Wednesday, January 18, 2012

review: Austentatious

Title by Author: Austentatious by Alyssa Goodnight
Series (if applicable): none
Publisher: Kensington Publishing Group  
Publication Date: Jan 31, 2012     
Page Count:  320
Source: author Alyssa Goodnight
In this quirky, sexy novel set against the lively, music-filled backdrop of Austin, Texas, a young woman learns that romance can wreak havoc with even the best laid plans. . .
It started innocently enough. While browsing in one of Austin's funky little shops, Nicola James is intrigued by a blank vintage journal she finds hidden among a set of Jane Austen novels. Even though Nic is a straight-laced engineer, she's still a sucker for anything Austen-esque. But her enthusiasm quickly turns to disbelief once she starts writing in the journal--because somehow, it's writing her back. . .
Miss Nicola James will be sensible and indulge in a little romance. Those twelve tiny words hit Nic like a thunderbolt, as if her diary was channeling Austen herself! Itching for a bit of excitement, Nic decides to follow her "Fairy Jane's" advice. The result: a red-hot romance with a sexy Scottish musician who charms his way into Nic's heart in about five seconds flat.
Sean MacInnes is warm, funny, and happens to think Nic is the most desirable woman he's ever met. But a guy like Sean doesn't exactly fit into her Life Plan. With no one but Fairy Jane to guide her, Nic must choose between the life she thought she wanted--and the kind of happy ending she never saw coming....

This clever, witty, and quick-paced novel was a joy to read!  Nicola James, an engineer in Austin, Texas, created a Life Plan when she was 13 years old, and was still (begrudgingly?) sticking to it when she came across a magical journal that led her down a path least expected.  I don’t think I have laughed out loud with any book as much as I did with Austentatious!

Alyssa Goodnight has created a character so human and so funny, that I instantly fell in love with her and wanted her to be my new best friend.  I also loved how geeky she is…loved so many of the references only us geeks probably know!  (Princess Bride is one that definitely comes to mind!)   Nicola is also an avid cupcake baker and eater!  Girl after my own heart – and would love to make some of these different types of decadent yumminess!  I was actually saddened when the book ended, as I wouldn’t have any more funny vignettes to hear about!  Nicola James is a young woman who is science-minded, with a little piece of her heart wishing for a happily-ever-after – just like the ones that Jane Austen wrote.  She knows it will most likely not fit in to The Plan, but she can hope.  Knowingly, though, she has her plan and nothing will deter her from it; or so she thinks.

When Nicola is spending a Saturday walking through quirky shops in Austin, Texas, she comes across a slim journal that was shelved with books by her favorite author, Jane Austen.  She had intended the book for her cousin, but Fate took control, and Fate’s name seems to be that of none other than Jane Austen herself.  Obviously, Nicola secretly desired something to shake up her world, and she definitely obtained it in the magical journal that is now hers.  She follows the advice of not only the words from the journal, but also of her spunky mentee, Beck of the mesmerizing pink accents.  Beck is another fantastic character that was well drawn and a riot to watch when she came on the scene.

Due to the words that appear magically in the journal that Nicola found in an antique shop, she starts to take chances, and follows the advice of a magical item.  Being science-minded, she isn’t sure what about the journal’s workings, let alone what the journal has in store for her, but she does go along with the strange phrases and it ends up completely changing her life. 

The book is quickly paced with one hilarious scene after another (a scene with a mushroom… still makes me chuckle!).  The tone of the book is also quite enjoyable.  The characters almost seem larger than life, but none are so outrageous that they seem fake.  Ms. Goodnight has a unique talent for creating characters that you may have come across in your own life, or hope that you do.  Even the journal has a certain Sass that becomes a character in its own right. (I wish that the journal I had recently purchased would be a magical one, simply to experience!)

I have visited Austin before, but want to go back and see the Austin that Nicola James runs around.  The book is set during the annual Spring event of SXSW, or South by SouthWest for the uninitiated.  It is a Movie and Music Festival extraordinaire.  There are restaurants, parks and events that Nicola and friends go to, and this story truly brings Austin, Texas alive!

I would highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a good laugh, wants to find a new best friend in Nicola, has enjoyed the witticisms of Jane Austen, and would like to learn more about the best city in Texas.  It is a wonderful read that immediately draws the reader in, and you can’t help but fall into Nicola’s world to find out what happens next.  Do yourself a favor, read Austentatious, and learn to believe in Magic!

Favorite Quote: So many to choose from….

I tried to imagine an enchanted world where fairy godmothers existed with magic wands and fairy dust up their sleeves.  Brownies were the solid, chocolaty base of the food pyramid, my A-cups overflowth, and roaches worked like Roombas.  I felt my lips curling into a smile as I imagined the impossible, but that entire impossible world disappeared in an instant as my eyes flashed open, and I remembered that it wasn’t’ the imagining but the believing that got you in trouble.

Was it possible that her spirit had lingered on after her death and then flourished with the widespread popularity of her books?

“…why did we wait for anything? Why not seize the pleasure at once? How often is happiness destroyed by preparation, foolish preparation!” – Emma

Note to self: A PDA with a rock star is like polishing off a huge hot fudge brownie sundae – unbelieveably decadent, sweet and satisfying, but capped off with a queasy, what-did-I-just-do sort of feeling.

Rating: 5 Stars
Tag: contemporary, Jane Austen, romance, Austin, music
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