Book Review: Torrent by Lisa T. Bergren

9935444Title: Torrent
Author: Lisa T. Bergren
Series: River of Time #3
ISBN: 978-1434764294
Publisher: David C. Cook
Pub. Date: September 2011
Source: Publisher/Author
Genre: YA/Historical Fiction/ Historical Romance/Christian Fiction
Pages: 388
Rating:  5/5

From Goodreads:  When Gabi and Lia finally learn to surf the river of time, they realize they must make hard choices about life and love in the third and final book in the River of Time series. 

Gabi and Lia Betarrini have learned to control their time travel, and they return from medieval Italy to save their father from his tragic death in modern times. But love calls across the centuries, and the girls are determined to return forever—even though they know the Black Plague is advancing across Europe, claiming the lives of one-third of the population. In the suspenseful conclusion of the River of Time series, every decision is about life … and death.

My Reveries and Ramblings:  Right now, there are 2 types of people in the world: 1) those who have read The River of Time series and 2) those who have never read it. If you are in that second group, then please do, these books are epic.

(SPOILER ALERT=some spoilers)
Okay, now for those of you in that first group, get ready to feel like you will burst from all of the emotional energy you will have while reading this book. It is pure epicness.
Even though the central goal in the beginning is to get Fortino back. That is just a small battle in the whole war. Actually this book made me realize how big this really was. In Waterfall, we aren’t really aware of just how high the stakes are raised, everything is tense, but life does go on. In Cascade, we are made aware of the waging war, but it still doesn’t hit us. It’s not until book three, Torrent, that we fully acknowledge the scale.
In Waterfall, Gabi is brought into the past, unprepared, and even a bit naive (not much though). Throughout Waterfall and Cascade she learns that in order to survive and protect the ones she loves, she has to make choices and sacrifices. Almost every one of them are not easy. Most are dangerous and life threatening. But through all these experiences she learns that life is short, and is meant to be lived. Gabi is tested, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. In Torrent, Gabi starts to feel the stress from everything she has done. All the exertion, all the fighting, everything pushes her to her limits.
What I love most about this series is Ms. Bergren’s ability to really pull the reader into the book. Every chapter had me screaming, crying, smiling, and jumping out of my seat. I started this book while on a plane and I think the kid sitting next to me thought I was crazy. I was so into this book that I completely forgot where I was and started tearing up, making exclamations out loud, and moving around in my seat when the energy from all the suspense was too much to take sitting still. There were so many of these moments throughout the book, that it never lags. The pace is perfect!
Another reason why I love this series, is the characters. All the characters grow and change throughout the books. As a reader, we are only keyed into Gabi’s thoughts and feelings. Like every normal teenager, she is constantly questioning everything: her faith, her relationships, her morals, etc. Ms. Bergren takes the reader on the adventure with Gabi, which is so cool!
The Plot: Ms. Bergren doesn’t disappoint at all. After reading Waterfall, I had no clue how Cascade would hold up. Well, it exceeded all my expectations and more. Then, I began to feel the same about Torrent. How would this epic series end? With a bang? Or with disappointment? I was seriously hoping to love the ending. And….I DID! I was constantly left guessing what would happen next; Torrent was completely unpredictable. In fact, when books get too suspenseful, I usually end up sneaking a peak at the end (please don’t yell at me!). It took everything, and I mean everything, I had not to do this. I love this series too much, to ruin it for myself.
The action, was a huge bonus in this book. Seriously, it is action-packed up until the very end. I’m not exaggerating. Just when you think its all over, its not. Which is GREAT!
Now onto our swoon-worthy heroes.
Dear Marcello, ahhh, my love. I love him! I do, but about half-way through, I decided to accept the fact that Marcello and Gabi were made for each other. So my sights moved onto Greco. Oh My Gosh! Lord Greco is now my favorite swoon-worthy Italian man in this series. He completely shocked me with his loyalty. I didn’t really like him in Cascade, but I loved him in Torrent. And now I’m gushing just thinking about him. Ahhh.
Ms. Bergren, you are my hero! I love this series. In fact, the second I finished Torrent, I said “This series is better than Twilight!” (Please Twi-hards, don’t kill me!) I love Twilight, but the writing, plot, characters, and setting of The River of Time series were all so much better. This series is definitely one of my favorite series EVER. I can’t recommend this these books enough! It deserves 5 BILLION Kisses!

BIG Thank-you to Ms. Bergren and David C. Cook for giving me an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review!

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Torrent (River of Time, #3)

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Book Review: Waterfall by Lisa Tawn Bergren

Title: Waterfall
Author: Lisa Tawn Bergren
Series: Rivers of Time #1
ISBN: 1434764338
Publisher: David C. Cook
Pub. Date: February 2011
Source: Kindle/Paperback
Genre: Christian Fiction/ YA/Historical Fiction/Time Travel/Romance
Pages:  384
Rating:  5/5

From Goodreads: Lisa Tawn Bergren’s new YA series, River of Time, is romantic, historical fiction in which the plucky heroine doesn’t have to fear a vampire’s bite but must still fight for her life. 

In Waterfall, American teenager Gabi Betarrini accidently finds herself in sixteenth-century Italy . . . Knights. Swords. Horses. Armor. And Italian hotties. Most American teens want an Italian vacation, but the Betarrini sisters have spent every summer of their lives there with their archaeologist parents. Stuck on yet another hot, dusty dig, they are bored out of their minds… until they place their hands atop handprints in an ancient tomb and find themselves catapulted into the sixteenth-century—and in the middle of a fierce battle between knights bent on killing one another.

My Reveries and Ramblings:  Oh.  Emmmm.  GEEEE!!! I can’t even begin to describe how much I loved this book.  I’m not a huge fan of Christian literature-mostly because I usually get the author-stuffing-it-down-my-throat feeling which can be overwhelming.  Well, not this one.  I didn’t even know it was Christian literature until I went online to the author’s website.
Waterfall is about twin teenaged girls, Lia and Gabi getting pulled back in time to medieval Italy.  They become separated during their time traveling.  The book follows Gabi and her quest to find her sister.  After getting caught and rescued in the middle of a battle by super hot Marcello and his men, Gabi is taken under the protection of the Forelli’s.  Gabi, being from the future, doesn’t realize that by wearing her hair down, preferring to wear pants, using her sword, and being outspoken, everyone labels her unusual.  After telling a few lies, almost everyone accepts her as a “Norman.”  Well, everyone except Marcello’s fiancé, daughter of one of Sienna’s Nine.  All Gabi wants is to go home with her sister, but a war between the Forelli’s and the Paratore’s has placed them right in the middle. Now she and Lia’s survival, as well as the Forelli’s depends on Gabi.
Gabi’s is such a great role model.  She is so confident and is not afraid to be herself.  Even in medieval Italy, where women were seen and not heard, Gabi refuses to be the weak damsel in distress.  Instead of sitting in the castle while the men fight and try to find her sister.  She takes her sword and goes out with them- though they do try to talk her out of it.  Her bravery and confidence attract Marcello.  He embodies the Italian male.  Nothing like a hot Italian man to make one double take.  Too bad he is already engaged.  His fiancé is a piece of work.  Her character is like the popular you-know-what (begins with a B) you can find in every high school.  She gives Gabi hell throughout the book.  She is truly nasty.  What she does (I won’t give any spoilers) at one point in  the book is just unbelievably terrible.  Lia, Gabi’s twin, annoyed me.  She was a loving sister, but still, she could have been more supportive of Gabi and her relationship with Marcello.  I thought it was too cute how Luca liked Lia.  His reaction to Lia when they first met was adorable.
Bergren explores sibling relationships in Waterfall.  Gabi’s relationship with Lia reminded me of my own relationship with my sister.  My sister and I look and act like twins but we are two years apart.  Gabi does everything she can, risking her own life several times to find her sister.  Marcello’s relationship with his brother is also carefully written.  Marcello is the younger brother and he has no interest in inheriting his father’s title even though his older brother is very sick and not expected to live much longer.
I love love LOVE LOVE LOVE L.O.V.E.D. this book.  I was giddy the entire night I read it.  You’d have to pry my dead fingers off this book to get me to put it down- and even then, I’d come back and haunt you for taking it away.  That is how obsessed I am with this book.  The adventure was amazing.  The romance was beautiful.  The setting, Italy, was gorgeous.  The characters were real.  The action was riveting.  Everything in this book was perfect. There was even a twist at the end, which left me screaming for more.  I read Waterfall three times within a 24 hour period.  I couldn’t get enough of Marcello.  All I wanted to do was go into the book and be Gabi.  If only time travel was possible.  This book not only exceeded my expectations, but it has become one of my favorite books.  READ IT!  The next book in the series, Cascade, doesn’t come out until June.  That is too far away.  The last time I got the I-must-read-the-next-book-NOW feeling was after reading Dreamfever.  Waterfall is an action-packed adventure story that takes you back in time with a kick-butt heroine, her sister, and a whole lotta handsome Italian men.  My recommendation:  find a good quiet space without anyone to bother you for a good chunk of time because once you start the book, you won’t be able to put it down until you finish…ANNNDDD then you’ll be throwing a tantrum because you have to wait until JUNE for the sequel, Cascade.

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Waterfall (River of Time, #1)

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Book Review: Juliet by Anne Fortier

Title: Juliet
Author: Anne Fortier
ISBN:  978-0345516107
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Pub. Date: 2010
Source: Library
Genre: Historical Fiction/Romance/Mystery/Treasure Hunting/Shakespeare
Pages:  464
Rating:  5/5

From Goodreads: Twenty-five-year-old Julie Jacobs is heartbroken over the death of her beloved aunt Rose. But the shock goes even deeper when she learns that the woman who has been like a mother to her has left her entire estate to Julie’s twin sister. The only thing Julie receives is a key—one carried by her mother on the day she herself died—to a safety-deposit box in Siena, Italy.

This key sends Julie on a journey that will change her life forever—a journey into the troubled past of her ancestor Giulietta Tolomei. In 1340, still reeling from the slaughter of her parents, Giulietta was smuggled into Siena, where she met a young man named Romeo. Their ill-fated love turned medieval Siena upside-down and went on to inspire generations of poets and artists, the story reaching its pinnacle in Shakespeare’s famous tragedy.
But six centuries have a way of catching up to the present, and Julie gradually begins to discover that here, in this ancient city, the past and present are hard to tell apart. The deeper she delves into the history of Romeo and Giulietta, and the closer she gets to the treasure they allegedly left behind, the greater the danger surrounding her—superstitions, ancient hostilities, and personal vendettas. As Julie crosses paths with the descendants of the families involved in the unforgettable blood feud, she begins to fear that the notorious curse—“A plague on both your houses!”—is still at work, and that she is destined to be its next target. Only someone like Romeo, it seems, could save her from this dreaded fate, but his story ended long ago. Or did it?
From Anne Fortier comes a sweeping, beautifully written novel of intrigue and identity, of love and legacy, as a young woman discovers that her own fate is irrevocably tied—for better or worse—to literature’s greatest star-crossed lovers.

My Reveries and Ramblings: I had seen this book on B&N’s coming soon page and had to get it as soon as it was released-which I did at the end of August 2010.  This book brought me into a month long obsession with Italy.  I grilled my parents for days about our family which came from Italy.  I was secretly hoping that there was some sort of cool mystery, death, or curse or something that would allow me to go on the same kind of adventure as the protagonist, Julie, did in Juliet.  I was so disappointed when there was nothing-but I’m not giving my hopes up until I step foot in Italy and find out for myself 😉
      Juliet begins with Julie Jacobs finding out about the death of her great aunt, who raised her and her sister, Janice.  After she is told by Umberto, the butler, and her aunt’s lawyer that the estate was left for Janice, a broke Julie goes to Siena, Italy to find the family treasure that was left for her by their mother.  In college, Julie Jacobs went to Italy with a group of peace activists only to be kicked out of the country and asked to never return.  This time she enters the country as Giulietta Tolomei, her birth name.  On the plane she meets Eva Maria Salimbeni who informs her to be careful about who she tells her name to.  She begins to tell Julie, or Giulietta, about the history between their two families.  What follows is 400 pages filled with a treasure hunt for Juliet’s eyes, a gold statue with very very valuable jewels for eyes.  However, this statue is said to be located at the grave of Romeo and Juliet, which no one has seen since the black plague.  Led by only her dead mother’s notes and a copy of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, Julie sets out on a wild treasure hunt.  There is another thing-a powerful curse that all started with the Friar Lorenzo, who was the friar responsible for Romeo and Juliet’s romance all those years ago.  As he was being tortured he cursed the Tolomei (Juliet and Julie’s family) and the Salimbeni (Eva Maria’s family-and the evil man who tore Juliet and Romeo apart’s family) family.

“A plague on both your houses
You shall all perish in fire and gore
Your children forever wail under a mad moon
Till you undo your sins and kneel before the Virgin
And Giulietta wakes to behold her Romeo.”

      Of course Julie doesn’t have an easy time trying to end the curse and find the treasure- what with Alessandro Santini wanting her to stay away from him and his godmother Eva Maria.  Then when he finally befriends Julie, he starts doing some very suspicious things.  Then there’s the issue of someone on a motor cycle who keeps following her everywhere.  And to top it off, the Maestro painter who she befriends and who owns the painting of the original Juliet from all those years ago, tells her that Romeo comes to his studio almost every night to drink a glass of wine and look at the painting.  And no, he is no ghost- for ghosts don’t drink wine.
Take The Da Vinci Code, National Treasure, Romeo and Juliet, and Anne Fortier’s imagination and writing and you get Juliet, a beautiful love story spanning centuries and a treasure hunt.  This is one of my favorite books.  I opened it to skim through before writing this review and ended up rereading it completely -I did not expect to stay up until 5 AM.  And now all I want to do is go to Siena.  Having been to Italy once before (about 4 or 5 years ago) I have to say it felt like Italy, I was right there.  Not only that but I remember seeing the places that she describes in the book, which make it all the more real.
The middle chunk of the book alternates between the past and present.  The past being the “real” Romeo and Juliet in 1340.  The story is sad and tragic.  In my opinion, it’s even more tragic than the Shakespeare version.  Now many years later, their decedents are cursed and trying to break it.  But will Romeo and Juliet of today’s world find love or tragedy?
Julie Jacobs, or Giulietta was a great character.  I truly related to her.  I hated her twin sister, Janice, so much.  But eventually grew to like her.  Alessandro Santini is a hot Italian man.  He is the head of security for the local 500 yr old bank, very hot, and a tortured soul.  Who doesn’t love all that?  Plus he’s got some secrets.
I URGE you to read this book.  Juliet is a passionate tale of love, death, secrets, fate/destiny, and finding oneself.  It will have you believing that Romeo and Juliet existed and that this curse is for real-which of course both aren’t true.  You will be transported to Italy and will never want to leave. You will wish/pray/hope/beg that you can find your Romeo.  You will beseech your parents to let you go to Italy to find love and adventure.  You won’t know what to do with yourself when it ends.

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Juliet

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Just because I think Romeo and Juliet is one of the greatest (albeit tragic) love stories of all time:

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