Thursday, 19 January 2017

Christodora by Tim Murphy

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Christodora  by Tim Murphy
Publisher: Pan Mcmillan (23 February 2017)
Source: Publisher (NetGalley), The NUDGE and New Books Reviewers
Pages: 496


Disclaimer: A complimentary copy of Christodora was provided by Pan McMillan via Netgalley and a hardcopy via Newbooks Reviewers in exchange for an honest unbiased review.

In this vivid and compelling novel, Tim Murphy follows a diverse set of characters whose fates intertwine in an iconic building in Manhattan's East Village, the Christodora. The Christodora is home to Milly and Jared, a privileged young couple with artistic ambitions. Their neighbour, Hector, a Puerto Rican gay man who was once a celebrated AIDS activist but is now a lonely addict, becomes connected to Milly's and Jared's lives in ways none of them can anticipate. Meanwhile, the couple's adopted son, Mateo, grows to appreciate the opportunities for both self-realization and oblivion that New York offers. As the junkies and protestors of the 1980s give way to the hipsters of the 2000s and they, in turn, to the wealthy residents of the crowded, glass-towered city of the 2020s, enormous changes rock the personal lives of Milly and Jared and the constellation of people around them. Moving kaleidoscopically from the Tompkins Square Riots and attempts by activists to galvanize a response to the AIDS epidemic, to the New York City of the future, Christodora recounts the heartbreak wrought by AIDS, illustrates the allure and destructive power of hard drugs, and brings to life the ever-changing city itself.

My Thoughts:
During the late 1920's the 'Christodora', a building situated in Manhattan's East Village was where new immigrants and the poorer members of the community would often find themselves housed. In the 1980's the building was redeveloped and made into luxury apartments where only the affluent could then afford to reside. With the beginnings of gentrification of the area the occupants of these luxurious apartments understandably caused resentment from the less affluent and homeless now unable to afford such accommodation where they'd once had little choice but to reside. Inevitably as tensions grew the infamous riots of New York ensued.

Tim Murphy's masterpiece uses the 'Christodora' as its focal point in the novel and is where its pivotal characters, sculptor Jared Traum and his artist wife Milly, and others live. We also follow a group of interconnected friends, artists, and gay activists over a span of four decades, ranging from the 1980's to 2020.

Being British, I couldn't say that I related much to the drug or gay scene of New York. I did however have gay friends, and some friends who took drugs, but I didn't personally know anyone with HIV. 
What I do remember is the paranoia drummed up by the news media and our 'then' Government about the 'AIDS' plague, that a promiscuous gay community had brought upon themselves, and that it was now a threat to all of us if we were bisexual or had more than one sexual partner.
It had also become a requirement for more than one male applying for a joint mortgage and for gay men applying for health insurance, to take an HIV test before consideration. A positive result meant refusal of application, and a blemish on medical files, forever! Eventually we were better informed about this horrific, unprejudiced virus which would claim people from all walks of life, gender and sexual orientation.

'Christodora' educated me in many ways about the HIV plight of the 1980's and of the role 'gay activists' and scientists in America played in the fight for medical research, better health care, and legal rights for both gay men and lesbian women.  It is because of these dedicated brave individuals that AIDS no longer needs to lead to a premature death or that its sufferers be subjected to discrimination, prejudice and fear.

Tim Murphy writes with real depth and clarity about his characters that it's hard to believe they aren't living and breathing people. One character's narrative had such a powerful impact on me that I felt breathless and giddy reading as she ploughed from one scene to another with a volatile energy gathering in pace and momentum, and with her increasing irrational, embarrassing and inappropriate behaviour. I felt 'manic', my head was in turmoil.  Ava and the symptoms of her bi-polar disorder are so incredibly well written, I felt as if I was in the same uncomfortable as this was it was brilliantly done!

Overlong at times, and confusing with time shifts leaping back and forth as characters gave their points of view, it was definitely worth the perseverance as I was rewarded with the 'payoff' as gradually everything made sense and the segments slowly slotted into place.

Hugely encyclopaedic in scope 'Christodora' is also a raw emotive 'coming of age' tale of sorts. I found every character compelling from the aforementioned Ava, struggling with her manic episodes, to one of the most intriguing but equally frustrating, and at times intensely unlikeable characters in the book, Hugo Villanueva.

'Christodora' is intelligently, and compassionately written with complex, flawed individuals, and evokes a real sense of an era full of fun, passion, pace and energy, with a vibe of the creative arts, and excitement of the music industry; then it turns on itself like a rabid dog and relentlessly drives us down into an abyss with descriptions of the devastating catastrophic effects of drug abuse (chiefly meth addiction), and the fear, pain and despair of losing, or leaving behind, friends and loved ones because of an unknown disease.

Utterly compelling and educational in respect of the relationships and interrelationships of the characters before, during, and after the emergence of a devastating disease that cut dead the excitement and euphoria of the gay, drug and disco days of the 80's...Highly recommended.

Sunday, 8 January 2017

WATERSTONES Pompey Recommends: #PompeyBooksLoves

These are the books that staff at WATERSTONES Portsmouth have really loved reading over the last few months and highly recommend giving a read:

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This is the first instalment of #PompeyBooksLoves at #Waterstones #Portsmouth on Facebook and Twitter and there will be more new recommendations, and in depth reviews to come.


Saturday, 17 December 2016

SPOTLIGHT: HF Virtual Book Tours: Marlene: A Novel of Marlene Dietrich by C.W. Gortner


Marlene: A Novel of Marlene Dietrich by C.W. Gortner

Paperback Release Date: December 13, 2016
William Morrow, Harper Collins
ISBN: 9780062406071; 432 Pages
Genre: Historical Fiction/Contemporary Women/Biographical

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Marlene Dietrich�s femme fatale persona defined her, but behind the glitz of 1930s Hollywood was a remarkably modern woman, determined to live by her own terms.

A rebellious girl, Marlene�s genteel family expectations curtail her until Germany's defeat in the Great War gives rise to the decadence of Weimar Berlin. Here, Marlene finds her niche as a cabaret actress. With her sultry beauty, smoky voice, and androgynous tuxedo, she performs to packed houses and has a series of stormy love affairs that push the boundaries of social convention until she finds overnight success in the scandalous movie The Blue Angel. As Hitler seizes power, Marlene sets sail for America to become one of Hollywood�s top leading ladies, starring opposite Gary Cooper, John Wayne, and Cary Grant. When Hitler tries to entice her back to Germany, Marlene defiantly declares her stance, risking her life to perform for Allied troops. And upon the war's savage end, she finally returns to Germany to discover a heartbreaking secret amidst the war�s devastation.

MARLENE is out in paperback on December 13 and features exclusive extra content. A perfect gift for lovers of old Hollywood and strong dames! To find out more, please visit:


From the gender-bending cabarets of Weimar Berlin to the tyrannical movie studios of Los Angeles, this sweeping story of passion, glamour, art, and war is a lush, dramatic novel of one of the most alluring legends of Hollywood�s golden age: Marlene Dietrich.
Raised in genteel poverty after the First World War, Maria Magdalena Dietrich dreams of a life on the stage. When her budding career as a violinist is cut short, she vows to become an actress, trading her family�s proper, middle-class society for the free-spirited, louche world of Berlin�s cabarets and drag balls. With her sultry beauty, smoky voice, and androgynous tailored suits, Marlene performs to packed houses and conducts a series of stormy love affairs that push the boundaries of social convention until she finds overnight success in the scandalous movie The Blue Angel.

For Marlene, neither fame nor marriage and motherhood can cure her wanderlust. As Hitler rises to power, she sets sail for America to become a rival to MGM�s queen, Greta Garbo. As one of Hollywood�s top leading ladies, she stars with such legends as Gary Cooper, John Wayne, and Cary Grant. Desperate for her return, Hitler tries to lure her with dazzling promises. Defiant in her stance against the Nazis, Marlene chooses instead to become an American citizen, and after her new nation is forced into World War II, she tours with the USO, performing for Allied troops in Europe and Africa. But one day, she must return to Germany, where she will discover a heartbreaking secret amidst the war�s devastation that transformed her homeland and the family she loved.

An enthralling account of this extraordinary legend, MARLENE reveals the inner life of a woman of grit and ambition who defied convention, seduced the world, and forged her own path.

�Skillfully evokes the cross-dressing, sexually fluid atmosphere of the seedy nightclubs that helped Marlene define her unique appeal.
Well-detailed and truly moving; an ambitious account of the German-American star. � �Kirkus Reviews

�Full of the sizzle and decadence of Weimar Berlin, and the scandal and soirees of Hollywood�s golden era, this is a gloriously entertaining read.
CW Gortner�s Marlene is utterly beguiling, the kind of woman who only comes along once in a century. Reader, you can�t take your eyes off her!� �Beatriz Williams, New York Times bestselling author

"From the ribald cabarets of Weimer-era Berlin to the glamour of golden-era Hollywood, beguilingly androgynous and fiercely passionate Marlene Dietrich . . . fairly leaps off every page." �Booklist, starred review

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | HarperCollins | iBooks | IndieBound

03_cw-gortnerAbout the Author

C.W. GORTNER holds an MFA in Writing with an emphasis in Renaissance Studies from the New College of California, as well as an AA from the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in San Francisco.

After an eleven year-long career in fashion, during which he worked as a vintage retail buyer, freelance publicist, and fashion show coordinator, C.W. devoted the next twelve years to the public health sector. In 2012, he became a full-time writer following the international success of his novels.

In his extensive travels to research his books, he has danced a galliard at Hampton Court, learned about organic gardening at Chenoceaux, and spent a chilly night in a ruined Spanish castle. His books have garnered widespread acclaim and been translated into twenty-one languages to date, with over 400,000 copies sold. A sought-after public speaker. C.W. has given keynote addresses at writer conferences in the US and abroad. He is also a dedicated advocate for animal rights, in particular companion animal rescue to reduce shelter overcrowding.

Half-Spanish by birth and raised in southern Spain, C.W. now lives in Northern California with his partner and two very spoiled rescue cats.

For more information visit C.W. Gortner�s website and blog. You can also find him on Facebook, Twittter, Goodreads, Pinterest, and YouTube. Sign up for C.W. Gortner�s Newsletter for updates.

Book Blast Schedule

Tuesday, December 13
Kinx's Book Nook
A Bookaholic Swede
To Read, Or Not to Read
So Many Books, So Little Time

Wednesday, December 14
The Lit Bitch
Unabridged Chick
The Never-Ending Book
Caryn, the Book Whisperer

Thursday, December 15
Impressions In Ink
CelticLady's Reviews
Please Pass The Books
What Is That Book About

Friday, December 16
Broken Teepee
Books, Dreams, Life

Saturday, December 17
SJ2B House of Books
Ageless Pages Reviews
Beth's Book Nook Blog
First Impression Reviews

Sunday, December 18
T's Stuff
100 Pages a Day
Passages to the Past

Monday, December 19
Book Nerd
A Literary Vacation

Tuesday, December 20
I Heart Reading
Creating Herstory
Just One More Chapter


To win a paperback copy of Marlene: A Novel of Marlene Dietrich by C.W. Gortner, please enter via the Gleam form below. Two copies are up for grabs!


� Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on December 20th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
� Giveaway is open to US residents only.
� Only one entry per household.
� All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
� Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

Marlene Paperback


Thursday, 15 December 2016

TLC Book Tours Review: I'll Take You There by Wally Lamb


About I'll Take You There

• Hardcover: 272 pages
• Publisher: Harper; First Printing edition (November 22, 2016)

In this radiant homage to the resiliency, strength, and power of women, Wally Lamb—author of numerous New York Times bestselling novels including She’s Come Undone, I Know This Much is True, and We Are Water—weaves an evocative, deeply affecting tapestry of one Baby Boomer's life and the trio of unforgettable women who have changed it.

I’ll Take You There centers on Felix, a film scholar who runs a Monday night movie club in what was once a vaudeville theater. One evening, while setting up a film in the projectionist booth, he’s confronted by the ghost of Lois Weber, a trailblazing motion picture director from Hollywood’s silent film era. Lois invites Felix to revisit—and in some cases relive—scenes from his past as they are projected onto the cinema’s big screen.

In these magical movies, the medium of film becomes the lens for Felix to reflect on the women who profoundly impacted his life. There’s his daughter Aliza, a Gen Y writer for New York Magazine who is trying to align her post-modern feminist beliefs with her lofty career ambitions; his sister, Frances, with whom he once shared a complicated bond of kindness and cruelty; and Verna, a fiery would-be contender for the 1951 Miss Rheingold competition, a beauty contest sponsored by a Brooklyn-based beer manufacturer that became a marketing phenomenon for two decades. At first unnerved by these ethereal apparitions, Felix comes to look forward to his encounters with Lois, who is later joined by the spirits of other celluloid muses.

Against the backdrop of a kaleidoscopic convergence of politics and pop culture, family secrets, and Hollywood iconography, Felix gains an enlightened understanding of the pressures and trials of the women closest to him, and of the feminine ideals and feminist realities that all women, of every era, must face.

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My Thoughts:
Ok first of all I just want to clarify that I am a fan of Wally Lamb and absolutely loved 'She's Come Undone', 'I Know This Much Is True', and 'The Hour I First Believed'. 

So, what to say about 'I'll Take You There'...All I can say is that it wasn't what I expected, with less pages than I'm used to with his previous novels, and sparser descriptions or depth of characterisation, I have to say it's not one I particularly liked or felt compelled to finish.

It's an easy read, with light inoffensive material about women, family and feminism. To me though it lacked depth and character build up, resulting in bland uninteresting characters and plot.

However, I do think it would be a perfect, uncomplicated quick 'holiday' read, and has huge potential and appeal for the commercial market reader, more so than the literary fiction fan. In fact I can see it doing very well in this market, and that's a good thing especially if it brings a wider audience to Lamb's books.

Ideal for book club reads for potential discussion about women's roles in society, and family, and feminism in general.

These are only my thoughts on the book and in no way would I wish to dissuade anyone from reading the book. In fact, my view is in the minority and therefore I hope that you take a look at what the other reviewers on this tour have had to say about it.

Disclaimer: I received a complementary advance reading copy of 'I'll Take You There' from the publisher and TLC Book Tours to take part in the blog tour.

Photo credit Chris Hetzer 
Photo credit Chris Hetzer

About Wally Lamb

Wally Lamb is the author of four previous novels, including the New York Times and national bestseller The Hour I First Believed and Wishin' and Hopin', a bestselling novella. His first two works of fiction, She's Come Undone and I Know This Much Is True, were both number-one New York Times bestsellers and Oprah's Book Club selections. He lives in Connecticut with his wife, Christine. The Lambs are the parents of three sons.

Find out more about Wally at his website, and connect with him on Facebook.

Tour Stops

Tuesday, November 22nd: Jenn’s Bookshelves
Wednesday, November 23rd: Dolce Bellezza
Monday, November 28th: Turn the Page
Tuesday, November 29th: West Metro Mommy
Wednesday, November 30th: Lit and Life
Thursday, December 1st: The Well-Read Redhead
Monday, December 5th: bookchickdi
Tuesday, December 6th: What Will She Read Next
Wednesday, December 7th: Bibliophiliac
Thursday, December 8th: A Bookish Way of Life
Friday, December 9th: Booksie’s Blog
Monday, December 12th: Girl Who Reads
Wednesday, December 14th: Mother’s Circle
Thursday, December 15th: SJ2B House Of Books

Wednesday, 14 December 2016


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The Silver Baron's Wife by Donna Baier Stein

Publication Date: September 15, 2016
Serving House Books
Paperback 224 Pages
ISBN-13: 978-0997101065
Genre: Historical Fiction


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The Silver Baron's Wife traces the rags-to-riches-to-rags life of Colorado's Baby Doe Tabor (Lizzie). This fascinating heroine worked in the silver mines and had two scandalous marriages, one to a philandering opium addict and one to a Senator and silver baron worth $24 million in the late 19th century. A divorcee shunned by Denver society, Lizzie raised two daughters in a villa where 100 peacocks roamed the lawns, entertained Sarah Bernhardt when the actress performed at Tabor's Opera House, and after her second husband's death, moved to a one-room shack at the Matchless Mine in Leadville. She lived the last 35 years of her life there, writing down thousands of her dreams and noting visitations of spirits on her calendar. Hers is the tale of a fiercely independent woman who bucked all social expectations by working where 19thcentury women didn't work, becoming the key figure in one of the West's most scandalous love triangles, and, after a devastating stock market crash destroyed Tabor's vast fortune, living in eccentric isolation at the Matchless Mine. An earlier version of this novel won the PEN/New England Discovery Award in Fiction."

My Thoughts:
Told in the first person narrative,  'The Silver Baron's Wife' flows effortlessly and with short chapters was a quick but satisfying read. Baier Stein, encompassing entries from 'Baby Doe's' diaries; using engaging prose and imaginative settings, weaves a compelling and engrossing, 'rags to riches, to rags', tragic love story.

 'The Silver Baron's Wife' is a fascinating fictionalised account of the infamous Elizabeth 'Baby Doe' Tabor, a fiercely independent and determined woman who, after divorcing her first husband, a scandalous affair with a married man, and financial ruin, still manages to survive and remain true to her own convictions.  A huge scandal of its time, the Tabor's were ostracised by society for their affair and subsequent marriage, and Baier Stein has written a heartbreaking but fascinating account about a truly amazing woman, and of the harsh realities of the mining lifestyle and consequences of her actions.

Fervently religious and increasing in mental instability in her ageing years, she loses sense of reality, has visions, and speaks to the ghosts of her dead husband, her mother and daughters. 'Baby Doe' dies during the freezing winter of 1935, alone in her cabin where she'd lived in poverty for 30 years. Such a tragic ending for a courageous, pioneering woman, a selfless mother and wife, who's only failing was to fall in love with a married man.

I would definitely recommend 'The Silver Baron's Wife' to fans of American historical fiction, and anyone interested in reading about the Colorado gold and silver mining era of the 1800's.

Totally compelling, and insightful read that held my interest throughout.

Disclaimer: A complimentary copy of 'The Silver Baron's Wife' was provided by the publisher via HF Virtual Book Tours in exchange for an honest unbiased review.


"At long last we get to hear Baby Doe’s compelling side of the hurtful tale that made her the most hated woman in the West. Donna Baier Stein has captured young Lizzie’s Doe’s agency in her first marriage, as well as older Lizzie’s Tabor’s deep spiritual resilience during her decades of isolation. Through Stein’s artistry, Baby Doe’s story makes the heart ache." —Judy Nolte Temple, author of Baby Doe Tabor: The Madwoman in the Cabin

"Explosive, gripping and romantic, The Silver Baron’s Wife is a story that exposes not only the scandalous marriage and perplexing life of a woman starred in the wealthy 19th century social circles while being shunned from them. It also opens a fascinating window into 19th century American social mores and Washington DC’s politics.

An absorbing read about a fiercely independent woman who charted her own course only to find herself paying the price." —Talia Carner, author of Hotel Moscow, Jerusalem Maiden, China Doll, and Puppet Child

"The Silver Baron’s Wife is a beautiful and absorbing novel, rich in history and vivid period detail. In exquisite prose, Donna Baier Stein captures the extraordinary and tumultuous life of Lizzie “Baby Doe” Tabor, with all of its longings, joys, and tragedies. This is a moving and memorable book." —Ronna Wineberg, author of Seven Facts That Can Change Your Life, On Bittersweet Place, and Second Language, "With The Silver Baron’s Wife, Donna Baer Stein pulls off that most difficult of novelistic feats: breathing fictional life into historic characters and situations. From the dark, unpropitious, and dismal depths of Baby Doe Tabor’s biography, she mines a vein of pure silver." —Peter Selgin, author of The Inventors, Drowning Lessons, and Life Goes To The Movies

"Donna Baier Stein paints a heartfelt, poignant picture filled with loving details of Baby Doe’s celebrated life that lingers long after the last page is turned." —Ann Parker, author of The Silver Rush Mystery Series

"Donna Baier Stein reveals the deeper levels of Baby Doe Tabor, the fascinating 19th century woman who caught silver mining fever, and whose fortune vacillated again and again between stunning riches and hardscrabble dearth. Having lost children, spouses, and wealth Lizzie is drawn more than ever to the invisible world, yearning to know if the dreams and visitations which have guided her life are real. With sumptuous, tactile prose, rich historical detail, and an evocative recreation of the American West, The Silver Baron’s Wife excavates the legend of Elizabeth McCourt Tabor to expose a character’s humanity and soul." —Diane Bonavist, author of Purged by Fire: The Cathar Heresy

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About the Author

Donna Baier Stein is the author of The Silver Baron's Wife (PEN/New England Discovery Award), Sympathetic People (Iowa Fiction Award Finalist and 2015 IndieBook Awards Finalist), and Sometimes You Sense the Difference. She founded and publishes Tiferet Journal. She has received a Scholarship from Bread Loaf, a Fellowship from the Johns Hopkins University Writing Seminars, three Pushcart nominations, and prizes from the Allen Ginsberg Awards and elsewhere. Her writing has appeared in Ascent, Beloit Poetry Journal, Poet Lore, Prairie Schooner, Virginia Quarterly Review, Puerto del Sol, Writer’s Digest, as well as in anthologies from Simon & Schuster and The Spirit That Moves Us Press. She is currently completing a new collection of stories based on Thomas Hart Benton lithographs.
Donna was also an award-winning copywriter whose clients include Smithsonian, World Wildlife Fund, Citrix, and other non-profit and for-profit organizations. Her website is You can also follow Donna on FacebookTwitter, and Goodreads.

Monday, 21 November 2016

TLC BOOK TOUR Review: Forever Painless by Miranda Esmonde-White

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Forever Painless: End Chronic Pain and Reclaim Your Life in 30 Minutes a Day
by Miranda Esmonde-White

Genre: Non Fiction
Publisher: Harper Wave (15, November 2016)
Source: Publisher/TLC Book Tours
Pages: 320

Chronic pain is the most common cause of long-term disability in the United States. Twenty percent of American adults accept back spasms, throbbing joints, arthritis aches, and other physical pain as an inevitable consequence of aging, illness, or injury. But the human body is not meant to endure chronic pain. Miranda Esmonde-White has spent decades helping professional athletes, ballet dancers, and Olympians overcome potentially career-ending injuries and guiding MS patients and cancer survivors toward pain-free mobility. Now, in Forever Painless, she shows everyone how to heal their aching bodies and live pain free.
The root of nearly all pain is movement—or lack thereof. We need to move our bodies to refresh, nourish, and revitalize our cells. Without physical activity, our cells become stagnant and decay, accelerating the aging process and causing pain. People who suffer chronic pain often become sedentary, afraid that movement and activity will make things worse, when just the opposite is true: movement is essential to healing. In Forever Painless, Miranda provides detailed instructions for gentle exercise designed to ease discomfort in the feet and ankles, knees, hips, back, and neck—allowing anyone to live happier, healthier, and pain-free no matter their age.
My Thoughts:
In my 20's my exercise regime would consist of an hour aerobics class (usually high impact-this was the 80's !), followed by 30 minutes weights then a final 30 minutes swimming...five times a week!

I kept this going for 13 years but I always felt something wasn't quite right, but couldn't put my finger on it...I felt tired most of the time, always has a cold and felt pain in my back. Eventually I was diagnosed with systemic lupus. During my first pregnancy everything fell apart I could no longer exercise due to severe exhaustion, sickness and pain.  Ever since It's been a constant battle to lose weight as I'd alternate between, strenuous spinning sessions that would inevitably lead to inflammation of the joints causing excruciating pain, and regular rest periods to recover. I'd then start the cycle all over again.

In part one of Forever Painless, Esmonde-White explains in an informative and most interesting way, the mechanics of chronic pain and although what she says is pretty much common sense, some of us still need to be reminded of what we should or shouldn't be doing in order to help ourselves overcome the pain, frustration and many other symptoms that accompany being in constant pain.

In part two of the book exercise programs are covered in separate chapters as follows:
The Basic Warm-up
The Foot and Ankle Workout
The Knee Workout
The Hip Workout
The Back Workout
The Upper Back and Shoulder Workout
The Connective Tissue Workout
The Immune System Workout
The Arthritis Workout
The Stress Workout

As a sufferer of an autoimmune disease I found the Immune System and Arthritis workouts of particular interest and felt confident in performing the exercises recommended. There is to be a video to compliment the book at a future date.  (See link for details.

Forever Painless is in my honest opinion an invaluable resource for sufferers of persistent pain like me, and anyone going through the ageing then, everyone is going to find this book helpful at some time or other to maybe become pain-free again.

What I personally took from the book is that I am no longer able, nor should I expect my body to perform in the same way it used to. I will leave behind the punishing exercise regimes of my youth as causing more pain from soreness, and inflammation irritating the arthritis is detrimental to my health and wellbeing.

I will still do 'spinning' but at a much gentler pace and continue with the exercises Edmond-White has given me in this book.

A 'self help' book I would have no hesitation to recommend for customers to read.

Disclaimer: I am extremely grateful to have been given an opportunity to receive an advanced digital copy of Forever Painless to review as part of the TLC Book Tours.

See what other reviewers have to say on the TLC Book Tour
by clicking on the button below!
tlc tour host

Tuesday, 8 November 2016

HF Virtual Book Tours (October/November 2016): The Popish Midwife by Annelisa Christensen

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The Popish Midwife, Elizabeth Cellier
by Annelisa Christensen

Publisher: The Conrad Press (July 14, 2016)
Source: Author/HF Virtual Book Tours (digital)
Genre: Historical Fiction

In seventeenth-century London, thirteen years after the plague and twelve years after the Great Fire, the restoration of King Charles II has dulled the memory of Cromwell’s puritan rule, yet fear and suspicion are rife. Religious turmoil is rarely far from tipping the scales into hysteria.
Elizabeth Cellier, a bold and outspoken midwife, regularly visits Newgate Prison to distribute alms to victims of religious persecution. There she falls in with the charming Captain Willoughby, a debtor, whom she enlists to gather information about crimes against prisoners, so she might involve herself in petitioning the king in their name.
‘Tis a plot, Madam, of the direst sort.’ With these whispered words Willoughby draws Elizabeth unwittingly into the infamous Popish Plot and soon not even the fearful warnings of her husband, Pierre, can loosen her bond with it.
This is the incredible true story of one woman ahead of her time and her fight against prejudice and injustice.

My Thoughts:
We first encounter Elizabeth as she takes over from, who can only be described as a butcher midwife attending to an unfortunate woman in labour.  This startling scene is a shocking and horrifying lead into the brutal, frightening times of 17th Century England.  Being a midwife wasn't the respectable vocation it is today. The only qualification required was to have been present at other births, and then, not all midwives had the best interests of their charges at heart.  They often had poor regard for hygiene standards and were more intent on receiving payment for their services in order to purchase their next drink. A trusted experienced midwife could make a decent living from midwifery with the written, or 'word of mouth', testimonials from women who had been birthed by them. These midwives would be given access to places many other women would not, as with Elizabeth Cellier and her prison visits to give alms to the suffering, or gain entrance to gentle women's residences to assist in their birthing hours.  All midwives were however, open to abuse from misogynistic men, and to accusations of being whores and witches.

Elizabeth Cellier is a woman with an unwavering confidence and belief in herself to do what she believes is right and will defend those who have been unjustly accused. She is also a midwife, a Catholic, and married to a Frenchman, all of which mark her out as a target for ill wishers seeking potential benefit from her downfall in such superstitious, and political conspiratorial, religious times of upheaval. Highly intelligent and articulate, after witnessing a prejudiced courtroom hearing, she uses the experience of the proceedings to her advantage when she is herself charged with treason.

Told in first person narrative with authentic dialogue, Christensen has written a fascinating, brutally honest, above all entertaining debut novel.  With characters so vividly drawn, and scenes rich in atmospheric historical detail, I could almost imagine being there smelling the fear, and decaying bodies of the poor sufferers, I wanted so much to reach out to the unfortunates from within Elizabeth's imagined body.  Christensen came upon the 'real life' Elizabeth Cellier’s story by accident when she won some pages recording Elizabeth's trial in an auction. She felt that her story should be told and 'The Popish Midwife' is her story, and one which I highly recommend.  She is currently working on an historical novel about Marie Desormeaux, another 17th Century midwife, who murdered her husband, cut him up and distributed the body parts around London.  Definitely looking forward to another entertaining and gruesome, oh and educational tale from this author.

Disclaimer: I am extremely grateful to have been given an opportunity to receive an advanced digital copy of 'The Popish Midwife' by the author to review as part of HF Virtual Book Tours.

About the Author:
03_Annelisa Christensen
Annelisa Christensen was born in Sussex, took a psychology degree at the University of Stirling in Scotland, then returned to the south to partner in a fashion design company with her childhood friend, Julia. They had fun selling to shops and in street markets all over London, but dissolved the business when children came along, both believing in putting their families first. Delighted to be offered the job of laboratory technician in the local secondary school, in which she had herself been Head Girl twenty years earlier, Annelisa simultaneously wrote a magical realism series (as yet unpublished). She wrote The Popish Midwife after falling in love with Elizabeth Cellier in some 300-year-old loose pages of a trial she bought on the internet. The more she discovered about Elizabeth Cellier, the more Annelisa wanted to share this amazing woman’s story. The Popish Midwife is the result of years of research and writing.

For more information, please visit Annelisa Christensen's website. You can also find her on FacebookTwitter, and Goodreads. Sign up for her Newsletter.

Blog Tour Schedule

Wednesday, October 19
Spotlight at The Book Connection
Spotlight at Blogarama

Friday, October 22

Monday, October 24

Tuesday, October 25
Spotlight at Broken Teepee

Friday, October 26
Spotlight at A Literary Vacation

Thursday, October 27
Guest Post at Books, Dreams, Life

Friday, October 28
Spotlight at Passages to the Past

Tuesday, November 1
Review at Book Nerd

Wednesday, November 2
Spotlight at CelticLady’s Reviews

Thursday, November 4
Guest Post at Let Them Read Books

Monday, November 7

Wednesday, November 9
Interview at The Book Connection
Guest Post and Review at Historical Fiction Obsession

Friday, November 11