The Cabinet of Earths

The Cabinet of Earths - Anne Nesbet Blurb:On their first day in Paris, Maya and her little brother, James, find themselves caught up in some very old magic. Houses with bronze salamanders for door handles, statues that look too much like Mayas own worried face, a man wearing sunglasses to hide his radiant purple eyes . . . nothing is what it seems. And what does all that magic want from Maya?With the help of a friendly boy named Valko, Maya discovers surprises hidden in her family trees brother. And now the shimmering glass Cabinet of Earths, at the heart of all these secrets, has chosen Maya to be its new Keeper. As she untangles the ties between the Salamander House, the purple-eyed man, and the Cabinet of Earths, Maya realizes that her own brother may be in terrible danger. To save him, Maya must take on the magical underworld of Paris . . . before it is too late. Review:This was a really weird read for me. On one hand, I really enjoyed it. But on the other, I had a really, REALLY difficult time remembering anything I read. This never happens to me. I would walk away from this book, come back to read it, and not remember much that I had just read hours ago. And it's not that I wasn't interested in the book; I thought it was a really fun middle-grade read, but I just couldn't remember hardly anything! And obviously that is going to affect how I write this review and my feelings and thoughts about what I read. But I'll try to do the best I can.First things first. This book was pretty short. I read it in a few hours. And one of the things I noticed was that each chapter had its own title. I love when authors do this. I feel like I am unearthing a mystery as I start each chapter. Some of the chapter titles were: Chapter 4-The Baby Who Sang in the Ruins and Chapter 9-Chocolate and Anbar. What is Anbar? Ooooh-oooh I can't wait to find out. See what I mean? It really works. I know it doesn't work with every book, but I love when I find it in books because it usually means I am in for a great tale with a lot of subtle nuances and fantasy elements. And I say bring it on!!As for Maya? I thought she was a terrible main character. She was a miserable, whiny, spoiled brat. All she did was complain and moan about everything. She never had a positive thing to say about anything, and I hate when I can't relate to the protagonist in any way. I wanted to slap her and send her into time out. I felt the other characters were kind of flat as well. Most of them had one personality trait and because of that I couldn't get attached to any of them. They didn't feel like real people to me.The story itself was fun and really creative. The author has a really great imagination. I loved the setting in this book. Paris. The really creepy building with all the stairways that had a bronze salamander on the door that came to life. Was it alive or not? The Cabinet of Earths full of different kinds of dirt. Trying to figure out what it all meant was really exciting. But the problem remains that I was never really drawn into the story. I could never fully focus on what I was reading. I found myself getting distracted a lot. I thought the climax and the twist were pretty awesome even though I saw them coming from a mile away. But I still loved the way it unfolded. The last forty pages or so of this book were much stronger than the rest. The story didn't really get going until I approached the end. Because the book was fairly short I was able to keep reading, but I'm not sure this book would hold the attention of a younger reader. And that's a shame, considering it is a middle-grade novel.