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Best of 2008 List: Reviewer Jia

Jia is our YA, Science Fiction/Fantasy, Crossover expert.   Jia came to us a year ago and provides great insight from the otherside of the genre fence.   She’s the one that brought Suzanne Collins to our attention here along with lesser known fantasy authors (or at least lesser known to me) like Rob Thurman.   

  • THE HUNGER GAMES by Suzanne Collins (Grade: A)
  • YOUR SCANDALOUS WAYS by Loretta Chase (Grade: A-)
  • GIRL OVERBOARD   by Justina Chen Headley (Grade: A-)
  • WHEN TWILIGHT BURNS by Colleen Gleason (Grade: A-)
  • MAGIC BURNS by Ilona Andrews (Grade: B+)
  • MADHOUSE by Rob Thurman (Grade: B+)
  • VIOLET IN PRIVATE by Melissa Walker (Grade: B+)
  • THE HIDDEN CITY by Michelle West (Grade: B+)

Jia is an avid reader who loves fantasy and young adult novels. She's also currently dipping her toes in the new adult genre but remains unconvinced by the prevalent need for traumatic pasts. Her favorite authors are Michelle West and Jacqueline Carey. YA authors whose works she's enjoyed include Holly Black, Laini Taylor, Ally Carter, and Megan Miranda. Jia's on a neverending quest for novels with diverse casts and multicultural settings. Feel free to email her with recommendations at [email protected]!

19 Comments

  1. Mara
    Dec 17, 2008 @ 11:57:32

    Maybe as a newer author, Thurman doesn’t get the promotion that authors like Briggs or Butcher or Harris do? (Which seems kind of backward, if you ask me). I’ve wondered about it, because I think her work is just as well-written and entertaining as any urban fantasy on the market. Thurman’s an auto-buy for me.

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  2. Janine
    Dec 17, 2008 @ 12:14:11

    Like Jayne’s recommendation of People of the Book, Jia’s recommendation of The Hunger Games is on my short list of books I’m dying to read. I was really sorry I couldn’t get to it by the end of the year, to see if it would qualify for my “Best of 2008″ list.

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  3. Stephani Hecht
    Dec 17, 2008 @ 14:48:23

    I am so happy to see Rob Thurman on your list. I love her books.

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  4. orannia
    Dec 17, 2008 @ 15:47:03

    Thank you Jia. I have When Twilight Burns sitting beside my bed waiting for the holidays :) I’m a bit of a Sebastian fan, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed! And I loved The Hidden City. I can’t wait for the second book and hopefully some Jewel-Avendar interactions :)

    Rob Thurman’s books I haven’t read but have heard snippets about. I might have to look her up :) Is Nightlife the first book? My library has three of her books and since I’m stock-piling for the Christmas break…..

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  5. Jia
    Dec 17, 2008 @ 16:10:12

    @orannia: My lips are sealed regarding the Sebastian versus Max debate in When Twilight Burns, but you’ll find out soon enough, I expect.

    I wish I had an idea of when the next book in West’s House Wars series was coming out. I’m prepared for a longish wait, and yet… (For all that I love Avandar, I’m on Team Devon but I’m almost positive that’s the losing side.)

    As for Rob Thurman’s Cal Leandros series, the order is: Nightlife, Moonshine, and Madhouse. The fourth book, Deathwish, comes out in a few months.

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  6. colleen gleason
    Dec 17, 2008 @ 16:33:24

    Thank you so much for including WHEN TWILIGHT BURNS on your list, Jia! I’m glad you enjoyed it.

    Email me if you’d like an e-copy of AS SHADOWS FADE……. :-)

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  7. Tammy
    Dec 17, 2008 @ 17:25:05

    I totally agree on When Twilight Burns, Jia, but I thought Your Scandalous Ways wasn’t one of Ms. Chase’s bests. In fact, I didn’t get through YSW, which is VERY unusual for me (and had never happened with a Chase book before).

    Thanks for the list!

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  8. orannia
    Dec 17, 2008 @ 17:56:20

    Thank you Jia! I’m such a Sebastian fan I have (figurative, not literal) pom poms :)

    I currently have nine books out or in transit from the library, but I think I might sneak Nightlife in (as it is available and I am on holiday :)

    Yes, I’m prepared for a long wait for the second House War book too. I didn’t know there was a Team Devon (or a Team Avendar). Hmmm….I hadn’t really pictured Devon that way, but now that you mention it…

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  9. Jennie
    Dec 17, 2008 @ 19:13:29

    Janine, I’m reading The Hunger Games right now and it’s sooo good! I wish I had read it before so I could put it on my list. I have about 50 pages left and I’m getting all antsy about it ending. It’s intense – not a light read – but so emotionally involving and engaging.

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  10. Jia
    Dec 17, 2008 @ 19:26:22

    @Jennie: Glad you’re enjoying it! Recommending books is always tricky because I know I have my quirks and biases so I try to take other people’s preferences into account when suggesting reading material to them. Different strokes for different folks, and all that. But when it comes to The Hunger Games, I rec it to anyone and everyone who’ll listen because I think it has broad appeal.

    @orannia: I don’t actually think there are teams. That’s just something I always toss out because speculating and discussing relationships between characters, romantic or otherwise, is a much beloved past time of mine. For example, The Hidden City reminded me of how much I adore the interactions between Jewel and Carver. That scene where he handed her the knife but she actually wanted the map cracked me up.

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  11. Janine
    Dec 17, 2008 @ 20:18:24

    Janine, I'm reading The Hunger Games right now and it's sooo good!

    I read the first paragraph or two a little while ago and was totally sucked in. But since I have very little reading time, I made myself stop, because I want to read it when I can devote a good chunk of time to it.

    I wish I had read it before so I could put it on my list.

    I don’t see why you can’t add it to your list. I think I may do that with any 2008 books I fall in love with in the coming weeks. There are some 2008 books I really wanted to get to and didn’t — The Hunger Games, People of the Book, Fortune and Fate (I know you didn’t like it, Jia, but I’m a Sharon Shinn fangirl so I’m holding out hope that I might) and a few others. If I love any of them, I think I will add them to my list retroactively.

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  12. Jia
    Dec 17, 2008 @ 20:29:44

    @Janine: Fortune and Fate is a book best enjoyed by fans of the Twelve Houses series, I think, since it really struck me more as an epilogue to the books than anything else. I’d be interested in hearing your thoughts when you do get a chance to read it.

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  13. Janine
    Dec 17, 2008 @ 21:08:16

    @Jia: I loved the third book in the Twelve Houses series, Dark Moon Defender., and liked two of the other books in the series (Mystic and Rider and Reader and Raelynx) pretty well.

    But on the whole, I think Shinn’s Angel series is her best series, and I preferred her YA series (beginning with The Safe Keeper’s Secret) to the Twelve Houses series too. Two of her SF books, Wrapt in Crystal and Heart of Gold, worked better than most of the Twelve Houses series for me as well. I enjoy almost everything Shinn writes because of her characterization and prose, but sword and sorcery isn’t my favorite type of fantasy, so I’ll be glad when Shinn moves on to something else.

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  14. Karen W.
    Dec 17, 2008 @ 21:49:52

    I’m a BIG Rob Thurman fan and have been trying to spread the word about her books for about two years now. I’m glad to see more and more people discovering her excellent fantasy series.

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  15. Jennie
    Dec 18, 2008 @ 01:15:18

    Glad you're enjoying it! Recommending books is always tricky because I know I have my quirks and biases so I try to take other people's preferences into account when suggesting reading material to them. Different strokes for different folks, and all that. But when it comes to The Hunger Games, I rec it to anyone and everyone who'll listen because I think it has broad appeal.

    I would agree, though I suppose readers who have a strong preference for light reads might find it a bit much. But I’m 99% sure Janine will love it, because IIRC she shares my fondness for post-apocalyptic stories. It’s really just such a compelling reading; I mean it when I say I’m kind of dreading it ending. It’s been a while since I’ve felt that way about a book.

    I read the first paragraph or two a little while ago and was totally sucked in. But since I have very little reading time, I made myself stop, because I want to read it when I can devote a good chunk of time to it.

    You have so much more self-control than I do!

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  16. Jia
    Dec 18, 2008 @ 06:37:43

    @Jennie: There are two more book forthcoming, if that makes it any better.

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  17. April
    Dec 18, 2008 @ 09:02:45

    I’m dying for The Hunger Games sequel. THG tops my list of favorites this year as well.

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  18. MaryK
    Dec 19, 2008 @ 15:00:33

    @Janine: If any of you do update your lists, can you give the additions an annotation or something and give us a heads up so we’ll know there’s been an update and can see what’s changed? I’m not sure I’ll remember to recheck the posts as they age.

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  19. In Which Colleen Gets Three Early Christmas Presents. | For All the World to See - Colleen Gleason
    Dec 22, 2008 @ 08:27:27

    [...] Then, Jia at Dear Author, which is one of the most intelligent romance-reviewing blogs out there, named When Twilight Burns on her Best of 2008 list. Yay! (here) [...]

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