A Review of Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo

I first read Six of Crows at the beginning of 2019 and fell in love with the rag-tag gang and their dynamic. I was nervous to start Crooked Kingdom, it’s a big book and had a lot to live up to. Carrying on from the end of one big heist and probably moving towards a second, there was a lot that could go wrong.

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At first, I didn’t enjoy it! I tried to read it in June and could just not get into the book at all. I ended up DNFing to read another time. But thankfully Noria’s Fuckathon prompts of fuck capitalism and fuck ableism fit beautifully with Crooked Kingdom and I just knew that I needed to read this book for that. When I picked the book up again I still wasn’t loving it, I just wasn’t jelling with the dynamic. Eventually I made myself sit and read it in bigger chunks, and that’s what did it for me. I was hooked.

I adored how the group dynamic had shifted ever so slightly, I loved the camaraderie between all of the characters and their intricate relationships. It did feel slightly weird when I remembered they were supposed to be teenagers, in my minds eye they were very much 18-25 years old. The writing just did not feel like kids to me, but then again I’m 23 so maybe I’m just becoming old and annoying before my time.

I had been spoiled for a major plot point at the end of the book from Twitter (damn it!!!) and so that did take away a little from my enjoyment as I was waiting the whole time for it to happen. I didn’t know where in the book it would occur. That was really annoying but even despite that I was really loving the book. The end third was absolutely gorgeous as you see all of these carefully placed cogs fall and either hit their mark or miss and the eventuality of that.

I definitely have to read the Grisha trilogy at some point, I’ve heard mixed reviews with some liking it more than the SoC duology and some liking it less but I just hope I enjoy them! I’ll also probably pick up King of Scars now, as I’ve heard Nina is in there and I need more of her! Nina, Inej and Jasper are my faves!

Have you read Crooked Kingdom, or any of the Grisha books? What did you think of them? Comment below!

Did we need a sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale?

That was the first thing anyone asked when this book was announced. Do we need it? So many years after the first book was published, is a sequel necessary to the story? Straight up? No. No, it’s not necessary in the slightest. You can read The Handmaid’s Tale and get a complete story without even touching The Testaments. It does, however, give more insight into Gilead. Its formation, its running, and how the outside world perceives it.



This sequel picks up more than fifteen years after Offred’s story takes place, following three women and their interactions with Gilead. We follow one of the highest “Aunts” who runs the women’s side of things in Gilead, or at least tries to. We follow a young girl who is growing up as a commander’s daughter within this country and knows nothing else. And lastly we follow another young girl who lives in Canada, who is taught about Gilead in school, who thinks they should be stopped.

I love how well Aunt Lydia was fleshed out, we get to learn so much about her backstory and also through her about the inner runnings of how the system treats women. I was hooked throughout her chapters and lapped up every drop of information that she gave us. Through Aunt Lydia we saw more of the “eyes are everywhere” aspect of Gilead and how this worked behind the scenes. It was incredibly interesting. Showing her in a truthful light, showing the horrendous things that she did alongside helping girls and women really made her feel real. In real-life people are often multi-faceted.

Daisy is our Canadian and this was my least favourite point of view to read from. Whilst interesting at the start to see how outside countries were reacting to Gilead in terms of trade and opposing their treatment of people, I wasn’t all that interested in her plot line. I’ll delve more into that in a second.

Lastly we have Agnes Jemima, a privileged young girl who should end up with a high placed husband due to her father being a Commander. Although I didn’t enjoy Agnes’ viewpoint as much as Aunt Lydia’s, I did prefer her sections to those of Daisy. There was more to be learnt about life in the home in Gilead here as well as other sections of life in Gilead that I don’t want to mention as it would spoil the book.

Back to Daisy now, because her primary plot is what really ruined this book for me. Up until around 70/80% of the way through I was engrossed, I could barely put the book down. And then I reached a point where I felt like I was done. And after finishing the book I can tell you I wish I had stopped there. The ending of the book felt forced and oh so typical, not at all what I was looking for when reading the sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale. I can see that the current climate would want a happy ending to this story, but I think Atwood went slightly too far and reached glossy Hollywood fakery levels. Stopping after a slight improvement for those we’ve been following would have been enough for this tale in my opinion.

Margaret Atwood herself said: “Dear Readers: Everything you’ve ever asked me about Gilead and its inner workings is the inspiration for this book. Well, almost everything! The other inspiration is the world we’ve been living in.” and whilst I appreciate the last sentence and agree that the world we currently live in does indeed provide inspiration, I do wish she hadn’t bowed to pressure. To all the people writing her letters since Handmaid’s was first published. I can understand why, she’s been bombarded with these letters for decades now, and surely must just want to get some sort of conclusive ending out there for people. This for me, though, was such a disappointing ending to a book. It was so predictable and made that end 20/30% genuinely difficult to get through, there were no surprises, just sad realisation that she was taking this exactly where it felt like.

If I ever re-read this book I will be stopping before the end. Before it’s all wrapped up in a shiny bow. I’ll probably skip Daisy’s chapters too. I have heard that to get the full story Atwood is telling you should watch the TV show as well as reading the books. I’m a completionist and do want to see how the original book was adapted so I will watch the show at some point. I’m not exactly expecting to love it though. Overall I gave this 3.5/5, rounding up to a 4 on Goodreads. This is purely because of how much I was enjoying Aunt Lydia and Agnes’ sections for the majority of the book. I’m glad I read it, but I’m also disappointed.

Delving into a different aspect of WWII

We’ve all heard the same sort of stories from WWII, fighting on the front lines, the fighter pilots and the blitz in London. What I haven’t read anything about before, which is my own fault, is what was happening in Africa. Despite this being a World War, most literature, both fiction and non, is based within Europe. That is understandable to an extent, this is where things kicked off. But to have read nothing from Africa? Well that changed after I read Devil Darling Spy by Matt Killeen. The sequel to Orphan Monster Spy, this book follows our protagonists from the first book into Egypt and beyond as they attempt to track down a lethal disease that seems to be man made.

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(this post is spoiler free for both books)

I think the way that Matt Killeen portrayed racism within this book was well done, it explored the white saviour trope and how our main character Sarah has implicit bias. I also enjoyed the “letters” that Sarah wrote in her head when things were getting too much. This book was a great progression on from the first book, whilst still taking things in a completely different direction. I adore Matt Killeen’s writing, he is able to evoke powerful images in my minds eye as well as allowing you to empathise will all of the characters and their emotions.

I really do recommend picking both of these books up. Orphan Monster Spy delves into the life of young German girls, and Devil Darling Spy explores the less talked about aspects of the war and of white colonialism. Important topics to learn about and remember. I can’t wait to read more from him.

Booktube Rereadathon February Edition!

The Princess Plot by Kirsten Boie was a core book of my tweenage years, I loved this book so much with its contemporary disguise masking a deeper and more poignant story so I was happy to pick this book for the “last read at least 10 years ago” prompt for February.


This book follows Jenna who sneakily auditions for a role in a movie despite her strict mother not wanting her to go. She gets the part! And she’s flown off to Scandia to meet the director of the film. But everything is not as it seems. This is such a fun book and I honestly didn’t expect so much from it.

What I mean by that is that I remembered the plot, but I didn’t expect Boie to so clearly make points about politics, classism, racism and to explain terrorist groups so well. She points out things which are present in our own societies (Boie is German but as a Brit, everything registered too) and utilises the made up country of Scandia to demonstrate the issues here without angering any one country.

That’s another point too, I had never known that this was a translated work! A surprising number of my childhood reads were translated from other languages and I love it!

Back to the review 😂

This is the first book in a duology, however, it stands on its own really well too. I think it’s a great book to give a tween/teen and a fun read as an adult too! Of course the nostalgia makes me biased, but I also genuinely believe that this is a great MG/YA book (it’s one of those rare books that targeted at the younger end of YA).

Have you read this book before? Did you know it was translated? Let me know!