Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The Bronze and the Brimstone by Lory S. Kaufman

     Hansum, Shamira and Lincoln, three teens from the 24th-century, are trapped in 14th-century Verona, Italy. They’ve survived many deadly experiences by keeping their wits about them and by introducing futuristic technology into the past. Principal among these inventions is the telescope, which brought them to the attention of the rich and powerful.      But standing out can get you into unexpected – situations. The nobles of Verona now believe Hansum is a savant, a genius inventor, especially after he brings them plans for advanced cannons and black powder. Being the center of attention is great, but the potential for trouble is now exponentially greater because people are watching Hansum’s every move.
     Meanwhile, artistic genius Shamira has fallen for a Florentine artist with bloody and disastrous consequences. Lincoln, considered an incompetent back home in the 24th-century, has blossomed – at least until he’s shot in the head with an arrow. And Hansum, after secretly marrying his new master’s beautiful daughter, Guilietta, is offered the hand in marriage of lady Beatrice, daughter of the ruler of Verona. To refuse could mean calamity for all the teens.
     Amazingly, none of this is their biggest challenge. Because a rash illness is spreading across Verona – and it is threatening to consume everyone.
--Taken from the back cover of The Bronze and the Brimstone

     As much as I enjoyed the last novel, I think that this one was even better. Normally I prefer the first of any series, books or movies, but Kaufman really came into his writing in this book. He is really able to throw the reader head-first into the story.
     It was easy for me to get right back into the world that was created in The Lens and the Looker. While the first book took me a bit to get interested, this one did not. I was on the edge of my seat for most of the novel. I loved how well it flowed and how many twists and turns there were!
     In addition to the great plot, there are fantastic characters. Kaufman is truly amazing at developing his characters into real people. They have their flaws, their strong points, and all of the worries that being alive means.
     Hansum really takes the lead throughout this novel. He is the one trying to make their situation work. More than anything, he is trying to make a life for himself in the fourteenth century. Pan becomes an invaluable resource for him as he begins his dealings with the Podesta, but it is Hansum who has to learn how to deal with a noble. He proves himself over the course of the book.
     Lincoln really grows up too. He takes on the responsibility of two little boys and basically becomes a big brother to them. It's so cute to see how they adore him. Of course, as much as he has grown up, Lincoln is still the funny kid from the first book. Nothing can stop him from his jokes.
     Shamira is just great. I wish I had her artistic skill. I know I've mentioned that, but it's still true. I love that she is strong willed. It really comes in handy, but I won't spoil that for you!
     Signora della Cappa, the Master's wife and Gulietta's mother, plays a much more integral part in this novel than in the last. At first, I was very skeptical about her. She seemed so loony and almost malicious. As I continued reading though, I realized that she really wasn't. It just took her longer to get used to people. By the end of the novel, I adored her.
      I got so caught up in The Bronze and the Brimstone that I stayed up past midnight to finish it, even though I had to get up early the next day. I just had to know what was going to happen! Goodness, my eyes teared up, but I had to keep reading! The book certainly did not end how I expected - which is a good thing. I find that I keep thinking about the ending, even though I'm in the midst of reading other books. I am eagerly awaiting the third installment!
     Rating: 10

*The fact that I received this book from the author did not influence my opinion of it in any way. This was my honest review.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Book Blogger Hop (June 24-27)

Book Blogger Hop     I've actually been able to get through several books in the past week or so. In comparison to my one book a month while school is in session, it feels lovely to be able to read that much again.

Question of the Week:
     When did you realize reading was your passion and a truly important part of your life?
     I suppose some time in elementary school. For as long as I can remember I've loved reading. My parents read to me when I was younger and bought me books or took me to the library. I can't really remember a time without books. In elementary school we went to the library every week as a class, and I spent my recesses there often times. I fell in love with all of the books and the discussions that they inspired.

     When did you finally embrace reading as a passion?

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The Lens and the Looker by Lory S. Kaufman

     It’s the 24th century and humans, with the help of artificial intelligences (A.I.s), have finally created the perfect post-dystopian society. To make equally perfect citizens for this world, the elders have created History Camps, full sized recreations of cities from Earth’s distant pasts. Here teens live the way their ancestors did, doing the same dirty jobs and experiencing the same degradations. History Camps teach youths not to repeat the mistakes that almost caused the planet to die. But not everything goes to plan.
     In this first of a trilogy, we meet three spoiled teens in the year 2347. Hansum almost 17, is good looking and athletic. Shamira, 15, is sassy, independent and an artistic genius. Lincoln, 14, is the smart-aleck. But you don’t have to scratch too far beneath the surface to find his insecurities.
     These three “hard cases” refuse the valuable lessons History Camps teach. But when they are kidnapped and taken back in time to 1347 Verona, Italy, they only have two choices; adapt to the harsh medieval ways or die. The dangers are many, their enemies are powerful, and safety is a long way away. It’s hardly the ideal environment to fall in love – but that’s exactly what happens. In an attempt to survive, the trio risks introducing technology from the future. It could save them – or it could change history.
-- Taken from the History Camp website

     I was beyond impressed with The Lens and the Looker. Kaufman did a wonderful job setting up the world of his story and creating dynamic characters. His writing really made the book what it is. Kaufman puts you in the story with ease through the language he uses; his style isn't what one would categorize as pedantic, but it does set the mood beautifully. Because the story takes place in Verona, Italy, you get a sense of the Italian language when he throws in a few words or when he uses words that were common from a time period of the past.
     My favorite thing about this novel was probably how well Kaufman managed to integrate all the minute parts of his story. There really was something for everyone (adventure, suspense, romance...) without any one aspect taking over.
     The characters in The Lens and the Looker were very easy for me to relate to. For the most part, they were down to earth and interesting.
     Shamira was my favorite. She has so many talents and she really seemed to accept her new circumstances. I loved how strong of a character she was. Throughout the novel, Shamira is one person that all of the others can count on. Even though she is from the 24th century, she fits in well with the 14th century just as well. Plus, who wouldn't want her amazing artistic skills?
     Lincoln and Hansum were great too. Lincoln was absolutely hilarious! I loved how he thought everything was "Zippy!" Hansum was cool because he was kind of the big brother sort. He, Lincoln, and Shamira weren't actually siblings, but Hansum did treat them as if they were some of the most important people in his life.
     By the end of the novel, all of the characters really grew into themselves. The Master was far deeper than he seemed at first (and far more of a softy than he liked to show). Guilietta proved that she wasn't just another pretty face. She was a great character. I loved her because of how caring she was.
     Mr. Kaufman is a Master Writer. He created a lovely cast of characters that just felt so... human. I have no doubt that The Bronze and the Brimstone will be a fabulous read as well!
     Rating: 7

*The fact that I received this book from the author did not influence my opinion of it in any way. This was my honest review.


Friday, June 10, 2011

Book Blogger Hop (June 10-13)

     It is officially summer for me (and has been for a couple of weeks), which means that I'll actually have time to read again! What a relief! Those bus rides simply were not long enough for me to get in all of the wonderful books I have been meaning to.
     It seems that I have quite a bit to catch up on. There are plenty of reviews I have yet to write, interviews I have been hoping to have,  and even a new hop-like event I was thinking of starting. If anyone is interested in participating in Summer Reading Sundays, please let me know through the comments or my email! More information will be forthcoming.
     Now, onto the hop!
Book Blogger Hop
Question of the Week:
     Who is the one author that you are dying to meet?
     Picking just one is extremely difficult... I suppose that Suzanne Collins is who I am absolutely dying to meet. Her writing is beautiful: eloquent at times, and very down to earth at others. It would be a dream come true to be able to discuss her novels with her!

     Who would you love to meet?