Archive for the 'NonFiction' Category


Thoughts gbydd : How Newport Became America’s Richest Resort by Deborah Davis, John Wiley & Sons 2009, 309 pages

Bookblurb from goodreads:

A beautifully written history of high society in Newport, Rhode Island, from the acclaimed author of Party of the Century. Newport is the legendary and beautiful home of American aristocracy and the sheltered super-rich. Many of the country’s most famous blueblood families – the closest thing we have to royalty – have lived and summered in Newport since the nineteenth century. The Astors, the Vanderbilts, Edith Wharton, JFK and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Doris Duke, and Claus and Sunny von Bulow are just a few of the many names who have called the city home. Gilded takes you along as you explore the fascinating heritage of the Newport elite, from its first colonists to the newest of its new millennium millionaires, showing the evolution of a town intent on living in its own world. Through a narrative filled with engrossing characters and lively tales of untold extravagance, Davis brings the resort to life and uncovers the difference between rich and Newport rich along the way.

WHY I read this:  I was SO looking forward to walking to the Island Book Store in Newport because I like independent bookstores and I knew exactly which book I would buy once I got there: Newport by Jill Morrow (pub’d in July)  but AGHAST! They didn’t  have it! So, the wonderful staff suggested I read Gilded instead. Thinking that I hadn’t read any nonfiction in too long, I bought it.

The private beach for the richest of the set.

The private beach for the richest of the set.

What’s it ABOUT: The description above is right on. It mentions everyone who is everyone and also discusses the decades since the real hey-days when the mansions were being built and even shares about the ‘current’ Newportians (well, to pub date). I didn’t know much about the Tennis Club nor how the Jazz Festival got its start, so I learned alot! I have read a couple of books on the Vanderbilts but not much else outside of the sphere of the mansion-tour-brochures. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to visit any more mansions on this latest trip but I WILL! I will – next time. I love Newport.

Current goings-on…   You all know who Larry Ellison is, right? Oracle Computers? He bought the Beechwood Mansion and seems to be TOTALLY restoring the thing!  I was told that he is having to LIFT it and pour a new foundation.


And who among you has an Alex & Ani bracelet? I sadly did not even venture into their flagship store but supposedly they (the fam) is busy restoring Belcourt Castle (first built as a bachelor pad for a rich dude and his horses but then he married Alva Vanderbilt after her divorce blahblahblah…). I didn’t take any photos of this apparently – hard to do when walking two energetic dogs.

b0bbacf1-9a0f-4065-9362-5c2ec51f8e14 7a039b5f-f189-4dfb-ba1a-04b3b06fbc70 78058831-63f9-4f2d-b791-96805da54180

What’s GOOD: OK, I really am NOT much of a follower of the now rich and famous (probably because they are good at hiding and I don’t watch much TV so I miss a lot) but I really am glad that they (the oldies) built some amazing buildings and that Newport is sharing them with us. I can’t help it! I love beautiful amazing buildings.


The home of Doris Duke.

Sidenote: Just watched the movie Into the Storm with Brendan Gleeson as Winston Churchill and if you know anything about that guy, you know his mom was American. But it was a cousin of his that had to marry a Vanderbilt in order to get the money to restore (aka “save from ruin”) Blenheim PALACE! Crazy wild stuff – the aristocracy of Britain and THEIR amazing architectural treasures. I found it all so very freaking fascinating, I do.

What’s NOT so good: Not enough photos in the book! and it jumps around a bit, I got confused who was who and when more times than I can count, but still a fun read.

FINALLY: If you ask me if I could go back in history, I would love to be one of the best friends – thus in the same social class but not quite always in the papers – with this crowd in the late 1800s, through the turn of the century and and into the roaring 20s. Travel! Champagne! Excess to the excess! Parties parties parties!  ah… Would have LOVED to have seen it. In other words, don’t send me back to that time period to be a scullery maid.

RATING: Four slices of pie. (no pie was mentioned as far as I managed to note, anyway.)


Copyright © 2007-2015. Care’s Online Book Club. All rights reserved. This post was originally posted by Care from Care’s Online Book Club.  It should not be reproduced without express written permission.

Are You There, Vodka? It’s Me, Chelsea

Thoughts aytvimcbych Are You There, Vodka? It’s Me, Chelsea by Chelsea Handler, Gallery Books 2008, 264 pages

FIRST Sentence: I was nine years old and walking myself to school one morning when I heard the unfamiliar sound of a prepubescent boy calling my name.

TRUTH: Her first essay in this collection was my favorite, Blacklisted. About her amazing ability to embellish and think grandiose stories on a dime, Chelsea demonstrates her ability to talk and cajole and invent wild entertaining tales.

It went downhill after this.

I just got bored with her inane over-the-top depravity.

DEPRAVITY: quality of demonstrating an evil and immoral character.

So maybe, evil is a bit strong and misleading. I really wouldn’t call her evil – it’s just all sex and raunchy and well, . . . boring.

Maybe ‘debauched’ is a better word?

DEBAUCHED: to lead away from virtue* or excellence.

Yea, whatever.

I admit. I’ve only seen her show a few times. I thought she was funny. This book wasn’t that funny. Occasionally, a situation was chuckle-worthy but overall, if I chose to dwell on such concepts like ‘regret’, I could easily regret the time I spent with this book.

By the way, a few antonyms for DEBAUCHED are elevate, ennoble and uplift. I need to spend more time with these kinds of words.

Have a nice day!

Enjoy these flowers from my garden: FullSizeRender


* I am in the THICK (~86%) of the ‘speech’ that is looooong in Atlas Shrugged. Might have something to do with my mind-boggling contemplations of virtue and morality, at the moment.

Copyright © 2007-2015. Care’s Online Book Club. All rights reserved. This post was originally posted by Care from Care’s Online Book Club.  It should not be reproduced without express written permission.

Bad Feminist

Thoughts bfbyrg Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay, Harper 2014, 320 pages

I often feel like a bad feminist. I’m not doing it right. My example is piss poor. I often feel unworthy to declare my feminist label.

Which is why this book is fabulous. No one can be the ultimate perfect feminist!

I know many Christians who certainly aren’t perfect and yet have no doubts to claim being Christian. It really is almost the second line of the ‘faith profession’ if you think about it. “I have sinned; forgive me.” and wa la! GRACE. And not to say this excuses bad behavior, I know. This post isn’t to defend my Christianity (and I am one), the point is that I should NOT be embarrassed to stand up and say,

“Yes, I’m a feminist.”

And I usually do, but…

I REALLY enjoyed Gay’s collection of essays on her life and her thoughts, her complications and her contradictions. Her courage to say these things loudly and proudly.

This book made me think about a lot of things. Maybe ALL of the things. I didn’t always agree but I appreciate the new viewpoints on the issues. I learned a few words, I learned much more about Scrabble than I knew I needed to know, I was introduced to many cool sounding books* that have made it to my tbr, and thus,



* Kate Zembrano’s Green Girl or Heroines, anyone?

Copyright © 2007-2015. Care’s Online Book Club. All rights reserved. This post was originally posted by Care from Care’s Online Book Club.  It should not be reproduced without express written permission.

The Bookseller of Kabul

Thoughts tbokbyas The Bookseller of Kabul by Åsne Seierstad, Back Bay Books 2002, 288 pages, tB

“The most intimate description of an Afghan household ever produced by a Western journalist… Seierstad is a sharp and often lyrical observer.” -New York Time Book Review

MOTIVATION for reading: This month’s selection for my local library fiction club – – which is wonderful! (not sure if the library just gives to us or we choose. AND, I’m not sure I will be able to attend the meeting if I find a sub job.)

What’s in a Name Challenge 8 – CITY category

FIRST Sentence: “When Sultan Khan thought the time had come to find himself a new wife, no one wanted to help him.”

What’s it ABOUT: The author is a Norwegian journalist who met Mr. Khan at his book store the month after Sept 11, 2001. She struck up a friendship, found him ‘interesting’ and pitched the idea of living with his family to write this book. He had no objections. She writes about the family dynamic and the goals and dreams of the ones she has most conversations with – the ones who can speak English but she also puts together the mosaic of all the family members; each chapter is presented as a vignette with an event or a person.

WHAT’s GOOD: Ms Seierstad is a talented journalist – an observer and reporter able to convey the emotions involved AND appropriate distance in what appears to be the daily lives of her subjects, because as she explains in the Foreword, she is “regarded as some sort of bi-gendered creature”. She traveled and ate with the men as well as took part in female-only activities. She was “able to circulate freely between the groups”. THIS was the most fascinating piece overlaying the entire book. I kept wondering how she accomplished it and why they accepted the arrangement.

What’s NOT so good: I have no complaints with the story-telling. Truly, the world these women inhabit is heart-breaking, unless they are lucky? Even the ‘lucky’ ones have zero to little freedom.

Sultan Khan is a business man and he manages to do well despite the politics of who is in power. He has sons. He has two wives. He is in control. We meet his sons – his oldest speaks English but his youngest is made to work in the shops and is NOT sent to school. We do manage to see slices of life that occupy people of any culture – cooking and feasting, weddings and babies, carving a living in an uncertain economy, hopes and dreams. We meet a variety of personalities; we wonder. I wonder. I wonder if people just suck. Why can’t we all just get along?

FINAL THOUGHTS: I felt for Leila. She is/was the capable and bright youngest sister of Sultan who waited hand and foot  on the men of the family. Her mother was elderly and her other sister was just … well, we might assume she was of limited capacity, intellectually and physically. Leila was educated and knew English. She had dreams to be a teacher, to have something of her own, an outlet of expression and worth, an opportunity to have some kind of independence.

It is hard to imagine that in the 80s, Afghanistan women lived lives of ambition and movement and fashion. To look at photos then and now, is astonishing. And even as the Taliban was pushed out of power just before the time Seierstad wrote this book (~2002) and thus women were no longer restricted to live their public lives hidden under a burka, they don’t quite feel comfortable without it, for reasons understandable and better explained by this review at Rhapsody in Books. And I really have no idea what might have happened since then and even if it is possible to figure it out. My American privilege and ignorance is showing.

RATING: Four slices of pie-in-the-sky*.

Fascinating, heart-breaking, devastating.




* pie-in-the-sky was the only pie reference I ran across in this text.


Copyright © 2007-2015. Care’s Online Book Club. All rights reserved. This post was originally posted by Care from Care’s Online Book Club.  It should not be reproduced without express written permission.

Let’s Pretend This Never Happened

Thoughts lptnhbyjl Let’s Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson – The Bloggess, Amy Einhorn Books/Putman/Penguin 2012, 319 pages

This won’t be a review as such.

I began reading this the day my book club was to discuss it. I finished it the next day – it certainly reads fast! I might have skipped a few chapters and I did read the end before the middle; I kept thinking “Oh, I don’t need to read ALL of it.” But I would often find myself with the book in my hands reading or skimming yet another chapter. So, I feel I read enough of it to count.

It’s funny. It is everything the book jacket says it will be. Over the top, OMG, “no way!!!”,  LOL, etc.

I have only a few things to point out from the reading. Early in the book, she mentions how tough her sister is and there is a reference to squatting and popping out a child while working in the fields. RIGHT OUT OF The Good Earth! Right? Yep. So that is a Copley Connection that thrilled me because our book club had recently read The Good Earth! I have no idea if anyone else noticed this, too, because I was unable to attend the meeting.

And my new book club almost chose to read The Good Earth – but that is too hard of a story to explain. Let’s just say, the title seems to be popping up for me lately.


And then there is the reference to the Blue Pie Piece from Trivial Pursuit. So with my ever odd idea to track pie references in my reading, I rate this book FOUR

fourpie  slices of blue pie.

The end.



Copyright © 2007-2015. Care’s Online Book Club. All rights reserved. This post was originally posted by Care from Care’s Online Book Club.  It should not be reproduced without express written permission.

Science Tales

Thoughts stbydc Science Tales: Lies Hoaxes and Scams by Darryl Cunningham, Myriad Editions 2012, 174 pages

a COMIC book? I wouldn’t call it a Graphic Novel because it is not a novel. I’m so out of it on the comic/graphics genre take on books!

And, unfortunately, this book really can’t be praised for helping me figure out if I like this genre or not.

I’m going to say no.

I really have to admit that half way through I realized I was only reading the words and not appraising or appreciating (or even noticing) the illustrations.

Minus:  On a content note, I don’t feel that Cunningham really shared much of the science he was endorsing or refuting on his chapters of  Electroconvulsive Therapy, Homeopathy, Vaccinations, the Moon Hoax, Climate Change, Evolution, Chiropractic Medicine, and Science Denial.

Positive:  I don’t fault the book for attempting to inspire constructive thinking and consideration of the facts. It certainly encourages more research and shares what those sources might be.

So kudos for that.  It’s a quick read, too.

Do please read Debi’s review!

Rating: Two and 1/2 slices of pie. So round up to three.




Copyright © 2007-2015. Care’s Online Book Club. All rights reserved. This post was originally posted by Care from Care’s Online Book Club.  It should not be reproduced without express written permission.

The Importance of Being Oscar

Thoughts IMG_1099 The Importance of Being Oscar: The Life and Wit of Oscar Wilde by Mark Nicholls,  St. Martin’s Press 1980, 238 pages

The Wit and Wisdom of Oscar Wilde Set Against His Life and Times

I suppose I might want to apologize about the snark and harsh tone this review could likely take.

What’s it ABOUT: Apparently the author’s name isn’t really “Mark Nicholls” so I really can’t figure out who he is or what he does other than fawn over how awesome Mr. Wilde is.

I am not trying to imply that Oscar Wilde is not awesome and he certainly said many witty things.

But this book is tedious. Repetitious. And lickspittly.

“Wilde averred.” I lost count how many times Mr. Wilde, His Excellency, averred something extremely witty in response to some boorish comment.

aver  verb \ə-ˈvər\

: to say (something) in a very strong and definite way


I had to look it up. Perhaps I am just not smart enough for this book. I looked up a TON of words and because I am now reading Jenny Lawson’s book Let’s Pretend This Didn’t Happen, I am wanting to toss in other choice inappropriate words. or WORD. Ahem.

I suppose you want an example. Great. Now I’m going to have to fetch it from the recycle bin and open it again. [OMG – I now cannot find any of the dreaded avers! Sigh.]

Wilde’s perception of life was remarkable. Listen: “A kiss may ruin a human life . . .” In that single truism is the essence of a million past and present life-dramas, and who but Wilde could have considered its inclusion in a play…?

His sheer audacity was the highlight of his writing: __

Hear the Master again on the wiles of women: __

On the social front, too, he led the field: __

(these are the first sentences of four paragraphs NOT taken at random but one after the other. Pages 88-89)

RATING: Two slices of pie

Book COUNT: Tenth of 2015

Perhaps LICKSPITTLE, defined as “a slimy grovelling and devious person” is too harsh. It was just that the writing style is so very irksome.

Would anyone like me to send along?  JennyTrisha? (on page 2, there is a reference that Oscar’s mother was ‘eclectic and eccentric’!!!)  Anyone else?


How about a photo of my lovely Oscar?



Copyright © 2007-2015. Care’s Online Book Club. All rights reserved. This post was originally posted by Care from Care’s Online Book Club.  It should not be reproduced without express written permission.

Color: A Natural History of the Palette

Thoughts cbyvf Color by Victoria Finlay, Random House Trade 2004 (orig 2002), 448 pages

Satisfies the COLOR category of the What’s in a Name 8 Challenge.

“Up until then I had always believed that the world was getting better and better and more and more clever. But that day my tender theory about the Evolution of History fell on its head, and it has – for better or for worse – never been quite right ever since.”  p. 1

Wow – what a wild ride! This book is nuts.

I learned a lot and I marveled at what the author went through to gather stories to fit into this book. She wanted to find India Indigo so she went there. She wanted to find Tyrian Purple, so she went to Lebanon. She just had to see the blue Lapis Lazuli mines of Afghanistan, so off she went. Think about that last one…

She is fearless!

My only complaint might be that she really is all over the place at times and I wondered why she would mention that. (off on a tangent much?)  I had to go look up SO MANY THINGS. It is hard – she mentions this, too – it is very hard to describe colors with words.

This is a 4 slice of pie book. fourpie If you like travel books and author-involved nonfiction adventures, I recommend. If you are an artist and are curious about how artists got their colors, you must read this book.

I still have my receipt from purchasing this in 2010. Why? What prompted this book then? I have no records except the date. HOWEVER, in looking for other reviews out there in blogland, I found that Eva of A Striped Armchair was extremely enthusiastic about this book, so that is a clue. And since I seem to be on a linky-love binge, I should include Fyrefly’s discussion of another Finlay book that am now wanting to read next/soon/someday.

Colors are fascinating; this book makes me crave the colors of the entire world and makes me wonder what others really are looking at – do we see the same thing? Is the blue I see the blue you see? What color of purple do you think Cleopatra dyed her sails? And how exactly did she do it? So many mysteries.

Tyndall’s explanation of why the sky is blue is one of the best ever. Page 305.


Lots of Copley Connections for me, too.  Of course, she mentions Simon Garfield’s Mauve which I read in 2009. Or the mention of the English town of Newcastle-upon-Tyne being known for its beer exports. (I read all about that in Hops & Glory.) And then on page 384, Finlay describes a cave with a ‘millenia of snail trails’; surely those of you who read All the Light We Cannot See, recognize Marie-Laure and her hiding place?

Do you have any nonfiction books about colors to recommend? Just one more of my favorite things to learn more about, I guess. AND, I will send this book to anyone who comments and says they want it. If more than one person wants it, I will select somebody at random. Must comment before Valentines Day.





* Copley Connections are the random connections and coincidences that link books that I have read.


Copyright © 2007-2015. Care’s Online Book Club. All rights reserved. This post was originally posted by Care from Care’s Online Book Club.  It should not be reproduced without express written permission.

Five Days at Memorial

Thoughts fdambysf Five Days at Memorial by Sheri Fink, Random House Audio 2013, 17 hours 33 minutes

Life and Death in a Storm-Ravaged Hospital

This was selected for January by my Massachusetts Book Club. I was quite excited to read this (even though I will be missing the book club meeting due to my moving south. #sad)

This book is really amazing in depicting the horrors of practicing medicine during Hurricane Katrina. The conditions were awful. No one was prepared. I wanted to cry in the first few chapters. Ok, I admit it, I did cry.

READ THIS if you are curious about what happened at Memorial Hospital and how bad it really was.

READ THIS if you are concerned about Emergency Preparedness.

READ THIS if you enjoy (?) …  fascinated with Medical Quandaries.

Perhaps you saw that I rated this three stars in goodreads; you might be curious what I didn’t like. Relax, I still liked it. Do not think that my three slices of pie means that it was only OK. That would be a two star rating. A three star rating is one where I mostly enjoyed it, was impressed with it overall but just found it didn’t quite knock the socks off.

First, I must state that I wish I hadn’t listened to this. The audiobook format was not the best medium for this book, FOR ME. I usually listen while driving so it is inconvenient and unsafe for me to fiddle with my phone to replay if my attention lapses or I wonder about something; it’s highly unlikely I will replay to find some answer to a question when I get confused. And once confused, I miss the stuff that is playing during the time I was contemplating the stuff I just listened to in the moment just passed.



Second, I’ve mentioned before that when I start getting that tickle of nagging to wonder what everybody else is saying about a book usually when I’m in the middle of the book and I actually poke around Goodreads and read the reviews LOOKING for the one- and two-star reviews,  you know I’m having doubts.

SO. Here’s the review of the book that I would wish to write if it wasn’t already eloquently and succinctly written:  One Minute Book Reviews.

You can find LOTS of five star and four star reviews here by clicking on this line. Or read Kim the Sophisticated Dork’s 4.5 star review here. Or you can check out Ti’s review which mentions great book club discussion points. Finally, this was my favorite review: Teresa’s at ShelfLove. HIGHLY recommended.

I invite you to read through the one and two star reviews on Goodreads; I found ’em very interesting. We can’t all agree. We all have different perspectives and take-aways.

I respect everyone’s opinion.

Please, and as much as this has been seen lately, it works:


What really sucked (not the book — the situation) is that the horrors continue – legal, reputation, stress, health problems, grief – for many MANY people long beyond those five days.

Final thoughts – I found the book sort of confusing and disjointed and varying in tone. I don’t think Fink was unbiased even as she fails to share what she really thought about some issues.  Kudos for the atrocities described and the multitude of perspectives shared and the evident thoroughness involved in the research = amazing.  I was enthralled for the first third and so ready for the book to be done by the last third.

Three slices of pie.

Nurses ROCK.


Copyright © 2007-2015. Care’s Online Book Club. All rights reserved. This post was originally posted by Care from Care’s Online Book Club.  It should not be reproduced without express written permission.

A More Diverse Universe 2014



Click the button above to sign up.

Do it. Read a book by an author of color. Celebrate diversity!

I want to read amlwbycw about the 1957 Integration of Little Rock Central High School.

and something fiction, preferably fantasy. Taking recommendations. Goodreads offers a Speculative Fiction list for choices, too.


Copyright © 2007-2014. Care’s Online Book Club. All rights reserved. This post was originally posted by Care from Care’s Online Book Club.  It should not be reproduced without express written permission.

I prefer pi.


Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 1,722 other followers

Twitter Updates

Yay! I am finally ready for October. #Diversiverse @ScupBooks #indiebookstore


October 2015
« Sep    

Copyright Notice

Creative Commons License
Care's Online Book Club text & images by Care is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,722 other followers