Have you been keeping up with our book reviews this year? From indie to mainstream, we love to sink our teeth into a good book. If you’ve been looking for something to delve into, we’ve got our staff favorites from 2014 for you to take a look at.

Red-RisingRed Rising by Pierce Brown

I simply can’t help my love for Pierce Brown’s freshman novel Red Rising. Since it’s release in January of 2014, it’s recieved its own fair amount of well-deserved praise. As a reader who typically abhors the idea of young adult, it was refreshing to see a book that was able to capitalize on the colorful world building so often found within young adult dystopian novels while at the same time not neglecting the necessity for dynamic character development. Darrow, the protagonist, goes through his trial by fire and through the course of the events of the book grows to become the leader he needs to be. Brown’s sequel Golden Son is slated for release in January of 2015. — Picked by Therese & Sam

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children and Hollow City by Ransom Riggs

These books are astounding in the story telling and imagery used, plus the added bonus of having pictures to see is just wonderful. Using pictures of days gone by, Riggs weaves a story of a teenage boy, lost in this world and trying to find who he is and where he fits. Jacob finds Miss Peregrine’s world and befriends the motley cast inside of her world, discovers who he really is, and what he must do. Jacob and the unusual children venture out into the wide world and all of it’s parallels. This book is creepy, interesting, delightful and haunting in all the right ways. I suggest that everyone go out and grab a copy of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, and grab Hollow City too, because you won’t want to stop reading this set at all.  — Picked by Rebecca

The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P. by Adelle Waldman

Adelle Waldman’s debut novel isn’t a spectacular book, but it gets my vote if only because the titular protagonist is one that I didn’t know I’d been wanting to see for so long, and one that I never expected would be portrayed so well. Nathaniel Piven is pretentious, selfish, and unrelentingly judgmental, but he’s the exact kind of character that makes you hate how much you sympathize with him. His honest, however brutal, is the soul of the novel, and in a Holden Caulfield-esque manner, his immaturity and selfishness inform everything about the greater picture of the book. Nate finally makes “the jerk” that we’ve seen in dozens of romantic comedies into a multidimensional character, with personal rationales for his selfish actions that add logic and emotion (if not merit) to his behavior. — Picked by Steve 

13518102Salvage by Alexandra Duncan

I know I’m throwing another YA book into an already heavily YA-centric list but I can’t help it. Salvage is just that good.  I don’t think I really ever expected this book to be my favorite release from 2014. Going in there was just no way I could have known the kind of amazing storytelling and world building that was in store. Salvage is an original science fiction from debut author Alexandra Duncan in an industry that is finally starting to truly embrace hard science fiction over dystopian fiction. Equally appealing: it’s a standalone, self-contained story with no sequels or planned trilogy in the world (as far as I can tell). Duncan handles her debut amazingly, giving us a strong female protagonist whose strength doesn’t come at the expense of her very human weaknesses. Its a book diverse in it’s characters, characterization, and settings. Duncan imagines a very possible future by building upon the world we live in now. I highly recommend this book not just to YA fans but to science fiction fans generally. — Picked by Sam

The Portlandia Cookbook by Fred Armisen, Carrie Brownstein, and Jonathan Kriseldownload

When it comes to books, I tend to be a few decades behind the curve. However, the Portlandia Cook Book was pretty easy to pick up and plow through, especially since it is all about food. Okay, so it isn’t the usual fiction pick, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention it. Not only will the recipes help you throw some rad and delicious parties in the New Year, but if you’re a fan of the show Portlandia there are tons of little references and bits of bonus material scattered throughout. It is also a great gift for fans of the show and those who aren’t since it has a little something for everyone. The only downside? They didn’t put a bird on it. — Picked by Katie

Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage by Haruki Murakami

In a choice that won’t please many people, I’m choosing Haruki Murakami’s 13th novel as novel as the best book of 2014. This book was unlike any of Murakami’s former endeavors, but the standard Murakami tropes were still there (average and slightly unlikeable male protagonist, mysterious female, unusual names, and train stations)and  the magical realism that is prevalent in his previous works is just reduced to nothing but dreams this time around. Tsukuru is your standard Murakami protagonist, he’s also been haunted for the past 16 years by the memory of his childhood friends abandoning him out of nowhere. Through the events of the story, he must figure out the reason behind this abandonment. Although this reason ends up being problematic at its center, it’s an interesting departure from his other works. It won’t leave you satisfied at the end, but will definitely leave you pondering your own generic existence. — Picked by Kathryn


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