Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Review of "Cascade" and "Torrent" by Lisa T. Bergren

Rating: 5 Stars for Both!
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Lisa T. Bergren's River of Time Series is captivating and addictive.  It's the kind of series that you don't want to end but at the same time you devour every page anxious to find out what will happen next.  Although it is classified as a young adult series, WaterfallCascade, and Torrent, can definitely be enjoyed by adults of all ages.  The fantastical concept of time travel has always appealed to my imagination, and Bergren's descriptions of medieval Italy, combined with just the right amounts of action, tension, and romance, leave me thirsting for more.  The River of Time Series is one that will remain in my collection to revisit again.

Summary from David C. Cook: In the first book of the River of Time series, two bored American sisters stumble on a door to the past, where Gabi is rescued by a handsome knight who vows to love her forever. But there is a rival for his affections, and the girls flee into the present to escape.

Now lovestruck Gabi persuades Lia to help her return, even though she knows dangers abound in medieval Italy, including an entire city who seeks revenge. But Marcello awaits, and Gabi must decide if she's willing to leave her family behind for love.

Review: Cascade picks up right where Waterfall ends, so there is no disruption in the action.  From the start, the plot is packed with adventure and danger.  The pace is steady with moments of heart-pounding close-calls.  Amid the tribulations that Gabi and Lia face, they mature into strong young women and lose their hearts a little more to Italy and the Forelli family.  Thankfully, character development is not sacrificed for action.  Gabi's story is told from her first-person perspective, with the interesting and fresh take on historic Italy from a modern day teen.  Without knowing the thoughts or motivations of some other characters, the reader is left to question who is good and who is bad.  The mystery is as propelling as a swift undercurrent. 

The introduction of Gabi's mother adds an endearing family element to the plot.  Watching her adjust to medieval Italy and observe her daughters in their element is both heart-warming and funny. Her mother shows just as much spunk as her daughters, and their combined penchant for finding themselves battling fierce enemies create a multitude of exciting twists and turns.  I truly never knew what was around the next bend.  

Summary from David C. Cook: 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.

Review: When I finished reading Cascade, I planned to wait a few months before reading Torrent, enjoying the anticipation of what the pages would hold.  Torrent tempted me from the bookcase for just a couple of weeks, before I succumbed to the pull.  Once again, I was swept away with Gabi's story.  This time, the novel begins with a tug on the heartstrings as Gabi and her family are reunited with her father.  His fatherly perspective adds an extra dimension to the growing love between Gabi and Marcello, and creates some humorous moments. 

As the entire Betarrini family travels back to Italy, the excitement begins.  New challenges and battles,which I will not reveal, keep the plot fresh.  Romance and faith take precedence in Torrent, as Gabi contemplates her future. Although Gabi's struggles take place in another time,   her questions and temptations are very realistic and relevant for today's readers.  The romance element lends itself to a few "steamier" scenes, but they are offset by a message of restraint in the face of temptation.  The sure and steady faith of Marcello and other characters are positive examples to both Gabi and readers.  Of the three books in the River of Time Series,Torrent offers the best balance of action and emotion.

Bergren takes the reader to other areas of Italy in Torrent, including ancient Rome.  Her clear and vivid descriptions paint a scene as masterful as the frescoes that define Rome's architecture. I enjoyed the change in scenery and the new twists those changes introduced.  Torrent is the perfect ending to an amazing series.  I loved Bergren's references to the River of Time and the symbolism of waterfall, cascade, and torrent. The novel tied all three books together, yet left room for more...and I am certainly thirsting for more!

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