He Started It by Samantha Downing (2020)
In order to secure an inheritance from their deceased grandfather, three siblings must recreate a road trip he took them on as children. As the trip goes on, secrets and lies emerge. This is now the second book where Downing has taken a seemingly innocent premise and completely turned it on its head. A siblings' road trip - seems normal, right? Don't get complacent - this family is truly dysfunctional. The story is told from the POV of middle child Beth. She's pretty matter-of-fact, almost bland; she has outrageous thoughts but doesn't seem surprised by them. It becomes apparent that this road trip and the earlier one aren't what they appear to be at first. So many twists and turns and revelations! Although it did feel repetitive at times, there were enough shocks to keep it interesting. I definitely didn't see the ending coming, and honestly, I'm not sure how I feel about it! 4 stars
The Guest List by Lucy Foley (2020)
The Guest List is an atmospheric mystery/thriller set during a wedding weekend on a remote island off the coast of Ireland. The wedding of a magazine publisher and a rising reality TV star should be a picture-perfect event, but as the guests and families come together, resentments and hurt feelings take over, and not everyone will make it off the island alive. We rotate through five POVs, which sounds like it could be overwhelming but isn't, because each one is so distinct. The book reads quickly, although the story is a bit of a slow burn. Foley does a really good job of spreading the potential guilt around, so I was kept guessing until the end; I could see a motive for practically everyone. The setting added to the creep factor, with bogs, a cemetery, and a wild sea - what a perfect setting for a murder mystery! 4 stars
We Speak in Storms by Natalie Lund (2019)
Three misfit teens are brought together when a tornado strikes their small hometown, on the anniversary of a deadly tornado that struck decades earlier. This book is part small-town story, part coming-of-age story, and part ghost story, which I didn't realize when I picked it up! After the most recent tornado, Callie, Joshua, and Brenna all start experiencing similar things. Each are going through things in their personal lives, and throughout the story, they come to rely on each other. Callie's journey was by far the most interesting to me - her mother is dying of cancer and she, understandably, is not handling it well. There are overarching themes of life, death, love, self-discovery, and moving on. If you enjoy quiet, character-driven stories, you'll probably enjoy this. I felt like it was overly long and not enough happened, although I did think the writing was beautiful. 3.5 stars
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