It’s the biggest holiday of mid-year, our Fourth of July, with fireworks, barbecues, trips to beaches and lakes. For some of us, it’s also the time to check out fun reading and get a little respite from the daily grind, whether it’s spending time with the children or working a 9 to 5. Summer might mean a little lighter reading. But for me, it’s also the time I look forward to—big summer releases from favorite authors I’ve read for years. For example, mid-July is the release date for the next installment of the Gabriel Allon adventures.

Number 13 in the series, The English Girl (Harper/HarperCollins; July 16, 2013) opens on an idyllic summer vacation in Corsica with a group of British civil servants enjoying a baking but somnolent summer break. The vacation is interrupted by the disappearance of their ringleader, Madeline—which, for some odd reason, doesn’t bother them too much. We quickly find she had a big secret: She’s the prime minister’s mistress. I was set for adventure and high hopes after the letdown of last year’s release in the series, The Fallen Angel. I don’t quibble about the action—I’m just disappointed in the way Silva is handling his female characters.

I’m an action girl from way back, cutting my reading teeth on Helen MacInnes, Alstair MacLean and Jack Higgins, so spy adventures always grab my interest. And if you combine the action with a strong female protagonist, I’m in. As intrigued as I’ve been over the years with Allon’s adventures, he always had a group of sidekicks or helpers, half of which were women integral to his schemes to free the good and defeat the evil. And does Silva know how to write EVIL. But, in the past two outings, the women are fading. They’re becoming wimpy characters who wring their hands, worry about the return of their heroes or, worse, get killed off.  The English Girl continues the trend of downplaying any strong women characters. I’m sad.

Thankfully, around the same time I received Silva’s latest, I also got a preview copy of Take Over at Midnight by M.L. Buchman (Sourcebooks Casablanca; December 2013). Buchman returns to the Night Stalkers in Afghanistan at a secret helicopter base for the equipment and personnel supporting Special Forces. The men and women are equal partners in these books and they have some hot relationships as well. Plus, there’s enough action to satisfy my longing for adventures outside my ordinary life and relationships that make me happy. Take Over at Midnight is the story of Lola and Crazy Tim. We’ve had glimpses of both characters in the previous Night Stalkers so it’s only fair they get front and center stage treatment. And you won’t be disappointed. Crazy Tim is, well, CRAZY, and Lola LaRue is as feisty as a heroine should be, with enough vinegar to make you pucker but not too much to turn you off. I’ve got to tell you to put Take Over at Midnight on your pre-order now—you’ll want to have it when it releases. Sorry for the long tease, but well, just be grateful I let you know and didn’t just do it for fun. *grin*

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For something to read this weekend, I suggest you get the latest Morganville Vampires novel, Fall of Night (NAL; May 2013). Rachel Caine finally moves Claire Danvers out of Morganville to try the graduate life in Boston. Accepted at MIT, Claire leaves behind her old Texas buddies in the fight against vampires but finds the east coast is not immune. Ooops. So with a cadre of nTerminatedew friends and allies as well as some old ones, Claire must battle new enemies. If you’re a fan of the Morganville Vampires, you have an opportunity to help take them to the next level with the Kickstarter for the Morganville Vampire Web Series. Check it out before July 11th and enjoy the drive-by videos. 

And if vampires aren’t your thing, but you still love action-packed reading, be sure to get the next installment in Caine's Revivalist series, Terminated (ROC; August 2013). It involves zombie-like characters, but since I’m not a zombie fan, I prefer to call them undead with a disease. Okay, so maybe I’m just a little strange: But, I mean, just because you have to take a drug every day to survive, and people want to not only destroy the drug but the addicts as well, is no reason to label them all zombies. That’s just being a bit prejudiced. Caine manages to make a believer out of me and Bryn Davis knows how to keep me turning the pages without any fear of dropping limbs.

Other quick read for the weekend ahead, as suggested by our Name Game at this week’s book club, include the Mackenzie brothers series by Liliana Harte and Jaye Wells’ Meridian Six. Both are available in e-book format.

What do you plan on reading this weekend? Anything good you want to share? And if you’re in the Atlanta area, I hope to see you at the Marriott Marquis on July 17th. I’ll be wearing a pink shirt and a gold name badge. Be sure to say “hi!”

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.