How To Lead A Life Of Crime | Kirsten Miller | Book Review

I love finding awesome books that have flown beneath the radar and haven’t really blown the book blogging world up. Y’all, I haven’t seen a ton of reviews of How To Lead A Life Of Crime by Kirsten Miller and so didn’t quite know what to expect. Luckily, the book was like a diamond in the rough. I found that reading it was a good life choice as it is very well written and let’s be frank: FRICKEN MAR-VEL-OUS in a freaky, dark close my eyes for a few seconds and look away while reading sort of fashion. You guys, I am about to push How To Lead A Life Of Crime on you so hard, because it is THAT GOOD.

How To Lead A Life Of Crime by Kirsten Miller | Good Books And Good Wine

Flick has not had an easy life. While he comes from a wealthy background, his dad is very abusive and ends up murdering his brother — which leads to his mom committing suicide. Instead of returning home to his family’s Connecticut mansion, Flick ends up living on the streets of New York City instead with a group of orphans. The orphans are cared for by Joi, a very gorgeous girl who is romantically entangled with Flick. When a mysterious stranger offers Flick a spot at the prestigious Mandel Academy and the revenge he so desperately wants against his father, he accepts. With course offerings on how to hack into people’s bank accounts  and the art of blackmail, Mandel Academy is all about teaching career, white collar criminals. Unfortunately, not every student makes it out of Mandel Academy alive. Y’all, this book, How To Lead A Life Of Crime is psychologically twisted in the very best possible way.

I started out How To Lead A Life Of Crime feeling buckets of empathy for Flick – at the hand he has been dealt in life. What really made me feel for him were his visions of his brother as Peter Pan — which FYI weaves in a cool sort of literary, symbolic thread. Trust, it’s done in SUCH a smart fashion. Anyways, Flick ended up earning my respect and admiration. He’s smart. He’s a good guy, even when he thinks he’s not. Further, he is never portrayed as a perfect person, as readers we see how far Flick has to come and how much he needs to learn. I liked that he had some failings and that he wasn’t some messiah. Also? Flick is the quintessential badass, no doubt.

What surprised me about How To Lead A Life Of Crime by Kirsten Miller was just how intelligent it was. Sure, I go into books expecting them to be awesome – why would I read books that I expect to suck? But I rarely go in expecting much more than entertainment. What I got with this read was a deep need to discuss what just happened and a need to discuss the themes. One theme that is central to what I read is that of nature vs. nurture and, to get repetitive, the nature of evil. It’s consistently portrayed throughout the book as Lucian Mandel (the mysterious stranger) tries to shape and influence Flick to do evil things. We see characters who have parents that are by all means very, very bad people. We also see characters who don’t have awful parents. It’s a fascinating theme and I am so glad to say that Kirsten Miller utilized it to it’s full potential. So, if you like books that get a bit cerebral but don’t sacrifice plot and action, you’ll be so totally down for this.

I want to warn you that going into How To Lead A Life Of Crime will not be a light hearted, silly affair. Rather, it is gritty and dark and legitimately scary. I mean, there were definitely parts where I found myself closing my eyes, like during a scary movie. Of course, I opened them and kept reading. Still, the mood of Miller’s book is very, very dark. And you know, it actually really works for the story. It makes the stakes feel that much more real. I felt so invested in the characters and hoped against hope that things would turn out okay for most of the people involved with the book, and that in the end things would be ‘fair.’

Straight up, this book is very, very good. I am kind of bummed out that only a handful of my friends have read it, as it is SUPER amazing. Yes, it’s long. Yes, it’s heavy. Yes, it goes to some scary places. Yet, it is well-done and I felt everything happened in the book for a reason. It wasn’t one of those reads where the violence feels gratuitous. Also, there are a few swoon worthy moments. AND AND there is no cliffhanger, but an epilogue! And one that does not suck. I was extremely satisfied with How To Lead A Life Of Crime by Kirsten Miller and wholeheartedly recommend you read it. AND THEN G-CHAT ME ABOUT IT!

Disclosure: Received for review via Netgalley

Other reviews of How To Lead A Life Of Crime by Kirsten Miller:

Alice Marvels – “a shocking and entertaining thrill ride.
Fiction Freak – “The way Miller pulled this idea off was stunning
Tripping Over Books – “dark, psychologically intense, and effed up in general.

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April is in her 30s and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and toddler, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.
About April (Books&Wine)

April is in her 30s and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and toddler, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.


  1. Both you and Steph loved this = I need it in my life!!!!

  2. You’ve convinced me! Heading over to my library website to place a hold…

  3. I’m SUPER excited to read your review, April, after seeing your tweets about how good this it is! I’m bumping it up on my TBR list.
    I’m a big fan of intelligent reads, because as much as I love books I don’t always expect them stick with me and make me re-think my beliefs/thoughts on a certain subject. And I LOVE it when books do that, because it’s so surprising and it’s such an important thing to do in life.

    Thanks for sharing your review!

    Brenna from Esther’s Ever After

    • YAYYY!

      Yeah, like you I love books but I don’t expect a ton in the OMG THINKING DEEP department, so when it happens it’s a very pleasant surprise.

      Thanks so much for commenting! 🙂

  4. This definitely sounds like it’s one intense book! I’m a little worried that I’ll be too worried/scared/creeped out while I read it, but I am curious to experience this intelligent writing for myself.

    • Oh, Alexa it is SO good, you’ll be fine, like yes some parts are freaky not because there are monsters or anything but because human nature is kind of scary. Trust, you will love how smart the writing is.

  5. I’ve only seen one other review on this and I am DEFINITELY intrigued. When you said dark and gritty, I knew this was my type of book. Plus, I’m trying to find some more books with a male POV since I just loved the Curse Workers series. Great review, April!

    • Yo, if you like dark and gritty you DEFINITELY need to read How To Lead A Life Of Crime.

      Also? I totally own the Curse Workers series, looks like I need to hurry up and read them. 🙂

  6. Well, I’m sold. Already put this one on hold at the library. This is definitely not something I would normally read. Like…it is so far away from what I normally like that I’ve pretty much ignored any mention of it. BUT your review is so so good. And I prefer books that aren’t all hyped up because it’s nice to discover something that’s not so mainstream (I sound like a hipster. Whatevs.). I don’t know how I feel about the scary parts because I’m a complete wimp, but I’ll survive.

    • YESSSS. Mission accomplished. I hope you fall head over heels for this. Also! It’s cool to read outside your comfort zone. AND YAY I am glad my review is good to someone besides me hahahah.

      LOL yo, I might as well be a hipster too with as much as I make fun of them.

      Trust, you’ll get past the scary bits.

  7. I haven’t seen too many reviews for this one, but the ones I have had been generally praising. Like you said, a diamond in the rough. Glad you enjoyed this one so much!

  8. I gave this book to a friend of mine, since she loves the autor but I hadn’t heard a lot of it. Sadly, I haven’t read it yet though. It sounds like a book I’d really enjoy. I like them gritty, dark, and legitimately scary. I’m going to have to buy it soon. Thanks for the great recommendation!

    • Hah, well I hope your friend lets you borrow the copy you gave her or you know if you loaned it that she gives it back. It’s SUPER, SUPER GOOD and you know it’s totally reasonable to have not read it because you haven’t heard a lot about it.

      Hope you love it when you read it. 🙂

  9. Okay, so I had seen this cover and had kind of seen a few reviews, but kind of ignored it. With this review I think I’ll have to get it ! *checks library catalog*

    • YAYYYYY I feel like I accomplished a huge goal — getting someone to pay attention to a book they previously weren’t into! Hurrah!

      Also? I love how many people on here are scurrying to their libraries. The library is THE BEST!

  10. This is one of those books that’s almost too good to exist.