ARC Review: How to Love Your Neighbor by Sophie Sullivan

Special thanks to St. Martin’s Press for providing an ARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review!

Goodreads: How to Love Your Neighbor
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Published: 18 January 2022
Genre: Contemporary Romance

Panda Rating:

(3 pandas)

Interior Design School? Check. Cute house to fix up? Check.
Sexy, grumpy neighbor who is going to get in the way of your plans? Check. Unfortunately.

Grace Travis has it all figured out. In between finishing school and working a million odd jobs, she’ll get her degree and her dream job. Most importantly, she’ll have a place to belong, something her harsh mother could never make. When an opportunity to fix up—and live in—a little house on the beach comes along, Grace is all in. Until her biggest roadblock moves in next door.

Noah Jansen knows how to make a deal. As a real estate developer, he knows when he’s found something special. Something he could even call home. Provided he can expand by taking over the house next door–the house with the combative and beautiful woman living in it.

With the rules for being neighborly going out the window, Grace and Noah are in an all-out feud. But sometimes, your nemesis can show you that home is always where the heart is. 

TL;DR: How to Love Your Neighbor started out strong for me—I was immediately pulled in by the beginning and I enjoyed the slightly antagonistic banter between Grace and Noah. Sadly, as the story progressed I started to get restless with the book as my interest waned. It’s not badly written and it did have enjoyable elements to it but something felt lacking. I wanted more chemistry, more friendship, more romance, just more!

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First Lines Friday – 11 December

Happy Friday book lovers! We’re back with another First Lines Friday, a weekly feature for book lovers hosted by Wandering Words. What if instead of judging a book by its cover, its author or its prestige, we judged it by its opening lines? Here are the rules:

  • Pick a book off your shelf (it could be your current read or on your TBR) and open to the first page
  • Copy the first few lines, but don’t give anything else about the book away just yet – you need to hook the reader first
  • Finally… reveal the book!

First lines:

“There was nothing cute about the first time Kerry Fuller met Jesse Strong.
He broke her glasses; she bloodied his nose and they both ended up in a tangle of yarn on the floor in the loft space of Strong Knits being scolded by Mama Joy.”

Do you recognize the book these first lines come from?

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Book Review: Maybe in Another Life by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Goodreads: Maybe in Another Life
Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Romance, New Adult, Chicklit,
Rating: ★★★★☆

At the age of twenty-nine, Hannah Martin still has no idea what she wants to do with her life. She has lived in six different cities and held countless meaningless jobs since graduating college. On the heels of leaving yet another city, Hannah moves back to her hometown of Los Angeles and takes up residence in her best friend Gabby’s guestroom. Shortly after getting back to town, Hannah goes out to a bar one night with Gabby and meets up with her high school boyfriend, Ethan. Just after midnight, Gabby asks Hannah if she’s ready to go. A moment later, Ethan offers to give her a ride later if she wants to stay. Hannah hesitates. What happens if she leaves with Gabby? What happens if she leaves with Ethan?

It’s here that the story splits and we get two concurrent storylines that follow what happens if Hannah chooses to stay or go. As the stories play out, Hannah and the people around her have to deal with huge life-altering events that have big consequences for what happens next. Maybe in Another Life not only questions what’s meant to be in this life and who we’re meant to be with, but it also makes you think about where and what home really is. It’s so easy to think that only the big decisions you make affect the course of your life, when in reality all the decisions you make have an effect — and you can’t simply just wish the bad away, because from the bad eventually comes good.

“I think I have to believe that life will work out the way it needs to. If everything that happens in the world is just a result of chance and there’s no rhyme or reason to any of it, that’s just too chaotic for me to handle. I’d have to go around questioning every decision I’ve ever made, every decision I will ever make. If our fate is determined with every step we take . . . it’s too exhausting. I’d prefer to believe that things happen as they are meant to happen.”

This book had me feeling all the feels. Being only a year older than Hannah, I definitely felt for her. Although I have a steady job and I don’t jump from city to city looking for a place I belong, I too still don’t know where ‘home’ really is and I’m not sure whether the direction my life is heading, is the direction I want it to go. So much of Hannah’s character resonated with me and I constantly found myself rooting for her (and Gabby)! For the most part, I tend to have a slightly cynical view of the world and of life, but there’s a part of me that really also believes that whatever is meant to be will be—if it’s gonna happen it will happen—and Hannah’s belief in that really touched me. Surprisingly, I found very few characters in this book unlikable. Although many of them, even the main ones, don’t experience much growth throughout the story; as it centers on Hannah. They all managed to worm their way into my heart, except for the asshole characters of which there’s ONE BIG ONE. This obviously contributed to making the book a more enjoyable and easier reading experience.

While the story primarily focuses on the relationship between lovers, it also explores friendships and the relationship between parents and their children. I absolutely loved the friendship between Hannah and Gabby. Gabby is the steady, level-headed, politically correct friend to Hannah’s spontaneous all-over-the-place clumsiness. There was so much love and support between them, and even at Hannah’s worse, there was no condescension or judgement on Gabby’s part, which I think is rare to find (not only in real life but in story friendships too). Their type of bond transcends traditional friendship and makes them more like sisters and family; which considering Hannah’s home situation, is honestly not that difficult to do. The relationship between Hannah and her family made me profoundly sad. I honestly didn’t and still don’t understand her parent’s decision to not take her along with them. To say that they’re stuck in their own privileged bubble would be an understatement, even though they didn’t have bad intentions, it’s kind of incredible that they were so obtuse. While it’s clear that the Martin family have love for each other, it’s obvious that Hannah doesn’t feel like her parents and sister really have much of a place in her life, and that’s evidenced by the fact that they weren’t really around for the majority of the big life changing moments in either of the stories.

In a way I kind of feel like loving how both storylines ends is a little bit like cheating — it’s not, I know, but it’s like getting to have your cake and eat it too, because you don’t normally get two very different but both very happy endings in real life. To be honest, I don’t think I’ve ever read a novel that’s told in this way (except the ‘choose your own adventure’ types and that’s completely different), and I wasn’t expecting to love it but in the end I really did. I honestly love the concept of parallel universes and the playing out of actions on the “other side of the coin”. There’s a quote in this book that had my goosebumps rising and that so perfectly sums up the experience of the book.

“The world is splitting further and further into an infinite number of parallel universes where everything that could happen is happening. It’s entirely possible that every time we make a decision, there is a version of us out there somewhere who made a different choice. An infinite number of versions of ourselves are living out the consequences of every single possibility in our lives. What I’m getting at here is that I know there may be universes out there where I made different choices that led me somewhere else, led me to someone else. […] And my heart breaks for every single version of me that didn’t end up with you.”

Have you read Maybe in Another Life or is it on your TBR?