You may already be familiar with Marc Marrone – he has appeared on the Martha Stewart Show many times as a pet expert, giving helpful advice and information all while surrounded by a menagerie of animals. It’s a fascinating sight – birds, bunnies, kittens, gerbils – all adorable, all  in perfect harmony, the living embodiment of a peaceable kingdom. Meanwhile, Marc calmly explains the best way to brush your cat’s teeth, or gives tips on caring for your iguana, while Harry, his giant red Amazon parrot perches on his shoulder.

A Man for All Species is Marc’s story and, while it’s not a guide to keeping pets, you’ll pick up all kinds of fascinating details that will help you enjoy and understand your pet. Marc owns Parrots of the World, one of the largest pet stores in the world, he is one of the largest exporters of ferrets to Japan (where they are wildly popular) and now Europe, exports birds (many of which he has bred and raised himself) all over the world but always makes time for the smallest birds and animals in his care. Cleanliness and their comfort and safety is always his primary concern.

Some of the most interesting sections of the book include his helping Orthodox Jews during Passover (no grain is allowed in the house during Passover so he has developed grain-free food for birds and small pets; also many cannot have an animal in the house during Passover and board their pets with Marc at his store) and his relationship with Martha Stewart – taping live television segments with animals can forge a strong friendship!

Through all the ups and downs and adventures of all sorts, Marc’s love of animals of all kinds remains unwavering and he shares that love and fascination with us in this fun book.

emmas-tableIn Emma’s Table by Philip Galanes, Emma Sutton – famous interior design and lifestyle guru – attends the prestigious FitzCoopers auction determined to purchase a unique antique table, no matter who stands in her way. Fresh from a stint in Federal Prison and feeling battered by the accompanying public scrutiny, Emma doesn’t realize she’s going to come away with much more than a table.

Still enjoying great success professionally, Emma’s personal life needs some work – her ex-husband has returned to try to work things out, her adult daughter is aimless and angry and Emma  goes through personal assistants at an alarming rate. Despite the public image of perfection, she has no idea where or how to make the needed changes.

Emma’s weekend-personal assistant Benjamin (one of the few that has hung on), struggles with his own issues – a social worker during the week, he is puzzled by the case of Grace, a troubled, overweight little girl and her mother, as well as demands from his girlfriend. And then there’s the Japanese diplomat whom Emma outmaneuvered for the table. Emma searches for a way to make things right, heal all the insults and wounds she’s inflicted and therefore somehow save herself.

These disparete characters slowly come together in a story that is both lighthearted and thoughtful, about second (and even third) chances, redemption and starting again. Because everyone deserves a second chance.