Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Wicked Reads: The Appearance of Annie Van Sinderen

Wicked Reads

Hey, everyone! Today is a pretty cool day on The Hardcover Lover. If you didn't know, Penguin Teen has an awesome Halloween-themed promotion going on this week, and I'm very glad that I'm able to participate in Wicked Reads.

So what exactly is Wicked Reads? In a nutshell, Wicked Reads is fun way to talk about all of those creepy books that bookworms tend to read in October.  There are going to be book reviews all across the blogosphere this week, and many bloggers are sharing some of their favorite Halloween things with their readers.

 But that's not all! There is even a huge giveaway on Twitter! If you're brave enough, feel free to Tweet your #TwitterGhostStory along with #Sweepstakes to be entered to win a pile of Wicked Reads from Penguin Teen.

Anyway... as a part of Wicked Reads, I thought I'd share some of the books I want to read this Halloween, some of my favorite Halloween movies, and an origina story with you. I also have a review for one of Putnam's newest releases and one of my picks for Wicked Reads, The Appearance of Annie Van Sinderen by Katherine Howe.

What Are My Wicked Reads?

This year, I read The Appearance of Annie Van Sinderen to get me in the Halloween spirit. If you're interested in learning more about this fantastic book, you're in luck! There is a review below.

My other picks for ghostly and scary books this week are:
The Accident Season by Moira Fowley-Doyle
Slasher Girls and Monster Boys edited by April Genevieve Tucholke

What Are My Wicked Movie Picks?

The Nightmare Before Christmas
Hocus Pocus

What Are My Wicked TV Picks?

Pretty Little Liars
Scream Queens

What Is My Wicked Story?

Alright... and now I have something completely new here on The Hardcover Lover. Ladies and gentlemen, I now present an original piece of fiction.

Two Sisters and Their Ghost

Attention: This is an original piece of writing. I've worked hard on it, so please do not steal it. Please feel free to share it, but do not claim it as your own.

Long, long ago, two little girls lived in a yellow-brick duplex in the suburbs of a once great city. Like many of the other families in the suburbs and in their neighborhood, these girls did not come from an affluent family, but they weren't stricken by poverty. They were a middle class family. They had just enough of everything that they needed to navigate through their very young lives.

One girl was three, and the other was nearly two. They were sisters, but they were very, very  different in every way that sisters could differ. The older sister was blonde. The younger sister was brunette. The oldest was alabaster and what many would call beautiful. The younger sister had a slightly darker skin color, and her face was littered with enough freckles to be called adorable by every member of the family.

The eldest, Ella, was a vivacious little thing. Even though she had not yet reached the age where she could attend school, she yearned to learn. She could often be found annoying her mother with numerous questions, many of those questions that her mother could not answer. When Ella wasn't asking questions, she was staring out the window and observing the world. The younger sister, Emma, was also curious, but still too young to understand much of the world around her. She could talk, but she didn't need to learn to be happy. She was content if she could run around or be with her family.

The two sisters also differed in a way that drove their mother insane. Ella had a normal sleeping pattern. She would go to bed at a reasonable hour, sleep through the night, and awaken in the morning. Emma's sleeping patterns were quite the opposite. The toddler would sleep through the day and scream through the night. 

Nothing could calm the child. No amount of warm milk or formula would trick Emma into feeling sleepy. No amount of rocking could lull her to sleep. But one night, things changed. After Ella and Emma's mother decided to leave the girls in their beds, a strange music started playing. The girls' mother heard it from the living room, so she went to check on them.

The music continued to play when their mother entered their small bedroom with pastel pink and purple walls. She looked around the room for the source, and found that one of the music boxes was playing. She looked at Ella, who was fast asleep, and then to Emma, who was in her crib. It didn't make sense. Neither one of the girls could have touched the music box. Their mother was still confused, but she convinced herself that the open window somehow caused the music. Besides, it calmed poor Emma, and it was a relief to finally see the girl at peace during the night.

The next morning, while Emma played in her playpen, Ella started talking to her mother. She mentioned her new friend and how she talked to him the night before. Ella's mother was concerned, so she asked more questions. She wanted to know just how a three-year-old could make a friend, and Ella told her that Tony used to live in the house. The young mother immediately knew that Ella was talking about a ghost, and she was frightened by the thought of someone watching them as they went about their business. 

The girls' mother did what she did best when she was curious. She went to the library and borrowed a book on spirits and ghosts. From what she read, she found out that it's quite common for young children to see and interact with ghosts. She couldn't believe it. How could all of this even be possible? She didn't want to accept that answer. She didn't want to believe that their family lived in a haunted house and that her bright daughter was able to communicate with the dead.

But once again, Emma started screaming in the middle of the night. This time, their mother sat in the bedroom while Emma screamed. It took every bit of will that she had to sit there and wait instead of console her wailing child. Her perseverance paid off. She was shocked when the music box started playing once again. Neither of her daughters did it, but it started playing. It was like magic.

Over the next few nights, Emma would cry, and the music would play. Sometimes, when Ella was still awake, she'd hear her daughter talking to the silent walls. Ella would tell this ghost, who Ella told her mother was named Tony, what kind of music to play for Emma. It was a strange comfort. The girls' mother was proud of Ella for being concerned for her sister, but she couldn't get over the fact that some paranormal events were going on in their house.

So their mother talked it over with her husband, and the family moved to a new duplex in a new neighborhood. This time, it was a red brick one, and instead of living on the bottom floor, they made their home on the second floor. Mr. Sents bought the building for his family, and they expected to live their for many years to come. But Ella's gift remained, and she found another ghostly friend. It was the calmest nightmare of their lives, but by the time they moved again, the family grew used to Ella's ability.

Ella grew to be a beautiful young lady. She went to kindergarten, and made real friends. She went to middle school and joined clubs and organizations. She went on to high school and college, but she always remembered her friend Tony. She thought of him often, and she found that she was able to tap into strange feelings. She never felt quite normal. She thought of trying to talk to members of her own family who had passed on, but it never felt right. The poor girl was somehow stuck between the dead and the living, even though she was very much alive.

Emma also grew to be a beautiful young lady, and went on to follow in her sister's footsteps. Both somehow ended up with the same career. The one thing that differed is that Emma never remembered anything about the happenings in their yellow-brick duplex. She had no memory of Tony at all. She would never be able to tell you that a ghost managed to lull her to sleep when she was a child. She spent the rest of her life blissfully ignorant, and went on to never believe in ghosts or magic.

Tony was Ella's first real best friend. He helped her discover things that she never knew were possible. But as time passed, she locked her real self away. She stopped talking to ghosts. Her light faded away. Her hair grew dark, and her smile faded. The more she denied her supernatural ability, the more depressed she became. She convinced herself that it was all just a dream. She convinced herself that she was normal, but she would always be abnormal, whether she admitted it or not.

One day, when Ella was talking to her mother, her mother recalled the whole ordeal to both girls. Emma did not believe a word of it, but Ella instantly brightened up. None of it was imagined, as she had started to convince herself. Tony was real! It was as if a giant weight were lifted off of Ella's shoulders. Ella would finally be able to know her true self, even if she was a bit scared of it. With her mother's help, young Ella learned that it was okay to be different.

The only thing that bothered Ella was that she'd never be able to talk to her Tony again. The house was remodeled when they moved out and turned into a one-family unit. There's no way that Tony would have stayed for he lived in the same apartment as Ella and her family. The only thing Ella could do is hope that he crossed over and found his family. She hoped he was happy, but somehow, she knew he was.

The End


My Wicked Reads Pick: The Appearance of Annie Van Sinderen by Katherine Howe

Title: The Appearance of Annie Van Sinderen
Author: Katherine Howe
Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers

Publication Date: September 15, 2015
Add it to Goodreads
A haunting, contemporary love story from the New York Times bestselling author of Conversion.

It’s summertime in New York City, and aspiring filmmaker Wes Auckerman has just arrived to start his summer term at NYU. While shooting a séance at a psychic’s in the East Village, he meets a mysterious, intoxicatingly beautiful girl named Annie.

As they start spending time together, Wes finds himself falling for her, drawn to her rose petal lips and her entrancing glow. But there’s something about her that he can’t put his finger on that makes him wonder about this intriguing hipster girl from the Village. Why does she use such strange slang? Why does she always seem so reserved and distant? And, most importantly, why does he only seem to run into her on one block near the Bowery? Annie’s hiding something, a dark secret from her past that may be the answer to all of Wes’s questions . . .

My Review

Want to talk about a mind-blowing book? I've got one right here! The Appearance of Annie Van Sinderen by Katherine Howe is a truly mesmerizing novel. It's definitely not one of my "go to" books because I'm not normally a fan of paranormal books. However, I'm so glad that this magical novel piqued my interest because it is such an addictive and memorable book. I literally couldn't get enough of it, and I found myself staying up late or at night or sneaking in reading time at work to read it and find out more about Annie, Wes, Maddie, Tyler, and Eastlin.

This book contained one of my absolute favorite types of narratives - dual POVs. I loved reading from both Annie and Wes' perspectives, and I really think that Howe made a brilliant decision by having both characters narrate parts the book. Both Annie and Wes have their own distinct voices, and it was really easy to tell who was narrating each chapter, especially in the last chapter when readers are just told that both characters have a say in the section. I really felt like I was able to connect and basically fall in love with both characters while reading the book. Annie and Wes had completely different stories to tell, but the way that Howe weaved them together was just perfect.

The novel is set in modern day and pre-Civil War era New York. I know I've already said this before, but I loved this approach! It's a fusion of contemporary and historical fiction, and the combination makes for a spellbinding read. Whatever you want to call it, the way this book is written makes for a beautiful masterpiece. Howe has a way of transcending centuries to bring this novel and these two very different cities to life. Although I've never been to New York City, I was able to imagine it as it stands today and even how it looked in the early 1800s.

Now... it wouldn't be a book review if I didn't mention the plot, right? The Appearance of Annie Van Sinderen is unlike any novel I've ever read because of its unique plot. I know I hate spoiling readers, and I won't do it, but there's a little bit of everything in this book. The characters deal with life and school, but they also realize that part of life is falling in love, even if you accidentally fall for the wrong person. I just couldn't get over the beauty of every little event in this book. It's something completely fresh, and I really think that it will appeal to many different types of readers because of the genre-bending.

When I got the end of this book, I only regretted not reading it sooner. I loved every little nook and cranny in this book. I loved the connections and the beauty of the supernatural elements. I am definitely now a fan of Katherine Howe, and I plan on reading more of her work as soon as possible. I would recommend this amazing novel to fans of YA novels, but I'd also recommend it to fans of ghost stories and subtle romances.

Katherine Howe is the author of THE PHYSICK BOOK OF DELIVERANCE DANE, which debuted at #2 on the New York Times bestseller list, was named one of USA Today's top ten books of 2009, and which has been translated into over twenty languages. Her second novel, THE HOUSE OF VELVET AND GLASS, was a USA Today and New York Times e-book bestseller, and her third novel, a young adult historical thriller called CONVERSION, follows a group of teenage girls who must uncover the real reason behind a mysterious outbreak at their high school. Katherine edited of THE PENGUIN BOOK OF WITCHES for Penguin Classics in 2014. Her latest novel, a present day mystery and romance set in New York City called THE APPEARANCE OF ANNIE VAN SINDEREN, hit shelves in September 2015.

A graduate of Columbia and Boston University, she lives in Massachusetts and upstate New York with her family, where she is at work on her next novel.

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