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Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Top Ten Tuesday: Vacation Thrillers On My TBR List

I just got back from a fabulous 2-week vacation to the U.K. in which everything went pretty much as smoothly as it could. Even the few things that didn't go quite as planned turned into happy accidents and funny memories. This hasn't been the case with every holiday I've gone on, naturally. I've been on trips marred by nasty weather, illness, car trouble, family drama, forgotten medication, kids having meltdowns, and one memorable (but very minor, thank goodness) trip to a Canadian emergency room. Although I pray for uneventful vacations in real life, I want the opposite in my fiction. Bring on all the holiday murder and mayhem! I mean, c'mon, who wants to read about a smooth-as-silk holiday? Not I! Today's TTT prompt is actually Top Ten Characters I'd Like to Go On Vacation With, but I'm going to put my own spin on it and list some vacation thrillers on my TBR list. I actually did this same topic back in 2020 with ten different books, so take a look at that if you're into this genre as well.

As always, Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by the lovely Jana over at That Artsy Reader Girl. Pop on over there and give her some love, won't you?

Top Ten Vacation Thrillers On My TBR List

1. The River Wild by Denis O'Neill—I loved the film version of this survival story starring Kevin Bacon and Meryl Streep, but I've never read the book. The story is about a couple whose marriage struggles lead them to go on a white water rafting trip with their young son, hoping they can heal what's broken with some concentrated bonding time. When they rescue two stranded rafters, they unknowingly pick up a pair of criminals on the run. The family's peaceful outing soon turns into a desperate run against two armed killers and a powerful river, both of which seem to be conspiring to kill them.

2. One Perfect Couple by Ruth Ware (available May 21, 2024)—In spite of relationship issues with her wannabe actor boyfriend, Lyla auditions with him for a new reality show that pits couples against each other for a large cash prize. Along with their fellow competitors, Lyla and Nico are left on the shores of a beautiful, exotic, and very remote island. After the game's first challenge leaves the contestants boiling with anger, a violent storm sweeps in, cutting the players off from all communication with the outside world. With no way to call for help and supplies running low, the couples must band together to survive. Or not.

3. Leave the World Behind by Rumaan Alam—I'm probably the last person on earth to read this buzzy thriller. It's about a family from New York City who rent a luxurious Long Island home for a much-needed rest from their busy lives. Everything is going swimmingly until a knock on the door in the middle of the night changes everything. An older couple has arrived, claiming to be the owners of the home. They bring terrible news—a mysterious power outage has shut down the city, causing widespread chaos and panic. Something about the situation doesn't seem right to the vacationers, but with phone and Internet service down, there's no way for them to know what's really happening. Can they trust these newcomers? Or is something way more sinister than a power outage going on?

4. Never Coming Home by Kate Williams—In this YA thriller, ten of the world's most famous teen influencers are invited to Unknown Island. This paradise of the privileged has just opened and the whole world is talking about its beauty, luxury, and exclusivity. When the "First Ten" receive their coveted invites, they think they're being rewarded because of their massive followings. Wrong. They're being trapped because of the secrets each one of them is hiding. Someone wants those bombshells released. Someone wants to punish their keepers. Someone doesn't want the powerful influencers to leave the island. Ever. 

5. The Chateau by Jaclyn Goldis—Twenty years ago, four teenagers embarked on a study abroad adventure in Provence, France, and became the best of friends. The girls spent their weekends visiting elegant Séraphine Demargelasse, one of the students' grandmother, at her fancy chateau. Two decades later, Séraphine invites them back. None of the women understand the sudden invitation, but each has their own secret reason for accepting. When their host is found murdered after a night of celebration, those secrets begin to emerge as everyone scrambles to figure out what is happening and why. 

6. Searching for Sylvie Lee by Jean Kwok—When the titular character disappears while on vacation in the Netherlands, the Lee family is devastated and confused. What happened to their smart, successful oldest daughter? Amy, the youngest of the Lee siblings, has always been shy and easily intimidated. She idolizes her sister, her polar opposite. Determined to find answers for her distraught parents, Amy calls on every ounce of courage she possesses and embarks on a journey to figure out what happened to Sylvie. Along the way, she'll expose shocking secrets and discover deep truths about her sister, their parents, and herself. 

7. The Last Guest House by Caroline Mitchell (available April 16, 2024—today!)In need of some R&R after working a taxing case, Detective Constable Nicola McKenna agrees to go on a relaxing vacation to Scotland's remote Isle of Skye. When they discover that their hotel has been overbooked, they scramble to find alternate accommodations. The Loch House has some odd rules, which Nicola finds more than a little unsettling. An incoming snow storm unnerves her even more and shows her just how very wrong things are at the sketchy guest house...

8. The Search Party by Hannah Richell—Max and Annie Kingsley have left their stressful life in London behind to run a glamping site. To ensure everything goes well for its grand opening, they decide to give their new venture a test run. They invite a group of family friends to join them for a fun, relaxing weekend. It doesn't take long for things to go sideways. With tension already on the rise, a sudden storm crashes in and one of the group disappears. As they try to find their missing member, secrets will come to light, families will be pitted against each other, and friendships will crumble. Will any of them ever recover from their dream weekend turned hellish nightmare?

9. Descent by Tim Johnston—The Courtlands are hanging out in the Rocky Mountains enjoying one last family vacation before their 18-year-old daughter, Caitlin, heads off to college. When she and her brother go for a run one morning and only Sean comes back, the family is thrown into a wild panic. What happened to Caitlin? Have they lost her forever? 

10. The River At Night by Erica Ferencik—If there's one thing everyone can agree on it's that Winifred Allen needs a vacation. Even still, she's a tad reluctant to join her best friends on a rafting and hiking adventure in the Maine wilderness. Her misgivings come to fruition when a freak accident turns their harmless excursion into a desperate struggle for survival against nature, each other, and the most dangerous type of wildlife: other humans.

There you go, ten novels about vacations going terribly wrong that I want to read. Have you read any of these? What did you think? Are there any other books you've loved about holidays gone awry? I'd love to know. Leave me a comment on this post and I will gladly return the favor on your blog.

Happy TTT!


  1. Love your list of vacation thrillers. The only one I've read is The River at Night...which I thought was pretty good. But I didn't love it like I hoped. Out of the others on your list, I really want to read One Perfect Couple and Descent.

    1. I actually feel like I've already read THE RIVER AT NIGHT, but if I did, I didn't mark it "read" on Goodreads. It's possible I started it and DNF'd it. We'll see. Hopefully, I'll enjoy it if I haven't read it yet. Glad you did, even if you didn't end up loving it.

      I actually DNF'd DESCENT yesterday. The narrative style was irritating me and it was already too R-rated for me after only a chapter or two. Oh well.

      Thanks, as always, for coming by and commenting, Lark!

  2. Oh, I love this! Vacations with a thrilling twist! Both a dream and nightmare in one.

    1. Right? A dream that becomes a nightmare. It's a fun premise for a novel. Not so much for a real vacation! LOL

      Thanks, as always, for coming by and commenting, Alicia!

  3. Yay, glad your vacation went well :) Great tweak for today's topic. Have fun getting over jet lag and acclimating back to "real" life ;)

    1. Our trip went extremely well. I'm still tired from all the traveling and activity, but it was worth it a hundred times over!

      Thanks, as always, for coming by and commenting, Cindy!

  4. Replies
    1. Thanks! I've DNF'd one of them already, so I'm really hoping the others are winners for me.

      Thanks for stopping in, Sara!

  5. Looks like some great thriller reads! I'm curious about some based on the covers, including "The Chateau." A good thriller read now and then is always interesting. :) Thanks so much for visiting my website today.

    1. I love a good thriller. I read way too many of them and am always on the lookout for more! My real life is pretty tame, so I have to get my thrills through fiction. It's a lot safer that way :)

      Thanks, as always, for coming by and commenting, Rissi!

  6. These all look like intense reads! 🙂

    1. I like my thrillers to be, well, thrilling, but they do get too intense for me sometimes! We'll see how I do with these.

      Thanks, as always, for coming by and commenting, Nicole!

  7. These all look like exciting vacation reads. :)

    Here is my Top Ten Tuesday.

    1. I hope so! There's nothing worse than a boring "thriller." Ha ha.

      Thanks, as always, for coming by and commenting, Lydia!

  8. What a great idea - holidays gone wrong! Glad your trip was good although weather has been rubbish here in Edinburgh over the past couple of weeks. Hope it was better where you were.

    1. We were all over the U.K. and, really, we got pretty lucky with the weather. There was only one day that was completely rainy (with snow flurries, even). The rest were cold, but mostly clear.

      Even though we flew in and out of Edinburgh, we actually only ended up spending one day there—well, in Dumferline. My husband's second great-grandfather died while helping to build the Forth Bridge, so we spent all day near there exploring the bridge and the surrounding area. Sounds macabre, but it was fun and we ended up having an absolutely beautiful day after the rain cleared up.

      Thanks, as always, for coming by and commenting, Joanne!

  9. These look like some intense reads. I hope you enjoy reading them.
    Pam @ Read! Bake! Create!

    1. They do all look very intense! I won't read them back-to back. LOL

      Thanks, as always, for coming by and commenting, Pam!

  10. I'm glad your holiday went so well! The Chateau has a really eye-catching cover!

    1. I agree. I'm always drawn to covers with big, old buildings on them. They're great settings for atmospheric thrillers.

      Thanks, as always, for coming by and commenting, Louise!

  11. Glad the trip went well for the most part! I would love to visit the UK if the opportunity ever presented itself!

    Nice picks too! Lots of new to me ones here but I love a good thriller! The cover for The Chateau reminds me of the cover of one of Kate Alice Marshall's YA thrillers! It had a big gothic mansion on it too!

    Thanks for visiting my TTT!

    1. The trip went really well! We loved it. There's so much to see in the U.K. We've seen a lot over the two trips we've been there, but we still want to do a separate trip to the Scottish Highlands. Maybe in a few years when we've fully recovered from this trip. LOL

      I love books/covers with gothic mansions. One of my favorite settings for a story.

      Thanks, as always, for coming by and commenting, Jessica!

  12. Nothing like your getaway turning into something chilling and mysterious.

    1. Right? It's a great setup for a thriller. Not so much in real life!

      Thanks, as always, for coming by and commenting, Sam!

  13. Eeep! These might be fun thrillers, but I wouldn't want my real life vacations to be anything like them. ;-) I'm glad your real world vacation was a lot less eventful!

    1. Same! The real life vacation "nightmares" I've experienced have really just been minor inconveniences. I'm not sure I could handle more than that. I'll take it in fiction only, thank you very much!

      Thanks, as always, for coming by and commenting, Nicole!

  14. So glad you had a great trip! Love this list. I haven't read any of them, but I'm always on the lookout for a solid thriller. The River at Night is for sure going on my TBR pile.

    1. I always like a wilderness survival story and this one has an element of scary people as well. Sounds good to me!

      Thanks, as always, for coming by and commenting, Christopher!

  15. I'm a sucker for a good vacation thriller, and this is a great list! I've only read Leave the World Behind, and it wasn't a great fit for me, but I seem to be in the minority about that one. I'll definitely be looking out for these next time I need a good vacation thriller, so thanks!

    1. Same! The genre really appeals to me. No matter how many of them I read, I always want more.

      Bummer that you didn't love LEAVE THE WORLD BEHIND. I'll be interested to see what I think of it.

      Thanks, as always, for coming by and commenting, Leah!

  16. Great list Susan. These all sound very intense!📚💜

    1. I hope so! I love an intense page turner, but I can't read too many in a row. I'll have to find some nice cozy mysteries or other lighter books to sandwich in between them.

      Thanks, as always, for coming by and commenting, Susan!

  17. These all sound so good! I don't usually read thrillers because I'm a scaredy-cat, but I might have to pick up Never Coming Home ... as long as I read it during daylight hours when someone else is in the room with me!

    1. Ha ha. That's how I feel about horror. I'm too wimpy for that genre. Thrillers usually don't scare me, although I've definitely read some disturbing ones. I hope we both enjoy NEVER COMING HOME.

      Thanks for popping in, Karis!

  18. I love all the covers of these and they sound good. I hope you love them!

  19. That last comment was me... Don't know why it said anonymous. lol

    1. Weird. Thanks, as always, for coming by and commenting, Deanna!

  20. I'm not a big thriller reader, but I do like the sound of these vacation thrillers (the fictional ones, because hopefully all IRL vacations go super smoothly :) )

    1. Right? I've heard some truly awful travel stories, but luckily, I haven't experienced anything worse than car problems, motion sickness, wild weather, and one hospital visit, which turned out to be just a sprained ankle. Fingers crossed that's as bad as it ever gets!

      Thanks, as always, for coming by and commenting, Lindsey!

  21. I love everybody's fun twists on this topic! It's interesting how it's easy to find so many mysteries and thrillers set at great vacation spots *shifty eyes*

    1. Right? It's very suspicious...

      Thanks for stopping in!

  22. I am the opposite and I like to read about vacations that I would like to have in the future, so no drama or murders

    1. I can see the appeal of that kind of book as well. I'm more about the thrillers and I like the contrast of paradise/nightmare—only in fiction, though!

      Thanks, as always, for coming by and commenting, Vero!

  23. Love your take on this! I always enjoy vacation thrillers and a number of these are calling to me - especially the Ruth Ware. Glad the hospital visit turned out to be minor but still!

    1. I'm reading the Ruth Ware one right now. I'm about halfway through and I'm enjoying it. It's fast-paced and exciting so far.

      The hospital visit was a sprained ankle when I was a kid. The only reason my dad even took me to the E.R. was because my grandma made him! LOL. I was perfectly fine by the time we headed home, although it was painful when it happened.

      Thanks, as always, for coming by and commenting, Katherine!

  24. I'm glad to hear your vacation was a success! We did the UK a few years ago, and it is one of our favorite vacations ever! As for this list, I'd add The Island by Adrian McKinty. It is a vacation gone wrong thriller that is very over the top.

    1. This was our second time there and we loved both trips. There's just so much to see in the U.K.! We've covered a lot of it, but of course, there's always more.

      Ooh, I hadn't heard of THE ISLAND. I'll check it out.

      Thanks, as always, for coming by and commenting, Ethan!

  25. I like your spin on the theme! I don't read as many thrillers as I should, so while I've heard of many of these I haven't read most of them. The exception is Leave the World Behind. It wasn't my favourite - I'd say maybe try watching the TV show and see if you really dig it, then commit to the book if you do!

    1. I think the reason I haven't read LEAVE THE WORLD BEHIND yet is that it gets such mixed reviews. As a general rule, I don't watch tv/film versions of books without reading the original, but I might just take your suggestion.

      Thanks, as always, for coming by and commenting, M!

  26. I don't know what is wrong at the moment, a lot of my posts go to spam as do those of other bloggers. I hope you get this one.
    Thank you for visiting my TTT about Characters I'd like to go on vacation with.

    1. I'm glad your comment went through! I have to approve each one, so comments don't appear on my blog immediately. It can be confusing. And then sometimes there are just weird glitches that eat comments right up and disappear them forever. LOL

      Thanks, as always, for coming by and commenting, Marianne!

  27. Mayhap vacations are the best to read about. I hope you enjoy all of these.

  28. I have been craving thrillers recently! This list is perfect, I've added so many books to the TBR!

  29. Great twist! I haven't read any of these yet, but I do enjoy a good vacation thriller. :)


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