Sunday Lowdown #40

Interesting Facts From School This Week:

This week we learned about testing the credibility, accuracy, and purpose of an online article. Basically, this is a pared down version of a rhetorical analysis, which I taught for eleven years to college students. So, no interesting quotes this week!

This Week’s Blog Posts:

On Tuesday I shared my November TBR, which include a variety of works: nonfiction, novella, graphic novel, novel, memoir. There are also a variety of genres: fantasy, grief fiction, women’s fiction, social activism, queer life. You may have noticed that my reading interests are growing. When I started Grab the Lapels, I largely read what the community calls small-press literary fiction. What does that mean? A small press, that’s in the name. But literary fiction is often what readers consider non-genre and more intelligent. I disagree with that.

Books that make me feel something are what I’m looking for, and I don’t care if it’s self-published, small press, big press, or if it’s a genre I don’t typically read — and that includes paranormal urban fiction. Thursday was my first attempt at just that genre, though I hated the dorky cover (to be honest, I hate all covers with real people on them). Drawing Dead by S.M. Reine was a total hit for me. I cared about the characters, the imagery and setting were vivid, and the plot was surprising.

Next Week’s Blog Posts:

I’m trying something new-ish: just one mini audio book review at a time instead of three. Also, I’m careful to let you know if the book is better in audio, paperback, or both. Monday, check out my review of Made for Love by Alissa Nutting. This novel is speculative fiction that questions commitment, sex, and human ownership.

Wednesday I’ll share my thoughts about The Girl Who Reads on the Métro by Christine Féret-Fleury. It’s a novella whose title I found misleading; there’s very little of Juliette reading on a metro. While the story is interesting, it wasn’t what I expected — but not in a bad way!

Friday I’m reviewing a graphic novel, which is something I haven’t done in too long at Grab the Lapels. Cannonball by Kelsey Wroten caught my attention because it’s about a queer artist trying to enter adulthood.

Book I’m Reading Aloud to My Spouse:

The spouse and I finished The Room by Jonas Karlsson. There was so much potential, but I felt the ending wasted it, even though I understand that this is a novella about workplace culture and groupthink. Overrall, I enjoyed reading The Room and thank Karen for her recommendation.

We’ve moved on to Hauntings: Tales of the Supernatural, edited by Henry Mazzeo. The short stories are by older writers, such as Lovecraft, Wells, and Doyle. I meant to get to this book by Halloween but did not. We’re reading one story per night, and I love the slow doom that these old tales can build, playing on the reader’s childhood fears.

Books Added to the TBR Pile:

If you read my review of Drawing Dead, you know I went a lil wild and decided to jump both feet into this massive universe S.M. Reine created. Only a small handful of any of her novels in the Descentverse have fewer than four stars. Four. I think I’m in for a treat. If you want to know more about this universe, here is how the author describes it:

All of them are essentially urban fantasy. I do wander into paranormal romance quite a bit, but if you’re looking for the romance structure (including happily every afters), you’ll probably be disappointed. . . . I tend to write with lots of metaphor, elaborate prose, non-linear storylines, and a mythology basis. The series start simpler and become more stylized as they progress.

Much like #ReadingValdemar, I’m going to read one Descentverse book per month starting in January 2020. If you want to read along, let me know in the comments. You can jump in with any series, but progressing in order adds layers. I super hate the covers, as they belie the contents, but here they are:

#1 the descent series

#2 seasons of the moon

#3 the cain crhonicles

#4 preternatural affairs

#5 tarot witches

#6 the ascension series

#7 war of the alphas

#8 the mage craft series

#9 dana mcintyre must die

#10 a fistful of daggers

#11 artifact hunters

non-s.m. reine books added to tbr:

I want to thank Anne for her recommendation of Sarah Leavitt’s graphic novel. I also added the Lee Israel book due to the Melissa McCarthy film I saw last night.


  1. I wouldn’t pick up books with those SM Reine covers. I can’t quite work out why not. Perhaps they say – to me – cheap romance, thriller, fantasy. My daughter reads on her phone constantly, I’ll have to ask her if this is a series she’s tried. If it’s as good as you say, Christmas present solved.


    • I think the covers are tacky, unrealistic, and suggest some sort of steamy bone-fest. But the writing wasn’t like that at all. If you’re daughter is into paranormal fiction, I’d say give it a go! Lots of these books are free on Amazon, actually. The author does that business-savvy trick of making the early ones free and charging about $5 for each one after.


  2. I was kind of interested in what kind of story would focus on reading on the metro, but I guess the author didn’t know, either, if there is, in fact, little reading on the metro?


    • I’m not sure how I feel about this novella…I’m working on the review this afternoon and struggling with what to say about it. It’s not nearly as engaging as I wanted it to be, but that maybe my American expectations of fiction being projected on a sort of existentialist novella.


  3. Oh my lord, those covers are cringe-worthy indeed. here’s hoping what’s inside is a much better 🙂

    Also-rhetorical analysis is a sorely needed skill that we are losing even more as the internet pervades our culture. I can think of a few people in my life that need to take a course in it 😉


    • As another blogger commented, if someone writes paranormal urban fiction, it’s a requirement to have these horrible covers. I actually thought Drawing Dead had some interesting quandaries that apply to real life, such as making the best choice in a terrible situation, when to stop being stubborn, what marriage actually means. I think the writer is both silly and has skill infusing real human issues into her book.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, the Dana McIntyre books covers are pretty fun. The ones with the big beefy dudes are the ones that make me feel pukey. However, the characters aren’t really described as traditionally beautiful. For instance, Penny, Dana’s wife, is a strong, muscled, cute orc.


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