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From nonfiction to murder mysteries, there's something on the list for everyone.

After the stress of finals, college students may be able to use some rest and relaxation. Luckily, warm summer days are just around the corner, and what better way to relax than to spend them lying in the sun while reading a good book? Without papers to write and exams to cram for, students can finally have a chance to read for fun—not for a grade. Fortunately, this summer is looking to be full of exciting new book releases. Here are some of the most highly anticipated new releases for summer 2021. 

Hour of the Witch by Chris Bohjalian

Release date: May 4, 2021

Mary Deerfield, the wife of a cruel and violent man, decides she needs to divorce him for her own safety. One problem—the year is 1662, and everyone is on watch for signs that a woman might be a witch. Mary is neither safe within her home nor outside of it. “Hour of the Witch” is a historical suspense novel that details a woman’s attempt to escape from a deadly marriage as well as town suspicions that she may be a witch. Readers who like historical fiction and an intense, thrilling plotline will enjoy this read. 

“The Premonition: A Pandemic Story” by Michael Lewis

Release date: May 4, 2021

Lewis’ latest book is a nonfiction thriller detailing the U.S. government’s initial response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The story begins in January 2020, just as knowledge of a new coronavirus was coming to light. Lewis turns a critical eye at those who mishandled the outbreak and highlights the stories of people who fought against misinformation and skepticism. Readers who are interested in the handling of the pandemic will find this pick riveting. 

“Malibu Rising” by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Release date: June 1, 2021

“Malibu Rising” is a story about a party— one thrown by four famous siblings that ends up with their family home engulfed in flames. Emotions are high on the evening of Nina Riva’s annual end-of-summer party, and complicated family dynamics doom this party from the beginning. The story takes place over the course of a single day, but by the end of it, everything will be different.  Readers who like family dramas and buried secrets come to light will enjoy this one. 

“Animal” by Lisa Taddeo

Release date: June 8, 2021

Lisa Taddeo’s powerful nonfiction book “Three Women” received stunning reviews after its release in 2019. Unsurprisingly, her debut novel “Animal” has already received praise from critics. “Animal” is a novel about female rage and desire featuring a heroine, Joan, who’s fed up with being mistreated by men. After witnessing a shocking act of violence, Joan flees to Los Angeles to find Alice, the only person who can help her make sense of the cruelties she’s endured. Readers who like stories that explore female empowerment and how women deal with living in a male-dominated society will love this pick. 

“The Maidens” by Alex Michaelides

Release date: June 15, 2021

A campus novel and a murder mystery all in one—does it get anymore thrilling than that? After a member of the Maidens, a secret society of female students at Cambridge University, is murdered, Mariana Andros becomes convinced it was Edward Fosca, a Greek tragedy professor who’s beloved by all the Maidens, and decides she’ll stop at nothing to prove his guilt. Mariana’s obsession with catching this perceived killer threatens to ruin her own life, but after another person is murdered, she’s determined to put an end to it, even if it costs her everything. Readers who like psychological thrillers and stories based on Greek mythology will enjoy this one. 

“Mona at Sea” by Elizabeth Gonzalez James

Release date: June 30, 2021

“Mona at Sea” is about a young college graduate struggling during the tumultuous landscape of the 2008 financial crisis. Mona finds herself unemployed and lost, living at home with her parents and craving a sense of order in the world. For college students who’ve recently graduated or are about to graduate in this time of similar uncertainty, this book may be a comforting and reassuring read. Readers who are interested in reading about life post-grad will find what they’re looking for in this pick. 

Summer is the perfect time to pick up a new book. Whether students like historical fiction or psychological thrillers, there’s something for everyone. Check out these new releases and read them somewhere warm and sunny. 

Contact Haley Huchler at huchleha@dukes.jmu.edu. For more on the culture, arts and lifestyle of the JMU and Harrisonburg communities, follow the culture desk on Twitter @Breeze_Culture.