Book Review: Deluge

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Title: Deluge [River of Time 5]

Author: Lisa T. Bergren

Genre: Science Fiction, Time Travel, Young Adult, Historical, Romance, Fantasy

Rating: 4 (3.5) Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

The Bettarinis and Forellis have found rich fulfillment together in medieval Italia. But after fighting off countless enemies, they now must face the worst foe of all. As the Black Death closes in upon them, threatening everything and everyone they hold dear, Lia and Gabi–and the knights they love–must dig deep within to decide how they might remain safe…and if they need to risk it all in order to truly live as they’re called.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

It’s hard to qualify my feelings about Deluge by Lisa T. Bergren. Like its predecessors, the narrative was clean, easy to follow, and well written. There weren’t any noticeable editing problems, and the characters stayed true to previous characterizations. Also, just as with the previous novels in the series, the plot was filled with tension-filled battles, romantic moments, and tragedy.

The first half of the book passed by in a blur as I was sucked in to the chaotic world of Gabriella and Evangelia Bettarini’s adventures in the 1300’s. After the two novellas of Bourne & Tributary that made up book 4 of the series, I was glad to get back to a longer novel-length story, and Deluge didn’t disappoint. I wasn’t thrilled with the continuing of the POV switches between Lia and Gabi, but I grew used to the switching POV’s (even if I still hold that Lia and Gabi’s inner voices are extremely similar).

Unfortunately, the second half of the book was a bit harder for me to enjoy. There is a lot of tragedy and death in this book—far more than with the previous books in the series, and I’ll admit, it made it a little less enjoyable for me.  As interested as I was in the events taking place… as much as I wanted to know what would become of the Bettarinis and Forellis… by the time I hit the end of the book, I was ready for it to end. With the exception of the short epilogue (that frankly, felt needless to me) the ending of this story was not a happy one. It left me feeling somewhat depressed, and that made the novel hard to enjoy as a whole.  Don’t get me wrong – the book was good… but I don’t know that I can say that I enjoyed it. I really wish the story had picked up more in the end, and that it hadn’t been left hanging in the darkest of times for Lia and Gabi.

Overall, I’m glad I read it. It felt like a pretty solid ending to the River of Time series… but I don’t think it was the ending I was looking for to this wonderfully imaginative and thrilling series. The last quarter of the book sucked all the enjoyment out of it for me. Would I read it again? Maybe. There were some really great moments for Lia in particular that I’m glad I got to see. Would I recommend it? Sure. If you’ve been keeping up with the series, this is a solid end, and you’ll probably be glad you read it. I’m sure there are a vast amount of readers out there that will love this book far more than I did… it’s just that the weight of the tragedy held within the ending was a little much for me to slog through. What can I say? I prefer happy endings, and this wasn’t much of one. I still highly recommend the series, and I think the first three books in particular are remarkably well done. I’ve given this 4 stars because despite my feelings about the ending, the book was well done. I think given a day or two to get out of the depressed funk this book left me in, I’d probably give it a pretty solid 4, no question.

Book Review: Bourne & Tributary

review-cover-bourne and tributaryTitle: Bourne & Tributary [River of Time 4]

Author: Lisa T. Bergren

Genre: Historical, Romance, Young Adult, Science Fiction, Time Travel

Rating: 3 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

BOURNE, a novella, picks up right where TORRENT left off…Find out what has happened to men returning from the battle, gravely wounded, to the Betarrinis, fighting for the men they love, and just who is hunting them next…

TRIBUTARY, a novella, picks up a year after BOURNE… Lia struggles to overcome the fear that constant battle has heaped upon her; Gabi and Marcello face an unexpected crisis; and Lord Greco just may be ready to leave the grief and loss of his past behind him, so that he might grab hold of the future…

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

It’s a bit hard to qualify how I feel about Bourne & Tributary by Lisa T. Bergren. Unlike the previous three novels in the series, This, the fourth, is not a true novel, but an anthology containing two shorter novellas. Also, unlike the previous three novels, instead of following Gabi’s POV throughout the story, the viewpoints switch back and forth between a handful of characters, most notably Gabi’s younger sister, Lia.

On the one hand, it was interesting to see other POV’s this time around, and like the previous books, the writing was clear, easy to follow, and grammatically correct. On the other hand, I missed Gabi’s comfortable POV. I was used to Gabi, and being switched into different POV’s was a bit distracting. Unfortunately, Lia’s POV (which was the most often used) was extremely similar to that of Gabi’s. If I hadn’t know better, I would have thought them the same person… and that isn’t a good thing. I would have preferred the different viewpoints been more individual.

That aside, the stories were good, if short. Like the previous books in the series, Bourne & Tributary had elements of romance, adventure, and thrilling intrigue and battles. That said, I still wish there had been more to them. The conclusions to the stories seemed rushed, and I didn’t feel connected to any of the new viewpoints. In the end, the stories were so different than what I was used to with the previous novels that I found it hard to be drawn into the stories. The writing was good, the characters were my usual favorites… the elements of the story were there—but these two novellas didn’t draw me in. They didn’t feel like part of the series I’ve grown to love.

Overall, this was a decent addition to the River of Time series… but I could have done with out them. I wish this had been a true fourth book and not a set of novellas. They weren’t bad stories, but they weren’t what I was expecting, and in the end I didn’t like them as much as I’d hoped.  If you’ve been keeping up with this series, I’d certainly recommend that you give these novellas a look, but other than one major announcement, you aren’t going to miss anything by skipping them.

Book Review: Torrent

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Title: Torrent [River of Time 3]

Author: Lisa T. Bergren

Genre: Science Fiction, Time Travel, Historical, Young Adult, Romance, Fantasy

Rating: 5 Stars (4.5)

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Description/Synopsis:

Gabriella and Evangelia Betarrini are just two normal American teenagers. Normal except for the fact that they time travel to fourteenth-century Italy, where they’ve lived in castles they’ve seen as crumbling ruins, become swept up in historic battles, and fallen in love with handsome knights willing to do anything to keep them alive.

            They’ve returned to the present to save their father, just short of his tragic death, and now all four return to the place that holds the girls’ hearts, medieval Italy. But remaining there means facing great risk as the battle for territory wages on and the coming Black Plague looms. Can they convince their parents to stay and leave behind everything they’ve worked so hard to accomplish? And will the girls sacrifice their futures in an uncertain past? Or in facing death head-on, will they discover life as it was always meant to be lived?

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

I think out of the first three books to this series, Torrent is my least favorite—but that still isn’t enough for me to dock it a star. Like the previous books in the series, the editing has some teeth-grinding moments. There are punctuation and capitalization errors, and not all of the historical facts are correct. Sometimes things went a little too easily for Gabi, and a few characters seemed to be thrown in for the hell of it. The time travel logic was full of holes, and made me cringe.

To be honest, I wasn’t a fan of Gabi’s dad. He didn’t have much impact on the story in the long run, and most of the time I couldn’t help but feel that I should be waiting for him to breakdown. He got sucked back through time with his family that is spontaneously several years older than the last time he saw them… but after his brief initial reaction… he just gets over it. I was expecting more conflict surrounding him that never came.

Other characters, such as Rodolfo, didn’t play as big a part in the story as I had expected. At first, it felt as if Rodolfo was going to create a bit of a love triangle between the main characters. There was a hint of it—just a little—but then he too stepped to the sidelines and let Gabi and Marcello have their way. It was a little too easy. I wish there had been more conflict there.

Those points aside, I genuinely enjoyed the book. Like the first two books in the series, the narrative was action-packed, full of daring adventures, battles, tragedy, and heart-warming moments of love.  I literally squealed in delight a few times. Despite all the negative things I could nitpick about this book, and this series, none of it matters in the long run. The book is so well put together, and the characters so vivid and well-written that it is hard to let the little negatives get to me. I loved the story despite it’s problems, and that’s a sure sign of a great book.

Would I recommend this book? Yes. Definitely. Would I read it again? In a heartbeat.  If you enjoy YA fiction, you’ll love this series. I’m honestly anxious to move on to the next two books. I can’t wait to see what happens!

Book Review: Cascade

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Title: Cascade [River of time 2]

Author: Lisa T. Bergren

Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Time Travel, Historical, Romance, Fantasy

Rating: 5 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

Gabi knows she’s left her heart in the fourteenth century and she persuades Lia to help her to return, even though they know doing so will risk their very lives. When they arrive, weeks have passed and all of Siena longs to celebrate the heroines who turned the tide in the battle against Florence—while the Florentines will go to great lengths to see them dead.

But Marcello patiently awaits, and Gabi must decide if she’s willing to leave her family behind for good in order to give her heart to him forever.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

I have fallen in love with this series. In the matter of two days I’ve read the first three books, and I am seriously dismayed by the fact that I do not yet own the last two books in the series. It’s that good.  Don’t get me wrong, there are problems held within this book. The editing wasn’t done as well as it could have… there are punctuation/capitalization errors, and quite a few historical “facts” that are simply not accurate. That being said, this is a YA novel, and I’m willing to give it some leeway—because after all, it is fictional. Despite these little tidbits of error that often induce teeth-grinding on my part, the novel is will written. The narrative is incredibly engaging, well paced, and does what the narrative of a good book should do: it disappears into the background. I felt sucked in, and it wasn’t until I saw the tell-tale glimpse of the last paragraph that I came up for air. I did not want my foray into Ms. Bergren’s world to end.

Like it’s predecessor, Cascade was filled with daring escapes, heart wrenching tragedy, heart warming romance, and jaw-dropping battles. There was so much conflict and thrilling adventure contained within its pages that it felt like I hardly had a chance to breathe… and I loved every minute of it. The characters of this series are so well-voiced that I can’t help but feel that I too am one of their comrades at arms. In so many books I read it is impossible to tell one character from another. Often, I can’t even keep track of which character belongs to which name… there was none of that here. Each character is an individual and full of personality and depth.  The world building was rich and vibrant, and contained an ever-present edge of danger that made me feel like I couldn’t let my guard down. Even when it seemed like things were going well, I knew that the well-won peace for the characters would soon come to an end.

This is a fantastic series for young adults, and I’m personally going to induct the entire series onto my to-keep shelf. I would happily recommend it to anyone who enjoys YA fiction. There is a lot of blood, gore, and war in it’s pages, but romance-wise, the story is clean. I believe the more mature elements of the story were respectfully done, and I wouldn’t have a problem recommending it to any young teen. This is a strong second book, and I can’t wait to finish the series!

Book Review: Waterfall

review-cover-waterfallTitle: Waterfall [River of Time 1]

Author: Lisa T. Bergren

Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Time Travel, Historical, Fantasy, Romance

Rating: 5 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

Most American teenagers want a vacation in Italy, but the Betarrini sisters have spent every summer of their lives among the romantic hills with their archaeologist parents. Stuck among the rubble of the medieval castles in rural Tuscany, on yet another hot, dusty archaeological site, Gabi and Lia are bored out of their minds…until Gabi places her hand atop a handprint in an ancient tomb and finds herself in fourteenth-century Italy. And worse yet, in the middle of a fierce battle between knights of two opposing forces.

Suddenly Gabi’s summer in Italy is much, much more interesting.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

I wasn’t entirely sure what I was getting into when I picked up Waterfall by Lisa T. Bergren. I knew it was a YA, Time Travel book, and I’d read a few 1-3 star reviews (as is my habit. I want to know the bad points of a novel before I get into it)… but my hopes for the book weren’t particularly high.

Let me preface this review by saying: The cover has nothing to do with the book, and neither does the title. There are no waterfalls in this book, and no glowing doorways. Zip. Nada—and honestly… who cares? This book was fan-freaking-tastic. Waterfall is the story of two girls, sisters, who inadvertently time travel back seven hundred plus years into the Dark Ages. Separated and unsure of how to get home, Gabriella (the older of the two sisters) attempts to blend in with the new world around her, and finds herself caught between two factions of the war-torn countryside. War, Politics, arranged marriages… Gabi can’t seem to avoid any of it, and all she really wants is to find her sister, Lia, and return to their own time. She doesn’t know that she’s about to fall head-over-heals for the dashing (and already taken), Marcello.

There were a few aspects of this story that weren’t ideal. It was a little convenient that Gabi spoke both Latin, French, and ancient Italian, and was handy with a sword. Also, despite no evidence to support her claims, she had little trouble claiming to be a Lady of Normandy. I couldn’t help but feel that things sometimes fell into place a little too easily for the teen, but considering this book was written for the YA crowd, I’m hesitant to dock it points. Whatever negative aspects there were to the story, they were eclipsed by the positive.

This story was filled with daring sword battles, nefarious trickery, political drama, heart-stopping romance, and hilarious teen hijinks set against the gorgeous backdrop of ancient Italy. The world building was wonderfully done, and the characters were full of personality and depth. The little asides of modern-day slang and sensibilities made Gabi a witty and unforgettable character. I found myself sucked into the story from the very beginning, and even laughed aloud on several occasions. When the last page was turned, I literally clutched my hand to my chest and stared at my kindle, horrified. I didn’t want it to end.

I can’t wait to read the rest of the series, and I’m appalled to discover that there’s two books in the 5-book series that I don’t own yet. That will be remedied immediately. I would gladly recommend this to anyone who enjoys YA fiction, and I will certainly be continuing on with the series.