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Us by David Nicholls

October 11, 2014 in Books, Fiction

‘I was looking forward to us growing old together. Me and you, growing old and dying together.’

‘Douglas, who in their right mind would look forward to that?’

Douglas Petersen understands his wife’s need to ‘rediscover herself’ now that their son is leaving home.

He just thought they’d be doing their rediscovering together.

So when Connie announces that she will be leaving, too, he resolves to make their last family holiday into the trip of a lifetime: one that will draw the three of them closer, and win the respect of his son. One that will make Connie fall in love with him all over again.

The hotels are booked, the tickets bought, the itinerary planned and printed.

What could possibly go wrong?

Us Collage

It’s quite a while since I read any of David Nicholls’ work, the last being One Day. When I read the blurb for his new novel, Us, I knew I wanted to read it. I was extremely lucky to be sent a SIGNED copy by Bookbridgr; seriously guys I’m so grateful, thank you!

Douglas Peterson is a scientist who didn’t think he’d ever get married, until he met Connie. They’ve been married for 25 years and have one son, Albie. Albie’s leaving home to go to college and to mark the occasion Douglas has organised an epic family trip around Europe. It all sounds pretty good doesn’t it? Except Albie and Douglas aren’t overly close, and Connie has just announced that she thinks she might want to leave Douglas. So Douglas vows to make the holiday the best trip ever, and to win back his wife in the process. As you can probably imagine, things don’t go as smoothly as he had hoped.

We follow the story through the character of Douglas. He’s a really likable character, easy to relate to, intelligent and witty too. I actually pictured him like Walter White in Breaking Bad…well the way Walter was at the beginning of the show!

The story is told through fairly short chapters. I really like that about this book as through these short chapters we gradually see the whole picture.  As well as reflecting upon the trip, Douglas shares the story of how he and Connie met and the various milestones in their lives that lead them up to this point.

On the whole I really enjoyed this book. As you’d imagine Nicholls’ writing style once again shone through, making for a great read. He tackled the subject of a marriage in decline very well and despite the fact that the story is told through Douglas’ eyes, we did get a sense of how both Connie and Albie were feeling too. He also, in my opinion, captured the sense of anguish and frustration of the strained relationship between a father and son with particular skill. Truthfully though I wasn’t too keen on the character of Connie…maybe we are meant to feel this way, or maybe I’m just Team Douglas through and through? Anyway, what matters is that I found this book very enjoyable, easy to read and it kept me engaged.

Are you a David Nicholls fan? What did you make of Us?

With sincere thanks to Bookbridgr for providing me with a signed hardback of Us. All opinions expressed are, as always, completely honest and entirely my own.

The AW14 Blogger Style Challenge

October 6, 2014 in Bloggers, Clothes & Fashion, Competition Entry

Debenhams are inviting bloggers to join in their Autumn/Winter 14 Style Challenge. I don’t know about you, but this is my favourite time of year for fashion. I love layering up, digging out my boots and generally being cosy!

So I styled an outfit for myself based upon the Debenhams Autumn Luxe trend. As you can see, I’m going for a natural, comfortable-yet-stylish look.

Rhoda's Autumn Luxe Board

I. RJR. John Rocha, Designer Light Grey Blossom Jumper, £36

2. Yves Saint Laurent, Fusion Foundation, £30.50

3. Faith, Brown Leather Calf Length Mid Heeled Boots, £95

4. The Collection, Light Brown Double Breasted Short Mac Coat, £22.80

5. Urban Decay, Naked 3 Palette, £37

6. Illamasqua, Glamore Nude Lipstick, £18.50

7. RJR. John Rocha, Designer Blue Slim Leg Jeans, £35

As part of the challenge, we’ve been asked to create an outfit for a fellow blogger. I’ve picked Jo at Given To Distracting Others. She is a truly lovely lady, with a fantastic blog and a huge heart. I decided to go a bit more wintery for Jo’s outfit and combined items from the Debenhams Pinks & Berries trend.

Jo's Pinks & Berries Board

1. Jasper Conran, Designer Dark Blue Shape Enhancing High Waisted Skinny Jeans, £40

2. Essie, Shearling Darling Nail Polish, £8

3. Principles, Designer Wine PU Piped Mac Jacket, £75

4. Jasper Conran, Designer Off White Turtle Neck Knitted Jumper, £36

5. Guerlain, KissKiss Lipstick, £26

6. Principles, Designer Burgundy Enamel Link Collar Necklace, £20

7. Call It Spring, Wine “Shatz” Ankle Boots, £50

So there we go, my entry into the Debenhams Autumn/Winter 14 Blogger Style Challenge. I nominate Jo to take the challenge. If you want to enter the you can find all the details here. Good luck!

This post is an entry into the Debenhams Autumn/Winter 14 Blogger Style Challenge.

My Favourite Bookshop

October 3, 2014 in Books, Events

I LOVE bookshops. Whenever we visit somewhere new I have to check out the local bookshop! Thankfully my husband feels the same way, we could both spend hours and £££s in a good bookshop.

As a student I worked in a local bookshop through the holidays, it was BRILLIANT! Unboxing all of those lovely, fresh, new books was absolutely my favourite job. I freely admit that some of them didn’t make them as far as the shelf, I bought them before they had the chance to find a new home.

Anyway, I digress. Bookshops…. oh yes…

I was delighted to see that, after the success of their campaign last year, Books Are My Bag is back! They are once again shining the spotlight on bookshops nationwide.  It officially launches on 9th October (a great date…my birthday) with Big Bookshop Parties nationwide on Saturday 11th October 2014.

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To celebrate the second year of this fantastic campaign, Bookbridgr bloggers are sharing their favourite bookshops. I have a rather long list of favourite, independent bookshops but I’ve picked one to share with you. It’s one that I can’t go by, it calls to me, some magical bookshop force seems to pull me in and I can’t leave again without having a good browse (a purchase or two is usually made too). What bookshop is it? It’s The New Bookshop in Cockermouth.

the new bookshop logo

Ok, so it’s not local to me. However my in-laws moved to Cockermouth about 20 months ago and, naturally, we visit as much as we can. Aside from seeing them, the bookshop is the highlight of every trip. I just love it! There is such a friendly atmosphere. It’s neat, organised and full of fantastic books! There’s more though, they even have beautiful stationery and a coffee shop (which features gluten free products). That seals the deal for me… cards, journals, coffee, gf treats and, of course, books… is there a better place to spend your money?

Truthfully this is one of my favourite bookshops. If I lived closer I’d spend a LOT of time in that place. They actually have a book group that my Mother-in-Law goes to and she loves it. Plus she’s always sharing great reads with me as a result!

I think it’s fantastic that Books Are My Bag are celebrating bookshops nationwide. With online shopping so accessible, a lot of people forget about their favourite bookshops. Think about this though… what would the world be like WITHOUT bookshops? Without that bookshop smell, the beautifully polished shelves, the chance to find a hidden gem and to chat with fellow booklovers? The thought of that makes me incredibly sad. So please, support your local bookshops, or indeed any bookshop. We need to make sure that our grandchildren get to experience the beauty of a bookshop, and ensure they don’t think books just come through the door in envelopes, or magically from the ether onto the screen of an e-reader!

It’s always been my dream to have my own bookshop. Maybe some day I will, but in the meantime I will continue to support bookshops and to show them support, and help increase awareness, through my Bag A Book Tote!

BAMB Bag2

 

Before I go… make sure you keep your eyes peeled for the 2014 Collector’s Edition bag as designed by award-winning artist Tracey Emin (more details here).

Oh and if you find yourself in Cumbria, make sure you visit The New Bookshop, It is most definitely worth a visit!

 All opinions expressed in this post are entirely my own. This post has been submitted to the Bookbridr #ThisBookshop campaign.

Project B Box 6

September 26, 2014 in Gifts, Maternity, Services

The lovely people at Project B kindly sent me my fourth box this month. I’ve been really impressed with the other boxes I’ve received so I couldn’t wait to see what was in this box, the last box before baby arrives!

For those of you that might not be familiar with Project B they are a subscription box service for pregnant ladies. They offer 7 boxes to see you through from 12 weeks right up to baby’s arrival. Retailing at £14/month, the value of the box often far exceeds the price you pay.

This month’s box, box 6, correlates to month 9 of pregnancy and has the theme ‘Nest’……

Box 6
Eco2Life Cleaning Spray and Refill - Brilliant! You receive an empty spray bottle and little bottle of magic formula which is environmentally more friendly for bath and shower cleaning.

Weleda Calendula Lotion - For baby and adults. It is easily absorbed and free of the bad stuff. Lovely!

NO GERMS Instant Hand Sanitiser - Love it. Pop it in the change bag and it’s there when needed.

Yes! Nurse’s Hand Formula - I love this and it’s made a huge difference to my very dry hands. Just totting up how many times you wash your hands with 2 young children on a morning is astonishing – no wonder my skin is dry as anything!

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Spontex Washups - A couple of  handy sponge scourers.

The Pampered Chef Microfiber Towel - Very soft and absorbent.

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As with the other boxes, there are also four really useful fact sheets.

I have to say that this box really does fulfill the “nest” theme. Everything in the box is relevant and useful and I really like that. My only wish was that there was a little chocolate treat in there too :-)

Thank you to Project B for sending this box to Liz. All opinions expressed are completely our own and, as always, entirely honest. As always there are no affiliate links in the post.

What We’re Loving… Crowdwish

September 20, 2014 in What We're Loving

Well it’s September which means it’s time for our monthly What We’re Loving post. We started this series earlier this year and we’re really enjoying sharing things we love with you every month.

What We're Loving Badge

This month our spotlight is on Crowdwish.

Every day the amazing folk at Crowdwish action a wish, as wished for by you, me, the general public. Basically you go to their website and submit a wish, or more than one. Your wish is added to the wishlist which is visible to the world. Now for the really cool bit, other folk can “me too” your wish and help it move up the list. When your wish reaches the top of the list it will be actioned by Crowdwish!

It all sounds a bit too good to be true doesn’t it? I can assure you though that it REALLY is that good! You see I (Rhoda) made a wish back in April…

My wish

…and last month Crowdwish dropped me an email to let me know that they were working on my wish! That same day Crowdwish told me they’d be sending me my own personalised crutch!! I was honestly blown away, I still am! My crutch arrived last week and I actually cried tears of happiness when I saw it.

crutch collage

Crowdwish had a bird themed crutch for me as I’ve always loved nature.

I can’t believe that these wonderful people made my wish come true! What’s more they didn’t even ask for anything in return AND they do this each and every day!

If you check their blog every evening you will see the wish that they actioned that day. (Here is the post from the day they actioned my wish.) Every evening this website makes me smile. I think of how incredibly excited I was when I got their email and I think about that person whose wish has been granted that day!

As if that wasn’t enough, they also often include the people who have clicked “me too” on the wish, or indeed anyone at all. For example, last month they gave away foldable walking sticks to Fibromyalgia sufferers  (see the post here)! How incredible is that?

I can’t really put in to words how grateful I am to Crowdwish. I look at my new personalised crutch and smile. It’s far more ‘me’, it’s much less depressing than my old generic grey one, and it looks great too!

Crowdwish really did make my dream come true. If you have a wish, for you, for your friend, for anyone or anything, pop over to Crowdwish. Even if you don’t make a wish, this website will make you smile. It’ll make your heart swell and you’ll find yourself popping back every single day to see what wish they have actioned and how they have achieved it!

For more information on Crowdwish visit their website. Their WTF? section will fill in all the gaps in my attempted explanation. Follow them on Twitter and like them on Facebook too so that once a day you’ll get that post or tweet that will remind you of the good in the world!

Thank you

I was not asked to blog about Crowdish. Thank you Crowdwish for fulfilling my wish!