Cover Image: How to Talk to a Goddess and Other Lessons in Real Magic

How to Talk to a Goddess and Other Lessons in Real Magic

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Member Reviews

I was so excited to read the second book in this series after waiting seven years since I read the first one, however, I found this one a bit disappointing compared to A Thinking Woman's Guide to Real Magic. It took me ages to finish and every time I put it down, I wasn't feeling drawn to pick the story back up. The pacing felt off compared to Barker's previous work, and I didn't really enjoy the relationships and character building the way I did in the first. It was nice to revisit this world and these characters, but it just didn't work as well for me as I'd hoped. I do think some readers will certainly enjoy this sequel far more than I did, however, and should certainly give it a try if they enjoyed Nora's adventures in the first novel!
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This was a really great read. It is the second book from the author in this series and I read this one first and as I loved it so much I bought the first book as well.
I loved the new twist of a magical/modern adventure tale. 
The characters had a real depth to them that made you want to read on to find out what happened and some characters had their own tales to tell. 
I loved the imagery of the places and the people the descriptions made them feel real and visible
In my minds eye. 
I have actually purchased the hardback copy
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DNF @20%. I liked the first one but I just can't get into this one, the way the two protagonists treat each other is awful. I skimmed forward in the book and it just didn't seem like I would be able to recover interest.

My thanks to Netgalley for providing an eARC, my opinions are my own.
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Brilliantly Written and Charmingly Magical!

This was a beautifully-written, addictive read. One of those rare books where even the character's ruminations on the most mundane things become captivating. I quickly knew I was in masterful/mistressful hands when I got to the twist to do with with a certain street gentleman. I read this without having read the first book in the series and did just fine, but liked it so much I've bought the first book for my sister (and will borrow it after!). I hope the series expands to a trilogy or even a spin-off with Ramona! (Is that a Beverly Cleary reference? She's certainly precocious enough!) Grad students: Be warned, this book may be triggering as Nora's struggles as a PhD student are all too accurate. (Mostly joking.)

I received a copy of this book through NetGalley for review purposes.
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Actual rating: 1.5 stars and DNF at 48%

I was so excited to read this book after absolutely loving the first installment when I read it back in 2013 or so. I've been waiting for this sequel for so long, and I'm sad to have to call it quits about halfway through the book. I'm just exceedingly disappointed and frustrated with this installment. The writing seems more simplistic and poorly written compared to what I remember of the first book. However, this is something I could overlook if not for other issues.

Nora, the main character, seems so much more dumb than before. She makes a lot of very poor, not well thought out decisions, and she keeps flip flopping on major beliefs and choices (sometimes within a handful of pages). I was so frustrated with her and couldn't sympathize with her at all. There's also a very cringe-worthy romance here. I actually seem to remember this being fine in the first book, but I really didn't like the situation that arises in this book. After a certain event, Nora's behavior abruptly changes, and while there's some explanation for this, I honestly hated reading this section.

There's also some slut-shaming and this sort of "women don't know their own minds" attitude exhibited by some of the male characters. Perhaps there's a confrontation of this attitude later on, but I didn't care to read it. There are also several rants against organized religion and while I'm not particularly religious myself, this was uncomfortable to read and I didn't particularly enjoy it.

Unfortunately, I really did not enjoy the first half of the book and didn't want to force myself to finish it. I do somewhat regret picking this up because it makes me question my memories of the first book.

My video review can be seen on my booktube channel (around minutes 1:03-4:05 of this video):
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I was drawn to the book instantly by the beautiful cover. This is the second in the series, which I have not read but plan to correct. This book can be a standalone read but I feel a better understanding may enrich the experience. The author does an excellent job of world building and creating a magical existence you will enjoy visiting.
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In my opinion it can be difficult for a second book in a series to have the impact of the debut book. "How to Talk to a Goddess and Other Lessons in Real Magic" breaks this standard in every way! Even if it was not already part of a series I do think this book could stand on its own. The characters are well written and the plot is engaging throughout the whole book. There was never of period of time where I felt like it was a chore to keep reading to finish the book. I genuinely kept reading because I enjoyed this book so much. Many times I lost track of time and realized hours later that I should probably go to bed.  The size of the book can seem intimidating but it is so worth the read!
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There was a lot of alluding to what happened in book 1. I get that it's been a while since the first book came out, but it was a little overboard. The characters don't seem to have all the pizzazz they had in book one. The plot moved more slowly than the first book. I wanted to LOVE this book, but it ended but being a 3 star read for me.  I would definitely read another book in this series, but I would probably not revisit this one.
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This book was very interesting - it really captured my attention with how easy it was to really immerse myself in in and to apply what I read into my daily life.
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I found the blurb interesting and liked the world building but the story didn't keep my attention and fell flat.
I assume it would be better to read the first book in this series.
Not my cup of tea.
Many thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for this ARC, all opinions are mine
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A much looked forward to sequel, How to Talk to a Goddess and Other Lessons in Real Magic does ill justice to the warm, deep characters Emily Croy Baker created in The Thinking Woman’s Guide to Real Magic.

The second book in a series, How to Talk to a Goddess and Other Lessons in Real Magic, kicks off where the first one left off. Nora has returned from the world of fae and magic and her life with Aruendiel to her mundane one. But the amount of pain she feels to see Aruendiel again keeps her from reentering a scholar’s lifestyle. Instead, Nora must return to her life of learning magic and the possibility of a life with a man who makes her heart sing more than any other has. 

She manages the spellwork to walk between one world and another by half, and it is Aruendiel, who was on a mission and dealing with his own heartbrokenness, who manages to help her out. No sooner have the two reunited than their emotions spill out of them, and they are carried away in the moment of passion. It feels overly impassioned and rushed a moment.

Barker uses the culmination of Nora and Aruendiel’s relationship to create a conflict that separates our characters. But, unfortunately, it comes off as lacking, weak even, as an excuse for these two to part from each other. Most especially since the novel starts with both of them missing one another and wanting nothing but to see each other again. 

The rapid-fire, trigger-happy execution to get into the meat of the story (talking to a goddess) derails from the elegance and depth of the characters Barker so wonderfully crafted in The Thinking Woman’s Guide to Real Magic.

When the meat of the story, talking to a goddess, comes along, the overly dramatic drudgery of Nora and Aruendiel's hot and cold feelings for one another clouds the novel. They act very childishly, which is all the less believable from Aruendiel, who is meant to be many hundreds of years old and entered many relationships in that lifespan.  

Overall, How to Talk to a Goddess and Other Lessons in Real Magic is disappointing, even as the magic system is still wondrous and fun.
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I’ve read a number of books where protagonists have returned to their everyday, mundane existence after spending time in a dangerous, yet vibrant magical world. This one absolutely nails the mingled sense of relief at being relatively safe again – and the yearning sense of longing for the magic… the love… the excitement of what’s been lost. It’s nicely handled, as Nora could so easily have come across as a discontented whiner, but I found myself bonding with her plight and immediately rooting for her. And as once again, I’ve crashed into this series without reading the first book, this was my first introduction to the main protagonist.

Subsequent events plunge Nora into a situation where those yearnings are once more met – and again, I liked the fact that she finds the change a challenging one. Aruendiel, her powerful mentor, is generally grumpy, aloof and somewhat arrogant – basically your typical entitled sorcerer. And what takes place during their initial meeting had my jaw dropping. This clearly isn’t the romantic, enjoyable interaction Nora had been hoping for… And that is about as much as I can say about the plot without lurching into Spoiler territory.

I really enjoyed the depth of the characterisation and the fact that Barker is a fan of the ‘show, don’t tell’ school of writing, especially where the main characters are concerned. The setting, particularly at the Temple, completely convinced me and I enjoyed the exploration of the nature of faith and at what stage steady devotion becomes poisonous fanaticism. Though I don’t want you going away with the impression that there are pages of exposition describing such issues – Barker is far too smart at writing an enjoyable adventure story to commit such a crime. All in all, this is an engaging and pleasingly different fantasy story, still firmly set within many of the tropes of the epic fantasy tale. I’m guessing I would have enjoyed it even more if I’d read the first book, The Thinking Woman’s Guide to Real Magic – and Himself, being the solidly marvellous husband that he is, has now bought this one as a gift for me. I’ll be shortly tucking into it – for I’m missing Barker’s world. Highly recommended for fantasy fans. While I obtained an arc of How To Talk to a Goddess and Other Lessons in Real Magic from Netgalley, the opinions I have expressed are unbiased and my own.
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Stop Right where you are!! Go grab the first book—The Thinking Woman’s Guide to Real Magic. Read that. 
Not because How to Talk to a Goddess does not stand up well on its own—it does. The author does a fantastic job of keeping it real in this one—I never felt lost or confused because I hadn’t read the first book in the pair. It’s just that there are references to the first book that titillate and tantalize and all the way through this one I was wishing I’d read the first one and I want to spare you that pain.

I don’t give very many 5-star reviews. I feel like a 4 is a really good book—one that I would recommend, give as a gift—one that I am happy I read. When I give a 4-star review, I am saying that I never—or at least very seldom—felt like I was wasting my time. I didn’t long to toss it in the fire or dissolve it with acid and I would probably check out anything else by that author.

A 5-star book, on the other hand, is something else.

How to Talk to a Goddess is a fantasy grounded, like the main character Nora, in the humdrum world of reality. And I can’t say a whole lot about plot until you’ve read the first one. Let’s just say the action will keep your attention and the romance is entertainingly non-standard. I’m a fantasy nut, but very few fantasies carry me into their world as well as this one did.

What Worked in this Book
Everything. Characters are clear and well-drawn. Plot is compelling. Descriptions are awesome. Writing is poetic at times, precise and practical at other times. The story twists like a giant snake and deals with universal issues like life and death and life again—and what’s real and what’s fantasy—and what is Divine and where can you locate it.

What Didn’t Work
Nothing. For me, this is as close to a perfect book as you need to get to get a 5 out of me. I thoroughly enjoyed it. I stayed up late on work nights to read it. I was sad when it was over but then I remembered I hadn’t read The Thinking Woman’s Guide to Real Magic so I bought that and was happy again. I’ll remember the characters and story because bits of them are now woven into my soul.
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This book was such an interesting read. It is hard these days to create new and imaginative magic systems. I found the magical world in the North Carolina mountains to be intriguing. The characters are well-developed and are easy to empathize with.
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I just couldn't get into this one. I kept putting it down in favor of other books. I haven't read the first book, so maybe that was the issue, and that is on me, not the book. 

**ARC Via NetGalley**
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I was so excited to jump back into Emily Barker’s tale of Nora and her adventures. This book did not disappoint me! The Magic was bigger, the stakes higher, the world grew more complex, and the love more solidified. Nora definitely is in my top 10 favorite MCs this year. She’s so real and relatable, stubborn, crass, fiercely independent, clumsy, foolish, but most of all she reflects the hope and faith we all have for things to just be as they will be. 

In this tale we find Nora back home and trying to carry on with her life as normal. As hard as she tries though she can’t shake the time she spent  with Aruendiel, and the love for the world she left behind. However going back means more than a happy reunion and a fairy tale romance.  Instead she finds herself in the service of a corrupt goddess wielding power she’s never imagined. And wondering if this was the life she was meant to return to. 

I’m secretly hoping that this isn’t the end of the story and at some point I can return to Nora. tThat she becomes the greatest magician that ever lived and that Aruendiel finally stopped being dense and loved her the way he wanted to and she deserved. 

I recommend this to EVERYONE. I will however preface by saying you need to read The Thinking Woman’s Guide to Real Magic. 

Thank you NetGalley for allowing me to read an arc of the this book in exchange for my honest review.
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Thank you to NetGalley for providing me an e-book for review.

This is the second book in what is supposed to be a trilogy. After the events of book one, our main character Nora is back in our world pursuing her grad degree trying to put magic and the past behind her to move on with her life. However, she is given the chance to go to other worlds once again and is now faced with resuming her magical education and trying to sort through her relationship with Aurendiel, all while trying to figure out friend and foe in the process.

This one was not for me. I felt like there was very little character development. Nora seems very dependent on everyone else in this book- always following their leads instead of leading herself. I also felt like her relationship with Aurendiel should have been more of a journey. They are apart most of the book. Even when they are together I found the romance lacking. I did enjoy the plot and ideas of this book I just felt they weren't executed as well as in book 1. Aurendiel's POV was great, I loved getting his perspective. I also found it hard to believe that only 1 month has passed since book 1. There is supposed to be another book in this series but it remains unclear if there will be. The wait between books 1&2 was quite a while. This book doesn't end on a cliffhanger so they can choose to end the story there. I do feel ending the story where it is would be a bit lacking for me.

I think this book is for lovers of book 1 who don't mind most of the book taking place in one place, people who aren't big on the romance aspects, and people who dislike cliffhangers in their series.

I gave 3 stars because this just wasn't for me. I do think, however, there are people who will really enjoy this.
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Four years ago I read the first book in this series and fell in love with it. Since then I've reread it a few times and still go back and read passages I particularly enjoyed. As the book had been released four years earlier, I think it's fortunate I didn't have to wait quite so long as the first readers to find out the next part of the story. Earlier this year the audiobook was released and I managed to get a review copy of it. But being new to audiobooks, I didn't absorb it as well as I'd have liked. And now it's possible to judge this book more fairly as I really get it now. 

At the end of The Thinking Woman's Guide to Real Magic, Nora has returned to her own world. Here we meet her a few weeks later after she has rejoined her old life. Nora is happy to see her family and friends and her academic life has some definite improvements in store. But life feels a bit flat and she's unsettled. She misses using magic and she misses Aruendiel. It's a chance situation that provides the opportunity to return to that other world and she takes it. Her return does not exactly go smoothly but she does reunite with Aruendiel and life is good. Perhaps a bit too good to last, actually. 

There's a lot to take in in this installment, with twists and turns along the way that make things difficult for Nora but also allow her to grow and develop, especially in her magic. Unlike the first book, there's no slow burn in the romance department. Things get up to speed quickly once she and Aruendiel are together again. But it's not going to be a happily ever after. And to my mind, this book isn't really about the romance although it's definitely part of the driving force in the story. 

Religion plays a major part in this story, with Nora being a non-religious person faced with being dropped into an environment that is almost totally run by it.  Her belief, or maybe it's better to say lack of belief, is constantly challenged and she finds herself obligated to become an essential part of the system in order to protect those around her. At the same time, she is constantly trying to find a way to leave too. It's definitely not the life she wanted to return to and there are times when she is ready to stop using magic altogether. 

There are a variety of battles that Nora faces in this story and with each, Nora is always conscious of just wanting to win without harm coming to those she faces. Her first major one is a big success, but the cost of it leaves her with really bad feelings despite her actions being her only choice for survival. I think this is part of her character I really like. She has no need for a lot of power and when it's handed to her, she finds it frightening to experience. She keeps a steady head through most of her experiences and she does figure out quite a lot along the way. 

I'm sure there are many who might say Nora is just too nice. But what's wrong with being nice. And she's not a pushover. She stands up for herself even though sometimes it doesn't quite work the way she wants it to. She's also extremely compassionate, even with those who try to hurt her along the way. She may not like what's been done to her but she would never wish harm upon others. This seems true right to the end and I think this attitude serves her well in this world. 

Aruendiel, despite his advanced age, still manages some development through the story.  Even when we meet him in the first book, he obviously has some regrets about actions in the past. He is aware of the hasty reaction he had to the unfaithfulness of his wife and his behavior has put him off investing in that again. Spending time with Nora has opened his eyes to more possibilities for Nora in this world and in his life. He's interested in her not just for her beauty but also for her intelligence and persistence. He likes many of her qualities although perhaps he didn't properly appreciate her so much until she was back to her own world. 

Although I suppose this could be read on its own, I think the appreciation for it would be much better for having read the first book. There are some questions from the first book that are answered here and we come to know some of the characters just that much more. Not to mention those we meet in this story. 

I find this to be quite a fitting sequel and after both listening to and reading it, I am giving this four and a half stars. I would like to thank Netgalley and Semrland Books for providing a free advanced reader copy. I am providing this review freely.
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3.5 stars: This book like 'The Thinking Woman's Guide to Real Magic', had some really slow parts but also fascinating characters and enjoyable storyline. The beginning didn't immediately interest me but fighting through that, it ended up being really good. Thank you Semrland Books for gifting me an egalley copy for review.
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In the sequel to "The Thinking Woman’s Guide to Real Magic", once Nora goes back to her world, she realizes she no longer fits in there, and she misses learning & performing magic.
I’m giving this sequel ⭐️⭐️⭐️
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