NEED by Carrie Jones

NEED by Carrie Jones is one of those books that sneaks up on you.  It starts off firmly grounded in the real world, with teens so real you can almost smell them sweating after cross-country practice, a setting so vivid you can feel the winter wind blow, and the very real teen drama that defines every high school in America.  But this isn’t just any town; it’s a town with a high concentration of pixies – magical beings with terrible, evil needs.  By the time you realize the danger the main character, Zara, is in, you’ve already accepted this book as real, which makes the scary parts even scarier.

After the death of Zara’s father, her mother sends her to live in snowy Maine, where she’s thrown off balance by icy roads and people who aren’t what they appear to be. But even worse than the blustery snow is the mysterious man who shows up.  He’s been following her everywhere, he leaves a trail of gold dust behind him, and Zara’s convinced he’s connected to the disappearance of some missing boys in town.  When Zara discovers that the mystery man is a pixie, she’s forced to fight her fears and question some of her own ideas about nonviolence.

I love Zara. If I didn’t know better, I’d think Carrie Jones created her in response to some of the issues I have with TWILIGHT’s Bella.  While I read TWILIGHT, loved the exciting plot, and completely understand the appeal to teen girls, I always wonder how they view Bella, who isn’t as strong a heroine as I like to see in books for girls.  Zara, by contrast, is a girl with ideals and gumption.  She has her own sizzling love interest in NEED, but it’s on her terms.  She’s a heroine I can feel good about introducing to my 7th grade girls. NEED is a great book for paranormal romance fans – and a fantastic “next book” for kids looking for something to read after TWILIGHT. 

Kate’s Holiday Book Review Note:
  I hope you’re shopping with independent bookstores for the holidays!  After all of my holiday season book reviews, I’ll be posting a short note on how each title might fit into your gift list.

Need by Carrie Jones

Note:  This title has a December 23 release date from Bloomsbury.  If that’s cutting it too close, you might want to pre-order it as a holiday gift and just leave a little note with a picture of the cover under the tree. It’s that good.  Or just pick up a gift certificate for your favorite indie and wrap it up with a copy of this review!

Suggested ages:  12+

Buy it for kids who loved:  Twilight, Wicked Lovely, Lament, other paranormal romance novels.  They’ll love this one, too!

Friday Five

Five things I did this week…

  1. Wrote another 6150 words on my new MG novel – I broke the 27,000 mark tonight, and I love where the story is going. 
  2. Met the illustrator of Spitfire for the first time.  Her name is Martha Gulley, and she’s not only talented but so, so nice.  She’s doing chapter illustrations for my new book, Champlain & the Silent One, right now. Waiting to see what she does with it is like waiting for Christmas.
  3. Talked with librarians and teachers about some school visits I have coming up this spring and cooked up a brand new historical writing workshop to fit one of the school’s requests.  I’m pulling together diaries, artifacts, images, period food and games, and it’s going to be so much fun!
  4. Read Love and Other Uses for Duct Tape by 

     and felt like I was in high school again.  It was funny and sad and wonderful.  And I was reminded that the tiniest sensory details can make a book shine.  The rip in the vinyl seat of a pickup truck.  A crack in the sidewalk that looks like New Hampshire.  I loved this book.  It’s the kind of YA novel that most of my middle school readers aren’t ready for just yet — more of a high school title — but it will be well worth the wait.  Thanks, Carrie!!

  5. Picked up tickets for the family to see The King and I at Chazy Music Theater.  My friend Andrew is directing this play, and you should go, too.  Unless you live in California or Iceland or something. Then I understand.  But you’ll still miss an amazing show.  

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Happy Friday Things

Guess what?

Today was the LAST day of school, and tomorrow, we’re going to New York City to meet my Mom and Dad for the weekend, and we’re going to see JERSEY BOYS, and I just finished another round of revisions on my MG WIP, and now that school’s out I’ll have more time to research my new MG historical, and I just found this new, really great flavor of ice cream called espresso-something with chocolate covered almonds, and I ate it while I was reading the end of Carrie Jones’ YA novel TIPS ON HAVING A GAY (EX) BOYFRIEND which is an amazing, funny, touching book  (I got a little ice cream on it…sorry, Carrie…but at least it’s really good ice cream. I think you’d like it.), and…and…and….

I’m so excited for summer!