The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss - Very entertaining. The first straight-up, sword-and-sorcery fantasy that I've read in a long time, and I heartily enjoyed this return to a genre that I pretty much lived in for my teen years. I love Rothfuss's humor, his sense of poetry and drama, and his worldbuilding. That said, it's not without its flaws. Rothfuss has several verbal ticks ala Robert Jordan, so he tends to repeat phrases until you are ready to stab him in the face the next time he mentions anyone being chilled, known, possessed, or anything else "down to the marrow of his/her bones." Not really his fault, but I feel like someone in the editing food chain could have done something about this without hurting themselves. Also, there's a big section in the middle that sort of reads like it was originally written by a seventeen-year-old about his RPG character. Which makes it sound much worse than it is. No seventeen-year-old with an RPG character ever wrote this well. It's just that the bones of the story at that point are still just recognizable as those of a wish-fulfillment Mary Sue fantasy. The writing and the fact that Rothfuss can be hilariously funny make up for it, though, and there is magic that requires math and conversion tables. Thumbs up.
The Wise Man's Fear by Patrick Rothfuss - The sequel is even more enjoyable and involves even more fun worldbuilding. I am such a sucker for some good, chewy worldbuilding, guys. And worldbuilding that also makes me laugh out loud a lot? Sold. Rothfuss still makes tediously repetitive references to bone-marrow, alas, and a few more of his repeatedly-reused phrases get really out of control, but I didn't get that "Did you come up with this part when you were still in highschool?" feeling from any of it. I did become stupendously bored with a small section in the very middle which brought the action--which up till then had been going along at quite a respectable clip--to a crashing halt. But that part was mercifully brief (though not brief enough) and after it came, yes, more awesome worldbuilding wheeee! I am definitely looking forward to the third instalment, which comes out...some time in the future? I have no idea. My husband owns a bookstore, he keeps track of these things for me.
Whose Body? by Dorothy Sayers - Yes, I finally dove into the Lord Peter Wimsey novels for the first time not long ago, and what a delightful dive it was. Lord Peter is awesome. Bunter is even more awesome. Lord Peter's mom is awesome. There is more witty banter than I ever dreamed could be contained within such a tiny book. I kind of guessed who the killer was pretty early on and I didn't even care because it was such a pleasure to watch Lord Peter et al work it out. It's like Jeeves and Wooster fighting crime! (Only, of course, Lord Peter only pretends to be Wooster, whereas Wooster actually is Wooster.) I am so in love. More, please.
The Martian General's Daughter by Theodore Judson - I loved Fitzpatrick's War and have re-read it multiple times, so it seemed like a good idea to read something else by the same author. Having now added a second data point to my research, I feel confident in stating that Judson likes to write about future civilizations crumbling under the weight of corrupt, powerful people while sympathetic characters look on in a steampunk-ish sort of setting. This book was a decent, solidly-written book, but I didn't enjoy it nearly as well as Fitzpatrick's War. It probably wasn't helped at all by the fact that I read it during a period of weeks when Bear had decided that he wasn't going to takes naps ever, at all. I don't think I'd be in a position to really, truly love any book read in such a haze of stress and exhaustion. So there's that. But this book also has much less humor to than Fitzpatrick's War, and that makes things harder for me to like, too. I give this points for the craftsmanship of it, but the characters didn't make me love them and I didn't laugh, so not something I feel like I can strongly recommend.
The Engineer Cycle by K.J. Parker Okay. Here's the thing: Designs and Desires was good, solid, and incredibly well-written. I was in awe of Parker's ability to just keep writing good sentences. A little skimpy on the humor side at times, but nothing I couldn't handle, plus OMG masterful worldbuilding! Evil for Evil was just as well written but about five times less funny, which was detrimental considering the first book was not really funny enough for me to begin with. Also, I began to suspect that Parker might hate women a little bit. The Escapement crushed my humor-craving spirit under the heel of its doomy, depressing boot and convinced me that, yes, Parker does hate women. Kind of a lot, in fact. Also, the last book made me really hate the two characters that I had liked most at the outset of the story, and that made me really sad. It also made me love a character that I had barely thought twice about in the first book, which should sort of balance things out, but it left him in a profoundly depressing place at the end. There were times when it felt like a punishment to read this series, but I kept reading because a) the writing itself is so good and b) I had no idea how wretched every single character would be at the end. So I read a trilogy of absolutely enormous books which were just exquisitely written but made me feel like a kicked puppy. No more Parker for me, thanks ever so.
Blackout and All Clear by Connie Willis - Connie Willis is in danger of becoming my favorite living writer. I've loved many of her books over the past few years, but this? This was so...so. So everything. So sad and so joyous. So thrilling and so heartwarming. So absolutely crazy-making and so satisfying. I laughed, I cried, I fell in love with the Britain of World War II. I chewed my nails and hugged myself out of sheer delight. I called izhilzha and declared my need for moral support. I stared in horror at the page because I was convinced the author was going to end it the wrong way and gasped with relief when she didn't. I wrote an incoherent review committing excessive use of italics throughout. Read these books. You will not be sorry. There is time-travel and hilarity and death-defying ambulance rides through London burning. There is St. Paul's and shopgirls and counter-intelligence and Ultra. It is so--so!--good, guys. Read it, I beg you.