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Strap in for the read of your life.

Byline: MARK JEFFERIES Showbiz Editor

AS essential as a swimsuit and a beach towel, a good summer read features high on most people's holiday packing list.

And to help you avoid ending up with something dire, picked up in the dash to the departure gate, Richard Madeley and Judy Finnegan are here to give Mirror readers the lowdown on the eight titles on their Richard and Judy WHSmith Book Club list.

The list is a mixture of bestsellers, debut and breakthrough authors.

Richard says: "This is a really exciting list - every title is compelling in a different way."

Judy adds: "I love every one of these titles. I know we always say it but this really is a fantastic list. The books are all page-turners, guaranteed to keep you entertained, mystified and engrossed throughout the summer.

"Wherever the summer takes you, put your feet up and enjoy these wonderful titles."

For details of the Book Club and a podcast featuring the authors go to www.whsmith.co.uk/richardandjudy

The Girls by Lisa Jewell

Judy says: This fantastic book is really about human chemistry, and what happens when something is dropped into a previously stable mix of ingredients; something that will turn the brew into something unpredictable, toxic, and explosive. In Lisa Jewell's story Clare's husband is a schizophrenic who has just torched the family home.

Striking out on their own, Clare and her two daughters move into a flat. It is cramped by comparison with their previous surroundings, but there is a significantly redeeming feature - a large and very beautiful communal garden shared by Virginia Terrace's residents.

In many ways the garden is the dark heart of this novel. It's child heaven.

But there's a serpent in Paradise. It last bared its fangs 30 years before. It is about to do so again.

Rogue Lawyer by John Grisham

Richard says: Decades as the king of legal thrillers, and John Grisham's crown shows no sign of slipping. Rogue Lawyer is pure, vintage Grisham. Centre-stage is Sebastian Rudd. Rudd is what's known in America as a 'street lawyer'; one who isn't afraid to get his hands dirty. Rudd used to work out of a conventional office, but all that's behind him since the place was firebombed.

The plotting is seamless and meticulous, the characters utterly gripping - we care what happens to all of them, the good, the bad, and the ugly (typically for Grisham, most fall into the latter two categories) and it's rare to turn more than three or four pages without experiencing a surge of adrenalin.

Sweet Caress by William Boyd

Judy says: After recovering from the trauma of her father's attempt to kill her, Amory pushes all thoughts of Oxford aside and goes to work in London as assistant to her photographer uncle, Greville. She becomes a gifted, instinctive photojournalist. Boyd plays the wonderful trick of scattering "Amory's" photographs throughout the book, giving the story tremendous verite. We see some of the key events of the 20th century through Amory's eyes and her lens.

But unfolding history intrudes into her reality: she is made infertile by a kick to the stomach hhmk fr Mhth from one of Oswald Mosley's fascists. She has encounters with the rich, powerful and famous - Robert Capa, John Steinbeck, Marlene Dietrich, and even finds herself in the same room as the Prince of Wales. We travel with Amory to Berlin, New York, France at war, and later, Vietnam. There is a sinister encounter with the SAS. And we experience her present too; living quietly on the Scottish coast in the late 1970s.

I was sad to finish this near-perfect book but can't wait to read it again.

A Dictionary Of Mutual Understanding by Jackie Copleton

Richard says: An absorbing Japanese story, riven with tenderness, brutality, love and pain. A tour de force for writer Jackie Copleton, who taught English in Japan and actually lived in Nagasaki, the second city to be evaporated in an instant by the atomic bomb, three days after the destruction of Hiroshima.

This cataclysmic event is at the heart of Copleton's tale.

Amaterasu Takahashi survived the blast. Not so her daughter, Yuko, and her son Hideo.

Their bodies are never found; they are unlikely to exist other than as shadows on the ground. So imagine Amaterasu's disbelief when, years later, a badly-scarred man appears at her door in her new home town of Philadelphia.

The stranger says that he is Hideo, her grandson. And what's more, he can prove it.

I loved this seemingly impossible conundrum and the way a deeply suspicious Amaterasu tries to resolve it.

It will take her on a journey deep into her own past and expose long-buried secrets and guilt. It's a painful process, but truth, as they say, will out. And it is our privilege to watch it happen.

The Last Act Of Love by Cathy Rentzenbrink

Judy says: This book is a beautifully-written and haunting memoir.

It tells the true story of the writer, Cathy, and her beloved younger brother, Matty, who was horribly injured in a car accident just two weeks before his brilliant GCSE results - the best in his school - were sent to his devastated family.

Cathy prays for him to live, then later realises she was "praying for the wrong thing". Because he did live, for eight long years, but in a persistent vegetative state ("vegetative was the key word, but a horrible word"). This is a painful book to read, but it's also told with great gentleness and even humour.

Although the comatose Matty is present on every page, the memoir charts Cathy's own feelings: the endless false hope, the helplessness at the fact that all the love in the world cannot make her brother well again.

Those We Left Behind by Stuart Neville

Judy says: A crime neatly solved, processed, packaged away. The perpetrators jailed after the fullest of confessions to beating a man to death.

Consign it to the records and move on. Nothing more to see here. Except nothing in this spine-tingling thriller is what it seems. Not the confession, an to inh not the facts of the case accepted by police, prosecutors and media.

And what a case. Two brothers beat their foster father to death. We find them in flashback, huddled together on a bed, their hands soaked in blood. The dead man's body is crumpled in a corner.

Richard says: Stuart Neville has produced an exceptionally well-written thriller here and Serena Flanagan is a beautifully crafted central character, tough and warm and insightful. You want to read more about her and it would be surprising if she does not become a series character in future novels.

The Girl On The Train by Paula Hawkins

Judy says: The Girl on the Train was for many months an absolute blockbuster. A mega-bestseller in hardback. This mystery novel is a psychological thriller. The girl of the title is Rachel Watson, a 32-year old woman whose drinking is out of control.

She is divorced from Tom, who left her for another woman after Rachel was unable to conceive.

Tom is now married to Anna, with whom he has a daughter. Rachel, still reeling from the divorce, has lost her job due to her drinking, but pretends to her flatmate that she's still working and every day takes the same train to London as she did in her working life.

On the way the train stops at a point on the track near the house she used to share with Tom, where he now lives with Anna and their baby. Rachel can see into their back garden and reflects obsessively about Tom's new life, fuelled by the many gin and tonics she consumes on the way back home.

This begins the plot of this complex, tense and often scary novel. After a night of heavy drinking, she wakes up to find herself drenched in blood with no idea of what happened to her.

So what's going on with Tom, Anna, the other couple, and Rachel herself ?

Well, we're about to find out. And it's murder.

According To Yes by Dawn French

Richard says: Dawn French once worked as a nanny in New York. (There's not many people know that, as Michael Caine might have said).

But if she behaved anything like her heroine, Rosie Kittow, a thirty-something British girl working - yes, as a nanny in New York - then I'm going to have to start regarding one of our favourite comediennes in a very different light. Perhaps a red one.

Because Rosie - jolly, plumptious, irrepressible and optimistic to the point of being delusional, has a lot of sex in this book.

And by a lot, I mean double portions with side orders and plenty of puddings to follow. It's all part of the new mantra in her life, which is to just say "yes".

Actually, it's: "YES YES YES PLEASE" just in case we're in any doubt.

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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:May 7, 2016
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