Book Review & East Village Tour: The Appearance of Annie van Sinderen by Katherine Howe

The Appearance of Annie van Sinderen

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:

The Merchant’s House Museum

West Village

The West Village, NYC

NYC, Annie Van Tour

NYC Tour, Book Review, Annie Van tour

The Appearance of Annie van Sinderen tour

NYC community garden

East Village community garden

East Village Dog

Washington Square Park

The Appearance of Annie van SinderenStay tuned for the full Annie Van tour! Thank you Katherine Howe for the inspiration! It was a hauntingly, beautiful day. 😉

Full tour is live! Check it out here!

Book Review and Ditmas Park Tour: Modern Lovers by Emma Straub

Modern Lovers by Emma Straub

Since the last book I read was set in Manhattan, I thought it would be nice to head back to Brooklyn. I am a Bk girl after all, which I admit, makes me a little biased. This book is set in Ditmas Park, a little oasis in Brooklyn that’s hard to believe exists until you step foot over there. Do you need a breather from the hectic, rushed vibes of Manhattan? Ditmas Park is your answer! It is a breath of fresh air!

Needless to say, I was excited to read Modern Lovers. In fact, I’ve been planning on reading it for a while but I needed to wait until the trees would be in full, spectacular bloom for you. In case, you’re wondering, yes, I have been to this part of Brooklyn before. I was amazed the first time I walked around this neighborhood, so I really wanted you all to see it too. Sadly, I had a bit of a weather delay and the day I went was not the perfect day I was hoping for either. It was a bit rainy, but not so terrible that I couldn’t enjoy the day.

Okay, down to business! Modern Lovers is about a close group of friends, Elizabeth, Andrew, Zoe, and Lydia who knew each other during their college days and were in a band together. Elizabeth and Andrew were college sweethearts and now are married living in Ditmas Park with their teenage son, Harry.

Zoe is married to Jane and they also live in Ditmas Park and coincidentally have a teenage daughter named Ruby. Do you see where this is going? Yup, Harry, and Zoe might become more than friends…

So that leaves Lydia…Lydia became quite the rockstar but as stars go- they rise and then they fall. Unfortunately, Lydia’s fell. A film surrounding her life is a major focal point of the story.

I was pleasantly surprised by this book. Prior to reading, I had glanced at some negative reviews. Well, I, for one was completely invested in each of the characters’ stories, especially Elizabeth’s.

The characters seemed real and honest. I enjoyed Ruby’s badass personality and Harry’s innocence. The relationship troubles the characters faced seemed very relatable. I rooted for them and hoped for the best when things seemed to get a little hairy. I definitely recommend this book.

In case this is the first time you’re reading my blog, I read books set in NYC and take a tour of the city using the book as inspiration. Check out the last tour I went on based on the book I Heart New York by Lindsey Kelk. You can read it here.

I’ve lived in NYC for almost 13 years and if I’m being honest, I was in a bit of a rut doing the same things day in and day out. Wake up-Work-Home-TV-Bed. Rinse & repeat. Many times I thought, “What am I doing living in such an expensive city?” Am I taking advantage of living in one of the coolest cities on the planet? The answer was no. I needed to change that. When I got this idea, I felt excited. I love reading and who knows where these books and characters will take me? I wanted to see!

Part of me was nervous because if I don’t make plans with friends, I usually just stay home unless I have errands or something. Could I spend a whole day in the city doing solo activities? Brunch, dinner on a Saturday night, or a concert? Well, now I have done those things and it makes me eager to do more! Now I know that I don’t need to wait for anyone to get out and explore. I don’t need to wait for permission to go out and live an adventurous life.

But of course I know friendships and even dating (ugh) are important. So don’t worry, I will still keep up with my social life. I do have some pretty great people who I’m lucky to call friends.

On to the best part- a sneak peak into my tour!

Here you go!

Ditmas Park, Brooklyn

Ditmas Park, Cortelyou train tracks

Trees of Ditmas Park
Trees of Ditmas Park

Ditmas Park tree trunk

Ditmas Park, Brooklyn

Ditmas Park, Brooklyn

Ditmas Park, Brooklyn

Prospect Park

Ditmas Park, Brooklyn

Ditmas Park, Brooklyn

Thank you for reading! Full tour is here!

Book Review & Brooklyn Tour: Reconstructing Amelia by Kimberly McCreight

9C093219-34BF-4DB5-ACBD-19067116E429

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:

20A28F6B-759B-4076-A67E-BECFB6D8C699
Beautiful brownstones of Brooklyn
652A69C3-6CC2-4559-A7BD-13DE38F30E41
Prospect Park
AD94E547-2926-4A63-A6B1-8BF200874202
It’s no secret. I love dogs! I’m a dog creeper.

4C930189-F430-4BFC-9FF3-EA8A462E589C

004EE2D0-7687-49F7-ADC0-19CABF664B6D
This building says, “This is me, I’m beautiful and you know it. Can’t stop looking at me, can you?”
BE0F3B98-9CFB-43E8-8C55-037CBEE61502
More lovely brownstones
9BE76296-783E-43F7-8FC9-2675209FCA7B
Colorful Brooklyn!

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!