Book Review: A Bend In The Willow.

abendintheIf you’re anything like me, you will want to give your child an extra long hug after reading A Bend In The Willow by Susan Clayton-Goldner.

This beautifully written tale tackles some very difficult subjects but I was left with an overall feeling of hope.

Part of that is in the almost poetic prose which gives the darkness its light.

Switching between past and present, it really plays a tune on the heartstrings and I had tears streaming down my face as I read the final chapter.

Here’s the blurb:

Willowood, Kentucky 1965 – Robin Lee Carter sets a fire that kills her rapist, then disappears.

She reinvents herself and is living a respectable life as Catherine Henry, married to a medical school dean in Tucson, Arizona.

In 1985, when their 5-year-old son, Michael, is diagnosed with a chemotherapy-resistant leukemia, Catherine must return to Willowood, face her family and the 19-year-old son, a product of her rape, she gave up for adoption.

She knows her return will lead to a murder charge, but Michael needs a bone marrow transplant.

Will she find forgiveness, and is she willing to lose everything, including her life, to save her dying son?

Robin Lee/Catherine’s voice came across loud and clear throughout the novel – and it changed as she did, perhaps losing some of her southern-ness as she moved to reinvent herself away from her bluegrass roots.

There is no doubt parts of it are hard to read, almost relentlessly so, but it is compelling and definitely deserves my first five star rating of the year.

Just make sure you have your hankies at the ready.

Format: Kindle.

Price: 99p.

My rating: Five stars.

With thanks to Tirgearr Publishing (via NetGalley) for the ARC in return for my honest opinion.

Review: Kidloland App.

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As a mum I feel guilty about many, many things but screen time isn’t one of them.

When I look at our days together, they are filled with playing, reading, crafting and lots of outdoor adventures but I also think it’s good for Freya to have some down time – and that includes watching a bit of television or spending an hour on my iPad, if she wants.

When the nice folks at Kidloland got in touch and asked if we’d like to try their app for toddler and preschoolers I didn’t hesitate in saying: “Yes please.”

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The multi-award winning app features more than a thousand nursery rhymes, songs, stories, activities and games on themes including ABCs, shapes, phonics (which she is just about to start at nursery), fruit and veggies, animals and numbers.

New content is added regularly and there are no annoying adverts to contend with.

Freya was delighted to have something new to try and loved scrolling through the bright, colourful choices, all accompanied by cheerful music.

The first thing she selected was a game where you have to clean a monster’s teeth, which she liked so much I eventually had to convince her to try something else (she loves the dentist).

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While she needed some help at first, she soon got the hang of it. As I know all the content is safe for her, I feel reassured about giving her the freedom to pick and choose what to do.

While she really likes the games and stories, she is also quite the little entertainer and loves singing along to the nursery rhymes and lullabies.

Over the last week, we have sampled a fair selection (she asks for Kidloland straight away now) and they have all been fun, varied, interactive and educational but there are loads still to try.

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You can even download some of the content and play offline (fab if you’re travelling).

The website also offers free worksheets to print, which I think is a great resource.

When I was young we obviously didn’t have iPads and apps but I remember when my brother, who is five years older than me, got his first computer when he was 11 – a Sinclair Spectrum 48k, which he very occasionally let me play with (under close supervision).

It was love at first sight for him and he worked his way up the computer chain, eventually turning his self-taught skills into a very successful career he relishes.

There is no doubt in my mind that technology will play an important role in Freya’s future, no matter which route she chooses, and, as long as there is a balance, it’s age appropriate and she’s properly supervised, I see nothing wrong in letting her start now – especially when there are great apps such as Kidloland around.

* The app is available to download for free via the App Store (iOS) and Google Play and the Amazon Appstore (for Android). To access all of the content you need to purchase a subscription. One month costs £3.99, six months is £18.99
and one year is £29.99.

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With thanks to Kidloland for providing us with a year-long subscription in return for an honest review.

My Sunday Photo – January 15th, 2017.

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This is the moment Freya discovered snow is wet and cold – and she was not very happy about it.

“Can you make me a snowball so I can throw it at you, please?” She asked.

“You could make one yourself.”

“No, it’s too cold.”

Umm, ok.

As it’s a rare occurrence I had to pick snow for this week’s My Sunday Photo – even though my photos aren’t anything to shout about.

It snowed on and off on Friday morning and towards lunchtime there was enough for us (well me, as she still refused to touch it) to make a (very small) snowman.

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Mostly she preferred to watch (and take photos) from the window.

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Have you had any snow? Are you a fan? I’m more of a beach person.

Photalife
PS I’ve been nominated in the Nepaliaustralian Blog Awards. Please would you consider voting for me by clicking here and entering “Best Personal Blog 2016 – 1” in the comments. I’ll be your best friend forever. Thank you.