Our editors’ Top Ten appears in the December issue of LJ and will be in your email inbox on December 20th. But it takes a small army to produce LJ and our sister magazine, School Library Journal, and the troops are all opinionated! Here’s what some of the rest of our staff devoured in 2012 (also look for other Best Books categories in the meantime on LJ Reviews).
Assistant Editor, School Library Journal book review
Díaz, Junot. This Is How You Lose Her. Riverhead: Penguin Group (USA). 2012. c.224p. ISBN 9781594487361. $26.95. F
Yunior, the macho, love-seeking protagonist from Drown returns in the Pulitzer Prize-winning author’s new short story collection. In unapologetic, sizzling prose that reads like poetry, Diaz explores the irresistible, ferocious, and enduring power of love. (LJ 7/15/12)
Bray, Libba. The Diviners. Bk. 1. 578p. Little, Brown. 2012. $19.99. ISBN 978-0-316-12611-3. F
The Printz-winning author goes back to her historical fiction-paranormal roots, bringing the Roaring Twenties back to life in this dizzying and dazzling series opener. Bray’s detailed portrayal of that frenetic decade is evident in the slang-filled dialog, large cast of distinct characters, and creepy New York City setting. The result? I can’t wait for the next volume in this cross between The Great Gatsby and A Great and Terrible Beauty. (SLJ 9/1/12)
Editor-in-Chief, Library Journal
Sutherland, John. Lives of the Novelists: A History of Fiction in 294 Lives. Yale Univ. 2012. 832p. index. ISBN 9780300179477. $39.95. LIT
The choices here are sometimes very idiosyncratic, but this is a book you can dip into and read in parts and glean many interesting tidbits, such as the impact of public hangings on Thomas Hardy’s sensibility. (LJ 5/1/12)
Guy LeCharles Gonzalez
Director, Content & Digital Product Development
Cole, Myke. Shadow Ops: Control Point. Ace. 2012. 400p. ISBN 9781937007249. pap. $7.99. SF
What if the X-Men were a branch of the military and there was no Professor X? That’s effectively Myke Cole’s premise in Control Point, and not only does it work, it arguably trumps even Chris Claremont’s most classic story arcs.
Cuzon, Ro. Under the Dixie Moon: An Adel Destin Novel. The Rogue Reader. 2012. 426p. ISBN: 9780988412705. $4.99. F
A no-holds-barred, sexy and violent noir with a liberal dash of NOLA, Ro Cuzon’s Under the Dixie Moon is one part Charlie Huston’s Hank Thompson novels and one part Lawrence Block’s Matt Scudder titles. It delivers an unblinking look at the dirty underbelly of a corrupt society, complete with ugly consequences and melancholy endings.
Production Editor, School Library Journal
Rodale, Maya. Seducing Mr. Knightly. (Writing Girls). Avon. 2012. 384p. ISBN 9780062088949. pap. $7.99. HISTORICAL ROMANCE
Dear Annabelle, a “Writing Girl” who writes the advice column in The London Weekly is tired of being quiet and ignored, especially by the one person she wants to pay attention to her, her boss! Annabelle reaches out to her readers for advice on how to catch a man’s attention. This delightful, luscious read, set in 1825, will make you laugh and cry and get your thoughts running wild. The other titles in the series are just as witty and sexy, but this one can stand alone.
Associate Editor, School Library Journal; Book Review Editor, Series Made Simple
Moran, Caitlin. How To Be a Woman. Harper Perennial. 2012. 320p. ISBN 9780062124296. pap. $15.99. MEMOIR
I laughed out loud at Caitlin Moran’s cheeky and smart essay collection/memoir hybrid that manages to cover modern feminism as it applies to anything and everything from women in the work force to underwear.
News Editor, Library Journal
Pollock, Tom. The City’s Son. Bk. 1. 458p. (The Skyscraper Throne Series). Flux. 2012. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780738734309. FANTASY
It’s urban fantasy that shows there are still new changes left to be rung on the magical London trope. Less romanticized than Gaiman’s Neverwhere, less cynical than Meiville’s King Rat, The City’s Son is YA by virtue of young protagonists. Still, it works even for an adult who is all-too-familiar with the genre, because it never takes the easy way out of its narrative dilemmas and achieves a genuinely surprising ending. This standout in an often-whitewashed genre is also notable for the heroine’s best friend Pen, who all but steals the show and whose relationship with her family and its Pakistani traditions is complicated and compelling. (SLJ 11/1/12)