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Literary Friday: What To Read For Spring Break

Friday, March 24, 2023


Happy Literary Friday, My Lovelies!  Next week is Spring Break here in Central Alabama, and today I'm recommending three books for your beach reading, or reading by the fire in the mountains.  Wherever you're going, I hope you have a safe and fun vacation.

I've chosen three recent reads that will pair well with your springtime adventures:  Two of the three are mystery/thriller novels, and one is a suspenseful dystopian.  Even if you don't often read genre fiction (I don't, either) I think you can choose one of these and not be disappointed.  I'm keeping the reviews brief.

First up:  The Family Game by Catherine Steadman.
I checked it our from our local library, and I had to wait several weeks for it.

According to Goodreads:

A rich, eccentric family. A time-honored tradition. Or a lethal game of survival? One woman finds out what it really takes to join the 1% in this riveting psychological thriller from the New York Times bestselling author of Something in the Water, Mr. Nobody, and The Disappearing Act.

Harry is a novelist on the brink of stardom; Edward, her husband-to-be, is seemingly perfect. In love and freshly engaged, their bliss is interrupted by the reemergence of the Holbecks, Edward's eminent family and the embodiment of American old money. For years, they've dominated headlines and pulled society's strings, and Edward left them all behind to forge his own path. But there are eyes and ears everywhere. It was only a matter of time before they were pulled back in . . .

After all, even though he's long severed ties with his family, Edward is set to inherit it all. Harriet is drawn to the glamour and sophistication of the Holbecks, who seem to welcome her with open arms, but everything changes when she meets Robert, the inescapably magnetic head of the family. At their first meeting, Robert slips Harry a cassette tape, revealing a shocking confession which sets the inevitable game in motion.

What is it about Harry that made him give her that tape? A thing that has the power to destroy everything? As she ramps up her quest for the truth, she must endure the Holbecks' savage Christmas traditions all the while knowing that losing this game could be deadly.

My Review:

My blog friend Diana from the Book of Secrets blog recommended this one; it was a Book of the Month selection.  I don't normally read thrillers because they make me nervous.  This one did make me nervous, but for a reason I'll get to in a bit.  The beginning of the novel sets-up Harriet (Harry) and Edward's love story.  They seem to be the perfect couple, however Edward's eccentric old money family is very problematic:  Edward has distanced himself from them and has made a fortune in his own right, but the family want him returned to the fold.  As their marriage is in the very near future, the Holbecks worm their way into Harry and Edward's lives, and the results are horrific.  The nervous part for me: a Christmas game that includes the Krampus, a German Christmas monster who is real in the Holbeck's twisted world.  Did I mention that the game is for children?  Krampus is not the game referenced in the title, though. 

If you like mystery/thrillers with plot twists that make you reel from shock, then you will love The Family Game.  NOTE:  This book was a Goodreads Choice Nominee in the Best Mystery and Thriller category.  

The next review is for The Housemaid by Freida McFadden.

According to Goodreads:

“Welcome to the family,” Nina Winchester says as I shake her elegant, manicured hand. I smile politely, gazing around the marble hallway. Working here is my last chance to start fresh. I can pretend to be whoever I like. But I’ll soon learn that the Winchesters’ secrets are far more dangerous than my own…

Every day I clean the Winchesters’ beautiful house top to bottom. I collect their daughter from school. And I cook a delicious meal for the whole family before heading up to eat alone in my tiny room on the top floor.

I try to ignore how Nina makes a mess just to watch me clean it up. How she tells strange lies about her own daughter. And how her husband Andrew seems more broken every day. But as I look into Andrew’s handsome brown eyes, so full of pain, it’s hard not to imagine what it would be like to live Nina’s life. The walk-in closet, the fancy car, the perfect husband.

I only try on one of Nina’s pristine white dresses once. Just to see what it’s like. But she soon finds out… and by the time I realize my attic bedroom door only locks from the outside, it’s far too late.

But I reassure myself: the Winchesters don’t know who I really am.

They don’t know what I’m capable of…

An unbelievably twisty read that will have you glued to the pages late into the night. Anyone who loves The Woman in the Window, The Wife Between Us and The Girl on the Train won’t be able to put this down!

My Review:

Author Freida McFadden is a physician specializing in brain injury.  She first published this book in ebook format, and it became such a huge hit, it was published in print.  There has been a lot of hype about this book, and it also was a Goodreads Choice Nominee in the Best Mystery and Thriller category.  So basically I caved to the hype, and I'm so happy I did.

Millie is a housemaid for the wealthy and dysfunctional Winchesters.  She is desperate to keep her job because she's broke and homeless.  The more we learn about the Winchesters, and the longer that Millie stays in the house, the harder it is to put the book down.  The plot twists will definitely blindside you.  The story did live up to the hype, but I'm not crazy about McFadden's writing style.  However, because I liked the story so much, I immediately went to the library and checked out the sequel, The Housemaid's Secret.  It's even better than the The Housemaid.   NOTE:  The Housemaid's Secret is pictured in the photo with the hydrangea.

This is the Fairy Loot special edition of Poster Girl by Veronica Roth.  It is such a pretty book!
I subscribe to Fairy Loot, the adult subscription, not the young adult one. 

According to Goodreads:

Veronica Roth tells the story of a woman's desperate search for a missing girl after the collapse of the oppressive dystopian regime--and the dark secrets about her family and community she uncovers along the way


Sonya Kantor knows this slogan--she lived by it for most of her life. For decades, everyone in the Seattle-Portland megalopolis lived under it, as well as constant surveillance in the form of the Insight, an ocular implant that tracked every word and every action, rewarding or punishing by a rigid moral code set forth by the Delegation.

Then there was a revolution. The Delegation fell. Its most valuable members were locked in the Aperture, a prison on the outskirts of the city. And everyone else, now free from the Insight's monitoring, went on with their lives.

Sonya, former poster girl for the Delegation, has been imprisoned for ten years when an old enemy comes to her with a deal: find a missing girl who was stolen from her parents by the old regime, and earn her freedom. The path Sonya takes to find the child will lead her through an unfamiliar, crooked post-Delegation world where she finds herself digging deeper into the past--and her family's dark secrets--than she ever wanted to.

With razor sharp prose, Poster Girl is a haunting dystopian mystery that explores the expanding role of surveillance on society--an inescapable reality that we welcome all too easily.

My Review:

I normally shy away from dystopian novels because a dystopia is not where one should want to live.  I usually find them disturbing, but not this one.  Sure, there are elements of a civilization that has declined rapidly, and unfortunately for the book's heroine Sonya, she and her family were on the wrong side of a revolution.  She's in prison, but she has the chance to earn her freedom if she can find a missing child.  Sonya was a vapid, unlikable teenager when she was arrested, and ten years later, she hasn't progressed much.  I'm so happy I kept reading to witness Sonya's growth: her spirit and courage by the end of the book are quite endearing.  It also ended just how it should've ended.  I loved this book (in spite of the genre).  Veronica Roth is an extremely talented and creative writer.

What do you think?  Do any of these books appeal to you?  I think Spring Break is the perfect time for an adventure, whether it's away from home or in your most comfortable reading chair.  Be adventurous and read outside of your comfort zone.  You might surprise yourself! 

Until next time...

Happy reading!
Ricki Jill


  1. I enjoyed reading these reviews Ricki Jill, but I'm not brave enough to read thrillers! I would love to know the "Housemaid's Secret" however! I need happy ending Hallmark movie type stories! I do like cozy mysteries too...
    I'm off to the beach with my family for the week~

  2. The Housemaids Secret sounds like a good one. Happy Friday. Have a great weekend. Safe travels. Hugs. Kris

  3. That Catherine Steadman book especially appeals to me -- I've been interested in her since her role in Downton Abbey and I love it when an actor can write and write a plot well. I haven't read her other work but I'm interested in this one!


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I'm Ricki Jill. Welcome! I'm honored that you're reading my blog. I enjoy sharing my creative lifestyle @ The Bookish Dilettante. For more information about my blog, please read the Start Here page. Thank-you for stopping by, and I hope you'll consider following me via email.

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