In the meantime, though, let's talk about some of the stuff I'm reading right now. I haven't had a lot of for-fun reading time over the last few weeks, but I'm still in the middle of more than a couple of books; what I think of them so far, below the break.
The Stories of English, by David Crystal
What it is: A history of the English language, focusing specifically on how the major modern dialects of English came to be accepted by their respective speakers/cultures, while other dialects withered or were absorbed.
How I'm liking it so far: Unfortunately, I haven't been able to enjoy this as much as I ought to have, because it's a very dense read. It's got some nice bits of humor and isn't hard to follow, but the density of information and professional tone make this something that's not really amenable to reading in short bursts--and that's all I've been able to give it so far. BUT! Summer starts next week, and with any luck, I'll then be able to give this the sort of sit-down reading I'd like to. Even as-is, it's a fascinating book, and I have no doubt it'll be even better when I'm not self-sabotaging my comprehension.
Recommendation: This would be a good choice for language aficionados of any stripe, provided they're looking for something a bit more on the academic (but not inaccessible) end of the literary spectrum.
EDIT: I almost forgot; thanks to InquisitorM for gifting me a copy of the book!
A Baroque Fable, by Chelsea Quinn Yarbro
What it is: A fairytale-cum-musical about an unusually vain prince, an unusually bored princess, and an unusually pathetic dragon.
How I'm liking it so far: This is an odd beast of a story; the present-tense omniscient narration still hasn't clicked for me nearly a quarter of the way through, and the tale itself mixes a fun, ridiculous (perhaps a little predictable, but that comes with the territory, I figure) plot with a a bunch of very one-note characters. I rather like the frequent intrusions of verse, though! Of course, I liked it in Tolkien, too, so I know my opinions on the matter may be in the minority.
Recommendation: This is more of a gentle sendup of the fairytale corner of the heroic fantasy genre (or of heoric fantasy-based fairytales, maybe? I'm not sure quite what the nomenclature to suggest the area intersection/overlap between the two is) than a Fractured Fairytale proper; readers who find the idea interesting and who aren't put off by shallow characters may want to give this a look.
A Swiftly Tilting Planet, by Madeleine L'Engle
What it is: The further adventures of Meg and Charles Wallace (following A Wrinkle in Time), wherein they must avert a nuclear war with the help of a unicorn--which is in no way as silly as it sounds.
How I'm liking it so far: This is a re-read: I love L'Engle's works, and I just re-finished Wrinkle a bit ago. She's an author with a knack for never talking down to her audience, despite her stories frequently being cataloged (and on occasion, dismissed) as "children's books," and for mixing fantasy and science in exciting and intriguing ways. I'm still at the beginning, but come on: how can you not love a story that has a tesseract, a mystical Irish rune, nuclear terrorism, psionic bonding, and a freaking unicorn--all in the first thirty pages?
Recommendation: I'd start with A Wrinkle in Time, even though A Swiftly Tilting Planet is unlikely to leave one lost. But just in general, I highly recommend this book.
Who's Afraid of Beowulf?, by Tom Holt
What it is: A viking king and his band of twelve warriors have slumbered for many centuries, awaiting the moment when they can rise and defeat a terrible wizard. That moment turns out to be the present day, and it turns out a bunch of medieval barbarians aren't particularly well-equipped to deal with present-day Britain, though.
A few thoughts: This captures some of the same humorous style as Terry Pratchett, with plenty of wit in the dialogue and observation-based humor in the narration. A lot of the humor also focuses on the temporal displacement at hand (there's a running gag involving the vikings' discomfort with the name of the woman who found them--Hildy Fredericsen--which they're quite sure ought to be Fredericsdottir), and I'm finding that to be right up my alley.
Recommendation: This would be a good choice for readers looking for something humorous in a fish-out-of-water vein with a mythological/historical twist.