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Emily’s go-to books are Gothic fiction and horror. When not focused on things that go bump in the night, she enjoys historical fiction, short stories, fantasy, and plays. Emily recommends...
Crying in H Mart by
I've long been a fan of Japanese Breakfast, so I was so looking forward to checking out their frontwoman's debut memoir -- and it certainly did not disappoint! Michelle Zauner writes of her relationships and her identities with such a matter-of-fact plainness that is riveting and relatable. At its core Crying at H Mart is about Zauner's relationship with her mother and her mother's diagnosis with pancreatic cancer, and it is heartbreaking and heartwarming in equal turns. Catch the audiobook if you can, too. It's narrated by Zauner herself and it makes the story that much more touching. If you're a fan of quiet and raw memoirs, this is a must read.
Ballad for Sophie by
Ballad for Sophie is a sweeping, emotive graphic novel from Portuguese author and musician Filipe Melo, illustrated by Juan Cavia. Julien Dubois is a boy of means, forced to practice piano by his mother. François Samson is a self-taught prodigy and son of the concert hall's janitor. When both boys enter a piano competition, their lives are changed forever. More than half a century later, in 1997, a young woman shows up at Julien's home, with the intent to interview him. For years, he's been a recluse -- refusing interviews, appearances, and performances. But something about the woman draws him in, and he relates to her his whole life's account. The story is aided by beautiful artwork that evokes wonder and truly captures the tale. This is an enchanting read. And there's a bonus! The eponymous "Ballad for Sophie" is included as a Spotify code at the back of the book so readers can hear Julien's music come to life.
One morning, the congregation of a church in a small Southern town is surprised to see an unknown person sleeping on one of the pews. This stranger does not speak and confuses the residents as no one can tell what their gender, race, or age is. After the initial shock, the stranger is dubbed Pew after where they were found and brought home with a family. Pew has no recollection of how they came to be in the town, and the townspeople are unnerved by their silence, especially as tensions were already running high as the town gears up for it's annual Forgiveness Festival. The longer that Pew refuses to speak, the more suspicious the town becomes of them. Described as a modern fable, Pew gives readers a lot to think about regarding cultural classification, hospitality, and secrecy. I absolutely could not put this down; I adored it.
Mad Women's Ball by
The Mad Women’s Ball tells the haunting tale of the lives of several women connected to the Salpetriere Asylum as they unexpectedly and tragically collide for a few fateful weeks in winter of 1885. Genevieve is the senior-most nurse and a dedicated disciple of the famed neurologist Dr. Charcot; Eugenie is a young woman who has been forcibly imprisoned at the asylum by her family because of her connections to Spiritualism; Louise is a teenage orphan who has been dealt difficult hands her whole life. When the asylum hosts its annual Lenten Ball, their lives will change forever. Perfect for fans of Laura Purcell, Hester Fox, and Sarah Waters.
The Mere Wife by
The Mere Wife may not be exactly what you expect when you hear "Beowulf," but that is exactly what this story is. Headley has taken the Old English epic and expertly translated it into suburban USA. Gated communities, ambitious police detectives, hidden magic, and traumatized mothers willing to do anything for their sons -- all the elements of Beowulf have found their place under the surveillance cameras of Herot Hall. While no previous familiarity with Beowulf is necessary to enjoy The Mere Wife, it is fun to see the connections if you are. Dana is a veteran on the run, fleeing war and fear with her young son, Gren. When Gren secretly befriends the heir of Herot Hall… thus begins a series of events that will have deadly consequences.
The Ukrainian and Russian Notebooks by
This graphic collection packs a serious punch -- both emotionally and intellectually. After spending two years in Ukraine and Russia interviewing people about their lives under Soviet rule, Italian cartoonist Igort puts their stories down on the page. Interspersing the tales with historical information on assassinations, investigations, and political machinations, Igort does not shy away from both telling and showing readers exactly like it was. While not for the faint of heart, it really is an excellent read for people interested in hearing more about what the Soviet Union was like for everyday folks.
Emily's Favorite Historical Fairytales