Welcome To All Around The Circle!

Glad you've found the time to visit today! I'm Elle and I blog about my family, book reviews, arts and crafts, education and so much more. Life is always changing around here, but we try to keep up the best we can. I hope you'll follow along on our journey.
Feel free to visit other locations I maintain: CraftWithKids NetWork FB Group, SparkPeople Connections, and Lighthouse Lane Tags 'N Snags.


Book Review: A Week In Summer: A Short Story by Meve Binchy

A Week in Summer: A Short StoryA Week in Summer: A Short Story by Maeve Binchy

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This was a very short story and the first book I've ever read by Maeve Binchy.

The story was about marriage, dedication to work and family, late-in-life parenting, and the lack of vacationing in this family's life.

Kathleen decides that since her husband has been let go of his teaching job, they have a week in summer that they can schedule a vacation; something they've never done before. Kathleen's husband Brian is depressed and really isn't interested in going anywhere, but they make an agreement that if he goes on this vacation she will give him some time to figure himself out.

Kathleen heads to a senior citizens travel agency (this part was quite funny being this is what my Associates degree is in) and can't seem to choose a destination that her husband would be happy with. Finally the agent asks to consider what she'd like to do, not her husband. She points out that she would like to trace her ancestry, which brings her to the decision of Ireland as the destination for their vacation.

Nice storyline, but a bit depressing at parts.

Book Review: Return To Willow Lake by Susan Wiggs

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is the ninth book in the Susan Wiggs' Lakeshore Chronicle Series.
The story focuses on Sonnet Romano, her mother Nina and her longtime childhood friend Zach Alger.

The book starts out with Sonnet visiting the town she grew up in because she is home for her best friend and step-sister, Daisy Bellamy's wedding.  This is the continuation from the eighth book in the series, 'Marrying Daisy Bellamy.' 
 The one sentence that sort of threw me off was this one:

"Since high school, he and Sonnet had gone in different directions, and she hadn't seen him in ages.  Now she couldn't take her eyes off him."

That sentence is in reference to Sonnet's childhood friend Zach Alger.  
Having just read the ninth book, Sonnet and Zach had spent some time together in that book helping Daisy un-pack and I believe they also watched movies together with Daisy and Logan.  The above sentence makes it seem like this was Sonnet's first sighting of Zach 'in ages', when in the previous book they had spent time together.

I usually don't write reviews with spoilers, but this one I feel the need to.

*********************SPOILER ALERT**************************


Sonnet gets drunk at Daisy's wedding reception, has sex in a boat down by
the lake with Zach and she regrets it later.  What she really regrets is ruining their many years of friendship with the complications of the feelings she now has for Zach because of their night together.

She returns to NYC and her boyfriend Orlando whom her father has set her up with.  Sonnet's father, Laurence Jeffries is running for the state senate and Orlando is her father's campaign manager.  She feels they are a good match, however she just doesn't feel that 'love connection' and spends half of the book trying to justify why she shouldstay with Orlando.

The second storyline to this book is a pretty huge one.
Sonnet's Mom, Nina Romano, has breast cancer and she is pregnant. 
Sonnet decides to leave NYC and a fellowship she has been offered overseas, in order to help out with her mother during this difficult time in her life.

Of course there are many interactions with Zach when she returns to Avalon.
They even end up working for a production of a reality series taking place at Camp Kioga.  Most of the book is waiting for Sonnet to come to her senses and see that her and Orlando are not a match and to await the outcome of Nina's health situation.  Most of the book Sonnet is trying to get the friendship that her and Zach had, back to what it used to be.  But in the prior book it seemed like both of them were interested in one another.
  The discontinuity between these two characters was upsetting to me.

I gave the book 3 stars because I've always liked these chracters, I just wish it would've been a more believable between Sonnet and Zach; at least on Sonnet's part anyway.


Book Review: Marrying Daisy Bellamy by Susan Wiggs

This is the 8th book in the Lakeshore Chronicles series by Susan Wiggs.
Daisy has been featured in prior books with a focus on her troubles and
relationship with Julian Gastineaux.  Fans of this series waited for Daisy's
story to be told and I think they will be pleasantly surprised by this book.
If you haven't read previous books in this series, there are enough backstory's re-told to give you a feel for events that have happened in the past.

This is a difficult review to write because I don't want to
 spoil the book for those who would like to read it.
That said, the love triangle between Daisy, Logan and Julian continues.
Julian is in the air force, Logan still carries a torch for Daisy and
continues to be an active parent to their son Charlie.

Daisy is no longer a teenager, but a twenty-something woman with a
career as a wedding photographer and aspirations to one day have her
photographs displayed at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.
She is a loving, single Mom who has a troubled love life due to the fact
that she's always felt a deep connection with Julian, but he is away in the
air force and Logan is there daily participating in his sons life.

There are many twists and turns in this story.  So much so that I was up
late at night reading because I couldn't wait to see what would happen
next!  I finished this book in 4 days, which is awesome for me since it usually
takes me about a week to get through a book due to Mom duties and
lack of time to just sit and read in a peaceful environment.

Book Review: The Summer Hideaway by Susan Wiggs

The Summer Hideaway by Susan Wiggs
is the 7th book in the Lakeshore Chronicles series.

Before I read this book I glanced at some reviews on GoodReads.
  I wasn't thrilled that the main character in this book is dying of a brain tumor, 
as I had just read a few books with characters dying from
 cancer, car accidents or childbirth.  When I read in the summer I like the
storylines to be fun beach reads, not serious, sad and dour.

That said, I was pleasantly surprised  how much I enjoyed this book!
The story focuses on George Bellamy, who has an inoperable brain tumor.
George decides he wants to spend his last days at Camp Kioga on Willow Lake, where he attended camp as a child.  He places an ad on Craigslist for a private care nurse to stay with him while at the camp.  He also has an underlying desire to fix up his grandson, Ross Bellamy, who is returning from Afghanistan as a military med-evac.  George also wants to reconcile with his brother, Charles Bellamy, after being estranged from him for over 50+ years.

There are a few side stories going on within the book itself.  
The first of course is focused on George's limited time and reconciling with his brother.  In order to learn more about the 'why' they've been estranged for so long, Ms. Wiggs takes us back to when the brothers were young and attended Camp Kioga.  I enjoyed these flashback chapters more than I expected to.

The second storyline is about Claire Turner, George's nurse.  
She has a secret past she's been hiding for many years and hasn't let
 herself get close to anyone.  She's finding herself caring too much for the Bellamy family and letting her emotions get in the way of protecting her
past life.

Thirdly is the story of Ross Bellamy dealing with returning from war after being away for two years, facing the fact that his grandfather is dying and the unexxpected attraction he begins to feel for Claire.  

My favorite part of this book was the storytelling of George's past and second to that was the secret that Claire is keeping from her past.  I didn't feel any real connection between Ross and Claire, so that storyline seemed a bit forced to me.

Book Review: The Girls Of August by Anne Rivers Siddons

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I received this book in exchange 
for an honest review from NetGalley.

This is the first book I have read by Ann Rivers Siddons and I was pleasantly
 surprised at how quick of a read this book was for me.
I was a bit surprised how depressing a lot of the storylines were being this 
is supposed to be a 'beach read' kind of book.

The Girls Of August is about a group of women who vacation at a 
different beach houses every August. 
The Girls Of August were Madison, Rachel, Barbara and Cornelia.
The women's husbands were all in medical school when the August beach
vacationing began.  The first beach house the women stayed at was Teddy's wife Cornelia's 
aristocratic family's beach home in Alabama.  Shortly after Teddy went into private practice, Cornelia left Teddy for a college boyfriend. 
 Teddy's second wife , Melinda, clicked with Madison, Rachel and Barbara and became a beloved friend to all the girls ; they considered themselves the 'original' Girls Of August.  
Then after 15 summers of vacationing together, Melinda is killed in a car crash.

The Girls Of August hadn't seen one another in three years after Melinda's death, 
but decide it is time to renew their annual beach ritual.
  Madison and her husband Mac have met Teddy's young, new wife, Baby Gaillard, but the other girls have not.  Baby has offered her family's beach house on the remote Tiger Island for the Girls Of August beach retreat.   Madison, Rachel and Barbara plan a get-together in June so
 they can meet and think over the choice of this particular beach house.  

It is quite an adjustment for the middle-aged women to adjust to the 22 year old Baby
on their vacation.  They all have very little tolerance for some of Baby's behaviors,
which sometimes is comical.  But looming inside these women's minds are the troubles
they are currently facing in their lives.  This is where the storyline doesn't feel like a
light and fluffy beach read any longer.  It becomes a bit depressing and very much reality.

This book kept my attention, but it felt rushed at a lot of points in the story.
I felt like I wanted to know more details, especially toward the end of the book.
I almost hope there is a sequel to this book so that Madison, Barbara, Rachel and Baby's
stories can be further explored.  Not sure if the author has enough content in mind for a
sequel, but there are definitely loose-ends that I would like to be see tied up.

Wake-Up Call From My Body!

I've been wanting to write this blog post for quite awhile now. What's been holding me back, you might ask? Well, I really think it is a state of mind for me. Let me start from the beginning....

Saturday, May 24th I was re-potting some flowers. I was on a knee pad on the ground bending over just going about my business. After about an hour I felt a 'pull' in my back. I knew I was done for the day. I proceeded to get the ice pack and just be still for the rest of the day. The next day, Sunday arrives and I'm still hurting. More ice pack ona nd off all day. Monday arrives and I call the chiropractor. There aren't any openings until Wednesday and it isn't with the doctor I saw once before for a shoulder issue, it's with a new doctor, so I take the appointment.

I am thrilled to finally get in to see the chiropractor. She is young; fresh out of college.
She can tell I am not walking properly. She checks my legs and sees that one leg is 2" shorter than the other. She informs me that my hip is out of places, has dropped. This is news to me, as I hadn't had any pain in my hip, just the bottom right of my back. She checks my back and tells me I have nodules (scar tissue) there probably from my hip being out of place. She adjusts my hip she then goes on to do some pressure point/resistance therapy on my back. I am in bad shape and she is amazed that I'm not in more pain than I'm stating I'm in! This begins the weekly visits to the chiropractor. Twice a week that first week, three times the following week, twice the third week, twice the fourth week, once the fith week, once the sixth week and next week will be the seventh week. She also noted to me about the thrid week into treatment that my right butt cheek has mor emuscle tone than the left and I need to start doing the clam shell exercises to try to build up muscle again. She also wants me to stretch the right side of my back out while lying on my side on the bed.

She's been doing something called the graston technique ( ) on my back where the nodules are.
Graston helps to break up the scar tissue; even deeper than a deep massage could even get. All the videos I've found on YouTube show the chiroprator or physical therapist grazing the back up and down with the metal graston tool. Let me tell you, I would love it if that was how gentle she used the tool on me. But no, she takes that tool over each nodule like she's trying to erase something really hard on a piece of paper! And my skin is sensitive so that rubbing makes it fell like my skin is burning; like an Indian brush burn! NOT FUN!!!!

Yesterday she did a bit more graston on me and the nodules, to my surprise, have actually moved higher up my back than they were. They are breaking up and are much better than they were, but I fear this is something I may have to keep an eye possibly for the rest of my life.

Two Saturdays ago my daughter's Girl Scout troop had a Bike & Boat excursion planned and I was okay-ed to go by my doctor. I had an appointment two days before the trip so that I wouldn't be sore before the trip. The doctor told me the biking would be good for me, but the canoeing might be a problem. About half way through the canoe part of the trip my back really started to feel it. I had a lot of fun on the trip, I just wish I felt like I were in better shape. I went to the chiropractor the Monday after the trip and I really needed to be adjusted and have the nodules worked, since I was in moderate pain after the trip.

I was given the okay to start back on my elliptical, just not a high resistance level or any inclines. So this morning I took my 14.5 year old dog for a 2 block leasurely walk and then came home and did 15 minutes in the elliptical. The elliptical should be good for building muscle where I need it as well. It is a bit sore, but nothing terrible. My next appointment is next Friday.

So I guess mentally, I wasn't ready until today to type this all out and re-live it. It's been painful and a learning experience. I've had a lot of time to think about goals, where I want to be physically and how I'm going to go about getting there. I'm aging and I truly need to start protecting my body better. The many days where I couldn't do much because I was in pain really held me back from so many things. I don't want to live my life like this. I have to try to prevent anything like this from happening again in the future by being a better caretaker of my body.