Wednesday, March 18, 2015

An Autumn to Remember by Joy Galloway Review

Hey readers. Happy Sunday! Hope you guys are all staying warm. I'm spending my weekend indoors catching up on some reads. Things have been more than a little crazy over on my end. Between work, my internship, and overall life stresses, I haven't had much time for blogging lately. I'm doing my best to rectify that, but I appreciate all your patience with me while I work through it all! Today I am going to be sharing my thoughts on a recent review request that I got. It's a little off from my normal read, but I am excited to share my thoughts. What are we talking about? An Autumn to Remember, the debut novel by Joy Galloway! Before we get to my thoughts, here's a bit about the novel:

Is it possible to have all you desire and hope for?

Despite their different social classes, Jamie Collins and Chelsea Braithwaite were best friends before she moved to England in their teens. Eight years later, she comes back to Elmtown, New York for graduate school and embodies everything Jamie wants in a woman.
Jamie performs weekly at a Jazz nightclub and is in his final year at Malcolm Vale University but he loves jazz to death and would do anything to have a career in music.
As he struggles to come to terms with the financial difficulties of he and his mother and an overpowering confusion about whether to follow his heart or his head in choosing a career path, he is unable to stop himself from falling in love with Chelsea. Although he becomes aware of the obstacles he faces, he knows deep in his heart, there can be only one girl for him.

Find Joy Galloway

My Thoughts:

I have a lot of thoughts on this novel, but I'm not really sure how to put them out there. I don't often have these problems with reviews. Rather than start out with all the things that didn't work for me in the novel, let me start this time by talking about some of the pluses I had about this read. 

Themes. Joy Galloway is a grade-A woman. How can I tell? With the emphasis for family and positive moral values she place sin her characters. What a feeling I got when I read how mature and oriented Jamie and Chelsea could be at times. Especially Jamie. Jamie was, by far, my favorite character of the novel. This is really saying something for me, as I oftentimes do not relate to the male characters in NA novels in any capacity. Jamie was honest, he was relatable, and he had a great head on his shoulders. I think my favorite part about him was, unlike the average 'New Adult Male' we are seeing these days, Jamie was not ashamed to show his emotions. Nor was he to prideful to ask for help. Jamie knew what he needed to do to succeed and he did what was necessary to support his family, all the while still finding a way to support his dreams. For that, I have massive respect.

Overall Plot. I will touch on some of the more negative aspects of the plot later on, but as a whole, I found the plot to be enjoyable. It was not unlike others I have read, but Galloway has such a way with words as to make it flow so well within the context of our story. Galloway sure 'brought the feels' in more than one part of our novel. She was quick to let the emotions flow, but definitely did it in a classy and realistic way. Galloway does not harp on the depression, and she takes great pride in the triumphs. Who couldn't get behind that?

A 'Happily Ever After'. Believe it or not, I haven't read a novel with a TRUE HEA in quite some time. Huge kudos to Galloway for supplying us with a novel where a full resolution is reached. While I have seen where Galloway is intending to develop this novel into a series, I believe it will be set as a series of standalones within the same world. Rightfully so, as I believe that Jamie and Chelsea's stories are complete!

As you can see from above, I did enjoy many facets of this novel. That is not to say, however, that it did not have its' faults. I had a number of critiques about this novel, but I have decided to cut it down to just a handful for this review. As any of you who read my reviews regularly know, I don't hold back when it comes to my reviewing. As someone who does this in real life, I have to give all authors my honest opinions if at all possible. Here are a few of my more glowing criticisms:

Editing. This novel had a number of editing issues. I usually don't critique on this, because honestly, if you can write a 300 page novel, I could care less if you misplace a few commas. Unfortunately, Autumn had many more problems than comma misplacement. My two biggest red flags for this novel editing-wise were pretty big ones. For one, the author uses a lot of "thinking" in her story, as in we read a lot of the characters thoughts. Rather than being written as italicized thoughts to set it apart from the text, it was written just as every other word. So every time I hit a line that said "Chelsea/Jamie thought", I had to go back and reread it as something important. This made reading the novel incredible frustrating at times. Another big issue for me was the dialogue at times. A lot of it was forced, un-necessary, or didn't make any sense. Sometimes the very best thing to say is to say absolutely nothing at all. Though, this comes from the POV from which the novel is told, which I will get to in a bit.

Relevance/Contemporary Aspect. This novel is set in 2010. That being said, it's definitely not the 2010 that I lived in. I don't know what, specifically, makes me say this, but there were so many times when I thought the books just felt like it was set in 1975 or something. I honestly don't know Everyone's mindset and the things that were being said just seemed so... out of place for me. Also, some of the money stuff wasn't adding up for me. For instance, $60k/year job sounds INCREDIBLE to me, but to someone that lived in a huge city, that's nothing. I guess I just didn't connect too well with that. Having come from a background that's very similar to that of Jamie and Helen, I just thought their situation could have been handled a bit differently. 

Plotlines not adding up. Jamie and Helen are dirt poor, but they could afford to send Jamie to South Korea to teach English immediately after high school for a year prior to starting college? Also, I looked into those programs years ago and I know for a fact that they would never let someone go teach English straight out of high school as a second language. I have 2 degrees and I'm BARELY qualified to do it now. Also, Amy was a great character until suddenly, she wasn't. She seriously just... disappeared? This was a big issue for me, in the end, I am not sure I truly understood Amy's role in the novel.

Emotions. Our characters were well written, but were horrible at displaying emotion. I could honestly relate with these characters in a way I hadn't in a long time, but they way they acted just seemed like it came out of a Jane Austen novel. They were so reserved and quiet about things a normal character would have flipped out over. Your boyfriend cheats on you after 6 months with your best friend? And you just let it go and cry about it? BURN THAT GIRLS HOUSE DOWN. SLASH HIS TIRES. Seriously? Where was the anger? The hatred? Sure she falls for Jamie and it makes it easier, but cooommmmeee on. 

Lack of Adult Situations. This was an 'NA' novel. That being said, it is, hands down, the safest NA novel I have ever read. There is little-to-no cursing. No sex, in any capacity. There was lots of hand holding and a whole lot of staring longingly at one another, but seriously, this had less romance than a Disney movie. I don't care for sex scenes, ever, but these college seniors are acting like Pre-Teens in a super conservative Christian school. College kids aren't that laid back and mature constantly. Where was the fun? I'm just used to seeing an entirely different side to romance in the book world, I suppose. Especially as a 23 year old college graduate, the exact same age/situation as our characters, I know this isn't how it would go down.

Third Person POV. I won't lie to you, this was the hardest part of this novel for me to wrap my head around. The funny thing about this novel is that it really does not have a huge cast of characters. Why is it, then, that I found myself reading about every random character's thoughts and actions? Galloway is an incredible author was an amazing talent, but I believe this novel would have worked much better if it had been written in a dual-POV told in first person via Jamie and Chelsea. It would have been a great way to see what was really happening inside their heads. 

As you can see, I had a lot of thoughts on An Autumn to Remember. In fact, I have been sitting on this review for quite some time in order to wrap my mind around it all to better formulate and alter my thoughts. While this was not my favorite NA novel, I strongly believe that Galloway is an incredible author with great potential! I will definitely be checking out her future reads! In that breath, I am giving An Autumn to Remember a 3.5-star review. While I did enjoy the story immensely, some of the negative critiques I pointed out above really kept this one from falling into my 'new favorites' category. Any readers looking for a PG-13 New Adult Romance will definitely want to add this novel to your TBRs!

That's all I have for you guys on the topic of An Autumn to Remember by Joy Galloway. Have any of you already read it? Will you be adding it to your TBR? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below. Special shout out to our author, Mrs. Joy Galloway, for supplying me with a copy in exchange for an honest review. Until next time, Happy Reading!


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