Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Maura Patrick - Shells of Chanticleer

Shells of Chanticleer

By Maura Patrick

Kindle Edition Available 

Product Description (from Amazon) 

Come to Chanticleer, a magical land without chores or parents that abounds with festivals and forests, bountiful buffets, and the deliciously addictive warm caramel sugar that’s the only thing to drink. In Chanticleer there’s no reason to worry as eliminating your childhood fears is why you are there. But in Chanticleer it’s best to learn your lessons quickly and get out, as those who can’t, or won’t learn, are subject to a hideous fate.

For Macy Winters, keeping one step ahead of the powers that be seems easy enough. She has friends in the right places and a swooningly romantic secret boyfriend who she thinks will protect her. Unfortunately, she has caught the eye of Crispin Sinclair, the sinister artist whose creative visions make Chanticleer both delightful and terrifying. Can she escape his plans for her or will she discover that getting out of Chanticleer safely is harder than she imagines?

Enter a world of secrets where no one is quite who they seem to be, where what you dream comes true, and where what you fear … happens.

A mysterious world that, like life itself, is more complicated than it seems.

About the Author (from Amazon)

No Author description available.

O.Scarlett! REVIEW by Kendra

You may accuse me of judging a book by its cover. Yes, the reason I picked this up to read was because of the giraffe of the cover. I love giraffes, and so the cover intrigued me. The description did too, but not so much as did the cover. There were some chocolate nutcrackers in it too, so I was really happy.

However, I don’t think that the book description was completely accurate. From reading the description, I expected a far darker and sinister place than it actually was. I’m not sure how that might be improved, but it does need improvement. While Macy did perceive the place as being more sinister, it wasn’t sinister at all. It’s a benevolent world, a fact that was made very clear by multiple people. And while she does have a “secret” boyfriend, I don’t remember her believing that he would completely protect her. Maybe I missed something, though, because I mostly skimmed in the “romantic” portions. It wasn’t that it was too romantic; I just found it a bit ridiculous.

For the most part, I liked this book. It had an intriguing concept, once I figured out what that concept was, and the main character was rather likable. It was written in first person from Macy’s point of view, which allowed for some pretty interesting observations.

Sixteen year old Macy isn’t perfect, but that’s the whole point. Chanticleer is a school – but it doesn’t teach the three R’s or even science or history. No, it teaches its students how conquer their fears.

At the beginning of the book, Macy is afraid of lots of things. She’s frightened of ice cream trucks, because they may be kidnappers. She’s terrified of bridges, because she may fling herself over the side. Most of all, she’s petrified of the stuffed giraffe head in her living room because it almost fell on her once.

After getting stabbed by a thorn and getting a bug that’s been going around school, Macy gets very sick and has to go to the hospital where she is given a sedative. She suddenly finds herself in a luxurious bed, and meets two girls, Zooey and Violet, who take her to Chanticleer, a school that teaches people not to be afraid.

I found their ways of teaching people not to be afraid quite interesting, and I wish that the author would have described more of Macy’s coursework. For instance, if you were afraid of mud, like Zooey was, you would have to play soccer in a muddy field. Macy’s fear of strangers was overcome by making her go around the village and talk to people.

The titular “Shells” of Chanticleer are a form of punishment for students. I won’t give away what they are, though, because it would ruin some of the suspense of the book. A student isn’t allowed to know about these shells until they had been there for a while. Macy, however, hears of them, and can’t leave well enough alone. She talks Bing, the staff member who helps her with her coursework, into showing her what they are. Of course, with her propensity for fear, she reacts badly to the Shells and finds herself unable to sleep anywhere that there aren’t other people around.

Of course, there’s some romance in the book – the love at first sight/I have the oddest feeling we’ve met before sort. I found it a tad bit ridiculous, but I find most romance ridiculous. We don’t meet her love interest until a quarter of the way through the book, and I actually found it annoying at first. I had been warned, but the way he appeared was simply out of the blue. It is later explained why he appeared “out of the blue” and after it was explained, I wasn’t as annoyed anymore. I simply found it ridiculous.

There were some echoes of reincarnation, due to the fact that Macy has “an old soul.” There is also some Catholicism right before they sedate Macy.

There were some editing issues, but not many. The most glaring I found was when a girl named Poppy was mistyped Polly. It is quite clear who it was talking about, which is why it was so glaring of a mistake.

All in all, I liked this book. The characters, especially Macy, were well developed, and the plot twisted here and there and frequently surprised me. The ending was nice and solid – and it actually went, for the most part, the direction I wanted it to go – I had been afraid that it might go a different ending.

Genre/Theme: Fantasy, Overcoming Fear,
Reading Level:  TEEN - upper elementary to middle school 
Profanity:  LOW  to MODERATE – they were all milder words, but it was more frequent than I would have liked. 
Sexuality:  SUBTLE – Never gets past kissing and a mention of a low neckline.
Other: This story is about combating fear, so some of the situations are moderately scary. However, everything is benevolent, so it’s not bad. 

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