Sunday, August 31, 2008

Among our own kind..

Now, I understand that there are people that don't read books. They actually don't really like books. They don't see why some of us buy so many, and want to write about them and discuss them in various forums. They think we may have a bit of a 'problem'.

Oh TBR pile almost fell over and crushed my imaginary's OK, Kitty.
Now, where was I? Oh, yes, they think we may have a problem! How silly! Yes, you know who you

But, take heart, there are others like us. It struck home when I was reading something from the Book Maven over at Publishers Weekly, talking about the book festivals that will start to pop up now, as autumn arrives.

"I finally identified the feeling at Book Expo one year, roaming around the convention center in Los Angeles. These are my kind, I thought, as I watched the hoards loaded down with bags of advance copies. I don't need to explain to them the excitement of an eagerly awaited title, the pleasure of a perfectly designed book or the mixed feelings of a favorite made into a mediocre movie. There is enormous relief in being among fellow believers."

So true, so true..

Saturday, August 30, 2008

tagged for Inside the Reader's Studio meme

Oh my...look at this...Kathleen at
Kathleen's Book Reviews has "tagged" me. So, I must answer these questions and then find SOMEONE not already tagged to tag, so they can then tag more who will tag even more....

Hey, if everyone really did this, in time, everyone in the world would be tagged! cool....

So, the questions. And the answers.
Some are even true.

What is your favorite word? Lovely, it is a grand word. Which is my second favorite word. There is a story behind that lovely choice. And maybe someday I will share it. I need to be begged perhaps.

What is your least favorite word? No. It is just so...negative

What turns you on (creatively, spiritually or emotionally)? Cold, rainy day. Cold, rainy, windy days. They just make me feel so alive. Really.

What turns you off (creatively, spiritually or emotionally)? The Heat. It melts my brain. Makes me want to so somewhere cool and take a nap until the sun goes down. Perhaps I am related to a vampire.

What sound or noise do you love? The ocean. Nothing is as soothing. Or a single musical instrument playing something baroque.

What sound or noise do you hate? Thunder. Have you ever seen a dog that hates thunder and tries to hide under a table..that's me.

What’s your favorite curse word? a**hole. Love it, but only say it when I am in my car alone, driving. Hey, they are...all the other drivers!

What profession other than your own would you like to attempt? I want to be the person that delivers sailboats to their new owners, all over the world. I am only deterred by my lack of knowledge of how to sail a boat.

What profession would you not like to do? Any of the occupations on the TV show Dirty Jobs.

If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates? "Well, we are a little empty at the moment, and it's against My better Judgement, but We will let you in anyhoo". I would really like it if God uses the word anyhoo. And lovely.

Tagged Kath at kath's place, Traci's Book Bag and... Ali at worducopia. If you were tagged before..I think not but...well, if you have it will be way easier. ;-)
That was tiring. And the sun is out. I need a nap.

Friday, August 29, 2008

..a review of "The Grift"

The Grift: A Novel by Debra Ginsberg

Is it a Grift..or is it a Gift?

As a child, Marina was taken by her junkie mother to see a boardwalk psychic, who pronounced that the girl had 'the gift', that she was a true psychic. But Marina never bought into it for a minute. For her, the ability was something she actively developed, an intense ability at observation that enables her to see things about her clients that they seem unaware of themselves or need someone to parrot back to them. They hear things that reinforce what they want to hear and therefore are happy campers. And very good repeat customers for Marina, her bread and butter, “rich, dissatisfied and looking for meaning anywhere but inside themselves.”

But after a move from Florida to California, a move that made her do something she is ashamed of and that will come back to haunt her, things start to go amiss. A number of interesting characters come into her life, including one who seems to trigger the reappearance of her Gift.
Which brings all sorts of unforeseen issues...because it seems no one really wants to know the truth, about themselves or their future.

Now, to be honest, I am no believer in psychic ability, and if you aren't, don't let that keep you from reading this book. There is plenty of room in this story for you to make up your own mind about what is going on in terms of her abilities. The story is very well written, very readable, intriguing and suspenseful. There is a murder..and there is a love story.
But the real strength of the story is maybe in the characters. Marina, while she may have chosen a questionable occupation, is an intelligent and likable personage. Some of her clients make up a large part of the remaining cast of the story. There is Cooper, the handsome gay man, hopelessly in love with a closeted psychiatrist, Madeline, a young gold digger, desperate to have a child to hold on to her rich, older, and very angry husband, and Eddie, a philandering husband with just a bit of an obsession with Marina. And they will all play their part in how Marina's future will play out.

So, a strong recommendation on my part for “The Grift”, an entertaining, good read, the second novel of Debra Ginsburg.

I'm off to search out her first, “Blind Submission”, “the high-anxiety misadventures of Angel Montgomery, a book lover who becomes a badgered assistant to an extravagantly cruel, histrionic, and elaborately attired literary agent” to quote the Booklist write up on it.
Ohhhh, that sounds interesting!!

just because it is so, so cute.....

a penguin bento box

from Cooking Cute

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Book Blogger Appreciation Week Sept. 15-19

I am new to this blogging thing, but learning about it and trying to find a little niche for myself here has been fun so far. There are many great book blogs out there, all with their own look and spin and I am still checking a lot of them out myself. Well, it seems we hard working, attention starved bloggers are in need of some appreciation! I totally agree! lol
So head over to My Friend Amy's Blog and read all about the upcoming Book Blogger Appreciation Week, for bloggers and readers of bloggers and those who might like to win stuff! There will be daily giveaways. There will be awards. woo hoo!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

a review of "The Gargoyle"

The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson

Once again, it seems that I am destined to swim against the tide to some degree with my latest review. Am I destined to dislike every book loved by all others? Oh, the burden of it

It has been several weeks since I finished “The Gargoyle” but I needed to give my opinion a bit of time to form completely. And I will admit that I looked about and read some of the other numerous reviews out there. There were things I agreed with, but more that I disagreed with. Because while it seems the majority of the reviews have been very positive, I had my reservations.

At first, I was rather caught up in the story. And it is a grand story in many ways. Some have said that they found our Narrator, whose name we never learn, an unlikable character. And on the surface there seems reason for that. He is a man who describes himself as having only one talent, that of a porn actor. Although he is quite successful as a drinker and a cocaine addict as well, with a burgeoning career as a producer of porn films also. Not your typical hero. But in fact I found him quite likable, with a very realistic understanding of himself and a great, if cynical, sense of humor. Our narrator undergoes a terrible fate at the beginning of the book. In a cocaine induced hallucination, he crashes his car and is terribly burned. In fact, the one asset that has been integral to his career is burned off. Again, some had an issue with the description of his burn treatments, while I found it all rather fascinating.

He awakens to find himself in the burn ward of the hospital, with everything he had gone. His beauty, his money, his friends are gone, and he is left only with unbearable pain and a future as frightening as others find his countenance. To a degree, it is understandable that he spends his days planning the perfect suicide.
Until one day, a strange woman arrives to visit him. A psychiatric patient, a successful sculptor of gargoyles and, according to her account, his lover since they first met in 14th century Germany. He does not believe her story, but since he has no one else willing to care for him upon his release, he goes with her to her house, where she works in the basement, frantically carving her creations. Between her multi days long carving sessions, she tells him stories, of what she says is the history of their love through the centuries and the stories of four other groups of lovers, in 14th-century Italy, Victorian England, medieval Japan and Viking Scandinavia. Her stories attempt to have us suspend our disbelieve, to accept the possibility in the possibility that she is not just mad, but that in fact, they have been in love for centuries.

Now, I think that the four stories are quite good in and of themselves. His writing, his descriptions, at times, can be compelling, the 'journey' through the Dante's Inferno inspired Hell, fascinating, and the story of the lovers that she claims they once were, very interesting. I am willing to suspend my disbelief about the whole issue of those missing is the love that he supposedly rediscovers with Marianne in the present that I never quite buy. The evidence is just not there for me.
And I can't help but feel that the entire middle portion of the book could have benefited from the judicial use of an editors red pen. After the compelling description of his injuries and rehab, which are, yes, a wee bit gruesome, the rather vague musing of much of the middle of the book seems rather tedious as I waited for something, anything to happen.

I read somewhere that the book sold for $1.25 million in the United States alone. That is a great deal of money for what I though was ultimately a fairly entertaining, rather interesting story but ultimately a somehow lacking and overdone book.
No doubt, Andrew David­son is a very talented writer and I have hopes that with his next book he, and his editor, will reign that talent a bit more under control.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Lucy the Elephant...Lucy the Elephant...Down by the Sea

Once upon a, this is not a fairy tale, stick with me here for a minute folks....once upon a time, the acres and acres and miles and miles of land along the New Jersey shore were pretty empty. Hard to believe if you have ever sat in traffic on a Saturday morning on the Garden State Parkway, trying to head south to the beach, but true nevertheless. In the late 1800's, a man named James Lafferty was the owner of many of those empty acres in what was then called South Atlantic City, the present day city of Margate, a few miles south of the then growing seaside playground of Atlantic City. In an attempt to draw potential buyers to the scrub pine and dune grass covered land, he had the idea to built an attraction. A BIG attraction...a great wooden Elephant.

He thought it was such a grand idea that he patented it on December 5, 1882. “My invention consists of a building in the form of an animal, the body of which is floored and divided into rooms...the legs contain the stairs which lead to the body...”. And so was born the wonderful structure that now bears the name Lucy the Elephant.

Lucy stand in a feeding position, her trunk down and in a barrel...filled with peanuts perhaps. She is 65 feet tall, her ears 17 feet long and 10 feet wide with tusks that are 22 feet long. But as impressive as she is, Lucy is not the only Giant Elephant that once resided at the shore. Mr. Lafferty also constructed a smaller relative, the 40 ft. tall Light of Asia, down at the tip of NJ, in Cape May, and what must have been the most incredible Elephantine Colossus, which measured 122 feet tall, in Coney Island, NY. Sadly, neither had Lucy's good luck at survival. Within 13 years Asia was in such bad shape that she she was torn down and 'cremated' and the Giant Colossus burned to the ground in 1896, just 12 years after her construction. It seems fire is very bad for an elephant, especially if you are made of wood.
But Lucy survives, and as I can attest, is looking very, very good these days, for all her 127 years. She had some grand years early on, attracting famous visitors. In the year of 1916 alone, President and Mrs. Wilson, John J. Astor, the Duponts of Delaware, Henry Ford and the Rajah of Bhong were just a few to sign her guest book. Lucy was run as a tourist attraction through the years, along with a nearby hotel, bathhouse, and beer garden, until 1970, when the family that owner her since 1887, the Gertzens, moved to Florida and donated her to the city of Margate.

Unfortunately, by that point, many, many years of neglect had take their toll on our once elegant elephant friend and she was in a very sad state of repairs. When the land she was on was sold to build to a developer to build condos, she was slated to be torn down. If it was not for a group of residents that raised the money to move her...and that was quite the sight as I remember... to a city owned lot and started her repairs, she would have been lost. But raise the money they have, 1.5 million dollars to this date, to repair and maintain her. The salt air is terrible on an elephants skin you know, especially if your skin is over 12,000 sq. feet of metal, and she requires a new paint job about every two years to keep her beautiful...and rust free.
Oddly, you will see if you visit her and climb up the winding staircases in her rear legs to enter her main room, they painted her interior walls a nice rosy pink. It is because, as our guide pointed out, “That would be the color of the inside of a real elephant”.

In 1976, the U.S. Dept. of the Interior recognized Lucy as a National Historic Landmark, recognizing her historic significance, and hopefully she will remain, as she has for over a century and a quarter now, with her feet in the sandy beach, her eyes staring out to sea, for many years to come.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

a review of "When We Were Romans"

When We Were Romans: A Novel by Matthew Kneale

Nine year old Lawrence, his younger sister Jemima and his mother Hannah are about to go on a trip. They are going to leave their cottage in England, drive through the Channel tunnel, across France and the Alps to their destination of Rome. Hannah once lived in Rome as a young woman, before she was a mother, before she even married their father, her now ex-husband. But she still has many friends there, who have offered her and the children a place to stay and help finding a flat and a job. The children will learn Italian and see the sites of Rome.
Yes, it sounds like an exciting adventure.

But there is more going on here than just a get away, a change of scene. Because Hannah believes that her ex-husband is stalking her and the children, poisoning the minds of their neighbors and about to do them harm. So they must flee, Hannah tells young Laurence, where his father will not find them.

However, there are more problems, even before they reach Rome. It seems that young Lawrence is aware that he must be careful around his mother, watching her moods, trying to keep her from getting 'sad'. Because at times, she becomes very, very sad, as in not get out of bed, or speaking or even being aware of what is going on around her for days at a time. Yes, his mom has serious issues that we begin to see through Laurence's eyes and things are getting worse and there is a distinct feeling of trepidation as the story progresses and the feeling that things are heading toward an even more terrible conclusion.

The author, Matthew Kneale, tells the story through Lawrence, using the speaking patterns and thoughts, grammar and spelling of a 9 year old. And to a large degree, he succeeds. Well, except with the spelling perhaps. I understand what he is trying to do, and when it comes to Lawrence dealing with the unfamiliar Italian places and such, his attempts to spell them as they sound to him make sense but the rest of the misspellings are inconsistent and often become just annoying. An interesting idea just taken too far.

And then there is a problem, I think, with the character of Lawrence himself. He is described on the dust jacket as “endearingly innocent and preternaturally wise” but I would suggest he is neither. A child that grows up in a household where the parent is dealing with alcoholism, or drug use or mental illness learns at a very early age techniques to 'deal' with it. How to cover for the parent, what to say to outsiders, how to behave so as to not 'provoke' a reaction. And at times, Lawrence is aware of that and acts accordingly. Like when, on the trip to Rome, their mother becomes very 'sad' and does not get up from bed at the hotel they are staying at for a couple of days. He takes care of his sister, dressing her and getting her breakfast and keeping her amused while also trying to get his mother to focus on the idea that they must move on. His reaction seems real, “ was funny, I was sad like I wanted to cry and I was really cross, it was like I didn't know which to be”. He loves his mom, but he also realized something is wrong and something 'bad' is always possible, if he is not alert and ready to say or do something.
But then, at times, he acts so contrary. He knows there are money issues but he demands expensive presents from his mother as 'rewards' for acting good and seems to delight in causing the younger sister to misbehave even more than usual.
True, he is only a child, but I see little preternaturally wisdom in his behavior.

So, a bit of a mixed opinion. An interesting book that is worth reading, but not totally successful in it's execution

As an aside, I totally loved the cover of my edition, the one pictured above. Like many people, I remove the dust jacket when I read a book. With this one, I did so to find not just a plain cloth cover, but a lovely, delicate illustration of Rome....very nice.

A contest!! No, not mine.

Hey, if you are interested in political suspense, then you might also like to mosy over to Traci's Book Bag blog to read her review of "First Daughter" and to leave a comment to be entered in her contest to win one of 2 copies that she is giving away!

Visit Traci's Blog here

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Hello. My name is Caite and....

Totally stolen borrowed from
Traci's Book Bag because it is just so, so true.

A Book Addict's 12 Step Program

Step 1 - We admitted we were powerless over our library - that our shelves had become unmanageable.

Step 2 - Came to believe that LibraryThing could restore us to sanity.

Step 3 - Made a decision to turn our books over to the care of LibraryThing.

Step 4 - Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of our books.

Step 5 - Admitted to LT, to ourselves and to other bibliophiles the exact nature of our addiction to all things bookish.

Step 6 - Were entirely ready to remove all these books...some of these books...none of the books, but we'll try ever so hard not to buy too many more.

Step 7 - Humbly asked Hubby / Home Depot guy to build more shelves.

Step 8 - Made a list of all persons we had ignored while reading, and became willing to make amends to them all.

Step 9 - Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would mean we had to stop reading.

Step 10 - Continued to take personal inventory of our stacks and when we were overflowing, promptly removed our couches / beds / refrigerators to make room for more bookcases.

Step 11 - Sought through email and blogging to improve our contact with publishers who would send us more free books.

Step 12 - Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to other addicts, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

a review of "White Nights"

White Nights: A Thriller (Shetland Island Quartet) by Ann Cleeves

“White Nights” is the second in what the author calls her “Shetland Island Quartet” and that is a grand thing. Grand, because now I know I can go back and read the first in the series, Raven Black, and still have two more books to look forward to in the future. Excellent!
And while I understand that some of the same characters that were in the first reappear in the book, it is certainly not necessary to have read the first to totally enjoy this one.
It is lovely to discover a 'new' author whose books you have not read and have a nice little bunch of books now to look forward to reading and enjoying as much as I enjoyed this book.

The story opens with a cruise ship arriving in the Shetland town of Lerwick.
“The sun was bouncing off the still water and the great white hull was so bright that you had to squint to look at it. In the car park, a fleet of buses waited: the tourists would be taken to the archaeological sites in the south, to see the seabird cliffs to photograph the puffins, and for a guided tour of the silverworks. At some point there would be a stop for a Shetland high tea.”
Now I don't know about you, but any books that has puffins in the first page...well, that portents great things ahead for me.

Police Detective Inspector Jimmy Perez and his friend, Fran Hunter, are about to go to an art showing at a local gallery in the town of Biddista. For Perez, he hopes this will be the chance to find out if their relationship will move beyond friendship in the future, for Fran, it is the first gallery showing of her art. But things are not to go smoothly. Few people show up for the show, a bizarre stranger causes a scene, and the next morning, the same man is found dead, hanging in a storage building on the beach. Although there was an attempt to make it look otherwise, the death was certainly murder and all the people connected with the small seaside community are suspect in the investigation, carried on by Perez and later, the Inverness police team brought in, headed by Inspector Roy Taylor.

The atmosphere of the book is engaging. Summer in the islands, because of the latitude, has only a few hours of dusty night each day and the constant light is said to have a crazy effect on people. Combine that with the constant presence of the sea, the treeless windswept hills, dotted with sheep, the fog off shore, always threatening to roll in once again, and the Shetlands themselves are almost like another character in the story.

Not to say that the characters themselves are not very good, because they are. Yes, it is a small community where many people are related and, if not, have often known each others all their lives. They think that they know everything about their neighbors but it turns out everyone, the locals and the outsiders alike, have their secrets. And those secrets are yet to take another great toll on the townsfolk.

If I have any negative point about the book, it might be the ending. The conclusion seemed just a wee bit off. Yes, the clues were there, but when we find out the villain, instead of saying
“Of Course! Why didn't I see that?”, I found myself say “OK, yes, I guess that makes sense”. Not a perfectly fair ending from the information we were given perhaps.

But that is a small point overall. This was a fine book, an excellent setting, very good characters, large and small, a engaging story and a very good read. I would certainly recommend it to mystery fans and I know I will be searching out more of Ann Cleeves books.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Ready for a little adventure? then a review...

Riding the Hulahula to the Arctic Ocean: A Guide to Fifty Extraordinary Adventures for the Seasoned Traveler by Don Mankin, Shannon Stowell, and Sir Richard Branson

"Riding the Hulahula to the Arctic Ocean" is a very enjoyable travel book, an excellent combination of the dreams ever travel book should inspire in us, combined with a great deal of practical advice that would make those dreams much more easily possible. From the coast of India, to the mountains of Peru, to the colorful lighthouses of the Magdalen Islands...complete with web addresses and phone numbers and lots and lots of practical advice.

Whether you have your suitcase packed and ready to go....or whether you will not likely venture far from your Strat-O-Lounger, I think you will find this book enjoyable. And it would make a wonderful gift for someone with a touch of wanderlust.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

a review of "The Richest Season"

The Richest Season by Maryann McFadden

I find myself in a bit of a difficult position, one that I have not really faced before...reviewing a book that I really did not care for a great deal. When it comes to "The Richest Season", there is good news and there is bad news. Which shall I give you first? Hmmm...let's get the bad over first.

The book has three main characters. First, there are Paul and Joanna, a corporate couple living in NJ, rich and successful with a big, empty nest house and, it seems, very little communication between the two of them. They are living in NJ for the moment at least, because it seems his company is about to move them once again, a frequent occurrence in his rise to VP in the company. A state of affairs that turns out to be the straw that breaks the back of their relationship. When she finds out, Joanna decides she has had enough, packs her bags, leaves her husband a voice mail and takes off for Pawleys Island...because she liked it once when she drove through there on a family vacation. Good enough reason...good enough plan it seems!

Paul arrives home from his business trip and ...does nothing. Well, except moan and bitch to himself that there is no one to do the laundry, or pay the bills or do his shopping. She takes off without a word after 25 years of marriage, without an idea of what she will do and he hangs around waiting for his wife to come back and make him dinner. So problem number one. I don't like these people and I really had no sympathy for them. Their actions and inactions are so extreme that they seem unbelievable behaviors for people in their position.

Next we meet Grace, an elderly woman, with a secret, who hires Joanna to move into her beach house and help care for the house and for her. Grace too, in my mind, does not come across as a very likable person. When we find out her secret, we can understand her behavior to a degree...but only to a degree. How she deals with her situation, especially in regards to her family and to her ultimate action...well, I didn't like it, I didn't believe it and I think it contracted the very essence of the character as she was presented. It's almost as if we are missing some vital information about these people that would make what they do understandable.

Problem number two...I totally could not believe the transformation either Paul or Joanna undergo. But especially Paul, whose change could only be described as a miracle. A rather unbelievable miracle. From self centered husband, uninvolved father, work obsessed corporate VP to sensitive, caring father, neighbor and husband and jack of all trades. One day, he can't seem to understand that those bills that come in the mail need to be paid and a short time later he knows how to build stone walls and beautiful bookcases and renovate a house. He must have been watching the DIY Network and Dr. Phil a great deal while waiting for Joanna to come home.

OK...enough of the bad. You get it I think...didn't like the characters and didn't believe how they acted. But I did promise you some good news too, didn't I?

Well, I do think the book is quite well written. The shape that the story as a whole took is very nice and very readable and very nicely structured. The descriptions of Pawleys Island, the storm that becomes the climatic moment of the book, the turtle hatching which is a little subplot, the description of the beach house and the community are all very beautiful. The author made the reader want to visit that island, to stay in that house, to walk that beach. Ms. McFadden is a talented writer. So, bottom line, a rather pleasant, well written book but populated with characters not very likable or sympathetic and a story that seemed ultimately unbelievable.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

The Tide Rises, The Tide Falls

The tide rises, the tide falls,
The twilight darkens, the curlew calls;
Along the sea-sands damp and brown
The traveller hastens toward the town
And the tide rises, the tide falls.

Darkness settles on the roofs and walls
But the sea, the sea in darkness calls;
The little waves, with their soft, white hands,
Efface the footprints in the sands
And the tide rises, the tide falls.

The morning breaks; the steeds in their stalls
Stamp and neigh, as the hostler calls;
The day returns, but nevermore
Returns the traveller to the shore,
And the tide rises, the tide falls.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Friday, August 1, 2008

...on the way to Cape May

Lighthouses hold a particular fascination for many of us. Maybe the image of a foggy, stormy night, the sea wild, gale force winds, a ship in a perilous situation, with only the beacon of the lighthouse to keep it from going aground.
Or maybe it is the fact that they are often very attractive structures in beautiful oceanfront

The Cape May lighthouse is not the first lighthouse I ever visited as a child, nor is it the first one that I ever climbed. That distinction belong to the Absecon lighthouse, which we will have to 'visit' in the future. But Cape May is probably still my favorite.

Part of the reason for that might be it's location. Just a short drive from the charming Victorian city of Cape May, the lighthouse is actually located in the small nearby town of Cape May Point. Surround by the Delaware Bay on one side and the Cape May Point State Park on the other, it is always a place for a pleasant day's visit. You can take a walk through the trails and boardwalk of the park to ponds and wetland areas full of wildlife. You can check out the count of migrating birds at the observation deck, you can walk on the beach and search for Cape May diamonds...actually pieces of clear quartz that wash up on shore and are polished by the water. And just off shore of Sunset Beach are the remains of a sunken concrete ship and you will often get a view of the ferries on their way to or from Lewes, Delaware.
oh...the ferry...there is another nice way to spend the day...

But foremost we are here for the lighthouse!
The present tower is actually the third one at the Point. The first, in 1823, was built on land that eroded, the second, in 1847 was so poorly built it had to be torn down and the third and present one was built in 1859 and has been in operation ever since. For those that like their quote Wikipedia...
“The tower is 157 feet 6 inches tall, from the ground to the tower's cast iron spiral staircase. There are 217 steps from the ground to the top, with 199 steps in the tower's cast iron spiral staircase. The lighthouse has two separate walls. The outside wall is cone-shaped, and is 3 feet 10 inches thick at the bottom, and 1 foot 6 inches thick at the top. The inside wall is cylinder with 8.5-inch thick walls which support the spiral staircase. The walls were designed to withstand winds several times above hurricane force.”

The number of steps are correct. I know because I counted them as I climbed...counted and gasped for breath. It was nice of the Mid-Atlantic Center for the Arts, who leases the tower from the Coast Guard and runs the visitor operations, to have installed various historical displays at each window landing as you climb up. That way you can pause to read them..and catch your breath...without appearing like too much of an out of shape wimp.
Even if you are.
There is a wonderful view from the top, of Cape May and the ships in the Bay and on a clear day, Delaware, across the water.