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The Thinking Woman's Guide to Real Magic

(The Thinking Woman's Guide to Real Magic #1)

3.55  ·  Rating details ·  13,007 ratings  ·  2,215 reviews
Earning comparisons to wildly popular fantasy novels by Deborah Harkness and Lev Grossman, Emily Croy Barker’s enchanting debut offers an intelligent escape into a richly imagined world. And with an appealing female protagonist, cinematic storytelling, wry humor, and wonderfully clever literary references, The Thinking Woman’s Guide to Real Magic is sure to capture the ima ...more
Hardcover, 563 pages
Published August 1st 2013 by Pamela Dorman Books
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Jessica she answered me on twitter saying that she was currently working on it and that was a few months ago so hopefully soon!!
Claudia marcela kafati Just finished the book and went looking for the answer.........nothing!
Thank you for asking! Book 2 is written, it really, really wants to be read, a…more
Just finished the book and went looking for the answer.........nothing!
Thank you for asking! Book 2 is written, it really, really wants to be read, and now the job is get it to readers. At this stage, TBH, there's not much I can do to move things along. Sorry for the wait, and believe me, I am impatient, too! July 24, 2019(less)

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Khanh, first of her name, mother of 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. My
Nov 28, 2013 rated it it was ok
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
Aug 18, 2013 rated it it was ok
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
Oct 20, 2013 rated it really liked it
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 Outlander series. The TV show is fascinating, but the books? No. And don't even get me started on "A Discovery of Witches." I found 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. Which I have heard are not any better.
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
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
Mar 24, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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." ...more
Aug 03, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: net-galley
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
Aug 21, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy
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 mouse-
Jul 19, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Aug 23, 2013 rated it did not like it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Nov 09, 2013 rated it it was ok
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
Kathryn Lancashire
Aug 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Skyler Autumn
Sep 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
4 Stars

I was nervous going into this novel because of the huge amount of mixed reviews surrounding. It seems to be one of those books that leaves its readers with strong emotions; a love it or hate it type deal and I'm happy to say I fall into the former. I thought this book was wonderfully atmospheric and haunting. It reminded me of Alice and Wonderland, a woman bored and upset with her mundane existence goes on a walk one day only to stumble into a world of demons and magic. This type of st
Dec 27, 2015 rated it did not like it
Shelves: did-not-finish
Full disclosure: I am a graduate student of English literature (aspiring Ph.D), specializing in fairy tales with a background in medieval studies. I'm a writer of fantasy myself. I'm also a feminist and I would consider myself a "thinking woman." Naturally, I thought this book would be right up my alley. This review might sound harsh and rant-y, but I figured you should know why I took this so personally before you read on.

(some spoilers from here)

Yeah ... I tried, I really did. I was so excited
Nov 13, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
P. Kirby
The title-The Thinking Woman's Guide to Real Magic- is apt in one way. The majority of action, if you can call it that, in the novel consists of navel gazing.

And talking. And medieval homemaking. And more talking. And navel gazing....

I picked this up on sale for $1.99, an egregious sum for a Somebody Get Me a Hyper-Caffeinated Something, STAT! book. It was listed as a deal on Smart Bitches, Trashy Books, and a reader said she loved it so much that she read it a few times a year. (Apparently, she
Not quite what I was anticipating—which is a bit of an issue when the book is over 500 pages!

Under normal circumstances, I adore books which include the Fae, which this one does. Nora, our main character, bumps into an odd guy on campus and he rather obscurely grants her wish for a complete change of pace in life. One assumes that he is a member of this book’s Faitoren who was inhabiting our world, instead of the alternate world that Nora is transported to.

This is very much an alternate reality
Jan 07, 2014 rated it really liked it
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
Sep 17, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
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
Lou Schuler
Dec 25, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: adult-fiction
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
Aug 21, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2013, fantasy
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
Mar 05, 2014 rated it liked it
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:

Amanda Shannon
Jun 19, 2013 rated it did not like it
Shelves: couldn-t-finish
Nope...couldn't get into this at. all. The protagonist is supposed to be an intelligent woman wrapping up a PhD program, but there is no evidence of her ever thinking or evidencing intelligence. She is, as far as I got, a very undeveloped character with nothing compelling to bring me back. This didn't pass my fifty-page rule (I think in this case I gave it six chapters), so I'm open to the possibility that it's a really slow build, but I'm somewhat baffled by the great reviews it's gotten. ...more
Kathy Davie
Feb 11, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy
This is definitely the start of a fantasy series. I suspect Barker is "holding her breath" in terms of continuing as her publisher waits to see if this story does well. I hope it does — it is a Goodreads Choice Nominee for Fantasy in 2013. I just gots ta know what happens next!

My Take
I enjoyed this very much. It starts out feeling like Deborah Harkness' All Souls Trilogy series, but quickly veers into fantasy when Nora exits this world on the basis of a wish. It has a lightweight quality, but it
Juli Rahel
Aug 21, 2013 rated it really liked it
I requested this novel through Netgalley because I thought the premise sounded really interesting and funny. Since I am a massive Harry Potter fan, a lot of magic books are a bit of a disappointment, but not this one. Barker creates a new spin on the idea of magic in the modern world and creates a gripping novel that doesn't feel almost 600 pages long.

Perhaps the biggest strength of this novel is its main character, Nora. As an English student, I see my own future in Nora, struggling to have inn
Oct 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
May 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Wow there is a lot of hate for this book in the reviews. Now I feel slightly guilty for liking it, which is silly. I DID like it! It was fun and it drew me in. I feel like it's been ages since I was properly absorbed in a good thick book, so even though it was really long, for once I didn't bitterly wish that the middle section had been CHOPPED on the editing floor. Actually I didn't want it to end.

I liked the way it was written, not too earnest or serious, maybe a little meandering, but not pr
Crystal (Goddess in the Stacks)
Jan 09, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
This book is FANTASTIC. I was enthralled from start to finish, and frantically looked up the author to make sure she is writing a sequel. (She is, thank goodness!) I absolutely loved the main character, Nora, and the acerbic magician Aruendiel. Even while cheering for the opposite side, I even enjoyed reading about Raclin and Ilissa, the villains of the novel.

In Nora Fischer, we have a modern, independent, feminist woman transported to a place and time where women are inferior (by nature, most t
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I wrote 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. Their story continues in How to Talk to a Goddess and Other Lessons in Real Magic.

“I’m not sure what I love more about How to Talk to a Goddess and Other Lessons in Real Magic—its immersive world of enchantments, so lavis


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