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The Lost Book of Eleanor Dare by Kimberly Brock
Herrick's End by T.M. Blanchet
The Mayfair Bookshop by Eliza Knight
Princess Charming by Zibby Owens
The Twyford Code by Janice Hallett
The Echoes by Jess Montgomery
Know You By Heart by Tif Marcelo
Scoundrel by Sarah Weinman
The School for German Brides by Aimie K. Runyan
The Night Shift by Alex Finlay

Every reader knows about the coveted “Summer Reads” lists (usually published in June), the compilations of the buzziest books of the season. And, of course, the December “Must-Buy” holiday gift lists. But why is there not a “Spring Break” list? Maybe a spring break list could mean … a break from your usual reading. A moment to try out something new. An adventure. An experiment. An escape. 

We all get comfortable in our genres, don’t we? And that’s a good thing, no question. If Lisa Scottoline has a new book (like her newly-minted NYT bestseller What Happened to the Bennetts), that’s an auto-buy for me. Lisa Gardner, Lisa Unger. Lisa Jewell. (All the Lisas.) Nothing will stop me from buying Heather Gudenkauf or Samantha Downing or Tracy Clark or Sally Hepworth … I could go on. We all have our own special lists. And our own preferences for the books and authors we’ll follow anywhere.

But as a reader, there is a glorious moment that comes when we find something completely new. An author we’ve never read, a story unlike any we’ve ever heard before. Maybe those are what we should call spring break books? Your breakaway from the usual. Books to take with you as you venture out into the real world, or stick to your own backyard. (And with books like my Agatha-nominated Her Perfect Life now in paperback, they won’t mind getting daubed with sunscreen or having sand between their pages.)

This spring break, take a break from your usual. Make a new author friend. Discover a new world. And happy spring break — I’ve included some titles for kids, and your significant others, too.

 width=The Lost Book of Eleanor Dare by Kimberly Brock | Harper Muse

Everyone knows of the mystery of the lost colony of Roanoke. But only the Dare family — in fact, only the women — know about the book that was passed down through 15 generations of daughters. When one of the Dare descendants becomes determined to set her family free from the past, the secrets begin to pursue her. Completely immersive, completely transporting, and a brilliant exploration into the power of family, the power of history, and the triumph of love and motherhood. 

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound | Bookshop

 width=Herrick’s End by T.M. Blanchet | Tiny Fox Press

Talk about escape. T.M. Blanchet has created a terrifying and fantastical underworld. So, yeah, beneath the streets of Boston is a land called Neath. Unlikely hero Ollie is on a quest to find a missing friend, but he finds much more than that! Jenna Blum calls it “an inventive edge-of-your-seat underworld adventure.” Kirkus calls it “a thoughtful and empowering heroes’ journey.” I call it completely engaging and wonderful.

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound | Bookshop

 width=The Mayfair Bookshop by Eliza Knight | William Morrow

Past and present come together, centered in a very special bookshop in London. The focus of the mystery is the captivating Nancy Mitford and the first edition of one of her books that contains a mysterious inscription. (You’re hooked now, right?) Two women in different decades searching for the truth — both bright young things in different ways — in one witty and perfectly constructed novel. One enthusiastic reviewer said “Knight reminds us that women and books have the power to shape the world.” I so agree.

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound | Bookshop

 width=Princess Charming by Zibby Owens | Flamingo Books

If your kids are still waaay too young for you to have to dissuade them from beer-soaked beach parties, they may be just right for Princess Charming by the brilliant Zibby Owens. And if you need a picture book to entertain a fidgety air traveler, Princess Charming will charm your companions for hours. The princess and her purple puppy are instant classics, and her can-do attitude will empower even the shyest of your family. Everyone has a talent, right? It’s just about finding your time to shine. (BookTrib’s review.)

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound | Bookshop

 width=The Twyford Code by Janice Hallett | Viper

Standing ovation for this innovative, immersive and actually interactive mystery. Hallett is a genius at structure, and this inventive presentation — the entire story told in transcriptions of dictated messages, with typos and errors included — somehow manages to be fascinating, extraordinarily clever, heartbreaking, and philosophical on every page. This is a reading experience! And not to be missed.

Amazon

 width=The Echoes by Jess Montgomery | Minotaur

Touching and hauntingly researched, Jess Montgomery’s authentic voice in this novel is breathtakingly captivating. The first woman sheriff in Ohio in 1928 faces the clash of pivotal times — personally and professionally — as she struggles to balance her responsibilities as a law enforcement officer with her responsibilities as a mother, daughter and widow. This is part of a series, but you can read them in any order, and with its deeply felt cast of characters, The Echoes is revealing and touching and absolutely terrific.

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound | Bookshop

 width=Know You By Heart by Tif Marcelo | Montlake

What is spring break without a bit of love and passion? In this sweet romance, a marriage of financial convenience has become … a little inconvenient. If you need an escape that touches your heart, Tall Poppy Tif Marcelo‘s Heart Resort series — which you can read in any order — provides an endearing and romantic escape. Can there be a happily ever after that begins with deception? It’s so much fun to find the answer. (BookTrib’s review.)

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound | Bookshop

 width=Scoundrel by Sarah Weinman | Ecco

What a storyteller! And it’s all true. Weinman weaves the revealing and disturbing story that emerges as influence and power is manipulated by fast talking and persuasive big names in the spotlight. When A-list voices decide to take the criminal justice system into their own hands, Scoundrel brilliantly reveals the devastating consequences. Powerful and shocking, and told with verve and suspense, this is an object lesson about what can happen when privilege and hubris align with the forces of evil.

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound | Bookshop

 width=The School for German Brides by Aimie K. Runyan | William Morrow  

You’ve never read about World War II from this point of view — because I bet you’ve never heard of the bride schools. To be groomed to become an appropriate wife for an up-and-coming Nazi officer, young German women are sent to certain training schools, where, though offered unmatched luxury and access and seeming security, they must also study lessons of hate and depravity. And when the newest student meets a young (and pregnant) Jewish woman, their fates become intertwined. Tall Poppy Aimie Runyan will dazzle you with her fact-based story, and the lessons learned will haunt you.

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound | Bookshop

 width=The Night Shift by Alex Finlay | Minotaur  

Oh so twisty! The first crime takes place on New Year’s Eve 1999. The dreaded Y2K collapse does not happen — but something else dreadful does: the lives of four teenagers are forever changed when someone is murdered, late night in a video store. The second murder occurs 15 years later. How are they connected? I know you always try to guess the endings in thrillers (I do, too), but in this case, resist. Just read it, and enjoy it, and let Alex Finlay dazzle you.

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound | Bookshop

Safe spring break, everyone. Stay safe. And remember, those in Ukraine are not getting a break from anything. NPR.org has a good list of places where you can send donations.

The Lost Book of Eleanor Dare by Kimberly Brock

The Lost Book of Eleanor Dare by Kimberly Brock

Everyone knows of the mystery of the lost colony of Roanoke. But only the Dare family — in fact, only the women — know about the book that was passed down through 15 generations of daughters. When one of the Dare descendants becomes determined to set her family free from the past, the secrets begin to pursue her. Completely immersive, completely transporting, and a brilliant exploration into the power of family, the power of history, and the triumph of love and motherhood. 


Herrick's End by T.M. Blanchet

Herrick's End by T.M. Blanchet

Talk about escape. T.M. Blanchet has created a terrifying and fantastical underworld. So, yeah, beneath the streets of Boston is a land called Neath. Unlikely hero Ollie is on a quest to find a missing friend, but he finds much more than that! Jenna Blum calls it “an inventive edge-of-your-seat underworld adventure.” Kirkus calls it “a thoughtful and empowering heroes’ journey.” I call it completely engaging and wonderful.


The Mayfair Bookshop by Eliza Knight

The Mayfair Bookshop by Eliza Knight

Past and present come together, centered in a very special bookshop in London. The focus of the mystery is the captivating Nancy Mitford and the first edition of one of her books that contains a mysterious inscription. (You’re hooked now, right?) Two women in different decades searching for the truth — both bright young things in different ways — in one witty and perfectly constructed novel. One enthusiastic reviewer said “Knight reminds us that women and books have the power to shape the world.” I so agree.


Princess Charming by Zibby Owens

Princess Charming by Zibby Owens

If your kids are still waaay too young for you to have to dissuade them from beer-soaked beach parties, they may be just right for Princess Charming by the brilliant Zibby Owens. And if you need a picture book to entertain a fidgety air traveler, Princess Charming will charm your companions for hours. The princess and her purple puppy are instant classics, and her can-do attitude will empower even the shyest of your family. Everyone has a talent, right? It’s just about finding your time to shine. (BookTrib’s review.)


The Twyford Code by Janice Hallett

The Twyford Code by Janice Hallett

Standing ovation for this innovative, immersive and actually interactive mystery. Hallett is a genius at structure, and this inventive presentation — the entire story told in transcriptions of dictated messages, with typos and errors included — somehow manages to be fascinating, extraordinarily clever, heartbreaking, and philosophical on every page. This is a reading experience! And not to be missed.


The Echoes by Jess Montgomery

The Echoes by Jess Montgomery

Touching and hauntingly researched, Jess Montgomery’s authentic voice in this novel is breathtakingly captivating. The first woman sheriff in Ohio in 1928 faces the clash of pivotal times — personally and professionally — as she struggles to balance her responsibilities as a law enforcement officer with her responsibilities as a mother, daughter and widow. This is part of a series, but you can read them in any order, and with its deeply felt cast of characters, The Echoes is revealing and touching and absolutely terrific.


Know You By Heart by Tif Marcelo

Know You By Heart by Tif Marcelo

What is spring break without a bit of love and passion? In this sweet romance, a marriage of financial convenience has become … a little inconvenient. If you need an escape that touches your heart, Tall Poppy Tif Marcelo‘s Heart Resort series — which you can read in any order — provides an endearing and romantic escape. Can there be a happily ever after that begins with deception? It’s so much fun to find the answer. (BookTrib’s review.)


Scoundrel by Sarah Weinman

Scoundrel by Sarah Weinman

What a storyteller! And it’s all true. Weinman weaves the revealing and disturbing story that emerges as influence and power is manipulated by fast talking and persuasive big names in the spotlight. When A-list voices decide to take the criminal justice system into their own hands, Scoundrel brilliantly reveals the devastating consequences. Powerful and shocking, and told with verve and suspense, this is an object lesson about what can happen when privilege and hubris align with the forces of evil.


The School for German Brides by Aimie K. Runyan

The School for German Brides by Aimie K. Runyan

You’ve never read about World War II from this point of view — because I bet you’ve never heard of the bride schools. To be groomed to become an appropriate wife for an up-and-coming Nazi officer, young German women are sent to certain training schools, where, though offered unmatched luxury and access and seeming security, they must also study lessons of hate and depravity. And when the newest student meets a young (and pregnant) Jewish woman, their fates become intertwined. Tall Poppy Aimie Runyan will dazzle you with her fact-based story, and the lessons learned will haunt you.


The Night Shift by Alex Finlay

The Night Shift by Alex Finlay

Oh so twisty! The first crime takes place on New Year’s Eve 1999. The dreaded Y2K collapse does not happen — but something else dreadful does: the lives of four teenagers are forever changed when someone is murdered, late night in a video store. The second murder occurs 15 years later. How are they connected? I know you always try to guess the endings in thrillers (I do, too), but in this case, resist. Just read it, and enjoy it, and let Alex Finlay dazzle you.


Hank Phillippi Ryan

Hank Phillippi Ryan is the USA Today bestselling author of 14 psychological thrillers, winning the genres most prestigious awards: five Agathas, four Anthonys and the coveted Mary Higgins Clark Award. She is also an on-air investigative reporter for Boston's WHDH-TV, with 37 EMMYs for her groundbreaking journalism. Her current thriller is HER PERFECT LIFE, a cat-and-mouse standalone novel about fame, family and revenge. It received starred reviews from Kirkus and Publishers Weekly calling it “a superlative thriller.” Her next thriller is THE HOUSE GUEST, coming February 2023. Hank is the host of CRIME TIME on A Mighty Blaze, and co-host of First Chapter Fun and The Back Room.

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