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Austentatious by Alyssa Goodnight


by Alyssa Goodnight

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Nicloa James has a plan - The Plan. She is a sensible girl with very specific ideas of what is right and wrong for her. One day she finds a journal in an odds and ends shop and everything changes. She writes in the journal - and the journal writes back! Following the advice of the journal is not easy for her but the adventure is well worth the insensibility of it all. ( )
  mlake | Apr 28, 2015 |
I listened to this one on audiobook, so you guys are actually going to get 2 reviews in 1, here: my thoughts on the story, and my thoughts on Janine Hegarty's narration of it. And I might as well just jump the gun and tell you I loved both. Okay, so yes, I may have made it pointless for you to read the rest of this review now, but I trust you'll stick around for my dazzling wit.
No? Unceasing charm?
Because you've got nothing else to do, and reading & commenting on this review earns you an extra entry in the Austentatious giveaway?
Ahh, there we go...

Now, as I was saying, I couldn't really help but love this. The only thing I was torn on was whether I wanted to experience the book on audio - those voices! That sly humor! - or on the typed page, where I could tab all the things I found funny. Which was basically all the things. I already knew I liked Goodnight's style from having read Austensibly Ordinary, but you never know if something's a one-off, or, since AO is the 2nd book, maybe she Goodnight had dramatically improved and the first one was...dramatically unimproved, or something. Basically, you never know. And with an audio, you also don't know how well the narrator is going to convey any humor that is there, or how well you'll connect to the narration style. Added to the fact that I just don't do audios often... it wouldn't be inaccurate to say I had reservations, especially once I began the book and the narrator sounded a little too "documentarian" for my tastes. This was only in the beginning, though, and it actually worked really well with Nic's character; it changed beautifully (but subtly) as the character loosened up, and I got a better sense of who Nic was as a result. It didn't take me long to decide the audio was worth my time, and by the first time Hegarty did a Brit accent, she had won me over. By the time she got around to doing a Scottish accent as well, I was thoroughly smitten. She conveyed emotion, humor and a number of personalities with ease, and I was always able to not only keep them straight but instantly recognize them. It was kinda fantastic.

I'm sure it helped that Hegarty had a very engaging story to narrate. There was lots of emotion, lots of humor, and just a shitload of personality. Excuse me, Janeites. How crass of me. It had a well-trimmed bonnet-ful of personality.
But seriously - Goodnight's style is personable and hilarious, and Hegarty conveys every drop of it. I was smiling so much while listening to this that my face hurt. My face actually hurt.
Listening to this while doing dishes? ---> Grinning like a loon in the kitchen window.---> Face hurts.
Listening while checking the mail? ---> Laughing out loud for no apparent reason. ---> Face hurts.
My neighbors had to have thought I'd lost my mind. But I don't even care,* Nic's combination of buttoned-up neuroses and Sean's casually-sexy prodding was delicious, and I ate up every minute of it. [I like Sean MacInnes. I want one.] I liked Nic and Sean together, I liked the side characters, I liked the romances and the magical realist aspect. I liked the style and I liked the narration, and I liked all the bursting-at-the-seams personality, and - there's really just nothing negative I have to say.

It was cute, it was charming, and it won me over just as easily as Austensibly Ordinary did. And hell, as much as I liked Cate from AO, I might like Nicola more, and that's saying something. When it comes to Sean or Ethan, though... Well, I'll just take one of each, please! ;)

*Who am I kidding, they already knew. ( )
1 vote BookRatMisty | Sep 1, 2013 |
Ever since I first read Pride and Prejudice, back when I was somewhere around twelve or thirteen, I've been an unmitigated Austen fangirl. Dear readers, I know that right now, you are probably all either pumping the air in sisterly solidarity or rolling your eyes at how trite it is to be obsessed with Jane Austen. For me, there can never be anything remotely hackneyed in appreciating some of the wittiest, best-written literature ever composed, so you can say what you want, but you will not change my mind. As part of my obsession, I simply cannot resist any of these Austen-inspired novels, be they spin-offs, retellings, continuations, or merely quirky Austen-referencing romance novels, as is the case here. No matter how many bad ones I read, and believe me I've read some serious stinkers, I keep coming back for more. Thankfully, Austentatious proved to be entertaining and not to fall anywhere near the designation of 'stinker.'

The basic premise here is that Nicola James, scientist and Austen fan, has always lived her life according to plan. She does not believe in wasting time on Wentworths or Crawfords, and does not intend to step foot outside her carefully ordered life. In her early- to mid-twenties, Nicola's focusing on her promising career and has no interest in getting bogged down in a relationship just yet, as it might distract her and derail her from her ambitions. Life, of course, has other plans, because this is a romance novel; in real life, not being distracted by romance is laughably simple.

Nicola's character proved a bit difficult for me to really relate to, largely because I think the launching off point of the story should have been a bit earlier than it was. Because we meet her only just as her life is about to be thrown into chaos, we really only have Nicola's assertions, backed up by her friends', about how her life used to be. We don't get to see her being a capable scientist at work or turning down a possible romantic prospect because he doesn't fit her timeline. Nor do we really have any idea what her Plan looks like in detail or why men can't be a part of it. Personally, I think a prologue of her thirteen-year-old self creating the plan, and why the plan means so much to her, might have been really helpful in establishing her character.

Anyway, she finds this weird little journal at an antiques shop and buys it to give as a present. Then she spills on it, thus deciding to keep the journal for herself. She writes an entry and heads off to bed. Later, when she opens up the journal, she discovers that most of her entry has been erased, leaving only these words: "Miss Nicola James will be sensible and indulge in a little romance." Basically, this diary has apparently been channeled by the spirit of Jane Austen and wants to be her matchmaker or fairy godmother.

Listen, as I've already stressed, I love Austen, but I thought the Austen references were a bit weak, and not that well thought out. The quote-a-day Austen calendar was well-used, but the other references were mostly just to characters and really did not feel especially apt. I mean, Nicola compares Sean, her love interest, to Darcy, and he just is NOT a Darcy. I like him well enough, embarrassing tendency to serenade people in places not intended for such activities aside, but nothing about his personality says Darcy; he's outgoing and flirty, and convinced from moment one that he wants to be with Nic. Calling him a Darcy is a serious Austen gaffe. He's closest to Henry Tilney actually, though with a good dose of Willoughby or Crawford (only not the asshole bits). The journal's snippets did not read like Jane Austen either. I would have been happier had the journal been just a random spirit that Nicola chose to think of as Jane, rather than it actually being Jane, because that felt wrong to me.

Nicola did definitely need an invasion of excitement into her life, and a sexy Scottish man certainly fits the bill. I do like him as an influx into her life, to keep her from crushing on that awful boring guy at her office, but I'm not convinced of their compatibility. Of course, I might have more faith in their relationship if they weren't confessing love after just a couple of days. Instalove automatically lowers my belief in your actual feelings, guys. Go for it, by all means, but you do not need to be in love before you can decide to make space in your lives for one another. Try each other on for a while first, okay. Austen's heroines didn't immediately fall in love, did they? No, they didn't, except for Marianne, and we ALL know how that turned out.

Though I obviously had a lot of issues, Austentatious was an entertaining and quick read. Some of my three star reviews just come out sounding a lot more negative than they really are, but, honestly, this is one of the better Austen-inspired books I've read, if not in the use of said Austen. A lot of my problems stemmed from Nicola herself, and I hope that, in the next installment, I'll be able to relate more to the heroine. So far, I would recommend these books more for chick lit readers than hardcore Austen fans. ( )
  A_Reader_of_Fictions | Apr 1, 2013 |
Nicola James has lived in Austin, Texas for almost eight years and has yet to live on the weird side. The annual SXSW festival is about to arrive, and this year, Nicola's life plan will be taking a big turn. Nicola discovers a journal in an antique shop while looking for a gift. When she writes in it, her words are edited down and replaced by wisdom from the godmother of romance, Jane Austen. Reminiscent of an early Sarah Bird novel, this romance screams fun as it is chocked full of pop culture and Austin landmarks. A very fun rom-com read. ( )
  ethel55 | Nov 2, 2012 |
Nicola James is a serious, career-minded woman. She is on a path that she set as a teenager. The only things missing are love and romance but, practical and sensible, she is not about to risk it all with fool hardy risks.

When Nicola finds a beautiful blank journal in a boutique in Austen, Texas, she is intrigued. It is shelved alongside Jane Austen novels, her favourite. She buys the journal, initially as a gift. She is so drawn to the journal that she decides to use it herself, and once she does, everything she thought she knew changes. As she writes in the journal, it seems to be magically writing back to her, in the persona of Jane Austen herself!

Life, as Nicola knew it, starts to reveal new paths, offering new possibilities and altering her once predictable life. This magical diary has much to offer. Nicola begins to follow the guidance the journal is offering to her. She finds herself opening herself up, allowing herself to take chances.

The characters in this unique book are quirky, fun and unforgettable. Along with Nicola, there is a cast of eclectic friends, including a colourful Scottish Rocker, who adds unexpected spice to Nicola's life.

If you are a fan of romance and mystical charm, fun and adventure, and especially of Jane Austen, you will enjoy reading this book. I recommend that you put this in your summer book bag, and be prepared for the magic of Alyssa Goodnight! She offers all of this in her unique novel, Austentatious. ( )
  nightprose | Jul 22, 2012 |
Showing 1-5 of 13 (next | show all)
“In the end the real question is: What would happen if we were to throw away caution and good sense and choose instead to enjoy a moment—albeit a delectable one—in time? Author Alyssa Goodnight co-opts Jane Austen, morphing her into a love-centric Dear Abby and answering this question with an ultra contemporary story—while tossing in a bit of magic to help move the tale along.”

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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0758267436, Paperback)

While browsing in an Austin shop, Nicola James finds a blank vintage journal 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 turns to disbelief once she starts writing in the journal - because somehow, it's writing her back...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. 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...

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:08:36 -0400)

When she discovers a black vintage journal hidden among a set of Jane Austen novels in a funky little shop, straight-laced engineer Nicola James is stunned when, while writing in the journal, it writes her back and advises her to have a red-hot romance with a sexy Scottish musician.… (more)

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