11:30 am EST, December 12, 2014

Hypable Picks: Our favorite books of 2014

As the end of the year approaches it’s time to reflect on some of our favorite books of 2014. The Hypable staff are a unique group, and that shows in our selection of favorite books which range from comic books, to biographies, to some of the best sellers of the year.

‘Not that Kind of Girl’ by Lena Dunham

"Not-that-kind-of-girl"‘Wise beyond her years’ doesn’t really begin to cover it when it comes to author/director/creator/writer/20-something Lena Dunham. It’s like she is aging at double-speed, dispensing the wisdom of a woman much older than her 28 years. When her book was announced, people criticized the dollar amount of her deal, claiming she was perhaps too young to write a “memoir.” But once you read her book, you realize those haters were wrong and that Lena has been writing and rewriting her life’s story since a young age. The book is a collection of essays, some follow in a chronological order – small snippets of a years-long relationship – and some are simply lists (“13 Things I’ve Learned are Not Okay to Say to Friends,” “17 Things I Learned From My Father”). Overall, Not that Kind of Girl is a deep dive into the psyche of one woman who voices what millions of girls have probably thought at one time or another about friends, love, parents, food, and education, and work. –Kristina Lintz

‘Ms. Marvel, Vol. 1: No Normal’

Ms-MarvelI had all but given up on the comic book medium when I came across the new Ms. Marvel series. It has such a wonderfully relatable main protagonist who feels like an “everywoman.” Yet, she has a rich characterization with an origin story unlike any I’ve ever seen. Plus, the story’s plotline is never dull but, on the other hand, it’s not unbelievably fantastic. It was, simply, a book that I never wanted to put down. This collection of comics is the ideal jumping-off point for anyone who wants to start getting into comic books, as well as those who already love the comic book medium. I can’t wait to see where life and fate lead Kamala Khan next. This is one story I can’t recommend enough to comic book fans and non-comic book fans alike. –Danielle Zimmerman

 

‘Sublime’ by Christina Lauren

SublimeIf you’re already a fan of Christina Lauren you know the author team writes amazing romance novels with plot lines that are actually enjoyable to read. So when Sublime came out, of course I picked up a copy! The thing is, this was Christina Lauren’s first time writing a supernatural young adult novel. But you can’t even tell. With Sublime they’ve added Lucy to their stellar line up of strong female characters. There’s a twist though, Lucy is really a ghost – though she isn’t sure why she’s around, what her purpose is, or how long she has to walk on the earth. All she knows is that she can’t stay away from Colin and he can’t stay away from her. As a reader, you won’t be able to put down the book when you find out just how deeply connected their pasts are and how much more they want to be connected. The best part about the novel, hands down, is the ending which I feel gives the reader the decision to see it as a happily ever after or something more sinister. Pick the novel up today and thank me later. –Sonya Field

‘Made for You’ by Melissa Marr

Made-for-YouMelissa Marr is one of the few authors who can pack a whole lot of description into just a few words at a time. Her books come alive in your hands, and Made for You is no exception. It follows the story of Eva after she’s been hit by a car. At first she thinks it was an accident, but as more collisions take place — each deadlier than the last — she begins to realize that she’s wrapped up in something far more dangerous than she initially thought. As fascinating as it is to experience Eva’s story, it’s even more chilling to get inside the mind of the killer as they commit their crimes. Despite knowing why they’re doing this before Eva does, Marr does an excellent job of keeping us unsure as to who is doing it. This book is my favorite of the year because it hits every note — containing suspense, thrills, horror, friendship, and love — without feeling contrived or cumbersome. –Karen Rought

‘Hollow City’ by Ransom Riggs

Hollow-CityThe highly anticipated follow-up to Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children introduced even more children with amazing abilities, inspired by creepy old-time photos carefully collected by the author. The visual element is one of the best things about the original, and in this aspect, the sequel doesn’t disappoint.

While Jacob and his friends’ trek through WW2-era Britain feels a little too easy (similarly to Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson, the heroes stumble from one conveniently relevant location to another), some incredible new aspects of the world are introduced, as they discover how much danger they’re truly in. A worthy follow-up, and as addictive a read as the first. –Selina Wilken
 
 

‘Ruin and Rising’ Leigh Bardugo

Ruin-and-RisingLeigh Bardugo manages to create a complex YA fantasy world based partly on Russian folklore. In her world, The Darkling, the most powerful wielder of Grisha magic, may have met his match in the commoner orphan Alina Starkov. Alina’s magic, that of a sun summoner, may equal and surpass that of the Darkling’s magic of darkness, but only if she finds three amplifiers to strengthen her power. The question is, what price is to be paid for amplified magic? One of the best aspects of Bardugo’s writing is that her characters are, for the most part, intelligent and sure of themselves and their mission. Their war is often a battle of strategy, cunning, and skill. Ruin and Rising is a satisfying end to the Grisha Trilogy, and leaves the world open to new tales featuring other characters. –Laura Byrne Cristiano
 

‘Heir of Fire’ by Sarah J. Maas

Heir-of-FireHeir of Fire is Sarah J. Maas’ quietest book in the series, but in my opinion, it’s also her best. After the stunning revelations and harrowing losses in Crown of Midnight, the third book in the series allows its characters the time to grieve: to stop and develop themselves as individuals away from the relationships that have defined them, into the people they are becoming. It’s a coming of age story plucked in the middle of this epic fantasy series, as each one of the stunning, thoughtful characters— from the spoiled prince to the daring assassin— finally matures into the beginnings of their best self. Pain has meaning. Choices have consequences. And we are finally gifted with Aelin — that terrible, beautiful, brave queen that surprises her readers in all the best ways. –Ariana Quinonez
 
 
 

‘Queen of the Tearling’ by Erika Johansen

Queen-of-the-TearlingQueen of the Tearling was one of the most anticipated books of the year, especially after the news that Emma Watson was already slated to star as the main character in a film adaptation. When it finally came out many found themselves underwhelmed by the debut novel, but I found myself enthralled.

I loved the concept of the story as well as the characters, I found Kelsea to be refreshing and interesting, and her character growth really had me grinning. Queen of the Tearling definitely has its shortcomings, but in the end I think this series is going to be fantastic and I can’t wait for the second installment! –Kyle
 
 
 

‘Yes Please’ by Amy Poehler

Yes-PleaseAmy Poehler’s enchanting autobiography embodies everything I love about this funny, funny lady. Part-memoir and part-self help guide, Yes Please is certainly advice-heavy – but who wouldn’t want advice from Amy Poehler? Not this girl. Without skipping over the less-than-favourable aspects, Poehler recounts her life without the overwhelming dose of romanticised nostalgia that accompanies so many celebrity memoirists. Even more refreshing is her refusal to share all details about her life indiscriminately, such as her marriage to fellow comedian Will Arnett. Yes, this is a memoir, but does that entitle the reader to full access to the author’s life? Poehler thinks not. But what she does choose to share is both delightful and relatable. Intelligently written and unsurprisingly (although consistently) laugh-out-loud funny, Yes Please is easily one of the best celebrity memoirs in recent years – and one of my favourite books of 2014. –Marama Whyte

‘Hawkeye Volume 3: L.A. Woman’ by Matt Fraction

HawkeyeMatt Fraction’s award-winning Hawkeye run has been a triumph on every page, and the third trade in the series is no different. Deviating slightly from the Clint Barton-centric plot, L.A. Woman collects Kate Bishop’s adventures on the West Coast, with beloved Pizza Dog in tow. Giving Kate her chance to shine in these issues was an inspired choice by Fraction, fleshing out the brief glimpses we got of her throughout her interactions with perpetual screw-up Barton. Penned stylishly on the page by Annie Wu, the colour palate tends away from the minimalist selection we’ve come to expect, but the trade certainly doesn’t suffer for it — in fact, it helps to differentiate between Kate’s lifestyle on the West Coast, versus Barton on the East. L.A. Woman shines particularly when it embraces the “superhero” story, pitting Kate against her nemesis, Madame Masque — we get to see just what Kate Bishop is capable off, from her expert bowmanship to her quick wit. But it doesn’t let us forget that Kate is still a teenager, and Fraction beautifully highlights her vulnerability and sometimes naiveté as she navigates her new, L.A. life. It’s an expertly accomplished trade, and certainly not one to miss out on before the final trade is released later this year. –Donya Abramo

‘Captain Marvel Volume 1: Higher, Further, Faster, More’ by Kelly Sue Deconnick

Captain-MarvelWe have a lot to be thankful to Deconnick for — not least for her masterful depiction of Carol Danvers on the pages of Captain Marvel. She’s certainly managed to breathe new life into the character, propelling her into the indisputable hero we’ve come to know and love, and there’s a reason that the #CarolCorps are so steadfastly loyal to Danvers. Deconnick shows so many facets of Carol throughout this trade — from her dorky sense of humor, to her short temperedness. Carol is an incredibly driven character, and is unapologetic about her desire to win. She’s far from perfect, but she tries so hard to be the hero that people need, and Deconnick makes her an easy character to root for. In this rebooted volume, we see Carol go galactic, as she teams up with this year’s breakaway stars, The Guardians of the Galaxy. She gets herself tangled up in space politics, and even takes on an armada. If you want an easy jumping off point to learn more about Carol Danvers, before she crashes onto the big screen, Higher, Further, Faster, More is exactly where you want to start. We guarantee you’ll be inducting yourself to the #CarolCorps within the first few pages. –Donya Abramo

‘Funny Girl’ by Nick Hornby

Funny-GirlBritish legend Nick Hornby returns with Funny Girl, his first novel since 2009’s Juliet, Naked. I very much associate Hornby with contemporary England – he always offers an understated, conversational and clever take on the modern British lifestyle, often juxtaposing the banality of day-to-day life with some sort of extraordinary personal circumstance – be it a debilitating obsession with music in High Fidelity or a suicide pact in A Long Way Down. Funny Girl is a departure for Hornby – not from his trademark tone or humour, but from the present day setting. Imagine my delight when I picked up this book, with its gorgeous red retro cover, and discovered a tale of 1960s London, of closeted television writers at the hallowed BBC, and most importantly, of Barbara Parker – stage name Sophie Straw – a blonde bombshell who wants nothing more than to become a great comedienne like Lucille Ball. It’s couldn’t tick more boxes for me – a behind-the-scenes entertainment industry story? A smart female lead? Exploration of queer characters? My beloved Beeb in the crazy post-war era that I’m fascinated by, when people just walked in and said “I’d like a job in television, please?” All in the hands of a writer I love and trust, whose work, be it novels, non-fiction or lyrics, has always struck a chord with me, both as an admitted Anglophile and also as a general human being? No other 2014 release stood a chance. –Natalie Fisher

‘Lead’ by Kylie Scott

LeadThere are few things I love more in a book than a bad boy musician in need of saving, and Jimmy Ferris is their king. “Lead” takes a man whose problems are larger than life in the first two novels of the Stage Dive series and makes him not only sympathetic, but downright huggable, and does so without a single chapter from his point of view.

Lena Morrissey, on the other hand, is an incredibly funny, street smart, spunky woman that is perfectly ready to handle her own issues and to do so with gusto. It just so happens that she is just as perfectly suited to deal with Jimmy’s many idiosyncrasies as well, and thanks to the misunderstood manipulations of one Malcom Ericson, we get to see just how these two characters’ stories may align.

Kylie Scott has done a marvelous job creating three dimensional, funny characters that have realistic obstacles and histories to overcome. Not a single one of these people could be called boring or formulaic, and each brings a unique perspective to the story they are telling. “Lead” is a perfect example of how a love story can be just as engaging and complex as the people reading it. I cannot recommend this book, and the others in the Stage Dive series, enough, especially if you like a few laughs mixed in with your emotional outbursts and sexual tension. –Kristen Kranz

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