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The Thinking Woman's Guide to Real Magic

3.46 of 5 stars 3.46  ·  rating details  ·  5,357 ratings  ·  1,140 reviews
An imaginative story of a woman caught in an alternate world—where she will need to learn the skills of magic to survive

Nora Fischer’s dissertation is stalled and her boyfriend is about to marry another woman. During a miserable weekend at a friend’s wedding, Nora wanders off and walks through a portal into a different world where she’s transformed from a drab grad studen
Hardcover, 563 pages
Published August 1st 2013 by Pamela Dorman Books
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Khanh (Clowns, Nightmares, and Bunnies)
To say this book is like Lev Grossman's The Magicians is like saying eating foie gras is like eating a rectum. Sure, they're both parts of the same animal's internal organs, but in one situation you're eating lovely, unctuous, rich goodness, and in the other you're just eating mostly digested crap.

Considering I really liked The Magicians, and that I absolutely loved Pride & Prejudice, you don't even want to hear me make a metaphor on this book's supposed similarity to the aforementioned book
This book was infuriating. Individually, none of the chapters were boring, and I enjoyed reading a lot of it. I kind of loved to hate it.

The worst part of this book is that it just goes ON AND ON with nothing happening for about 3-4 hundred pages. You could take out the middle THREE HUNDRED PAGES of this book, and it would not suffer at all, and that's not a hyperbole. It's like this woman had no editor. She just had a million little ideas that she believed were ALL brilliant, and thought "I'll
Maybe this is a spoiler, but I think books like this should come with a warning label, so I'm going to give it to you before you read the book.

Aside from's okay. The heroine is halfway interesting, she has some gumption. There are many fascinating supporting characters, and the world-building is excellent
I am always skeptical about books that send modern day women into MagicLand.

(I am maybe the only soul on Earth not smitten with the Highlander series. Sorry. I also started out enjoying "A Discovery of Witches," only to find it overblown and the characters rather wooden. It was generally tedious and tiresome to the point that I groaned in despair that it would not mercifully end, but leave us dangling for the sequel. Pass.)

So Witchy romance novels are sketchy for me at best. But I decided to c
Loads better than Discovery of Witches, in my opinion, although they aren't really at all the same, but for having an educated female protagonist and involving magic.

While Discovery felt like Twilight, a bit older and wearing glasses, The Thinking Woman's Guide was more like Through the Looking Glass/Great Gatsby/Midsummer Night's Dream/Game of Thrones.

It reminded me of Diana Wynne Jones.

While Bishop in Discovery of Witches leaves her brain behind in the Bodleian, Nora in Guide to Real Magic
Think back to the first book that transported you on a journey to elsewhere: not a rapid movement, but a gentle realization that the world in the book is all around you. For me that was Through the Looking Glass. I found much of the same wonder and enjoyment in this book: a subtle return to those moments when reading where all outside influences cease to exist, and hours pass before they return.

Emily Croy Barker uses a smooth and beautifully descriptive writing style, to craft this story that i
This book had so much wasted promise. The author can clearly write well and she had a few interesting ideas, but this was ultimately a B- read for me. Despite all the heavy handed references to Pride & Prejudice, the story was more like My Fair Lady set in one of Grimm's Fairy Tales than anything written by Austen. And I hated the male protagonist in My Fair Lady.

Nora is an aimless English grad student who tumbles into a fantasy world after she unwittingly makes a wish granted to her by a mo
LOVED this book. Hoping the title won't dissuade men from reading it, as it would appeal to all types of fantasy readers as well as literary/women's fiction readers. Read it in manuscript form and was so bummed when I got to the end and had no more pages to turn. The blurb by Sara Gruen sums it up best: "[m]ind candy for those of us raised on Harry Potter."
This book completely messed up my weekend plans. We periodically receive boxes of ARC's for collection development purposes, and I managed to snag this out of our most recent box. That following weekend I was supposed to finish assigned readings in a timely manner and then write the assigned essay for a MOOC. Then this book happened. Assigned readings and essay? Completed, but far from my best work.

Eminently enjoyable, this is a lovely piece blending urban and high fantasy. The book also stands
Krishna *needs a pink katana*
Warning: mild spoilers.

First off, I bought this book when I was in the store and the cover caught my eye. The blurb sounded interesting and I read a few pages. All in all, not bad. Soon after, I ended up travelling for 3 days left and right. I get cranky when I do that and lots of things were frustrating me, so this book was supposed to be my solace. Even when it slowed down unbearably in the middle, I was invested enough to continue.
Then the ending happened. I snapped.

Let's start with a summar
Where to start with this book? I was torn while reading because I was having a nice time, but little things kept niggling at me. You know how normally you go along with whatever little turns an author throws at you because its THEIR world and you're along for the ride? Well, I would really get into it and then something would happen that threw me out of the plot. I couldn't suspend my disbelief long enough to go along for the ride.

As for the good. The book had a nice fairy tale quality to it tha
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Kathryn Lancashire
I really really enjoyed this book. It was a great blend of urban fantasy with tastes of high fantasy that I don't think would be alienating for the average fiction reader. The main character was a great portrayal of a struggling early 30s grad student which made her flawed and well rounded as well as totally likeable.

The world setting was fantastical and enjoyable to dive into but had a harsh edge which kept it interesting. The characters of the book weren't all completely fleshed out as to ove
Kate Sylvan
I loved this book such that my cheeks hurt from contented-smiling by the time I was finished reading it. The protagonist is smart and likeable but NOT a Mary Sue, the world building is wonderful (like, Garth Nix level) and the plot is gripping. I was drawn in by the title, which appealed to me so much I was willing to overlook the fatal words "A graduate of Harvard University" in the author's biography (seriously, is there a more irritating appositive phrase in existence? No, there is not, glad ...more
From everything I had read, I expected this to be much more romantic. There is that element, as well as the lush, adjective-rich language of the genre, but it's a wonderful fantasy story for fans of Harkness and Gabaldon. Time travel/parallel world, magic, dangerous faeries who remain hidden behind glamors, a curmudgeonly magician (not a wizard; there's a difference), and tons of other intriguing characters. Nora Fischer, disgruntled graduate student, stumbles into Faerie when she repeats a poem ...more
This book is lovely. If you liked both Harry Potter and Outlander, you will probably like this book. If you can also stomach a little Pride and Prejudice, even better.

The Thinking Woman's Guide to Real Magic is the story of Nora Fischer, who, after an unhappy break up finds herself transported to another world, where she quickly becomes the focus of some nefarious characters, as well as some noble ones. The setup is simple enough and is employed with plenty of skill and humor. It is really enth
It's not often that I idly pull a book off the "New" shelves at the library, read the first sentence, and can't stop. Emily Croy Barker's first novel accomplished this rare feat.

Nora, a graduate student in English, is failing on all fronts: her dissertation is going nowhere, her advisor is suggesting she might not be cut out for academia, her cat just got run over by a car, her boyfriend just dumped her, and to top it off, her roommate left glue traps in the kitchen and she's faced with a strug
Got 43% into this (which is a large amount of words) and am not going to finish it. I just can't get into the story! It started off rather annoying with this odd writing style; unnecessarily big words felt incongruous for the subject matter, and a whiny heroine who has little going for her. Bemoaning her failed romance, she takes a hike and ends up in an alternate world where she is promptly bewitched by the Fae/Elves. You get run through a slow crawl of pseudo happiness through her glamored, be ...more
Erin (Bluestocking Bookworm)
This review and more like it can be found on my blog, Written Permission

Many thanks to Penguin Group – Viking for sending me this advance review copy via NetGalley!

When I saw this book on NetGalley, I had to have it. Something I have been craving lately is a strong female character, particularly in a fantasy setting. I requested this book and was so excited when I was approved.

Unfortunately, my excitement only lasted about 100 pages into the book.

With a title like The Thinking Woman’s Guide to R
Sara Haasis
New Jersey native Nora, stinging from a recent breakup, stumbles through a portal into the clutches of the Faitoren, a race of capricious illusionists with sinister plans for her.

A novel with a solid, classic fantasy feel. Even the cover looks vintage, like a sword-and-sorcery paperback from the 80s and the story carries some of that influence as well, complete with its own flavor of magical mechanics and quite a few constant-heavy names. It’s got a relaxed pace and tension that builds at a real
Lou Schuler
I first heard about this book while voting for a friend's book in the recent Goodreads contest. Because I bought the Kindle edition, I had no idea how long it was until I was deep into the story. Then I had to keep reading because -- and this seems incredibly rare in a book with supernatural elements -- I genuinely cared about the characters and couldn't figure out where the author was going with the story.

TWG2RM could be alternately titled "Pride and Prejudice and Magicians," and maybe if I'd r
I am very much into books about vampires, witches, shape-shifters, spirits, ghouls, or any combination thereof, the more the better! So, it s no surprise that I love Deborah Harkness’ trilogy A Discovery of Witches! Like many others, I came across The Thinking Woman's Guide to Real Magic while searching for something similar to read in the fantasy genre, while waiting for the too-far-in-the-future-but-still-yet-to-come third book in D. Harkness trilogy. The cover of the book totally sold me out ...more
Mary McMyne
Fun read! Nora is an engaging protagonist, and I was as fascinated with Arundiel as she is. Nice to see a strong female protagonist, and echoes of Austen, in an alternate universe fantasy novel. The ending makes me hopeful there will be a second book...
I was so sure that I would love this book. And I can't say that I exactly disliked it, I actually enjoyed quite a few elements of the story. Yet I kept feeling like something was missing, I kept getting disconnected from the story and from Nora's character as I was reading. I also noticed that a lot of the readers that loved this book are not great fans of Discovery of Witches (and vice versa), whereas I absolutely loved Discovery of Witches and its characters.

Things I liked about this book:

- M
3.5 stars. I've often seen books compared to roller coaster rides. This one was more like a long road trip. There was plenty that I liked about it-the Pride and Prejudice parallels, some cool magic, poetry-eating demons and a couple of funny Harry Potter references. I liked that the author thought of the problem of learning a different language in another world, and that Nora the book-lover taught herself to read because she couldn't stand being illiterate. Nora's gradual path to becoming a stud ...more
Jul 21, 2013 Leslye rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: fans of Outlander series
Shelves: netgalley
Warning: This is labeled a romance in NetGalley. In some parallel universe this may be considered a romance, but under the commonly accepted rules of the genre in this world, it is definitely not.

I'm having quite a conflicted reaction to this book. Unlike others, I like the title. It's fun. I don't necessarily think it fits the book that I read, but still, it's quite a fine title. And I think it really describes the intended audience as well, you have to be a real thinker (as opposed to a feeler
Jennifer Weibel
This novel is so uneven it will give you whiplash as you go over the bumps. It starts out as a beach read with a broken romance and a wedding, changes to an elven fantasy (they are ugly underneath! Gasp!) and finally ends up as a sorcery story with a poorly drawn literary tie to Pride and Prejudice.

I really hated how the book doesn't end so much as completely run out of gas. Because I was reading on the Kindle this really took my by surprise. I had worked my way through many long pages of cooki
I was really not a big fan of this book. Someone recommended it to me by saying, "It's like if Hermione Granger from Harry Potter was raised in America." Absolutely false. The main character of the book, Nora, is not even half as intelligent as Hermione. She manages to get herself into all kinds of situations that she can basically tell aren't right, but instead of trusting her instincts, she continues on these paths that basically lead to her being in a life-or-death crisis. Despite the title, ...more
Unfortunately, this much hyped novel was a pedestrian tedious read, with just enough of a likable character and situation to keep this reader interested. You can be stuck slightly amused for the better part of a week in its densely written prose, but, in the end, feel famished for better amusements. Like the Jane Austen novel that the main character carries around during the novel, this is in some ways a comedy of manners and romance, but the heroine fails to act to get her man. I think there wa ...more
I'm torn between liking this book and disliking it.

The writing is great, very succinct and something "magical" is always happening somewhere. But it's not as engaging as I thought it would be. I'm always waiting for SOMETHING to happen that pushes the story forward, is Nora going home or not?

At first we meet Nora when her life is completely out of control, almost unraveling (boyfriend issues, 'boss' issues, school issues etc) One assumes that getting to graduate school takes some brains and mo
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Aruendiel's past (Spoilers) 8 94 May 26, 2014 12:49PM  
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I've been a magazine journalist for more than 20 years, and currently I'm executive editor of The American Lawyer magazine. But you can't think about lawyers all the time. Some years ago, I started writing THE THINKING WOMAN'S GUIDE TO REAL MAGIC after a couple of characters, Nora and Aruendiel, wandered into my imagination and wouldn't leave. In fact, they're still there--which is why I'm current ...more
More about Emily Croy Barker...
L'anello dei Faitoren

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“Out of habit, she stopped by the bookshelf in the living room to see if there was a paperback that she could stuff into her pocket for emergencies — you never knew when you might need a book to entertain and comfort and distract you in the day's empty places” 17 likes
“It was one thing to read about a society obsessed with female purity—quite another to find yourself living in one.” 4 likes
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