Thursday, June 13, 2024

Mini Reviews: New Releases

Today I'm all over the place with my mini reviews in that we have a thrilling beach read set on a remote Indonesian island and a rom-com romance set in the 90s and the world of AOL. There's something here for everyone and every mood!

Summer Fridays by Suzanne Rindell 
Pages: 432
Genre: Adult Fiction/Romance
Pub. Date: May 28, 2024
Publisher: Dutton
Source: Publisher for review
My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Goodreads says, "You've Got Mail for a new generation, set in the days of AOL and instant messenger banter, about a freshly engaged editorial assistant who winds up spending her "summer Fridays" with the person she least expects

Summer 1999: Twentysomething Sawyer is striving to make it in New York. Between her assistant job in publishing, her secret dreams of becoming a writer, and her upcoming wedding to her college boyfriend, her is plate full. Only one She is facing an incredibly lonely summer as her fiancé has been spending longer and longer hours at work . . . with an all-too-close female colleague, Kendra. 

When Kendra's boyfriend, Nick, invites Sawyer to meet up and compare notes about their suspicions, the meeting goes awry. She finds Nick cocky and cynical, and he finds her stuck in her own head. But then Nick seeks out Sawyer online to apologize, and a friendship develops.

Soon, Sawyer's lonely summer takes an unexpected turn. She and Nick begin an unofficial ritual—exploring New York City together every summer Friday. From hot dogs on the Staten Island Ferry and Sea Breezes in a muggy East Village bar to swimming at Coney Island, Sawyer feels seen by Nick in a way that surprises her. He pushes her to be braver. To ask for what she wants. Meanwhile, Sawyer draws Nick out of his hard shell, revealing a surprisingly vulnerable side. They both begin living for their Friday afternoons together. 

But what happens when the summer is over?

Summer Fridays is a witty and emotional love letter to New York City that also captures the feeling of being young and starting out, uncertain what to do on your summer Friday. It’s also perfect for readers who remember when “going online” meant tying up the phone line, and the timeless thrill of seeing a certain someone’s name in your inbox."

It's the summer of 1999 and Sawyer is set for a sweltering summer in New York City. Her job in publishing affords her "summer Fridays," so she'll have a lot of time to unwind this summer.  She would love to spend more time with Charles, her lawyer boyfriend, but he is swamped at work with a new case, which Sawyer immediately dreads as this means more time with his questionable co-worker, Kendra, and less time with her. At a work dinner for Charles, she meets Nick, Kendra's boyfriend, and they have some words. Nick implies that Charles and Kendra are having an affair. Later on, Nick emails Sawyer to apologize, and their back-and-forth emails ensue, which graduates to AOL instant messenger. Before she knows it, Sawyer has hit it off with Nick and she comes to find that he understands her situation with Charles better than anyone. They both start hanging out on Fridays and she even shares her NYC bucket list with him with the hopes that they can tackle that this summer, too. Will their  friendship blossom into something more or fizzle out once summer is over? Summer Fridays by Suzanne Rindell is summer rom-com perfection.

I really enjoyed Sawyer from the start of 
Summer Fridays. I also loved being transported back to the summer of 1999 and the world of AOL. It  brought back a lot of memories and I think Rindell captured it all so well; in fact, it was very reminiscent of You've Got Mail and in the best way possible. Also, I appreciated the setting of NYC and the publishing world, which is always one of my favorite settings. Lastly, the slow burn romance was fantastic as well as the use of emails and instant messages to develop their relationship. I was rooting for them from the start. If you love 90s rom-coms, you'll want to be lost in Summer Fridays this summer. I didn't want the book to end!

One Perfect Couple by Ruth Ware
Pages: 416
Genre: Adult Fiction
Pub. Date: May 21, 2024
Publisher: Gallery
Source: Publisher for review
My Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Goodreads says, "A high-tension and ingenious thriller following five couples trapped on a storm-swept island as a killer stalks among them.

Lyla is in a bit of a rut. Her post-doctoral research has fizzled out, she’s pretty sure they won’t extend her contract, and things with her boyfriend, Nico, an aspiring actor, aren’t going great. When the opportunity arises for Nico to join the cast of a new reality TV show, The Perfect Couple, she decides to try out with him. A whirlwind audition process later, Lyla find herself whisked off to a tropical paradise with Nico, boating through the Indian Ocean towards Ever After Island, where the two of them will compete against four other couples—Bayer and Angel, Dan and Santana, Joel and Romi, and Conor and Zana—in order to win a cash prize.

But not long after they arrive on the deserted island, things start to go wrong. After the first challenge leaves everyone rattled and angry, an overnight storm takes matters from bad to worse. Cut off from the mainland by miles of ocean, deprived of their phones, and unable to contact the crew that brought them there, the group must band together for survival. As tensions run high and fresh water runs low, Lyla finds that this game show is all too real—and the stakes are life or death.

A fast-paced, spellbinding thriller rife with intrigue and characters that feel so true to life, this novel proves yet again that Ruth Ware is the queen of psychological suspense."
Lyla, a scientist, and Nico, an aspiring actor, have been dating for two years, but have hit a wall as their relationship doesn't seem to be going anywhere. Nico has an opportunity to go on a new reality show, One Perfect Couple, and convinces Lyla to join him as it would really bolster his career. She reluctantly takes time off work to join him and once they get to the remote Indonesian island, she thinks this might be a good vacation. There are romantic huts, beautiful water, palm trees, and lots of booze. Except behind the beautiful facade, there are some concerns. The director seems off, not to mention, most of the crew leaves every night and returns in the morning. One night a really bad storm hits the island and there's a lot of damage to the rooms and one of the palm trees falls on a hut and kills someone. To make matters worse, the boat with the director and supplies never returns. Did they go missing during the storm? Now the couples are stranded on this island with minimal communication (the director took their phones!), and have limited water and food. Cue the panic! What seemed like The Bachelor has turned into Survivor, especially as people start to turn on each other. One Perfect Couple by Ruth Ware is a suspenseful novel, perfect for readers who like some thrilling moments in their beach reads. 

Lyla and Nico's relationship really didn't make sense to me in One Perfect Couple. She is this smart scientist and he is struggling, not to mention a jerk at times. I was surprised Lyla even went on this show as she doesn't seem to be the type, but I get the plot needed to move forward. Despite this, I thought the rest of One Perfect Couple was horrifyingly believable. It quickly turned into Survivor and had some Lord of the Flies vibes. Also, there is some violence in this beach read, so be forewarned. Ware creates such anxiety about being stuck on this island that it kept me flipping the pages. It was a true locked room moment (in this case a remote island), it really added to the suspense. I was rooting for a few of the women to take over and take down some of the questionable men on the island. This was my first Ruth Ware novel and it definitely won't be the last.

So, is Summer Fridays or One Perfect Couple on your summer reading list? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.  

1 comment:

  1. LOL, instant messenger taking me back to my teenage years! But that, combined with the NYC setting and publishing world, really has me wanting to read it! Great reviews!


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