Sugar and Snails by Anne Goodwin

This début novel, published by Inspired quill which “pledg[es] a percentage of profits to different charities, running heavily subsidised workshops, or donating books to those who may not have access to them otherwise” is a searing tale of personal discovery made all the more authentic by the fact that the author is a psychologist and knows what she’s talking about when it comes to the way human distress and disorganisation presents itself. My review is here The Psychologist and the book is here. It’s a cracking read.


A Personal Reader for Public Information Leaflets? Yes please!

readalongreads imageIf you’ve ever read a public information leaflet – from your doctor or dentist, social services or a local law firm – and tripped over some of the words they use, or found the sentences too long and windy to make sense of. That.

Or maybe you’re sitting there in a waiting room with a leaflet in your hands but you forgot your reading glasses? That too.

Perhaps you’re visually impaired; you can make out large-ish shapes on a page but not the writing. Or you have a specific reading difficulty or an intellectual disability and you just can’t read well enough for it to make any sense.

Well, here you are with something very personal to you that a stranger – or worse, your dad or your nine year old daughter – is going to read out loud to you. How does that feel? My best guess is not at all good. Embarrassing, demeaning, belittling at best; leaving you nakedly exposed and stripped of your privacy, your dignity. At worst, information that makes you vulnerable is given to you by the person who will exploit it.

So what if you could have it read to you in such a way that no one could tell you weren’t reading it yourself? A personal reader coming to you via ear-buds on your smart device? This is about to be demonstrated in a new anthology where short stories and poems are accompanied by voice files you can access directly from the printed page. The technology is simple, it could be applied to anything, and it could make loss of confidentiality, loss of dignity, loss of confidence with tricky words, a thing of the past. At the very least, it might put a stop to those unwieldy paragraphs that whoever wrote them never once had to read as a lay person, and you may suddenly discover that even experts fall over endocrinological if they have to say it too often!

The book will be out soon and when it is, the technique it uses will be seem completely obvious. I’ll post the details here then it’s over to you – tell your health professionals, your local councils, your solicitors’ offices, your libraries, that you want them to equip their leaflets with a Personal Reader so that you can make full use of the information they want you to have.


Readalongreads is not a commercial organisation. It sells nothing but will host a limited number of voice files free of charge for small enterprises wanting to try out the technique before setting up their own hosting platform.


Guest Post: 4 Healthy Living Tips for Seniors by Marie Villeza


health for seniors

Image via Pixabay

Healthy living as a young or middle-aged person looks quite different from staying healthy as an elderly person. While transitioning into new habits that’ll keep you healthy in your senior years can be a big change, it doesn’t have to be a difficult one. A few changes here and there are all it takes for you to live your life to its healthiest and fullest when you’re enjoying your golden years.

  1. Stay Active: Engaging in light to moderate exercise regularly can work wonders for your health. Light stretching, walking, and swimming are all great ways to get your body moving in a safe way.

Balance physical activity with a wholesome diet to keep your weight at a healthy level. Doing so will help you sleep, feel, and function better as you go about your day-to-day life.

  1. Keep Up with Checkups and Screenings: Keeping up with all your medical engagements can be a lot to handle, so it’s a good idea to use a calendar or planner to keep track of appointments, screenings, and checkups.

Hearing, vision, and dental checkups play a big role in keeping you safe and healthy. Immunizations and other preventative medicine are also great ways for seniors to make sure their immune systems are working as effectively as possible.

Talk openly with your doctor about your medical needs and don’t be afraid to ask all the questions you need to understand your health situation.

  1. Indulge in Your Favorite Pastimes: A fun way for seniors to beat the blues is to engage themselves fully in their favorite hobbies and activities.

Focusing on goals and self-improvement through your personal interests has numerous mental and physical health benefits[1]. Spend a bit of time on your hobbies each day and you’ll benefit from a stronger immune system, strengthened cognitive function, and reduced stress.

  1. Consider a Service Dog: We all know that service dogs[2] are great for the hearing or vision impaired, but did you know that they also make wonderful companions for seniors?

Service dogs can assist with daily tasks like getting up in the morning and even bringing you your medication (in bite-proof containers, of course). Plus, spending time with one can help improve your mood and ward off feelings of anxiety and depression. Service dogs can even improve your social life by encouraging more time outside the home[3].

While staying healthy as a senior may require a few lifestyle changes on your part, it’s simple to build these new habits one at a time. Take gradual steps to stay active, involved in your medical situation, and focused on your hobbies and you’ll be enjoying the benefits of a healthy lifestyle in no time.


Marie Villeza was inspired to start after she watched her son teach her father how to play Angry Birds™ on his smartphone. In that moment, she realized the importance of bringing the generations together so they can usher each other into the future, breaking down walls of fear and time. She is based in California and in her free time, she enjoys gardening, hiking, and taking part in her monthly book club.


[1] The Japanese have a term for this; ikigai means ‘reason for being’ and it’s been associated with longevity over and above any other factors. See and

[2] Also known as Assistance Dogs. Here’s a link to some UK contacts

[3] For less mobile individuals and those with dementia, trials of a robotic seal that responds to touch are showing benefits and perhaps reflect that human need for responsive contact and giving.