Grab the Lapels was created in 2013. On this site, you can find Book Reviews about works written by people who identify as women (she/her) or nonbianry (they/them). You’ll also find interviews under Meet the Writer, which includes any kind of writing: fiction, memoir, poetry, blogging, journalism, you name it! Want to participate? Contact me! Not all of these authors are published, so you’ll get a variety of insight. My name is Melanie, and I’m a former adjunct professor who taught composition, creative writing, and fiction. Currently, I’m an adult student in an ASL interpreter training program (more here about that), so you’ll read lots about D/deaf and hard-of-hearing folks on my blog. Please see the FAQ for answers about review requests and why there are no works here by people who identify as men.

Maya Angelou

I’ve earned a bachelors in English, a masters in English/Creative Writing, and an MFA at the University of Notre Dame in Fiction. I’ve been reviewing for a while, and at a steady clip in a variety of venues.

As a guest reviewer at other venues, I often chose the books I would read and review from a queue, but my choices were frequently limited to books by men, who are published, reviewing books, and having their books reviewed more frequently than women and nonbinary people (check out the skewed ratio). There’s nothing wrong with reviewing a great book by a man, but so many women (GTL is trans- and nonbinary-inclusive) are underrepresented or struggle to find reviewers willing to look at their work.

I take reviewing seriously and will provide reviews that include an overall decision of the value of the book, criteria for what made the book strong or weak, and evidence for the criteria. Sometimes I subtly analyze themes in addition to reviewing. None of my reviews are a simple “I like/didn’t like” a book because I could/could not agree with or relate to the characters. As a result, my reviews tend to be longer.

Still Curious? Take a behind the scenes look at Grab the Lapels in my interviews with the following venues: 


  1. We’re so lucky to live in an age when women’s voices can be heard…compare to the age of the Brontes when women had to write under male or androgynous names –Currer Bell (Charlotte Bronte) and Ellis Bell (Emile Bronte).

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  2. I was a numerologist, but now I’m a Numerosymbologist. I’ve been studying, practicing and developing Numerosymbology for about 20 years.
    This millennium, beginning with ‘2’, absolutely encourages and moves the feminine to rise. It began in the 20th century (the 2, as leader, being introduced), and it is so noticeable with not only women coming to the fore in so many areas, but the right brain of both genders being given more rein. The figure for ‘2’ represents the appearance, the Coming, of an integrated humanity. About time.


  3. I just wanted to say that I’m very impressed with your blog, as well as the direction you’ve taken. Publishing does indeed seem to be mostly dominated by men, and books written by men are almost always taken with greater seriousness than similar books written by women. Which is a real shame.

    In recent years, I’ve stumbled across so many fantastic works by writers like Holly Goddard Jones, Kelly Braffet, Lauren Grodstein, as well as older books by women that have simply been forgotten (like Agatha Christie’s Autobiography, which is simply wonderful). It is a real pleasure to find a site devoted to encouraging readers to pick up more books by women.

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    • Thanks for your kind words! I recommended your blog to someone today because I am impressed with the way that you think about the importance of stories for boys. As I mentioned in a comment on one of your posts, boys stories shaped me a lot because there aren’t really that many for girls that have the same transformative power and don’t involve meeting/liking/dating a boy. I should read more children’s and young adult books for girls that are about real lives (I also commented on this in a different post of yours). I remember liking The Great Gilly Hopkins by Katherine Paterson quite a bit. I’m currently re-reading it, and I pointed out to my husband that the book almost reads like a precursor to Lynda Barry’s book Cruddy, which is a mind-blowing work of fiction (Gilly is 11, the girl in Cruddy is in her early teens). Are you on the comic book group on Google+? I feel like that’s where I found your page. I look forward to reading more of your posts!


  4. I came across your blog via ANZ LitLovers and was really impressed with the Cris Mazza review/interview – both the experimental writing and the body image problems (they are very familiar, I have a family full of women who talk, talk, talk and make me join in). In my own writing I specialise in early Australian women’s fiction and representations of women, and re one of the comments above, you might one day try a 20 year old Australian girl’s cry from the heart (published in 1901) My Brilliant Career by Miles Franklin.

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  5. I can sympathize with your viewpoint on male characters by men, but there are plenty of female writers who write male characters, notably in the crime genre – PD James and Ruth Rendell, for instance. Some of my strongest characters are female – Tana Standish, psychic spy, Catherine Vibrissae, the avenging Cat and Laura in my Tenerife thriller Blood of the Dragon Trees. (I do have strong male protagonists, too – Leon Cazador, half-English half-Spanish detective in Spanish Eye).

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    • Of course people can write characters unlike themselves, but I got tired of reading stereotypes of women, so I set off on my own path. Even women write stereotypes of women, which is lazy, and possibly ingrained prejudice.

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  6. Thank you for the interview with Jodi Paloni, and I appreciate your comments above. At Press 53, we publish more women than men (about 60/40) for similar reasons: as a man, I find that the women take me to places the men don’t; they constantly surprise me. If you’d be interested in reading another one or two of our story collections by women, let me know. Also, check out our book page on our website titled #kickasswomenwriters
    Press 53

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Kevin. I enjoyed organizing a book blog tour for Bonnie ZoBell, also published with your press! I like the attention to short stories; most presses ignore short stories, but that’s all you guys do, if I remember correctly!


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