I have got a great book to tell you all about! Do you like love stories? Do you like mysterious, love stories? Well, I do because I can relate. All my “love stories” are a mystery. It’s always a mystery to me what went wrong. Have you been ghosted before? Yeah!? Me too! One of the main characters in the book, Wes, gets ghosted BIG TIME. Poor guy! If you’re in the dating world, you know first hand how much it sucks to get ghosted. Can’t help but to feel for Wes.
About Wes…he’s doing a summer film program at his dream college, NYU University. During the program, being the good guy that he is, he helps out his friend Tyler with his film. Tyler is doing some artsy, experimental film and so together they film a real seance that takes place in a dark townhouse in the East Village. At this seance, Wes meets a mysterious and beautiful girl. After the seance, he wants to get a signed consent form from her so she can appear in the film, but he didn’t see her come out. He also got distracted by another intriguing girl from the seance and went out for pizza with her. Tyler was not happy. Tyler needed that consent form, so Wes has to figure out how to track her down.
Somehow he does find her but then he loses her again. He can’t catch a break! Disappointed and a bit rejected, Wes tries to forget about this beautiful girl who has captivated him. But maybe their paths will cross again??
Annie van Sinderen is the captivating girl and she’s got a lot of baggage. If Wes and Annie were on Facebook, their relationship status would definitely be, “It’s Complicated.”
The story is told through Wes’ perspective and Annie’s. While Wes is experiencing NYC for the first time, Annie grew up there, however, she grew up in NYC in 1825. Yeah, “It’s Complicated,” is an understatement. What is Annie doing? Can she accomplish what she needs to do? Can Wes help?
Katherine Howe told me herself on Twitter that this is a weird book. She wasn’t kidding. It’s weird, it’s hypnotic, chaotic, captivating…what else? Spellbounding! Mesmerizing! It’s just so cool and amazing…haunting and jaw-dropping. It made me wonder about the history of New York, and especially since I live here, it made me picture what the city was like back then. The book is very descriptive, which makes it easy to picture.
The images of Annie being forced into present-day NYC are emblazoned in my mind. Can you imagine how jarring NYC would be to someone from 1825? Katherine Howe really makes you understand what a confused and terrified state of mind Annie must have been in when she had no idea what was going on around her.
The book makes you care about all the characters. Their struggles whether in present-day or 1825 are real and relatable.
I highly recommend this book. It was awesome!
As always when I read a book set in NYC, I take myself out on a tour of the city inspired by the book I read. Annie Van brought me to the East Village in Manhattan.
Here is a sneak peek into that tour:
Stay tuned for the full Annie Van tour! Thank you Katherine Howe for the inspiration! It was a hauntingly, beautiful day. 😉
After the serious tone of the last book I read, Reconstructing Amelia, I decided I needed to go back to the land of chick lit. I do heart New York and heart it even more since going on tours of the city based on the books I’ve read. Lindsey Kelk’s, I Heart New York, sounded like the perfect choice for me.
Angela, who lives in London, is at her best friend’s wedding when she stumbles upon her own fiancé cheating on her. To make matters worse, Angela finds out her best friend knew about it and didn’t tell her. Angela is rightfully furious with her fiancé and her best friend. She makes an unglamorous exit from the wedding, although, who could blame her? The next day, Angela high tails it out of London and sets her sights on New York City.
She has no plan. Even doesn’t know where she’ll stay until a cabbie brings her to a random hotel in the city.
We follow along the way as Angela navigates a foreign city, makes friends, meets guys, and tries to sort out her life.
I was invested in Angela’s story and entertained by it. I definitely wanted to get to the end to see how it all plays out.
However, I can’t lie and say I wasn’t frustrated by how easily things seemed to work out for Angela. Angela is a freelance writer who was not currently working when she went to NYC. She was able to book a ticket and stay at a very expensive NYC hotel. She had some savings, but still. Besides the flight and hotel, she went on major shopping sprees and spent a fortune on designer items. It made me nervous for her as I read it. My stomach hurt! No joke! I was thinking, “Angela, you have no job and you’re living in an expensive hotel, slow your roll! Geez!”
Even more frustrating for a single lady like myself is that in less than a week, she had two hot guys after her. How did she do it? Is it her British accent? Probably!
I had to continually remind myself to suspend my disbelief so that I could enjoy the book. Ultimately, I did enjoy it and was glad I read it.
The best part is that it inspired a cool tour of NYC! If this is the first time you’re reading, I go on tours of NYC based on books set in the city. I have a good excuse to take myself out and explore the city in a whole new way. After living in the city for almost 13 years, I feel like these tours have given me a new appreciation for this city. It’s stunningly beautiful and a surprise is waiting around every corner!
Here’s a sneak peak into my tour:
That’s all for now! I hope you enjoyed and thank you so much for reading.
The full tour will be coming to your screen of choice soon! Signing off…
When I’m not taking myself on tours of the city based on books I’ve read set in NYC, “dates” with myself, as I call them…I do sometimes go out and hang out with people. Shocker, I know!
It’s been pretty cool discovering the city in a whole new way, through the eyes of the characters I read about in my NYC books. Check out my Breakfast at Tiffany’s tour or my Reconstructing Amelia tour if you haven’t already. I plan on taking myself on more tours!
As awesome as that is, social interaction is important in life so if you’re interested, I’ll do a little show and tell of what I’ve been up to since my last tour.
I’ll spare you the picture of my couch, but don’t you worry, it’s gotten plenty of love and attention.
I got off my couch and met up with a good friend who was back in town. We went to Erv’s on Beekman.
The cocktails were delicious!
On another night we went to Franchia’s.
Franchia’s is a yummy vegan Asian fusion restaurant. Not too shabby!
With other friends, I went to Radio City to see the Garden of Dreams talent show. Awesome night!
Strolled through the lovely, serene Times Square.
I’ve been on two dates! Two dates with two different guys and there won’t be any second dates. That’s my dating life in a nutshell!
Bachelor #1 took me here:
This guy bragged about taking me out to dinner and insisting I take the leftovers home. He boasted, “Pretty good deal, right!?” He was trying to soften the blow of never asking me out again. It’s okay I still enjoyed the leftovers.
Bachelor #2 didn’t like the low tables at this bar. Not to worry though because we found tables more to his liking at another section of the establishment. He was a nice guy but just not the right guy for me. It’s okay…I enjoyed the knock off Blue Moon beer.
Back to swiping!
I’ll take these two little pug butts!
My friends and I ate at Basil Brick Oven Pizza in Astoria, Queens. We got together to say goodbye to our friend who is moving away! So many of my good friends have moved out of this city. Can’t really blame them when it’s so expensive here.
It was jam packed! So packed that while we waited for a table, we had to keep shuffling around to get out of the way of people coming at us from all different angles.
I always forget how eating a warm cake or brownie with ice cream stresses me out. It’s a race to eat it all before all the ice cream melts! It’s a lot of pressure.
That’s all folks!
My next tour will be soon!
Currently reading Lindsey Kelk’s I Heart New York.
What a wonderful sunny day this was! We’ve had a rough winter in NYC with cold, slushy snow storms, up & down weather, and lots of coughing and sneezing all around. This day, however, was beautiful and the people were out to enjoy it. I’m so glad my tour happened to fall on such a lovely day. In case you don’t know, I take myself out on “dates” based on books I’ve read set in this crazy city called New York City. I hate to say it, but so far it has been a lot more fun than any dates with the male population I’ve been on lately. I’ve got some blog posts on those kind of dates too. Read at your own risk.
Like Scott Rogowsky, let’s get down to the nitty gritty! I read “Reconstructing Amelia,” by Kimberly McCreight, which took me to an awesome neighborhood in Brooklyn called Park Slope. If you didn’t read my book review and sneak peak into my tour, go here.
The first time I did a tour based on a book, I had trouble getting out the door because of no hot water in my apartment. What a pain that was. If you’d like, you can read about that fun here. What I learned on that day is that I have to do a better job at shaking off my aggravations. I kept that in mind on this day.
Before setting out I was feeling a little anxious. My last tour, I picked up food at spots and mostly could just enjoy the solitude. For this “date” with myself I planned to up the anti. In the book, the character Kate meets up with someone at Dizzy’s Diner, which means that on a Saturday in NYC, I would be having brunch with myself.
Dun dun duuuun! For those who don’t know, the brunch culture in NYC is serious and it most definitely is a social activity. I planned to go inside and eat brunch alone. Why? Why did I feel the need to do this to myself? How come I couldn’t just take a picture of the exterior and be done with it? God I’m a masochist, that’s why.
“Take deep breaths and steal a picture before anyone notices how weird you are,” I tell myself.
It looks inviting, right? “Can I ride that horse? I probably shouldn’t.” Time to go in. Just move forward, that’s what Don Draper would do. You’ve never watched Mad Men? Never mind.
The gentleman at the door who helped me to my table put me at ease right away. I struggled to move the table a little so I wouldn’t crowd the person behind me and he swooped in right away to help. I appreciated this so much because in NYC, you never know what you’re going to get in restaurants. Many are filled with nice staff, but lots of places have a pretentious staff. This was not one of those places! Phew!
I mean, look at this pig I sat under:
Cute guy, right? Don’t worry piggy, I won’t be partaking in any of your friends for my meal.
The nice waitress came and took my order. I noticed later that she told everyone around me the “specials” but never told me. I wasn’t too bothered by it though. She probably sensed my nerves and knew I was trying to morph inside myself and pretend I wasn’t alone in a restaurant. She was probably uncomfortable about it too and wanted to leave me in peace. I had thoughts on telling her about my plan for the day so she realized how very cool I was, but I suppressed that urge. Waiters are busy so if she only half-heartedly listened and gave me a polite smile, it would have crushed my spirit. Instead, I focused on my coffee. I heart coffee!
And look at this mouth-watering meal!
Oh my! No lie, this was the best brunch I’ve had in a long time! It was seriously tasty. Who needs the specials?
Dizzy’s was such a cool place and had a nice vibe. I highly recommend it.
Prospect Park West often gets a mention in the book. Amelia has to walk up this street to get to school among many other spots in Park Slope. Speaking of the fictitious private school she went to, Grace Hall…I think I might have found the inspiration for that school.
Wait for it…
Isn’t it gorgeous? It’s called Litchfield Villa, but I think Grace Hall was modeled after it. I wonder if the author, Kimberly McCreight would tell me if I’m right?
Speaking of the author, she responded to one of my tweets while I was tweeting about my tour.
This absolutely made my day! Thank you Kimberly! We’re on a first name basis now, right?
After being well fed by the great people at Dizzy’s it was time to head to the park and get dizzy from all the runners, bikers, and rollerbladers. See what I did there?
So many motivated people at the park! I could have used the book to inspire me to go for a jog in the park, but I went with another direction…sitting in the park.
A sign! I found my way to the spot I want to go! What a relief because whenever venturing into a big park, I have fears of getting so lost that I have to send out distress signals. My distress signals would involve clapping loudly, banging rocks together, and then breaking my foot from dropping the rock on it. Luckily, that did not happen.
I made it to the Picnic House! Thank you Mr. Truck for blocking my view. It’s okay though, I’m letting go of my aggravations. See? I can learn!
The Picnic House is where Amelia goes to a secret meeting. It sets the stage for the rest of the story.
Perhaps she met up with the other attendees in one of those picnic tables? Or maybe not. According to the book, they were hanging out under the “crooked trees.” I head to a spot under one of the beautifully crooked trees.
I alluded to a missed connection in my last post. For awhile, I relaxed on my tree stump enjoying the scenery and then actually answering the phone when a friend called. I’m not a big fan of using my phone app. See Gary Gulman’s stand-up, “Telephone 1.0,” and you’ll understand more of how I feel about it. I digressed but you should totally YouTube that.
So I’m on my stump and a young looking guy who’s also alone sits down. He was at an appropriate distance in my vicinity, although, not close enough to strike up a conversation. I couldn’t tell from my vantage point if he was cute, but I was curious. I thought I should stay a little longer in case he wanted to come closer. I thought I waited long enough to see if anything interesting with him would happen, but since he seemed engrossed in his phone and I had a tour to continue, I decided to go on my way. I get up and start walking.
I soon realize that he also got up and was walking in the same direction as me. I was nervous. Was that on purpose? No, probably not. I didn’t know what to do. Turn around and walk towards him? No, what would be my reason for turning around? I decided to walk slower. I did try to give him a couple of glances, but I’m so bad at this stuff. The last time I looked back, he was stretching. I have no game, so I kept walking away.
Let’s take one last look of the Picnic House and forget about that guy. It wasn’t meant to be!
I made a couple of other stops in the park which are shown in pictures in my original post and also my half-tour post, here.
Next stop on my tour is the street, Montgomery Place because the book reads: “That little block is like the nicest in the whole hood.”
As I’m making my way there, I realize that my battery power on my phone is at 20%! Oh no! I don’t understand how it got drained so fast. I never talk on the phone. Is that what did it? See, talking on the phone is the worst. Never. Do. It. I apologize to my friend. We actually had a great conversation and it was a highlight of my Park visit.
Before I get too panicky about my phone, I take a picture of myself.
Okay, enough self indulgence. My phone dying is actually a serious problem. For one, all my tour stops are typed out on my phone and I need google to find them. Secondly, I have the worst sense of direction. Without google maps, I could get lost forever in Park Slope or God forbid, South Park Slope. I’m sorry, I have nothing against South Park Slope. I’d be lucky if I could afford to live there. Actually, I almost got a tiny studio with very low ceilings in South South Park Slope. I wasn’t a fan of crouching in my living space, so last-minute, I backed out. It was a good decision.
With my phone dying, I don’t know what to do, but I head to Montgomery Place anyway.
I couldn’t fully appreciate it since I was still in a state of panic, but here are the couple of shots I took:
I wish I could have taken my time on this block, however, with direction from some passerby, I headed to Seventh Avenue to look for a coffee shop that had an outlet. As soon as I got there, I sensed that a Verizon store would be on that street. It must be my super power being able to sniff out a Verizon store.
It would’ve been better to spend my time in a coffee shop, but there would be no guarantee of an outlet. Since I’m a Verizon customer, I felt this was more of a sure shot. My super power ability proved true, I only had to walk a few steps before I stumbled into Verizon. They let me use their portable charger. Nothing to do but sit and wait. I will not get aggravated. I will take this opportunity to reread parts of the book that would be interesting to reread since now I know how the story ends.
After only an hour (see that optimism?), I’m back to my tour! I’m hungry again! Yay, I love to eat! I have two places to choose from in the book- a bagel place or a pizza place? Tough decision! Yes, I can eat two breakfasts in one day! Darn it, I’m getting a bagel!
But can’t I get a slice of pizza too? Is that allowed? YES!
It’s cash only. I have no cash…I can’t get a pizza. I’m stuffed, so like that guy, it’s not meant to be. Not too worry. There will be other slices of pizza in my future!
Time to go to Amelia’s best friend Sylvia’s street! According to the book, “Sylvia lived on Berkeley between Seventh and Eighth, around the corner from Mr. Wonton…”
The most delicious hot chocolate I’ve ever had was at Cocoa Bar, which is now called Chocolateria. It was beyond amazing. Besides heavenly, chocolatey stuff, do you know what else they had? Outlets. I don’t get aggravated. The hot chocolate is too good.
Time to get back on foot! Now I want to go to another character’s home. Dylan’s place is described in the book as white stone, “and there was a kind-of-cool, kind-of-creepy sculpture out in front of a small tree with hands at the end of the branches instead of leaves.” Again, I of course don’t have an address to this fictitious home, but I’m hopeful I will find a spot I think is her place. Yes, Dylan is a she and lives on 2nd street near the park, so that’s where I head.
After passing many white stone brownstones, I arrive here:
The last stop on my tour is Green-Wood Cemetery, since that is where Amelia is buried. It’s 6:30pm at this point and as I head there, I have a thought, “Will it be open?”
Oh well, Green-Wood Cemetery is a National Historic Landmark and is beautiful. I need at least a full day to explore its “478 spectacular acres.” I’ve seen it from various, gorgeous vantage points, but I’ve still never gone inside. I plan on remedying that soon. Check out their website to learn more about it!
This is where my tour ends! Thank you so much if you made it this far. Let me know what you thought about it in the comments.
Special thanks goes to author Kimberly McCreight. I loved your book so much, fell in love with your characters. My solo date based on your book was so much fun. You took me to so many great places. Thank you! Everyone, read her book. It truly was a wonderfully, suspenseful book and an eye-opening read.
According to my Fitbit, I walked 16,227 steps on this tour. That might be a lot of steps but what I learned within those steps is that I can relax in this city after a stressful work week. I had that vacation feel on this day. My focus was on where I would go next, what I would eat, about the book, and the characters. The stresses of my everyday life were nonexistent on this day. Instead of hurrying past people, I noticed their smiles and laughter. I saw families out enjoying the sun, kids posing by the park with their arms outstretched, and it all made me happy. I want to try to take this feeling into my everyday life.
Hello again! This past Sunday I posted my book review of Reconstructing Amelia by Kimberly McCreight, but I also told you about the tour of Park Slope I went on based on the book. It was a “date” with myself in the very setting the story takes place. If you didn’t get a chance to read it, then click here. My full tour with sites specific to that lovely book will be coming on Sunday, I promise. Can I make that promise? It’s my first blogging promise, I’m nervous. I can do it…I promise.
Until then, I want to share some more photos from that day I think you might like.
Here they are!
That’s all for now! I hope you enjoyed my half-tour! Come check back on Sunday to see if I treated myself the way I deserve on my date. Also, I think I had a missed connection. Story of my life. I’ll let you be the judge.
I’ve done it again! A tour of the city inspired by a book I’ve read. If you haven’t read about the first time I did this, check out my Breakfast at Tiffany’s tour here.
Now let’s get to the most important reason I’m writing today and that is to tell you about this book, Reconstructing Amelia. What a beautiful book. Beautiful and heartbreaking. Don’t worry, I won’t write anymore than what you would already read in the book summary.
It starts off with Kate, who’s working a high pressure job as a lawyer for a Manhattan firm. Kate is a single mom to teenage daughter, Amelia. They live in the idyllic neighborhood of Park Slope, Brooklyn. Kate is in an important meeting when she gets a call from Amelia’s school, Grace Hall, and is told she must come right away because her daughter has been caught cheating on a paper. Kate does not believe this can be true of her extremely gifted and trustworthy daughter. When she finally manages to escape her office and arrive at the school, her world comes crashing down: Amelia has fallen from the roof and is dead. Soon Kate learns from Grace Hall and the police, that Amelia jumped. At first Kate accepts this explanation, but later on, something makes Kate question everything. Did her intelligent and beautiful daughter really jump? Kate is determined to find out the truth.
This was a tough read. I enjoy suspense books, which this is but it’s so much more. I got invested in this story because I wanted to know what happened, but also because the reality of the situation tugged at my heart. This story fluctuates from Kate’s point of view and Amelia’s. It’s gut-wrenching from both perspectives. From Kate’s point of view, we have a mom grappling with the reality of her daughter’s death, and with Amelia we know that ultimately she will die. It’s a tough pill to swallow. We follow Amelia’s story as she goes about her everyday life. We fall in love with the bright, thoughtful girl she is and see her as someone who should have a bright future. We know she doesn’t. Kimberly McCreight captured real, honest characters. The Kates and Amelias of this world do exist and that truth is what made it hard for me to read. I am so glad I read it though. Not only is it a compelling story, I think it helped strengthen my compassion for people in similar situations as these characters.
As I read this book, I thought, “Is it okay for me to go on a tour of Park Slope based on this sad story?” I read a lot of fun, chick lit books, which seems more appropriate for a “date” with myself as I explore the city. However, I also thought about how much I completely fell in love with these characters. Wouldn’t it be cool to explore their world for a bit? It’s hard for me to let go of characters after I finish a book, so going on this tour would let me hang onto them for a little longer.
I plan on doing this more, for as long as it’s still fun. Reading books set in NYC and then exploring those worlds is a great opportunity for me. I’ve lived in NYC for almost 13 years now. I’ve had many thoughts about moving out of this expensive city and thought about where I would go. I have a couple places in mind, however, something holds me back from escaping this city of tiny apartments. I still think I haven’t made the most of living in this city. It is an amazing city but have I done enough? Yes, I have a great job I can feel proud of, I’ve been to lots of Broadway shows, eaten at great restaurants, have awesome friends, taken random acting and improv classes, but have I fully taken advantage of living in this great city? Most of what I do I could do anywhere and for a lot cheaper. I have good friends, but at 38 years old, many have moved away and I’m still single.
I need to get out of my comfort zone and off my couch. Oh do I love my relaxing weekend mornings, grabbing a coffee and bagel…coming home to my lovely couch. Did you know for 8 years I lived in an apartment that was too small for a couch? Now I’m in an apartment that can fit a couch. Sweet heaven!
As lovely as my couch is, it’s time for a change and time to get everything I can out of this city. It’s nice going on dates with guys (by nice, I mean hellish), but now I want to take myself out on “dates” in the city. And my “dates” will be inspired by amazing books! How cool is that?
My day trip into Park Slope was incredible! I’m a Brooklyn girl so a bit biased, but I had such a wonderful time and discovered some great places, thanks to Kimberly McCreight.
Here’s a sneak peak into my Park Slope tour:
Full tour with sites specific to Reconstructing Amelia is here!
Also, if you haven’t already, why don’t you read about my last tour? Go here. Thanks so much for stopping by!
After reading Liane Moriarty’s, The Husband’s Secret, I should have had an idea of what I was getting into. She’s good, she’s pretty damn good.
I heard the hype of the show, which is basically what got me to read this. I’m a fan of chick lit books, but before I discovered my love of reading, I was a tv/movie girl. So in addition to chick lit, I tend to read a lot of books that are turned into movies or shows.
I read the first half of the book at a solid but leisurely pace, however, yesterday I think I was only at the halfway point. I had a couple of long subway rides to read a bit, but then last night from about 9pm to after 2am, I tore through this sucker. I couldn’t stop! I had plans to wake up early, get some errands done, but no, last night as I read, I made new plans for my little errands. Getting a new iPhone was not gonna stop me from finding out what happens in the end. Who needs a phone anyways? I got my kindle!
The women in this book are strong, funny, vulnerable, flawed, and real. I was pulling for all the females in this book (and some of the men). The story is told through the eyes of three women: Madeline, Jane, and Celeste.
Madeline is the spirited one who you’d want as a friend and not an enemy. She is a loyal and protective friend. She has had to overcome some things in her past that she hasn’t yet quite overcome. It shapes her relationships. Jane is the young, innocent one. She has some things to hide in her past, but she can’t escape them. Celeste is described as the beautiful one, but she’s a bit ashamed of her beauty. Celeste is actively hiding something. All of these women are mothers who desperately want the best for their children.
This book review sucks, doesn’t it? “Some things happen and she’s hiding some things, she’s not over some things, and then some stuff happens.” You get it, this book is awesome. It was turned into a hit HBO show, so it’s pretty obvious at this point. It won a bunch of Emmys for god sakes. Why am I writing this review? Watch it already, I mean read it.
Back to my serious review:
This book also has a lot of great peripheral characters. The husbands are of course important characters to the story and there are other women we meet at the school the kids attend. The style of the book flows from the different female perspectives both from the main characters and the peripheral characters as they are interviewed about the mysterious murder that took place. Yes, murder! Did I almost leave that out? Oops. Obviously that’s important too.
Ultimately what I liked about this book, besides the gotta know what happened aspect, is how the author shows these women’s flaws, their disagreements, how easily women can go after each other…but it also shows their strength, and the undeniable bond that women have.
Okay. Tom…Let’s talk about Tom for a bit. I would totally date him! He makes good coffee. Done. What more would I need? He makes muffins and pancakes too. Ohmigod Tom stop! You’re perfect! Where is my Tom?