“I Love You Just the Way You Are” is the story of transformation. Of the main characters coming into their own and living their most authentic selves, and none more so than Maddie, a trans girl who braves going back to high school presenting as female when, just a year ago, she was still closeted. Maddie is incredibly brave, but she also has an amazing support system in her parents and her twin sister, making sure she is safe and able to live her truth. And then there’s Kellan, the star quarterback who has a truly horrendous home situation, but is incredibly popular and can sleep with any woman he wants in a love-them-and-leave-them fashion, until he sees Maddie working in a local café over the summer. He’s immediately smitten by this metalhead with her manga hair, and will not take no for an answer when she spurns his advances. Because while Kellan may not remember Maddie from before she came out, Maddie certainly remembers Kellan! While I loved that Kellan was so instantly attracted to Maddie and desperate to be with her or be her friend, his obsessiveness could be a bit… much at times.
On the surface, “The Little French Bistro” has all the makings of a Hallmark-like romance. You have a 60-year-old woman rediscovering her life and passion after an event has her running away from her loveless, controlling husband, and making a new life for herself in Brittany. It sounds super idyllic and charming, except that the synopsis is misleading. Especially about what that “event” is, which inspires her to run away, but I’ll get into that in a second. This story is populated with a ton of people all like our main character, Marianne, too. All of them are floundering in their romantic relationships in some capacity and need something—or someone—to help push them toward living their lives full of love and passion. Again, another concept that I love and was super here for, except there were too many characters and they all sort of ended up blending together by the end of the book.
Starting at the young age of fourteen and ending when she’s seventy-nine (when we first meet Evelyn), Evelyn Hugo has gone from bombshell, to sexpot, to Oscar winner, to civil rights supporter. Evelyn knew what she wanted from an early age—to get out of Hell’s Kitchen and away from her abusive father, and to be the biggest star anyone has ever heard of. And she accomplished that! Partially because of her talent, partially because she knows her worth and is unafraid to get dirty in order to achieve her goals, and partially because there is no one better at using the press and scandals to serve their own interests. Evelyn is both a force to be reckoned with, but also a deeply flawed and lonely. Shown through the perspective of Evelyn as she dictates her memoir to Monique, the reader is taken back to the early days of Hollywood to watch Evelyn’s rise, and her stumbles, to and through stardom. For a story about a Hollywood starlet, this book is LAYERED, and I don’t think I was expecting the level of depth it had, even though many reviews warned me to expect the unexpected with this story.
“Fifteen Hundred Miles from the Sun” is a perfect blend of fluffy YA contemporary romance, mixed with the heartbreaking reality of what it can be like for gay teens to come out when they have a toxic parent who is forever full of criticisms. Jules is a sweet, young man who longs to live authentically, but is rightly afraid of what his father may do if he were to know the truth. Jules believes the freedom he so craves to live openly exists only in going to college in Los Angeles, far away from his father in Texas. But when Jules accidentally comes out on Twitter while drunk during a house party with his best friends (they’re all seniors in HS), Jules realizes that he didn’t always have to hide—well, not from everyone.
If you are looking for a smooth, fluffy contemporary retelling of Cinderella wrapped in a love letter to geek culture, then hey, hi, hello, have you met “Geekerella”? Yes, this is another addition to the “Chelscey’s real late to the party” book list, but here we are. Geekerella is exactly what you expect it to be, equal parts Cinderella retelling with a healthy dose of “You’ve Got Mail”, this book was so easy to read, and even though parts brought a few tears to my eyes with how touching they were, this book was otherwise incredibly sweet, fluffy, and geeky. A combination I didn’t know that I enjoyed until I was neck deep in Elle and Darien’s story.
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