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Life: The First Four Billion Years by Martin Jenkins

Picture of book cover for Life: The First Four Billion YearsI’m trespassing on Megan’s turf here, writing about a children’s book. That’s because deep down I have not outgrown my desire to be a paleontologist when I grow up (I know, chronologically that ship sailed so so many years ago, but maturity wise I’ve still got a ways to go…)

This is a truly fascinating book with glorious illustrations. Like a lot of people, I know a fair amount about dinosaurs, critters from our fairly recent past. After all, the Jurassic period was only a couple hundred million years ago. But I know almost nothing about the really old times, like the Archean Eon (4-2.5 billion years ago). There were some truly weird creatures in the old times! And the geological history is incredible as well. Highly recommended!

Doctor Dogs: How Our Best Friends Are Becoming Our Best Medicine by Maria Goodavage

Picture of book cover for Doctor DogsSo I was working on Janet’s computer the other day while she was off. That’s always fun for me, partly because I enjoy my work with computers, but mostly because Janet does all the ordering of adult books for the library and there are ALWAYS fabulously interesting books on her desk waiting to be cataloged. This time was no exception!

It was the cover that caught my eye – I’m a sucker for a cute dog picture. In Doctor Dogs we read about dogs who detect cancer and Parkinson’s disease, dogs who alert people to seizures and diabetic lows or highs, and dogs that help those with autism, anxiety, depression, schizophrenia, and post-traumatic stress disorder. Not to mention dogs that can sniff out malaria or the life threatening bacteria Clostridium difficile. The stories are incredible and the pictures heart warming. Anybody who loves dogs will love this book!

Book Spotlight: House of Salt and Sorrows by Erin A. Craig

Once, there were twelve sisters at Highmoor Manor.  Now, there are only eight.  With each death worse than the one that came before, Annaleigh and her remaining sisters cannot help but wonder if the rumors in the village of a curse on their family could possibly be true.  Exhausted by grief, and afraid another of them may be next, they are all desperate for hope, life, color, and company that is not in mourning.

Although Ava, Octavia, and Elizabeth’s deaths were all tragic, Annaleigh cannot help but feel that Eulalie’s plunge over the cliffs near their home was more sinister than her three older sisters’ deaths through illness and accident.  As she begins to ask questions, it becomes clear that her sister was not alone on the cliffs that night – and that she was hiding something.  When the youngest of the sisters, Verity, tells Annaleigh the ghosts of all four dead sisters still inhabit their manor, and she can see them, it becomes clear that something is very, very wrong.

Still, the sisters are desperate for light and fun and dancing and so, as triplets Rosalie, Ligea, and Lenore’s 16th birthdays approach, plans go forward to celebrate with a glorious ball, in spite of the spirits and shadows haunting Highmoor.  No expense is spared – especially not on stunning new gowns and the most exquisite, delicate new dancing slippers, a pair for each girl.  Slippers so lovely the sisters decide they are fairy shoes.

But when the ball does not succeed in pulling them from their grief and fear, Annaleigh tries to distract her younger sisters with a hunt for a hidden, magical door on their island home – a door said to lead anywhere in the world, a door used by the gods.  She does not quite believe in the door’s existence – until they discover it.  Night after night, the sisters sneak out and pass through the door to find ever more enchanting balls in wondrous palaces, until their shoes are quite danced through.  It is a glorious, decadent escape from grief – but, if they can go through with the merest whisper of desire for dancing, what other manner of person – or creature – might be using the door to hunt for them?

Eerie and deeply atmospheric, this decadent twist on The Twelve Dancing Princesses has it all – phenomenal world-building, layers of tangled mystery, old magic, ghosts, glittering midnight balls, more than a twist of horror, and sweet starlit kisses.  If you love your fairy tails with plenty of glitter and a razor sharp edge, make sure you add House of Salt and Sorrows to your list!