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Book review and giveaway: “The Thinking Woman’s Guide to Real Magic” is a fun, creative magic story

Emily Croy Barker’s first book, The Thinking Woman’s Guide to Real Magic, is a fun, original, engrossing tale of magic, and we’re excited to be featuring it as the first of our October giveaways. Read the review below, and if you’re interested please enter for a copy at the end. Good luck!

This book was presented to me by the publisher, and the reviews and descriptions had me chomping at the bit for a copy. Happily I wasn’t disappointed, and The Thinking Woman’s Guide to Real Magic was one of the most entertaining and original stories I have read in a long time. I immediately saw hints of Harry Potter and Lev Grossman’s The Magicians in some of the themes, though these were loose interpretations. All I know is that I can’t wait for book two and to see how this story progresses.

the-thinking-womans-guide-to-real-magicHere’s the summary from Amazon:

“If Hermione Granger had been an American who never received an invitation to Hogwarts, this might have been her story.” —People

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 imaginations of readers everywhere.

During a miserable weekend at a friend’s wedding, eager to forget about her disastrous breakup and stalled dissertation, Nora Fischer wanders off and somehow finds herself in another realm. There, she meets glamorous Ilissa—who introduces Nora to a decadent new world—and her gorgeous son Raclin. But when the elegant veneer of this dreamland shatters, Nora finds herself in a fairy tale gone incredibly wrong. And the only way she can survive is by learning real magic herself.

The voice of the main character Nora was perfect. She’s a modern girl who happens back to a magical place, thanks to an evil woman with her own agenda (though we don’t find this out for a while, which made for some great reading). She remains herself while still being able to engross herself (albeit reluctantly at times) in this new, alien world. The characters were all original, vivid, and strongly written, and even now, a few weeks after reading, I can remember them clearly (which for me is saying something, since I not only read a lot but have a mind like a sieve, even with stuff I enjoy). The magical world was wonderful, clear and almost tangible. It was an absolute treat to linger there for a while and experience it like Nora does, with all its strangeness.

I also have a bit of a crush on the wounded soul of the main man magician Aruendiel. He’s a fantastic hero (in both obvious and surprisingly unexpected ways), and the relationship that develops between him and Nora had me flipping pages late into the night. Even with all the strangeness of the world their friendship developing felt real and authentic. The progression of this, wondering what’s around the corner for these two, has me eagerly awaiting book two.

I’d highly recommend this book. It had a maturity to it that was a breath of fresh air after all the YA I read (it’s not YA, so that also doesn’t completely surprise me). The complex world, intriguing characters, and genuine story have made it one of the better books I’ve read this year. If magic is your thing, and you’re wanting something that feels like HP but is more grown up like The Magicians, and has a fun, strong female protagonist. than this is your book.

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Okay! Clearly I enjoyed this book, and I want to share that joy with you. The publisher was kind enough to offer up a copy for a giveaway, so be sure to enter below for your chance at this fab book. Good luck!

Rules: US only (sorry, publisher’s rules) and no PO Boxes.

Contest runs until 11:59 PM on October 8th, 2014.
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