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.