REVIEW: How we Deal with Gravity by Ginger Scott

How we Deal with Gravity by Ginger Scott

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When her son Max was diagnosed with autism, Avery Abbot’s life changed forever. Her husband left, and her own dreams became a distant fantasy—always second to fighting never-ending battles to make sure Max was given opportunity, love and respect. Finding someone to fight along her side wasn’t even on her list, and she’d come to terms with the fact that she could never be her own priority again.

But a familiar face walking into her life in the form of 25-year-old Mason Street had Avery’s heart waging a war within. Mason was a failure. When he left his hometown five years ago, he was never coming back—it was only a matter of time before his records hit the billboard charts. Women, booze and rock-n-roll—that was it for him. But it seemed fate had a different plan in mind, and with a dropped record contract, little money and nowhere to go, Mason turned to the only family that ever made him feel home—the Abbots.

Avery loved Mason silently for years—until he broke her heart…completely. But time and life have a funny way of changing people, and sometimes second chances are there for a reason. Could this one save them both?

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This book is about love. It’s not so much a romance novel, but it has tons of heart.

Avery is a girl with a heavy load to carry. Her husband skipped out on her right after their son was diagnosed with autism. She’s a girl stuck in perpetual motion, trying to move on with her life, go to school, take care of Max, hold down a job, but life is hard. In turn, Avery has had to become strong, for Max, for herself, for her father whom she lives with, because if she breaks down even a little, everything will crumble.

When Mason Street stumbles back into her life after years of being on the road, Avery sees it for what it is—a disaster that must be avoided at all costs. After all, she doesn’t have time for a relationship, not with Max’s constant demand for attention. What unfolds is a beautiful story of imperfect things that when put together, seem perfect.

Avery is a balanced combination of momma bear and fragile girl. I liked her fierce loyalty and patience with her son. I liked how hard she worked to make Max’s life easier. I felt every tear she cried, because they were earned, and they were justified. I appreciated her dedication not only to Max, but also to her father, Ray. Like I said before, this story is all about love, and I saw it in the way Avery loved the people in her life.

Mason took a little while to grow on me, and I’m certain this was the author’s intent. When he rolls back into town, dejected, fired from his music label, he’s every inch the downtrodden rock star. A bit of a dick. A bit of a player. And he used the word “tits”. I loathed him for a good while.

When Mason started interacting with Ray, my shell cracked. I have a soft spot for father/child relationships, and even though Ray wasn’t Mason’s biological father, he was his dad in every sense of the word.

Avery and Mason collide like fire and brimstone. She’s carting around a broken heart from their high school days when Mason didn’t SEE her for who she truly is, and Mason, well, he’s finally SEEING Avery. He knows he’s far from perfect. He knows that he screwed up with his band, with his life, and it’s a little like watching an ugly mound of clay worked into a glorious sculpture.

Then he meets Max, who latches on to Mason immediately, picking up on Mason’s knowledge of music. Max is extremely gifted and is soon teaching Mason things. I loved learning about Max and autism little by little throughout the book. I think it is something that’s so misunderstood by society. Ginger Scott did an excellent, gentle job of explaining autism, the highs and lows, the struggles, and the beauty of something that’s considered (perhaps wrongfully) a disability.

Between Max and Ray, Mason Street worked his right past my defenses—and Avery’s.

There were so many things I liked about this story. Nothing was easy. Choices were difficult and realistic. I loved the “small town” bar feel, as well as the close knit community. I loved how music and references to gravity wove through the words. I loved the imperfect relationships, and how it was okay to be family with people who weren’t actually your family by blood. I liked how it took a look at mistakes and made them livable—forgivable. I appreciated the selflessness of the characters.

How We Deal with Gravity is a wonderful look at what it means to be a family, and who – however flawed – makes life worth living.

I will definitely be picking up more of Ginger Scott’s books.

5 STARS

REVIEW – Allies and Assassins by Justin Somper

ALLIES AND ASSASSINS BY JUSTIN SOMPER

Prince Anders, the ruler of Archenfield, has been murdered, leaving his younger brother, Jared, to ascend the throne. Sixteen-year-old Jared feels unprepared to rule the kingdom and its powerful and dangerous court, yet he knows he can rely on the twelve officers of the court to advise him. He also knows he can just as easily be at their mercy-especially when it appears that one of them may be responsible for his brother’s death. Unable to trust anyone, Jared takes it upon himself to hunt down his brother’s killer-but the killer may be hunting him, as well. Murder, betrayal, and intrigue abound in Justin Somper’s thrilling YA series debut. Exploring the political machinations of the medieval court and the lives that hang in the balance, Allies & Assassins is a gripping tale of a teen torn between duty and revenge.

**

Allies and Assassins by Justin Somper

 

I received a copy of this book through a Library Thing giveaway. All opinions are my own. Thank you to Hachette Book Group.

 

This is a difficult review for me due to my conflicting feelings regarding this book as a whole. I think, for sake of my sanity, that I will split it into two parts, starting with my comments on the story.

 

Allies and Assassins is carefully plotted. The characters, though many, each have a specific duty to the kingdom as well as the storyline. Let’s start with the prince and the twelve, who serve at advisors to the prince, and correlate to the bell tolls in Archenfield. I’m not going to comment on all of them because that’s too much, but a few were memorable characters.

 

The Prince: Jared

Prince Jared becomes Prince of All Archenfield after his older brother, Prince Anders, is murdered. At sixteen, Jared knows that he is young and far too inexperienced to fill his late brother’s shoes. I think out of everyone, Jared is my favorite character. I found his struggles relatable and realistic. He’s a teenage boy thrown into a situation he doesn’t fully comprehend, who often makes adult decisions and has childish reactions. I empathized with him as he struggled to become a leader over the twelve, who seem to run the kingdom without much input (or interest) from the prince. As the story unfolded, Jared grew into a prince, learning how to be authoritative when the situation warranted, though he never lost his open-mindedness. Politically, he always had someone whispering in his ear. While I found some of his decisions frustrating, I understood the internal battle to make the right choices while giving the impression that he knew what he was doing.

 

The Beekeeper: Emelie

Emelie is a bit of an enigma to me. She has a scathing attitude though I don’t fully understand why. I’m hoping that, as the story was left open-ended, we will learn more of her story in upcoming novels.

 

The Bodyguard: Hal

The story sets the reader up to distrust Hal, who serves as bodyguard of the prince. In the opening scenes, we see Hal conspiring with Axel to murder the princes. I get the impression that Hal is a bit simple-minded, a “do what you’re told” kind of man. Though I knew I should distrust him, by the end of the story, I found myself warring between liking and disliking him as a character. He is very obedient to Jared and we never see him conspire with Axel again.

 

The Captain of the Guard: Axel

Axel is a well thought out character. As captain, Axel has access to the inner workings of the kingdom. He conducts all the investigations into the murders, and as I stated with Hal, we see him plotting early on to kill Jared. No matter what happened, I distrusted Axel, even when he had his redeeming moments. We know all along that he wants to be prince and is power hungry, no matter the consequences. I kept expecting him to make his move.

 

The Cook: Vera

Vera was not an exceptionally important character to the story. I didn’t get a good feeling for her guilt/innocence as it relates to twelve. She could go either way, I think.

 

The Executioner: Morgan

Morgan is an interesting character. As executioner, he’s a bit macabre. However, he has a close relationship with Jared’s mother, the queen. I get the impression that he is an honorable man, however his relationship with Elin (the queen) makes me question his loyalties.

 

The Falconer: Nova

The story starts with Nova. I found her mysterious and suspicious. She has strong opinions and for a while, I didn’t understand why. I enjoyed the imagery of her in the mews with her falcons. I hope to see more of her in future novels. There is one point I didn’t like regarding Nova, and that was her fast recovery. It felt too convenient.

 

The Groom: Lucas

The Huntsman: Kai

The Physician: Elias

The Priest: Father Simeon

 

The Poet: Logan

Early on, I found Logan untrustworthy. He seemed too smooth, too calculating, and he knew far too much. He had his hands in everyone’s business and constantly “advised” Jared as to what decisions to make. It frustrated me that he was a know it all, even when he seemed informed and conscientious.

 

The Woodsman: Jonas

I don’t remember Jonas. Not even a little.

 

The last character I want to talk about is Asta, who is the physician’s apprentice. She’s a fiery girl from the country who doesn’t know how to act appropriate at court. I found her endearing and feisty. Whenever there was a disaster (or a murder) Asta was all about it. She seemed to be a catalyst for a lot of the murders, even if she wasn’t directly involved. She left a trail of unintentional destruction with her inquiries into everyone’s lives.

 

I particularly enjoyed Asta’s relationship with Jared, as they were on the same level emotionally, even though their statuses are markedly different. They worked well as a team, and I think Asta kept Jared on the level when the princedom threatened to ruin his unjaded personality.

 

The Storyline:

The storytelling was intricate and detailed, woven together in ways I didn’t always expect. With so many characters that were fairly easy to keep straight, I think Somper did an excellent job of making everyone memorable with some degree of importance to the plot. Obviously, not all of the twelve were fully developed, and I hope there will be a sequel.

 

The mystery of who killed Prince Anders kept the story moving along. There wasn’t much fluff or detours from important information. There’s enough room to suspect everyone as guilty, and still enough of an open ending for me to STILL suspect some of the characters, despite the Clue-like ending. (It’s Miss Scarlet in the conservatory with the candlestick!) The ending was satisfying without being obvious, even if the execution was a bit forced.

 

I liked the shifting points of view, but at times felt there were too many and the story should’ve only been told from Jared and Asta’s points of view.

 

I’m left curious about Jared’s mother, the queen. She seems a bit shady, especially where Axel, Morgan, Silva, and Jared’s family history are involved. I want to know more about Morgan, Kai, Koel (cool name, by the way!), and the Priest. Also, we never find out HOW the murderer actually gets the poison to kill the prince.

 

The story is what’s getting this book 3.5 stars. It could’ve been 4 or even 4.5 if not for what’s below.

 

I almost quit reading Allies and Assassins within the first ten pages. I am by no means and expert, but I think the editor might’ve let down the author on several points. The first 50 or so pages contain so much passive voice that I spent most of my time editing them as I read. There were enough “could feel” “could see” and “could hears” to fill an entire notebook. Far too much telling and not enough showing. The extra words were annoying to get through, especially when clear, concise writing is so lauded these days. The passive voice made Jared seem disconnected from his body and distracted me. The story, at the beginning, wasn’t strong enough for me to overlook the writing, and had I not agreed to review this book, I would’ve put it down and never picked it back up. Had I done that, I would’ve missed out on Somper’s enjoyable storytelling.

 

In addition to the distracting passive voice, Somper used several “cliché” and modern phrases that didn’t fit his time period. “Plan A” “Precious cargo” “Automaton” “Brain cells” “Running on empty” “Jury’s out on that” just to name a few. These pulled me right out of the story and should’ve been flagged by an editor.

 

So really, I’m of two minds with Allies and Assassins. After the story caught my interest, it became easier for me to ignore the passive voice, and I think it tapered off farther into the story. However, it’s hard for me to recommend something, even when the storytelling is great, when the writing (mostly the editing) was subpar.

 

Bottom line? I will read the sequel if there is one, but I hope more care is taken to give Somper’s story the editing it deserves.

 

3.5 Stars