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8 Summer reads hotter than a heatwave

It's official - when the sun's out - do nothing! But if that seems a tad boring, try reading one of these red-hot reads chosen by Alex Call, the owner of Bert's Books in Swindon.

1. How to Kill Your Family by Bella Mackie, The Borough Press

Themes: Dark Comedy and Revenge

The Plot: Grace Bernard is in prison for a crime she didn’t commit. She should be in prison for killing off various members of her family – but not *this* crime. Grace is out for revenge on the father who abandoned her, and what better way to do it than through his family?

The Verdict: This is a dark comedy debut from Bella Mackie that I loved. Grace Bernard is a character that you end up rooting for despite her being a serial killer! This is going to be one of the biggest paperbacks of the summer.

2 . Still Life by Sarah Winman, Fourth Estate.

Themes: Family and Italy

The Plot: For Ulysses Temper, a young British solider, a chance meeting in a wine cellar with a 64-year-old art historian in war-torn Italy proves to be life transforming as he returns to London with his eyes wide open to what the world could be. Suddenly, Ulysses’s life – and the lives of those around him – takes a turn as he travels back to Italy for a new life.

The Verdict: Sarah Winman is one of my favourite writers – and this one doesn’t disappoint. It’s a story about found family, women being allowed to be childless, and about men being able to nurture those around them. It made me want to move to Florence and learn Italian!

3 . You Made A Fool of Death With Your Beauty by Akwaeke Emezi, Faber & Faber

Themes: Romance and reinvention

The Plot: Feyi has been given the opportunity of a lifetime – an escape from the city a dream island holiday with poolside cocktails, beautiful sunsets and delicious food. It’s a chance for her to forget about her old life and find someone new to give her heart to – of course, the only problem is… she’s falling for the one man she can’t have

The Verdict: Wonderful lyrical prose makes the writing jump off the page in this beautiful and original novel that I couldn’t put down.

4. Tomorrow, And Tomorrow, And Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin, Random House

Themes: Friendship and fame

The Plot: Sadie and Sam meet as children, playing computer games in a hospital in the late 80s. Their friendship blossoms through a shared love of video games, but they are soon torn apart by a simple lie. Eight years later, they meet again and their friendship is reignited by their shared love of creating video games. As their games and their ambition grows, they find themselves growing ever closer – and at the same time, ever further apart.

The Verdict: This isn’t a love story, nor is it a story about computer games. Instead, it’s a story about friendship and how it is challenged by money, fame and duplicity. The characters aren’t always likeable, but I loved them and enjoyed charting the journey of their life. There are plenty of easter eggs for video game lovers, but a brilliant read even if you know nothing about them.

5. The Guncle by Steven Rowley, Penguin Random House Group

Themes: Comedy and Grief

The Plot: Following a stint on a hugely successful sitcom, Patrick is now hiding out in a quiet community two hours from Los Angeles, living a quiet almost stagnant lifestyle. Then tragedy strikes and he finds himself in charge of his niece and nephew, both of whom are grieving for their mother. As he tries to keep them occupied, the rut he’s in starts to disappear and he finds his life changing beyond recognition…

The Verdict: This is a laugh-out-loud read, with loads of acerbic comments and jokes from Patrick who refuses to treat the kids like children. As well as funny, it’s heart-warming and life-affirming.

6. Five Minds by Guy Morpuss, Profile Books

Themes: Thriller, Sci-Fi and Gaming

The Plot: In a future world where resources are low, some people are tempted by the promise of a better life – if they share their body with four other people. For most, this arrangement works well, but when Alex, Kate, Mike, Sierra and Ben head to one of the game-ified death parks to play for more time they soon discover they’re being targeted. Is someone out to get them or is one of them betraying the others?

The Verdict: This thriller updates the genre into a futuristic world and does it with great skill, a page-turner that you won’t want to put down.

7 and 8. The Appeal and The Twyford Code by Janice Hallett, Viper

Themes: Murder Mystery

The Plot: For fans that like their crime novels a little more unique, Janice Hallett’s books are a welcome new addition to the genre. The Appeal is told in the form of emails and text exchanges, while The Twyford Code is in the form of a transcript of an audio recording.

The Verdict: Both are eminently readable despite their unique structures and are great murder mysteries that will keep you guessing to the end

Thank you to Bert’s Books, Swindon for their recommendations! Find out more at bertsbooks.co.uk.

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