Reader’s Edyn

I always felt like I could do something more than just read. Finally, I have found both a creative outlet and a chance to do something meaningful with my reading. This blog was created in appreciation of and tribute to all of the authors who have brought me joy through their books. These reviews are my way of giving back to authors and providing recognition for the hard work that each one completes every day!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Review: Waterfall by Lisa T. Bergren

Title: Waterfall
          (River of Time Series, Book 1)
Author: Lisa T. Bergren
Release Date: February 11, 2011
Publisher: David C. Cook
Category: YA Historical Romance
Type: Kindle/Paperback/Audio


Book Blurb:

Gabriella has never spent a summer in Italy like this one.

Remaining means giving up all she’s known and loved…and leaving means forfeiting what she’s come to know…and love itself.

Most American teenagers want a vacation in Italy, but the Bentarrini sisters have spent every summer of their lives with their parents, famed Etruscan scholars, among the romantic hills. Stuck among the rubble of medieval castles in rural Tuscany on yet another hot, dusty archeological 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.

And thus does she come to be rescued by the knight-prince Marcello Falassi, who takes her back to his father’s castle—a castle Gabi has seen in ruins in another life. Suddenly Gabi’s summer in Italy is much, much more interesting. But what do you do when your knight in shining armor lives, literally, in a different world?

Book Excerpt:

The urn at least helped me know where I was, for sure. At the end of the passageway was the curved stone that marked the entrance. I could see the outline of daylight around it as I neared. Only problem: It was plugged with the entrance stone again. And the entrance stones were heavy, maybe three, four hundred pounds. I knelt and ran my fingers around the edge, considering options for removing it, remembering how my dad would pry them away with a crowbar. But always from the outside.
I leaned my shoulder against it and pushed. My height-and fencing-made me stronger than most girls. But the stone barely moved.
I paused. There were odd sounds coming from the other side. Men shouting, grunting. The clang of metal again as if...I shoved the thought aside. Impossible. And the main thing I had to focus on right now was escape. "Hey! Help! I'm in here! Help!" I shouted, so loudly it made my throat hurt.
I could hear the pause in whatever metalwork was happening. "Mom? Lia! Help! Help me!" I screamed again. But then the sounds resumed.
"Oh, brother," I muttered. I maneuvered in the tunnel until my back and shoulders were against one side, and at an angle, I could press my feet against the stone. I pushed, pushed so hard that my butt lifted from the ground. I grunted, willing that stupid rock to move, to move, move... and then it did, scraping, groaning, then falling away to the dirt outside with a big thump.
My eyes narrowed, and I cautiously peered outward.
There appeared to be some sort of Renaissance faire battle-scene reenactment going on. How'd all these men get here? And why here? Perhaps some protest by the local Sienese, bent on reclaiming this land? Manero's doing? It figured... now that they knew it held the treasures it did.
But then I saw a man block another man's sword strike with his own, then plunge a dagger into him with his other hand. I gasped, too surprised to scream. The injured man fell to his knees, clutching the hilt of the knife, his mouth agape. Blood spread across his white shirt in a slowly seeping circle. No Renaissance faire I'd seen had had special effects like that. With growing horror, I glanced to my right, where another man was writhing on the ground, groaning. My hand came to my mouth. His belly had been split open, and some of his intestines were bulging out. Blood spread across the ground in a wide pool.
It was real.
I was in the middle of a real battle. Suddenly I could smell the stink of sweat and coppery blood, all around me. Men were wounded or dying. Others seemed dead set on bringing the rest to the end of their lives. I glanced left and saw that one wasn't battling any longer; instead, he stared at me as if I were a female Lazarus, emerging from the tomb in my grave clothes.
I wanted to look away from him, but I couldn't. He was the most handsome guy I'd ever seen, with a model's physique and a face to match. Big, chocolate-brown eyes, square jaw, aristocratic nose, pronounced cheekbones.. .a serious hottie.
I'd never encountered such Italian hotness outside of Roma.

Dialogue Highlight:

I took a step, stumbled, nearly fell, but Marcello caught me and picked me up in his arms.
"Marcello-m'lord, there truly is no need."
"I will not let it rest until you tell me what has happened. Were you.. .were we too late?"
"No. Nay!" I cried, figuring out what he meant. And the question brought back all those terrible moments, so recently lived. "Please, let me go," I said, squirming in his arms. "Unhand me!" It was far too intimate, and my mind and heart were a mash of jumbled emotions and thoughts.
I needed space to think.
Gently, he set me down where I could partially sit upon a boulder. "What transpired? Out with it."
I grimaced at him. "They tripped me. When I fell to my back, the hilt of my sword came ramming down into my thigh. I think I have a bruised muscle. Nothing that won't heal in a few days." Can we stop making such a big whoppin' deal of it?
A hint of a smile touched his lips. "I told you a sword is dangerous in the wrong hands. But I must confess I was thinking of the blade."
"Unfair!" I cried, in defense. "It's heavy!"
He lifted his hands in surrender, laughing to himself.
Yeah, yeah, yuk it up, I thought. I sustained this injury saving your chick.
I was angry for a moment, until I thought of how he and his men had arrived just in time to save me. It didn't matter, really. We were all relieved that it was over. "How many men did you lose?" I finally asked.
"Five. And Lady Rossi's other lady-in-waiting suffered a grave wound."
I groaned. "An arrow?"
He nodded. "Come. Let me get you to your steed. I am anxious to meet up with the others and gain word of my intended. Mount up," he said to his remaining two men. Luca and the others were already up the cliff.
Before I could say a word, he lifted me again in his arms and carried me to my horse. He set me down alongside the gelding, as gently as if I were made of glass. He straightened and then looked down at me.
For a crazy moment, I thought he might kiss me.
For a crazy moment, I wanted him to kiss me.
But he only tucked a strand of hair behind my ear again and held one side of my face in his hand. "M'lady. I am so relieved...."
That I lived? That I was okay?
"So grateful to you. If it weren't for you, Lady Rossi might not have escaped."
My breath left me in a sigh of disappointment, but I forced a smile and shook my head as if it was no big deal. I cursed myself for my stupid romantic teenage fantasies. This guy was not in my league. By six hundred years, at least. Give it up, Gabi. Give it up! Keep your mind on getting home!
But then he had his big hands on my waist. He bent down a little, getting ready to lift me to the saddle, just as I looked up at him. Our lips were so close, I could feel the heat of his breath on my skin.
We froze. Neither of us moving, simply staring at each other, wondering if the other was going to move first.
"You are," he whispered, "uncommonly stirring."
He closed his eyes then, as if he had to in order to break the bond between us, then lifted me to the saddle and stared at the ground as he guided my feet into the stirrups. I wanted him to look up at me.
I wanted to recapture that moment of heat, of connection again. I'd never experienced it before. But he was stronger than I. He took the reins of my horse and mounted his own, tying my reins to the back of his saddle. He led me through the tunnel of the forest. I had to duck and concentrate on keeping my seat in order to not fall to ground again. But it did not keep me from staring at his broad shoulders, shoulders that swept down to a trim waist. My eyes bore into his back, willing him to turn and look at me again. But he refused.


So I started reading this book knowing absolutely nothing about it. I had no idea it was YA. I had no idea who the author was. I just thought the cover was pretty cool and saw that it was part of a series. If I liked this book, I would have another series I could get into. If memory serves, it was a free read at the time also, so I really had nothing to lose. I do not read a lot of YA books. I like my smut and YA keeps it clean, so I steer away. That is not to bash YA though. I have younger kids who will be within YA range soon, so I do keep my eye out for books to suggest based on the feedback I read from other reviewers. And I do enjoy YA, just not as a preferred genre.

As a reader who rarely reads this genre, I was absolutely thrilled with this book. I was engaged from the very beginning. Set primarily in medieval Italy, Ms. Bergren does a phenomenal job of mixing modern times with past times and explaining, through Gabi’s voice, in believable ways. You see, Gabi’s mother is an archaeologist so she and her sister Lia get carted around to various places around the world. All new and wonderous, but ultimately boring with a strict hands off policy. Gabi is never content with sitting around and wants to explore the new dig site herself, so drags Lia along with her. And somehow the two are transported back in time. Or at least Gabi thinks Lia was transported with her. She hopes so anyway. Did I mention this is a time travel book? Yeah. I would have completely avoided it if I had known that. NOT a fan of time travel.

The first thing Gabi witness is a battle right in the heat of the fight. I included a portion of this scene in the excerpt above. It pretty much sets the stage for many situations to come. Marcello is the hottie and, of course, he is promised to another. A match that will unite two families and secure their future as a powerful force to be reckoned with. As the story goes on, Gabi lends knowledge in some areas and resistance in others. As a modern young woman, she has trouble agreeing with the ways of the old world in some instances. Her presence both enriches and frustrates those around her, but none more than Marcello. A forbidden love seems to grow between the two, but with responsibilities on Marcello’s shoulders and Gabi’s unimaginably differing background, the two are faced with some tough decisions. During this time, Gabi searches for Lia, who she still believes to be trapped back in time with her, but she is having a devil of a time locating her. Also throwing a hitch in the search is the constant feuding with the family who borders Marcello’s land.

I felt that the characters Ms. Bergren brought to life were completely plausible. Sure, they each are flawed in one way or another, but such characteristics allow the reader to jump into the story that much easier. I can picture Gabi trying to fit in to this world she has only read about and explored the ruins of. When she makes the occasional slip, she recovers quickly. Her inner thoughts are full of sassy remarks that are absolutely classic to a young woman of her age. Thankfully, she has a well-rounded education that allows her to blend – well as close to blend as she can – but doesn’t stop the longing for conveniences such as the internet for any unanswered questions. I also enjoyed that Gabi does not allow herself to play the role of meek female. She jumps right into the fray in many different ways. The story progresses rather quickly and ends with a bit of a cliffhanger. Not the “OMG” type of ending, but enough of a hook that the reader is likely to want to pick up book 2 to see what happens next. I know I did. When it ended, I immediately wanted to know what happened next. I remember thinking, “It’s over, seriously? But what about …” I don’t want to say more because the ending would be spoiled.

I will say that I am happy to have read a book that I can recommend to pretty much anyone. Readers with delicate sensibilities that appreciate a mild love story with a bit of intrigue and mystery thrown into the mix should check this book out. Young readers are absolutely safe to read this story with nary a hint of inappropriate material to worry about. And for me, a connoisseur of smut, it was a nice break from the details that can sometimes be a bit much. And even though I do not prefer YA, I am interested enough in this novel to want to finish the series. You don’t have to be a teen to enjoy this story. And even readers who avoid time travel at all costs, I believe, will enjoy this story. Coming from me, that is a HUGE statement. My assumptions in the case of this book – being a YA and a time travel – would have cost me a read that I thoroughly enjoyed.

(Digital copy purchased for personal library)

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