Book recommendations (not asparagus pudding) and a #giveaway

When I was pondering what to write about this month, I had the brilliant (um…no) idea of making asparagus pudding. The recipe is in Mrs. Beeton’s Cookbook, which was first published in 1861. It sounds so awful that it’s been on my very short bucket list for years (the other items on the list have to do with knitting and will never be accomplished, because the older I get, the worse my knitting becomes). So anyway, it’s called a pudding, I realized, because it’s boiled for ages in a mold (I didn’t have one, so I used a teeny little bread tin). It didn’t taste awful, but it wasn’t good either, unless I dressed it up with lots of salt and butter. I’m not going to waste any more of your time with it (but if you’re curious, there’s a pic at the bottom of this blog).

So, because my favorite thing to talk about is books, I’m doing book recommendations instead.

Not long ago, I heard about the Peter Grant mysteries by Ben Aaronovitch from two sources I respect. One was the Word Wenches, and I think it was Joanna Bourne who recommended them. (She has a new book out tomorrow – yay!) The other source was Jennifer Crusie’s blog, Argh Ink. I bought the first in the series, Midnight Riot, and wow! Definitely worth a read. Apart from the awesome main character, great supporting characters, mystery, magic, etc., there is all kinds of fabulous historical information about London sprinkled here and there (although the story takes place in the present day). I never seem to get tired of reading about London, and the author’s love for his city shines through. I have already read the second book, and will soon embark on the third…

Another book I’m recommending today is The Reluctant Wife by Caroline Warfield. It’s a suspenseful historical romance that takes place in the 1830’s. I loved the hero, who has a passion for justice, and I can never resist a heroine fighting for control over her life in a man’s world. The story starts in India, which is fascinating in itself, and was so exciting that I read most of it in a day (this is NOT my usual reading speed). I only stopped because I was sleepy, and then I couldn’t fall asleep because I was so keyed up! I’ve read all her books so far. They’re gripping reads, and I always learn something new while reading them, too.

Last of all, My Family and Other Animals by Gerald Durrell. I haven’t watched any of the TV series based on this book, because the ads make it look too serious. The book is a mixture of natural history—Durrell was fascinated by any and every animal, including bugs—and hilarious anecdotes about the Durrell family’s years in Corfu. I read it as a teen and loved it, and reread it again recently. It’s not fast-moving—most books written fifty or more years ago weren’t—but it’s a delightful story.

So…please tell me about some books you’ve read recently! Or about a book you’re planning to read.

As for the giveaway – one lucky commenter will win the e-book book of her choice from Amazon – any mystery or romance priced at 7.99 or less. Because I just love giving people good books. 🙂

Here’s the asparagus pudding. It’s a lousy picture, but really, it wasn’t worth my while to try taking a better one.



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Barbara Monajem started writing at eight years old. She has wandered from children’s fantasy through mystery to paranormal and historical romance. She lives near Atlanta, Georgia with an ever-shifting population of relatives, friends, and feline strays.

14 Responses

  1. dholcomb1

    pretty plate…not sure I’d enjoy the “pudding”

    Scandalous Ever After is on my wish list…


    • Barbara Monajem (@BarbaraMonajem)

      Hi, Denise. I have a bunch of those plates — they’re some of my favorites. The so-called pudding was largely eggs and asparagus. Not horrible, but a simple asparagus omelette would have worked much better!

  2. elizabethkeysian

    Hi Barbara! I just wanted to assure you that The Durrells is well worth watching. It’s a tribute to the Corfu books while not following them word for word, and I’ve laughed out loud at every episode. It made me want to revisit Gerald Durrell’s books, so I’ve had fun collecting a whole bunch of secondhand paperbacks from ebay.
    So, if you get the chance to watch the series, do. The actress being Margo does a brilliant portrayal of teenage selfishness. IMHO!

    • Barbara Monajem (@BarbaraMonajem)

      Hi, Elizabeth! I’m glad to know that, and I’ll give the series a try. (And thanks for mentioning Corfu in your response — no idea how I managed to say Crete instead, but thanks to you I corrected it.)

  3. beppie2014

    Another enthusiastic vote for My Family and Other Animals–Gerald Durrell is wonderful, and a little brother viewpoint on Lawrence Durrell is not to be missed. I have two copies somewhere (we recently moved and all the books are not unpacked) and I’m now hoping that at least one of them is among the many, many already on my shelves. My next move is to undertake Midnight Riot and probably the Reluctant Wife as well. Thank you thank you!

    • Barbara Monajem

      Hi, Beppie. Yeah, I love Gerry’s view of Lawrence and his friends. 😉

  4. Barbara Bettis

    Once I made it past the asparagus pudding (wince) I was able to really enjoy your recommendations. I haven’t watched The Durrells, but it sounds interesting. and thanks for the other suggestions. I’m always looking for new titles and authors, and someday I’m actually going to have time to read them all!! Thanks. (I can recall, when I was quite young, Mother trying to get me to eat asparagus. She said it tasted like mashed peas. The idea of mashed peas was so awful to me, that it was years before I actually was able to try it. Now I think it’s yummy–but not in another form LOL)

    • Barbara Monajem

      Hi, Barb. Actually, in the recipe you can substitute peas for asparagus!! My favorite soup as a child was Campbell’s cream of asparagus. I also like what they call “mushy peas” in the north of England — very much mashed and so tasty.

  5. Teresa Broderick

    Yes I have to say the ‘pudding’ looked a bit inedible. I was distracted by the pattern on the plate. I’ve lately been rereading Helen Carey’s Lavender Road series. I’d read them many years ago but she’s just published numbers four and five. It was so long ago that I felt I needed to read the older ones again first.
    I like the look of The Reluctant Wife. One for the TBR I think.

    • Barbara Monajem

      Hi, Teresa. That plate was a poor choice — I should have chosen a plain background if I really wanted people to see the pudding!
      I just looked up Lavender Road. Thank you, I’ll make a point of trying the first book. I have read a few very good WWII stories. One I particularly enjoyed was Crooked Heart by Lissa Evans.

    • Barbara Monajem (@BarbaraMonajem)

      BTW, Teresa, I think The Renegade Wife, which is the previous one in the series, is actually more suspenseful than The Reluctant Wife. I had to put it down and wait a few days before reading on. I guess it depends on what kind of suspense gets one worked up more.

  6. Glenda

    I may be in the minority, but I really like asparagus. Not thinking I want to contemplate eating asparagus pudding though. . . . Just last night I finished Grace Burrowes’ TOO SCOT TO HANDLE and loved it! I’ve got to decide what I’m starting next. I still haven’t read the Spindle Cove series even though I own them all so I’m thinking that’s the direction I’m heading. 🙂

    Love the plate BTW.

    • Barbara Monajem

      Hi, Glenda. I love asparagus, too, but it sure was wasted in the form of pudding. Recently I read a novella by Grace Burrowes that I enjoyed very much. Lucky you to have a whole series to devour — it’s like having a multi-course feast. 🙂