Book tour : Manic Man, by Jason Wegner & Dr Kerry Bernes

If there’s one thing I like more than receiving new books to read, it’s receiving new psychology books to read. And this one certainly did not disappoint!

Manic Man, written by first-time author Jason Wegner and clinical psychologist Dr. Kerry Bernes, was just published on October 14th, 2021, and is a raw, open memoir relating Jason’s firsthand experience of living with type 1 bipolar disorder.

Synopsis

The story begins with an outline of Jason’s normal life and then describes the hypomanic stage of his illness. The mania starts with his experience of taking the dangerous psychedelic drug LSD and takes off a few weeks later in Tanzania, Africa. He is in a full-blown manic episode while in Africa, and his behaviours and thoughts captured demonstrate this. Weeks of mania continued after he was home from Africa until he was tricked into going in an ambulance and taken to the hospital’s emergency wing. He would be hospitalized in the acute psychiatry ward for 57 days, and seven months of depression follows his hospitalization.

To lift himself out of his severe depression, his psychologist, Dr. Kerry Bernes, develops “The Octagon of Life,” which is the eight areas of life that he gets Jason to focus on. Following the plan, Jason gets out of depression and experiences post-traumatic growth and becomes a more successful person than he was before his diagnosis. 

Of all mental health concerns, personality disorders are certainly some of the most taboo in our society. We tend to avoid the subject as much as possible, and when we do have to talk about it, it’s usually mentioned with concerns about homelessness, danger to others and/or suicidal risk.

Which is why, amongst a sea of bleak portrayals of mental illnesses in current media, I find such a memoir essential to our collective understanding of what it’s really like living with a severe mental illness.

Representation matters, and what better representation than stories that come directly from the people living with the illnesses themselves?

Three things I liked in this book

The honesty

Memoirs are a difficult genre to write. Gloss over reality a bit too much, and your readers will be able to perceive the lies, the varnish coming off of the polished version of your life that you’d like to sell them between the pages. But be a little too truthful, and you might be confronted with intimate realities on the page that you might not have intended to share with such a wide potential readership.

Being honest with yourself and with your readers when sharing intimate personal experiences is a difficult challenge, and one that author Jason Wegner takes on without hesitation. It takes here the form of a heartbreaking but genuine description of manic episodes, from his perspective, that must have taken a lot of bravery to write and that leaves the reader with a new understanding of the trials of living with such a severe mental illness.

Speaking of recovery

One of the thinks I dislike the most in mainstream media’s portrayal of mental illnesses is the near total focus on the worst parts of people’s lives. What about the after, when a person has received their diagnosis and is in a better place to receive the help they seek in managing their condition?

Manic Man doesn’t shy away from that part of the process, and explains in more detail the difficulty of the work done by the author on recovery from manic episodes, and on managing his type 1 bipolar disorder in the future.

The difficult topics

Type 1 bipolar disorder is sometimes also called “manic depression”. This describes the two main emotional phases of the disorder, which are phases of intense mania – lasting at least a week, and during which the person usually exhibits extreme erratic behavior, and might require hospitalization for their own safety – and phases of deep depression, lasting at least two weeks.

The honest and raw descriptions of Jason’s experiences while in either one of these phases is something I found very educational for people wanting to broaden their understanding of the emotional cost and psychological effects of bipolar personality disorder on the individuals it affects.

All in all, I would definitely recommend this to anyone interested in psychology, cognitive therapy, or just looking for an excellent memoir to read this winter.

Find it on Amazon here, and on Goodreads here.

NetGalley TBR – November 2020

Good afternoon!

Today’s post is inspired by Alexa’s NetGalley Update series, which you can go check out on her blog, Writing the universe (and don’t hesitate to follow her blog if you haven’t subscribed yet!).

These past few months, I’ve done my best to improve my NetGalley ratio, which was at a low 65 at some point this year (yeah, I know, that’s pretty bad… I might have requested a bit more books than I could actually read…).

It’s now gone up to 78%, and I’m doing everything everything I can to get it all the way up to the recommended 80% – I feel like I’d be pretty happy if I could get it to 85, but then again, since I’m not a US-based reviewer, it won’t drastically augment the number of books that are available for me, so I’m not stressing too much about it.

Related posts : The eternal frustration of an international book blogger, by @insidemylibrarymind, My story with ARCs as an international book blogger, by Marie @ Drizzle and Hurricane books

My NetGalley “to read” and “to review” shelves have now been almost fully emptied, but I do still have some books I’d like to get around to reading and reviewing sometime before the end of the year :

  • Slingshot, by Mercedes Helnwein – I got an invitation to get this e-ARC in my email a while ago, and almost didn’t see it at all – it had slipped in my spam folder by accident. Fortunately, I managed to find it before the publication date!
  • Men who hate women, by Laura Bates – I read a book on this exact topic from a Québécois author last year, and I’m supposed to be taking a class on it next semester, so I thought it might be useful for me to read this one!
  • The truth and other hidden things, by Lea Geller – this just sounded fun and full of drama – exactly what I’ll need once my finals are done in mid-December!
  • Viral BS : Medical myths and why we fall for them, by Seema Yasmin – I felt like this was going to be particularly interesting considering the year we’ve just had, so my expectations are pretty high for this one!

I think I’ll prioritize them by their publication dates – the last one on the list here is due for January 2021, and it’s the earliest one here so far, which means I’ve got all the time I need to read and review them all before I end up with late ARCs.

I did wish for a lot of new ones, but I’m not holding out any hope of actually getting them, since most of them were highly anticipated YA novels for which I’m sure a lot of other people made wishes.

One thing that would be pretty useful, though, would be if NetGalley could add a “wished for” tab in the library section, so we could see those books in the same way we can see the pending requests – I’ve wasted time more than once opening a ton of NetGalley tabs to check out interesting books, only to realize that I’d been here earlier in the month / year and already wished for those…

There’s been a lot of change in my life recently, and lots of added stress, so I’m not sure how fast I’ll be able to check these books off my list, but I’m genuinely excited to read them all, so we’ll see how it goes over the month of December!

Five 2020 new releases I’m excited about

Hey ! I haven’t been here in a while, mostly because of the final exams at the beginning of December, but also because I took a week off from – well, from everything, really.

I’ve been on holiday for a week now, and I spent that week at home, sleeping, reading, playing Stardew Valley (the latest update is so nice) and catching up on all the good stuff I like to do / see when I’m not busy studying every single hour of the day.

So now I’m back, with a few end-of-the-year blog posts – and today’s post is about five of the 2020 new releases I’m most excited about !

This Coven Won’t Break – Isabel Sterling

In this gripping, romantic sequel to These Witches Don’t Burn, Hannah must work alongside her new girlfriend to take down the Hunters desperate to steal her magic. Hannah Walsh just wants a normal life. It’s her senior year, so she should be focusing on classes, hanging out with her best friend, and flirting with her new girlfriend, Morgan. But it turns out surviving a murderous Witch Hunter doesn’t exactly qualify as a summer vacation, and now the rest of the Hunters seem more intent on destroying her magic than ever.

I read the first book in December (or at the end of November, maybe ?) and I just can’t wait to see where this story goes ! I got attached really fast to all the characters in the first novel, and loved the way magic was described in it.

This book comes out in June 2020, and you can find it on Goodreads here

Unravel the dusk – Elizabeth Lim

Maia Tamarin’s journey to sew the dresses of the sun, the moon and the stars has taken a grievous toll. She returns to a kingdom on the brink of war. The boy she loves is gone, and she is forced to don the dress of the sun and assume the place of the emperor’s bride-to-be to keep the peace.

But the war raging around Maia is nothing compared to the battle within. Ever since she was touched by the demon Bandur, she has been changing . . . glancing in the mirror to see her own eyes glowing red, losing control of her magic, her body, her mind. It’s only a matter of time before Maia loses herself completely, but she will stop at nothing to find Edan, protect her family, and bring lasting peace to her country.

The first book, Spin the dawn, was one of my most anticipated reads of 2019, and one of my favorite ones too – It’s one of the very few books I actually preordered this year ! I’ve already preordered this one, as soon as it was available to do so, and it comes out in July 2020 – if you haven’t read Spin the dawn, there’s still time to do so before grabbing a copy of this !

You can find it on Goodreads here. (Also, the cover is gorgeous !)

We used to be friends – Amy Spalding

Told in dual timelines—half of the chapters moving forward in time and half moving backward—We Used to Be Friends explores the most traumatic breakup of all: that of childhood besties.

This one just looks super fun. I’ve been wanting to read more stories about friendship-breakups, friends who grow apart, that kind of thing, and this book seems like a nice fun read ! It comes out in January 2020, so hopefully I’ll get my hands on it at the beginning of the year !

You can find it here on Goodreads.

The city we became – N.K. Jemisin

Every great city has a soul. Some are as ancient as myths, and others are as new and destructive as children. New York City? She’s got six. But every city also has a dark side. A roiling, ancient evil stirs in the halls of power, threatening to destroy the city and her six newborn avatars unless they can come together and stop it once and for all.

I loved N.K. Jemisin’s Broken Earth trilogy, so when I spotted this book coming out in March 2020, I had to put it on my list ! I’m really excited to see what this will have to offer – it’s shelved as urban fantasy on Goodreads and I haven’t read a lot of good urban fantasy novels, so we’ll see how this goes !

The wolf of Oren-Yaro – K. S. Villoso

Born under the crumbling towers of Oren-yaro, Queen Talyien was the shining jewel and legacy of the bloody War of the Wolves that nearly tore her nation apart. Her upcoming marriage to the son of her father’s rival heralds peaceful days to come. But his sudden departure before their reign begins fractures the kingdom beyond repair.

Years later, Talyien receives a message, urging her to attend a meeting across the sea. It’s meant to be an effort at reconciliation, but an assassination attempt leaves the queen stranded and desperate to survive in a dangerous land. With no idea who she can trust, she’s on her own as she struggles to fight her way home.

I looked at the cover of this one, and knew I wanted to read it. The synopsis only confirmed that. From the reviews on Goodreads, this is a very character-driven story, with a main character who lives up to her title of “The bitch queen” – and you know what ? I think I’d actually like to read a story where the main character is, indeed, an asshole. Let’s see what this one has to offer.

What are your most anticipated 2020 releases ? Did you add any of those books to your 2020 TBR ?