BOOK REVIEW TUESDAY: Someone Knows by Lisa Scottoline, Lady Sunshine by Amy Mason Down

Warm and cozy window seat with cushions and a opened book, light through vintage shutters, rustic style home decor. Small cat on window seat, along with coffee cup by pillow, Words Book Review Tuesday superimposed over image

Happy last week of September! How the heck did we get here so fast? Hubby and I just came off a week’s vacation at the beach. It was wonderful, and we couldn’t have asked for better weather. Check out below to see what happens when you eat too much seafood. Fortunately, I was able to walk it off the next day, thanks to a Goodyear tire, LOL!

I have two book reviews today, both 5-star novels, so I’m excited to share them. Here we go!

BOOK BLURB:

Allie Garvey is heading home to the funeral of a childhood friend. Allie is not only grief-stricken, she’s full of dread. Because going home means seeing the other two people with whom she shares an unbearable secret.

Twenty years earlier, a horrific incident shattered the lives of five teenagers, including Allie. Drinking and partying in the woods, they played a dangerous prank that went tragically wrong, turning deadly. The teenagers kept what happened a secret, believing that getting caught would be the worst thing that could happen. But time has taught Allie otherwise. Not getting caught was far worse.

Allie has been haunted for two decades by what she and the others did, and by the fact that she never told a soul. The dark secret has eaten away at her, distancing her from everyone she loves, including her husband. Because she wasn’t punished by the law, Allie has punished herself, and it’s a life sentence.

Now, Allie stands on the precipice of losing everything. She’s ready for a reckoning, determined to learn how the prank went so horribly wrong. She digs to unearth the truth, but reaches a shocking conclusion that she never saw coming–and neither will the reader.

A deeply emotional examination of family, marriage, and the true nature of justice, Someone Knows is Lisa Scottoline’s most powerful novel to date. Startling, page-turning, and with an ending that’s impossible to forget, this is a tour de force by a beloved author at the top of her game.

MY REVIEW:

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Allie returns to her hometown, twenty years after a calamity that altered her life. As fifteen-year-old, she and a group of friends played a prank that resulted in a tragic death. Crippled by grief, she has been going through the motions of living, not even able to tell her husband what happened that dreadful night.

When one of the friends who were with her dies unexpectedly, Allie returns home to attend the funeral. It forces her to come face to face with the others. She wants to dig for the truth of how the prank could have gone so horribly wrong, but not everyone feels the same, including someone who wants silence kept at all costs.

The book is divided into two sections, the first devoted to Allie’s past. When she makes a discovery in the woods, she becomes part of a small circle of teens whose lives will be altered by the find. There are multiple POVs, a good six to seven, which covers the teens and several adults. At the start, it can be a little daunting to keep track of the characters and how they relate to each other. Narration is third person, each chapter headed by the character sharing events. As someone who enjoys books with multiple narrators, I was able to settle in rather quickly.

The second half of the book is set in the present, twenty years after the tragedy. There are several characters I really felt for, especially Larry, Allie’s husband. Of special note, the scenes in the Pine Barrens of New Jersey were so vividly written, I felt like I was there, swallowed by pitch-black darkness and fleeing through the woods. The twists at the end were not any I saw coming. I thought I had the “who” figured out but was proven wrong.

If you enjoy a good domestic thriller that puts family and friendships under a microscope this story is perfect. Excellent character development, polished writing, and a supensful ending.

BOOK BLURB:

ONE ICONIC FAMILY. ONE SUMMER OF SECRETS. THE DAZZLING SPIRIT OF 1970S CALIFORNIA.

For Jackie Pierce, everything changed the summer of 1979, when she spent three months of infinite freedom at her bohemian uncle’s sprawling estate on the California coast. As musicians, artists, and free spirits gathered at The Sandcastle for the season in pursuit of inspiration and communal living, Jackie and her cousin Willa fell into a fast friendship, testing their limits along the rocky beach and in the wild woods… until the summer abruptly ended in tragedy, and Willa silently slipped away into the night.

Twenty years later, Jackie unexpectedly inherits The Sandcastle and returns to the iconic estate for a short visit to ready it for sale. But she reluctantly extends her stay when she learns that, before her death, her estranged aunt had promised an up-and-coming producer he could record a tribute album to her late uncle at the property’s studio. As her musical guests bring the place to life again with their sun-drenched beach days and late-night bonfires, Jackie begins to notice startling parallels to that summer long ago. And when a piece of the past resurfaces and sparks new questions about Willa’s disappearance, Jackie must discover if the dark secret she’s kept ever since is even the truth at all.

MY REVIEW:

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

This is an enjoyable novel that explores families and friendships. Seventeen-year-old Jackie Pierce spends one magical summer at the bohemian estate of her uncle, a legendary folk singer. There, among the free-spirits, creative thinkers, and musicians who come and go, she meets her cousin Willa. Though opposites in many ways, the girls form a fast and deep friendship.

I loved scenes of them exploring beaches, collecting sea glass, or wandering nighttime woods. The author brings the magic of summer and teen years beautifully to life. The descriptions are so vivid it’s easy to get lost in them. But something happens at the end of that enchanted summer that causes Willa to disappear.

Twenty years later, Jackie inherits her uncle’s estate (called the Sandcastle) and returns to the property with the intent of preparing it for sale. Her plans take a detour when a music producer, his crew, and musicians show up to record a tribute album to her uncle.

The dual timelines of the novel are set in 1979 and 1999. I was more partial to the chapters set in the past—perhaps because of the hippie-like atmosphere of the Sandcastle and the assortment of colorful characters who populated it. There’s also the sense of nostalgia evoked by summer magic in a year I remember well.

This is a “quiet” book which moves at a slow pace. It isn’t even until the last quarter of the novel that events surrounding Willa’s disappearance gradually unfold. The strength of the story lies in its summer vibes and the amazing friendship between the girls. I was a little disappointed in the actual “mystery” but loved the ending. 4.5 stars rounded up to 5 for review purposes.

56 thoughts on “BOOK REVIEW TUESDAY: Someone Knows by Lisa Scottoline, Lady Sunshine by Amy Mason Down

    • Every time I look at that first photo I have to do a double take, Jill, LOL. The Ripley’s museum is a lot of fun, and we had a great vacation.

      Lisa’s book is a great mystery, and I thought the ending in the Pine Barrens was very tense!

      Like

  1. Well, you’ve enticed me to read both of these books, but particularly Scottoline’s. I enjoyed her first books following female lawyers in Philadelphia, but turned off to her following novels with the child kidnapping/etc themes that she seemed to write about for a while. But this book sounds great, particularly considering that I grew up near the Pine Barrens in NJ, and remember the “NJ Devil” stories we kids used to listen to.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Pamela, Someone Knows was the first book of Scottoline’s I ever read and I really enjoyed it. I don’t think I would like any with child kidnapping, but this one was good. I love that you grew up near the Pine Barrens. I’m fascinated by folklore, including stories of the Jersey Devil. You’d probably recognize a lot of the references in the book.
      And Lady Sunshine made for a nice escape, too!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Glad you were able to walk off all that seafood so quickly, Mae – looks like you had a wonderful time! Both of these sound suspenseful, but I’d probably enjoy the first book more. I want to know what happened that summer.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I can’t even tell you how long it’s been since I’ve been to the boardwalk (or “hit the boards” as we use to say when I was in high school – lol). I miss the smells – the funnel cake and Thrashers fries, mixed with the scent of sunblock and the ocean breeze. Luckily, I can get steamed crabs mailed here because that would be missing too much. Glad you had a good time and your fill of seafood ❤️. And, Someone Knows sounds absolutely wonderful. I will definitely keep that one in mind. Great review!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I loved your photos, Mae, they brought plenty of happy smiles. Your two reviews are excellent. So much so that I ran to Amazon. At $10, I’m going to wait until I’m ready to read them. Thank you for sharing. 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    • We had a wonderful time at the beach, Gwen. It was so much fun, and it feels like my backyard I’ve been going there for so many decades.

      It’s good to know the reviews enticed you. I think I was able to grab the first one when it was on sale, so I understand about the pricing!

      Like

  5. LOL. I’ve never seen anyone lose weight so fast:) Glad you had such a wonderful vacation. Interesting that both books had a similar type of theme, keeping a teenage secret for years and then learning the truth. And the books were so different. That’s the fun thing about writing. Every author approaches common themes in such different ways. Someone Knows sounds awesome!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yep, it was the fastest diet ever, Judi, LOL!
      You made a good point about both books having a similar theme relating to a secret from teenage years. I hadn’t thought about that but it’s so true, and both books were so different. I love that about stories!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Vacation was awesome, Denise. I’m ready to go back again, LOL.
      The use of sea glass in Lady Sunshine made me want to comb beaches myself. It really added a wonderful summer vibe to the story.

      Like

    • Thanks, Robbie. I know I should share more photos on my blog and hope to in the future. I’m glad the reviews intrigued you. Both were great but the first seems to appeal to the bulk of commenters. I’m glad you enjoyed the post.

      Liked by 1 person

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