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Ask the expert: top 10 summer reads

Our book expert Chris Rushby countsdown his top 10 books that are a must-read this summer 

Your summer holiday is just around the corner and whether you are spending time by the pool, on the beach or sightseeing, there is always time for a holiday read or two. With a plethora of titles to choose from it can sometimes be difficult to choose a good read, so here are my top 10 picks for the summer – hopefully there is something for everyone.

The Shadow Sister, by Lucinda Riley, £7.99

Norfolk-based author Lucinda’s series of novels, loosely based on the mythology of the Seven Sisters star cluster, are best-sellers both in the county and nationally, appealing particularly to lovers of popular and historical fiction. This third book in the sequence is exactly what readers will want – and the rights to a multi-season TV series have already been optioned by a Hollywood production company. 

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The Daughters Of Castle Deverill, by Santa Montefiore, £7.99

If you like epic, sweeping romantic sagas set around huge houses and aristocratic families, Santa Montefiore is your kind of author. It’s 1925, the war is long over, but much has been lost and life will never be the same again. Castle Deverill, cherished home to the Deverill family in the west of Ireland, has burned to the ground. But young and flighty Celia Deverill is determined to restore the sad ruin to its former glory… 

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The Essex Serpent, by Sarah Perry, £8.99

This brilliant book is intelligent, intriguing, warm and wise. The Norwich-based author has written a magnificent piece of historical fiction, topping best-seller lists and winning literary prizes, including the Book Of The Year at the recent British Book Awards. Someone suggested that if Charles Dickens and Bram Stoker had come together to write the great Victorian novel it might have come out something like this.

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Conclave by Robert Harris, £7.99

Robert Harris reliably delivers gripping, page-turning reads. In his latest, the Pope is dead and, behind locked doors in the Sistine Chapel, cardinals from around the globe will cast their votes in the world’s most secretive election. They are holy men. But they have ambition. And they have rivals. Over the next seventy-two hours one of them will become the most powerful spiritual figure on earth. 

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Night School by Lee Child, £7.99

Lee Child is a massively successful writer: they say one of his thrillers is sold somewhere in the world every nine seconds. His lead character, Jack Reacher, is dependable in encountering and getting the better of bad people in all twenty-one novels in which he features. Night School is something of a prequel, taking Reacher back to his army days before the events of the other books. But Child has delivered the goods once again. 

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I See You by Claire Mackintosh, £7.99

This is a chilling edge-of-your-seat crime thriller, perfect for fans of The Girl On The Train. The author spent twelve years in the police force, which perhaps explains the huge plausibility of her plotting and her eye for detail. Described by critics as ‘gripping’ and ‘chilling’ this is probably one of those books you’ll want to polish off, white-knuckled, in one sitting.   

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This Must Be The Place, by Maggie O’Farrell, £7.99

This book was described by The Observer as ‘that rare literary beast, both technically dazzling and deeply moving. It has all the structural and temporal playfulness of a Kate Atkinson novel while retaining the hallmark emotional insight for which O'Farrell has become renowned.’ A new O’Farrell novel is always eagerly awaited by a huge group of loyal readers and this new book will not disappoint.

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The Girls by Emma Cline, £7.99

Set in Los Angeles in 1969, this worldwide best-seller could be described as a coming-of-age novel. Its fourteen year old female central character is drawn towards a group of misfits circling round a Charles Manson-esque character. The author’s prose is mesmerising, her insights into female adolescence seem hugely plausible. This is a disturbing read, rather than a comfortable one, but as a first novel it’s a major achievement.  

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The Queen Of Wishful Thinking by Milly Johnson, £7.99

Milly Johnson has been described as the queen of feel-good fiction and as ‘warm, optimistic and romantic.’ If what you want from your holiday read is drama, romance, laughs and high-jinks you’ll probably find exactly those things in her work. It’s a fair bet that true love will conquer all by the end of the book, but there are going to be a few ups and downs along the way.

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The Girlfriend by Michelle Frances, £7.99

Michelle Frances

The phrase ‘gripping, un-putdownable thriller’ might have been coined for this book: the central plot element is the relationship between the girlfriend of the title, her boyfriend and his mother – a mother whose life the girlfriend wants. This is a book to keep the reader on the edge of the seat, with its plot turns, twisted relationships and sinister atmosphere.   

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