Hi! I’m Helen Gambarota and I am delighted to be back with Jo’s Weekly Workout Family to share my love of books with you.

I am a total book nerd and an avid reader and a compulsive book buyer. I started reviewing books on Instagram as @BestBookFoward almost 5 years ago and I love chatting about books and sharing my passion for reading.

If you’d like more book inspiration you can find my reviews on my Instagram account which is @BestBookForward, on Facebook or on my website bestbookforward.org

It’s been a while since I’ve shared a book recommendation with you but I am back with an absolute cracker! I cannot wait for you to fall in love with this one, it’s Goodbye Birdie Greenwing by Ericka Waller.

_____________


Goodbye Birdie Greenwing is the tale of three women, all living side by side without knowing each other, who find the friendship, love and support that they so desperately need when a series of incidents brings them together. I don’t know about you but I’m always curious about those people we see every day but don’t know. Maybe the neighbour you wave to as you drive to work, the person who is always sat opposite you on the train or the woman walking her dog that you pass every morning. I’m always interested in all these lives that are playing out without us really knowing what those people are going through. I think we had a bit of a taste of what its like for communities to pull together during those awful Covid lockdowns but it seems we’ve slowly gone back to our old ways. I know I could do with making more time to check in on those around me. This is one of the things I loved most about Birdie Greenwing, that reminder that we’re all in this together, we don’t know what each other is going through and we don’t know who might be feeling really lonely. I loved the way Ericka explored the theme of loneliness, I think it is really important for us to think about how loneliness effects those around us.

I feel like I’m lucky enough to call Ericka a friend now (if you look in the Thank-you’s in the back of the book you’ll see Ericka really kindly mentioned me which meant so much to me). Anyway, I know that Ericka found writing her second book really challenging because she cares so much about her characters and her readers. I think it’s so clear to see that she put her heart and soul into this book. I loved all of the characters and felt like they jumped off the pages and straight into my heart.

In Goodbye Birdie Greenwing, Ericka gives us a masterclass in balancing the heartbreak with moments of humour, I laughed and cried and gave the book a huge hug at the end. All I can say is grab a cup of tea, preferably in a witty captioned mug (this will make sense when you read it) and settle in for a great read. I really hope that you’ll love it as much as I did.

You can support me, and independent bookshops, by buying your copy here and you’ll also find links for all my previous recommendations for Jo’s Workout Family too.

 

Hi! I’m Helen Gambarota and I am delighted to be back with Jo’s Weekly Workout Family to share my love of books with you.

I am a total book nerd and an avid reader and a compulsive book buyer, although I do need to slow down on the book buying as there are piles of books all around the house. I started reviewing books on Instagram as @BestBookFoward almost 5 years ago and I love chatting about books and sharing my passion for reading.

Each month I bring you my recommendation of a must-read book. I read a variety of genres so it could be anything from fiction, non-fiction, romance, historical fiction or a thriller and I really hope that you’ll enjoy each of them as much as I do.

If you’d like more book inspiration you can find my reviews on my Instagram account which is @BestBookForward, on Facebook or on my website bestbookforward.org

_____________

Last month I recommended a brilliant yet quite difficult read for you and I hope you loved it as much as I did. When planning for my June read I wanted to bright you something lighter and really quite wonderful so the obvious choice had to be The Other Side of Mrs Wood by Lucy Barker.

The Other Side of Mrs Wood is a historical comedy about London’s most celebrated Medium, who you will absolutely love. When Mrs Wood hears the horrifying sound of a yawn one night at her Séance she knows it is time to shakes things up.

Enter Miss Finch, Mrs Wood’s first student but is she as innocent as she seems or has Mrs Wood just invited trouble in?

I love this book so much, it was one of the reads that had me sneaking off to read just one more page as it is so wonderfully told.

Ultimately it is about two Victorian women doing their utmost to maintain their independence, while navigating their way through complexities of female friendships and rivalries.

This week I was lucky enough to go along to the publication party for Mrs Wood and I went along to a Victorian Séance, which was quite an experience.

Afterwards Lucy talked about her book and her inspiration behind it. It was clear to see how passionate and interested she is in the subject, I could have listened to her talk about it all night. On the way home, I thought that it is a combination of Lucy’s research and passion coupled with her incredible storytelling that has made this book so special.

When I read it earlier this year I remember thinking that I could feel how much she enjoyed writing it as it was so fun to read.

Lucy Barker has managed to create a wonderfully atmospheric read, that is fun and witty. One of my favourite things about this book is that she has a wonderful way of allowing her characters to be mischievous. There are some really funny scenes.

The Other Side of Mrs Wood kept guessing throughout and found it to be a thoroughly entertaining and fun read, one that I would happily pick up again. I really hope that you will enjoy it as much as I did and I hope that you will love these characters, as they really are quite special.

You can support Helen, by buying the book from this link.

See you next month.

 

Hi! I’m Helen Gambarota and I am delighted to be back with Jo’s Weekly Workout Family to share my love of books with you.

I am a total book nerd and an avid reader and a compulsive book buyer, although I do need to slow down on the book buying as there are piles of books all around the house. I started reviewing books on Instagram as @BestBookFoward almost 5 years ago and I love chatting about books and sharing my passion for reading.

Each month I bring you my recommendation of a must-read book. I read a variety of genres so it could be anything from fiction, non-fiction, romance, historical fiction or a thriller and I really hope that you’ll enjoy each of them as much as I do.

If you’d like more book inspiration you can find my reviews on my Instagram account which is @BestBookForward, on Facebook or on my website bestbookforward.org

_____________

You’re going to need your tissues ready this month because if you’re anything like me you will cry when you read In Memoriam by Alice Winn. I read this in March and I really do think it could be my book of the year!

In Memoriam begins in 1914 where we meet to friends Henry Gaunt and Sidney Ellwood at their idyllic boarding school in the English countryside. At just seventeen the boys are to young to enlist. Gaunt is fighting his own private battle, he is secretly in love with Ellwood and is unaware that Ellwood feels the same way.

When Gaunt’s German mother asks him to enlist as an officer in the British army to protect his family, he immediately agrees and tries his best to dissuade Ellwood from following him into battle to no avail. Once in the trenches, Ellwood and Gaunt find fleeting moments of solace in one another, but their friends are all dying, right in front of them, and at any moment they could be next.

This is an incredibly powerful read that I could not put down.

I loved the way Alice has told this story; cleverly changing formats from alternating timelines, letters, poetry and the newspaper clippings – I found my eyes darting around the Roll of Honours lists looking for characters names to see who had survived.

The scenes in the trenches are brutal and harrowing and I kept coming back to how young these men were – they were boys, straight out of school and straight to the front line. It is horrific and heart wrenching but so very well told.

As for Ellwood and Gaunt their love story was so beautifully told and I found it to be deeply moving. I don’t want to say too much because I don’t want to ruin it for you but these two will undoubtedly stay with me.

In Memoriam is an epic tale of forbidden love, friendship, war, class, loss and hope. An incredible debut, it took my breath away.

You can support Helen, by buying the book from this link: https://uk.bookshop.org/p/books/in-memoriam-alice-winn/7007787?aid=4187&ean=9780241567821

 

Do you want to Improve your posture in ONE SECOND? 💥🚶‍♀️🥰🙌

(Share with anyone you might think will need this little posture adjustment 🥰)

💥 In my last LIVE ‘Top Tip Tuesday’ ( it’s on my Instagram grid if you want to watch in full) I talked about this one second adjustment that you can do to improve your posture 🥰

🚶‍♀️Do you walk around with your palms facing backwards? If you do, this will make the top of the arm ( the humeral head) slightly internally rotate, creating more tightness in the chest and cause you to become a little round shouldered..🥺

🚶‍♀️By turning your thumbs to face forward and your palms to face your thighs by rolling your upper arm outward within the socket, you will be slightly externally rotating the top of the arm within the socket, creating more openness in the chest enabling you to walk taller with better posture..🥰

Take a look at the video below which explains all!

🚶‍♀️If you do the above whilst also gently engaging the shoulder blades together and looking forward…

Voila.. a beautiful walking posture! ❤️🚶🚶‍♀️

I was chatting in class the other day and a few people were shocked as to what I told them as I had never before mentioned what I am going to say now…

So – why am I telling you this?

When I was 12 I had to regularly go to Great Ormond Street Hospital due to a disease called Scheuermann’s disease that affects the vertebrae of the spine . They were going to operate but it was more exploratory to see what could be done or I had to wear a back brace for months..

Why am I telling you this??

I did the exercises to combat the pain and many a school break time was spent hanging from the gym wall bars to try to stretch my spine …

Why am I telling you this?

I knew I wanted to be a PE teacher from an early age but a doctor told me in no uncertain terms he had grave concerns about me pursuing my dream of teaching because of my back and to think of something else!!!

SO …I’m telling you this because..

It’s easy to take the path of least resistance… It would have been easy for me not to pursue my dream of teaching … It didn’t put me off. Quite the opposite in fact. It spurred me on towards that dream and I did become that PE & Fitness teacher 30 years ago.

Setbacks CAN make you stronger 🤛🏼👊💥

The 2 big setbacks I have had in my life have definitely made me a more empathetic and understanding teacher with a sense of humour!!! .. Thank goodness for the humour!!!
When I teach I always try to teach in a way that resonates with everyone and for everyone’s abilities, but more than anything teach in a way that makes people enjoy what they are doing so that they want to come back for more…

“Every setback brings a comeback!”🤛🏼💥

So I just wanted to say…

Life is not perfect and nor are we … but “our perfect” is unique to us and that should be celebrated.

Do you want to join the Workout Family and workout with me? Find out more about the Club here.

Jo ❤️

Hi! I’m Helen Gambarota and I am delighted to be back with Jo’s Weekly Workout Family to share my love of books with you.

I am a total book nerd and an avid reader and a compulsive book buyer, although I do need to slow down on the book buying as there are piles of books all around the house. I started reviewing books on Instagram as @BestBookFoward almost 5 years ago and I love chatting about books and sharing my passion for reading.

Each month I bring you my recommendation of a must-read book. I read a variety of genres so it could be anything from fiction, non-fiction, romance, historical fiction or a thriller and I really hope that you’ll enjoy each of them as much as I do.

If you’d like more book inspiration you can find my reviews on my Instagram account which is @BestBookForward, on Facebook or on my website bestbookforward.org

_____________

I am so hoping that I can convince you to pick up my March book choice because I really do think this a book that everyone should read. It is Driving Forwards by Sophie Morgan.

You may know Sophie from TV, she’s a regular host on ITV’s Loose Women, but reading her book really shows just how remarkable she is.

Sophie starts her book by talking about the car crash she had when she was just 18 years old which left her with life changing injuries. I will say that that the beginning of the book is quite a difficult read as what she went through was just unimaginable. She talks about the effect her crash had on her and her family and friends.

When you stop and think about what happened, it hits very hard when you realise that this could happen to anyone of us. When I think of myself as an 18 year old driver I can see how it could have just have easily been me.

Throughout the book Sophie talks about how she has strived to come to terms with her injuries and the impact on her life, her body and her relationships. When Sophie shares her experiences I found myself stopping and challenging myself to really think about my own perceptions about disability. I have to say I learned a lot from this book, I truly believe that books can bring us together as learn about other people’s life experience and I think Sophie sharing her story the way she has is so important as I feel we all really need to learn from it.

Driving Forwards is available in paperback now.

I have included the link to my Bookshop.org account.

Buying from Bookshop.org helps to support local bookshops with a donation from each sale going directly to independent bookshops (and an even smaller percentage to me!) You’ll also be able to find my favourite reads of the year so far here.

 

I came across Their Nibs from a client and Instagram recently and my husband, Oscar, bought me a pair of their gorgeous pyjamas for Christmas.

I’m a person that wears baggies in the day for my work and likes to get baggier at home 🙂 and so I’d really like to spotlight this online business to my members this month – as I know they also like to get baggy at home …

______

Their Nibs, a British sleepwear brand synonymous with bespoke hand painted prints and high quality fabrics have recently announced a campaign with charity partners Coram.

Coram is an organisation close to the hearts of Their Nibs as founder and co-owner Fiona Bell adopted her daughter with the assistance and support of the charity.

Since the adoption they have developed a partnership and continued communications, with Fiona and her husband speaking at events for prospective adoptive parents and a continuous donation from Their Nibs from sales of Children’s PJS over the years.

This Spring Their Nibs will be donating 30% of all sales from the Mardi Gras and Gazelle designs for men, women and children.

Fiona Bell, founder of Their Nibs says

“Coram is a charity close to my heart as 4 years ago I adopted my daughter, and with their guidance and expertise I was walked through the process and supported at every turn …

I’m so happy to be able to give something back in terms of donations from the sales of our 2 prints, pink Mardi Gras and the green Gazelle.”

The talented in-house designer of Their Nibs, Sia Smith whose inspiration comes from nature, wildlife and her vivid wondrous imagination has chosen these two special designs that will be loved by families and hopefully generate great funds for Coram.

These funds will enable the charity to run mindfulness courses for adoptive parents, aimed at supporting their wellbeing and resilience and strengthening their relationships.

Available to buy from www.theirnibs.com and  if you would like further information about Coram please visit https://www.coram.org.uk

xx

It’s time to bring you our regular meditation, courtesy of Amanda Penalver.

Amanda is a meditation expert and founder of True Rest®. Her work is devoted to challenging, inspiring & motivating her clients to live a more growth-full, rich & deeply fulfilling life.

Amanda offers True Rest classes & guided meditations to uplift, restore, replenish & re-energise you to live on purpose, fully awake, fully embodied & deeply connected.

______________

“Plunging into the Mystery of Love – Live” –  meditation

This deeply restful, Yoga Nidra-style meditation is here to relax and restore your body, or to help you fall asleep. Paying attention is the most basic and profound expression of love. So give yourself your precious attention and take a plunge into the mystery of love.

Please note: This track was recorded live and may contain background noises.

Find out more about Amanda’s brilliant work at mandypenalver.com

 

Katie Bishop is back with another recipe to make your mouth water.

I’m so grateful to her for doing this – I really hope you enjoy it!

________________

This deliciously rich pudding makes it’s own gooey sauce as it cooks. It’s one of those strange self-saucing bakes where you pour the sauce over the top of the cake batter, before baking. Then the layers swap over in the oven.

We call it an ‘impossible pudding’ in our house.

It’s lovely for Easter coming up, and a good way to use up leftover chocolate.

It can also be made in the slow cooker!!

___________

Overview

Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cook: 30 mins
Serves: 8

Ingredients

100g butter, melted, plus extra for greasing
250g self-raising flour
140g caster sugar
75g cocoa
1 tsp baking powder
1 large orange, finely grated zest and juice
3 medium eggs
150ml milk
100g orange dark or milk chocolate, broken into pieces
200g light soft brown sugar

 

Let’s get cooking …

  1. Preheat the oven to 180C, gas mark 4 and grease a 2 litre ovenproof baking dish with a little butter.
  2. Put the flour, caster sugar, 50g of the cocoa, baking powder, orange zest and a pinch of sea salt flakes in a large mixing bowl.
  3. Whisk the orange juice, eggs, melted butter and milk together, then gradually pour this onto the dry ingredients, whisking throughout, until smooth.
  4. Stir in the chocolate pieces.
  5. Spoon the mixture into the baking dish.
  6. Mix 300ml freshly-boiled water with the soft brown sugar and remaining 25g cocoa.
  7. Pour this all over the pudding batter – don’t worry, it will look really odd and unappetising at this stage!
  8. Bake for 30 minutes, until the surface looks firm and risen.
  9. Spoon into serving bowls, together with the rich, glossy sauce beneath. Eat immediately with cream, custard or vanilla ice cream.

You can even do this in a slow cooker: 

Remove and grease the slow cooker pot. Follow steps 1 -5 above, then spoon the mixture into the slow cooker pot.
Mix 275-285ml (1/2 pint) freshly-boiled water with the soft brown sugar and remaining 25g cocoa then pour this over the batter.
Return the pot to the slow cooker base, cover and cook on high for 3 hours, until firm and risen.

______________

Katie will be back soon with something else delicious to try.

In the meantime, you can find out more about her at https://katiebishop.co.uk or follow her on Instagram at @ktbishopcooks

______________