Tag Archives: House of Prayer No 2

A patriotic, coincidental brag

No matter what my politics or my conflicted feelings about the media storm around Osama bin Laden’s death, I always celebrate and support the people who sacrifice any number of things – time, security, health and their lives – in the name of this country. I think a good way to help me brag on these folks, regardless of how you feel about the wars we’re involved in, is to check out these links for sending books to troops.

I love the idea of not only entertaining soldiers who can’t be home or safe, but maybe even changing their lives with a powerful book. A former soldier recently told me that they all got hooked on the Sex in the City tv series while he was stationed overseas and I loved how that attacked my own foolish expectations of what soldiers would find interesting.

This idea of enriching the lives of soldiers with the written word has been in my mind a lot lately. I keep remembering a picture that Jeanne Leiby showed me of two soldiers (in Afghanistan, I believe) reading copies of The Southern Review. They had their guns at the ready, leaning against their chairs, and copies of a literary magazine in their hands. And hopefully, in their minds and hearts afterwards. I wish I could find this picture to share with y’all. In inspires me.

And, of course, I have been thinking of Jeanne a lot lately. Partly because of her death a few weeks ago in a car accident. Maybe because, at the time she died, I was driving 11-12 hours a day for work and was actually on the same road as her, a few miles away. Possibly because I was in a car accident myself recently (I’m fine, though my car is not). But it’s not so much these uncomfortable vehicular coincidences I think of when I think of Jeanne. I think of that picture of the soldiers she showed me, things she said and things she loved.

Which brings me to my closing brag. I might never have reviewed Mark Richard’s House of Prayer No. 2 if it weren’t for Jeanne. She was so glad to publish a chapter from his memoir in The Southern Review, she talked him up so passionately, that I requested a review copy, read the book, loved it and came up with this nontraditional review of it for 225 Magazine. So, without my even fully realizing it, the tangential brags in this post are tied together by Jeanne, by her passion and enthusiasm. I’m glad for that coincidence.


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Reading in Q1

Lately, reading has felt like my full-time job, so I’m going to make a quarterly report of the books I’ve read. I was so ashamed of the low number of books I read last year (59, my lowest in a decade) that I vowed to step it up this year. So far, I have.

Keep in mind that these are not ALL the books I’ve read, but most of them. As I continue to do this, I may sometimes leave off books I’ve reviewed for 225 or elsewhere, unless those reviews have already printed. Them’s the rules of this new game, but I think it will be fun.


The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest, Steig Larsson – I feel satisfied to have concluded the series. I’m glad I read them, but I probably won’t feel the need to re-read. We’ll see. Only time will tell.


Dirty Little Angels, Chris Tusa – Read the 225 review here.

The Wavewalkers: Pirate Wars, Kai Meyer – This book was also the conclusion of a series, the second I’ve read by this German writer. They’re a lot of fun, full of remixed world mythology and fables, which I love and I was really happy with how this series ended.

12 Reasons Why I Love Her, Jamie S. Rich + Joelle Jones – This is a graphic novel that Maurice recommended and loaned me. I felt like it could’ve been meatier story wise, but there were a few glorious moments and I continue to be interested in how image and text work together.


House of Prayer No. 2, Mark Richard – Read the 225 review here.

Only the Good Spy Young and Heist Society, Ally Carter – I’ve loved Ally Carter’s girl spy series for a while, so it was really good to catch up and read the latest book. But I am OBSESSED with her new series that begins with Heist Society. I want another Heist Society book like NOW. It was soo clever and fun. If you’re reading this Ally Carter, feel free to send me an ARC of the next book anytime.

The Red Garden, Alice Hoffman – For some reason, I keep thinking I’ve grown out of my Alice Hoffman phase. But, it’s habit to pick up her latest book each time and she never disappoints me. I don’t know why I keep thinking that. I was disappointed in Hoffman’s Twitter fracas last year, since she’s been one of my absolute top favorite writers for years, but her books continue to be lovely and chilling and inspiring. Every time.

Across the Universe, Beth Revis – The morning after I finished this book, I woke up from a dream about it and reached for the book to continue reading, only to remember I’d finished reading it a few hours before. I was so disappointed not have more of the book to read for the first time. I really loved the new world created here. It was absolutely tragic and interesting and cool.

Whip It, Shauna Cross – I really loved Drew Barrymore’s directorial debut Whip It, with Ellen Page, so I’ve been wanting to read the book that inspired it, formerly titled Derby Girl. I can totally see why Drew was inspired to make a movie because the character of Bliss just SCREAMS out from these pages, so funny and funky. It was a fun book and inspired a really good movie version.

Like Pickle Juice on a  Cookie, Julie Sternberg – Read the 225 review here.

Peter and the Sword of Mercy, Dave Barry + Ridley Pearson – I love this series a lot. It started off as an origin series about how Peter became the Peter Pan we know and love. They finished the series and I love that they listened to their readers and wrote this book for us, continuing the story. The last line made me cry big time. So perfect.

Dinner with Tennessee Williams, Troy Gilbert, Chef Greg Picolo and Dr. W. Kenneth Holditch – Read the 225 review here.

Shiver, Maggie Stiefvater – Another book that I got absolutely obsessed with. I ordered the sequel online before I’d finished it because I was consuming this book at such a rapid pace and the Borders by my house was closing and no longer had a copy. I’m not as engrossed by the sequel so far, but I love how innovative this first book is.

How the Hangman Lost His Heart, K.M. Grant – This is one of the weirdest books I’ve ever read. That should tell you something. I loved, loved, loved K.M. Grant’s de Granville trilogy so passionately that I immediately bought an entire set for my sister, who is the mother of a toddler, and bugged her till she read them. So I’ve been searching for this stand-alone book ever since I heard about it. My library finally got a copy and it was not what I was expecting. Well, honestly, I don’t know that I could’ve expected this book. Who could? It’s a really surprising and clever adventure story about a stubborn girl who convinces people to risk their lives and their families to help her. And what mission are they helping her fulfill? She’s determined to rescue her uncle’s severed head from where it has been displayed after he was executed for treason. The story is based on K.M. Grant’s ancestor, who was the last man in England hanged, drawn and quartered. Did I mention it’s a book for young readers? I really love the renaissance literature for young people is undergoing.

I know I used the word “love” a lot in this post. I’ve decided you’ll forgive me because there are some really awesome books in my quarterly reading report. Check them out!


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