Why the name?

Maya Angelou famously said, “I love to see a young girl go out and grab the world by the lapels. Life’s a bitch. You’ve got to go out and kick ass.” Angelou wrote so much, but one of her poems that affected me very deeply was her version of Paul Laurence Dunbar’s “We Wear the Mask.” It it, Angelou expresses the deep shame young African Americans feel that older generations submitted to white people. She explains why, and ties in how wearing a mask that smiles and grins, and laughing, saved lived. Dunbar is my favorite male poet, so Angelou’s recreation of his work is literary lovemaking to me.

In what formats will you accept a book for review?

Physical copies, and Google Play and Kindle e-books. No PDFs.

What do you do with my book after you read it?

If you sent me a digital copy, most likely it will be deleted from my device shortly after the review is published. If you sent me a physical copy, I will put it in the Little Library or keep it because I loved it so much. If you would like, you can tuck $5 in the pages of a book and an address of the next review you wish for me to mail the book to.

Are you paid for your reviews?

I do not receive any money for my reviews. I do not review books that are scheduled for blog tours that I am organizing. Occasionally, I am asked to do a blog tour after I have reviewed a book because the author wants to work with me. In accordance with the FTC, I will notify readers of how the book was procured. If there is no indication, the book belongs to me.

What kinds of books do you read?

Literary works, non-fiction, memoir, some fantasy, fat fiction, supernatural, some poetry, and the graphic novel version of all these genres. I’ll consider any type book that has a fat protagonist represented positively. See what I mean by that here.

What are your reviewer criteria?

I ask if the book adds anything culturally significant. I look at emotional depth and complexity, even if it is ringed by humor. I also examine plot, character, setting, etc. and ask myself if those elements are believable in the world in which the author has created.

What kinds of books do you NOT read?

The only books that I don’t read are cook books, gardening, crafting (etc.), children’s books, strictly religious works, or hardcore erotica. I selectively read YA.

Do you write negative book reviews?

Yes. Especially in an era of self-publishing, which makes it easier than ever to publish, skipping out on negative reviews doesn’t help readers sift through the millions of books from which they can choose. My reviews are rarely completely positive or negative in their entirety.

My friend thinks I write like J.K. Rowling mixed with some David Foster Wallace. Will you compare me to other authors?

No. You are an individual. If a reviewer compares a book to other authors, I go read the original authors because I’m assuming that those writers did it first—and better. If you can write a great book, why would you want to be like someone else? Be you.

How will I know if you published my review?

Authors always receive a courtesy email notifying them that their book has been reviewed. If you follow me on Goodreads, you will see your book’s review there, too. Once your review is up, I greatly appreciate authors sharing the link on their own social media to promote readership.

I’m a guy, but my book has strong female characters. Will you review my work?

No, but good job and keep that up. Men have lots of space in the publishing world. This space is for women only.

Why did you start Grab the Lapels?

Check out my origins story.

What is the “Meet the Writer” series?

Because more men are published, reviewing, having their books reviewed, and flat-out in the spotlight, “Meet the Writer” was developed as a way for readers to connect with women (I’m trans inclusive) authors. Simply send e-mail me at grabthelapels AT gmail DOT com. If you have a website, please include a link in the e-mail.

Are you currently accepting books for review?

Submissions are currently closed.


  1. Hello, I’d love to be considered for your “Meet the Writer” series if you’re still accepting submissions. I write non-fiction how-to books about self-employment, specifically aimed at giving a supportive and non-jargon-filled experience for women over 40 who are considering going self-employed but don’t have the confidence to do so. Although you’ve met me at my book reviews blog, I have a separate one for my own books at http://www.lizbroomfieldbooks.com Thank you for reading and considering my request.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi. I ran across your blog via Google. Someone had mentioned my work to you in the comments of a review. I wanted you to know that, although my most recent novel is quite different, it’s true that I’ve written three novels centered around the lives of complicated, fully human, fat women. They don’t lose weight in the end — they are whole — in that messy human way — as they are. They were all published by small feminist presses, and so were not widely reviewed, but here’s a link to my website if you’d like to know more. Thrive. Susan Stinson http://www.susanstinson.net/fat_girl_dances_with_rocks_40071.htm

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I’m new to Grab the Lapels (great title), enjoying the interviews and reviews, and loving what you’re doing for women writers. I have a short story collection out, They Could Live With Themselves (Press 53) which was a finalist for the Press 53 award for short fiction and just took a Silver Medal at the IPPYS! I do all of my own publicity since Press 53 is small and I’m wanting to do a push this spring to celebrate TCLWT’s first birthday, on May 3rd. If you’re interested, I’d be honored to send you a copy today or to engage in an interview. Thanks! Here’s a link to my website and I can be reached at jodipaloni@gmail.com


    • Dear Jodi, submissions for reviews are closed, but I would be happy to do an interview with you. I will email you shortly. Thanks for visiting Grab the Lapels, and please keep following. Reviews are published on Mondays, so you can get something good in your inbox at the beginning of each week!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Hello, I know reviews are closed, but wondering if you are still interested in doing an interview? I am launching a memoir, This Is How We Leave with Vine Leaves Press in August and would love to be part of Grab the Lapels. Best, Joanne


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