Thursday, September 13, 2012

Book Review: My Super Sweet Sixteenth Century

Author: Rachel Harris
Publication Date: September 11, 2012
Publisher: Entangled
Series: My Super Sweet Sixteenth Century # 1

On the precipice of her sixteenth birthday, the last thing lone wolf Cat Crawford wants is an extravagant gala thrown by her bubbly stepmother and well-meaning father. So even though Cat knows the family’s trip to Florence, Italy, is a peace offering, she embraces the magical city and all it offers. But when her curiosity leads her to an unusual gypsy tent, she exits . . . right into Renaissance Firenze.

Thrust into the sixteenth century armed with only a backpack full of contraband future items, Cat joins up with her ancestors, the sweet Alessandra and protective Cipriano, and soon falls for the gorgeous aspiring artist Lorenzo. But when the much-older Niccolo starts sniffing around, Cat realizes that an unwanted birthday party is nothing compared to an unwanted suitor full of creeptastic amore.

Can she find her way back to modern times before her Italian adventure turns into an Italian forever?
I am a bit of a nerd, at least when it comes to books. But I believe that is something that most of us have in common? Please correct me if I am wrong. I see the front cover of this book and this woman in a dress that looks like it stepped right out of one of Shakespeare’s play and my immediate reaction was to find out as much as I could. I didn’t notice the backpack (or book bag, whichever you prefer) until after my first glance. So at first sight I thought we were dealing strictly with a historical fiction book. Once I noticed the book bag, which appears very 21st century, I screamed inside and was praying for a modern twist!

This story starts us with Cat Crawford who is your normal, average teenager with issues just like everyone else. She is on a plane with her dad and his new fiancé and is trying her best to come up with a plan to get out of having to attend the Sweet Sixteen party that her soon to be stepmother is planning for her. I loved Cat because even though you learn very early on that her dad is a well known actor in Hollywood, you then come to find that Cat is not a spoiled princess like so many others. She is a down to Earth girl who deals with normal problems just like everyone else her age.
This is the second time travel book that I have read this year and I find myself, surprisingly, wanting more of them. Time travel is a difficult task to write successfully. So much has to take place and so many things are different, so the character has to response emotionally and physically to all of that. Rachel Harris takes this story and unravels it beautifully into sixteenth century Italy. She paints a beautiful picture and takes readers straight to the heart of the Renaissance.
Cat is sent back in time to learn a lesson and it takes a little while into the reading before you will actually find out what that is all about. I loved watching Cat develop in the Renaissance time period that she was placed in because it was almost as if she were more accustomed to that lifestyle than her own modern one. She did have a hard time readjusting to the sixteenth century ways, which is rather humorous to read about, but she fits better in this era than in her own. Even though she is young, she appreciates the artists, the music, and the actual art that dawn from this era. I loved watching her talk about Michelangelo’s sculpture, David because she was so passionate about art history, being an artist herself.
 Rachel Harris does not leave out any detail while writing this story. She clues you in each new setting as it changes and the challenges that Cat faces like learning to filter out her American slang when speaking to her Aunt and Uncle. I thought it was so funny and found myself smiling quietly as I flipped the pages. You just have to imagine yourself trying to have a conversation with someone who is native to 16th century Italy. They would probably look at me like I am crazy! Harris even goes into vivid details when describing the cuisine that Cat tastes or the beautiful clothes and jewels that she is wearing. It just made me appreciate the reading so much more because I could picture everything and compare it to our modern 21st century lives!
I am a huge supporter of secondary characters. I believe that it doesn’t matter how strong your protagonist is if your helping characters do not play their role and play it well. I loved the helping characters in Rachel’s story. From Less, Cip, Aunt Francesca and even Niccolo (creepy guy), they were all well written and I could easily channel each of their personalities through their parts in the text. I am eagerly awaiting the next book in this series. I honestly don’t know if I can wait on it. This is going to be one of those series where I am counting down the days, even to the last second.
An exceptionally charming read! Please check it out for yourself, you may find yourself wanting to join Cat on her next trip back in time!
***An e-copy of this book was provided to me by the publishers at Entangled in exchange for my honest review. Thank you so much!!***