Excellent Books to Surprise and Delight You, Coming in 2021




I just finished an advanced copy of The Girls Are All So Nice Here by Laurie Elizabeth Flynn and all I can say is, “WOW Laurie, WOW.”

From the very first page, I was hooked on the story of Ambrosia, known as Amb, and her experience at college rooming with a nice girl named Flora. Something has happened, we don’t know what, during her freshman year. And it was bad. The book switches between Then with Amb trying to navigate friendships and feelings, and Now as she gets ready for her ten-year college reunion. Someone is sending her strange messages, and she thinks she might get to the bottom of it at the reunion, which she is dreading. She has kept the big horrible thing that happened during freshman year a complete secret from her sweet husband, Adrian. What will he learn at the reunion? Amb is nervous.

Not only is the story gripping, but the writing is fantastic. Sometimes books are so good because of an intriguing plot or unexpected twists, and then sometimes writers are so talented in their words and descriptions that it elevates the book. This one has it all. Cracking with tension, full of suspense, excellent writing. Mostly unlikable characters who we can’t figure out or understand but feel compelled to care about.

Official synopsis:

A lot has changed in the years since Ambrosia Wellington graduated from college, and she’s worked hard to create a new life for herself. But then an invitation to her ten-year reunion arrives in the mail, along with an anonymous note that reads “We need to talk about what we did that night.” 

It seems that the secrets of Ambrosia’s past—and the people she thought she’d left there—aren’t as buried as she’d believed. Amb can’t stop fixating on what she did or who she did it with: larger-than-life Sloane “Sully” Sullivan, Amb’s former best friend, who could make anyone do anything.

At the reunion, Amb and Sully receive increasingly menacing messages, and it becomes clear that they’re being pursued by someone who wants more than just the truth of what happened that first semester. This person wants revenge for what they did and the damage they caused—the extent of which Amb is only now fully understanding. And it was all because of the game they played to get a boy who belonged to someone else, and the girl who paid the price.

Alternating between the reunion and Amb’s freshman year, The Girls Are All So Nice Here is a shocking novel about the brutal lengths girls can go to get what they think they’re owed, and what happens when the games we play in college become matters of life and death.

This is a book that I couldn’t wait to finish, so I knew how it all played out. And then I was sorry it was over. And I also want to read more of Laurie’s books immediately. I gave this five gold Goodreads stars for the intriguing plot and the stellar writing, and because I could not put this book down until I read the last page.

Get it on March 9, 2021! Pre- order now.




As soon as I began reading The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah, I thought of this famous photograph:

The woman gives us a hefty dose of despair. She reminds me of the main character of Elsa. When we first meet her, she is an outcast, a misfit. Her family treats her differently because of her bout with an illness when she was younger. At twenty-five, she is sheltered and not allowed to do much more than stay in the house.

One night she gets dressed up to go out on the town like a normal woman and her father tries to stop her. She goes anyway and fueled by her anger; she does something regrettable that sets the course of her life.

Soon she’s married to Rafe, an Italian immigrant five years younger than her, and shunned by her parents. Elsa moves in with his parents, Tony and Rosa. She works on their struggling wheat farm.

This is during the Great Depression when the Dust Bowl sweeps through Texas, leaving many fighting for their survival. Rafe is a dreamer who wants more from life, and he chooses to leave Elsa and their children. As she struggles to care for the farm and her kids, Elsa decides to head to California. There are rumors of things being better out west. Well, they couldn’t be much worse, could they?

Once in California with her children, she lives in poverty, nearly starving. Her son goes barefoot until he receives a pair of hand-me-down shoes with holes in them.  The only work available is brutal cotton-picking then in the other season, picking fruit.  Elsa and her kids live in a tent and barely make enough money to get food. Finally, she gets a job where she can live in a cottage but she is constantly in debt because the owner of the farm forces his workers to buy everything on credit. She can’t get ahead, no matter how hard she works.

I kept waiting for Elsa’s luck to turn. But the hardship is bleak and never-ending. Things look up a little when she meets Jack, a man who tries to organize workers into a union and believes in communism. Elsa’s strong-willed daughter, Loreda turns out to be just as tough as Elsa whose transformation in the book is heroic.

As I read this book, I could almost feel the scorch of the sun burning my skin, the dry air, the dust-clogged atmosphere. I felt the sting of poverty and rumble of a hungry stomach. Kristin’s writing is, as usual, top-notch.

Coming out on Feb. 9, 2021.



I really enjoyed The Perfect Guests by Emma Rous thanks to the characters of Beth and her story that takes place in 1989, and Sadie, an actress who is invited to play a role in a murder mystery at a mysterious mansion.

Beth was orphaned when her parents died in a car crash and her aunt Caroline was supposed to take care of her but cannot due to her job as a journalist. So she drops Beth off to live temporarily with Markus and Leonora and their daughter Nina, who is Beth’s age. It thrills Beth to live at the vast house and becomes close friends with Nina. But she soon grows troubled by things she is seeing…

When Sadie gets an invitation to act in a murder mystery party, she’s thrilled. Her career hasn’t been going well, and this is just the boost she needs. After her arrival at the mansion, a woman goes missing and no one has a clue about it.

Sadie questions what is really going on with this group of people she doesn’t know and cannot trust, out in the middle of anywhere.


1988. Beth Soames is fourteen years old when her aunt takes her to stay at Raven Hall, a rambling manor in the isolated East Anglian fens. The Averells, the family who lives there, are warm and welcoming, and Beth becomes fast friends with their daughter, Nina. At times, Beth even feels like she’s truly part of the family…until they ask her to help them with a harmless game—and nothing is ever the same.

2019. Sadie Langton is an actress struggling to make ends meet when she lands a well-paying gig to pretend to be a guest at a weekend party. She is sent a suitcase of clothing, a dossier outlining the role she is to play, and instructions. It’s strange, but she needs the money, and when she sees the stunning manor she’ll be staying at, she figures she’s got nothing to lose.

In person, Raven Hall is even grander than she’d imagined—even with damage from a fire decades before—but the walls seem to have eyes. As day turns to night, Sadie starts to feel that there’s something off about the glamorous guests who arrive, and as the party begins, it becomes chillingly apparent their unseen host is playing games with everyone…including her.

This was a totally enjoyable read that had me hooked from the beginning!

Coming out on January 12, 2021. Pre-order here.



I’ve read several books by Susan Meissner and they are all fantastic. Must-reads, if you haven’t already. The Nature of Fragile Things is coming out in 2021 but I can’t wait that long to rave about this story.

Sophie is an Irish immigrant, dirt poor, living in a tenement in New York City in the early 1900s. She feels like there is no way out of her hard life so when she sees ad from a widower in California looking for a wife and caretaker to his young daughter; she doesn’t think twice about applying for the position.

When she arrives in San Francisco, she is immediately married to Martin Hocking. It doesn’t matter that he’s cold and aloof, he provides generously for her with plenty of food, new clothes, a beautiful home. What a contrast to her life in New York. She adores Martin’s daughter Kat, who refuses to speak after the death of her mother.

Martin travels for work and is away for many days in a row.  She doesn’t question it until a woman lands on her doorstep looking for her own husband. Who sounds an awful lot like Martin. Suddenly, an earthquake rips through San Francisco, complicating everything including what Sophie knows about her new husband.

I absolutely loved this book, the plot, the characters, the writing style. I am already waiting in anticipation for Susan’s next brilliant novel.

April 18, 1906: A massive earthquake rocks San Francisco just before daybreak, igniting a devouring inferno. Lives are lost, lives are shattered, but some rise from the ashes forever changed.

Sophie Whalen is a young Irish immigrant so desperate to get out of a New York tenement that she answers a mail-order bride ad and agrees to marry a man she knows nothing about. San Francisco widower Martin Hocking proves to be as aloof as he is mesmerizingly handsome. Sophie quickly develops deep affection for Kat, Martin’s silent five-year-old daughter, but Martin’s odd behavior leaves her with the uneasy feeling that something about her newfound situation isn’t right.

Then one early-spring evening, a stranger at the door sets in motion a transforming chain of events. Sophie discovers hidden ties to two other women. The first, pretty and pregnant, is standing on her doorstep. The second is hundreds of miles away in the American Southwest, grieving the loss of everything she once loved.

The fates of these three women intertwine on the eve of the devastating earthquake, thrusting them onto a perilous journey that will test their resiliency and resolve and, ultimately, their belief that love can overcome fear.



Because I’ve been known to enjoy a true crime case or two, this new novel- In The Garden of Spite -intrigued me.Camilla Bruce based the story on real-life murderess, Belle Gunness.

Camilla does an awesome job of fictionalizing this evil woman who takes delight in killing. It’s unbelievable how she got away with her crimes for so long. I was disgusted.  I was intrigued. I was captivated. And I loved every page of this book.

Here is the official synopsis:

They whisper about her in Chicago. Men come to her with their hopes, their dreams–their fortunes. But no one sees them leave. No one sees them at all after they come to call on the Widow of La Porte.

The good people of Indiana may have their suspicions, but if those fools knew what she’d given up, what was taken from her, how she’d suffered, surely they’d understand. Belle Gunness learned a long time ago that a woman has to make her own way in this world. That’s all it is. A bloody means to an end. A glorious enterprise meant to raise her from the bleak, colorless drudgery of her childhood to the life she deserves. After all, vermin always survive.

If you like learning about actual people in history or true crime stories, this is the book for you. I am really excited for people to read this novel. It comes out on January 19, 2021.



Guilty Admissions by Nicole LaPorte centers on the scandal made famous by the “elites” who cheated to get their kids admitted to prestigious schools. You might know it as Varsity Blues.  This book delves deep into the greed and entitlement which colored the lenses of parents who cheated their way into colleges to ensure their children would attend top schools. Its mind blowing but true, the lengths parents went to for their kids.

It took me a while to get into this, but once I was engaged; I wanted to see what would happen next. I can’t imagine the time and research the author put into this story! Well done.

Here is the official premise:

Guilty Admissions weaves together the story of an unscrupulous college counselor named Rick Singer, and how he preyed on the desperation of some of the country’s wealthiest families living in a world defined by fierce competition, who function under constant pressure to get into the “right” schools, starting with pre-school; non-stop fundraising and donation demands in the form of multi-million-dollar galas and private parties; and a community of deeply insecure parents who will do anything to get their kids into name-brand colleges in order to maintain their own A-list status.

Investigative reporter Nicole LaPorte lays bare the source of this insecurity — that in 2019, no special “hook” in the form of legacy status, athletic talent, or financial giving can guarantee a child’s entrance into an elite school. The result is paranoia, deception, and true crimes at the peak of the American social pyramid.

With a glittering cast of Hollywood actors — including Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin — hedge fund CEOs, sales executives, and media titans, Guilty Admissions is a soap-opera-slash-sneak-peek-behind-the-curtains at America’s richest social circles; an examination of the cutthroat world of college admissions; and a parable of American society in 2019, when the country is run by a crass tycoon and all totems of status and achievement have become transactional and removed from traditions of ethical restraint.

This book will be out on February 23, 2021. You can pre-order here!


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Find me at CindysAlwaysReading





Let’s be friends on Instagram! Find me at CindysAlwaysReading