bookedbymadeline's reviews
832 reviews

Of Elderberry, Fire, & Fable by Bridgette Valentine

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hopeful lighthearted fast-paced


I love the cover!! I liked some poems more than others, as with most poetry collections. I enjoyed some of the lines about getting older and your inner child. For the most part though I didn’t connect with most of the collection and it felt disjointed; more like random words on a tumblr post. I’d be willing to try this author again though.
Thanks to netgalley and Quernica for the eARC!
Masquerade by O.O. Sangoyomi

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  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? No
  • Loveable characters? No
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? No


Thank you netgalley and Tor for the eARC!

Loose retelling of Persephone with some Cinderella vibes too. I did not know this when I requested it, otherwise I would’ve waited/not requested at all. Hating that this is basically “Persephone and hades are in love and the mom is evil” 😭 based on synopsis I thought she’d be a badass independent woman knowing her worth and taking power but instead she’s a naive, one-dimensional 19 year old child with Stockholm syndrome 🫣

Love the atmospheric setting descriptions! Set in 15th century Yorubaland (which would be modern day Nigeria) and infused with West African Folklore. I love how unique this story/setting is, I’ve never read anything like it!! Also the food descriptions had me drooling. But that’s where my positives end 🫠

I was pulled in right away but it did drag a bit at times. There were some exciting moments but the pacing was so off. After one climactic moment, it begins to drag and have overly descriptive telling over showing inconsequential details. I started skimming toward the end. The ending also felt rushed and unrealistic, you really have to suspend a lot of belief for this book.

How can you be falling for this man that KIDNAPPED YOU and be blushing and shy and teheehee giggling so quickly?! Stockholm syndrome is strong with this one. Maybe my dark romance girlies will enjoy this but I’m sitting here thinking this girl is insane and wanting to gag. This book has me fuming, I’ve never felt so angry and annoyed while reading!

Repetitive-if I never hear “I tuck his braids behind his ear. They always come loose from his buns. He never notices” it’ll be too soon 🙃

Love Kolo, she’s the only sane and complex/dimensional character in this book. The others are all flat and not as well developed. The FMC Ododo is contradictory, she’s naive and innocent but she’s also viewed as this brilliant military strategist and cunning at court politics?!

It had so much promise but the execution didn’t work for me. I’m very much in the minority opinion on this and it’s mostly because of a personal preference of not enjoying dark romance type stories!

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A Snake Falls to Earth by Darcie Little Badger

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adventurous hopeful lighthearted slow-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes


A Snake Falls to Earth by Darcie Little Badger was a unique story, unlike any fantasy I’ve ever read before! I listened on audio and liked the narration having two narrators for the two MCs. The narrator for Oli was so funny and he was good at doing voices for minor characters he interacted with!

I also really liked the Lipan Apache stories of nature and animal people! I love learning about other cultures and beliefs so I enjoyed those stories interwoven throughout Nina’s chapters.

A lot of telling over showing, which is a style I don’t like. The writing and humor felt more middle grade, I’m definitely not the audience for this even though I’ve enjoyed other YA and middle grade books, this one just wasn’t my cup of tea.

It’s sooo slow and nothing happened until the second half-Nina and Oli don’t even meet until 65%. I was expecting a faster paced, more focused/plot driven fantasy story based on the synopsis. But it’s more Low stakes, cozy fantasy with found family and little stories scattered throughout. I did enjoy the friendships and characters but it felt like the plot was an afterthought with a rushed climax/ending.

Overall it was still a nice read outside of my comfort zone and I was glad to have read it. I’d recommend for those wanting a cozy, low stakes fantasy about found family, friendship, magic and environmental themes!

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Secrets of Rose Briar Hall by Kelsey James

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Did not finish book. Stopped at 32%.
DNF 😭 I wanted to love this because I enjoy gothic mystery and loved James’ debut but I couldn’t bring myself to go past 32% (102 pages).

Way too much telling over showing making the story drag and feel so boring and slow!
I guessed the twists early on and skipped ahead to discover I was right all along 🙃
Charles killed Gertrude because they were having an affair and she threatened to tell Millie. The paintings went missing because shocker Charles was in financial ruin, and that’s also why he was courting the rich senator’s daughter

way too predictable and the romance felt so forced and unnecessary. Hopefully James’ third book is better because I’m willing to give her another chance since I enjoyed her debut so much, sadly she fell victim to the sophomore slump

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The Mysterious Death of Katherine Parr: What Really Happened to Henry VIII's Last Queen? by June Woolerton

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informative mysterious medium-paced


Thank you to netgalley and Pen & Sword for the eARC!

Really interesting look at the life, death, funeral, and discovery of Parr’s tomb. Author gives a brief overview of Parr’s life and just how influential she was as Queen!

Author also gives evidence of what we do know about Parr and the typical practices of this time period. I loved the theories and how the author would talk about the possibilities surrounding Parr’s death and funeral arrangements, but then point to other sources/past events to show how unlikely it would be! For example she discussed the funeral being such a rushed and less than royal affair for a queen, and Parr followed the new religion (Protestantism) which would explain why the funeral was so different as it was a first for a royal funeral to not follow the old, Catholic ways. However, it didn’t explain why she was buried in a small private chapel and not buried in London or a royal chapel, given how much embalming she had done and how uncommon it was for royals to be buried in the same place where they died!

I was just fascinated by the whole thing! The theories, getting to know more about the practices of the time period, learning more about Katherine Parr. It made my little Tudor obsessed heart happy 🫶

The one “negative” I’d have is that some of the information can get repetitive. The author goes over some previously discussed info in multiple chapters so it could become tedious at times, but other times it was nice to have the reminder in a new context.

Highly recommend for anyone interested in the Tudor’s or 16th century historical period! Given the amount of information, some reviewers had said it was dense which I disagree, but it maybe isn’t for casual readers and only interesting for history nerds 😂

Things Don't Break on Their Own: A Novel by Sarah Easter Collins

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challenging dark emotional hopeful mysterious sad medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? It's complicated
  • Loveable characters? It's complicated
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes


thank you to netgalley and Viking/Penguin UK for the eARC!

Intrigued by the start but it took a couple of chapters to be pulled in and fully engaged. 

I devoured this book in 2 days, I didn’t want to put it down and wanted to watch the story unfold! I did however guess the twist within 5% of the book 😭

I can’t say too much without revealing most of the plot points. It’s one of those books where the bare bones synopsis and going in without a lot of knowledge makes for a more enjoyable reading experience!

I will say that I enjoyed the complex, flawed characters. I also loved the flashes between past and present, and switching character POVs. There’s much less focus on the dinner party than I was expecting and also not as fast paced/thrilling as I hoped (especially given that this is marketed as a thriller when I didn’t find that to be an accurate depiction at all).

Overall it was an interesting, engaging story which made for a very quick read! It only took 2 days to read 😃 I would say it’s less a thriller and more of a literary novel with a quiet mystery added in. I’d recommend for anyone wanting a quick read with complex characters, coming of age, or discussions on memory, family, and identity. 

Rep: sapphic relationship 

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Living Things by Munir Hachemi

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Did not finish book. Stopped at 15%.
Not at all what I was expecting from the synopsis. Less an eco thriller and exploration of capitalism and precarious employment, more so ruminating on memory and the art of writing. Very stream of consciousness, telling over showing, and so fucking pretentious. I thought it would be more about exploitation of migrant workers in a capitalistic industrial/agricultural sector but these boys are rich and doing it for funsies to be able to have a story and I could give less shits about middle class white kids whining

Also the way the narrator/author told the story was so detached and emotionless it felt almost robotic
What They Said About Luisa by Erika Rummel

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  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Loveable characters? It's complicated


Thank you to Netgalley and Dundurn Press for the eARC!

Looovee the authors note before the start of the novel explaining why she chose to write the story and in this way! Author is a retired history professor specialist in this time period which I love to see.

Story is told through the people who knew Luisa (or had contact with her rather). Not much is known about this real life woman, especially after her trial in colonial Mexico, so this was a unique way to bring her back to life during the aftermath. The book was really engaging and I enjoyed reading the different perspectives! Although we never hear from Luisa and I felt like we didn’t get enough time to connect to her or any other characters. The POVs paint different pictures of Luisa in a “gossip” style of storytelling so you as the reader can infer the truth vs bias held about Luisa.

The chapters are long and every one is from a different character’s POV, some of them were better than others. I hated Pedro’s chapter the most because he’s such a dick and a lot of his chapter was repeating everything that happened in the previous chapter.

I liked some characters more than others, for example I really enjoyed the chapter from Alonso’s POV (he worked for the Inquisition tribunal) he was really complex and had some thought provoking sentiments. I also liked Juan Diaz because his chapters painted a very well thought out setting/background info for Colonial Mexico (also he just seems cool)!

I felt like I got to know this time period and how people lived their lives in general. However I wish we heard from Luisa at least once. From the title and synopsis I understand not hearing from her and it’s a unique way to write a historical novel but it felt like Luisa was silenced in history and then once again silenced through the novel. Overall I enjoyed the book and will be interested in reading more from the author but I didn’t love it.

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Not My Father's Son by Alan Cumming

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emotional funny inspiring sad fast-paced


I listened to a podcast interview with Cumming where he talked briefly about his career and life which made me want to learn more about him, and listen to his voice more.

Cumming had a very difficult childhood which made this a heartbreaking and tragic read at times. This book is about his journey to healing and learning about his family’s history. Listening to the audio version was like sitting and catching up with a friend you haven’t seen in awhile 🩷 Also as I kind of touched on, his accent is lovely to listen to!

A few of his stories or the way he talked about his experiences as an actor made me laugh, making for a not completely emotional/dark read. I loooved his passion for Eurovision and could very much relate (he put into words exactly how I think of the event). Overall I’d highly recommend if you enjoy celebrity memoirs or stories of healing!

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Café Con Lychee by Emery Lee

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Did not finish book. Stopped at 13%.
I hated the narrator for Gabi and all of the pop culture references. Maybe I’ll try a physical copy but Theo also feels like a bully rather than a cute rival I’d root for