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The weather is cheering up, lockdown restrictions are easing and there’s the promise of enjoying book clubs in a pre-pandemic way on the horizon. All that’s left to do now is choose the book.

There have been loads of great new books released so far in 2021, and the summer months are no exception, offering everything from uplifting romance to chilling thrillers. There’s plenty here for you to get stuck into – whether you’re in a book group or not.

The First Day of Spring by Nancy Tucker (2021)

Don’t let the gentle title mislead you: this is no whimsical tale. Nancy Tucker’s dark debut has been winning accolades from crime authors Paula Hawkins, Lisa Jewell and Ashley Audrain for its intimate tone and fearsome narrative. The First Day of Spring follows a young mother who is trying to escape from the mistakes she made during her troubled childhood. A story about neglect, redemption and the power of a mother’s love, it’s a gripping first book that is bound to get your reading group chatting.

The Fortune Men by Nadifa Mohamed (2021)

A must-read for those who love to discover more about the world around them through fiction. Nadifa Mohamed shines a light on the overlooked history of the immigrant communities who lived in Wales in the mid-20th century. The Fortune Men explores the case of petty criminal Mahmood Mattan, who is wrongly convicted for the brutal murder of a local shopkeeper. Faced with a death sentence, Mahmood comes to learn about the prejudice, inhumanity and conspiracy of the state he’s moved to.

Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid (2021)

Two years ago, Taylor Jenkins Reid made the bestsellers chart with her breathless oral history of fictional 70s superstars Daisy and the Six. Now, she turns her attentions to the glamour of the next decade in Malibu Rising, an irresistible story of one famous family on the night everything went wrong for them. Holly Bourne’s called it “the perfect, literal beach read, with the emotional depth of the ocean.”

Us Three by Ruth Jones (2020)

Friendship, families and beloved fathers: Ruth Jones’ warm and witty follow-up to her bestselling debut Never Greener returns readers to the comforting bosom of the Welsh valleys and spans four decades. Lana, Judith and Catrin have been friends since they were six, and four decades on are forced to confront the rift that emerged in their teens. Along the way, ailing parents and secret love affairs make this a fantastic multi-generational story.

The Mad Women’s Ball by Victoria Mas (2021)

Victoria Mas’s debut novel has been a riotous hit in her native France, where it has been snapped up for a film adaptation with an all-star cast. Featuring corsets, revelry and hysteria, you can expect it to cause a scene when it arrives in the UK later this spring. The Mad Women’s Ball is based in the notorious Salpêtrière asylum in 1885, where, for one night a year, the Parisian elite descend to party. When a nurse and an aristocrat with a secret collide among the melee, drama ensues.

The Lock In by Pheobe Luckhurst (2021)

Granted, after a year of spending more time at home than we may have liked, a novel about housemates locked in together may not sound like escapist reading. However, Pheobe Luckhurst’s timely book is a brilliantly relatable rom-com about love, life and laughter in a mid-twenties flatshare. You’ll never look more longingly at your own bathroom again.

Sex and Vanity by Kevin Kwan

The work of Crazy Rich Asians author Kevin Kwan is no stranger to people's suitcases, but the paperback of his latest romp is perfect for a summer read. Set in Capri, a familiar cast of Wall Street-wealthy Chinese-American elites must navigate love and legacy in sumptuous sun-kissed destinations. If you're after drama in the Hampton, Sex and Vanity will take you there.

Worst. Idea. Ever by Jane Fallon (2021)

Jane Fallon is no stranger to book clubs: the bestselling author has sold more than a million copies of books such as Got You Back and Getting Rid of Matthew, and her career as an award-winning TV producer means she knows her way around an entertaining story. That’s certainly the case in Worst. Idea. Ever in which a misguided attempt to help a friend’s business ends up threatening her marriage – with hilarious consequences.

The Mismatch by Sara Jafari (2021)

A poignant and thought-provoking take on modern romance, Sara Jafari’s first novel has won acclaim from readers for its portrayal of life for Iranian first and second-generation immigrants. When quiet Soraya falls for the confident and sorted Magnus, all she wants is a first kiss – at 21. But when the two begin to fall in love, it opens up her mother’s history in a way she never expected.

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