blog tour · book review · nostalgia

Blog Tour ‘n’ Book Review – Bubblegum and Blazers

School’s been out for 20 years. now it’s time to go back.

Bubblegum and Blazers

When Ali, Blake, Charlotte, and Grant sign contracts to star in a Back to School reality TV show, LOVE is the very last thing on their minds:

Ali flies to the UK from New Zealand, intrigued by the golden opportunity to advance her amateur social media influencer career.

Blake carpe diems the moment with both hands after a constant flurry of bad luck.

Charlotte jumps at the chance to relive her sporting glories of the past – and take a hiatus from her humdrum marriage.

And Grant is just relieved to get away from his failing second-hand music shop.

But once the advances hit their bank accounts, it soon becomes apparent that producer Jock’s Pied Piper-style offer to change their lives is distinctly lacking in sherbet fizz!

In fact, the only sweet thing about this gig for the former students and the rest of their Bubblegum and Blazers competitors, may just be the packet of candy in their pockets.

Re-enacting their past is a rollercoaster of revelations, retaliation, and unlikely romance in a gold-fish bowl of mayhem where Raphael (Agony Uncle of the school sweet shop) and his rhubarb and custards reign supreme…

Purchase Link – mybook.to/bubblegumandblazers

Author Bio

Isabella May lives in (mostly) sunny Andalusia, Spain with her husband, daughter and son, creatively inspired by the mountains and the sea. Having grown up on Glastonbury’s ley lines however, she’s unable to completely shake off her spiritual inner child, and is a Law of Attraction fanatic, as well as a Pranic Healer.

After a degree in Modern Languages and European Studies at UWE, Bristol (and a year working abroad in Bordeaux and Stuttgart), Isabella bagged an extremely jammy and fascinating job in children’s publishing… selling foreign rights for novelty, board, pop-up and non-fiction books all over the world; in every language from Icelandic to Korean, Bahasa Indonesian to Papiamento!

All of which has fuelled her curiosity and love of international food and travel – both feature extensively in her cross-genre novels, fused with a dollop of romcom, and a sprinkle of magical realism.

Social Media Links

www.isabellamayauthor.com

Twitter – @IsabellaMayBks

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/IsabellaMayAuthor/

Instagram – @isabella_may_author

My Review

This was a “blast from the past” nostalgia read for me, blending delicious and never-to-be-forgotten childhood sweets with a reality TV show. An ingenious premise that promised to be entertaining and lots of fun.

I thought the story got off to a slow start as the many characters were introduced, but once we got down to the nitty gritty of the show, that was when the real fun began. And while some of the “activities” were a bit hard to visualise, the thought processes of the participants were chuckle-worthy, though at times the introspection blurred the action. Nonetheless it was a joy to reminisce over parma violets and flying saucers as the competition progressed and the true nature of the characters came out.

A particular highlight for me was the Spaghetti Eis, something which I had almost forgotten about but which reminded me of my own student days in Germany. Thank you, Isabella!

The pace picked up in the second half as a wrongdoing from the past finally caught up with the wrongdoer and consequences were doled out. A harsh reminder that karma has a way of putting things right even when you think you’ve got away with something.

Getting to know all of the main characters in their current lives at the start of the story revealed why each of them had signed up for the show, and their reasons were varied. I began to appreciate the time the author had put into showing us their lives as adults before we delved back into their school years and old habits resurfaced. As we learnt more about the characters, their personalities unravelled and the element of competition only intensified that reaction. It was apparent that not all had lived up to expectations, and while some applied heavy filters to appear more successful than they were, it was the down-to-earth characters who ultimately shone through.

This was a story with many layers: there’s the fun aspect of a school reunion and the tuck shop nostalgia, but the reality TV aspect laid bare that all was not as it seemed. Injustices were put right as some revealed their darker side only for it to be sent packing. In the end, the winner of the competition could only be one person, despite the shenanigans and twists thrown in to derail the outcome.

Bubblegum and Blazers lived up to its premise in providing an entertaining and enlightening read, and made me realise that while schooldays are meant to be the best days of your life, returning to those times as an adult could just as easily be a disaster waiting to happen.

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blog tour · book review · crime · family · literary fiction · must-read · mystery · nostalgia · thought provoking · women's fiction

Blog Tour ‘n’ Book Review – Pink Ice Creams

Pink Ice Creams

by Jo Woolaston

Pink Ice Creams

Intent on fixing her broken marriage and the alcohol-fuelled catastrophe that is her life, Kay Harris arrives at her grim and grey holiday let, ready to lay to rest the tragedy that has governed her entire adulthood – the disappearance of her little brother, Adam.

But the road to recovery is pitted with the pot-holes of her own poor choices, and it isn’t long before Kay is forced to accept that maybe she doesn’t deserve the retribution she seeks. Will the intervention of strangers help her find the answers she needs to move on from her past, or will she always be stuck on the hard shoulder with no clear view ahead and a glove box full of empties?

Pink Ice Creams is a tale of loss, self-destruction, and clinging on to the scraps of the long-lost when everyone else has given up hope.


Purchase Links

Amazon.co.uk:

Paperback:  https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1984168231

Kindle: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07RV49TKB

Author Page: https://www.amazon.co.uk/-/e/B07RYX3YWP

Amazon.com:

Paperback: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1984168231

Kindle: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07RV49TKB

Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/author/jowoolaston

 

Author Bio

Jo Woolaston lives in Leicestershire, England with her extreme noise-making husband and two lovely sons. She tries to avoid housework and getting a ‘proper job’ by just writing stuff instead – silly verse, screenplays, shopping lists…

This sometimes works in her favour (she did well in her MA in TV Scriptwriting, gaining a Best Student award in Media and Journalism – and has had a few plays produced – that kind of thing) but mostly it just results in chronic insomnia and desperate tears of frustration. Pink Ice Creams is her first novel, she hopes you liked it.

Social Media Links 

Facebookhttps://m.facebook.com/nevermindthebloggers

Twitter @JoWoolaston

Website: https://www.jowoolaston.com

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/19176972.Jo_Woolaston

My Review

Wow – what a book!

Kay’s story switches between one major life event to another. As a pre-teen, her younger brother, Adam went missing while on holiday – a caravan holiday with her mum and little bro. She harbours some guilt about his disappearance, and it’s clear she hasn’t really grieved and recovered from it all.

Years later she is back at the same caravan park, this time having left her husband Martin. We learn he’s a bully, an abuser with violent and manipulative tendencies, and even now, whilst in a safe place, she contemplates going back to him. But, this time, she fears he won’t forgive her actions.

Vulnerable, traumatised and paranoid, the events that play out at the caravan park and the local area are indicative of her disturbed state of mind. Yet, despite being at her lowest, she still has the strength of character and sisterly love to unravel the details surrounding her brother’s disappearance.

Peppered with nursery rhymes, holiday nostalgia as well as less happy memories relating to her marriage, the story drifts between the past and present. Sometimes, this is a little confusing and jarring – but maybe that’s just the Kindle version. I can imagine a print copy would break the text up more successfully, thus avoiding any confusion as the timeline changes.

The story totally took off, for me, in the second half, where the pace of events sped up, and Kay became clearer as to what happened to Adam – after a series of very unfortunate mistakes, generally due to her drunken state and paranoia and an ability to jump to conclusions at those times.

A powerful read, with moments of humour and sadness. The author’s character observations are uniquely made, but with such clarity and detail that brings every scene to life. Jo Woolaston is definitely a great talent, and one I’ll be following with interest, awaiting her next tour de force.

 

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A to Z challenge · Angel Delight · nostalgia

W is for … “Wait and see” pudding!

WSeriously, it does exist!

Every Sunday there was a ritual in our house. The question, “what’s for pudding?” was always replied to as “wait and see!” Consequently, it became known as ‘wait and see’ pudding. The silly thing about it was that it never changed, well … maybe the flavour, but generally ‘wait and see’ pudding was Angel Delight!

Angel Delight was a powdered custard dessert product produced in the UK. Mixed and whisked with milk, it created a mousse-like custardy sweet dessert. Originally launched in 1967 by the Bird’s company with a strawberries and cream flavour, by the 1970s it had doubled the market for instant desserts.  New flavours were added, these being butterscotch, banana, chocolate and raspberry.

Even for a chocoholic like me, butterscotch was the best flavour. During the 1980s, it virtually disappeared from sight as its popularity took a dive, but then a revival campaign was run in 1999, featuring Wallace & Gromit.  Now, in this new millennium, the brand has made a comeback – thanks undoubtedly to a desire by my generation for the foods of our childhood.

angel_top1Happily, I can now also add that it is available here too – in a few shops that cater particularly for Expats like me.

So, it really was true what my Mom used to say – “Good things come to those who wait!”

Believe me, I’ve waited a long time for this 🙂

Carpe diem (I’m off to bag the full range, before anyone sees this!)