Also written for juniors is a very informative series on weather. The series title is Science of the Skies and it has such titles as Tornadoes, Hurricanes, Clouds and Snow. The six books of this series have phenomenal photographs and clear, scientific explanations.
In junior fiction, my favorite is The Emerald Atlas, by John Stephens. At first, I thought this might be another of the children save their parents or the world books so popular after the Harry Potter series came to an end. While The Emerald Atlas begins in a similar fashion to the His Dark Materials series by Pullman, this first book in The Books of Beginning quickly shows a greater depth to its characters and much more challenging twists of fate for the children to navigate. I found myself thinking about the characters when I wasn't reading; only very compelling characters crawl into my head when I am not watching. I eagerly await the next book in the series. Make sure you put this one on your list, too.
On the adult shelf, look for Faith by Jennifer Haigh and Secret Daughter by Shilpi Somaya Gowda:
Faith by Jennifer Haigh
What could be more intriguing than a family drama where the much beloved son and brother, Art, a priest, is accused of molesting the son of his housekeeper. And in this case, he is innocent. With the news coverage still tracking molestation cases, and the outrage many of us feel about them, it is easy to forget that not all those accused are guilty. The characters all ring true; their strengths and foibles make you want to have everything work out in the end. It does, but not in any way that is predictable.
Secret Daughter by Shilpi Somaya Gowda
The stories of the adoption of children from other countries by parents from the United States is a popular topic these days, from totally fictional accounts to memoirs. The challenges of a couple from different cultures and countries has also been thoroughly explored. Secret Daughter wrestles with both of these situations in a deft and interesting way. In some ways, there is a degree of predictability- the couple in question sadly underestimated how undermining their family of origin traditions are to their relationship and neither of the pair seem to have a clue. Weave in the strand of raising their daughter, who is of the same nationality as her father, and it is obvious that her mother becomes the odd one out. However, there is a subtlety, almost a sneakiness, to the degree of denial all three main characters indulge in and as things unwind you find yourself talking to the characters aloud, wanting them to shape up. An important lesson that is being offered here is the cost of unconsciously living your life on autopilot and then making some choices to wake up.