As You Wish
In Arcani, Regina Scott has done well for herself in spite of the fact her mother is ashamed of her lack of wizardry skills. Reggie is fine with being a Groundling although her childhood was tough as her parents tossed galas to showcase her lack of talent and sent her to an Arcani School where she was placed in special education for the gift-less. There she met her two best friends Tommy and Joy; who though Arcani have special needs.
She opened up The Star Bright Bakery in Del Mar, California after graduating from a non Arcani university and hired Tommy and Joy as her bakers. However, on her twenty-seventh birthday, the three fairy godmothers (Aunts Lily, Hyacinth and Rose) inform Reggie she is the newest godmother; not a good thing when you lack talent and when the authorities have a woman hunt for godmothers (see The Wish List for why). However, she suddenly has a different type of power while the Council is aware of her being chosen. Finally she meets Nate and Jonathan, who seem to want her.
Although fundamentally this book is Reggie’s magical coming out show with Luc the villain in pursuit, Tommy and Joy steal the stage as two Arcani with Down’s Syndrome unaware they use magic to make special pastry. The story line is fast-paced and filled with action as Reggie is caught in the middle of the Godmother revolt. Fans will enjoy this strong urban fantasy with a romantic subplot and a strong message involving intellectual and development disabilities as Gabi Stevens (like the author I have an IDD offspring) makes a strong case for support to the Best Buddies program. Harriet Klausner
The Occult Special Investigators (Tess, Derrick, Lucian and Miles) head to the morgue to claim the corpse of a boy found on a nearby beach. The lad may not be human and almost definitely is not dead.
At the morgue, a demon attacks the four agents. The unit subdues the adversary capturing adult demon Basuram. They take him and the not dead boy who is the child Ru to OSI headquarters. Basuram demands they hand Ru over to him, as the High Court of the Ferid directed him to bring back the boy to face criminal charges though the demon admits he does not know what they are. However Earth is considered sanctuary so Tess, backed by her three teammates refuses to hand over Ru without further information. As she and her partners, investigate the claims Tess begins to uncover information about her own still cloudy heritage.
The latest occult special investigator Tess Corday urban fantasy (see A Flash of Hex and Inhuman Resources) is a terrific thriller as the heroine struggles with balancing her personal life with the demands of 24/7 on call duty. The story line is loaded with action from start to finish while the heroine and readers begin to learn more about whom (perhaps what is the better descriptor) Tess Corday is; while she and her teammates struggle with being in the middle of a demon fight. Harriet Klausner
The Disunited States of America
Time Traders laterally travel from our realm to other timelines to sell slightly better products than the locals make. Each Time Trader knows that when one is a Crosstime Traffic trader they must never display too much technological superiority as blending in with the more backwoods natives is the key to success.
Recent high school graduate Justin Monroe comes from a family of Time Traders. Currently he and Time Trader Randolph Brooks are in a version of the United States that is not united and in which states constantly are at war with one another. He looks forward to going home to start college as his gut tells him this trip seems more dangerous than any he has been on.
From Southern California, Beckie Royer accompanies her Gran and "Uncle" Luke as they head to Elizabeth, Virginia to sell assault rifles to African-American rebels. With the country of Virginia on the brink of a racial civil war, neighboring country to the north Ohio sends a deadly virus into their nation that could only come from a Crosstime Traveler. As they are quarantined while people die from the deadly biological attack Beckie meets Justin and Randolph
This reprint of the fourth Crosstime Traffic book is a superb alternate history science fiction tale that grips the young adult audience from the moment that Justin is trapped and never let's go until the final confrontation. The story line is fast-paced, but makes a strong condemnation of racism and war with the fractured disunited States. Beckie is a terrific protagonist who provides insight into her world with little interwoven tidbits like no one in Ohio or Virginia messes with someone carrying a passport from the superpower California. Justin is also a fine character as he tries to hide his origin while wondering who from his timeline broke the law. THE DISUNITED STATES OF AMERICA is another winner from Harry Turtledove. Harriet Klausner
The Undertakers: The Rise of the Corpses
After getting over the shock of observing his walking rotting neighbor Ernie “Dead Man” Pratt and John Towers Middle School Assistant Principal Titlebaum and some teachers turn into zombies, twelve years old Will Ritter struggles with controlling his instinct for flight and fright instead of fight. Kids like him recruit Will as a member of The Undertakers, a dedicated unit of non-adults whose mission is to fight zombies.
Joining the youth squad means your previous way of life no longer exists as adults do not have the ability to see zombies. The teen and preadolescent Undertakers like Will vow to clean the world of the Zombie manifestation starting with their home town.
This is an engaging fast-paced tale from the moment the talking smelly Pratt puts his hand on Will and never slows down as the young warriors learn the key questions in life is not can I have Pop Tarts for breakfast or how to comb one's hair, but can you see the living dead and how do you kill a dead person? With nods to Wild in the Streets (zombie style) and Zombieland, middle school students will enjoy Will and the Undertakers mission to save the world as readers will agree with the book’s quoting an anonymous person that “Children make the best heroes.” Harriet Klausner