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20 must-read books for Summer 2019

20 must-read books for Summer 2019

Contrary to the rain we’ve been treated to since the beginning of June, summer is officially here. Which means it’s time to pop open a parasol, grab a cold bevvy and enjoy these lazy summer days with a book to keep you company.

From feel-good fun and moving family sagas, to edge-of-your-seat thrillers and sizzling beach reads, here’s our pick of the best new and upcoming books to dive into this summer.

A Vintage Summer by Cathy Bramley

You know what you’re going to get when it comes to a Cathy Bramley novel, and that’s a warm-hearted story full of romance, fun and picturesque scenery. This one centres on Lottie Allbright as she escapes her life in London and moves to the rolling Derbyshire hills, where she takes up a live-in job managing a local vineyard. With loveable characters, an uplifting sense of community spirit and a genteel English setting, A Vintage Summer is the epitome of feel-good fiction. (21 March, Corgi)

Other Words For Smoke by Sarah Maria Griffin

With her second book, Irish author Sarah Maria Griffin swaps post-technology dystopia for witchcraft and Chilling Adventures of Sabrina vibes. Supernatural powers abound in this lyrical tale about love, fear, family, a mysterious cat and a dark force that lurks in the walls. Other Words For Smoke is a book instinctively linked to summer as it follows twins Mae and Rossa as they navigate their strange world. It’ll thread its way into your mind like the magic that lingers behind the wallpaper. (2 April, Titan)

Ellie and the Harp-Maker by Hazel Prior

Following your dreams and appreciating the simple pleasures in life are at the heart of Prior’s quirky debut. Dan has an ordered existence making harps. Ellie is a housewife who lives a quiet life with her husband. They both think they’re happy until they accidentally meet one day and strike up a friendship that alters both of their perspectives. There’s an earnest, effortless quality to this Exmoor-set story that will make you want to journey to the Devonshire countryside with some sandwiches and a thermos and bask in the beautiful landscape. (2 May, Bantam Press)

The Seven or Eight Deaths of Stella Fortuna by Juliet Grames

This is the fictionalised story of the real life Stella Fortuna and how she endured seven or eight near-death experiences over the course of a century. The preface questions whether it was good or bad luck that she survived the many encounters of impending death. Taking us from her childhood in a mountain village in Italy to her old age in Connecticut, we move with Stella as she tackles different adversaries and adversities, resulting in a sweeping historical book that’s haunting, heart-breaking and vividly told. (7 May, Hodder & Stoughton)

Map of Another Town by M. F. K. Fisher

Fisher’s Map of Another Town does for France what My Family and Other Animals did for Corfu: it makes you want to visit another place, in another time, and experience it the way the author did. One of America’s most distinguished food writers, Fisher moved to Aix-en-Provence with her daughters after WWII and wrote about the famous town and its inhabitants. This new edition, featuring an introduction by Lauren Elkin, is the perfect blend of evocative travel writing and personal memoir from the perspective of an American living in Southern France. (16 May, Daunt Books)

Poppy’s Recipe For Life by Heidi Swain

Poppy’s life hasn’t always been easy but things are starting to work in her favour. Her dream of moving into a cottage in Nightingale Square is finally a reality, and living close to the community garden, she’ll be able to indulge in her passion for making preserves and pickles. With a prestigious garden award up for grabs, a prickly neighbour to win over, and the arrival of her troubled brother to contend with, Poppy must juggle her priorities and fight for her newfound happiness. If you enjoyed Swain’s previous novel following the residents of Nightingale Square, you’ll love this book, which is another heart-warming and charming read. (30 May, Simon & Schuster)

Those Who Are Loved by Victoria Hislop

Inspired by the first time she saw the uninhabited island of Makronisos, Hislop’s latest book is set against the disquieting backdrop of Germany’s occupation of Greece during WWII and the subsequent civil war that followed. Fifteen-year-old Themis’ family is divided by right and left wing political views. As a defiant member of the Communist army, Themis is eventually imprisoned on the infamous islands of exile, enduring violence and hard labour. Told from the perspective of an elderly Themis looking back on her life, this is a wonderfully researched and beautifully written piece of historical fiction. (30 May, Headline)

The Woman Who Wanted More by Vicky Zimmerman

Food and friendship are at the heart of The Woman Who Wanted More, which centres on two women who’ve both lost their spark. Volunteering at her local retirement home, Kate meets 97-year-old Cecily, who gives her a self-help cookery book from 1957 that promises the answers to life’s essential questions. Cecily becomes something of a life advisor to Kate, who learns a thing or two from the stubborn nonagenarian’s sharp mind (and tongue). What unfolds is a poignant story about the important things in life, and the people – sometimes perfect strangers – who can help to heal our hearts. (30 May, Zaffre)

Still Lives by Maria Hummel

Maria Hummel’s second novel takes us into the contemporary art scene as Kim Lord – feminist icon and LA’s artist of the moment – fails to turn up at the opening of her graphic self-portrait collection, in which she impersonates the victims of America’s most famous homicides. Whilst her lack of appearance initially adds an enigmatic air to the evening, drawing visitors to the museum, it’s not long before Kim is declared officially missing. Taking its name from the controversial artwork at the centre of the story, Still Lives is a sharp, sophisticated and complex literary mystery. (Published in paperback 4 June, Quercus)

The Things I Know by Amanda Prowse

With 22 novels and 6 novellas under her belt, Amanda Prowse has earned the title of one of the UK’s most prolific storytellers. Her latest centres on Thomasina ‘Hitch’ Waycott, who’s spent her life being defined by physical flaws. Then awkward and eccentric Grayson Potts walks into her life and the two form a bond that takes them both by surprise. This is a story about unconditional love, imperfection and celebrating being ‘different’. It’ll touch your heart with its endearing characters. (11 June, Lake Union Publishing)

Half A World Away by Mike Gayle

Single mum Kerry lives on a tough south London estate and cleans houses for a living. Noah is a successful barrister with a family and a swish house on Primrose Hill. They’re perfect strangers with nothing in common. Except it wasn’t always that way. As Kerry tries to reconnect, she sets in motion a chain of events that changes both their lives. Gayle’s last book, The Man I Think I Know, was an absolute stunner. Half A World Away more than lives up to its predecessor, with Gayle delivering another moving, powerful and life-affirming story. (13 June, Hodder & Stoughton)

Summer at the Kindness Café by Victoria Walters

Originally published as a four-part serial titled Random Acts of Kindness, this complete story sees three very different women – widow Eszter, jobless Abbie and her unlucky in love sister Louise – make a pact to be kinder to others and to themselves. There’s an uplifting message running through the book but there’s plenty of depth too, as the three women deal with personal hardships and life’s struggles. Even if it’s not sunny outside, this book will fill you with warmth. (13 June, Simon & Schuster)

This Green and Pleasant Land by Ayisha Malik

Accountant Bilal and his journalist wife Mariam live a contented life in a chocolate box village. When Bilal is summoned to his dying mother’s bedside in Birmingham, she’s determined not to fade away until she is convinced her son remembers who he is: a Muslim. She also has one final wish: for Bilal to build a mosque in his sleepy English village. Malik’s latest book is a witty, satirical story that explores race, belonging, family and what it means to be British. She brings her usual humour and candidness to the tale, making it a perfect summer read. (13 June, Zaffre)

The Bookshop on the Shore by Jenny Colgan

A book about books is every book lovers dream. Enter The Bookshop on the Shore, which transports readers to a tiny bookshop on the edge of a loch in the Scottish Highlands. Single mother and child care worker Zoe is looking for a change of scenery when she takes up a job helping to run the bookshop. There she meets Ramsay Urquart, a widower and antiquarian bookseller with a band of unruly children running circles around him. They have their own struggles but together they might hold the key to helping each other. Colgan fills her book with relatable characters and a small-town Scottish setting that’s impossible to resist. (13 June, Sphere)

The Girl Who Could Move Sh*t With Her Mind by Jackson Ford

If you love urban fantasy and entertaining stories about outcasts with superpowers, how could you not want to read this book? It follows Teagan Frost who works for the government on secret break-in missions, using her telekinetic powers to do things no ordinary human could do. When a murdered body turns up at the site of her last job, Teagan has just 24 hours to clear her name, unravel a conspiracy and save her hometown of Los Angeles. Easy, huh? Fast-paced, irreverent and super entertaining, it’s a thriller, murder mystery and Dark Angel/Stranger Things style sci-fi tale all rolled into one. (20 June, Orbit)

Tell Me Your Secret by Dorothy Koomson

Ten years ago Pieta was kidnapped by a serial killer known as The Blindfolder, who said he would let her live if she kept her eyes closed for 48 hours. Pieta kept her eyes closed and her mouth shut, but now The Blindfolder is back, hunting down past victims. Trying to catch the killer is Jody, a policewoman who made a terrible mistake that led to The Blindfolder escaping justice. The women have two choices: keep quiet and stay safe, or tell their secrets and endanger both themselves and other people. This is a twisty thriller that pulls you in at the beginning and has you guessing right up to the end. (27 June, Headline)

Darkest Truth by Catherine Kirwan

Billed as a #MeToo thriller, Darkest Truth shines the spotlight on a predatory film director after a young girl commits suicide. Sean and Ann Carney are the grieving parents who approach solicitor Finn Fitzpatrick and ask her to investigate the death of their daughter. There’s something in the father’s story that strikes a cord with Finn but the deeper she digs, the darker the picture becomes. We’re right there with Finn as she tries to expose a psychopath with very little evidence to go on. A gripping and topical debut about chasing the truth and refusing to be silenced. (11 July, Arrow)

The Closer I Get by Paul Burston

Burston delves into the dangers of social media, cyber stalking and the artificiality of online relationships in this unnerving and unputdownable psychological thriller. Tom is an author with writer’s block. His distraction is mainly due to Evie – an online admirer who won’t leave him alone. Told from both characters’ perspectives, the story explores what happens when seemingly innocent admirations turn into dangerous obsessions. This is the kind of darkly relevant novel you’ll be thinking about long after you finish the final page. (11 July, Orenda)

My Lemon Grove Summer by Jo Thomas

No need to worry if you’re having a staycation this summer because you can travel vicariously to Sicily and experience all that escapism with Jo Thomas’ sun-drenched story. When best friends Zelda and Lennie act on a childhood pact and relocate to a hilltop town on the Mediterranean island, not all the local residents are happy with their arrival. Amidst the sizzling sun, glistening sea and pretty lemon groves is a chance for Zelda to follow her heart and find a fresh start, with plenty of friendship and drama along the way. (11 July, Headline)

Bad Day At The Vulture Club by Vaseem Khan

The fifth book in Khan’s Baby Ganesh Agency series sees Inspector Chopra and his elephant sidekick investigate the murder of a wealthy industrialist in Mumbai whose body was discovered inside a Tower of Silence. The police dismiss it as a random killing but the victim’s daughter disagrees. Chopra must enter this world of power, privilege and corruption in order to unearth the truth. The subject matter might sound heavy but this crime story is a complete delight – at once entertaining, absorbing and rich with Indian culture. (8 August, Mulholland Books)

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