Category Archives: Reading

What are you reading?

In which I introduce a new blog I will begin publishing soon … What are you reading?

This past summer, I finally got around to reading a book that had been highly recommended to me a while ago by long-time book pal, Judy Gardner. (And I’ve posted before about Judy here and here and here.)

The book, The End of Your Life Book Club by Will Schwalbe, was better than just a good read for me … it was life-changing, in that it made me see a new approach to books and reading and sharing books that had never occurred to me before. There was a lot in there too about life in general, about how we interact with other people (albeit, fellow readers), family and friends, and how we deal with loss and grief. The book was so good that I immediately began recommending it to everyone I spoke with – kind of like a recent religious convert – bought a print copy to keep forever and ever, and borrowed another of Schwalbe’s books from the library. I wanted to read everything the man had written.

It was this second book, Books For Living, that gave me the idea for creating another blog. The following quote, from “The Final Word”, specifically planted the seed:

I used to say that the greatest gift you could ever give anyone is a book. But I don’t say that anymore because I no longer think it’s true. I now say that a book is the second greatest gift. I’ve come to believe that the greatest gift you can give people is to take time to talk with them about a book you’ve shared. A book is a great gift; the gift of your interest and attention is even greater.

Reading is a respite from the relentlessness of technology, but it’s not only that. It’s how I reset and recharge. It’s how I escape, but it’s also how I engage. And reading should spur further engagement. P. 255

And from the introduction:

We all ask each other a lot of questions: “Where did you go for vacation?” “How did you sleep?” Or, my favorite, as I eye the last bites of chocolate cake on a friend’s dessert plate, “Are you going to finish that?” … But there’s one question I think we should ask of one another a lot more often, and that’s “What are you reading?”

It’s a simple question but a powerful one, and it can change lives, creating a shared universe for people who are otherwise separated by culture and age and by time and space. p. 15

Note that Schwalbe says this question has the power to “change lives” … and that’s what I’m aiming for with this new blog. (No slouch me! I’m heading for world domination in a reading capacity!)

I will post my own contributions from time to time, and I do already have a few books in mind to recommend. But I’d really like to make this about you, the other readers out there who have a favourite book to talk about and that you just want to share with everyone. I’m looking for books that have really grabbed you, as happened to me with the book Judy recommended (above). If you have read or are reading such a book, please send me a message using the form on the contact page and we can discuss you posting to the new blog.

Remember, I’m not looking for reviews of books for this blog, but for titles of books that have really knocked off your reading socks, books that have made a difference in your life or that have been influential because of the ideas they present or the way they are written. (Great writing is also capable of knocking off our reading socks!) You just need to give me a brief explanation as to how you discovered the book and/or why it is one you believe others would find equally amazing. I will add links to the book and a cover jpeg to your text. Also, I will include a brief bio of you as a reader, if you wish.

I have already had the pleasure of “interviewing” a reader last week while she was still on Bequia and will begin this new blog with what she had to say about her current reading material. Once that post is published, and I’ve had a chance to tell you in another post what I have been reading, you’ll then have an idea of how I expect each post will look and the information that I’ll need from you to be able to post about what YOU are reading!

(Authors, please take note that this will not be an opportunity to showcase your own books. Let’s leave that up to my other blogs, Reading Recommendations and reading recommendations reviewed, okay? As I said above, these are not meant to be reviews but just a shout-out for any outstanding books readers happen to be reading. Thanks for your understanding.)

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A Bequia Old Year’s Night …

An Excerpt From:
One Woman’s Island, a Bequia Perspectives novel

Dudley picked us up from the beach at the prearranged time. I was
glad to have him there, too, as both children were exhausted from the
excitement, the sun, and the swimming and were fast asleep. Dudley
had to carry them to the taxi for us.

On the trip home, Verity said, “I lets dem sleep now den wakes
dem for later.” When I asked what she planned to do to celebrate,
she replied, “What everybody does do on Bequia—we goes to de
Frangipani.”

It suddenly struck me that, other than a mention in passing when
I spoke with the Litt sisters and Tex, I hadn’t made any plans myself for
the biggest night of the year. “Do you mind if I join you?” I asked. She
grinned in agreement, so when Dudley pulled up to Verity’s house, we
arranged for him to pick us up at around eleven.

He helped carry the still-sleeping children into the house. When
Dudley and I were alone outside again, I asked him about Verity’s
mother—his mother, too. “Dey don’ talk.” And that was all I could get
out of him.

He assured me, saying, “Verity be looked after. You no worrys ’bout
her.” His expression had become a scowl. It was obvious this was a closed
subject as far as Dudley was concerned, so I didn’t push any further.

By the time he returned later that night, Dudley was back to his
old jovial self again. The children were wide-eyed, if not yet wide awake,
and Verity had changed into a slinky leopard-skin-pattern dress I had
never seen before. That and the awkward high-heeled sandals she wore
made me look even frumpier than I already felt.

Dudley dropped us off in the Harbour then quickly drove away
to pick up his next fare—he’d be working throughout the night. For
Bequia taxi drivers, Old Year’s Night is the busiest of the year, their
time to make a lot of money, if they really hustle.

Verity, the children, and I walked through the crowds in the Harbour
to the walkway along the shore that would take us to the Frangipani
Hotel, the centre of the action at midnight on Bequia. It was a sea
of people we had to wade through, too; some already drunk but most
in good spirits and out to enjoy themselves with friends and family. It
did look too as though all of Bequia, and then some, had come out to
celebrate, and everybody wanted to be as close as possible to the Frangipani
bar when the clock struck midnight. A steel band performed
on a low stage between the bar and the walkway, and their pitch and
pandemonium increased with every passing minute, the pan players
physically exhausting themselves with their drumming.

The four of us chose instead to grab a seat on the low wall by the
shoreline and watch the promenade of people as we waited for midnight.
Melanie, Dave, Al, and Suzie passed by together.

Melanie and Suzie stopped while Al and Doc pushed on ahead.

“Mariana, hello!” said Melanie. “Would you like to join us? We’re going
to try and get a drink at the bar.”

“Hello, Mel and Suzie. Happy New Year. I’m here to celebrate
with Verity and her children”—I pointed at my neighbours—“but
thanks anyway.”

“Okay then. Happy New Year to you!” The two women disappeared
into the crowd.

Suddenly, a moment or two before midnight according to my
watch, sailboats in the harbour began tooting their horns, and then
the ferry boats and other large working ships sounded theirs as well.
Boat flares shot off in every direction over the water and the steel band
increased its volume as it played a decidedly Caribbean version of “Auld
Lang Syne.” Everyone was happy, greeting one another, wishing Happy
New Year to all around them. It really was a joyous and festive occasion,
possibly the best New Year’s Eve I’d ever celebrated because it was so
simple and heartfelt.

After about fifteen minutes we decided it was time to get the
children back to the house and into bed for the rest of the night. The
two of them, even Ayayla with her limited sight, had sat wonder-eyed
throughout the midnight festivities, but they were beginning to yawn.

And causing me to yawn, as well.

We were making our way back along the waterfront to the place
where we’d arranged to meet Dudley when I heard a voice call out to
Verity from the dark of the bushes. She turned her head to the sound
and immediately sucked her teeth loudly—a gesture commonly used on
this island to indicate displeasure or disgust. She picked up her pace as
best she could in those awkward sandals and pulled the children after
her. The one voice became several as I realized there were others hiding
in the shadows calling after Verity with words I couldn’t understand.
Whatever they said seemed to be derogatory.

Melanie, Dave, Al, and Suzie passed me again before I could catch
up with the children.

“We’re on our way to the New York Bar for a drink now,” Melanie
said. “You sure you won’t join us?”

Al sneered. “Yeah, ‘Auld Lang Syne’ and all that shit!”

The others laughed. But Melanie said, “Don’t mind him, Mariana.
Do join us. After we finish that drink we’re heading, along with the rest
of the people of Bequia, to De Reef in Lower Bay, where we’re going
to dance until dawn.”

“Come on, Mariana,” Al chided. “You’re only young once. I’ll bet
Verity would love to dance all night.”

Verity had stopped to wait for me and heard Al’s comment. She
looked over at me, asking with eager eyes if she could do just that. She
had certainly dressed appropriately if she’d been hoping for willing
partners.

“But we’ve got to put these children to bed,” I pointed out. Verity
was looking disappointed when the four expats left.

Dudley caught up with us on the main road in front of the Anglican
Church, and I realized as we were driving away that we hadn’t met up
with Tex or the Litt sisters.

We were soon home again, the sights and sounds of the Harbour
far behind us.

As I was getting into bed, I thought about how enjoyable it had
been: no phoney celebrations with strangers, no false wishes for the
coming year, no expensive fireworks displays or decorations, no desperate
attempts to have a good time at any cost. Everyone celebrated the beginning
of the new year together—young, old, tourists, foreigners, expats,
locals, everyone enjoying the moment. That’s what Bequia is all about.

I lay awake in bed that night for a while and considered what
might be in store for me in the coming year. Whatever it was, I hoped
it would be better than a year that involved losing my husband both
physically and emotionally and being forced to redesign my whole life.
Anyway, I knew it couldn’t possibly get any worse. I reached out and
pulled Jerry closer to me and fell asleep to the sound of purring in my ear.

2017 – the other Best Books I read this year!

I have already posted a list of some of the authors whose books I read this year and found to be outstanding. You will find that link here.

But I read so many books in 2017, and many were great reads indeed, so I’ve divided the list into two: that first list covered authors I have promoted on my blog,
Reading Recommendations; this second list is everything else.

Because I tend to be an eclectic reader, you will find on this list: old books and newly released books, fiction and non-fiction, children’s picture books, graphic novels, memoir – even a couple of political biographies, and many books about books and reading (because I’ve been researching a series on Reading for my blog). What I have not listed are the classics and cookbooks (yes, I even read cookbooks!) that I read this year. And I read all of these books in eBook and print format, sometimes bought, sometimes gifted copies, some even won through Goodreads Giveaways, or they were from my own personal library, and many more were borrowed from the public library.

All are considered to be 5-star ratings, as far as I’m concerned. The very, very best books of the lot though are marked, along with the author’s name, in bold.

(The links attached to these titles will take you to more information on that specific book. These books are listed in the order I read them. )

Dark Star Safari by Paul Theroux

Slow Horses by Mick Herron

The View From the Cheap Seats by Neil Gaiman

The Stone Carvers by Jane Urquhart

The Dalai Lama’s Cat by David Michi

Touch the Earth by Julian Lennon

Judith by Aritha van Herk
(Reread after almost 40 years since it was first released! From Wikipedia: Van Herk’s writing career began with the publication of her M.A. thesis in 1978. Judith, a novel that explores a feisty female protagonist’s experiences in both rural and urban Canadian spaces, was the first winner of the Seal First Novel Award (C$50,000) from McClelland and Stewart, which granted the book international distribution throughout North America and Europe. )

Beartown by Fredrik Backman

Between Them by Richard Ford

Town is by the Sea by Joanne Scwartz

The Secret Place by Tana French

Sidewalk Flowers by Jon Arno Lawson

The Darkest Dark by Chris Hadfield

When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalinithi

This Fight is Our Fight by Elizabeth Warren

Before, During, After by Richard Bausch

American War by Omar El Akkad
(If I were forced to make a selection of the very best book I read this year, this would be it!)

Darktown by Thomas Mullen

Al Franken, Giant of the Senate by Al Franken

The End of Your Life Book Club, Books for Living by Will Schwalbe
(The End of Your Life Book Club is the best non-fiction I read, and it really changed the way I read books and think about my reading, and even about my life.)

A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles

Roughneck by Jeff Lemire

The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore by William Joyce

The Summer Nick Taught His Cats to Read by Curtis Manley & Kate Berube

The Little Paris Bookshop, The Little French Bistro by Nina George

All We Leave Behind: A Reporter’s Journey into the Lives of Others by Carol Off

The Scarred Woman by Jussi Adler-Olsen

Uncommon Type by Tom Hanks

Arrival: The Story of CanLit by Nick Mount

2017 – Some of my favourite Authors whose books I read this year!

I have read many, many books this year! Some were written by authors I have promoted previously on my other blog, Reading Recommendations, and these books I considered to be outstanding! And, in a few cases, I read more than one book by the same author. So, without further ado, here’s a list of those authors’ names and the titles of their books I read in 2017 …

(The links below will take you to that author’s original promotion on Reading Recommendations.)

Thanks to all Authors for continuing to write so well!

Gail Anderson-DargatzThe Spawning Grounds

Tim Baker24 Minutes (to be published in 2018)

Gail BowenThe Winner’s Circle

Kevin BrennanIn No Particular Order

Sharon ButalaWhere I Live Now

Paul ButlerThe Good Doctor, The Widow’s Fire

Sally CroninSam, A Shaggy Dog Story

Tricia DrammehThe Fifth Circle, Firebound (Spellbringers Book #2)

Seumas GallacherA Few Poetry Stops in a Life’s Journey

Felicity HarleyThe Burning Years

Betty Jane HegeratRunning Toward Home

Allan HudsonShorts Vol. 1

J.F. KaufmannEllida, Once Upon a Night (To be published in 2018)

Ken McGoogan50 Canadians Who Changed the World, Dead Reckoning: The Untold Story of the Northwest Passage

J.P. McLeanThe Betrayal

Antony MillenThe Chain

David A. PoulsenSerpents Rising, Dead Air

Mike RobbinsSuch Little Accident: British Democracy and its Enemies, Three Seasons

Merilyn SimondsGutenberg’s Fingerprint

Mary SmithDonkey Boy and Other Stories

Check out Part 2 of this series here.

All I want for Christmas is … a good book and quiet time to read

During the early 80s I worked in a bookstore in Calgary – a rather eclectic shop that sold no bestsellers or books for children, but instead did a booming business in world literature, poetry, philosophy, science, armchair travel, gender, vegetarian cookbooks, and LPs of New Age music … I remember one pre-Christmas season (oh, and the store also did not get into any kind of festive mode, either) when one of our regular customers, a middle-aged professor at the university, walked into the store, clapped his hands together, and said, “Right! I’ve finished shopping for all the presents for everyone else. Now it’s time to shop for ME!” And with that, he delved in among the shelves and came back to the front desk loaded down with some weighty (both physically and in content) tomes on whatever subject it was in which he speciaized. I always think back to the glee in his eyes at the thought, no doubt, that he was going to be gifting himself exactly what he wanted for Christmas (or whichever present-giving-based holiday he and his family were celebrating).

As a reader who definitely knows what she enjoys reading, and who has had many years of experience in finding and discovering her own reading material, thank you very much!, I’m not big on taking direction from others when I choose what to read next. I enjoy the search almost as much as the actual reading, so to speak. In other words, I don’t like to receive books as gifts. Nor do I want to give books as gifts to other readers. I believe that they, like me, prefer to discover reading material themselves. (Besides, we don’t do the gift-giving thing in our house, not even for birthdays. Buying the land and building this house on Bequia was gift enough that Dennis and I gave to each other to last a lifetime.)

So, instead of posting a list of suggestions of books for your gift-giving this year, I’m offering here a list of recommended reading FOR READERS out there! It’s actually just a link to my Reading Recommendations blog and all the wonderful authors who I have promoted there over the years, but still worthwhile checking out for the day you too can say,

“There! I’m finished with everyone else … Now I can treat myself with some excellent books to read!”

Authors Promoted – alphabetical listing (A-L)
Authors Promoted – alphabetical listing (M-Z)

Sorry I can’t help you with finding quiet time to read those books – you’ll need to carve that out for yourself!

Oh, and I want World Peace, too, while we’re at it!

Print copies of my books … the NEW way!

Both my Bequia Perspectives Novels are now available
worldwide from Amazon in print editions!

All links to purchase both titles in print or in eBook formats
(or to borrow from libraries) can be found here:
Bequia Perspectives Novels

Here’s the background as to how all this came about …

In Feb. 2012 I published the first eBook edition of Island in the Clouds. It had been my idea at the time that we should ePublish first, work out any bugs in the files, create a market for the writing and for a print edition, and then go to print once a demand was established. So I didn’t print Island in the Clouds until June 2012, and at that time I went with a traditional publishing company to do so. This cost me a considerable amount of money up front, leaving me in proud possession of 800 copies of the book – which I then had to store, distribute, and sell myself. Five-and-a-half-years later, I still have about 200 copies left in various locations. I have not been paid at all by several places that took copies on consignment to sell for me, and I have no reliable means of selling those remaining copies. Fortunately, I sold enough of the original 800 to cover my expenses of having the books printed, but I’m nowhere near having made enough money from this enterprise to pay myself back for everything I put into writing, promoting and selling the book by myself.

But then we do it for the love of it, right? This was never intended to be a money-making enterprise. But it was also never intended to be a money-LOSING enterprise …

When it came time to think about printing One Woman’s Island, I had to consider long and hard whether I wanted to travel down that same road. First of all, I did not have the several thousand dollars I knew a traditional printing was going to cost. Plus, I really didn’t want to have to store copies anywhere, or find a new distributor for this new book.

Fortunately for me, I received a blog post from Calgary author, Brian Brennan (who I have promoted on Reading Recommendations), in which he explained how he went about reprinting books of his that had been declared out of print by the original publisher. He worked with our mutual eBook formatter, Human Powered Design (Gina McCreary), to create the print files, and then went to a self-publishing service to have copies printed POD (print-on-demand). I reblogged Brian’s explanation of all this here: Brian Brennan – 3 reprints now available

So, I decided to look into this myself for my own print books. In the meantime, Gina had heard of a new service being offered by Amazon – Kindle Direct Publishing Paperback Beta Program – that we could sign into through our existing eBook accounts (which Gina has always maintained for me) and it seemed as though it was exactly what I was looking for. I didn’t need to pay anything upfront to Amazon, Gina was able to create the necessary print files and cover designs from my original eBook files and look after the listings for me, and I will receive payment from Human Powered Design for sales made, along with any sales of eBooks, every month, as I have done all along since first listing my eBooks in Feb. 2012.

Plus … I now have the benefit of WORLDWIDE distribution of my print books!! That, to me, is the biggest benefit of printing books in this way.

Here’s another article I discovered about this new service that ran on The Digital Reader site.

Ads in “Bequia This Week” throughout the winter!

These are the two ads Wilfred created and Nicola will be running for me in their weekly flyer.


And here’s the link to the magazine flip version of
Bequia This Week
Everything you need to know that’s going on in and around the island of Bequia!
New editions available every Friday.

First sighting … One Woman’s Island in a print edition!

Thanks to friend, reader and, dare I say #1 Fan! – Jay Yurkiewicz, for ordering 2 copies of the new print edition of my Bequia Perspectives novel, One Woman’s Island, telling me immediately when he finally received them from Amazon via mail, then taking these photos of the books, along with a print copy of the first one, Island in the Clouds, so I could further promote the books.

So, here they are, in all their glory, at Jay’s Florida home!

Thanks again, Jay, for all your support and encouragement over the years, and for the great reviews you’ve given my books … much appreciated!

If anyone else orders copies of this new print book and sends me a photo of it in its new home, I’ll add that photo to this dedicated blog page, Where/Who in the World is Reading One Woman’s Island??? And it does not need to be print only that you photograph … it could be the eBook on your reader or computer screen. Whichever way you choose to read my books, I’m more than happy to promote that!

Here’s a list of where to purchase or borrow from a library, either in print or as an eBook.

One Woman’s Island – print edition now available!

Hooray!! The print version of my second novel in the Bequia Perspectives Series, One Woman’s Island is now listed with Amazon as being available to order!

Since I went with POD (print-on-demand) with this book, here’s how it works if you prefer to read the novel in a paperback format: you place an order with Amazon; Bingo-Bongo! a copy (or copies) is/are printed specifically for you; you receive your order by mail directly from Amazon. (Yes, you pay Amazon directly, but I will eventually receive my royalties on every copy sold.) I won’t be stocking quantities of this book (or lugging them around with me), so your best bet to get a copy quickly is to order from Amazon. Eventually, there should be a listing for every Amazon sales site and I will update the list as I discover new sites.

Here’s a complete list of where to purchase One Woman’s Island in both the print and eBook formats. Also listed there are libraries where you may be able to borrow the eBook.

Now, let’s have some fun! When you receive your copy of One Woman’s Island from Amazon, please send me a photo either of you holding the book or of the book set in a recognizable place that suggests where you happen to be at the moment … you know, the Eiffel Tower, Buckingham Palace, the Rocky Mountains. I’ll then post all the photos on this blog as I receive them. Send your photos to me via email: susanmtoy (at) gmail.com

Thanks to all my supportive and very enthusiastic readers! You are the reason I keep writing …

More teasers from One Woman’s Island!

After my Cover reveal!! of the forthcoming print version of my novel, One Woman’s Island, I thought I’d tease readers a little more with some of the additional material I’ve added to this new edition – in the “praise for the eBook”, updated “dedication” and “acknowledgements” pages … some of you will recognize a few familiar names here!

Praise for the eBook edition of
One Woman’s Island

One Woman’s Island beautifully captures the spirit of being on the island of Bequia. The author’s ear for local dialogue is faultless. With its complex characters, fast-moving plot, authentic setting and the underlying seriousness of the questions it so skillfully raises, One Woman’s Island, is a book that should garner a wide readership, one far larger than those who are familiar with Bequia. ~ Felicity Harley, author of The Burning Years

Susan Toy’s new novel One Woman’s Island is: lively; startling; creepy; funny; shocking; sad; insightful – and engaging from start to finish. ~ Ann Ireland, prize-winning author of novels, A Certain Mr. Takahashi, The Instructor, Exile and The Blue Guitar

With a sharp eye for description and a well-tuned ear for dialogue (and local dialect!) Toy tells how a recently widowed Canadian woman moves to the tiny Caribbean island of Bequia to find solace, only to discover it’s not quite the paradise she hoped for. A tasty meal of storytelling that comes with complementary recipes! ~ Brian Brennan, Postmedia newspapers best-selling author

Toy brings the strands together artfully toward the close, and I was left with some tantalizing memories of my own of a different island, in a different place, in a different era, but with so many delicious similarities… a most entertaining read… ~ Seumas Gallacher, author of The Jack Calder series of crime thrillers

One Woman’s Island speaks not only to the seclusion of island life, but the woman herself. Mariana is running toward, as well as running away from her past. What awaits her on the island of Bequia is everything and nothing that she expected. ~ Cheryl Schenk, author of The Stibil Forest Adventures

Another thoughtful book from Susan Toy, set in the Caribbean island of Bequia. This is perfect weekend reading when you have the time to just enjoy the read and let your imagination go. ~ Roughseasinthemed, blogger

Whether intentional or not, there seems to be a huge character quietly looming across your book series: Bequia, the island herself. Each book, even though different, reveals more and more about her as a character and a force. Quite cool. ~ Philosopher Mouse of the Hedge, blogger

Toy creates complex and flawed characters who keep your attention as they move the story forward. She brings Bequia to life with her descriptive detail and an intimate understanding of the local culture. Reading One Woman’s Island, as well as Toy’s earlier Bequia Perspectives novel, Island in the Clouds, is an immersive experience that leaves you feeling like you’ve visited the island, dined with the locals and strolled the beaches. And what a treat to find recipes for local dishes interspersed among the chapters. ~ J.P. McLean, author of The Gift series

Dedication Page

For Dennis, my personal property manager

And in memory of friends who knew Bequia:
Ken Bergwall, Ian Bowie, Bruce Boyce, Kevin Cameron, Kathy Carpenter,
Frank Dufek, Rodger Durham, Derek Hayes, Jim Johnston,
Mariann Palmborg, Jean Poisson, Bill Sadler

 

Acknowledgements

There are many people who helped me along the way of writing and preparing this novel for publication, but none quite as persistent in their “encouragement” than my editor, Rachel Small, and my author-pal and personal DJ, Tim Baker. It really was never nagging on your part (because when it did become nagging I would tune you out), but I do now appreciate your persistence in reminding me to “just write and get the damn thing finished!” I truly, and likely, would never have managed to get to this point without both of you.

Thanks to Regina McCreary of Human Powered Design for formatting, design work, and sales listings for all IslandCatEditions publications.

Thanks to Pam Ferrell and “Snowy” Elvin Augustus Lewis for always coming up with the most appropriate words of local wisdom.

Thanks to Betty Jane Hegerat for sorting out my good ideas from the bad.

Thanks to fellow-author and Bequia-dweller, Felicity Harley, for deep insight into our shared locale.

Thanks to my extensive writing/blogging/publishing community, both online and in person, for the support and friendship you have provided me with over the years. You are all so much more than just a network–you are family!

Unfortunately, I sadly lost two of you during this past year … Roughseasinthemed and Lockie Young – your support and enthusiasm for my writing was always greatly appreciated and you will both be sorely missed!

And, finally, but most importantly, thank you to all readers! Thank you for taking the time to read what I write, and for telling me you enjoyed what you read! That means more to me than anything else in this process of creating and producing a book. And the fact that so many of you have also become friends is just icing on the cake (or coloured streamers on a bicycle’s handles, as JP McLean would say) and definitely encourages me to keep writing!