Julie Vuong - Editorial Expert

About Julie Vuong

Julie Vuong is a journalist working at the centre of UK publishing, serving as feature writer at news service, BookBrunch, and columnist for Mslexia, the iconic magazine for women writers.  

As a book reviewer her work appears widely, including in Oh Magazine, The Skinny and Bloom, and she is also author of literary newsletter, Written Approval, interviewing people in the book trade about the books they love.

Latest Reviews By Julie Vuong

Grace
At the heart of this story are two women in two very different circumstances – and one baby Grace in the middle of it all. There’s teenager Michelle, who’s only known a life of squalor and strife, who believes her baby is best off with another family. Enter Amelia, whose position is almost the opposite – having struggled with fertility she and her husband Piers are perfectly placed to give the child a stable home. But Michelle’s desire to have her daughter back throws Grace’s future into jeopardy. What I particularly liked ... View Full Review
My Hidden Race: Anyika Onuora
It’s telling that for someone who’s experienced so much success as an Olympic athlete – winning bronze in the 4x400m Relay in 2016 – that writing this book has been described as her ‘greatest achievement yet’. My Hidden Race is a no-holds-barred story; less about what went down on the racing track and more about the woman herself. It’s what she calls the “brutal reality of professional sport for many athletes, especially black sportswomen”. Onuora’s autobiography recounts her life growing up in Liverpool and the challenges she faced ... View Full Review
Run Towards The Danger
Considered a national treasure in her native Canada, Sarah Polley is one of the most celebrated and admired actors/directors/producers in Hollywood. Yet, as this revealing collection of six essays proves, her life is rather unknown to many, even her biggest fans. In Run Towards The Danger (taken from the advice she was given by a doctor when she was struggling with the effects of severe concussion) Polley shares the misfortunes that she and her body have endured, sometimes at the hands of others. Going back and forth in time, each essay discusses trauma ­­– from her ... View Full Review
See No Stranger
I have to admit, I hadn’t heard of Valarie Kaur before reading her memoir, See No Stranger. She’s led a fascinating life: from a childhood in California and university education at Stamford, to becoming a legal observer at Guantanamo Bay and documentary-maker on gun violence and racial injustice. Kaur is now a renowned activist championing compassion. Her rallying cry in See No Stranger is for us to embrace ‘revolutionary love’ – a philosophy to show love to everyone, even our enemies. Kaur’s own troubling experiences make her pledge to end animosity ... View Full Review
Double Booked
Of the many books birthed in the pandemic, Lily Lindon’s Double Booked is perhaps one of the funniest. Dubbed a queer romcom, the book is also a coming-of-age story for those who’ve outgrown their teens and are well on the way to adulthood. It makes Double Booked a refreshing take on self-discovery, a subject normally the preserve of the very young. We follow Gina as she takes on another self, George, in an attempt to live two different lives. Alongside the funnies is plenty of fizz. There’s an infectious energy to Lindon’s ... View Full Review
The Gone and the Forgotten
Remote islands, windswept landscapes – and an unsolved murder. Clare Whitfield’s follow up to her much acclaimed debut, People of Abandoned Character, is perfect for fans of dark, twisty tales. When teenager Prue feels obliged to go live with her extended family, we’re slowly pulled into a new faraway landscape in the Shetlands, one that feels barren but full of intrigue. Prue’s on a mission to know the identity of her biological father, but while there gets drawn into another mystery she’s keen to uncover. It’s the kind of book ... View Full Review
Vanda
Marginal people scratching a living on the beach in Marseille, no money and no way out - this is the framework of Marion Brunet’s unsettling novel, Vanda. A short but sharply written book, Vanda is about a single mother, whose life has been one of free-spirited rebellion, trying to hold things together for her young son. What the novel is really about is prejudice, the secret cruelty of society and how having no money makes you an easy target. Thought-provoking fiction with a strong narrative drive, Vanda is expertly translated from the French by Katherine Gregor. Author Marion ... View Full Review
The Shot
For readers with an interest in what happens behind the scenes in the newsrooms – of which there are many – The Shot is sure to satisfy their thirst for the next big scoop. Given her first chance in the spotlight, young TV journalist Samira is out to prove her worth. Alongside seasoned photographer Kris, they take a photograph – a shot that has thrown their whole mission and lives in peril. As a former CNN news executive, author Sarah Sultoon packs her novel with the kind of details that only someone who’s been on the frontline of ... View Full Review
The Dark Queens
Reading Dark Queens by Shelley Puhak, I found myself astounded that the two women at the centre of the book ­– Brunhild and Fredegund – are not known far and wide. This isn’t the kind of feminist retelling of well-known stories we rightly lap up today. It’s simply a telling; proof of their existence at all – and I soaked up every detail. Puhak takes us to Merovingian France during the 6th Century. In this most bloody of bloody Middle Ages, the Romans have left a power vacuum, and the Franks are fighting among themselves ... View Full Review
Off-Target
When a writer’s work is compared to Michael Crichton’s, there’s reason to sit up and pay attention whenever a new title from said author drops. Having proved her ability to spin a clever speculative tale with her debut The Waiting Rooms, which was shortlisted for the Bridport Prize First Novel and longlisted for the Not The Booker Prize, her second release will only consolidate her reputation further. In Off-Target she takes us to the near future and toys with ideas around fertility treatments and gene adaptation. The subject of Off-Target is Susan who, after ... View Full Review
The Lost Girls
Mysteries are best served cold. At Justine’s new house in chilly Minnesota, there are no warm comforts, not even a working hob. There’s only relief at having escaped a turbulent life – even if that happened to be in sunny San Diego. In her lakeside retreat, remote and beautiful, Justine begins to unravel a secret that has haunted her family for decades. A diary, written by her grandaunt Lucy before she died, holds the key to what happened that summer in 1935 when Lucy’s six-year-old sister went missing from the house. The narration shifts between ... View Full Review
On The Edge
A twisty thriller set against the windswept shores of Cornwall? It’s a premise that may hint at another writer whose dark tales are synonymous with the county. Yet debut novelist, Jane Jesmond, takes an effective (and bloody) stab at taking readers on a thrill ride amongst these same rocky outposts and smugglers coves. Our protagonist is, however, very different to Daphne du Maurier’s. Jen Shaw, a free climber, is in trouble. She might be out of rehab from her high-octane addiction, but she’s not on terra firma for long. This time, though, it’... View Full Review