Originally, I wasn't drawn to this book. I'm not sure why. Maybe it was the cover that I'm not a huge fan of. Maybe it was the fact that David C. Cook...moreOriginally, I wasn't drawn to this book. I'm not sure why. Maybe it was the cover that I'm not a huge fan of. Maybe it was the fact that David C. Cook usually publishes nonfiction books like Francis Chan's Crazy Love and Forgotten God (which are both incredible, by the way!), so I wasn't sure what to expect from a YA time travel book released by them. Whatever the reason, I can't believe it held me back from such an amazing story! This is the epitome of readability, with tons of action, pretty knights with lots of chivalry, and a sweet romance to tie it all together.
The first thing that struck me about this book was how delicious all the historical aspects were. As I was reading, I wanted to get a megaphone and announce to every author who has ever written a time travel story or ever wanted to, "THIS IS HOW YOU WRITE ABOUT MODERN PEOPLE IN A HISTORICAL TIME PERIOD!" The historical characters talk different, act different, and have archaic ideas about things. That's what makes them historical. I loved how Gabi didn't judge the people. She didn't agree with their ideas about things (specifically, women's rights...or a lack thereof), but she realized that they had been raised with these notions and she wasn't going to change their minds by preaching her own agenda. It was refreshing on so many levels.
I also liked that Gabi and Lia face realistic struggles in the 1300s. Gabi is grossed out by the chamber pot, she is startled when people wipe their mouths on the table cloth, and she's terrified of getting an infection because she knows that it will most likely kill her. This aspect really gave the story a realistic aspect that I loved. Gabi was thinking exactly what I would have...except that she was able to look past the lack of bathing and dirtiness in a way I don't think I could have.
The relationships in this book are also great. Bergren managed to create lots of interesting characters, and I loved all of their interactions. I know Marcello is supposed to be the male lead, but I've got to say that I liked Fortino just as well. And I really liked how he became almost like a brother to Gabi, how she tried to help him get over his illness. Then there's Luca, who was making me laugh constantly. His reactions to things were priceless. And the fact that he swears he's in love with Lia before he even meets her was really funny, too.
Of course, the romance was pretty nice, too. I liked that Gabi and Marcello are both just nice people. Marcello has some ideas about gender roles that Gabi isn't too fond of, but she's able to look past them to see how good of a person he is. (Point for the nice guys!) I liked how honest he was about his feelings to Gabi. And I've got to say, besides the long hair, he sounded pretty hot. Bergren has this thing with describing the guys as very manly. I got the feeling that we're talking rough-and-tumble and lots of testosterone, as opposed to pretty boys. These are not your average YA heroes, but I think that has a lot to do with Bergren's past with adult historical romance books. I liked the diversity, though. As much as I like a boy with a pretty face, British accent, and bad attitude (*cough*Noah Shaw*cough*), I also like something different.
You can definitely tell that Bergren is a seasoned writer. This book is paced brilliantly. I was never bored. I repeat, never. Granted, there were a few scenes that I wish could have been longer, but that just kept me reading instead of getting frustrated, so I guess that was a good thing. She had me wanting more. I read this book in the span of 48 hours...in the midst of my finals. That should be testament enough of how addictive it is. And when I had finished it, I bought the second one that very second and started reading.
I know some people have said that what they didn't like about this book was that Marcello is engaged at the beginning and Gabi breaks up the couple. To which I would respond that Gabi never really did anything wrong. She goes out of her way not to get in the way, and she even tries to be nice to Lady Rossi. She never approaches Marcello. The only time that he cheated, he was the one that approached her. And he makes his choice then and there - he's going to break off the engagement. It would be different if he had been playing them both, but he doesn't. He realizes that he can't be with Lady Rossi and chooses Gabi. Nothing wrong with that!
And finally, I loved that this book is a Christian crossover. The religious themes are very minimal, which makes it great for a secular audience. But it still has a positive message, which I loved. It's completely clean, and I really liked that Gabi wrestles with the idea of fate/God's will with her being sent to Medieval Italy. Very thought-provoking!
Definitely pick this book up. Don't be dissuaded by the cover, which really isn't that great. And even if you're not religious, you'll still enjoy this book. It's not preachy. It's also really exciting and romantic and just all-around wonderful. One of my favorite books of 2011!(less)
Okay, I'm going to try my hardest to not sound like a crazy fangirl, but THIS BOOK IS SO GOOD! I read it straight off of finishing Waterfall, and I de...moreOkay, I'm going to try my hardest to not sound like a crazy fangirl, but THIS BOOK IS SO GOOD! I read it straight off of finishing Waterfall, and I devoured it. I was supposed to be studying for my finals, but I just couldn't tear myself away from this story. And as much as I liked Waterfall, Cascade is even better! The second book in a trilogy is usually the worst, but I've got to say that it's definitely my favorite.
Waterfall ends on a bit of a cliffhanger, with Gabi and Lia back in their own time. But have no fear, they return to the 1300s pretty quickly, but this time, they bring their mother. I really enjoyed this added family dynamic. It added a lot of depth to the story, I think. YA books so often forget the parents when parents are actually a huge part of teens' lives, so this was a great departure from the usual stereotype.
This was the most exciting book of the three for me. I just really loved the plot of this war between Firenze and Siena budding as a result of the She-Wolves. I also like the threat of the Rossis - are they for Siena, or are they double-crossers? There was a lot of political intrigue in this book, with great details of the famed craziness of Italian government. Gabi really comes into her own and steps into this in Cascade, and I loved watching her mature. She's grown a lot since the first chapter of Waterfall - really becoming an adult. And that's my favorite sort of YA story, watching a character's coming of age. Isn't that what YA is supposed to be?
The romance deepens in Cascade to a swoon-worthy level. There were so many scenes that I just loved the interplay between Gabi and Marcello. This boy is really in love! He's protective but not in a creepy way. He values her opinions. He respects her abilities as a warrior and a woman. Dare I say it, they have a HEALTHY relationship. I had thought that was completely impossible for a YA book; thank you, Lisa T. Bergren, for reinstating my faith in YA literature and its ability to portray healthy, realistic relationships.
But as much as I loved Gabi and Marcello, I loved Luca and Lia even more. *swoon* They were PRECIOUS! I love how she keeps asserting that she's not interested but everyone knows she is, how he's overtly flirty, and how well they go together. My only gribe with the series is actually that there are no chapters told from Lia's POV. There were moments when Lia and Luca would split off from Marcello and Gabi, and I wanted to follow them. Who cares about Gabi? What's happening with Lia?! I really wish the book had had alternating POVs between the two sisters. I think it would have gotten six or seven out of five stars from me if it had.
We're also introduced to a very interesting character in this book: Lord Greco. He's a bit confusing. If he's a bad guy, why is he so nice to Gabi? What is his connection to Marcello? And why is he so gosh darn attractive?! He becomes even more interesting in Torrent, but more on that in my review of that book...
Overall, this is an amazing follow-up! Bergren doesn't hold back the pain from her characters. Poor Gabi goes through hell, and one of my favorite characters comes down with plague. There are also a lot of great fight scenes, as per usual. Really, I think Bergren's strength is writing action. Sure, the romance and the character development is good, but she's got those battles DOWN. They're almost visual in nature - I could really picture them in my head. It had me thinking, "Wow, this would make a great movie!"
Definitely no sophomore slump here. This is how time travel books should be written!(less)
So I was seriously pumped to read this book. Cascade was one of my favorite reads of the year. Unfortunately, Torrent didn't quite live up to the firs...moreSo I was seriously pumped to read this book. Cascade was one of my favorite reads of the year. Unfortunately, Torrent didn't quite live up to the first two for me.
First, I have to tell you that I almost always don't like the last book in a series as well as the other ones. Examples:
1. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King 2. Mockingjay 3. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows 4. Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Last Olympian
And those are some of my all-time favorite series there, folks. I think it has to do with the mere fact that it's the last one, and I have a hard time saying goodbye. Needless to say, a finale to a series must blow the pants off me to be ranked as high as the other ones, and I felt like Torrent just wasn't as good. The overarching plot for the series had lost some steam, and I felt like Bergren was stringing us along at the end. The last battle should have been EPIC...but sadly, it was sorta short and measly.
Honestly, I feel like the climax comes at the beginning of the book. Gabi gets sent to Roma, kidnapped by the people of Firenze, to marry Lord Greco. Her trying to escape was the most exciting bit of the entire book, and I felt like it should have been the end of the series.
Also, there was NOT enough Lia and Luca in this book! Gabi was separated from everyone for quite a bit of the book, and then when she returned, she was wrapped up in Marcello. I know this book is supposed to be about Gabi and Marcello's story, but I just never found them quite as interesting as Lia and Luca, whose humor I greatly missed in Torrent.
Then there's the issue of the blurb mentioning The Black Plague. I was really hoping that we'd get to see lots of sick people, and there would be this threat of everyone dying of disease and all that jazz. Unfortunately, the Black Death is hardly mentioned in the book at all. Gabi and her family worry about it as something to come about in the future, but it's not really part of the main plotline. I was disappointed.
However, even with all my complaints, I couldn't deny that this is a really great book. The pacing was just ride, as per usual. The action was snappy, and Gabi is a good MC. The romance took a bit of a corny tone, but I could forgive it, especially with how Bergren dealt with marriage and sex and the maturity of deciding on settling down. Gabi deals with some pretty weighty topics as a 17-year-old, but this felt legit to me, as she's been thrust into a time when it was acceptable to be married at 15.
Bergren has said on her website that she would like to continue writing books in this series, telling Lia's story, but nothing has been contracted yet. I'm REALLY hoping that we get to read Tributary, the planned fourth book. I would pretty much die if I got to read about Lia and Luca from Lia's POV.(less)
Wow! This book was so much more than I was expecting. The cover makes you think it's going to be a light romance, and the synopsis doesn't really tell...moreWow! This book was so much more than I was expecting. The cover makes you think it's going to be a light romance, and the synopsis doesn't really tell you how serious the subject matter is or how much truth is spoken in the words of this story.
At its core, There You'll Find Me is about healing from past wounds. Hotel heiress Finley (love her name, by the way!) goes to Ireland two years after the death of her brother hoping to escape her home and party-girl reputation. She's been through therapy, but she's still grieving. I automatically liked Finley, first because of her spunk and later because I sympathized with her pain. She's a perfectionist and some of the things she does will really frustrate you. You even watch her control freak tendencies slowly screw up her life, and you want to reach into the book and shake her.
And while the romance was really quite sweet, it wasn't what made me love this book. Sure, Beckett was adorable and a really nice guy (so refreshing to see a nice love interest in a YA book!), and the fact that he's a teen movie vampire heart-throb was hysterical. There were so many connections between him and Robert Pattinson, I just loved it!
But what made this book go beyond a cute romance was the real issues that Jenny B. Jones deals with - depression, perfectionism, eating disorders, grief. While Finely is no longer outwardly grieving her brother, she's still hurting, and she channels her pain into outlets of her life than she feels she can control, like her weight. At first, I was a little concerned with the side comments about how much she was exercising and how little she was eating. I was afraid that the issue of an eating disorder would never come up, but that subtlety really won me over in the end. Finley's border-line anorexia is such a non-issue at the beginning of the book but blows up by the end, just like it does in real life.
There are a lot of books out there about similar subjects, but what separates this one from others is the faith that it's based in. There's hope found in this book. Finley begins her journey in Ireland totally disillusioned with God and her Christian faith; she thinks that just because she can't feel Him, He's not there, that He's taken a "lunch break" from her life. A huge part of her journey is realizing that she can't fix her life; only He can.
This break from traditional secular values in a YA book was incredibly refreshing! It's hard to find faith-based YA books. (Notable exceptions being The River of Time series by Lisa Tawn Bergren and the On The Runway series by Melody Carlson.) But I think even non-Christian teens will be able to relate to Finley and find truth in this story.
I highly recommend this to anyone looking for a positive, clean read or who enjoys emotionally captivating stories in sweet, romantic packages.(less)
I love Beth Moore, but this wasn't my favorite study of hers. Not to say that it's not good! Because it is. But for whatever reason, I didn't connect...moreI love Beth Moore, but this wasn't my favorite study of hers. Not to say that it's not good! Because it is. But for whatever reason, I didn't connect to this one as much as like, her study of Paul or Esther.(less)