Sunday, August 12, 2012


-  Win a copy of THE FUTURE OF US by Jay Asher (Ends 8/14)
 - Win a copy of THE KINDLING by Braden Bell (Ends 8/21)
 - Win a copy of EVERTASTER by Adam Sidwell (Ends 8/14)
- Win a copy of THE ROCK OF IVANORE on Goodreads (Ends 8/25)
- Win a copy of THE CORPSE RAT KING by Lee Battersby (Ends 8/18)

Welcome to Marvelous Middle Grade Monday (MMGM), a weekly event hosted by author Shannon Messenger. For a list of other MMGM posts, click HERE.

Anne Nesbet
272 pp.
Ages 10 & up

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 Maya’s 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 tree—grandmothers who walked in magic, a cousin so unremarkable she’s actually hard to see, and a terrible family habit of betraying one’s 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. 


I have a particular soft spot for books that are written well, that utilize the beauty of the English language. Many books for younger readers these days tend to be simple. I don't know how to explain what I mean, but some authors "write down" to their readers (as opposed to "talk down.") Not that there's anything wrong with that. It's a style many kids love, and that's just fine. But when I stumble across a book where the language is just as enjoyable to read as the story itself, then I know I've got something special.

THE CABINET OF EARTHS is one of those kinds of books. It's the story of a girl and her young brother who move to Paris with their parents and become embroiled in a mystery involving a strange magical cabinet, a nearly invisible Aunt, a beautiful violet-eyed Uncle, and an unusual substance called Anbar. This highly imaginative story kept me interested all the way through. Every time I finished a chapter, I had to turn the page and keep reading. And the ending left just enough open to entice me to read the sequel,  A BOX OF GARGOYLES due out next year.

The language of the story is very fitting for a story set in France. The French characters are obviously French, while the American characters are obviously American. I have to say reading it was really a pleasure. It had the feeling of historical fiction, though it is most definitely a contemporary fantasy. The last middle grade book that felt that way for me (and it was a historical fantasy) was THE AVIARY by Kathleen O'Dell.

I have no choice but to give A CABINET OF EARTHS a much deserved...

Profanity:  None
Sex:  None
Violence:  None


  1. Nothing brings me greater joy than a graceful use of language. I'll have to move this up my TBR queue.

    1. You won't regret reading this. And I bet your students would love it.

  2. Great review Laurisa. I really enjoyed this too.

  3. I've been wanting to read this one for some time now (heh, the TBR pile is rather massive) I love books that do what you say this one does, so know exactly what you mean! Thanks for sharing.

  4. ADORED this book! It had so many different twists that I found fascinating.

  5. First the premise and cover made me so exited I fangirled it on my blog. Then, I've had the pleasure of reading a sample from B&N and found it too short because I grabbed my attention so much. This is a book I'm going to get my hands on before the end of this year.

  6. Oh yes! I read this a while ago (and reviewed it in January). Nice to see it mentioned on MMGM again. Thanks! Can't wait for the sequel.

  7. This cover is beautiful and it makes me want to read it! Your review highlighted the great parts of this book and the story sounds fantastic. I love that the writing is so strong. I have added ths to my list and can't wait to read it!