Thursday, May 30, 2013


(My Super Sweet Sixteenth Century, #1)
BY: Rachel Harris

PUBLISHED: September 18, 2012 by Entangled Teen
SOURCE: Library Copy
GENRES: YA • Historical Romance • Time Travel • Fantasy • Cultural (Italy) • Mystery • Adventure • Fun & Quirky

 Technically 4.2 rounded to 4

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?
Ah... time travel books to historical Italy. It is the salve that soothes my soul. Rachel Harris delivered a quirky, flippant, engaging and merry novel about an almost sixteen year old girl who finds herself thrust back to Renaissance Italy. I wish I could say that happens to me...

Why not? Oh yeah... right... I'm thirty-eight. Sigh. Well, we all have dreams. At least I can live vicariously through Cat and her wondrous adventure. 

Cat started off trying hard to stay in the number one slot in her father's life. She felt as if she was competing for his love and attention with his fiancé. Combine that with the after effects of being abandoned by her mother, ostracized by her peers and a typical fifteen-year-old attitude and you have one cranky girl. She just wanted some time to herself on the trip and I really related to that. To have the need to explore individually, get some breathing room and have time to think. I must say though, once she was transported back in time, the fifteen year old disappointed me in how little she tried to blend in, meanwhile whining and moaning complaining about her life and the whole "poor me" syndrome. I admit to being irritated at her attitude. 

Her inability to try and blend in instead of using twenty-first century vernacular was the main sticking point for me. She was smart enough to try and adapt but she didn't. Instead, she just bulldozed her way through situations instead of navigating them.

It was over the top and I had a hard time believing that the pople around her would understand her let alone accept her with the phrases she used. On the other hand, Harris does a splendid job of giving us a true teen flavor to her personality and behavior. She then injected Cat with some thoughtful character development towards the end of the book.

Overall this is a fun, lively and perky book. Don't confuse it with the River Of Time Series by Lisa T. Bergren. That series is also a time travel book to historical Italy but is much more serious, full of danger and suspense. The most suspense we had in this book was whether Cat would get caught using her twenty-first century gadgets. 

Harris did her homework when it came to the time period and the historical artwork. As an art major from college, I appreciated the art references throughout the book. The customs and issues dealing with the area and time were properly addressed and presented. 

The romance was fairly light and didn't fall into the typical "I love you.. no I love you more" YA trap. It was flirty, confusing and bumbled. Meaning it was just right for a teenage romance. The heat was turned up at the end, but not too much. They played the game, made themselves frustrated and were tentative at the same time.

Lorenzo was somewhat alluring, but I wish we could have had more from him. His passion for art was evident, but there was a great deal of back story that was only hinted at. My hope is in the second book, we'll get to learn more about him and his family. Even more than that, I hope he becomes more multi-dimensional. He seemed pretty flat to me.

Cat dealt with a great many issues in the book that readers can relate to. Having a father remarry someone they don't care for. Missing a mother (or Dad) that doesn't miss you. Dealing with people who judge you without personal knowledge or grace. Feeling alone. Wondering what what to do with your life and how is it going to get better. All these issues and more plagued her thoughts as she struggled to figure out a way home.

Cat's witty one-liners were a little sparse to me. It would have really spiced the book up a couple of notches if there had been less "poor me" monologues and more catchy comebacks.  Alessandra was a perfect companion character to Cat. She was my favorite character with her layers and secret charms. If only we had more development for the secondary characters, it would have made the story rock hard. Harris' writing style was clean and simple. Her conversational approach made for an engaging read. 

Harris ended the book with several pleasant yet surprising cliffhangers.

One was very surprising to me which made me very eager to read the next book. Bravo Rachel Harris on gifting us with a fun, upbeat historical time travel novel!

NOTE: Great novel for teens ages 12+ and a terrific summer read by the pool or beach.

You can find a copy here: