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.

Mermaids with a Dark Past

The Deep by Rivers Solomon is a book that I’m mad I didn’t hear about sooner. Inspired by a song from Clipping for the “We Are In The Future” of This American Life (I had never heard of it before, blame me being British), this book follows the water-breathing descendants of African enslaved women who were tossed overboard from ships. They have built up their own society deep beneath the waves, but they don’t interact with their past. One individual holds all of the memories for their people, and we follow Yetu as she tries to cope with these traumatic memories invading her head since she was young.


This is a short story, at only 166 pages, but it packs a heck of a punch. Talking in an indirect way about the intergenerational trauma that Black people in the US face and how this can weigh too heavily on one individual.

Yetu, our protagonist, is just a young girl and yet the Wajinru have made her become the holder of all of these memories. She can feel them inside of her at all times and it hurts. I enjoyed seeing Yetu coming to find herself, with this being done surprisingly in depth considering the short length of the book.

I also really liked lots of the small details, like the Wajinru speaking using vibrations and scales rather than above-surface methods that you can figure out all too easily wouldn’t work if you stick your head under water and try to talk. The way in which the Wajinru came to be is also explored, I love the story of survival and how within the realms of fantasy it could actually make sense.

All in all this was an amazing book and one I urge you to pick up. It was a clear five stars for me and I look forward to reading more from Rivers Solomon and seeing what else they publish!

Strong women in media


Matt Killeen is an author I love from his Orphan Monster Spy WWII YA series, so when I saw that he had a small (like 45 pages small), free, eBook I knew that I needed to pick it up! It’s a collection of short essays about the strong, powerful women portrayed in media and how it shaped his childhood to end up in him becoming a feminist.

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I will be honest and say that I hadn’t heard of all of these women. I don’t watch many movies, so that was part of it, but also just from exposure to different media. I did, however, really enjoy learning about them and I can see how this would be a great book for teenagers to delve into and find more women to admire.

This is a short review for a short book, but overall I believe you should pick this up. It’s free and quick to read so there’s no loss to you if you don’t like it, and it mentions some fantastic women who should be praised more often.

Bad timing, Abi

The prompt for April for the Booktube Rereadathon was to re-read a book from a genre you don’t go for anymore. I thought I’d hit exactly what I needed when I spied my Animal Ark books in their box set on top of my shelves, and picked book number one: Kittens in the Kitchen. It wasn’t exactly the right choice to have made. Immediately after starting this book my own beautiful cat Tigger had to be put down. It made this simple kids book a lot harder to read. Thankfully, however, I do have the memories of reading it many times as a child and so I can still give it a decent review for you guys!


The whole Animal Ark series, written by various UK authors under the pseudonym Lucy Daniels, are wonderful books following Mandy Hope. An adopted girl who lives at her parents veterinary practice and who loves to help animals she finds in and around her rural village in the UK. Kittens in the Kitchen is the first book in this series and follows newborn kittens who’s mother made their home in the school caretakers laundry basket. He doesn’t want them there so Mandy and her best friend James have to take care of the kittens and find them new homes.

The two, in the short span of less than 200 pages, have to overcome prejudice against older and grumpy members of their village as well as learning to look after these newborns. It’s a lovely little book and I remember absolutely adoring learning about all the animals when I first read these books many years ago. It’s such a sweet series and despite the bittersweetness I’m glad that I returned to them once again to remember Mandy’s exploits and all the animals she helped.

Cries can be heard from those trapped in the rubble…

“Cries can be heard from those trapped in the rubble”. A quote from a BBC newsreader on the collapse of a bridge in Genua, Italy (10 O’Clock News 14/08/18). Sentences like this are read out by these presenters every night. That is their job.

Since globalisation, we are exposed to so much more death and tragedy. This sentence clutched at my chest and I had to pause, and take a second. I felt so guilty that I wasn’t there helping to recover people out of the rubble, that I couldn’t save these people desperately crying out for their lives. So close to home, but not close enough that I can help.

What are we supposed to do? One argument is that we cannot do anything, these things have always happened and it is only in recent years that we have been exposed to the frequency of these events. But personally, I can’t live with that. I am a very empathetic person and this can be my downfall at times like this, how am I supposed to live my life knowing that these people are in danger for their lives.

It’s not just this event. Within the UK we have such a large population of homeless people, and we are taught from a young age by parents and carers to just ignore them. True, some of them can be people trying to scam you out of money (this is the case with many apparent homeless people in Preston, Lancashire), but there are also people struggling to feed themselves. They lost their job through no fault of their own and are now fighting to survive.

These are just two small examples of issues that hit my heart and make me feel helpless. I have my own issues, my education, and my family is in no way wealthy, but that doesn’t stop me from wishing that there was something that was within my power to do. I just want to help people.


I don’t really think this has much of a point, other than to say that I believe we shouldn’t lose our compassion and if we keep an eye out, maybe we can help those who need it most. At least I hope that I can.

Adding to the world of Pellinor


I was so worried about starting this book, the four main novels from the series are my favourite books and I didn’t want to knock down my love for them. I have re-read The Gift (The Naming in the US) more than 50 times and the book is literally falling apart with pages loose and the cover tattered. Luckily, I ended up really enjoying this book! For me personally, it wasn’t as good as the original “The Gift” but it is still a great addition to the series and I loved being plunged back into the world.  The book delves further into Cadvan’s background, and also shows us more about Nelac and Dernhil and their own backgrounds and character development, and shows the relationships between many of the characters which had previously been developed before the time the other books are set in which then gives us a deeper understanding of the events in the original four books. Definitely a good read for anybody who either loved the original Pellinor series or for those who love high fantasy, and I’m very glad I finally got round to it. I need to re-read the series this year!!