Now Reading
22 books to add to your summer 2023 reading list

22 books to add to your summer 2023 reading list

Whether you enjoy an escapist beach read full of sun, sand and sea, or prefer a page-turner that eschews the typical sunny weather vibes for something a little different, our summer round-up features a bevy of unputdownable books. We’ve got the latest releases from reader favourites Isabelle Broom, Holly Smale, Mike Gayle and Will Dean, as well as debuts from Sophie McCartney, Emily Critchley and Tony Santorella. With 22 books you choose from, it’s time to settle in for a beautifully bookish summer.

Mother Hens by Sophie McCartney

From the creator of the Tired and Tested blog and bestselling parenthood guide comes this laugh-out-loud debut about a group of harassed mothers who head to Ibiza for a hen do that’s killer in more ways than one. Cara Carmichael is looking forward to escaping reality for a long weekend with her friends. But with old scores to settle and more emotional baggage than hand luggage, these mums on tour will discover what they’re really capable of when faced with the chance for payback. Full of wit, twists and plenty of cringe-worthy moments, this Bridesmaids-esque story will have you laughing from beginning to end. (30 March, HarperNorth)

The Misadventures of Margaret Finch by Claire McGlasson

Set against the evocative British seaside backdrop of late-1930’s Blackpool, Claire McGlasson’s novel follows the titular Margaret– a demure young woman who’s just taken on a position that relies on her discretion and powers of observation. Whilst surreptitiously watching the holidaymakers and reporting her findings, she crosses paths with the disgraced Rector of Stiffkey. Is he a maligned hero or an exploiter of the vulnerable? Margaret is determined to discover the truth and prevent history from repeating itself. Inspired by the real life Mass Observation, which began in 1937, The Misadventures of Margaret Finch is a fascinating blend of fact and fiction, with a flawed yet relatable heroine. (6 April, Faber & Faber)

The Book-Lovers’ Retreat by Heidi Swain

Hope Falls is a book that holds a special place in the hearts of best friends Emily, Rachel and Tori. So when they get the chance to spend a whole summer at the cottage from the film adaptation, it’s not only a holiday of a lifetime but also a chance to re-evaluate their lives. But when Tori has to drop out at the last moment, Hope Falls aficionado Alex fills the space. But Alex isn’t who they expected and as the summer develops, it could actually be a blessing in disguise. Heidi Swain’s first standalone novel is a wonderfully uplifting story with a picturesque setting you’ll wish you could visit. (13 April, Simon & Schuster)

Three Nights In Italy by Olivia Beirne

Take a trip to the sun-drenched Italian countryside as three women embark on a journey of acceptance and second chances. When her grandmother passes away, Zoe is devastated. She always knew the day would come, but she still wasn’t ready. And with her shifty uncle taking control of her grandmother’s belongings, Zoe knows she must return to Italy herself. Accompanied by her best friend Harriet and mum Ange, the women travel to pretty Sulmona – though it’s not quite the straightforward trip they’d planned. This is a heartening intergenerational story and a poignant reminder that the journey is as important as the destination. (13 April, Headline Review)

Liars Beach by Katie Cotugno

Katie Cotugno’s compulsive YA thriller is perfect for fans of Karen McManus and E. Lockhart. Putting a contemporary spin on Agatha Christie’s The Mysterious Affair as Styles, Liars Beach recasts Poirot as a teen named Holiday Proctor. Yet the actual story is narrated through the eyes of her childhood friend Linden. When he’s invited to spend the end of summer at his wealthy roommate’s beachfront house in Martha’s Vineyard, Linden finds himself surrounded by people with secrets. Then someone is found unconscious in the pool, but was it an accident or something more sinister? Holiday loves a good mystery and she’s determined to find out. A fun, intriguing mystery with a cast of rich, shady characters and an affluent summer getaway setting. (4 May, Penguin)

The Cassandra Complex by Holly Smale

Holly Smale is best known for her teen book series, but her first foray into adult fiction is guaranteed to win her a new legion of loyal readers. The Cassandra Project centres on Cassandra Penelope Dankworth, a creature of habit who likes what she likes and lives an orderly life. Dumped by her boyfriend and fired on the same day, Cassie can’t understand why love and connection keep evading her. So when she discovers the ability to turn back time and alter the past, Cassie has unlimited chances to get it right. But perhaps trying to change the past isn’t as important as learning to embrace who you really are. Inspired by Smale’s own experience with autism and woven with Greek mythology, this is such a unique novel, and Cassie is an endlessly endearing protagonist too. (11 May, Century)

The Last Passenger by Will Dean

A luxury cruise to New York was supposed to be the holiday of a lifetime for Caz. A chance to cement her relationship with her boyfriend Pete. But barely a day into the trip and she wakes up to find Pete missing from their cabin. And he’s not the only one. Within minutes, Caz’s luxury holiday turns into a living nightmare as she realises she’s completely alone, abandoned on a ship that’s steaming out into the ocean with no crew. But what happened to the other passengers? And how will Caz survive? The Last Passenger is a tense high-concept thriller imbued with Will Dean’s trademark suspenseful atmosphere and an unnerving sense of dark mystery. (11 May, Hodder & Stoughton)

One Puzzling Afternoon by Emily Critchley

Emily Critchley’s dual timeline debut is a small-town mystery that sensitively explores friendship and memory. In 1951, fifteen-year-old Edie lives a lonely, isolated life until she meets Lucy. Pretty and popular, Lucy has a secret – one Edie isn’t sure she should keep. Then Lucy goes missing. In 2018, Edie is eighty-four and still living in Ludthorpe. When she glimpses Lucy outside the local post office, still looking as she did sixty years ago, Edie’s family write it off as her memory playing tricks. There’s a lot Edie gets confused about, but the one thing she’s certain of is that she must find out what happened to her friend all those years ago. Full of depth and humanity, One Puzzling Afternoon is a beautifully written novel that really tugs at the heartstrings. (25 May, Zaffre)

Seven Exes by Lucy Vine

Esther is tired of being unlucky in love. Coming back from yet another hideous date, she rants to her friends. Later, she finds a magazine from the noughties that claims there are seven specific types of people a woman will date before finding the one. Realising that each of her exes fits perfectly into the prescribed roles, Esther decides to contact all seven exes in the hope that one of them is her true love after all. The consequences – as you’d expect – veer between surprising, embarrassing and life affirming. If you loved Lucy Vine’s previous books, you won’t want to miss out on this latest rom-com, which is as much a journey of self-discovery as it is a funny and uplifting exploration of dating and relationships. (25 May, Simon & Schuster)

Bored Gay Werewolf by Tony Santorella

Brian is an aimless slacker who, when not working double shifts, hangs out with his friends Nik and Darby. He’s not dealing with the transition to adulthood very well. Something that could also be said for his monthly transitions to a werewolf. When his murderous slip-ups catch the attention of millennial were-mentor Tyler, Brian thinks his luck’s about to change. But Tyler has a much more nefarious expansion plan, and the closer Brian gets to his new were-friends, the more alienated from Nik and Darby he becomes. There are plenty of werewolf books out there, but nothing quite like Bored Gay Werewolf – a sharp and satirical novel that cleverly weaves fun supernatural elements with the very real world problems of toxic relationships/masculinity. (1 June, Atlantic Books)

Summer At The Ice Cream Café by Jo Thomas

This year marks ten years since Jo Thomas’ debut novel The Oyster Catcher was published, and if Summer at the Ice Cream Café proves anything, it’s that the author hasn’t lost her touch when it comes to crafting a lovely, heart-warming read. After a decade of building her career in the city, Beca is ready for a fresh start. Returning to her grandparents’ ice cream parlour, she’s horrified to discover that the place has changed beyond recognition. Worse still, it’s now owned by her ex. Determined to honour her family’s legacy, Beca decides to open her own parlour – with all the ups and downs that entails. Nothing says summer more than ice cream but delicious gelato by the sea is just part of this story. There are also the joys of friendship, family and romance to enjoy. (8 June, Penguin)

The Moon Gate by Amanda Geard

Spanning multiple timelines, Amanda Geard’s story of love, war and mystery takes readers from London to Tasmania to Ireland. In 2004, Libby Andrews discovers a faded photograph, which unlocks a long-buried memory. Many years ago, in the 1970’s, her parents set out to unmask the mysterious benefactor who bequeathed them a house on the remote Tasmanian coast. Libby is determined to continue the investigation her father never finished, but some secrets are best left buried for a reason. Evoking the likes of Kate Morton, The Moon Gate is a moving multigenerational tale that’s rich with historical detail. It shines a light on the Australian homefront in WWII and the reverberations of the war through subsequent generations. (8 June, Headline Review)

In The Summertime by Maeve Haran

With her marriage falling apart, a holiday in the small South Downs town where she grew up sounds exactly what Georgina Greenhills needs. There’s just one catch: she must solve a mystery involving valuable antiques disappearing from a remote manor house. Gina gathers her childhood friends, Ruth and Eve, and together they head off for a trip that promises sun, sea, cocktails and sleuthing. Georgina loves being back but it’s not just the place she missed. It’s also her teenage dancing partner, Daniel, who’s shed his shy, adolescent awkwardness and blossomed into an alarming attractive man. If only he wasn’t already taken… Maeve Haran has written a quintessential summer read filled with romance, seaside adventures and colourful characters. A perfect tuck in your bag and take to the beach book. (8 June, Pan)

My Own Worst Enemy by Lily Lindon

Fans of arguably the best romance trope – that being enemies-to-lovers – will adore Lily Lindon’s new rom-com, which sees two queer actors clashing across the audition room floor. Recent drama school graduate Emmy Clooney will do anything to be successful. A shame, then, that on the day of what could be her biggest break, she meets rising star, Mae Jones. Not only is Mae charismatic and talented, but she’s also Emmy’s fiercest competition. And so begins a rivalry that’s destined to spill over into something more. My Own Worst Enemy is a refreshingly fun sapphic novel where the drama takes place both on and off the stage. It’s the kind of book you can breeze through on a lazy day. (8 June, Aria)

This Summer’s Secrets by Emily Barr

See Also

Cliff House is closed off for most of the year until its rich Londoner owners come down to Cornwall for the summer. Senara finds herself pulled into this bright and blithe world of wealth and beautiful people. She even finds herself falling in love for the first time. But the occupants of Cliff House have secrets – secrets of the past that involve Senara’s friends and family. And those secrets are about to unravel. Told from different timelines and characters perspectives, Emily Barr’s latest novel is a slow-burn summer novel packed with intrigue. There’s a lot going on but stick with it and you’ll be rewarded with a sun-soaked family drama with an engaging mystery at its heart. (8 June, Penguin)

The Beach Holiday by Isabelle Broom

If there’s one author you can always rely on for an emotional escapist read, it’s Isabelle Broom. Her latest, aptly titled The Beach Holiday, sees aspiring novelist Honor invited to spend a summer abroad in The Hamptons. Realising this could be the dream setting for her book, Honor finds all the inspiration she needs in the gorgeous Long Island location and its inhabitants – including the perfect leading man. But will writing her way to success come at the expense of her own happy ending? Part contemporary romance, part family drama, this is the kind of novel that feels like taking a trip abroad. You live all the beach holiday vibes with Honor and root for her all the way. (22 June, Hodder)

The Villa by Ruth Kelly

Ruth Kelly’s reality TV thriller is set in a luxurious villa on a privately owned island off the mainland of Spain, where ten contestants compete for a cash prize. Coerced by her editor to enter the show undercover, journalist Laura intends to get the inside scoop on the other participants. But as the games begin, Laura finds herself out of her depth and at the mercy of a ruthless producer who’ll do anything to increase viewer numbers. Just how far will the contestants go to win? How far is Laura willing to go herself? And who’s to blame when everything descends into chaos? Drawing inspiration from her own experience writing for TV shows, Kelly’s debut thriller is a twisty tale of questionable morality, influencer culture and our collective obsession with reality TV. (22 June, Pan)

Four Seasons In Japan by Nick Bradley

Nick Bradley’s story-within-a-story centres on a despondent American translator living in Tokyo who stumbles upon an intriguing lost book on the subway. Compelled to translate the book, Flo finds herself drawn into the intergenerational tale of Kyo and his grandmother Ayako across the changing seasons in rural Japan. Flo feels an affinity with the two protagonists and soon her journey takes her beyond the pages of the book, as she decides to track down its elusive author. This is a gentle, tender and thoughtful book, exploring literature, love, human connection, Japanese culture and the disillusion of youth. It features beautiful imagery and is crafted in such a way that you want to savour every chapter. (22 June, Doubleday)

The Wedding Dress Repair Shop by Trisha Ashley

Garland Fairford has her dream job as a historical costumier in London and a successful playwright fiancé. After she loses both in the same week, she escapes the city to work for her long-lost relative, Honey, in Lancashire. As Garland starts anew, repairing vintage dresses for Honey’s wedding dress museum, we also learn more about another of her relatives, a well known regency actress called Rosa-May. As with all of Trisha Ashley’s books, this is a slice of feel-good fiction filled with friendship, community spirit and a dash of romance. It’s also a delightful found family story with some loveably quirky characters. (22 June, Bantam)

A Song of Me & You by Mike Gayle

2023 marks 25 years since Mike Gayle’s debut novel was published. It feels fitting to celebrate the anniversary with the author’s latest novel, a second-chances story that sees two lost souls reunite after twenty years apart. Helen and Ben were each other’s first loves but life took them down very separate paths. Two decades later, Helen is still in Manchester, a part-time primary teacher and mother of two whose marriage has fallen apart. Ben is a tired multi-millionaire rock star running from his manager, whose search for refuge leads him to the one place nobody would think to look for him: Helen’s house. Gayle’s 19th novel is a rollercoaster of emotion – wise, insightful and bittersweet in the best of ways. (6 July, Hodder & Stoughton)

The Dive by Sara Ochs

Not all locked-room mysteries have to take place within the confines of walls. Set in the seedy world of Thailand’s infamous party islands, Sara Ochs’ gripping debut utilises the trapped, claustrophobic atmosphere to perfection. When a young woman turns up dead during a scuba diving lesson, instructor Cass knows her idyllic life is about to be shattered. Anything can occur on a remote island. Accidents happen. People disappear. And sometimes they’re never seen or heard from again. Inspired by the real life story of two backbackers murdered on a seemingly idyllic island paradise, this is a pacy read that’ll have you hooked from beginning to end. (20 July, Bantam)

The Invisible Women’s Club by Helen Paris

Septuagenarian plant expert Janet Pimm is well versed in being ignored and overlooked. But when the local council threaten to close her beloved allotment, Janet begins to realise that it’s no good blending into the background. With the help of her upbeat and interfering neighbour, Bev, the two women take up the plight of saving the place Janet loves most. We might not all know what it feels like to be 70-something but there’s something so relatable about this story of unlikely friendships, fighting for what you believe in, and the power of a community coming together for a common cause. Moreover, it’s about not letting age or other people’s expectations define you. A heartening read. (3 August, Doubleday)

View Comments (0)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.