B is for Book

A Bad Spell in Yurt by C. Dale Brittain
This is the first in a six-book series of books about a hapless (and poorly dressed) wizard named Daimbert. They're filled with the kind of cocoa humor that makes you warm and cotton-headed rather than making you laugh. There's nothing in here to shake you out of your quiet evening: just a pleasant little kingdom, filled with nice folks and innocuous mystery plots, where you can snuggle into Daimbert's cozy study with roses climbing over the window and a fire crackling in the hearth. I like this book because nothing really happens.

"[It] was a shapeless red velvet pullover, with some rather tattered white fur at the neck. It might have been intended to be part of a Father Noel costume. I was entranced. 'I'll take it! [...] It will help me strike the right note of authority and mystery.'"

Barchester Towers by Anthony Trollope
You know how English clergymen are really entertaining? I mean -- not at all, really. But Trollope's six book series about the residents of a fictitious cathedral town manages to be an extremely fun read. If you like nineteenth century romances. Barchester Towers is the second book in the series and my favorite because it deals with the peerless Eleanor Bold and the exceptionally awful Obadiah Slope (think Mr. Collins but even more unctuous). Plus, I don't know whether you like saying "vicar" as much as I do, but here's your chance.

"His face is of nearly the same colour as his hair, though perhaps a little redder: it is not unlike beef -- beef, however, one would say, of a bad quality."

Beauty: A Retelling of the Story of Beauty and the Beast by Robin McKinley
fantasy, young adult
Yet another book about a girl who loves to read -- are you starting to see the theme here? In McKinley's version, Beauty is an ungainly, unattractive, shy girl with spots who is given her nickname as a fond family joke. The difficult part of the story -- how a loving father could ever sacrifice a daughter to the Beast -- is smoothed over by the Beast's gentlemanly behavior to the father at their first meeting. After that the story goes on for several chapters about the delights of living in an enchanted castle and winds up in the proper way.

"'Rudyard Kipling,' I said in despair. 'This is a name? I've never heard of any of these people [...] What's wrong?'
'Nothing is wrong,' said the Beast. [...] 'Most of these books haven't been written yet. [...] But don't worry, they will be.'"

The Book of Jhereg by Steven Brust
This contains the first three books in the Vlad Taltos series which chronicles the adventures of a young assassin for hire in one of the most original fantasy worlds I've ever encountered. This is definitely not based on medieval England, or anything I've read about. I used to read them when I was a kid and then spend the afternoon pretending to be an assassin with my own flourishing assassinary business. Now I read them and wish I was a kid so I could play it some more.

"'He wants to meet with you. [...] He set it up for two hours past noon, tomorrow.'
'After noon?'
Kragar looked puzzled. 'That's right. After noon. That means when most people have eaten lunch, but haven't eaten supper yet. You must have come across the concept before.'
I ignored his sarcasm. 'You're missing the point,' I said, flipping a shuriken into the wall next to his ear.
'Funny, Vlad -- '
'Quiet. Now, how do you go about killing an assassin? Especially someone who's careful not to let his movements fall into any pattern?'
'Eh? You set up a meeting with him, just like the Demon is doing.'
'Right. And, of course, you do everything you can to make him suspicious, don't you?'
'Uh, maybe you do. I don't.'
'Damn right you don't!'"

Buffy the Vampire Slayer: The Long Way Home by Joss Whedon
comics/graphic novels
Buffy the TV series ended with a good solid bang (I'm referring here to the distribution of slayer power, not whatever may have happened with Spike in the basement), but if you are a Buffy addict you always want more. Enter the Buffy comics, which contain all the snappy dialogue and lighthearted relationships of the early TV seasons and (so far) very little of the make-you-want-to-defenestrate emotional vortexes of the later seasons. Plus, it's all drawn instead of real, so Xander is skinny again. Although Willow still inexplicably dresses like a Ren Faire reject.

Amy puts Buffy into a mystical coma that can only be broken by the kiss of true love...
Xander: "So this doesn't have to be someone she's in love with."
Amy: "No, I said. Just someone truly in love with her."
Xander: "But not friend-love."
Amy: "Right. Someone who wants to kiss her, like, they're passionate about her."
Xander: "And not a sister."
Amy: "Well, a twisted sister..."
Xander: "HA! But no, I hate you."