Incense and Peppermints
by Cathrina Constantine
Publication date: March 10th 2017
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
Peace demonstrations, sit-ins, and burning the U.S. flag following the escalation of the Vietnam War are leading to a catalyst known to the world as the Sixties, and a musical revolution, flower power, hippies, marijuana, and drugs are carrying the generations—young and old—into a new decade. All the while sixteen-year-old Mary Monroe is caught between being an innocent good girl and an autumn of sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll.
When her brother offers a solution to her dilemma in the form of a little pill, Mary ignores the rumba in her brain and takes a walk on the wild side. Plunged into popularity and a life she’s only imagined, she meets Michael Covington, the hot newcomer, and she’s instantly drawn in by his less than flawless exterior and bad boy sex appeal. Caught up in the danger and excitement as they drift from party to party, into underground fight clubs, and through a series of drug and alcohol fueled adventures, Mary follows her new crush into a world where young girls are never truly safe from the predators lurking in the shadows and young men are hiding from the harsh reality of war.
Feeling buzzed and as if her life is spinning out of control, Mary is assaulted by an unknown man at a party, and she’s left questioning if the enigmatic Michael is truly her hero or if he is the face behind the terrible attack. With every piece of information Mary learns about Michael, her doubts grow deeper, but with every minute she spends in his presence, so does her love.
With the war and her fear threatening to separate Mary and Michael forever, only the death of a friend, a crushing confession, and her own sensibilities can carry her over the threshold between adolescence and adulthood.
Cathrina Constantine is the Best Selling author of Don’t Forget To Breathe. Her book won Readers’ Favorite International Book Award for 2015 and The Literary Classics Seal of Approval and Literary Classics Gold Award. Her Paranormal Fantasy, Wickedly They Come has been awarded the 5 Star Seal from Reader’s Favorite. Tallas from her dystopian series received Literary Classics Silver Award and Literary Classics Seal of Approval.
Cathrina resides in Western New York with her husband, five children, two Labrador Retrievers and her cat, Bones. Author @chbbpublishing. Crushing Hearts and Black Butterfly. When not attached to her computer, she likes to take long walks in the woods with her dogs, drink way too much coffee, and is an avid movie watcher. She loves music and doesn’t need a dance floor to shake a leg.
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Quick Reasons: entertaining, fun historical; awesome “coming of age” premise; mature topics handled with sensitivity and tact; endearing, realistic characters; just a smidge bit of “insta-love,” but I’ll forgive it; a wild glimpse into the past
HUGE thanks to Cathrina Constantine and Xpresso Book Tours for sending me a free digital galley of this title in exchange for an honest review! This in no way altered my read of or opinions on this book.
This was such a fun and entertaining glimpse into the past for me! Of course, there are some more mature subjects–and they are handled with sensitivity and tact. The characters were endearing and realistic, wholly relatable for me as the reader–and super easy for me to form connections with/become emotional over.
The growth and “coming of age” journey Mary embarks on throughout this novel reminded me, in part, of my own youth. Of course, I wasn’t the party type–I didn’t touch alcohol, save a few tiny sips, until my 21st birthday. But the journey she takes with HERSELF–to find and become comfortable with who she is–reminded me of my own journey to find the same. In fact, I’ve recently discovered myself on that same path, and watching Mary unfold from herself and find a foot to stand on really inspired and awed me. I also really appreciated the many relationships we look into in this read–friendships, family, the dark secrets that lurk beneath all our skins. It was a poignant, beautifully written expose of human nature and reality, I felt.
The only thing that really irked me was the Michael/Mary relationship. There was quite a bit of insta-love happening; in fact, I didn’t feel as if Michael or Mary really got to KNOW each other. Of course, this is quite realistic I think–I had my own sort of “insta-love” moment in high school…and that relationship carried on for something like seven years, without me really knowing much about the boy. I mean, I KNEW him…but only the pieces he wanted me to, and those pieces were constantly shifting. However, I felt as if Michael and Mary were a bit more swept up in the emotional tsunami than I’d have liked–I didn’t feel like they really breached the walls of each other’s minds. Mary, even, seems to just accept Michael at surface level. He’s the hottest boy in school and all the girls want him, so she does too. It felt pretty shallow to me, honestly. But I’m forgiving it, because as I said, I experienced something similar in my past…and Michael is exactly the shady, dark, mysterious guy I go for in book boyfriends.
Overall, this was an entertaining and poignant look into a world I’ve never really known. The characters are realistic, the romance is…a bit shallow, but not wholly unbelievable. I really enjoyed the look into relationships that happens throughout, and Mary’s “coming of age” journey was turbulent but relateable for me. I’d recommend this to lovers of historical fiction, characters along for a wild ride, and vibrantly colored worlds. Settle back and relax, penguins; let the ride begin!