Tag Archives: rewind and review

Rewind and Review (7): Time Enough for Drums

14 Jul

Book cover for Time Enough for Drums by Ann RinaldiTime Enough for Drums

by Ann Rinaldi

(First published by Troll Communications on March 28, 1986)

Oh, baby! American Revolution! I love this shizz so hard guys, I don’t know that all of my nerding out could even convey the full breadth of my fascination with it. It’s just an amazing time to me. So when I was wandering around Goodreads, I happened upon some Ann Rinaldi books, and I soon discovered TIME ENOUGH FOR DRUMS, after it was strongly recommended to me by Tara from Hobbitses. I couldn’t get it from my library fast enough. Because friends? This book takes place in NEW JERSEY. WHERE I LIVE. It is set in places that still exist that I know. The county where I live is ON THE MAP. Yes, IT HAS A MAP. I can’t even right now. Basically, I knew I had to read it ASAP. 

Of course, there’s other things about TIME ENOUGH FOR DRUMS that are appealing to me. Jem, the main character, is plucky, trouble-making, and rebellious. She rarely does what she is supposed to do, and when she does, guys, she effing complains about it. This especially applies to her lessons with her Tory teacher, John. He’s a hottie, but an infuriating one for Jem. Most likely this is because Jem, her brothers, and her family are all Patriots who support US independence. John, a Brit, does not. Jem is always suspicious of why her parents tolerate him in their Trenton, NJ, home and why her brother, Daniel, is such good friends with him. But she feels what she feels, and she acts on those feelings. She’s a good, if sometimes foolish, character. After a short while, I was like, “SERIOUSLY, JEM?! You have NO IDEA what John is doing in your parent’s Patriot house?”

John was great character, too. He’s a good foil for Jem. As their relationship progressed, it seemed to happen quickly and was a little melodramatic sometimes, but I enjoyed it. The whole book was a little melodramatic on occasion, so the tone was consistent. Plus, while it seemed like cray drama to me, it was probably closer to the truth of the way things were for people living in Trenton in 1776 than anything else, and I can appreciate that. Some awful things happen to Jem’s family, and I felt for them all.

There was one aspect of the story that I wish had gotten a little more meat, and that was Jem’s uncle, whose name I cannot remember right now, who was of Native American heritage. (Her grandfather spent time during the French and Indian War with an Indian tribe, and had a baby with one of the women.) He shows up randomly, and Jem clearly has a fondness for him, but I couldn’t quite figure out what he was doing there. I would have liked more of him, or none at all.

Overall, there was one overarching thing I noticed while reading TIME ENOUGH FOR DRUMS. If you notice the publication date up top there, this book was released 26 years ago. It was clear from early on how much the quality of YA books has improved since then. I’m not saying that TIME ENOUGH FOR DRUMS is badly written. Not at all. I DEVOURED it. But it almost seemed to be making an assumption about the reader that YA books can’t really get away with anymore, and that is that young people can’t process involved plots, intricate stories, long books with solid world-building and foundations, etc. Things in TIME ENOUGH FOR DRUMS happen quickly, with months at a time being passed over. The book starts in 1776, but ends at Yorktown, where the British surrendered, which is in 1781. That’s a lot of time to cover in one, 250-page book. Hopefully you guys will read Ann Rinaldi‘s book soon and see what I mean. TIME ENOUGH FOR DRUMS was good, but I couldn’t help but wonder how much more gripping and emotionally fraught it would be if Ann Rinaldi had written it today, with today’s standards for young people’s literature.

The historical fiction nut in me enjoyed TIME ENOUGH FOR DRUMS but thought it could have been a teensy bit better. The Jersey girl in me DIED from awesome overload. The American Revolution nerd in me was fascinated as usual by the setting. The relationship between John and Jem was nice, but not nearly as swoony as relationships in YA are now. There are certainly lots of things to enjoy in Ann Rinaldi‘s book, though, and I’ll be sure to read some more of her work. She IS a Jersey girl herself, you know. Gotta show some hometown love.

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Rewind & Review is an AMAZING new meme hosted jointly by two fabulous ladies, Ginger from Greads! and Lisa from Lisa Is Busy Nerding. This meme is all about mining your TBR piles and finding some long-lost gems (from 2010 or earlier) that you meant to read and somehow passed over. I KNOW, but it happens. Each month, each participant picks a few oldies but hopefully goodies to read, reviews ’em, and spreads the word. Huzzah!

Rewind and Review: June

9 Jun

Rewind & Review is an AMAZING new meme hosted jointly by two fabulous ladies, Ginger from Greads! and Lisa from Lisa Is Busy Nerding. This meme is all about mining your TBR piles and finding some long-lost gems (from 2010 or earlier) that you meant to read and somehow passed over. I KNOW, but it happens. Each month, each participant picks a few oldies but hopefully goodies to read, reviews ’em, and spreads the word. Huzzah!

So you know what I’ve decided, friends? First of all, let me apologize for being a slacker with this month’s post. Been busy around here this past week! But that time also allowed me to come to grips with my ability to read three books a month for this awesome feature. So I’m knocking it down to two. THAT I can definitely do. Because I just had another month where I only reviewed ONE BOOK, to my everlasting shame, although it was a good one: THE EXILED QUEEN by Cinda Williams Chima. I suck a little bit, guys. But I can do two!! I CAN do it, and June will be the month. 

Book cover for Time Enough for Drums by Ann RinaldiBook cover for Shade by Jeri Smith-Ready

TIME ENOUGH FOR DRUMS sounds so much right up my alley, I can’t even tell you. And SHADE is a holdover that I now own and therefore have no excuse to not read. These books are going DOWN. 


Rewind and Review (6): The Exiled Queen

11 May

Book cover for The Exiled Queen by Cinda Williams ChimaThe Exiled Queen (Seven Realms #2)

by Cinda Williams Chima

(First published September 28, 2010 by Hyperion)

THE EXILED QUEEN by Cinda Williams Chima is some FINE fantasy, guys. I just recently read the first book in the Seven Realms series, THE DEMON KING, and loved it, so I wasn’t really surprised at all to find myself LOVING the second book just as much. Maybe more. In fact, I loved THE EXILED QUEEN so much that I could barely wait longer than a few hours before cracking open my ARC of the third book, THE GRAY WOLF THRONE, which I’ve also just finished. I am devouring this series, guys. It’s LEGIT. I’m both glad that I’m finally reading it and irritated that that I put it off for so long.

So, let’s get started off with a little recap, shall we? (OBLIGATORY SPOILER WARNING FOR THE DEMON KING. Seriously. Mad spoilers upcoming.) At the end of THE DEMON KING, Han and Dancer are heading off to the wizard school at Oden’s Ford at the behest of the clans, who are paying for their schooling in return for the two of them “agreeing” to work for the clans in the future. Han has also just found out that he is a descendent of Alger Waterlow, the Demon King himself yo, and that the amulet he stole from the Bayars was Waterlow’s. BOOM. Big things. 

Raisa is ALSO on her way to Oden’s Ford, all incognito style, to attend the military school there under the protection of her bff/maybe love/captain of her guard, Amon Byrne. She ran away the night of her nameday when Gavan Bayar tried to force her to marry his son, the tool Micah Bayar–forbidden though it may be for queens and wizards to marry–so that Micah might one day be king. SHADY BIZ, y’all, and Raisa gets the hell out of dodge before it can all go down. OH AND ALSO: Han still things Raisa is Rebecca, the girl he met in Ragmarket. Identity = MISTAKEN. 

Now that that’s out of the way, THE EXILED QUEEN begins, as you might be able to tell, on a road trip. Well, two road trips, as Han and Raisa et al. make their way separately to Oden’s Ford. The first half or so of the book details both of their journeys, where some SHIZZ goes down. But as much as I LOVE road trips–and Han and Raisa’s are both action-filled and important–the beginning dragged just the teensiest bit in some parts (obviously NOT the parts where the aforementioned SHIZZ was going down). Raisa is dealing with her burgeoning feelings for Amon, who is forbidden from ever being with the queen now that he has taken the official oath to be the head of her guard. (That oath is NO JOKE. Amon experiences physical pain and the occasional seizure when the two of them make out. SAD FACE.) And Han and Dancer meet one of Han’s old crewmates on the road, where they all promptly step in a pile of you-know-what, but everyone eventually makes it to Oden’s Ford in one piece.

I can only guess that some of the slower parts in the first half of THE EXILED QUEEN serve to introduce us to some new areas of the Seven Realms and to also set some things in motion for down the line, and I can always get behind that, guys, slow or not. I LOVE a well-placed set-up, friends. LOVE IT. 

It’s in Oden’s Ford where the bulk of the action in THE EXILED QUEEN takes place, though, and once we get there, the few slow moments from the first half dry up. Cinda Williams Chima really steps up the action and we see some great, emotional moments, juicy reveals, and awesome tension. Both of the political and romantic kinds. One of the things I love about the Seven Realms series is the way it melds both of those things to great effect. The politics are twisty and dangerous and multi-layered. The emotions are heightened and real. The romance is tense, dramatic, and fun, and the making out is HOT. But this series manages to make none of those things more important than the others. There’s GREAT balance, although I always personally find the scenes with Han and Raisa the most enjoyable. OBVS. They are SUCH great characters, with magnetic personalities and flaws, and they have the SPARXXX. I looooove the SPARXXX. 

Guys, there’s lots that goes on in THE EXILED QUEEN by Cinda Williams Chima. I know I spoiled THE DEMON KING up top there, but I don’t want to spoil this book for you, obviously. Because even when we spend a solid half to two-thirds of the story in one place, THINGS are always happening, moving the story along, raising the stakes for Han and Raisa and their friends and enemies. Keeping everyone on their toes. And the end is basically awesome, raising the stakes AGAIN. I know that it’s going to have far-reaching ramifications, and I can’t wait to see where Cinda Williams Chima goes with everything. If you love great fantasy, you should not let this series linger too long on your shelves, guys. It’s a winner. 

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Rewind & Review is an AMAZING new meme hosted jointly by two fabulous ladies, Ginger from Greads! and Lisa from Lisa Is Busy Nerding. This meme is all about mining your TBR piles and finding some long-lost gems (from 2010 or earlier) that you meant to read and somehow passed over. I KNOW, but it happens. Each month, each participant picks a few oldies but hopefully goodies to read, reviews ’em, and spreads the word. Huzzah!

Rewind and Review: May

3 May

Rewind & Review is an AMAZING new meme hosted jointly by two fabulous ladies, Ginger from Greads! and Lisa from Lisa Is Busy Nerding. This meme is all about mining your TBR piles and finding some long-lost gems (from 2010 or earlier) that you meant to read and somehow passed over. I KNOW, but it happens. Each month, each participant picks a few oldies but hopefully goodies to read, reviews ’em, and spreads the word. Huzzah!

Guys, I have consistently managed to underperform for this meme each month. I always pick three books, I always wind up reading LESS than three, and I always wind up switching one book for another all sneaky-like in the middle of the month. SIGH. BUT! I am definitely mining my pile, and that makes me crazy happy! In April, I reviewed I’D TELL YOU I LOVE YOU, BUT THEN I’D HAVE TO KILL YOU by Ally Carter and…that’s it. I told you. UNDERPERFORMED. In fact, I had no idea I only reviewed this one book until just today. I could’ve SWORN there was another one. Alas. I WILL be better next month, guys. I SWEAR. (In my defense, AN ABUNDANCE OF KATHERINES was checked out of my library for most of this month, so….)

Book cover for The Exiled Queen by Cinda Williams ChimaBook cover for An Abundance of Katherines by John GreenBook cover for Shade by Jeri Smith-Ready

THE EXILED QUEEN is chilling in a pile right now, waiting for me, Katherines is on hold at the library, and SHADE–because I’ve been hearing TONS of love for these books now that the third in this trilogy is out–is coming to me courtesy of le wallet because my library doesn’t have them (for shame!)

May, I will crush you. 

Rewind and Review (5): I’d Tell You I Love You, But Then I’d Have to Kill You

26 Apr

Book cover for I'd Tell You I Love You, But Then I'd Have to Kill You by Ally CarterI’d Tell You I Love You, But Then I’d Have to Kill You (Gallagher Girls #1)

by Ally Carter

(First published April 6, 2006 by Hyperion)

I’ve been a fan of Ally Carter’s other series, Heist Society, for a little while now, mostly because I have a thing for thieves and professional criminals. There’s something SO EXCITING and dangerous and engaging about them. But I’ve also always loved spies–Alias was one of my favorite TV shows when it was on–for pretty much the same reasons. I think it’s amusing, actually, because both spies and thieves seem to exist outside of the law a little bit, in different ways, though. Or maybe it’s that they’re both trying to keep secrets that draws me to them. Whatever it is, I’d been wanting to read Ally Carter’s Gallagher Girls series for awhile, and this fabulous Rewind & Review meme gave me the opening I needed! THANK YOU, REWIND & REVIEW. 

I’D TELL YOU I LOVE YOU, BUT THEN I’D HAVE TO KILL YOU was lots of fun, guys. Cammie Morgan is a student at the all-girls Gallagher Academy in Nowhereseville, Virginia. The residents of the small town think that Gallagher is a super-exclusive reform school for screw-up girls. What the townspeople DON’T know is that Gallagher is actually a major, highly secretive school for the training of spies. BOOM. Cammie’s mom is the director, and also a spy. Cammie’s education at Gallagher, which is ramping up now that she and her friends are old enough to start taking Covert Ops classes, as well as Gallagher’s secret front are put in jeopardy when Cammie meets a boy from town who strikes her fancy. Action and sekrets follow!

So the thing I loved the most about I’D TELL YOU I LOVE YOU, BUT THEN I’D HAVE TO KILL YOU is the hardcore spy stuff. The little snippets of crazy spy equipment that graduates and staff at Gallagher have invented or are in charge of, the pointers and things that Cammie and her friends learn in Covert Ops class, like how to find out things by looking through trash. All that nerdy, secret passageway, having dinner conversations in Farsi so that the students will be fluent in tons of CRAZY languages stuff just pushed all of my geek buttons. Maybe that sounds like a small thing to appreciate the most in Ally Carter’s book, but there you have it. 

I don’t mean to give Cammie and the other characters short shrift, though. Because they’re awesome in their own ways. Cammie is smart and strong and wants to be able to experience a little bit of normal life. She sometimes was a little flat to me, but only sometimes. Josh, the love interest, is cute and sweet. It’s easy to see why Cammie is attracted to him. Not the swooniest guy, but adorable. And since we’re talking about Cammie and Josh, one of my constant gripes about Ally Carter’s books is the lack of kissing/serious swoonworthy moments. They just aren’t here, and I missed them a little bit in I’D TELL YOU I LOVE YOU, BUT THEN I’D HAVE TO KILL YOU. 

The rest of the characters were great, too. I LOVED Bex and Liz, Cammie’s best friends. And Macey, I can already tell, is going to be awesome. I loved all their personalities and their strengths. They all complement each other so well. The Covert Ops teacher is a total fox who is definitely keeping some awesome secrets that I can’t wait to hear about. The supporting characters in I’D TELL YOU I LOVE YOU, BUT THEN I’D HAVE TO KILL YOU were all great. 

Ally Carter’s first Gallagher Girls book was a fun, quick, really enjoyable story about a young spy who just wants to have a normal relationship with a cute boy. Alas, spies can’t seem to do anything normal, as evidenced by the fact that Cammie and her friends turn her dates with Josh into Covert Ops assignments. To be honest, this was clever for sure, but it sometimes made Cammie and Josh’s relationship seem a little dry. (You know, when they call him The Subject and her The Operative. Not so many butterflies.) But there’s some really great stuff coming up, I think. The ending was action-packed, and it opened LOTS of cans of worms, so I know that the drama isn’t going to let up! Woot!  

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Rewind & Review is an AMAZING new meme hosted jointly by two fabulous ladies, Ginger from Greads! and Lisa from Lisa Is Busy Nerding. This meme is all about mining your TBR piles and finding some long-lost gems (from 2010 or earlier) that you meant to read and somehow passed over. I KNOW, but it happens. Each month, each participant picks a few oldies but hopefully goodies to read, reviews ’em, and spreads the word. Huzzah!