SECOND SLEEP by Diane Stanley


Publisher: Quill Tree Books
Release Date: November 2, 2021

โ˜… Middle Grade Magical Realism โ˜…

“The time by the lake is everything perfect about a childhood summer. And maybe, these nights also hold the answers Max is looking for…”

SECOND SLEEP is a very sweet middle grade book with an original magical premise that I enjoyed. When Max’s mother disappears, his grandmother takes him and younger sister Rosie to the family’s cabin by the lake, a special place where their mom spent her childhood summers. There Max and Rosie find themselves in an alternate dream world filled with kids who share a unique connection. Max soon realizes that his new friends may help him solve the mystery of his missing mother.

I think middle grade readers will have fun with the magical realism in this book. The dream world is never explained, it just is. I loved the friendships that were formed there, between kids that wouldn’t even know each other in the real world (you’ll find out why!).

There were two things that bothered me in this book. One was how formal the dialogue seemed, even with the younger characters. This may be in part because I listened to a synthetic voice galley, and the delivery made it seem stiff. Second was the story behind the mystery and a certain character’s decisions that made me so mad, though a young reader would probably see it differently. I’m glad Max was ultimately able to express his feelings about the situation.

SECOND SLEEP is a lovely story of friendship, dealing with unavoidable change, and holding onto childhood magic for as long as possible. It will leave readers with a lot to think about. โ€” ๐““๐“ฒ๐“ช๐“ท๐“ช

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

The Weekend Wrap-Up

A weekly recap post linking up with:

SUNDAY POST | THE SUNDAY SALON | IT’S MONDAY, WHAT ARE YOU READING?

Thank you to Kimberly @ Caffeinated Reviewer | Deb @ Readerbuzz | Kathryn @ The Book Date for hosting! Please visit them to join the fun. What have you been up to this week?


This has been the year of home improvements at our place. We’ve had a new roof installed, bedrooms repainted, and just this week we had a new driveway & front steps poured. We decided it was time to spruce things up. As I was writing this post, we discovered that the lights in our hall bathroom don’t work! I suspect it’s a bad switch, so I guess we get to add some electrical stuff to the improvements list.

What I’ve Read Recently:

KILL ALL YOUR DARLINGS by David Bell (โญโญโญโญ)

SHARICE’S BIG VOICE: A Native Kid Becomes a Congresswoman by Sharice Davids with Nancy K. Mays, Joshua Mangeshig Pawis-Steckley (Illustrator) (โญโญโญโญโญ)

Sharice Davids is my representative in Congress, so I was very excited about her picture book autobiography. It tells her inspirational life story from talkative child of an Army sergeant to one of the first Native American women in Congress, and the first LGBTQ congressperson representing Kansas. She worked hard, used her voice, and listened to people along the way. Even though she had doubters โ€”ย “They thought I couldn’t win based on what I look like, who I love, and where I started”ย โ€” she overcame obstacles through perseverance & triumphed in the end. The illustrations are vibrant and capture Rep. Davids’ message beautifully.

What I’m Currently Reading:

THE THERAPIST by B.A. Paris (Thriller)

Thanks for stopping by & have a wonderful weekend! โ€” ๐““๐“ฒ๐“ช๐“ท๐“ช

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KILL ALL YOUR DARLINGS by David Bell


Publisher: Berkley Books
Release Date: July 6, 2021

โœฆ Plagiarism, murder, and a mystery inside a mystery in a Kentucky college town. โœฆ

To save his tenure, Professor Connor Nye must publish a novel, which has proved impossible since the death of his wife and son left him numb and uninspired. When one of his students disappears leaving behind a brilliant thesis paper, Connor submits it as his own book. However, after the novel is released, the missing student returns looking to collect the money Connor received for her work โ€” or else.

But there’s much more to this layered story. What’s contained inside the plagiarized novel are words that could get certain people in a whole lot of trouble, including Connor. I enjoyed the conundrum he found himself in.

This is the 7th book I’ve read by David Bell, and I always know I’m in for a smart and twisty thriller when I pick one up. KILL ALL YOUR DARLINGS had less family drama than some of his previous books, but there was still plenty of tension and emotion to pull me in. โ€” ๐““๐“ฒ๐“ช๐“ท๐“ช

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

WHAT’S DONE IN DARKNESS by Laura McHugh


Publisher: Random House
Release Date: June 22, 2021

WHAT’S DONE IN DARKNESS is a gripping dark mystery that made me super uneasy! I love that Laura McHugh sets her atmospheric thrillers in small towns around the Midwest, in Missouri, Iowa, Kansas, and now Arkansas โ€” technically a Southern state, but close enough for me.

The main character is Sarah/Sarabeth, a young woman who has endured A LOT. As a teen her parents joined a fringe religious group and moved the family to a remote farm in Arkansas. She is stifled by the strict rules and dreams of escaping. Just before her 18th birthday, she’s abducted by a masked man, but found a week later. This horrific experience ends up being her ticket out, but she won’t easily shake the trauma. The police have no leads, and her case eventually fades to the background.

Fast-forward five years, and Sarah is still dealing with scars from the past, but doing her best to move on. She’s contacted by investigator Nick Farrow who’s working on another missing persons case similar to her own and needs her help. Of course that means going back to the family farmstead to face her past, but is she ready for what might be revealed?

Sarah’s story is gut wrenching and really put me on edge. Chapters alternate between Sarah in the present and Sarabeth in the past, so readers can experience what she went through. I was engrossed in the mystery and the many dark secrets that were gradually revealed.

WHAT’S DONE IN DARKNESS is another gritty, fast-paced, and enjoyable thriller from Laura McHugh. The situations of unreported missing girls from the hollers presented in this book are probably more common than we think. Eye-opening!

So, Nick Farrow’s character. I pictured him looking and acting like Detective Colin Zabel from Mare of Easttown. (Have you seen that show? If not, you must watch.)

I love the mention of Lambert’s Cafe! I’ve never been there, but I see the billboards when we drive to the Ozarks โ€” “Home of the throwed rolls!” That’s so funny. I always wonder why someone would want rolls thrown at them in a restaurant. โ€” ๐““๐“ฒ๐“ช๐“ท๐“ช

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.