The Thinking Woman's Guide to Real Magic Audiobook | Emily Croy Barker | Audible.com
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The Thinking Woman's Guide to Real Magic | [Emily Croy Barker]

The Thinking Woman's Guide to Real Magic

Emily Croy Barker’s riveting debut novel is a must-read for fans of Lev Grossman and Deborah Harkness. The Thinking Woman’s Guide to Real Magic follows grad student Nora Fischer as she stumbles through a portal into a magical world. Having been transformed from drab to beautiful, Nora finds herself surrounded by glamorous friends. Life seems perfect. But then things take a terrible turn, and Nora must learn magic from a reclusive ally if she is to have any hope of survival...
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Publisher's Summary

Emily Croy Barker’s riveting debut novel is a must-read for fans of Lev Grossman and Deborah Harkness. The Thinking Woman’s Guide to Real Magic follows grad student Nora Fischer as she stumbles through a portal into a magical world.

Having been transformed from drab to beautiful, Nora finds herself surrounded by glamorous friends. Life seems perfect. But then things take a terrible turn, and Nora must learn magic from a reclusive ally if she is to have any hope of survival...

©2013 Emily Croy Barker (P)2013 Recorded Books

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.8 (178 )
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4.0 (168 )
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  •  
    Grace BOLIVAR, MO, United States 08-23-13
    Grace BOLIVAR, MO, United States 08-23-13 Member Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "In most ways, this is just the kind of book I seek"

    This was a treat. I like longer books with lots of detail and respect for the reader's need for a plausible story. If an author wants to send me through time or into another dimension, then I want at least a fair explanation of how that happened. I'm one of those unfortunate people who can't suspend my understanding of reality and just go with a story...give me something to let me think the strange circumstances MIGHT happen. This story does that.

    The publishers' summary gives you an idea of the plot. I don't like reviews that retell the story, so I won't do that here. Here are the pros and cons as I see them.

    Cons: The author seems to have an ax to grind with pretty people, Only one character who I would classify as "good" gets to be attractive; a female magician who befriends the heroine. All the other favorably portrayed characters are plain, disfigured or elderly (not that older people aren't still beautiful). I get that it's nice to read a book about romance between characters that aren't unrealistically handsome and beautiful. But this story goes a step further; almost implying that real aesthetic human beauty does not exist, but rather is always an illusion.
    Men don't fare much better. The hero is surly and sour and killed his first wife. (no spoiler here. This information is provided early.) There is a handsome knight, who is pretty dim and "dismissable". There again, pretty can't have anything else going on.
    My last con: This is the beginning of a series? trilogy? I knew that going in, but this book doesn't end, it just stops, mid story. This isn't so bad if the next installment is in the works and can be expected in a reasonable amount of time. Let's hope the author doesn't operate on a timetable similar to Harkness (A Discovery of Witches) or Gabaldon (Outlander Series). While I understand the amount of detail and research I love takes time...three year cliff hangers take away from the enjoyment of the story. (IMHO)

    Pros: This is an interesting take on magic and travel between other versions of our world. The descriptions of the heroine's life in this strange world are rich. Magic is treated as any other area of study: the student might have aptitude for a subject, but hard work and practice are the key ingredients. Don't get me wrong..we're talking magic here. Some smart theories about how it works, and even the implementation of good old Algebra are utilized, but the basis of the story is the ability of many of the character to cast spells and enchant others. So it's escapism..but with some thought required.
    Others reviewers have said they wouldn't put this book in the romance genre. While there's no bodice ripping or endless declarations of love, there is no denying this is a love story. A complicated and unfolding one. I like that too. Love is complicated and messy, and the author does a remarkable job presenting it as such.
    The narrator is good.

    So, if you like shifting between worlds, magic, a slow burn love story, patient character development, and yes, a little Algebra on the side, I recommend this book. Be prepared to want to scream with frustration at the end of the book, and realize it might be a little while before you get to pick of the story again. If you can deal with that, it is a great way to spend 26 hours.

    19 of 19 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Audrey Deer River, MN, USA 08-04-13
    Audrey Deer River, MN, USA 08-04-13 Member Since 2004
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Grimm meets Austen"
    Any additional comments?

    This book has that special "something" that made me want to savor each moment, each interaction, and each event. The pace is perfect: unhurried, but never dull. Because nothing is rushed, readers are allowed to settle into a new world right along with Nora. Further, Nora is NOT whiny, wildly beautiful, given unlimited powers, or loved by hoards of men with sculpted abs and square jaws (thank goodness). Nora is neither young nor old, at 30, which is a nice change from the late-teen and early 20-something predominance in the genre (if this can be said to have a genre.) The narrator adds to the experience by emoting with restraint; the feeling is in her voice, but it never approaches melodrama.

    I am just sad that it ended. I wanted to stay there, with them, a while longer. There will, no doubt, be a sequel, but now I have to settle in for the long wait. I wish I were you, having not yet started this journey yet, just so I could do it all over again.

    9 of 10 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Robin in Vermont Vermont 08-14-13
    Robin in Vermont Vermont 08-14-13 Member Since 2009

    I'll read anything good. I'm easy that way.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Fantasy for Adults"

    I really loved this book. It is grown up fantasy (without sex), wherein the characters are all adults who act and speak rationally, interact with each other as adults, and think before they act. It's really very refreshing. Oh, and did I mention there is magic?

    Nora takes a walk up an unfamiliar mountain path and accidentally crosses over into another world. She is immediately taken in by a group of Fae and their queen. The magic they use enchants her, making her feel calm and happy and more beautiful, but all is not as it seems. She ends up having to escape their clutches, and the person who helps her, ends up becoming her protector and teacher in the ways of magic.

    This is Nora's story as she learns to survive in a totally new world. It is also about her discovering her own magical abilities, and about her concern for her family left behind. It's also about love.

    And I loved every minute of it.


    7 of 9 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Desarae QUINCY, WA, United States 11-15-13
    Desarae QUINCY, WA, United States 11-15-13 Member Since 2010

    Designer. Aviation Enthusiast. Fitness Instructor. Love books. Prefer long series with happy endings in mystery, comedy, fantasy, & romance.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Hours of Entertainment that will Fly By on Magic"

    Noami is a sad somber character in a normal gray world dropped out of the fictional boredom into a Wizard of Oz style version of Pride and Prejudice. The story will set you up with tid bits to be explained far later, which is the best part. I promise my analogies will not ruin the story for you or give you any insights what-so-ever.

    This is a love tale awry. The puzzle of Naomi's life smoothly cleans up in a way you wouldn't expect as the story progresses. Unlike many modern magical tales this author, Emily Croy Baker, does a good job of not leaving you hanging at the end. I think she has a nice setting and good lines to move onto another book if she chooses but she cleans up all her bread crumbs and dots all her i's nicely.

    You will not be disappointed by the author or the narrator. Both did a fantastic job in this book. Five stars well earned.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sophie BELCAMP, MD, United States 10-13-13
    Sophie BELCAMP, MD, United States 10-13-13 Member Since 2008
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    "Enjoyed the story"
    If you could sum up The Thinking Woman's Guide to Real Magic in three words, what would they be?

    Imaginative, fresh, good


    What did you like best about this story?

    I like the author's take on real magic, the lead character Nora creative way of working out problems.


    Which character – as performed by Alyssa Bresnahan – was your favorite?

    I felt in love with the King's dead grandmother from the painting, and I liked the wolfe alot


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    Laugh and cry


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    R. burnham DC 10-12-13
    R. burnham DC 10-12-13 Member Since 2008
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    "Barker did everything right"

    I tend to like fantasy literature about academics. I am a big fan of The Magicians, A Discovery of Witches, and Harry Potter. I am adding this book to that list.

    It is wonderful. I could pick a few nits here and there, but I will not.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Tara HUDSON, NH, United States 10-08-13
    Tara HUDSON, NH, United States 10-08-13 Member Since 2011
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    "Enchanting"
    Would you listen to The Thinking Woman's Guide to Real Magic again? Why?

    I would listen to this again. It was pure magic and made my long commute to work a joy. I looked forward to listening to it every day and even had to sneak in some non-commute listening during especially absorbing passages.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Nora and Aruendiel were electric in their scenes together. So much tension, and I never knew how it would turn out.


    Any additional comments?

    Loved.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Maggie LAKE BARRINGTON, IL, United States 09-25-13
    Maggie LAKE BARRINGTON, IL, United States 09-25-13 Member Since 2011
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Boring, predictable, and frustrating!"

    Not only does the author waste time on a strange series of scenes in the beginning that could have been told much quicker, the book seems to have multiple personalities. In addition, the author telegraphs later events by heavy-handed foreshadowing. Most frustrating though are the inconsistencies of the main character. She has an incredibly difficult time believing a situation that she can see and hear and feel, yet she dismisses a murder committed by another character simply because it is acceptable by his society's standards. Overall, the book dragged by and made me angry every other chapter.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Elizabeth ARVADA, CO, United States 03-22-14
    Elizabeth ARVADA, CO, United States 03-22-14 Member Since 2012
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    "My first 1 out of 5 rating ever for audible"
    What would have made The Thinking Woman's Guide to Real Magic better?

    A better narrator, a better writer and a non-whinny heroine.


    What do you think your next listen will be?

    I'm going back to George RR Martin - hopefully he'll wrap up some loose ends, but I'm not counting on it.


    Who would you have cast as narrator instead of Alyssa Bresnahan?

    Anyone - she added to the whinny, overly educated, snobbish, poor decision making, and immature main character.


    What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

    anger and disappointment - I sure hope the younger generation of women are smarter than this. I was so looking forward to a good book with magic.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Djenra Upstate , New York USA 03-17-14
    Djenra Upstate , New York USA 03-17-14 Member Since 2011
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    "Nora ....changes"
    What did you love best about The Thinking Woman's Guide to Real Magic?

    The Magician's world.


    How would you have changed the story to make it more enjoyable?

    Make Nora less annoying and petulent


    Which scene was your favorite?

    When Nora's wedding ring was removed.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    Nope.


    Any additional comments?

    One should find the main character congenial. Nora starts out that way but she changes and challenges her mentor in a most annoying way. She becomes preachy and judgmental. Her feminism seems a weapon that she is quite unskilled in using much like her magic.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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