I just had a short trip back home to see old haunts, in a way re-visiting my childhood. However, I found my favorite restaurants had closed and my old family home leveled. It was devastating emotionally. But it brought to mind the comfort of what books do for me. As a reader since early childhood, I’ve managed to accumulate so many memories associated with certain books, memories and emotions that remain even if I don’t have the physical copy of the book with me. I can go back to the time when I discovered, consumed and lingered over the book.

Perhaps you’ve shared that experience and, if not, I’m sure you will in the future. As summer approaches, we’ll be bombarded with new book releases as if this is the only chance we’ll ever have to read. But we should take the opportunity to explore these new options, since we might discover a book that will live with us and comfort us for a long time. I polled our Fresh Fiction reviewers and here are a few new releases they have on their suggested reading lists.A Witch's Handbook

Loss of a spouse or significant other can shatter your world, which debut author Stephanie Evanovich lays out in her book Big Girl Panties (William Morrow, July 2013). Holly has lost her husband after an illness and, at 32, she’s alone with left-over guilt and extra weight. She meets a gorgeous trainer to the stars on a plane trip and the book takes off from there. It’s a journey about two people with strengths and weakness learning to understand that perfection isn’t necessarily all it’s cracked up to be. It’s a rollicking great read and we can’t wait for Evanvoich’s next book to see if it will live up to her great start.

Who doesn’t need a little magic in their life? Grab a copy of Molly Harper’s A Witch's Handbook Of Kisses And Curses (Pocket, June 2013) and dive in. This is a spin off from the Half-Moon Hollow series but, as the first in the Bluegrass series, it’s easy to read without feeling the need to go back to read the others (although why you would want to miss some great reading?) Nola Leary leaves Ireland to fulfill a wish for her grandmother and ends up in Half-Moon Hollow, Kentucky, where she finds a half-naked Adonis and has to deal with a tricky vampire who may have the missing artifacts Nola is looking for. Her goal is to find the artifacts without too many complications and get back home. A Witch’s Handbook is definitely a book for those lazy summer days when you’re looking for a good laugh, and maybe a dash or two of some truly fabulous abs. 

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The Proposal (Dell, June 2013) is being released in paperback this week. As the first book in Mary Balogh’s new Survivor’s Club series, The Proposal introduces us briefly to the members of a group of war veterans who band together to literally learn how to survive in the Regency world. This first book also re-introduces us to Lady Muir, who was a walk-on character in an earlier book. But her time in the spotlight is finally here, and the rough but heroic Hugo, Lord Trentham, is introduced as her potential match. Hugo feels like he’s an outsider, but he wants only the best for his sister and so he’s willing to try to find a wife, even if she’s a Society wife. Hugo finds himself strangely attracted to Gwendoline, even though she’s not in his planned future. Gwen thinks her time for lThe Proposalove is over but…well, it’s a usual but really extraordinary love story you won’t want to pass up. And get ready for the next book in the series, The Arrangement, coming in August. This one is a Cinderella story, and who can resist those? Not me!

And how can we miss including the little gem Short Rides from Lorelei James? Of course we can’t! And it’s a double treat, as it’s a perfect bite-sized introduction to James’ Rough Riders series. James says Short Rides is not meant to be read as a stand-alone but instead as an accompaniment to her Rough Riders books. And if you haven’t yet read a Rough Riders book, download this one and then prepare your budget for a spending spree as you get caught up: “Fusing together heat and heart, James once again proves just how talented a storyteller she is!" says our Fresh Fiction reviewer. Short Rides is novella length and perfect for a dose of spicy.

What are you looking forward to reading this summer? Are you a list maker or do you just like to pick up something with an appealing cover? I’m always curious to know what makes fellow readers pick up a book. And this week I’ll be in New York for the annual Book Expo America. This conference brings the big publishers, the independent publishers and everyone in between together for a few days of celebrating books. And best of all, I’m sure to find a few more books to add to my personal must-read list. I’ll be sure to share in the upcoming weeks, so get ready!

Sara Reyes is the founder and partner at FreshFiction.com a popular fiction web site for today's reader with new titles, contests, over 50,000 genre fiction author profiles with backlists, and permanently archived reviews, plus all the industry buzz. Fresh Fiction has a biweekly segment (Buy the Book) on WFAA Channel 8 Good Morning Texas to talk about new books not to miss. Believing face-to-face interaction is as important as virtual communities, Fresh Fiction sponsors an annual author reader tea in June, a readers conference in November, monthly literary events, and book clubs. Follow Sara at @FreshFiction on Twitter or Facebook.com/FreshFiction.