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I can’t remember where I originally saw the link, but you can listen to this year’s Printz acceptance speeches  here.  I’ve listened to a few of them, but so far my favorite is Elizabeth Knox’s speech – her book, Dreamquake, was an honor book this year.  She tells a great story about her father, and her own experiences with libraries and books (plus it’s always fun to listen to New Zealand accents).  At one point she says that perhaps she should have been a librarian, but decided to be a writer instead.  And then she says something I love:  “Although I have managed to become a writer, my true aim is somehow to become a book.”  Um, YES.  That’s it exactly.  So go give it a listen – or better yet, read her books.  I thought The White Darkness (this year’s Printz winner) was excellent, but Dreamquake was probably my favorite from the list of honorees.  Which reminds me that I need to look for her adult books, too.

I really really wanted to love Flora Segunda: Being the Magickal Mishaps of a Girl of Spirit, Her Glass-Gazing Sidekick, Two Ominous Butlers (One Blue), a House with Eleven Thousand Rooms, and a Red Dog.  It’s got a lot of things going for it. There’s the setting: a fantasy world that seems to be a strange version of California with an old-world feel, where magical butlers that run the great houses of the city (and who doesn’t love a magical butler?) There’s a lot of atmosphere, and a sense of more history and past intrigue than has been uncovered yet. Then there are the characters – Flora Segunda (we never find out quite what happened to the first Flora), her army general mother, her tragic father, and other assorted colorful characters. There’s even a man known as the Dainty Pirate! Add in the language – lots of fun slang and colloquial language, a nice big juicy vocabulary, fun place names (the Bedchamber of Redoubtable Dreams, the Cloakroom of the Abyss, etc.), and an overall sense of the delights of delicious words.

So why didn’t I love it? What held me back? I’m not sure, honestly, if it was me or the book. I was reading it a bit here and a bit there, not having much time, and this may have made the book feel slower than it was. It’s a nice thick 430 pages, and that might have been part of the problem – while each piece of the story was interesting, it probably could have been scaled back without hurting the overall story. It took a while for the plot to really heat up, and although I enjoyed the process, I was never quite hooked. And it felt like the book wanted to hook me, so it was a bit disappointing.  A tad bit long, a tad bit disjointed.

Overall, though, I feel a great fondness for the story, and as I’ve been writing this I feel my fondness increase. The language and setting make up for a lot of bumps in the road.  In fact, I just bumped up my Goodreads rating.  And I’ll be keeping an eye out for the sequel, which looks like it will be coming out next month.  Oh, and it’s that sort of inbetween fantasy – middle grade or YA, depending on the level of reader.  The story would suit in either direction.

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