Thursday, June 2, 2011

Book Review: Cascade by Lisa T. Bergren

Cascade by Lisa T. Bergren
Release Date: June 1, 2011
Publisher: David C. Cook
Pages: 399
Series: Book 2 in The River of Time series
Received: ARC from author
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Goodreads Page

This is book 2 in a series! 
This review may contain slight spoilers for the first book. 


From Goodreads. Highlight to read. May contain spoilers for the first book.

Gabi knows she’s left her heart in the fourteenth century and she persuades Lia to help her to return, even though they know doing so will risk their very lives. When they arrive, weeks have passed and all of Siena longs to celebrate the heroines who turned the tide in the battle against Florence—while the Florentines will go to great lengths to see them dead. But Marcello patiently awaits, and Gabi must decide if she’s willing to leave her family behind for good in order to give her heart to him forever.


I wanna marry this book. This whole series. It's like Lisa took everything I want out of a book and put it all together to make the best series EVER! Even if you don't like historical fiction or time travel, this series is so much more than that. The River of Time defies simple categorization and gives readers something they so rarely get.

But this is a second book in a series, so you probably have some questions. Second books always sort of scare me, especially when I loved the first book like I did with this series. Will the sequel measure up? Will it spoil the happy feelings the first book left me with? Reading shouldn't be so dangerous, but when you're as emotionally invested in a series as I am with The River of Time, then the idea of opening up the sequel can be scary!

I'm going to try to answer the questions I had when I started reading. I'm going to try to avoid any spoilers for both Cascade and Waterfall, but some things can't be avoided (like if I mention a character appearing in Cascade, then you kinda know they didn't die in Waterfall...) So if you haven't read Waterfall yet (WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?!?!), then you might not want to read this review.

Do the characters I love show up?

Oh yeah! Of course Gabi, Marcello, and Luca have plenty of page time, but Lia is also elevated to MC status (and she is totally awesome!). Romana and Fortino make a small appearance, but they're not really present much. I know, I was bummed about the lack of Fortino, too. You know who does show up and totally surprised me? Paratore. I thought we had seen the last of him, but that jerk is back for more...and I love it!

We're also introduced to two more characters who were totally awesome additions: Momma She-Wolf and Lord Greco. Momma She-Wolf is Gabi and Lia's mother who travels back in time with them. She is kick butt! I love that Lisa included their mother. Parents are so often ignored in YA, but when you're torn between living in the 14th century or going back home without the love of your life, well, that's kind of a decision you'd want to talk over with your mom, right?

Lord Greco is such a great character. I love hating him and I can't help admiring him (and finding him attractive. Yeah, there's another hot guy). Is he bad? I'm not sure. I can't tell if he's good or if I'm just trying really hard to make him good because I like him so much. I'm not even sure if I want him to be good or bad. He's such a great villain, but he is totally swoon-worthy so, you know, having him be a villain might complicate things.

Will I be happy with the romance?

Ugh, middle books usually suck when it comes to romance. You have all the happy "Yay the couple got together!!" coming off the end of the first book, but usually authors try to complicate things in the sequel. Love triangles, misunderstandings, anything to make the honeymoon end.

BUT NOT LISA! I just want to give her a huge hug for not putting me through that agony. Gabi and Marcello are just as awesome together in Cascade as they were in Waterfall. Not only that, but Lisa also totally avoids the annoying "Gazing into each others eyes for pages" thing that also usually happens when couples have been together for too long in books. You know how it can get boring seeing a couple just be together? Not here. Their relationship is growing and it's tender and sweet, but also realistic and still totally clean. Marcello is a 14th century guy, and while that provides a lot of perks, he also has a very different approach to relationships than we have today (like marriage age, divorce, etc).

I loved the scenes where Gabi and Marcello hashed out these differences. The fact that Gabi is actually considering these differences and how profoundly her life will change is so refreshing. YA girls are so quick to throw away everything in their life for their paranormal insta-love guy. This gets old and I can't help but lose a little respect for those girls. Gabi acknowledges how much she loves Marcello, but she also carefully considers all of the ramifications to both herself and her family if she chooses to stay with him in the 14th century.

And Lia and Luca? *Squeeee* SO adorable!

How's the action? Is it as good as it was in Waterfall?

It's better! Waterfall was a battle. Cascade begins a WAR. The stakes are super high and, honestly, I never knew what was going to happen next. There's secret passageways, espionage, heart-pounding escapes, double crossing, and plague! The political intrigue is so intense I had my eyes glued to the pages and was left gasping in surprise. I couldn't believe some of the things the characters did! Let me tell you, the 14th century is filled with JERKS. Conniving, horrible, ruthless jerks.

My poor, wonderful characters go through so much in this book. I was so worried about all of them, and with good reason! We're lulled into a false sense of security with some cute but benign scenes in the beginning, but before long bad things start happening and we don't have a moment's rest. The action kicks into high gear and stays that way throughout the rest of the book. Once you hit that spot you won't be able to put the book down. I'm talking taking a sick day at work because you don't want to stop reading kind of feeling. 

How are the Christian fiction aspects?

If you like Christian fiction, then I think you'll be happy with the progression of Gabi's dawning faith. If Christian fiction isn't your thing, then I don't think you'll be bothered at all. The presence of Christian elements is very subtle in both Waterfall and Cascade. While Gabi slowly comes around to embracing the idea of God and God's plan, the story stands just fine on its own without these elements.

What I mean is, you know how sometimes in Christian fiction the entire premise is based on religion. It's a major plot point and the book doesn't work if it were removed. That's not the case here. Gabi is a strong character and able to do what she does because she's a strong, capable girl.

Will I be able to survive until September?

This is where I'm at right now:

But with longer arms. And like times infinity. The idea of waiting--waiting at the edge of WAR where everything hangs in the balance and I don't know if **** and how **** and whether or not **** and how **** will pan out...well, this is also where I'm at:

So, if in your travels you happen upon a mad woman raving about a castello and Italian hotties and the She-Wolves of Siena, please don't worry. That's just me trying to carry on the best I can until September.

And if you want to get a piece of this beautiful agony, make sure you enter the giveaway for a copy of Cascade!

Explanation of rating system: Star Rating Key 

Do you have any questions about Cascade that I haven't addressed? 
Feel free to ask in the comments!

Looking for the first book in the series? Or a character interview with Gabi?

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Don't believe it's THAT good? Check out Logan's review!
She's also holding a giveaway for a copy of Cascade

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  1. Lol, if I hadn't heard of this series, you totally would have convinced me to read it. I have Waterfall in my TBR pile since I've been waiting for Cascade to come out so I can read the books back to back. I'm glad Cascade doesn't disappoint and fall prey to the sequel syndrome. The other great thing about this series is that the wait between books isn't too long though I know it does feel like forever.

  2. Awesome review Smalls! This is one of my all time favourite series. I have my copy of Cascade but I am waiting to read it with my friend. Her copy is on the way. We read Waterfall together so I must wait. Although I am tempted to peek. I need some Marcello and Luca too :)

  3. Excellent! I just got this in the mail yesterday. I think I have an e-copy of the first book. I hope so, because I want to read it. I love when second books still do romance well.

  4. Super excited to read this book! I loved the first one and I really need to get into this one! Thanks for the review!

  5. Wow, you are so excited about this book and this series I feel like I'm really missing out on something big if I don't read them. These two books are a little outside of my comfortable reading zone, but the action and time travel aspects may be enough to overcome the stuff I'm afraid I may not like.

    On the flip side what is the "Special Shelf" about? I clicked on the icon and it just took me to the picture. Can you explain it to me. My guess is its just your favorite books of all time, yes?

  6. I read this review with such a big, ridiculous smile on my face. THAT'S JUST WHAT THIS SERIES DOES. This story and these characters have completely captured my heart. Excellent review, Small!

  7. Wee! It makes me oh so pumped to read gushing reviews like this one!! I simply must read this series this summer. I certainly plan on it (and not have to wait any for the third book!)! I mean, what more could you ask for from the second book in a series: even more action and no annoying fabricated relationship troubles? I'm sold.

  8. A Canadian Girl, Oh my gosh, it so doesn’t have sequel syndrome! I think if you read them back to back you might just die of happiness overload :D

    Nic, Thanks! You are a very dedicated friend. That sounds like so much fun though. I want a River of Time book club because this would be such a fun series to read along with someone else.

    Alison, Lucky you! I hope you love it as much as I do. The romance was so nice. There weren’t any of the annoying second book romance flaws.

    Savannah, Oh you’re going to love this one if you loved the first one! :D

    Gina, I know historical fiction isn’t your thing, but the historical fiction parts aren’t too heavy. There’s a lot of pages, but they’re not taken up with long chapters describing history, etc. It’s ALL action. If you do try it, at least give it a chance until after Gabi travels back in time (the part before that is a little slow, but it only lasts about a chapter).

    You’re right on the Special Shelf. That’s just my own “this book is my favorite” Usually I give it to books that were either especially moving in some way (The Adoration of Jenna Fox) or that has characters/plot/world/story I want to return to again and again (Harry Potter). The River of Time series would fall into the latter group.

    Stephanie, Yup! I can’t help but grin whenever I see people talking positively about this series. It’s so good!

    Aylee, I don't think I've seen a single review for this series that wasn't a gush-fest. :D I hope you love it too!

  9. Thanks, friend. Your enthusiasm and cheering mean more than words can say. An author can only put her best out there, and hope that the market and God've reminded me that I've done my part. THANK YOU! Now, I just need 1000 more like you, telling all their friends, who tell all their friends...Thanks for doing your part too!

  10. I've read about this series, but reading your thoughts has made me officially put it on my TBR list! Thanks.

  11. Lisa, Oh my gosh, you're so welcome! I can't even thank you enough for writing this series. I've already pushed it on so many people and they've all come back begging for more :)

    Charlotte, I hope you love it as much as I do!


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