Mini Reviews #14: Unknown and Underrated

by - 7:15 PM

It Looks Like This by Rafi Mittlefehldt

A new state, a new city, a new high school. Mike's father has already found a new evangelical church for the family to attend, even if Mike and his plainspoken little sister, Toby, don't want to go. Dad wants Mike to ditch art for sports, to toughen up, but there’s something uneasy behind his demands.

Then Mike meets Sean, the new kid, and "hey" becomes games of basketball, partnering on a French project, hanging out after school. A night at the beach. The fierce colors of sunrise. But Mike's father is always watching. And so is Victor from school, cell phone in hand.

5/5 cheerful pups.

This book ripped my heart out and stomped on it. This is one of the most beautifully-written books I've read in my life. This is an incredibly important read for absolutely everyone, absolutely everyone, absolutely everyone.

I'm a pansexual person who goes to a very conservative school in a very conservative area. I'm lucky enough to have a pretty tolerant family who will still support me when I choose to come out, but almost all the LGBT+ people I know don't have that luxury. One of my best friends would be thrown out on the street. Most would be sent to conversion therapy. This book hit me right in the heart because of how freaking realistic it is for far too many people, all of whom I know to be sweet, kind, normal kids who just want to have the luxury of dates and first kisses with people they like.

Read the goddamn book.

I have no other words.

Blank Spaces by Cass Lennox

The decision to stop dating has made Vaughn Hargrave’s life infinitely simpler: he has friends, an excellent wardrobe, and a job in the industry he loves. That’s all he really needs, especially since sex isn’t his forte anyway and no one else seems interested in a purely romantic connection. But when a piece is stolen from his art gallery and insurance investigator Jonah Sondern shows up, Vaughn finds himself struggling with that decision.

Jonah wants his men like his coffee: hot, intense, and daily. But Vaughn seems to be the one gay guy in Toronto who doesn’t do hookups, which is all Jonah can offer. No way can Jonah give Vaughn what he really wants, not when Jonah barely understands what love is.

When another painting goes missing, tension ramps up both on and off the clock. Vaughn and Jonah find themselves grappling not just with stolen art, but with their own differences. Because a guy who wants nothing but romance and a guy who wants nothing but sex will never work—right? Not unless they find a way to fill in the spaces between them.

4/5 accurate representations of my soul.
Blank Spaces was a spontaneous buy and a heartwarming and quick read. The writing was compelling and vivid, and I loved the characters. Vaughn was smol and lovable from the very beginning; Jonah started out very irritating, but by the end I'd fallen head over heels for him. (I think I ended up liking him best - but shhhh, don't tell Vaughn.)  

In terms of the more serious issues addressed by this book, I can't speak to the accuracy of the asexual representation - I didn't see anything blatantly bad about it, but I'm not asexual and can't accurately comment on such things. But as far as the general LGBT+ representation, I found it to be pretty damn good. Plus, the issues of the divide between the rich and the poor and the huge problems with the foster care system were dealt with head-on and very well. 

Overall, Blank Spaces wasn't a super smash hit or stand-out novel, but it was a heartwarming, compelling, and fast read with lots of representation and sweet characters. I'd definitely recommend it!

Constable & Toop by Gareth P. Jones

Something mysterious and terrible is happening throughout Victorian London: Ghosts are disap­pearing. When this reaches the attention of the Ghost Bureau, the diligent but clueless Mr. Lapsewood, a paranormal paper-pusher, is sent to investigate, and what he discovers is grave. The Black Rot has arrived—a voracious spiritual infestation whereby empty haunted houses suck in unsuspecting ghosts and imprison them. Lapsewood’s investigation weaves through the plotlines of several other memorable characters—both living and dead—including an undertaker’s son who can see ghosts, a serial throat-slasher reminiscent of Jack the Ripper, an evangelical exorcist, and many more. The living and dead must work together if they hope to destroy the Black Rot—before it destroys both the ghost and human worlds.

4/5 thoughtful Lunas.
I was originally drawn to this because of how much it reminded me of the Lockwood and Co. series by Jonathan Stroud. While I can't say I loved it quite as much, it definitely had its own charm and was an enjoyable read.

I found the premise of this book to be extremely unique, and the pages were liberally sprinkled with fun and heartwarming characters. We have Lapsewood, a Bilbo-Baggins-esque ghost who finds himself unwillingly on an adventure; Tanner, the street smart rogue ghost; and Sam Toop, who is a bit of a Fixer for ghosts, enacting their revenge and untangling their affairs after they're dead. The writing itself wasn't always that compelling, but the characters drove the plot remarkably well and brought the book to a poignant and beautiful (albeit slightly rushed) conclusion. Overall, I would definitely recommend this if you're a Stroud fan or a person who loves whimsical ghost stories.


But wait! Before you go: there's a very quick survey I'd love you to take about which books you want me to review. After all, reviews are about helping others decide whether or not to read the book - and I can't be of any help if I'm not reviewing books you're interested in reading. The survey is located HERE, so do go check it out and vote!

You've done that? Awesome, let's chat! Have you read any of these books? What are your favorite middle grade and LGBT+ reads? Comment below, and have a lovely day.


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  1. Haha, I love your mini reviews! It Looks Like This and Blank Spaces look really good, I'll have to check them out. I'm always looking for more LGBT+ books! Constable & Toop also looks really good. I love Lockwood and Co (SO MUCH) but I would be interested in reading a book similar to it. Thanks for the recommendations, Ellie!

    anna | annaish

    1. Thank you! I hope you enjoy them :) I thought of you while reading Constable & Toop! Np :)

      - Ellie


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