RT Editors' Best of 2012: Regina's Picks

This blog post is part of a series that the RT Editors will be taking part in during the month of December. Please check back all month long for each editor's installment!

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With 2012 winding down, the RT editors thought December would be a good time to reflect on what each of us read this year and which books stuck with us long after we finished them. While this year's RT Awards winners won't be announced until our convention in May, we've decided to share our personal favorites of 2012, in no particular order. Today RT Editor Regina Small lists her top reads of the year:


 

Tarnished
by Karina Cooper

There was never any doubt that this St. Croix Chronicles series opener would make it on my Top Books of 2012 list. I fell in love with debutante/bounty hunter/science enthusiast/opium addict Cherry St. Croix from page one. Cooper's alternate universe steampunk-inflected setting doesn't just rest on a slick use of airships and retro-futuristic gadgets. The steampunk here cuts to the heart of the story: Grime and fog has so overwhelmed London that the Queen declared that the well-heeled set must simply "rise above it" — literally. So respectable London is raised above the seedy underbelly of the city and our girl Cherry has to travel between both of her lives — as a society miss and bounty collector — by air-gondola. Intrigue, adventure, a mysterious underground circus and two very appealing love interests made this an unforgettable read of 2012.

     
 

Where'd You Go, Bernadette 
by Maria Semple

Maybe I just have a thing for complicated women. Bernadette Fox, the heroine of Maria Semple's hilarious and moving novel, is a former architect, a wife, a mother and a persistent thorn in the side of the women in her wealthy Seattle neighborhood. After Bernadette's eccentricities bring her marriage to a crisis point, she disappears. Told through e-mails, letters, magazine articles and official documents, the book follows Bernadette's precocious daughter, Bee, as she reconstructs the months leading to her mother's disappearance. With an abundance of humor, heart and well-rounded, sympathetic characters, Where'd You Go...earned a prime spot in my heart and on my bookshelf.

     
 

"The Theory of Attraction"
by Delphine Dryden

Believe it or not, there's life after Fifty Shades. Do you enjoy BDSM erotica? Do you enjoy BDSM erotica with a brainy, physics professor Dom and a smart, self-aware submissive? Well, this editor does! The scene where Ivan brings Camilla into his lab for some after-hours instruction is, without a doubt, the hottest, most well-written erotica I've read all year. 

 

     
 

The Games
by Ted Kosmatka

Billed as Jurassic Park meets The Hunger Games, Kosmatka's science-fiction thriller garnered starred reviews from Publishers Weekly, Booklist and Library Journal. The televised Olympic Gladiator games allows its competitors to fight to the death — but the powers that be brush off any pesky moral qualms by requiring all of the entrants to be 100% non-human creatures. Genius geneticist Silas Williams does his job perhaps too well, creating a brilliant killing machine that even he cannot fully understand. Featuring a chilling A.I. that reminded me (in the best way possible) of Neuromancer's Wintermute and a poignant running theme of what it means to be a father (or fatherless), Kosmatka's first novel expertly balances hard SF with genuine emotion.

     
 

Ghost Planet
by Sharon Lynn Fisher

I was lucky enough to review Fisher's sci-fi romance debut for RT's November issue and it was one of those experiences that reinforced everything I love about my job. ("You mean I get to read this wonderful science fiction love story and that is considered grown-up adult work? Guess I win everything.") Strongly reminiscent of the lovely Soderbergh/Clooney Solaris adaptation, which is a particular favorite, Ghost Planet tells the story of Dr. Elizabeth Cole — who has died before the book starts. Existing as a ghost and bound to her supervisor, Murphy, on a strange new planet, Cole struggles with the mystery of her own existence. Twice nominated for RWA's Golden Heart, Fisher's debut is a touching, introspective look at personal identity and love. I'll be first in line to read Fisher's next book. 

     
 

Libriomancer
by Jim C. Hines

Let me tell all you need to know about Jim C. Hines' latest: the hero is a librarian who fights otherworldly baddies by pulling weapons right out of the books he loves. Yes, this fantasti-awes-mazing (it's a word now; it's fine) story essentially says knowledge is power. Rejoice, fellow nerds. We too can be superheroes. 

 

     
 

Riveted
by Meljean Brook

Riveted may be the last in the Iron Seas trilogy, but it was my introduction to Brook. Even in the absence of any familiarity with Brook's series, I was immediately drawn into David and Annika's charming, slow-building romance. Set in an impressively detailed steampunk world (if you don't actually feel the wind in your face as they travel on the Phatéon, I can't help you), Riveted combines daring exploits, mad villains, a strong hero and an even stronger heroine with a sensitive understanding of persons with disabilities and LGBT folk. It is an absolute gem.

     

 

Gone Girl
by Gillian Flynn

There's a reason you'll see this book on every "Top Books of 2012" list you're likely to read. It really is every bit as fabulous as everyone says. A dark, spellbinding examination of a disintegrating marriage, Flynn's third novel raises the question: how well can we really ever know another person? We often throw around the phrase "couldn't put it down" when we discuss a great book but, in case you were wondering: it really was so damn hard to put this book down. I made many bargains with myself ("just one more chapter, just until the next round-numbered page — I can't just STOP at page 143!") and lost more than a few hours of sleep while in Gone Girl's thrall.

     

See Audrey's Picks >>

See Elisa's Picks >>

See Mala's Picks >>

Do you and Regina share some favorite books of the year? Which reads did you love in 2012? Let us know in the comments, and check back all month for more editors' picks!