We've definitely wandered into "curl up with a good book" weather. No, not with us. With a book—one that you may or may not have gotten at A Good Book. So, yes, what we meant was "curl up with a good book that you got at A Good"—you know what? Never mind. Let's just get to the books. No point in getting tangled in syntax.
First up, we have Roger Crowley's The Accursed Tower: The Fall of Acre and the End of the Crusades. It's been awhile since we've seen a good book [Ed. note: Just stop it already. Pick a different word, will you?]—*ahem*—since we've seen a book about the Crusades. Crowley focuses on the events of 1291, when the last Christian stronghold in the Outremer fell. Now, Acre was hot-potatoed back and forth for a couple hundred years, starting with the First Crusade in 1099, before going back to the Muslims in 1187, who only managed to hold it for a few years. Richard the Lionheart took it back in 1191, and it stayed in Christian hands for a hundred years.
Crowley does a fabulous job detailing all sorts of backstory (and there's a lot of it) leading up to the Muslim victory in 1291. But he's also good at telling a rousing narrative. The Accursed Tower reads more like an action movie than a lumbering documentary. Thumbs up from those with short attention spans!
And speaking of short attention spans, James Patterson's The Chef is now out in paperback. Do you remember what we said about the hardback back in February? No? Us neither. Since we can't be bothered to go track it down in the archive [Ed. note: Issue #179], we'll do a hand-wave and elevator pitch the book as Jon Favreau's food truck movie Chef meets Jason Statham's Transporter. Bam! as Emeril Lagasse used to say.
Oh, look! A new book from George R. R. Martin! It's—what? Oh, it's an illustrated edition of The Clash of Kings, the second book from A Song of Ice and Fire. It's not new words. It's just pictures to go along with words that were published twenty years ago.
Has it been that long already? That's probably the sentiment Bernard Cornwell is espousing in his introduction. "George, the War of the Roses only lasted thirty-two years, you know . . ."
We're not being entirely fair here. Martin is not our bitch (as Neil Gaiman pointed out, um, ten years ago), but as booksellers, it is our job to look askance at place-holder publications meant to distract readers from new content.
[Ed. note: *cough* Longspur *cough*]
What? Quick. Here's another cookbook with Mary Berry, where she's still thinking about shanking the photographer for making her pose with food.
Okay, okay. Enough with the nonsense. Let's focus on the really important book out this week.
That's right. The Wonky Donkey has a sequel. It's The Dinky Donkey, and yes, a certain Scottish grandma probably collapsed in fits of hysterical laughter while trying to count all the loose cash she's received as "consultation fees"—er, we mean, while reading this book to her grandchild.
Meanwhile, Matt Harry is back with Cryptozoology for Beginners, the sequel to Sorcery for Beginners. In this book, our brave students of the magical arts learn about unicorns, chimerae, infographics, and droll sidebars. Cleverly illustrated by Juliane Crump, Cryptozoology for Beginners is a delightful romp through a landscape that is rapidly becoming well-traveled.
And speaking of well-traveled ideas, Lisa Jewell is back this week with The Family Upstairs, which is another entry in the Fiction > Psychological Thrillers > Domestic category. Early reviews say lovely things about The Family Upstairs, which means that Jewell knows how to get under your skin, creep you out about your neighbors, and keep you up all night reading. Perfect!
And speaking of perfect bedtime reading, here is Barbara Castro Urio's Goodnight, Rainbow Cats, which is a marvelous picture book for those early readers who are all about "kittie!" and colors. Who knew cats could come in so many colors?
And finally, we'd like to direct your attention to Carmen Maria Machado's In the Dream House. It's a memoir, but it's also—oh, about a hundred different other things too. Machado frames her story of domestic abuse as a series of narrative tropes, as in "Dream House as Prologue," "Dream House as Choose Your Own Adventure," and "Dream House as an Exercise in Point of View." It makes for a fragmented narrative, but it distills a variety of incidents, viewpoints, and commentary into a searing and unflinching recollection. Seriously, dear readers. This book is astonishing in its presentation.
Oh, did we forget to mention Erin Morgenstern has a new novel out? Oh, wow. Way to bury the lede. Erin Morgenstern has a new novel out. It's called The Starless Sea. it's got pirates! It's got adventure! It's got liars! It's marvelous. You should come get a copy.