believe that this is true.

I’m not sure if I believe in witches, but Burroughs makes a convincing argument. In any case, I recommend that readers go along for the ride and believe in the magic, because Burroughs does create magic with storytelling and the premise of Toil & Trouble ends in a lovely way, where we see that his witchcraft has managed to protect the person he loves the most. It’s truly a beautiful story and Burroughs has arranged the chapters for maximum emotional punch. In these pages, I really grew to love his marriage to Christopher and the life that they have built in rural Connecticut. 

Aside from the heart-warming aspect of the story (and I fully suspect that Burroughs would never call himself heart warming), I delighted in the stories of Burroughs’ bizarre neighbors. In Connecticut, they have moved next-door to a former opera singer and her henpecked husband. These are nosy neighbors, the kind of neighbors that are perpetually awkward. I’ve had those neighbors and could completely relate to making efforts to avoid them at all costs, even to your own discomfort. 

The chapter that had me laughing to the point of tears, involved Jeffrey, a very strange and narcissistic man, who was selling his lavish home. Burroughs’ friend, Maura, was the realtor selling Jeffrey’s home and she suggested that Burroughs’ come along to see the house. Jeffrey, a model, furniture builder, and jack-of-all-trades, was a force of nature. Quite honestly, I whole heartedly believe that Burroughs’ is giving an accurate  recollection of his experience with Jeffrey, because the truth is stranger than fiction. This is too weird to be fake. It’s hilarious, but also a bit sad, as obviously Jeffrey is a troubled person and lacks the self-awareness to realize how he portrays himself to others.

Toil & Trouble is another home-run for Burroughs. I throughly enjoyed this book and highly recommend it. It’s funny and it has heart. Plus, as a bonus, the chapter have fun “witchy” themed names.
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I don't really enjoy reading memoirs or autobiographies, but I do enjoy reading about Augesten Burroughs life, especially since his autobiographies are always entertaining and filled with humor. This book is no exception. I was immediately drawn to and excited for this book, not only because I do enjoy Burroughs as an author, but also because the topic was very interesting to me, especially because I am pagan. I liked the way Burroughs explains the difference of being a witch and practicing witchcraft, which are different. Burroughs maintains his quirky writing style, and I thoroughly enjoyed his descriptions of the eccentric neighbors and people he has encountered. I feel as though this particular book isn't as "deep" as his other memoirs, but it is still enjoyable and entertaining nonetheless.
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Are witches real? Could they be anyone? If you hope the answer to both questions is, 'No,' then you may want to give this book a pass. Otherwise, read on!

Burroughs is a witch, and comes from a long line of witches. He takes the reader through his journey of self-discovery, beginning with some truly horrendous childhood tales and culminating in some more tempered, less cringe, manifestations of witchcraft in his adulthood (the story of his childhood spell intention come to fruition is truly horrifying). Some of the most laughable, bizarre moments come not from witchcraft, but from stories such as the house tour Burroughs takes, offered by an aging former star with gaudy taste; mile-a-minute, self-assured quips to match his overly robust self esteem; and a jaw-dropping YouTube channel.

Throughout the book, Burroughs incorporates recollections of his troubled childhood relationship with his mother, the powerlessness of watching a partner's health fail, and his gut dread regarding an ominous, foreboding tree on his property. These matters are resolved in ways that are satisfying, but not saccharine.

This was a quick, engaging read. Would recommend.
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Burroughs will always be one of my favorite storytellers. His uncanny ability to draw you in to what some would assume is just another memoir is beautiful.
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Augusten Burroughs is back with a new book and he has made a shocking declaration.  He is a witch.  His mother told him when he was a child that he was a witch.  He comes from a long line of witches. Growing up knowing that he is a wich presents some challenges, but it also explains the unexplainable.  Like preparing for evacuation from Hurricane Sandy, despite not seeing the news.  He just knew that they needed to not be home.   He hasn't told anybody, except his husband, Christopher, that he was a witch, for good reason. What would you think if somebody told you that they were a witch?  Now they have left the safety of their New York City lives and have moved to the country, where they encounter people who see Augusten for who he really is.  They found an old farmhouse that was calling to them.  And Augusten knew that it was going to be their home from the first time he saw it.  And despite his personal objections, he just knew that the puppy flirting with his husband was going to come home with them.   Moving to the country introduces them to some new quirky, hilarious characters, like their new neighbor, Vivi, and their new handyman, Eddie. With each chapter, Augusten lays out evidence that can only be explained by the fact that he is a witch. 

It was the cover of Toil & Trouble that struck my fancy, but I was absolutely delighted to find an engaging, hilarious, and even scary book.  I know, I know, I am late to the Augusten Burroughs fan club, but in my defense, I absolutely regret my tardiness.  I found myself laughing quite loudly more than once while reading this book. I think the chapter where we are introduced to Eddie, the handyman, was probably my favorite chapter. It was not what I expected, their relationship ended up turning into one of mutual respect.  There were other quirky characters introduced that seemed too goofy to be real, but those are also the ones that the reader just knew weren't fictional. While reading this book I found myself going to social media to "see" what Augusten and Christopher looked like.  I also purchased his entire blacklist.  I enjoyed it that much.  I enjoyed it so much I have added it to my "Best of 2019" list. 

Bottom Line - Not only is Toil & Trouble a funny and insightful memoir but with all of the talk of witchcraft, it is the perfect read for this Halloween season. 

Toil & Trouble by Augusten Burroughs
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Pages: 336
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Publication Date: 10/1/2019
Buy it Here! 
Thank you to NetGalley for the book in exchange for a review.
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How much of your life is memoir-worthy? Isn't it crazy how authors like @augustenburroughs make even the most mundane things interesting and FEEL-worthy?
HERE’S THE SUMMARY: This book is a collection of personal essays about Burroughs’ current life with his husband and about being a witch. He’s known he was witch since he was a child, and he comes from a long line of witches...if being a witch is mostly about listening to your gut and being able to find lost items. 😉
HERE'S THE REVIEW: If you’ve read Burroughs’ other books (#runningwithscissors, #awolfatthetable) you will know that queasy feeling of being entertained and yet...disturbed. I have read most of #augustenburroughs books, and I was pleased to find this the most uplifting book of his, by far. I am unsure how much of what he writes here is actual fact and what is embellished storytelling, Augusten-style. BUT I ALSO DON’T CARE. This is a fun read full of magic, kooky characters and #genuinelove. A real treat.
DID YOU KNOW: Augesten’s brother is also a writer. @johnelderrobison 's book, Look Me in the Eye: My Life with Asperger's, is FANTASTIC. It’s also highly fascinating to read about the lives of these two boys, each from his own perspective. You should read it, too. Really. Really.
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I received a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.   Thank you NetGalley.  

This author is one of my alltime favorites so I had High hopes.   I definitely wasn’t disappointed.   Everyone should read this book.   Seriously
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*I received a copy of this book from Netgalley, in exchange of an honest review. All opinions are my own.*
I want to start off my saying, I almost DNFd this book and I wish I would have. I was so bored and was basically forcing myself to continue. I absolutely despised the way it was written. I was so confused most of the time. And the idea of witches being real, if that’s what the author believes, fine. I would love to believe that they’re real, but I also believe in coincidences and that’s honestly what it seemed he was experiencing. 
The best thing about this book was that it read pretty fast.
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I don't know how to "review" a book when there is so much excitement inside of me. So here's some stream of consciousness word vomit. Enjoy:⁣
I put off reading this book for 7 months. I was so excited for it that I wrote the publisher and asked for an eARC in April (even though it didn't come out until October) and they approved me at my 300 follower status. @stmartinspress are saints. Then I put off reading it. Why? Augusten Burroughs is my favorite author. And I mean favorite as in I've read (and own) most of his books, I've even read some more than once.  I've loved everything he's written (ok except for that one time he attempted to be a fiction author.) This had high stakes, I was worried I would hate it. ⁣
And then I started reading and remembered why I love him. He's quirky, and funny, and his books just make me smile while reading them. This book is another memoir by him, a bunch of short funny stories. And don't say you don't like short stories cause everyone loves it when their crazy uncle at Thanksgiving tells wild stories about his life and everyone sits around laughing for hours. That is this book. Once I was half way through time just kept flying by and next thing I know its 3am, the book is over and I'm sitting on the couch smiling to myself like a weirdo who should have gone to bed hours ago. Basically I loved this book. I loved all of his books, Augusten Burroughs can do no wrong. The end. ⁣
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Look, I'm not going to debate the existence of witches or witchcraft, but I found Toil & Trouble: A Memoir to be pretty compelling. His stories that involved his magical abilities were interesting, but it isn't his talent that made the stories so wonderful, but the way he told the stories. I could listen to some of those stories for hours, just read them or have someone read them to me over and over again, and I don't think I would ever get tired of them.
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Augusten Burroughs is no stranger to the revelatory memoir, but there is one thing he’s failed to mention until now: he’s a witch. Go ahead, scoff. He wouldn’t believe him either, except he’s willing to offer proof. Enter Toil & Trouble. This is old school Burroughs - tough truths told with the sharpest of wits and the keenest of observations . I loved his two best-known works, Running With Scissors and Dry, and this book reminded me why. He’s just so freaking funny.

The timeline of the book hops between past and present-day, where the reader gets a glimpse into his home life with husband (and literary agent) Christopher. Additional characters who pop up are often the stars in this tale that chronicles the move out of Manhattan to the Connecticut countryside thanks to his laugh-out-loud descriptions. (Literally. I read this while fighting a bout of insomnia, and on two separate nights my laughing woke my husband.) Vivi, the retired B-team opera singer who thinks the world of herself; Eddie, the foul mouthed handyman; and Jeffery, a former supermodel whose mile-a-minute conversation stressed me out just reading the dialogue.

Long-time readers may also appreciate meeting a more lucid version of Burroughs’s (in)famously mentally ill mother who alternatingly horrified and entranced us in earlier works. The gift of witchcraft is passed to Burroughs through his mother’s bloodline, and he wrote lovingly of learning about his gifts. One of the most satisfying parts of the book, to me, was his explanation on making peace with the woman who tried to raise him. (“It took me a very long time to realize: I can love my mother - from a distance. I can love who she was when I was very small. She can be forgiven for the mistakes she made as a parent and even for the more terrible things she did.” from Kindle egalley, loc 2179.)

As for the witchcraft itself, I believe him; although I realize many won’t. It seems he possesses intuition on a level that surpasses most. And while this book defines what a witch is, peppers in layman's history, and offers a fresh lens for some hilarious stories, it does allow everyone to draw their own conclusion on the topic. But really, if you’re a fan, or once was a fan, and plan to skip this because it’s just a little too out there: I promise you. Read it. You won’t be disappointed.
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Toil & Trouble
Book Review | 📚📚📚📚 4/5
Augusten Burroughs | St. Martin’s Press

Another Augusten Burroughs memoir? What direction could he possibly go this time? Is there anything else to add to his life that he has not already shared in his past memoirs? Yes. Yes there is.

Publisher’s blurb for Toil & Trouble can be found here:

Why I was interested in this book:
Burroughs’ books always entertain. Since first reading his iconic, Running With Scissors, I don’t know if I believe everything he shares in his non-fiction. But, it might not matter. He is a great and compelling writer with just enough high drama to keep those pages turning. A memoir about being a witch? Ok, that was odd enough for me to read this. And I’m glad I did.

My assessment:
Toil & Trouble is about several key themes. His relationship with his husband. Their move to a greener pasture. Their health. And the glue that is conjured to keep all these things together? Magik and witchcraft. I found myself laughing out loud a few times. What was strangest (for me) was how he defined his being a witch and its lineage. Is witchcraft magical thinking (Magical Thinking was a previous memoir written by Burroughs)? Is it foreshadowing? The power of suggestion? Spell-casting and nose-twinkling? That’s where the story gets interesting. I wasn’t sure how he could write an entire book about this, especially when he outs himself as a witch pretty much on page one. But, he makes it compelling, and better than compelling, believable. I stopped to think about his witchcraft so many times in this book, wondering if I might also be a witch (I’m not coming out as a witch, just yet). But, it really made me think about his definition and his anecdotes. It was relatable.

Stories of the human condition:
I think Burroughs’ outing himself as a witch definitely speaks to the human condition. At least to his human condition. However, what really makes this an interesting book, and one I recommend reading, is that the backstories and the examples all speak to the human condition. That I believe that he believes he is a witch is telling of great stories. That I had to think about whether or not I, myself, am a witch is convincing of a great book.

Toil & Trouble shares additional stories from his Running With Scissors timeframe, while also providing a journey into place, family and discovery. It accomplishes all of this through short anecdotes as well as with through-lines that carry from chapter to chapter.

I recommend this book to: fans of Augusten Burroughs, hipster readers, people who want to laugh with (or maybe at) the author, and people who used to clap their hands because they believed in Peter Pan (or still do).

Full disclosure: I received an advance copy of this book through NetGalley(dot)com in exchange for an honest review. I would not have selected this book had I not been interested in it based on the description.

Read more of my reviews at

#ToilandTrouble #review-book #book review #FarmLife #memoir #witchcraft #IAmAWitch #StMartinsPress #AugustenBurroughs #TuggleGrassBlues #Tuggle Grass Reviews #TuggleGrassReviews #NetGalley
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Wow! What a wonderful read. So different for a memoir to be about how critical life is growing up in an unrecognized identity of being a witch. Profound!
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This was such a wonderful book. I absolutely love anything by this author. It was a fast paced book that did not disappoint. I highly recommend it to anyone.
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I enjoyed Augusten Burroughs memoir and his storytelling is magic. I was under his spell the moment I picked up the book. Burroughs descended from a long line of witches, going back to the days of the early American colonies, and a bond that he and his mother shared. I loved that he shared his inner most thoughts and the love he has for his mother. I did n't know much about him but the title and the cover really resounded to me that I had to read it for the entertainment value and I actually picked up a lot along the way. What a fascinating read and highly recommend for those interested in magic, witches and of course Burroughs life.
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In the world of literature, there exists a certain kind of author who excels at one of the trickiest but most enjoyable genres: the memoirist. Keenly observant, unflinchingly honest and often sharply self-deprecating, memoirists turn the most fascinating moments of their lives into books that are, quite literally, stranger than fiction. But even within this unusual subgenre, there is another class of authors entirely: serial memoirists. And at the center of these repeat memoir-writers, sitting on a --- no doubt, jewel-encrusted --- throne and unexpectedly donning a witch’s hat, sits Augusten Burroughs, happily holding a copy of his latest work, TOIL & TROUBLE.

For years, Burroughs has reigned supreme over countless bestseller lists, with each of his memoirs (beginning with the mega-hit RUNNING WITH SCISSORS) having delighted, enthralled, grossed out and shocked readers worldwide. But through it all, he claims, he has kept only one secret close to his heart and away from his readers’ eyes: he is a practicing witch. Remarking on the absurdity of this claim, Burroughs plainly supplies us with a list of fantastic and paranormal things he doesn’t believe in, and explains that “witches” and “witchcraft” are noticeably absent. “The thing is,” he confesses, “I wouldn’t believe in them, and I would privately ridicule any idiot who did, except for one thing: I am a witch.” Well, who can argue with that logic?

Longtime readers of Burroughs’ works (this reviewer included) will know one thing going into TOIL & TROUBLE: Whether or not you immediately believe his claim, you undoubtedly will be gifted with a memorable work, populated by his witty insights into his own --- at times chaotic --- mind. What more can you ask for? Weaving together vignettes into his childhood with his troubled mother and more contemporary snapshots from his marriage, Burroughs crafts the perfect potion for an unputdownable read. The witch (warlock?) is in.

Beginning with a shocking scene in which a young Burroughs is riding the school bus and senses that something is wrong with his grandmother, only to find out that she has just been in a traumatic car accident, he delves into his rich history of witchcraft and sorcery. Upon learning that her son has the “gift,” his mother explains to him that he comes from a long line of witches and begins to instruct him on how to use his gift. Witches cannot, she tells him, make the impossible happen (so this means no flying), but they can focus their supernatural senses on a desired act so keenly and powerfully that they can set it into motion. In one particularly memorable scene, Burroughs envisions his school bully covered in hair, and when the boy returns to school the following fall, he has been diagnosed with precocious puberty. Coincidence, you may say --- but what would you call it, Burroughs asks, if you lived through one coincidence after another on a daily basis? That, he states, is witchcraft.

Exciting and spooky though it may seem, witchcraft is only half of TOIL & TROUBLE. The other half centers on Burroughs and his literary agent husband, Christopher, fleeing Manhattan for Connecticut, where they purchase a gorgeous old house and settle into a new phase in their marriage: homeownership. It is here in the glorious countryside that Burroughs’ paranoia and somewhat manic delight in buying things comes to life in humorous and outlandish ways --- so, basically, everything you want from an Augusten Burroughs memoir. Paired with his husband’s more pragmatic ways, Burroughs’ personality comes to life, highlighting an entirely new side to him (and no, I’m not even talking about the witchy side). A devoted husband, eager homeowner and hapless dog owner, Burroughs seems to have finally found the life he has always deserved. And whether it was witchcraft or sheer luck, it is wonderful to read.

Alternating between these domestic scenes and recounting various moments in his life when witchcraft has served him, Burroughs lets his wit and endless talent for crafting a scene carry him, even when the stories are less than believable. This is what is so great about Burroughs: your belief in him ultimately does not matter, because he believes in himself emphatically, and it is this confidence that elevates his works from trashy memoir to a satisfying book that feels universal, despite how very personal it is. Even when he is at his spookiest or most ridiculous, Burroughs has a unique talent to translate his anxiety, depression, addiction and love into both deeply personal and highly relatable experiences --- the bubbles on the cauldron are that he can actually write, and do it well.

I admit that the contemporary scenes in Connecticut were my favorite to read in TOIL & TROUBLE, and I delighted in the moments when they overlapped with Burroughs’ more supernatural side. Even if you are turned off by the claim that he has hidden something for so long (a fair fear, considering that his memoirs are often no-holds-barred), I can assure you that you will find everything you love about his work in this book. And who knows? You may just turn from a skeptic to a believer.
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Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own. 

I’ve loved Augusten for a while now. His life is so interesting, but I guess it’s always interesting when someone other than you is facing grief and trauma. Not all of Augusten’s life has been sad, but he’s seen some shit.

I loved getting to learn about him being a witch, the way he can just know when things are going to happen, the spells he casts. He takes you through what it’s like to be an actual witch. It’s super interesting.

The story goes present to past and back again. We get to learn about him learning he’s a witch, the people who taught him how to harness his abilities. We get to see the present day life of he and his spouse, Christopher. We get to see how he uses his powers now. Honestly, I’m a little bit jealous.

I would 100% recommend! This is a perfect book for Halloween. Its such a fast read that pulls you in. I loved it!
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Augusten Burroughs is a witch. After years of keeping this fact under wraps, he's finally ready to share this part of himself with his many loyal readers. Things that might seem like coincidences are actually examples of witchcraft, and you're going to read about just a few of them in this book. Will you be a believer by the time you finish reading??

I have been an Augusten Burroughs fan for many years, so I was thrilled when NetGalley and St. Martin's Press granted me the opportunity to read his newest book, Toil and Trouble. I was NOT disappointed! Burroughs has still got it, and I loved reading about all of the witchy happenings that have occurred throughout his life. This is a laugh-out-loud read that you'll enjoy even if you don't believe in witchcraft. Such a fun and festive October read!
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When I was in sixth grade, my brother and I got off the school bus one afternoon, and walked to our front door. Suddenly, as I reached for the doorknob, I just *knew* that my grandfather had died. I told my brother, who thought I was crazy. We opened the door and my mother was crying at the kitchen table. I had been right.

I’ve always wondered about that moment—how I seemed to just *know.* And now, after reading this memoir, I’m wondering a new, more specific thought: Am I a witch?!? Burroughs *is* a witch, you see. It’s a secret he has kept his entire life. He comes from a family of witches, and possesses powers of knowing, and sometimes, even seems to possess the ability to alter the outcomes of both small and big events.

The story traces the role witchcraft has played throughout his life, focusing mainly on his purchase of a historic country home (a house he used his witchcraft skills to convince his husband to fall in love with!). There’s an eccentric cast of characters, and enough strange, funny, and amazing instances that you might just find yourself wanting to be a witch, too.

I love Burrough’s writing and really liked this memoir. It’s a great twist on the typical “Halloween” book, and is really just an absolute joy to read.
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“𝚃𝚑𝚎𝚛𝚎 𝚊𝚛𝚎 𝚝𝚑𝚛𝚎𝚎 𝚝𝚑𝚒𝚗𝚐𝚜 𝚢𝚘𝚞 𝚜𝚑𝚘𝚞𝚕𝚍 𝚔𝚗𝚘𝚠 𝚊𝚋𝚘𝚞𝚝 𝚠𝚒𝚝𝚌𝚑𝚎𝚜. 𝙽𝚞𝚖𝚋𝚎𝚛 𝚘𝚗𝚎: 𝚊𝚜 𝚕𝚘𝚗𝚐 𝚊𝚜 𝚝𝚑𝚎𝚛𝚎 𝚑𝚊𝚟𝚎 𝚋𝚎𝚎𝚗 𝚑𝚞𝚖𝚊𝚗 𝚋𝚎𝚒𝚗𝚐𝚜 𝚝𝚑𝚎𝚛𝚎 𝚑𝚊𝚟𝚎 𝚋𝚎𝚎𝚗 𝚠𝚒𝚝𝚌𝚑 𝚋𝚎𝚒𝚗𝚐𝚜.”

-𝙰𝚞𝚐𝚞𝚜𝚝𝚎𝚗 𝙱𝚞𝚛𝚛𝚘𝚞𝚐𝚑𝚜, 𝚃𝚘𝚒𝚕 & 𝚃𝚛𝚘𝚞𝚋𝚕𝚎

I enjoyed Toil & Trouble so much, and appreciated how transparent that Augusten Burroughs appeared to be. He’s funny and charming but also honest and relatable. 

The fact that witches are real, and happen to be living among you and me, makes for a very interesting memoir! Witches on broomsticks and pointy hats don’t make an appearance, but learning more about the craft and special abilities was very amusing and quite interesting.

*Thank you St Martin’s Press for this beautiful gifted copy for review. All opinions are my own
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