Sunday, February 18, 2007

Reading Suggestions for Mom ...

I love fiction!  I especially love mysteries.  I have to control my reading, because I can easily lose myself in books, especially a series, and not emerge for days or weeks.  For the sake of my family, I can't allow myself to do that too often.  So, I try not to read too much fiction during the school year.  I spread it out, keep it light, and indulge a bit more during the summer months.

But I have found a new series I've started and I thought it would be fun to list some of the authors I've discovered in the past couple years.

I really enjoy Agatha Christie's books.  But I've read them all, so a friend suggested I read the Mrs. Pollifax mysteries by Dorothy Gilman (hi, OreoSouza).  I loved these books.  I quickly read the whole series and enjoyed them greatly!  This is a secular series, with some mild language at times, and some occasionally weird philosophies.  But as far as secular reading goes, it was delightfully clean overall.

OreoSouza also recommended I try "The Cat Who ... " series by Lillian Jackson Braun.  As with the previous series, these have some odd beliefs that come out from time to time and some mild language, but still clean.  No raunchiness to worry about.  I'm slowly reading these, a bit here and there.  I found a list online of their order and am trying to read them in order, since they make more sense to me.  When you read one book and the character lives in one place, and pick up a different one and he lives somewhere else it can be confusing.  It helps to go in order.

A non-blogging friend suggested I try the Flower Shop Mysteries by Kate Collins.  (Thank you, Julie!)  They are also secular, but mostly clean.  There are more romantic encounters in these and I have had to skip a couple paragraphs from time to time.  So far, the series is sticking with kissing, but I'd still rather not read about it in detail.  These are funny mysteries, though, and I am reading them as they become available.  I'm waiting for her next one to come out.

That same non-blogging friend suggested I try the Tea Shop Mysteries by Laura Childs.  (Thank you, thank you, thank you, Julie!!)  I really am enjoying these.  Mild language, cleaner than the flower shop mysteries.  The setting is the south, and a social realm I'm unfamiliar with ... garden parties and such ... but I enjoy the books very much.  I'm waiting for the next one to be published.

I tried Laura Childs' Scrapbook Mysteries, but they have more of an "edge" to them than her Tea Shop Mysteries.  They are coarser, angrier, and they have more bad language, more drinking, and a bitterness regarding men.  I've been reading them, but I don't recommend them as readily as the Tea Shop Mysteries

Mindy Starns Clark is a Christian author that Brenda from Greystone Academy blog   recommended to me.  She has two series that I enjoyed.  The Million Dollar Mysteries and the Jo Tulip Smart Chick series.  I've read the entire Million Dollar Mystery series and enjoyed how the books build on each other.  I enjoyed the last book the most since it tied up some loose ends and brought many things together from previous books.  The Jo Tulip series is just beginning.  I've read the first two, and am waiting for the third one to be published.  Steve actually read the second one last summer, also.  That surprised me, because these are more "chick books" than some of the other series I've read.

An author I think men might enjoy as much as women is Dee Henderson.  She is a Christian author who writes about many different areas of law enforcement and the military.  My mother-in-law recommended these to me several years ago.  I found her O'Malley series riveting when I was reading them.  I've actually read them twice, and am pondering reading them again this Spring.  Since I've read them before, I shouldn't get sucked into them too much.  She has another two which aren't  titled as a series, but are somewhat related.  I read them this winter ... The Witness and Before I Wake.  I am getting accustomed to her style, so they aren't as riveting as the O'Malley series first was to me, but Steve was commenting last week that Before I Wake must be a very good book since I had tuned everyone out ... repeatedly.  It was.  I told him it was CSI-ish and that intrigued him.  He enjoys the CSI television shows, although we only get to watch the reruns that come on late at night on the weekends, since we won't watch them in front of the children.  She has another series that has more of a military focus, which I intend to read ... I believe they are called the Uncommon Heroes series.  Four books that begin with True in the title.  I am planning to get him to read a Dee Henderson book one of these days ... I know he will enjoy them, when he has time.

OreoSouza also recommended I try the Miss Seeton mysteries by Hamilton Crane.  I've been trying, but the libraries I have access to don't carry many of them.  I'm still looking for more of these to read. I have enjoyed the two or three I've found so far, though.  This is another English series, somewhat similar to Agatha Christie's Miss Marple books.  But Miss Seeton solves mysteries less by a keen understanding of human nature, and more by accident.  She just seems to be an unwitting catalyst.

Another set of books I have enjoyed are the Mrs. 'Arris books by Paul Gallico.  These aren't mysteries, but they are funny adventures involving a London Charwoman named Mrs. 'Arris.  I discovered these accidentally when I somehow acquired a paper back copy of Mrs. 'Arris Goes To Paris.  It sat unread for a long time, but when I finally read it, I had to read the other Mrs. 'Arris books, as well. 

My most recent discovery , and the one that prompted this blog post, came from another non-blogging friend.  She told me her daughter enjoyed reading the Jane Austen Mysteries by Stephanie Barron.   I found one at my library and enjoyed it very much.  It places Jane Austen, the authoress, as the heroine -- borrowing events and descriptions from her own letters and journals, and then mixing in some fiction.  It can be confusing at times to know where fact leaves off and fiction takes over, but they are very enjoyable.  Clean, delightful, and not as difficult as reading Jane Austen's actual works.  They are more easily and quickly read than Pride and Prejudice would be, for instance.   I'm looking forward to reading the rest of the series this summer.

So, now you know what I'm reading when I'm not reading about homeschooling, homesteading, gardening, herbal medicine, pregnancy, mothering, or frugal living.  I have been trying to re-read some of my favorite classic authors from earlier in my life.  Jane Austen, Louisa May Alcott, and Frances Hodgson Burnett were always some of my favorite authors.  I've been re-reading Pride and Prejudice and An Old-fashioned Girl for nearly a year now.  It's difficult to focus on them with 6  children all around me, and Steve wanting to talk to me from time to time.  They take more concentration and energy than the mysteries I've been reading, so I don't always reach for them when I sit down to read, and sometimes I have to back track and re-read what I'd read before.   I need to keep exercising my mind by reading the more challenging books, though.  And I want to set a good example for my children.

I have also been seeking out Christian biographies to read.  I read  Gracia Burnham's In the Presence of My Enemies last year, as well as an older book about Gladys Aylward called The Small Woman by Alan Burgess.  Last year, I also read Beloved Bride: The Letters of Stonewall Jackson to His Wife by William Potter.  My mother loaned me another Alan Burgess book, Daylight Must Come, about Helen Roseveare and other missionaries in the Congo at Thanksgiving.  Steve and I read it at New Years.  We kept stealing it from each other.  I like the way Alan Burgess writes his biographies, but Daylight Must Come is a very graphic book, and not for everyone.   More recently, I read Steve Saint's book, The End of the Spear.  I want to find a book about Amy Carmichael soon.  I'm trying to keep my reading diverse, just as I encourage my girls to do.

I hope something I recommended will interest you and send you off to the library.  If it does, let me know what you think after you read the books.



  1. I have recently found an author who writes clean mysteries and inspirational too. Her name is Terri Blackstock. Try her 911 series.

  2. Thanks! I haven't read any Terri Blackstock. I"ll check my library, or my Mother-in-law's personal library. :-)



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