Thursday, April 27, 2017

"Incense and Peppermints" by Cathrina Constantine

Incense and Peppermints
by Cathrina Constantine

Incense and Peppermints by Cathrina Constantine is currently on tour with Xpresso Book Tours. The tour stops here today for an excerpt and a giveaway. Please be sure to visit the other tour stops as well.

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.

“My name is Mary.”
Perceptive eyes smiled at me beneath a layer of lashes.
“Not Bambi.” My disloyal vocal chords warbled.
A breeze ruffled his ebony hair, making him appear like a model posing for Seventeen Magazine. His aristocratic nose led to full lips and a squared, bristly chin. He more than adequately filled out a sleeveless T-shirt detailed with the Steppenwolf band logo “Born to be Wild.” Michael lifted his arms, propping them behind his head. In doing so, he exposed a hint of a flat stomach over his beltline. I tried not to stare. No luck. The guy was visibly out of my league.
Mary…” he said, his voice buttery sweet. “You look young, like a fawn in headlights with those big eyes and freckles.”
“I’ll be sixteen next week.” Is he being rude?
“Well, then.” His mouth stretched into a charming smirk. “I guess you’re ready for just about anything. Right, Bambi?”
I wanted to slap the smirk off his gorgeous face.
[Want more? Click below to read a longer excerpt.]

Praise for the Book
"This thoughtful yet intensely poignant coming of age novel captures all the confusion, bliss and angst of a generation that I was a living breathing part of. Finding a balance was tricky business as we surfed political protests, new philosophies and the growing popularity of recreational drugs. The characters are complex and the era is captured by this skilled writer!" ~ Mensa Mama
"This book was excellent. It really brought back memories for me from my high school days and how much fun they were, yet the temptations and peer pressure were very emotional. I absolutely loved the characters and the relationships between them. You will love this book, but especially if you were born in the 50s. Cathrina is a very talented author. I've read all her books thus far and hope she writes a lot more." ~ cheryl a ritter
"The gritty realism of the many struggles she deals with makes this book so compelling. Plus, just when you think you might be reading a romance, the author takes a completely surprising turn. This book is more of a coming-of-age story that keeps you guessing until the end!" ~ Stephanie Faris, Best Selling Author
"I immediately feel in love with Michael and Mary, wishing them together, but the talented author Catherina Constantine keeps you on roller coaster ride of emotions in this coming of age story that has everything from young love, jealousy and even taking you into the dark side of the drugs of that era." ~ Peace & Patriots
"So much pain, heartache, love, and hate just flowed out of the pages of this book. The characters were easy to fall in love with and I felt as if I could actually relate with them. The story-line was solid and fast paced and had quite the lesson behind it. I highly recommend this read." ~ Jenny Bynum

My Review

By Lynda Dickson
Set in the final months of 1969, Incense and Peppermints follows the coming-of-age of Mary Monroe, a high school junior. When her older brother Stevie starts dating Candy (another junior), Mary is invited to join the popular crowd. What follows in a slow, but sure, descent into a world of skipping school, smoking cigarettes, smoking pot, taking drugs, drinking, lying to her parents, going to parties, kissing boys, attempted raped, going to a bar, breaking curfew, sneaking out at night, going to a fight club, riding a motorcycle, and even the death of a friend. Through it all, Mary must also deal with her conflicting feelings for the charismatic Michael, the unwanted attention of a number of boys, and her father's violence and drinking. It will take a tragedy to make her change her new-found wild ways.
The book is full of fun historical references to the fashion, music, and events of the time. The gorgeous cover and colorful Paisley chapter headings set the tone. I'm not so sure about the title, though. It refers to a song title that is mentioned once (among numerous others), peppermints are also mentioned once, and incense is never mentioned. Unfortunately, I failed to connect with either Mary or Michael, or to feel any emotions for the characters, even during the violent scenes and the death of one of the characters. Following her assault, I found it hard to believe that Mary would be interested in Michael - or any other boy - and that she would constantly put herself in a vulnerable position by continuing to consume alcohol and smoke marijuana. Apart from the continuous references to the music and the Vietnam War, this felt like a contemporary - not historical - novel; the speech, attitudes, and behaviors could all be those of modern-day teenagers. The version I read contained numerous editing errors, including some inaccurate historical references, incorrect word usage, and incorrect punctuation (especially apostrophes), getting worse as the book progressed.
This book is part coming-of-age, part romance, part family drama, and even part mystery/thriller. Interesting but, ultimately, disappointing.
Warnings: drug use, coarse language, attempted rape, sexual references, underage drinking, domestic violence.

About the Author
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. 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.

Enter the tour-wide giveaway for a chance to win a $10 Amazon gift card or one of two ebook copies of Incense and Peppermints by Cathrina Constantine.