March, 2015

Mar 15

Bad Bridesmaid by Portia MacIntosh

Book: Bad Bridesmaid
Author: Portia MacIntosh
Publisher: Carina
Available: Out now
Summary: LA romcom writer Mia Valentina has it all: money, success and a tanned and toned body. She’s almost forgotten her previous life as plain old Mia Harrison until she receives a wedding invitation demanding her presence as chief bridesmaid for younger sister Belle’s upcoming nuptials. Mia’s barely back in England before she’s accidentally injured the groom, unintentionally ‘cursed’ the wedding and been caught in a compromising position with her sister’s soon to be brother-in-law. With the wedding dangerously going off the rails, Mia has no time to waste, and gorgeous fireman and best man Leo is on hand to help – will she use her expert romance knowledge to save the day or just walk away?


With the days slowly starting to get longer and Spring almost upon us, I’ve started thinking about the holidays and getting excited for when it will start to get warmer – so naturally I’ve also turned my attention to books that would be great to read on holiday. Portia MacIntosh’s novel Bad Bridesmaid is the perfect example. It has a bit of everything that you want for a beach read – romance, drama, quirky characters, plus it’s really funny.

The protagonist Mia is a very insecure Plain-Jane-turned-LA-script-writer, and her bad luck throughout the book is almost unbelievable – whatever she does, you can bet it gets her into trouble. I do think she can be a bit selfish at times, but she’s not a malicious person so she’s still a likeable character. I think she’s very hard on herself and it can be quite tricky not to get a bit frustrated at her for not properly sticking up for herself and telling her family the truth about how they make her feel.

Which brings me to Mia’s family. What an incredibly frustrating bunch of characters – they overreact, they’re cold, they’re harsh and unfriendly. Just reading the book made me feel a bit anxious at times on Mia’s behalf. Belle, Mia’s sister and the bride, is quite possibly one of the most annoying characters I have ever encountered in a book – she’s a little bit ridiculous with her superstitions, so unfriendly and just a general Bridezilla. There are only a few moments where she actually comes through for Mia but generally she’s crazily self-obsessed – making her actually quite an interesting character because you always wonder what her next major freak out will be.

Meanwhile, from her creepy uncle to her verbally abusive aunt, Mia has to navigate through her family’s inability to be kind towards her, making it increasingly difficult to understand why she doesn’t just leave. Then, we meet love interest Leo, a handsome fireman who’s kind and quite funny, and suddenly all is clear. If you’re going to have a crush on a literary character, make it Leo – but you’ll have to read the book to see what I mean!

Basically, a must-read for anyone who is going to a wedding/having a wedding, or if you want something easy and fun to read during a beach holiday!

What are you all reading this week?

Julie x



Mar 15

The Tutor by Andrea Chapin

Book: The Tutor
Author: Andrea Chapin
Publisher: Penguin
Available: 26th March
Summary: When the body of a Catholic priest is found by Katherine, a young widow staying with relatives in Lufanwal, life for the family begins to unravel. The head of the family flees England and, in his absence, resentment and ambition thrive. Into the midst of this upheaval comes a young tutor, quick-witted and unorthodox: William Shakespeare. Katherine is drawn helplessly into Will’s world of poetry and imagination, the intensity of her love distracting her from disasters looming all around. But malicious forces can’t be ignored for long, and conspiracies threaten to overwhelm the natural order – and charming Will Shakespeare is not what he seems. 


Whenever I’ve studied Shakespeare, one of the things that has always fascinated me, apart from his writing obviously, is how little we actually know about the playwright. I am a big fan of historical fiction surrounding his life and what might have inspired him to write. Therefore, Andrea Chapin’s The Tutor was right up my street. It’s got politics, religion, romance and literature, so whatever your favourite genre is, chances are this book will appeal.

The protagonist, Katherine, meets Will Shakespeare during a turbulent time in her life (I won’t give too much away), and begins to edit his writing for him. Katherine is a great character – she’s level-headed but passionate, kind but not a pushover. There’s a vulnerability about her but she’s still a strong character – widowed after a tragic fire, she throws herself into books and her family, and I like that she isn’t portrayed as someone to feel sorry for – even the times where we do pity her, you still get the sense that she will bounce back.

Then there’s Will Shakespeare. I think he can be a tricky character because of how renowned he is, but Andrea does a great job. I love that she doesn’t create a flawless genius – Will is rude, insolent, but also really funny and mysterious. It’s easy to forget that he was a real person, I think Andrea does a great job of setting him up as simply another character in her book, a love interest for Katherine – she doesn’t draw too much on what we think we know about him, she brings him to life on the page in her own way. Without giving too much away, at times he is cruel and Andrea writes in a way that you find yourself resenting him for how he treats Katherine. There’s so much speculation out there about who/what inspired Shakespeare, and I like how we get a glimpse into the character’s thought process, but from Katherine’s point of view to keep him slightly mysterious.

Andrea’s writing is brilliant – there’s a lot of detail but you don’t feel like she has picked up a history book and stuck to everything. When I read historical fiction I want to be transported to another world, not feel like I’m studying non-fiction, and in Andrea’s case it’s definitely the former.

The chapters are quite short so this is an ideal book for a commuter, but to be honest I think it will appeal the most to anyone who loves and has studied Shakespeare.

What are you all reading this week? x


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