Saturday, March 5, 2011

Book Review: Waterfall by Lisa T. Bergren

Waterfall by Lisa T. Bergren
Series: #1, The River of Time series
Release Date: February 1, 2011
Publisher: David C. Cook

Pages: 369
Received: ARC from publisher/author
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars Special Shelf!


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 fourteenth-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 fourteenth-century—and in the middle of a fierce battle between knights bent on killing one another.


Can you say *SWOON*?

I’m trying to hold back the OMG squeeeeeees here, but it’s kinda hard. You see in the description where it mentions Italian hotties? Notice how it’s plural? Oh wow is it plural! There are three guys in this book that I would risk plague and travel back in time for. Yet, delightfully, there isn’t any annoying love triangle. The main character loves her guy and sees the other two as good friends (which means I can have them then, right?)

Ah, they’re physically attractive, but they also have super attractive personalities. The main character travels back to the 14th century, so these guys aren’t the modern guy who will share his feelings with you over a latte (not that there’s anything wrong with that). 

Oh no, these are the kind of guys that make you let out a primal groan and call them MEN. They’re all commanding and manly and make me want to say really dorky things like “Oh take me you big man you” (I’m ready for my romance cover shot, please). They also have swords—one of the most popular accessories of hot men everywhere—and they’re totally willing to get all sweaty and sexy using them.

But, come on, am I superficial enough to give a book a five star Special Shelf rating on the basis of hot guys alone? Um, yeah, ok, I actually so am. But this book has other redeeming features, I promise.

Girls rock too

How about that main character? As awesome as the men are, she’s pretty kick butt herself. So fine, maybe I’m not buying that being a fencing champ makes her able to wield a 30 pound sword, but hey, it’s the thought that counts, right? And the thought is really great. The guys are all like, “Lady, you need to stay in the castle and let us do man work” and she’s all, “Yeah, whatever. You think I’m going to miss out on this? Pfft!” 

But you know what’s great? The men aren’t peeved by this. They’re impressed! Again, maybe not so historically accurate (they probably would have burned her as a witch or sent her to a nunnery or something), but I don’t care because I was having so much fun.

Oh, I probably should mention that the main character isn’t a Mary Sue at all though. I realize I might have made her sound like that a little, but she’s not. She makes a ton of mistakes and has a lot of “Oops!” moments. There was one scene where she was all, “Hold my lance and watch this!” but the guys and me are face-palming like we’ve never face-palmed before. She recognizes her mistakes and learns from them. She reminded me a lot of Meliara from Sherwood Smith’s Crown Duel (please tell me you’ve read this book. No? Ok, go get that book ASAP. Seriously).

Can I be so lucky?

Great characters are wonderful and all, but you really do need a solid plot to back them up in order to be a 5 star book, right? Well, the plot here was so, so good. How’s your knowledge of 14th century Italy? Yeah, mine sucks too. So I don’t have a clue what is based on truth (if anything) and what’s the author’s creation. Either way, it doesn’t matter.

The plot starts out fun enough with the main character trying to fudge her way through 14th century life, a plot device I always find amusing. Add in a missing sister she needs to find and a romance with a super unattainable guy and the plot would have been solid. But there’s more! War, battle, political intrigue! Ah, I just had this silly grin on my face that kept getting wider and wider the more I read.

But wait, isn’t this Christian fic?

This sounds all good and everything, but…maybe you heard this book is considered Christian fiction. Maybe that’s not your thing (it’s not my thing either). No problem! There are a few lines here and there where the main character wonders if she was sent back in time by God. The guys pray sometimes, but I don’t think that would be out of place in any historical fiction book because that’s what they would likely do anyway in the 1300s. That’s pretty much the extent of it. If Christian fiction isn’t your genre, please don’t feel turned off from reading this book. I really don’t think you’ll be bothered.

What are you still doing here?

This book ended up taking me a really long time to finish (5 days!), but that wasn’t because I wasn’t into it. I was completely into it. I never wanted it to end. I kept carrying the book around with me and not reading it because I didn’t want the story to be over. Thankfully, there are two more books and they’re both coming out this year, which I immediately added to my Goodreads list as soon as I finished Waterfall (Cascade in June and Torrent in September). All of the main events of the story wrap up pretty well so I don’t feel like I’m hanging on a major cliffhanger, but the stage is set for the sequel. If you like those courtly intrigue books with manly men and a strong heroine, then I highly recommend Waterfall.  

Still not convinced? Really, don't you have any faith in me? But fine, fine, check out this equally glowing review by Logan E. Turner if you still need a little more nudging. 

Explanation of rating system: Star Rating Key 

Looking for another fun time travel romance? 
You might like: 
My Fair Godmother by Janette Rallison

My reviews for the rest of the River of Time series:


  1. Wow, this one sounds good! I was looking forward to it before but now my anticipation has just increased! Love your review here, you just sound so happy about this book, which is awesome :D

  2. Sounds like my type of book! (Who wouldn't like those characters?! and the plot of course) Great review once again! Thanks for helping me find another TBR book! Wow my list just gets longer and longer..

    -Lulu The Bookworm

  3. I'm so glad you loved it, I *really* need to order this as soon as I can. It definitely sounds like my kind of book and the 14th century Italian setting sounds great too. Also, I like the style of your review with the questions :)

  4. LOL, love your review! I am not a big fan of historical fiction but your review has made me want to read this!

  5. Oh my god! Now you are making me even more excited! I really need to get this one!

  6. This sounds amazing. Right up my alley! How have I never heard of it? Based on this review alone, I need to get my hands on it ASAP!

    BTW, I replied to your lovely comment from ( in two parts. I don't know if you normally see my responses since there's usually not a second reply. It could just be that one isn't warranted. Or it could be like what you said recently about emailing people responses. I've never done that before. Is it wise to start? I usually just click the box to send comments. In this way, I really wish blogspot was like LJ and the comment threads and responses on your own go straight to your email!

  7. Danya, I couldn’t contain my gushing :) I hope you enjoy it too!

    Lulu, You’re very welcome! I’m a shameless TBR grower :) I hope you enjoy the book.

    Stephanie, Logan mentioned in her review that the setting seemed very accurate and you can really lose yourself in it. I don’t know about accuracy either way, but I was thoroughly transported. Thank you for the review format feedback!

    Nic, Thank you! I think if you liked Brightly Woven then you might like this book too. Both are Special Shelf books for me.

    Yiota, Yes! Do! I hope you love it!

    A Backwards Story, I haven’t seen this book around much either, but hopefully that will change! I hope you enjoy it :)
    Thank you for the heads up about your reply! I do like getting email messages because sometimes I miss replies. In order to receive email messages from me you need to edit your profile and select the option to show your email address publicly. I’ve also added the “Subscribe by email” option now if you want to subscribe to follow up comments. It’s not a checkbox like I’ve seen elsewhere but a link. I really do wish Blogger had a commenting system like LJ. So much easier!

  8. Thanks for the great review, SR. It sounds interesting enough for me to give it a try, and I honestly don't like time travel books that much.

  9. Sounds amazing-this has been on my wishlist for a while now and I guess I should move it up my priority list. I love time travel books and strong heroines.

  10. My goodness, thank you, thank you for your sweet and honest review. You literally made an excruciating week just a little less painful! Guess I better get you an advance copy of CASCADE (book 2), eh? :-)

  11. Sounds great. I'm usually not into Christian fiction b/c so much of it is just so bad. But I love any book that is done well regardless of the genre. The 14th century setting sounds really interesting.

  12. LOL! Your review made me snort with laughter, and at some point, my stomach hurt from laughing too much. XD LOVE it! I am definitely getting this book, and I'm glad to hear it's a trilogy!

    Again, awesome review!

  13. I love your new review even better with each review I read. Very well written and again, it made me laugh. I appreciate you letting us know too about the CF element and that it was very subtle. Great job!

  14. You had me at Italian hotties!

    I am a fan of historical fiction, but I hadn't heard of this one before reading your review. Might just have to check it out now. ;)

  15. Haha, it seems like you really liked the guys. :)

    I actually saw this book mentioned here and there, but I didn't really see what it was about. I really want to read it now! Great review!

  16. I love the cover and found the book summary interesting. Thanks for the great review. i will definately have to add this one to my tbr list.

  17. Bookish Hobbit, You’re welcome! I hope you do like it. There isn’t much of the whole Back to the Future you could accidentally erase your own birth type of time travel stuff. I think since you like historical fiction and fantasy books, then you might like this one. I can see you liking the guys for sure :)

    Bookworm1858, Definitely move it up in priority! I thought Gabi was a great heroine. She was strong without diminishing those around her or being bossy. She’s the kind of girl I’d want to be friends with.

    Lisa, You are so welcome! Thank YOU! Did you hear my squeak of joy at the prospect of receiving a copy of Cascade? :)

    Alison, Christian fiction isn’t usually my thing either, mostly because the “God saves the day” resolution gets a little old and anti-climatic. I don’t think the fact that this book is Christian fiction should alienate anyone. It has a good steady message for those who do like Christian fiction, but it also has a plot and characters that stand perfectly well on their own.

    Dazzling Mage, Aw, I’m so glad you enjoyed my review. I hope you like the book just as much :) Usually a little part of me groans at the idea of getting involved in another series, but I was completely overjoyed to find out there are more books coming.

    Gina, Thank you! I’m so glad you’re enjoying my reviews. I actually wrote this one a little while ago but did a few tweaks to make it fit with the new format.

    Leanna, Yup, I was pretty much sold with Italian hotties myself :) Definitely check it out! I hope you enjoy it!

    T.B., Hehe, just a little! :) They really were fantastic, and each with something different to offer.

    ChrisS, You’re welcome! I hope you enjoy it. I like the cover too. It’s really cool how each of the covers in the series matches.

  18. As if I wasn't excited enough after reading Logan's review! The guys sound hot but more importantly, the heroine sounds awesome! I love me some travel too!

  19. You know! This sounds kind of amazing!!! :D I shall keep my eyes open for it! :) And add it to my list!

  20. I got this in the mail this week and a mass of midterms and essays means I won't be able to start it until next month. I'm dying to read it now! Argh!

  21. Great review! Your personality always seems to shine through when write your reviews. Their just so funny!


  22. I have been hearing a lot of great things about this book. I don't review Christian fiction though... and the scope of things I do review is so wide, I kinda feel like I have to draw the line somewhere.

    I will have to keep this in mind to recommend for when I get that occasional teenager from a conservative family, who wants fantasy, but their parents want safe, clean, Godly stuff. Sounds like a perfect fit for that kind of situation. You kind of end up talking out of both sides of your mouth in that kind of situation.

    To the teen: Time travel! Hawt guys!
    To the parents: Prayer! And um... chivalry!

  23. Oh, well I wasn't even aware that this was Christian fiction. If you hadn't mentioned it in your review, I never would've known until I read it! Still, it sounds like a fantastic book. It's been on my TBR for a while so I hope that I can get it soon. :)

  24. You and I are locked in a delightful ring around the SQUEEEEE dance where we laugh and pet the book and dream about Marcello and his big, big...sword. Love this book, and love how involved Lisa is with reading these reviews. I think she found mine through you so THANK YOU! I also updated my review (since I had a broken link) and added a link back to you.

    I didn't realize this was Christian fic (or supposed to be). I didn't get a big religious vibe out of it. I thought the religion that was present was appropriate for the time period and I liked that Gabi struggled with this idea that maybe this was a Plan for her from God, but that issue never got resolved. Very true to life, I thought.

    I also really like your new review format. Girl, can you do no wrong? :)

  25. I love your review! I've just started reading this and I have a feeling I'm going to agree with everything you said. I'm loving it already. So glad to hear the other two books will be released this year!

    You've totally made me want to drop everything now and dive back into this book! :D

  26. Swear to Bob, I'm going to get my hands on this book! Both you and Logan have got me panting for it! It sounds so damn good. I'm currently in the process of begging my mom to buy me one (sadly, I've got no funds, so what are moms for?).

    Awesome review, Smalls! I got into it, and I haven't even read the book. Snaps for you. :)

  27. This sounds fantastic and fun! I love your comments. I laughed out loud about you getting set for your romance cover and knowledge of 14th century Italy. I don't know anything about it either. I didn't know it was considered Christian fic. I'm not into that either. But definitely willing to read this book! That's cool you didn't want the story to end. Great review!

  28. If the book is half as good as your review I'll love it! I have gone back and forth on this one but with that review, I'll have to read it.
    Really fun and great review!


  29. Excellent review! I'd never heard of this book before, but it sounds so action-packed and mysterious. :) Thank you for sharing and for hosting the giveaway, and happy reading!

  30. sunds amazing! you can tell you really liked it and that makes me want to read it that much more! thanks for sharing and for the giveaway! im entering right nowwww...


  31. SOOO Glad for this review!! Totally a new Follower! I LOVE Crown Duel and will jump at the chance to read this book if the heroine is so similar. Plus, another obvious choice for the DAC, thank you!

  32. Aylee, Oh gosh, yes, the guys are so hot and the heroine is just so genuine. I could totally see myself being friends with her. The time travel is really great too.

    Alex, It is sooo amazing! I wasn’t expecting to love it this much but, wow, so good.

    A Canadian Girl, Essays? Midterms? They can wait. :P No, no, I can’t encourage bad school behavior. At least you’ll have a nice reward for yourself when you’ve finished with your school work :)

    Amateur Voice, Thanks! I’m so glad you enjoy them :)

    Madigan, I actually didn’t realize this was Christian fiction when I first got it, but I’m so glad I didn’t find out until after because I probably wouldn’t have read it and I would have so missed out. Ha, I hear you about talking out of both sides of your mouth! I wouldn’t say this one is very Godly. I don’t think it would offend those parents, but if they’re looking for hardcore preaching they won’t find it here.
    Cialina, The Christian fiction part is so subtle. It is so fantastic; I hope you get to it soon!

    Logan, *spits out laughing* Ha, yes, Marcello’s big sword :P I think though, if I HAD to choose, Luca would be my pick. Thank you for the link back! Isn’t Lisa awesome? With all of this buzz lately about bad author behavior, she is a shining example of GREAT author interaction! I’m so happy for her every time I see another glowing Waterfall review. I agree with you completely about the religious aspects. They blended in really well and just seemed natural for the time period. Haha, I can do a lot of wrong, just ask my fiancĂ© (I’m not called the Tiny Terror for nothing!), but I’m so glad you like my new review format :)

    Brodie, Thank you! I can’t wait to read your review on it. I am so relieved we don’t have to wait a bunch of years to read more books in this series! I’m so happy you’re loving this book!

    Asher, Your mom is super cool, and seeing how you’ve since reviewed Waterfall I’m guessing she came through with the awesome again :) Yay! I just want to collect everyone who loved this book and have a big squee-fest!

    Julie, Thanks! Oh my gosh, seriously, I would pose in the dorkiest, most awkward romance cover positions for a chance to do it with one of these guys! (um, by “it” I mean pose on the cover…) I wouldn’t worry at all about the Christian fiction parts. But, honestly, the rest of it is so awesome that even if Gabi goes full on preach in the next book I think I’d still love it just for the opportunity to read more about her and those guys.

    Heather, I think you will love it! Gabi reminded me of Mel in Crown Duel, and Mel always reminds me of Lylene from The Conjurer Princess.

    DJL, Thank you! There is a ton of action and it’s so, so good!

    The Lovely Getaway, Totally read it! I hope you love it as much as I do.

    Celesta, EEK! I love finding Crown Duel fans! *happy dance* Have you read The Conjurer Princess by Vivian Vande Velde? Ooo, or Brightly Woven by Alexandra Bracken? I also put both of those on my “Like Crown Duel” mental shelf.

  33. Ok, I just finished this on up last night. WOW...what a climax. You don't know how gleeful I was to go right from that ending into beginning book 2 Cascade! THANKS so much for the ebook!

    PS: I never figured this out. Why is the book titled "Waterfall"?

  34. Oh one last note: I haven't read Crown Duel, but I'm going to get on that very soon! Thanks for the recommendation.

  35. Gina, I know, that ending was so intense!! I am SO glad you enjoyed it and wanted to dive right into Cascade! Just warning you, Cascade's ending is even more cliffhangery.

    I hope you love Crown Duel as much as I do! Make sure you get the newer bind up edition. It has both of the books (Crown Duel and Court Duel) and a short story.

    Hm, the title...I think it's sort of like the first book was Gabi falling head first into something. So it was kind of like falling down a waterfall--a rapid drop where your stomach lurches up and you're totally disoriented, and maybe even in some danger...but it's also kind of fun.

    The second book is even more intense and perilous, so a cascade--a bunch of steep, treacherous waterfalls--is a good description.

    And then a torrent, is like a huge, violent rushing force, and that pretty much describes the intense climax of the series.

    At least, that's how I look at it. I have no idea if that's even close to the author/publisher's intent!

  36. I loved your review! This is definitely going on my to read list, :). I'm reading Everneath soon, saw that it came in your mail, can't wait to see what you think about it!

    1. Thank you! I hope you enjoy the series. It truly is one of my all time favorites and I can't say enough positive things about it.

      Here is my Everneath review :)


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