Best Suspense Novels: Spring Break Reading Recommendations

Books a Million: Chick Lit + Suspense Novels for Your Spring Break Reading

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Last year, my goal was a book a week. I just beat it: 53 books in 52 weeks. This post has been sitting in my drafts since the holidays, but life and Dad’s death happened, and I’ve been keeping busy by working with my hands rather than writing. But in the event you’re traveling for Spring Break, I’m back with some of the best suspense novels, chick lit and other fun reads I’ve finished this year.

I’ve also been listening to audiobooks on my long drive. I bought a subscription to LibroFM last year, which allows me to listen when I’m in the car or on the road. A few books I’ve been listening to include Cultish, A Promised Land, Parable of the Sower, Maid and Greenlights. I love LibroFM because my money goes to independent bookstores and not Amazon. You can try out a subscription here and cancel at anytime.

LibroFM Bestsellers

FYI: I signed up as a LibroFM affiliate but pay for all my own books.

Here are the novels I’ve read since my last book review roundup in the fall. I had a lot of sleepless nights in the weeks immediately following Dad’s death and found that I could only really concentrate on suspense novels. Anything else went in one eye and out the other without being absorbed.

The Lager Queen of Minnesota by J. Ryan Stradal

Penned by the author behind Kitchens of the Great Midwest, this novel about a pair of sisters in Minnesota follows their estrangement as their paths diverge: Helen goes on to run a big beer company, eventually becoming one of the industry’s most respected breweries, while Edith becomes a homemaker and baker who doesn’t realize her full potential until later in life. When her granddaughter Diana decides to go into the brewing industry, the sisters’ paths may just converge once more.

Book Review of the Lager Queen of Minnesota

I’m a big fan of Stradal’s writing style and quirky characters and absolutely loved this book. Read it!

People We Meet on Vacation by Emily Henry

While I thought Beach Read was one of the worst books I’ve ever read in quite some time, I rather liked People We Meet on Vacation about a travel writer and her best friend from college who go on one epic vacation together a year on the company’s tab (very unrealistic as that’s not how the media works, but I digress). Then something happens and they stop speaking—though it will take to the end of the book before we learn what.

Book Review of People We Meet on Vacation

I think what I loved about this book was all the different places they visited: Nashville, Palm Springs, British Columbia, the Mediterranean coast. It was like being on one long virtual vacation in the coldest, dreariest days of winter. 

Last Summer at the Golden Hotel by Elyssa Friedland

A few pages into this book a bout a pair of old-money families who owns a failing resort in the Catskills, and you can’t help but feel like you stepped behind the curtain of Dirty Dancing. There’s plenty of family drama, scandal and in-fighting as the kids decide if the resort is actually worth saving—or if they should sell it to be bulldozed by a development company instead.

Book Review of Last Summer at the Golden Hotel

We Were the Lucky Ones by Georgia Hunter

You know I love a good war novel. This one was informative, but honestly there were too many characters and storylines; I almost wish the author had broken it up into a series, one character per book, because it was that hard to follow. A Polish family is split up at the beginning of the war: some sent to work camps, others to the front lines, others left at home to save their house. It’s sad and heartbreaking, but also a tale of resilience and how deep family bonds run.

Book Review of We Were the Lucky Ones

While I sometimes got bogged down by trying to keep up with all the names and towns, I appreciate the amount of work Hunter put into researching her family history and interviewing so many people who intersected with the siblings throughout the course of the war. 

The Guncle by Steve Rowley

If you know me in real life, I’ve probably forced you to read this endearing story about a gay actor in Palm Springs with zero experience with kids whose niece and nephew are sent to live with him after his sister-in-law dies from cancer. It’s hilarious, it’s sweet, it will warm you from head to toe. It will also make you want to go to Palm Springs; in fact, Mom and I booked a trip there (for next week!) hours after I finished it. FIVE STARS ALL THE WAY.

Book Review of the Guncle

Duke, Actually by Jenny Holiday

I read this lovely chick lit novel over Christmas before our lives started spiraling out of control, and it gave me American Royals vibes. Dani, a newly single New Yorker in her 30s, is set to be the best woman in her best friend’s wedding abroad. The catch? He’s marrying a princess. When she flies abroad to begin her wedding duties, she strikes up an unlikely friendship with the princess’ ex, a duke, and the fun and mischief unravel from there.

Best Spring Break Reads: Duke Actually

If you love royals and romcoms, you’ll dig this sweet little book.

Window Shopping by Tessa Bailey

The author of Duke, Actually recommended Window Shopping on her social media, and what started out as a fun story about a woman fresh out of prison given a career shot as a window designer quickly veered into soft-core p*rn with zero substance. I don’t even want to merit this book with a review, so if you planned to read it, save yourself the $5 and remove it from your list. It was terrible, and I typically love a good indulgent chick lit novel.

Book Review of Window Shopping

The Last Thing He Told Me by Laura Dave

As far as a suspense novel goes, this one checks all the boxes. Big tech fraud. Woman whose husband mysteriously disappears. A single cryptic note left behind that reads Protect her.

Book Review of the Last Thing He Told Me

The Last Thing He Told Me opens with Hannah Hall, a woodturner in Sausalito, finding out her husband Owen’s company has gone the way of Enron. He disappears and cuts all communication as she and Owen’s daughter Bailey try to figure out what happened and where he’s gone. I highly recommend this novel for all those who love psychological thrillers.

Apples Never Fall by Liane Moriarty

Liane Moriarty is very hit or miss for me. Loved Big Little Lies (the book and the show); didn’t care for Nine Perfect Strangers (the book or show). Similarly, I haven’t been wild about many of her other books. However, this one was different. I loved it.

Book Review of Apples Never Fall

Maybe it’s the fact that this story chronicles a famous, fictional tennis family, the Delaneys, in Australia—and I was a college tennis player so I loved that facet of the book—or perhaps it was just more riveting as a stranger shows up on the parents’ doorstep and winds up moving in with them, only for the mom to go missing the next year while the four children, all of whom harbor their own secrets, set out to find what happened to Joy.

We Were Never Here by Andrea Bartz

Emily and Kristen are on one of their epic adventures—this time backpacking in Chile—when a fellow backpacker dies. This eerie psychological thriller jumps back in time to another time the duo was backpacking in Thailand and accidentally killed someone.

Book Review of We Were Never Here

As Emily returns to the States and tries to cover her tracks so they can’t be traced back to the scene of the crime, things get harrier for her as she tries to navigate a new relationship and balance the overbearing attention of a jealous best friend.

The Royals Next Door by Karina Halle

Another day, another book about a royal-adjacent falling in love with a commoner. Only this fictional read puts Megan and Harry-like characters in a small town in Canada, escaping the scrutiny of the crown, and their bodyguard Harrison front and center as our leading man who falls for the next door neighbor Piper Evans, a school teacher with a terrible track record when it comes to dating.

Book Review of the Royals Next Door

This book was a cute interlude between more serious novels, but definitely not a priority read.

The One Hundred Years of Lenni & Margot by Marianne Cronin

This was the last great book to give me an extreme hangover in terms of not wanting to let it go. The premise: 17-year-old Lenni is in the hospital with a terminal disease when she befriends octogenarian Margot and they set out to chronicle their combined 100 years of life in an art series. While the subject matter may be sad, this book gave me so many lovely feels—the writing is truly next level, and the story line so charming and bittersweet.

Best Books: Hundreds Years of Lenni and Margot

If you haven’t read Lenni and Margot, drop everything and make it your next read. I absolutely can’t wait to read what Cronin writes next.

The Husbands by Chandler Baker

Successful attorney Nora Spangler is searching for her next home when she falls into the community of Dynasty Ranch, where the women hold all the power and the men are the perfect Stepford husbands—in fact, everything seems a bit too Pleasantville-esque. Something, of course, is not right, but it takes the course of the book for Nora to unravel just what is going on.

Best Suspense Novels: The Husbands

I love Chandler Baker’s writing style and the fact that she specializes in feminist thrillers with smart female protagonists taking down skeezy men, but I wish this suspense novel had gotten to the meat of the story more quickly as I got a little bored by it somewhere in the middle. 

Whisper Network by Chandler Baker

While Husbands wasn’t my favorite, Whisper Network gets 4.5 stars from me. My college roommate Ashley sent it to me after Dad’s death and it was a great respite from grief. The story follows a quartet of female attorneys for a big Outdoor Voices-like retailer in Dallas and an anonymous list of sexual assault perpetrators that’s floating around town, as the book works backward to find out what happened to the incoming CEO who allegedly jumped to his death from atop corporate headquarters.

Best Suspense Novels: Whisper Network

A little bit Big Little Lies, a little bit Me, Too, this book turns out to be a power woman anthem and I’m here for it. I would not be surprised to see Reese Witherspoon adapt this book for a streaming service.


Right now, I have the following books checked out from the library: Crying in H Mart, They Both Die at the End, A Slow Fire Burning, Seven Days in June and Under the Whispering Door.

What’s the best book you’ve read this year so far? Bonus if it’s a suspense novel or psychological thriller.



Book Reviews: Best Suspense Novels for Spring Break Reading
Book Reviews: Best Suspense Novels for Spring Break Reading
  • March 7, 2022

    I just read The Last Thing He Told Me and Apples Never Far, and agree with both of your assessments! I have several of these on my To Read list, and definitely will be loading up the kindle when we head to Florida.

    Did you like Lager Queen?

    • March 9, 2022

      Yes to Lager Queen! I need to update this post if I didn’t make that clear. It’s very well-written, and I love the author’s quirky characters. Highly recommend!

  • March 7, 2022

    I’m in the middle of reading Anna Karenina, because someone recommended this particular translation of it. It’s good (duh, it’s a legendary book). It takes some work to get into the rhythm of the characters and their multiple names, and variety of plots.Also reading Barak Obama’s memoir – he’s a wordy guy, but the stories he can tell more make up for it.

    Last fiction I finished was Kristin Hannah’s The Four Winds. It’s the first time I’ve read any of her books; someone gave me a copy and I figured I’d give it a try. Surprised myself when I finished it – I wasn’t sure I’d be into it but I liked it because it reminded me of Laura Ingalls Wilder books, in a way. Next up on my fiction list is Writers and Lovers by Lily King (I’m excited about this one).

    What did you think of Lager Queen…any good?

    • March 9, 2022

      Yes to Lager Queen! Definitely read it. It was a hard story to summarize in a few sentences without giving anything away, but I really loved the character development and also the plot.

      We’ve been in the middle of A Promised Land since last summer. The audiobook version is 30 hours(!!!), and I think we’re only just now halfway there ha.

      I’m glad you loved The Four Winds. I’ve read everything of Kristin Hannah’s (been a fan since I was a teen!), but the Nightingale and the Four Winds are by far her best. I also loved the Great Alone about homesteading in Alaska in the 70’s.

      • March 9, 2022

        I saw a news clip that Dolly Parton and James Patterson wrote a book together. I don’t think I’ve yet to read any by Patterson (but am familiar with his books) and that will change next week!

  • March 8, 2022

    I love that you do these posts. I always add at least a handful of books to my library queue.

    P.S. I loved 7 Days in June.

    • March 9, 2022

      Oooh good as that’s my next one! I need something light right now.

  • March 11, 2022
    Jen Ambrose

    My best book of the year so far – Long Bright River! Highly recommend!

  • March 12, 2022

    Hi Kristin,

    What a great share! Thanks a lot for these recommendations. I am an avid reader as well, and I constantly look for new books that I can read. The titles your shared sound amazing and I am really looking forward to picking them out soon. I used to read a lot, but I have been buried in work and haven’t had time to read much. I will definitely be adding these titles to my TBR and will get to them very soon. Thanks a lot for sharing.

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