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 4 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

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I know we’re not officially in autumn but for me as soon as the calendar flips over to 1st September its autumn vibes all the way.  You just can’t beat curling up with a cosy blanket, a cup of tea and a really great read and I have a cracking recommendation for you this month.  It’s The Measure by Nikki Erlick (out now in hardback) and I really hope you’ll love it as much as I did.

This is the story of eight ordinary people in an extraordinary new world.

The story starts with the world waking up to every adult receiving the same box on their doorstep one morning.  Inside the box is a piece of string and the length of that string determines how long you will live. Nobody knows where the boxes have come from but as news spreads people are faced with the questions, what do they mean and should they open their box?

Over the coming weeks, with data gathered scientists confirm that the strings are accurate and create a website that will tell you, given the length of your string how long you have left to live.

Now you’re probably thinking this sounds pretty grim, and I’ll admit that when I first heard the premise I wasn’t sure whether it would be one for me but it is a brilliant read, so utterly unique and compelling.  I have read a lot of dystopian novels recently but this one stood out.

I love the way Nikki explores the impact the strings have on people’s lives, relationships and in society.  It really gives you a lot to think about and even a month after reading it I find myself wondering if I’d open the box and find out the measure of my life, or how I would cope if it was short string.

The Measure is a brilliant debut, it’s gone straight onto my favourites of the year. I was glued to the pages and found it really quite moving, especially the ending.  Definitely one not to be missed and I think its a great one to read with a friend or a group because believe me this is a novel you’ll want to talk about.

I hope you enjoy it and I’ll see you in October for another choice.

(Please note the book cover in the picture is of the proof and not the final on-sale cover).

You can buy your copy from Amazon here, or from all good bookshops.

 

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 4 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

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Allow me to introduce you to a character and a book that I am certain you are going to fall absolutely in love with. It is my favourite read of the year so far and once I finished it I had to make a little space on my favourites shelf for it straight away. Yes it is that good!

The character is Elizabeth Zott and the book is Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus which is out now in hardback.

Set in the early 1960s, Elizabeth, who is a brilliant Chemist, finds herself surrounded by men whose attitudes towards equality are very much of the time. Apart from Calvin Evans, a lonely, brilliant Nobel Prize nominated scientist who falls in love with Elizabeth and… well let’s just say there’s a real chemistry between them.

A few years later, after a series of events Elizabeth finds herself a single mother and the reluctant star of America’s most loved cooking show; Supper at Six. Elizabeth being Elizabeth takes on this role but does it in her way and she starts to teach women not only how to cook but that they can be the ones to change the status quo!

Honestly you are in for such a treat. The cast of characters are all amazing – just wait until you meet Six Thirty – one of my favourite characters ever. Elizabeth is amazing, if you asked me to liken her to another character I’d have to say you can’t, she is one of a kind.

Since finishing this book I frequently find myself asking myself “what would Elizabeth do?” She really is so inspirational.

I was lucky enough to meet the author Bonnie Garmus, who is incredible and if you get the chance to go to an even that she is speaking at jump at the chance because the story behind this book is equally brilliant.

There are is so much in this book and Bonnie tackles some really big topics. (There are some trigger warnings for this which you can always find on the brilliant app Storygraph). I cried and I laughed, there are some really moving parts but it left me feeling hopeful and happy and I think about it all the time.

Lessons in Chemistry is an incredible debut and its about to get bigger as it is being made into a series and filming starts in a few months, with an incredible cast, so please make sure you read it before you watch it.

Before I sign off for the month I want to leave you one of my favourite pieces of advice from Elizabeth (she has lots, it is such a quotable book), but I just love this one.

“When you wake up tomorrow, make this pledge. No more holding yourself back.” – Elizabeth Zott

You can buy your copy from Amazon here, or from all good bookshops.

 

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 4 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

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As we find ourselves in uncertain and stressful times again I’ve really been struggling to find a book to recommend for you this month and so I thought I’d go for something completely different.  I hope you’ll love it.

The book is The Joy in Small Things by Hannah Jane Parkinson.

I often have books that I can dip in and out of by my bed and if I’m feeling really anxious or stressed I find them really soothing.  I loved this one as the chapters are very short and there are so many that I could really relate to.
When I finished reading this one I sat and wrote a list of the small things that give me joy and just making that list made me feel really happy.  As we’re coming into my favourite season here are a few of things that bring me joy:
  • Feeling the sun on my face; even when its a bit chilly out its just a wonderful feeling.
  • My nine year old twins still wanting to hold my hand.
  • Blossom on the trees
  • Hanging my washing outside
  • Naps – oh I love a nap
  • The feeling you get after doing one of Jo’s workouts ❤️
I wonder what might be on your list?  I hope you enjoy reading it

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You can buy your copy from Amazon here, or from all good bookshops.

 

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 4 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

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Ahh February, I love this month so much.  I always find that January is a bit of a struggle, but February to me feels like a time for fresh starts; the greyness and the dark evenings are behind us and Spring is just around the corner.  For my book choice this month I wanted to give you something really lovely and uplifting to curl up with so let me tell you a little bit about Em & Me by Beth Morrey.

The final release front cover of Em & Me

Delphine Jones is a young single mum struggling to make ends meet while raising her daughter Em.  Once upon a time Delphine had big dreams; she was going to go to university, travel the world and make her mark but, well, sometimes life has other ideas.

Now, she wants more for her and for her daughter and she remembers something she has had all along; hope.  As Delphine begins to remember who she once was and what she is capable of her world opens up, offering new opportunities, adventures and even the possibility of loving again, she just needs to find away to put the past behind her.

For me when I read Em & Me it very much felt like it was the right book at the right time.

“It is so relatable, I think we all lose ourselves a little along the way and this was just the most wonderfully heartwarming story.”

One of the characters that Delphine meets is Letty, she’s a fabulous French woman, believe me you’ll just love her.  There was one scene where she talks to Delphine about how we have to enrich your souls, which I just loved.

It was one of those moments where a work of fiction made me stop and think about what enriches my own soul and I love a book that gets you thinking.

Em & Me is a story of mothers, daughters, the power of female friendships and following your dreams and I really hope that you will love it as much as I did.

Em & Me is out now in hardback, and as a bonus book this month, if you haven’t yet read Beth’s debut novel Saving Missy it is now available in paperback.
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You can buy your copy from Amazon here, or from all good bookshops.

 

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 4 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

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Autumn has to be one of my favourite times of the year to curl up with a good book. I just don’t think you can beat snuggling up on the sofa with a hot chocolate and escaping into the pages.

I wanted to pick a book this month that would really compliment Jo’s fabulous self-care series and so I’ve gone for the The Last Library by Freya Sampson which is out now in hardback.

The story is about a young woman named June who is the local library assistant. June thinks that you can tell a lot about a person from the library books they borrow, but June herself is very much a closed book.

Since her mum passed away June has retreated into herself, surviving on Chinese takeaways for one and rereading her favourite books at home.

When the library is threatened with closure, an unlikely group of locals band together to save it and we get to see just how important the library is to the community. But in order to save it, they’ll need to persuade the shy and reclusive June to join their cause.

To me, this just felt like a big warm hug of a read! It is a story about love, loss, friendship, kindness, community and standing up for what you believe in.

It is funny, warm and while it is a little sad at times it overall a wonderfully uplifting read which I really hope you’ll love as much as I did.

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You can buy your copy from Amazon here, or from all good bookshops.

 

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. 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 4 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

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Last month I took you back in time to 1950’s Florence with Still Life by Sarah Winman which I really hope you’ve enjoyed. This month I’m taking you on another journey, but this one couldn’t be more different – as it is a Post-Apocalyptic story.

I used to devour dystopian novels; The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood and 1984 by George Orwell being two of my favourites.

When The Stranding by Kate Sawyer landed on my desk, my first thought was I don’t know if I feel like reading this while living through a pandemic, but the premise was so original and interesting that my curiosity go the better of me and I just had to pick it up straight away.

Let me give you a quick spoiler-free rundown of the plot.

Note the cover has since changed – this was a preview copy.

The story is about a woman named Ruth who is leaving her life behind to head off on an adventure to New Zealand. When she lands in New Zealand there is chaos at the airport as news breaks that Europe has been destroyed. Ruth finds herself on a beach with a stranger called Nick. Together they decide to crawl into the mouth of a dead whale to try and escape what is coming. When they emerge they find that the world has been destroyed and that they are completely alone.

What follows is the story of how they decide to build a life together with what they have available to them; and that is all I’m going to tell you, as I don’t want to spoil it.

Now if at this point you’re thinking this isn’t the book for you, I really would urge you to pick it up. I know a lot of books in this genre can be pretty harrowing (I’m thinking of The Road by Cormac McCarthy) but The Stranding left me feeling really hopeful. Parts of the story reminded me of the very start of the pandemic. When we first went into lockdown, people were panic buying and there was just an awful feeling of uncertainty, but as the days went on, we learned to be more resourceful and kind to one another. We also saw nature healing, as the pollution levels dropped.

While we never find out what the event is that happens in The Stranding, I felt it was another brilliant reminder for us to be more mindful and to take greater care of our planet which we are so careless with.

The Stranding is Kate Sawyer’s debut novel and I am so excited to see what she will write next.

I had the opportunity to chat to Kate on an Instagram Live recently and she said

“I hope that it makes people think about what is important in life.”

I have to say it worked for me.

It’s a book that is so beautifully written, it is just captivating and it’s one that stays with you long after you turn the final page.

I really hope that you’ll enjoy it as much as I did.

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You can buy your copy from Amazon here, or from all good bookshops.

 

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. 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 4 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

Still Life by Sarah Winman

Over the past year or so I can’t tell you how many times I’ve thought to myself I am so grateful to be a bookworm. As the world shut down and we found we could no longer travel or see friends I found myself feeling increasingly glad to be a reader.

Whenever I pick up a book I know that I can transport myself anywhere in the world, I can go backwards or forwards in time, I can even visit make-believe worlds and I can just escape the realities of life all by turning the pages.

Maybe you’ve managed to get away on a little trip recently or maybe you haven’t but I thought this month I’d take you all on a trip to Italy with the stunning new novel by Sarah Winman, Still Life.

The story opens in Florence, 1944 where we meet sexagenarian Evelyn Skinner, an art historian and possible spy. A woman who loves Florence and is trying to salvage paintings from the ruins while reliving her memories of the time she encountered EM Forster and had her heart stolen by an Italian maid.

As the Allied troops advance and bombs fall around, Eveyln meets a young British Soldier, Ulysses Temper. The two become instant friends and while they don’t get to spend much time together, their meeting will shape the following decades of their lives.

“This is just the most beautiful book to escape into; normally I tear through books at great speed but I wanted to savour this one and I never wanted it to end.”

Its a story about life, love and friendships and has the most wonderful cast of unforgettable characters. There are parts that are really moving and there are parts that will make you laugh and I really hope that you will love it as much as I did.

I’m going to leave you with the trailer for Still Life, which is one of the most beautiful book trailers I’ve seen. If I can’t convince you to pick this one up, this trailer will …

I really hope you’ll enjoy reading Stil Life as much as I did. I’ll be back next month with another recommendation for you.

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You can buy your copy from Amazon here, or from all good bookshops.

 

Jo is an avid reader and if you’re a member of her workout family, you’ll know she likes to make the occasional recommendation.

Recently, she did an Instagram Live interview, with our resident book reviewer, Helen Gambarota.

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

Jo and Helen talk about a number of books in this interview – the full list (and Amazon links to buy them) is below for you.

Santa Mouse – Michael Brown

Of Mice and Men – John Steinbeck

All Quiet on the Western Front – Erich Maria Remarque

The Cellist of Sarajevo – Steven Galloway

The Song of Achilles – Madeline Miller

Hamnet – Maggie O’Farrell

Sit back, pour yourself a drink and have a watch – we think you’ll really enjoy their chat.

 

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

I am a total book nerd. 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 4 years ago and I love chatting about books and sharing my passion for reading.

Each month I’ll be bringing 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 A Girl From Africa by Elizabeth Nyamaro

As I sit here writing my book recommendation for you this month, it is actually the launch day for Jo’s fabulous Wellness and Lifestyle magazine and one word is ringing in my head; Ubuntu. Maybe you’ve heard that word before, but I hadn’t until I read I Am A Girl From Africa by Elizabeth Nyamaro which is my choice for you this month.

Ubuntu is an ancient African philosophy and it means “I am because you are”, it essentially means that what impacts one will in turn impact us all. It is about community, connection, uplifting and caring for one another. Which is why I thought it was such a relevant read for Jo’s Weekly Workout Family. I am so proud to be part of this community and to be able to share my love of books with you and I really hope that you’ll find Elizabeth’s story as inspiring as I did. Let me tell you a bit about it.

Elizabeth grew up in a small village in Zimbabwe with her Grandmother. She had a lovely childhood but when she was eight years old they were hit by a terrible drought. One day Elizabeth found herself lying on the ground and believed that she was going to die. A young aid worker from The United Nations found Elizabeth and fed her a bowl of porridge which saved her life. It also sparked a dream in Elizabeth.

She decided that one day she would also work for The United Nations and that she would improve the lives of others. Which is exactly what she did. Despite all the odds Elizabeth went on to become a Senior Advisor for the United Nations, she also founded the HeForShe Movement; so the dream that was sparked in an eight year old girl has in fact changed the world.

I love a good memoir and I found Elizabeth’s story so inspiring and relevant to the times that we are in at the moment. Not only is ELizabeth’s story incredible it is also a beautiful love letter to her continent, in the dedication she writes “To my beloved continent, this my love letter to you. I cannot imagine any greater gift than being a child of the African soil . which I think is one of the most special dedications I’ve seen in a long time.

When I posted details of this book on my Instagram Elizabeth sent me this message:

“I hope that it inspires you to see what is possible when we dream big and choose to make a difference to the lives of others”. Whatever dream you have I hope that you’ll read this memoir and be inspired to keep striving towards seeing your dream become reality.

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You can buy your copy from Amazon or from all good bookshops.

 

Hi! I’m Helen Gambarota and I am delighted to be joining Jo’s Weekly Workout Family to share my love of books with you. I’m a stay at home mum of 8 year old twins. Last year we completed our family when we welcomed our puppy, Roddy, into our home and hearts.

Pre-kids I had a varied career working in banking, legal and magazines before finally ending up as a Celebrity Manager for an animal rescue charity.

I am a total book nerd. 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 4 years ago and I love chatting about books and sharing my passion for reading.

Each month I’ll be bringing 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

The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah

My first book recommendation for you is The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah, which is out now in hard back. Let me tell you a bit about the story, don’t worry I never drop spoilers.

The story is set in 1930s Texas, at the time of the Great Depression and the beginning of the Dust Bowl era. It is about a woman named Elsa who is struggling to keep herself and family alive on their farm as they are in the midst of the worst drought in their history.

Elsa is forced to make the impossible decision as to whether she will stay and fight for the land she loves or take her children on a difficult and dangerous journey to California where she hopes she will find a better life. She packs her things and sets off with her children, not knowing if she’ll see her family again and not knowing what lies ahead of them.

This is a really powerful, compelling and emotional read. At the time I read this, Texas were struggling through snow storms and Texans were again without heating and water so it felt like a timely reminder that we need to act now to save our planet.

It is story about love, sacrifice and discovering the best of ourselves at the worst of times.

Kristin started writing this book three years ago, and at that time she could have had no idea that in 2020 the world would be battling the Coronavirus pandemic. She writes:

“Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that the Great Depression would become so relevant in our modern lives, that I would see so many people out of work, in need and frightened for the future.”

History shows us how strong and resilient we are and that in the darkest of times there is always hope and kindness, which you will see shine through in The Four Winds.

I really hope you’ll enjoy reading The Four Winds as much as I did. I’ll be back next month with another recommendation for you.

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You can buy your copy from Amazon here, or from all good bookshops.