Crank up the air-conditioning, curl up under a blanket and get stuck into a good novel
Camino Island by John Grisham
The lawyer turned novelist has sold around 300m copies and has been named as one of the finest living thriller authors. Fans will be instantly attracted to this story of a daring heist of priceless books from Princeton University library. When the stolen books and manuscripts turn up on the black market, Grisham starts delivering the thrills as only he can and consistently does.
Every Last Lie by Mary Kubica
Another tense thriller from the author of The Good Girl is going to be a suspenseful page turner to excite this summer. The story is of a grieving wife who becomes obsessed with the details of her husband's suspicious death in a car crash. Narrative is divided between her findings and the final months before his death, and the dark discoveries made as the two plotlines start to overlap.
Into the Water by Paula Hawkins
The new thriller from the writer of The Girl on the Train will guarantee two things: it will sell by the, well, trainload and it will polarise opinion with critics and fans. That is what happens when your debut sells 20m copies before becoming a Hollywood movie. The plot follows the aftermath of a series of mysterious deaths by a dark and disturbing river. We’re expecting metaphors and plot twists.
Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman
Norse myths have influenced everything from Game of Thrones to Marvel movies and master fantasist Neil Gaiman is now retelling them in his own unique style. Consider it a reboot. Names like Odin and Thor will be immediately familiar, as will the wit and panache of Gaiman’s writing. The stories, despite frequent pilfering, may not be as well-known as tales of Greek or Roman legends so a retelling may be a brilliant introduction to classic stories.
Same Beach, Next Year by Dorothea Benton Frank
If an algorithm were created to find an ultimate, light summer read it would come up with something like this. Every year, two couples meet at the same beach resort and as the friendship continues over 20 summers there is romance, tragedy and heartbreak. The plot sounds like a beachier version of One Day by David Nicholls and that sounds just about right for love addict readers.
Since We Fell by Dennis Lehane
Two of Lehane's previous thrillers (Mystic River and Shutter Island) have been adapted for film by Clint Eastwood and Martin Scorsese so we expect to see this story of a reclusive journalist teetering on madness up on the big screen eventually as well. Get the story first and enter a dark world of conspiracy, mental breakdown and violence.
The Ministry of Utmost Happiness by Arundhati Roy
20 years since her last novel, Booker-prize winning author Roy is back with another work of literary significance. A love story spanning many years and travelling across India, it is a book that seems likely to confirm what we already know: the acclaimed Indian writer as a master storyteller and a poet who layers plots and narrative with subtlety and florid prose.
The Thirst by Jo Nesbo
You don't clock up more than 33m copy sales without having a very good idea of what exactly it is that readers want. Nesbo, the undisputed king of Scandinavian crime fiction, brings back detective Harry Hole to track down a killer who has evaded him before.
Platforms, racers, shoot ‘em-ups, beat ‘em-ups and the return of icons...
The latest descendent of the Colin McRae's Rally series is a racing game with oomph. Shunning futuristic bells and whistles or urban landscapes of other racers, it is a straight-up outdoor rally simulation with countryside and desert tracks.
Out now for PC, PS4, Xbox One.
Console fighting game in which players control heroes and villains from the DC superhero universe. That means fisticuffs with the likes of Superman, Batman, Flash and more than 30 others. As well as straight console fighting, with the usual array of button-thrashing and special moves, there is an advance storyline and some RPG-style progression.
Out now for PS4, Xbox One.
Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
Instantly regarded as one of the greatest video games of all time, the newest iteration of the classic Zelda series is also the flagship game of the new Nintendo Switch console. Who hasn't taken on the role of Zelda at some point in their lives? The open-world exploration and action adventure will be key to sales of the part-mobile console with innovative controls and breathtaking visuals.
Out now on Nintendo Switch and Nintendo Wii U.
Mass Effect: Andromeda
Shrouded in controversy and development issues since launch, EA's action role-playing game is still one of the best-selling and widely anticipated games of the year so far. Exploring the galaxy and shooting your way out of trouble will be familiar tropes for fans of the series.
Out now for PC, PS4, Xbox One.
There are not enough sci-fi first-person shooters, said no-one ever. If you're in the market for some different space stations to dash about while blasting aliens, however, the newest from Arkane Studios should scratch an itch. Set in a future where JFK survived an assassination attempt, there are some quirky stories and variable plotlines to go with the action.
Out now for PC, PS4, Xbox One.
A charming platformer that eschews grand sci-fi melodrama or dark twisted moodiness for the fascination of childhood and a dreamy, childlike innocence. The gorgeous visuals and whimsical story hide some intense puzzle-solving and a different type of action. Surely gets extra points for originality.
Out now for Nintendo Switch, PC, PS4, Xbox One.
Retro gaming at its very best. Sega's spiky hedgehog and friends Knuckles and Tails are back for a side-scrolling platformer which will be technically and artistically the best in the series' history while retaining a close attachment to the franchise’s roots.
Out August 15 for Nintendo Switch, PC, PS4, Xbox One.
Now with up to 38 playable characters, one of the best-loved fighting franchises is back once again, for the ninth installment of the series. Aside from a graphics polish, updated hardware optimisation and a few new faces to punch, there have been advances to the gameplay allowing new move combos and new mechanics for inflicting damage.
Out now for PC, PS4, Xbox One.
What will be the soundtrack to your summer? Find out here...
Funk Wav Bounces Vol. 1 by Calvin Harris
It is hardly surprising that the world's biggest DJ has an all-star list of collaborators joining him on a fifth album. Nevertheless, the line-up is impressive all the same. Ariana Grande, Katy Perry, John Legend, Pharrell Williams, Nicki Minaj and Snoop Dogg are among the more than 15 co-performers that will be dominating dancefloors and playlists for many years to come.
Damn by Kendrick Lamar
Fans and critics can't get enough of the US rapper's fourth studio album. Guest appearances from Rihanna and U2 assure the Compton-born artist's position among commercial hip-hop royalty and Kendrick Lamar proves to be as much of a social commentator and political writer as ever. Musically he remains influenced by early-70s soul but with this album a new, more personal sound is emerging.
Different Days by The Charlatans
The most enduring of the North West of England's indie bands are back with the best-reviewed album since the mid-90s. Pulling in fellow rock royalty (musicians from The Smiths, New Order and Paul Weller all collaborate), Tim Burgess and co. produce the thrilling pop rock that only they, of their contemporaries, have been capable of maintaining. While other bands split or rest on their greatest hits laurels, it is nice to hear something enjoyable yet new.
Every Valley by Public Service Broadcasting
Fans will know the drill by now. Samples of speeches and broadcasts are overlaid over the rocking drums and progressive strings of band members Wrigglesworth and J. Willgoose Esquire. The theme this time is of industrial decline and sample soundbites are of Welsh mining communities. It will be just as strange as it sounds, but most probably more uplifting as well.
Released July 7.
Harry Styles by Harry Styles
There’s no denying this self-titled album finds former Styles is vying for old-school rock credibility. Not as close to the likes of David Bowie, Queen or Elton John as he'd want you to believe, it is nevertheless a brave career move from the artist formerly known as "the one with the hair from One Direction". This album is no masterpiece, but it still feels like a promising start to his solo career.
Humanz by Gorillaz
If you're convinced the world has gone mad, then this might be its soundtrack. Where to start with the oddities? That it was inspired by Donald Trump winning the US election, that it is by a cartoon concept band or that it features a duet with Noel Gallagher and Damon Albarn? The sheer weight of influences and collaborators make it difficult to pigeonhole to a specific genre, but that is probably exactly what the Gorillaz want.
Melodrama by Lorde
Unbelievably the New Zealand singer-songwriter is still only 20 years old yet her upcoming second album is one of the year's most anticipated. The album has been dubbed a testimonial to heartbreak and solitude by the New York Times and brings an emerging pop princess back after a three-year hiatus. The sound is a big change from her previous work. It’s not melancholy, it’s a celebration and a story about moving forward. You can be sure a lot of teenage tears will be wept to this.
Witness by Katy Perry
We're all going to see and hear an awful lot of the world's most followed Twitter user this summer. As she becomes the first user to have 100m followers, she will be promoting a fifth studio album. So long the queen of bubblegum pop, the tunes are a little more grown up. There is more of an EDM-feel to the output as it seems this is the album to try and be edgier and less-preteen pleasing.
If you are not having interesting chats, you should at least listen in on some
The true crime genre is alive and well. Unlike the historic victims analysed with forensic detail in this well-researched and expertly written show. Subjects range from historic crime to cybercrime and bumbling criminals to masterminds. Updated once a fortnight, the self-contained shows are not as in-depth as serials such as, er, Serial, so can be dipped in and out of at leisure.
Desert Island Discs
Celebrities and interesting figures (with a bias towards British people) select eight records they would take with them if stranded alone on a desert island. Broadcast since 1942, it is an institution and a large downloadable archive swells further each week with a selection of music and revealing interviews with everyone from Ed Sheeran and David Beckham to Arundhati Roy and Bill Gates.
Here's a cultural prediction. Fiction-podcasts are going to be very big in the next few years. We're talking A-list actors, thrilling plots, top notch writing and old school radio drama thrills. When it happens, this taut psychological thriller starring Catherine Keener, Oscar Isaac and David Schwimmer will be the benchmark against which the hopefully growing genre is made.
When “geek” is a badge of honour and you wear your love of science fiction with pride (and quite possibly cosplay clothing), it is important to stay well-informed. Although you can find dedicated pods to individual titles, Eric Molinsky’s passion for the genre sees him touching many (star) bases. From philosophical musings on Star Wars to discussions on hobbits and the hippie movement and race in superhero comic books, you will think hard about the lessons of sci-fi.
Stuff You Should Know
A thrice-weekly lesson on a bewildering range of subjects makes you feel a little smarter every time you listen. From the possibility of having a head transplant and how to rank pain to the history of Evel Knievel and the science of body language, the subjects are never obvious and often entertaining – even when you don’t have a pre-existing interest in the subject.
Ideas worth sharing. As taglines go it is hard to beat. TED stands for technology, entertainment and design and that is a catchall for the lectures, presentations and thought-provoking talks staged at conferences around the world. From environmental discussions from billionaires to creativity lessons from Hollywood studios, the subject matter is diverse and often inspiring.
This American Life
One of the world's most popular podcasts is a gentle, quirky pleasure you can happily binge on thanks to a back catalogue of more than 500 shows. A single theme runs on each episode and is often a quirky, sideways look at an intriguing story. Sometimes humorous and sometimes serious, the stories look at American culture and the different stories of normal people which are not always told.
WTF with Marc Maron
A stand-up comedian regularly has interesting conversations with famous people in his garage. It seems like therapy on behalf of Maron who publicly discusses his deepest, most soul-bearing issues and concerns with a celebrity guest. These are usually American stand-up comedians, writers and actors but past episodes have included Barack Obama and numerous musicians.
Because if you have a TV and a sofa you will need a new series to go with them
20 years on from the killing of child beauty pageant contestant JonBenét Ramsey, the case continues to fascinate America. This one-off documentary has amateur actors stage scenes depicting the real-life family and people in the controversial murder. Theories ranging from a family argument turned sour to a botched kidnapping are presented in chilling reality.
Dear White People
A TV spin-off of the 2014 film of the same name became an instant critical hit this year. Satirising race and society's views towards it at an IVY league college in America, the series has courted controversy. It also has razor-sharp writing, detailed characterisation and confrontational subject matter making it a drama with a difference.
Flaked Season 2
This low-tempo series about addicts is the archetypal "dramedy" series. Ponderous and humorous, it is the general unlikability and narcissism of Will Arnett's lead character that stop it becoming a mainstream classic. Despite the ego of the protagonists and downbeat tone a gorgeous soundtrack, artful visuals and insights into hipster life in Venice Beach make it well worth coming back to.
Game of Thrones Season 7
Summer is coming. Which means Winter in Westeros is finally coming. Which means OSN subscriptions are about to get very interesting indeed. This cult series has been the talk of the town for months on end. Look, the Starks, Lannisters, Snows and the rest are back on our screens from July 17. The most anticipated show of the year and penultimate season is about to start screening and we’re happier than a Dothraki at a party brunch.
'Loosely based on' is a term that tends to mean made more interesting and watchable, and that seems true of the dramatisation of Sophia Amoruso's transformation from hustling eBay seller to head of a multi-million-dollar fashion empire, Nasty Gal. The focus is on the dramatic rise rather than recently-reported bankruptcy and slump.
House of Cards Season 5
A drama and satire on the state of politics? There are those that say the world needs a character like Kevin Spacey's Frank Underwood right now. Having watched him grease his way up the political pole over several series of shameless ambition and double-dealing, we can now see how he will perform as President. He’s making television great again.
Masters of None Season 2
Aziz Ansari’s romantic comedy turns up the introspection and generational commentary while still managing to provide enough hipster chuckles to binge through quickly. Lead character Dev is back once again looking for answers about life, love and where to get the best pasta in New York while negotiating the troubled paths of modern romance and careers for millennials.
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
The light, optimistic and frothy comedy is a welcome inclusion in a summer TV line-up that is heavy on drama and low-key laughs. The primary colours and relentlessly upbeat vibe of Tina Fey's hit sitcom are about as subtle as a Beyoncé parody and it is difficult not to smile at a woman, like Kimmy, who has been living in an underground cult for 15 years and enters into New York life devoid of bitterness. Is it wrong to be envious of her?