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Flora's Dare: How a Girl of Spirit Gambles All to Expand Her Vocabulary, Confront a Bouncing Boy Terror, and Try to Save Califa from a Shaky Doom (Despite Being Confined to Her Room) (Flora Trilogy, Book 2) Flora’s Dare: How a Girl of Spirit Gambles All to Expand Her Vocabulary, Confront a Bouncing Boy Terror, and Try to Save Califa from a Shaky Doom by Ysabeau S. Wilce

I almost didn’t read this sequel to Flora Segunda: Being the Magickal Mishaps of a Girl of Spirit, Her Glass-Gazing Sidekick, Two Ominous Butlers, but I’m really glad I did. Maybe I was just in the wrong mood the first time around, or maybe the pacing picked up in the second book. Either way, something clicked.

I can’t say that I’ve ever complained about a lack of good ol’ West Coast fantasy, or even fantasy based in an American landscape, but if I had complained, this would be the solution. Wilce gives us a fantasy version of San Francisco, a world where the place and mythology is crucial to the story. Just what I never realized that I always wanted.

Perhaps my favorite thing about Flora’s Dare is the language. And not just the fake-swearing language, either (exclamations of “pigface!” abound). The names are just as delightful as the first time around – a character named Tiny Doom rivals the Dainty Pirate from the first book. Throw in magic and monsters, a high rate of bacon and waffle consumption, a girl who’s outgrowing her stays, a kilt-wearing populace, an army general for a mother, a best friend taken over by the outlaw version of the red shoes (in this case, a pair of sparkly red boots with a five inch heel), and some stuffed pigs that I suspect of being more than they seem – well, sign me up.

This one hovers on the border between middle grade and YA – and I’m inclined to say middle grade because there’s no specific content that makes it more mature. It’s a big book, excellent for those fans of elaborate but unusual fantasies.

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Perhaps my favorite thing about Flora’s Dare (by Ysabeau S. Wilce, sequel to Flora Segunda) is the language.  And not just the fake-swearing language, either (exclamations of “pigface!” abound).  The names are just as delightful as the first time around – I just met a character named Tiny Doom, which ranks up there with the Dainty Pirate.  Throw in a fantasy version of San Francisco (or at least that’s how it reads to me), magic and monsters, a city under the rule of the Birdies, a high rate of bacon and waffle consumption, a girl who’s outgrowing her stays, a kilt-wearing populace, an army general for a mother, a best friend taken over by the outlaw version of the red shoes (in this case, a pair of sparkly red boots with a five inch heel), and some stuffed pigs that I suspect of being more than they seem – well, sign me up.

I took my time getting around to reading it, though, and now I’m in a rush before it’s due.  And it’s a long one with a slightly meadering plot, like the first one.  Still, I couldn’t resist.  Pigface, I ought to be reading, not blogging.

On a different fantasy note, I’ve been listening to Kristin Cashore’s Graceling in the car – a full cast recording.  I’m hooked, even though I mostly remember how it all works out.  It’s fun to see the clues laid.  Unfortunately I’m not quite a fan of the voice for Katsa herself, but the narrator is great and as always the full cast deal makes it easy to tell who’s talking at any point.  Also, I knew that Cashore’s current project is called Bitterblue, but I’d forgotten exactly who Bitterblue was, so it makes for some nice imagining about which part of her story will be told in her own book.  Also, I’m appreciating the character overlaps between this book and Fire.  To mention them would be to spoil it – and I recommend them both.  Start with Graceling, then move on to it’s prequel, Fire.

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