Profile for Julia Flyte > Reviews

Personal Profile

Content by Julia Flyte
Top Reviewer Ranking: 71
Helpful Votes: 8794

Learn more about Your Profile.

Reviews Written by
Julia Flyte
(TOP 50 REVIEWER)   

Show:  
Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11-20
pixel
A Place Called Winter
A Place Called Winter
by Patrick Gale
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £8.00

5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful book, 25 May 2015
This review is from: A Place Called Winter (Hardcover)
Set in the early 20th century, this is the story of Harry Cane, who travels from England to Canada to start a new life in his early thirties. When the book opens he is in some kind of hospital or asylum and we will gradually work our way back to how he got there. I almost don't want to tell you anything more about the story than that. It's the story of a man's life and there are twists and turns along the way. It's told to you by a master storyteller and it holds you in its grip from the start to its very moving conclusion.

When we meet Henry, he's an introverted young man living a quiet and comfortable bachelor life in Edwardian London. Through his brother, he meets Winnie, an equally shy young woman, and they marry. Gradually they realise that for both of them the marriage is a compromise, but it's not until Henry starts an affair that things come to a head and he needs to leave the country. In Canada, a harsh and isolated landscape, he starts again both literally and metaphorically.

I loved the way the book was written. I felt transported to the places where the book was sent. The characters all felt very real and rounded and I also like the way that Gale doesn't spell everything out for the reader but allows you to intuit the things that you are not told.

It wasn't until I finished this book and read the author's acknowledgments that I realised the book is based on a true story, that Winter is a real place and that Harry was the author's great-grandfather. While Gale has imagined a large part of the story, the basic bones are factual and this added an extra and very pleasing dimension for me.


Yes Please
Yes Please
by Amy Poehler
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £11.89

3.0 out of 5 stars Very uneven, but when it's good, it's great, 19 May 2015
This review is from: Yes Please (Hardcover)
First things first, I want Amy Poelher to be my best friend. She's the kind of person who would be fun to hang out with but would also give great advice and make you laugh when you needed cheering up. My problem with this book is that it's hugely uneven. It leaps around in all directions. I really really loved about half the book and I got bored or irritated with the other half. I think that reaction is probably not going to be uncommon but possibly every reader would disagree on which parts they liked and which parts they didn't.

For me, the autobiographical stuff and the parts about Amy's career - probably because I'm not super familiar with a lot of her work - were less interesting. I didn't need to know about the day she was born or who her best friends were when she was growing up. But nor did I miss the things she doesn't dish on - the details of her failed marriage, her high profile friendships like Tina Fey. Amy acknowledges that she doesn't like people knowing her stuff and that's fine with me.

What I loved were the parts that revealed how she approaches life. The parts where wise Amy my new best friend talked to me about things like how to manage your internal self-critical demon voice. How to man up and apologise for something you've done. (Though I doubt she'd use the phrase "man up", unless it was ironically). How to live less fearfully, even though it's hard.

And now I am sure you'll scroll down and the next review will say how those were the crappy parts but how great the section on how Parks and Recreation was put together is. It's a very uneven book, but there are many diamonds in the rough.


The Nightingale
The Nightingale
by Kristin Hannah
Edition: Paperback
Price: £3.85

4.0 out of 5 stars Stick with it, it gets better, 17 May 2015
This review is from: The Nightingale (Paperback)
For around the first 100 pages of this book, I was wondering what the fuss was about. This story of two French sisters during World War 2 felt predictable and riddled with cliched characters. But when the story does take off, it becomes a real page turner and while some of my initial reservations are true, it also becomes genuinely suspenseful and moving.

The story alternates between the experiences of the two sisters. Vianne, the elder sister, is married with a young daughter when her husband leaves for war. It takes almost all that she has to get through the war, to protect her daughter and to try to look out for her friends and their children.

Isabelle, the younger sister, is more impetuous and determined to join the Resistance. She will take incredible risks as she becomes "The Nightingale" that gives the book its name. Initially I didn't feel that she felt like a real person from that time, but her character matures and develops as the book goes on.

The story occasionally jumps forward to 1995, and we know that one of the sisters is alive, but we don't know which one it is for quite a large part of the novel (and I kept changing my mind about which it was).

I'm frequently drawn to books set in WW2 and I did enjoy this, although I felt that the author tried to cram too many elements of the War into the storyline. It's more popular fiction than literary fiction, but as I say, very readable.


Love At First Flight
Love At First Flight
Price: £1.99

3.0 out of 5 stars Very readable, 5 May 2015
Mel is a GP living in Perth, Australia who is happily married with two teenage children. On a flight across the country for a girls' weekend, she meets Matt, a physiotherapist. The two are instantly attracted to one another, despite the fact that they are both in committed relationships. Mel has no intention of letting the relationship progress but finds herself unable to stop thinking about Matt, with whom she realises she has a far more meaningful connection than she does with her husband.

When I started reading this book I thought that it was going to be incredibly predictable and I disliked the way that the two characters had this instant conviction that each had met their soul mate. It's the kind of book where everyone has "incredible, mind blowing" sex with everyone that they sleep with, which also irritates me. But when I wasn't reading the book, I found myself wondering how things would develop and how they could possibly be resolved. The plot also has some quite unexpected turns along the way and the author has put a considerable effort into developing her characters and their back stories. I started off not liking Mel at all, but I warmed to her as the book went on.

So a very readable book, with an interesting premise that's definitely not as predictable as you think it's going to be. And apart from the mind blowing sex, I thought there were many aspects of the plot that felt very realistic.

Thank you to Net Galley for giving me the advance copy to review.


Hausfrau
Hausfrau
by Jill Alexander Essbaum
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £11.24

5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant, 29 April 2015
This review is from: Hausfrau (Hardcover)
This is the kind of book that would benefit from a Reader's Advisory Label on the front. If it had one, it would say something like this - Warning: Frequent, explicit sex scenes. Depressed and unlikeable heroine. Bit of a downer all round.

And while this is all true, I loved this book. Loved it, loved it, loved it. (Being the old lady that I am, I would have preferred it to have less graphic sex in it - but whilst it was graphic, it was neither titillating nor gratuitous). I got completely immersed in it and I also am full of respect for how cleverly it has been constructed and how satisfying it is on several levels.

The book is about Anna, aged 37, an American who has lived in Zurich with her Swiss husband for the last 8 years. During that time she has had three children but she has never succeeded in feeling "at home" in Switzerland. She hasn't come to grips with the language, she hasn't made many connections with others and she has kind of floundered in a drifting apathy that has evolved into depression and self-loathing. She feels detached from both her husband and her children.

Two years ago, she had an affair that lasted a few months and that gave her a feeling of purpose and life. Over the course of this book she will take further lovers, although the relationships are impersonal - physical but not emotionally satisfying. Sex for Anna is a way to shut out her depression on a temporary basis, whilst at the same time compounding it through guilt.

I didn't particularly like Anna and I don't think many readers will. But I empathised with her. I have been a lonely partner living in Switzerland myself and it is a hard society to break into, particularly if you are not fluent in the local language. Even now, while I read this, I am adapting to a new country that we moved to a few months ago and so I really get that feeling of isolation, how easy it is to avoid taking proactive steps to lift yourself out of it and how apathy just perpetuates the feeling of isolation. I don't know if I would necessarily recommend this book for a book club because I think that lots of people will probably have quite strong negative reactions to it, but I would love to have a discussion about it. Having finished it, I almost immediately feel like reading it again and that's a very unusual reaction for me.


A Fifty-Year Silence: Love, War, and a Ruined House in France
A Fifty-Year Silence: Love, War, and a Ruined House in France
by Miranda Richmond Mouillot
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £17.77

3.0 out of 5 stars A woman piecing together her grandparents' lives, 27 April 2015
Miranda Richmond Mouillot grew up in the US. Her maternal grandmother moved to the US from Switzerland a few years after the war. At the time she was pregnant and also brought her young daughter (the author's mother). Miranda grew up knowing that her grandparents had separated but never knowing why. While she had close relationships with both of them, neither showed any willingness to talk about the other or to explain how they had met, how as two Jews living in France they had escaped the war, and why they subsequently separated. This book is about her quest over several years to discover their stories.

The problem that I have with this book is that Miranda's grandparents are not particularly interesting, nor likeable. There is an insinuation that there's going to be a big reveal, but actually it's a story that's largely devoid of drama. (Not entirely: the story of how they escaped from France to Switzerland is both dramatic and nerve-wracking.) Having said that, it does give a good picture of life at that time, of the tension of living under the Vichy Government, the desolate nature of the Swiss refugee camps and the soul-eroding experience of participating as an interpreter at the Nuremberg trials. But it also gets bogged down a great deal with variations in Miranda's frustration at trying to piece the story together and her grandparents stubbornly refusing to assist.

What lifts this book is that the author writes extremely well. She has a beautiful turn of phrase and the book is full of sentences that are a pleasure to read.


Fifty-Year Silence, A
Fifty-Year Silence, A
by Miranda Richmond Mouillot
Edition: Paperback
Price: £12.08

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A woman piecing together her grandparents' lives, 27 April 2015
This review is from: Fifty-Year Silence, A (Paperback)
Miranda Richmond Mouillot grew up in the US. Her maternal grandmother moved to the US from Switzerland a few years after the war. At the time she was pregnant and also brought her young daughter (the author's mother). Miranda grew up knowing that her grandparents had separated but never knowing why. While she had close relationships with both of them, neither showed any willingness to talk about the other or to explain how they had met, how as two Jews living in France they had escaped the war, and why they subsequently separated. This book is about her quest over several years to discover their stories.

The problem that I have with this book is that Miranda's grandparents are not particularly interesting, nor likeable. There is an insinuation that there's going to be a big reveal, but actually it's a story that's largely devoid of drama. (Not entirely: the story of how they escaped from France to Switzerland is both dramatic and nerve-wracking.) Having said that, it does give a good picture of life at that time, of the tension of living under the Vichy Government, the desolate nature of the Swiss refugee camps and the soul-eroding experience of participating as an interpreter at the Nuremberg trials. But it also gets bogged down a great deal with variations in Miranda's frustration at trying to piece the story together and her grandparents stubbornly refusing to assist.

What lifts this book is that the author writes extremely well. She has a beautiful turn of phrase and the book is full of sentences that are a pleasure to read.


Touch
Touch
by Claire North
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £10.49

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Clever and original but needed to be tighter, 25 April 2015
This review is from: Touch (Hardcover)
A clever book by a clever author: Touch is the second book from the writer of the brilliant The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August, and like Harry, it features a protagonist (Kepler) who has abilities that ordinary people do not. Kepler has the ability to switch bodies with anyone that he touches and has been living this way for the past 250 years. Sometimes he spends only moments in a body, other times it can be years. Over the years he has become fluent in multiple languages, become familiar with many cities and has developed a sense of responsibility for those whose bodies he "borrows". He has also come to know a few others who share his abilities - fellow "ghosts" as they refer to themselves.

The book opens when someone is trying to kill Kepler. Gradually he learns that there is an organisation which is targeting and trying to eliminate the ghosts and which has already killed many of them.

I really enjoyed the originality of this book and the thought that the author has put into what it would be like to be a "ghost" - the things you look for in a host body and how shifting into a body that is old or inebriated is an unpleasant experience when you haven't had the time to get accustomed to that state. The first half of the book is fast moving, gripping and clever. However the story is too stretched out and by the end of it I was feeling weary.


Lunch In Paris: A Delicious Love Story, with Recipes
Lunch In Paris: A Delicious Love Story, with Recipes
by Elizabeth Bard
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

3.0 out of 5 stars Pleasant enough but nothing memorable, 23 April 2015
This is the account of an American woman who moves to Paris and marries her French boyfriend (who's not at all a stereotype - he's a tapdancing engineer with the unlikely name of Gwendal). It's about how she adapts to living in Paris and how she falls in love with the city and the cuisine. She ends every chapter with some of her favourite recipes, so it's part memoir, part travelogue, part recipe book.

Unfortunately Elizabeth just isn't as interesting as she thinks she is. There's too much about her - I love history! I grew up surrounded by women! I like eating! - and not enough objectively about the experience of moving to a new country. Parts of the book also felt like they had been taken verbatim from emails to her mother (eg "tonight when I came out of the Louvre I noticed them cleaning the windows").

Some of the most interesting parts for me were the way that she starts to find fault in so many aspects of the American culture. She pokes fun at American tourists and sneers at her mother for assuming that things will operate in Europe as they do in the US. Over my life I've lived in seven different countries, and it got me thinking about the way that I have adapted and assimilated. I was also interested in her views on the differences between American vs French attitudes, how what is quite acceptable in the US is seen as pushy in France and how Americans show their power by helping whereas the French show their power by blocking progress.

The integration of the recipes (more than 60) feels very natural given Elizabeth's obsession with food. (She's the kind of writer who describes walls as being the colour of butter or a sweater as being the colour of warm milk.) While I haven't tried any, for the most part they sound tasty and easy to follow. They are also listed in the index.

While I found the book okay, I got bored towards the end, because ultimately it doesn't go anywhere. It felt like Bard wrote it because she had nothing better to do with her time. There are better books that cover similar territory. Almost French: A New Life in Paris is one which I recommend, or if the foodie aspect is what appeals, try The Sharper Your Knife, the Less You Cry.


The Novel Habits of Happiness (Isabel Dalhousie Novels)
The Novel Habits of Happiness (Isabel Dalhousie Novels)
by Alexander McCall Smith
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £12.59

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A warm installment in a loved series, 21 April 2015
I feel a bit disloyal giving this book three stars, hence I've given it four, although that's a stretch. I have read all nine books in the series and somewhere along the way I moved from loving them to just kind of liking them. Having said that, this is one of the best in some time, even if it does take until Chapter 5 before anything of consequence happens.

Isabel Dalhousie is the editor of a philosophical magazine who lives in Edinburgh with her handsome husband Jamie (that's only mentioned about, oh! 100 times) and their three year old son Charlie. She has an active mind and she is always musing about topics as varied as the failings of lions, whether one can be pure of heart without being boring and the reliability of the Swiss railway system.

There are two main storylines in this book. The first concerns Isabel being asked to investigate a child who is convinced that they have had a previous life. His descriptions of where he lived are so vivid that his mother asks Isabel to find out whether it is possible that such a place exists. The second storyline concerns her old nemeses Professors Lettuce and Dove, who turn up unexpectedly in Edinburgh. While both storylines take some time to develop, they are well developed and largely resolved, which is something that hasn't always happened with this series in the past.

The main point of this book seems to me to make you think about kindness. Again and again different characters remind us of the need to be kind to others, to open oneself to goodness "as one opens a door to allow a friend to come in". And ultimately, because you can't read a book in this series without thinking about being a better person, I rate it four stars.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 23, 2015 9:48 PM BST


Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11-20