Thursday, 9 January 2020

Start Here by Pier Bryden and Peter Szatmari

It's no secret that mental health challenges among youth are on the rise; however, it's much easier for us as parents to diagnose (or at least suspect) a broken leg than it is for us to make a decision about depression or an eating disorder.

Star Here hopes to help parents navigate the initial steps towards finding help and supporting your child if there is a mental health issue. Broken into eight sections, Dr. Pier Bryden and Dr. Peter Szatmari use their combined experience to discuss anxiety, substance use disorders, eating disorders, sleep disorders, depression, trauma, suicide, psychosis, ADHD, and autism.

In each section you can find a road map on:
- how to recognize a child in distress
- risk factors
- prevention
- treatment

I thought it is helpful to explicitly describe the differences for each illness between a child in distress and a child going through a developmentally appropriate phase. The authors describe the warning signs to watch for and explain when to seek professional help.

I also thought it was helpful to include so much information on medications. This may feel overwhelming and scary for parents, because if and when to medicate your child is an enormous question. Dr. Bryden and Dr. Szatmari clearly explain when medication can be helpful, what kinds of medication may help each mental illness, when medication may not be the best option, and what other treatments are available either on their own or in conjunction with medication.

I hope that in reading this book, parents see that mental illness isn't anyone's fault and that, when parents are vigilant, there is much they can do to help.

My one criticism for Start Here is that in each scenario presented, the child/teen/school was open to support. However, what strategies are available for families who have children and teens who are not open to treatment? Secondly, at a time when budgets are constantly being cut, what tools and language can we give parents to walk into a school and advocate for their children?

This isn't a book everyone needs to read, but it is one to look though if you start to have questions about your child's mental health.

Start Here is available on January 28, 2020 from your favourite bookseller.


Disclaimer - I received a complementary copy of this book from Simon and Schuster Canada for review purposes. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Monday, 6 January 2020

Meet Me In Monaco by Hazel Gaynor and Heather Webb

"Each scent holds a mystery - its own story."
Hazel Gaynor and Heather Webb, Meet Me In Monaco

During the Cannes Film Festival, Grace Kelly is trying to dodge a British photographer and slips into the perfume boutique owned by Sophie Duval. What follows is a touching life-long friendship between Sophie and Grace, as well as a special connection between Sophie and James, that British photographer Grace Kelly was initially trying to avoid. Years pass, Grace's own romance with the Prince of Monaco progresses, and James finds himself back in France to cover the royal wedding.

Sophie and James long to see if a relationship is possible between them; however, the sacrifices they must make may simply be too enormous.

Meet Me in Monaco is romantic and bittersweet. The landscape of Monaco, Èze, and Cannes, as well as the sensual descriptions of the different perfumes, create a wonderful atmosphere in this story. It is perfect for readers who loved The Gown by Jennifer Robson. I didn't know much about the life of Grace Kelly before reading this novel, and I always enjoy books that have me Googling world history.

I lived in France for a year, so I have a soft spot for novels that transport me back to that country. I even spent a weekend in Monaco, Èze, and Nice, and I remembered those places fondly when I thought of James, Sophie, and Grace.

I enjoyed this collaboration between Hazel Gaynor and Heather Webb quite a bit, and I look forward to reading The Last Christmas in Paris next.


Disclaimer - I received a complementary copy of this novel from Harper Collins Canada. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Friday, 3 January 2020

#readlesmis2020 Reading Challenge

What is one book you know you want to read in 2020? When I talked about my reading goals for 2020, the main feeling I have this year is to rest and reset when it comes to finishing books. I want to read for joy, and I want to read books I've been thinking about for ages.

Less rushing to read what's new.

More finding gems on my own unread shelves.

One book I'm reading this year is Les Misérables by Victor Hugo. I loved the musical when I saw it, and who could ever forget Joey's On My Own solo from Dawson's Creek? #teampaceyforever

When Whitney at The Unread Shelf discovered last year that this book has 365 chapters, and therefore can be read a chapter a day, I thought this would make a fun reading challenge for the year. Plus, 2020 is a leap year, so we have a bonus day to finish :)

There are plenty of editions to choose from. I came across the Penguin Classics clothbound edition in New Orleans last summer, and I immediately knew this was the book I'd want beside my bed all year.

When I posted on Instagram that I'd be taking on this challenge, I was so surprised by how many people wanted to join! Right now there are about 60 of us reading Les Mis this year, which is amazing. If you'd like to read along with us, there is still time to join in; we're only on chapter 3. Hop over to Instagram and check out/use the hashtag #readlesmis2020 to participate. We also have a group chat going on Instagram, so you can send me a message over there (@jennbairos), and I'll add you.

Happy reading, friends.


Wednesday, 1 January 2020

My 2020 Reading Goals

Overall, I'm pleased with how and what I read in 2019.

I continued to be ruthless about abandoning books that weren't holding my interest, I used the library more often instead of rushing out to buy every book I wanted to read, and I've gotten better at reading books shortly after I purchase them.

I started a series that's been on my TBR for years, I read a bit more in French, and I wove more Canadian literature into my reading life. I also completed both #theunreadshelfproject2019 and the Toronto Library 2019 Reading Challenge.

This year, I would like to complete both #theunreadshelfproject2020 and the 2020 Toronto Library Reading Challenge, again. Aside from those lists, here are a few other intentions I'm setting.

1. Read for enjoyment
Before I started blogging, I would wander the bookstore and pick up whatever paperbacks I thought I would love. I never paid much attention to new releases (and couldn't afford hardcovers anyways), and I loved taking suggestions from friends. I didn't let Goodreads influence me, and I had no idea how many books I read in a year. I never ever ever felt like reading was "work".

I want to get back to this feeling.

I want to pick up authors I've never heard of. I want to put a recommendation from a friend to the top of my TBR. I want to read more backlist novels. I want to fall less into the FOMO that exists on bookstagram with books that are new and shiny. While I will still blog and share some new releases, I want to remind myself to only accept books from publishers that truly make my heart sing.

2. (Almost) No more numbers
For three years in a row, I've read 100 books. That is nearly 100 000 pages. For me, that is beaucoup. This year, I'm setting my Goodreads goal at a whopping 1. I will absolutely read more than one book, but I want to not care about the final number. And that also means I won't be counting my monthly wrap ups. Books will come into my life, and books will be shown the door, but I'm not going to count it all up.

One of my other intentions this year is to spend more quality time with my family on weekends, and that inevitably means I'll read and blog a bit less. I'm okay with that, so I'm simply finding ways to weed the garden with respect to what I share online.

The one number I will track is the number of unread books I have in my home. Right now, I own 229 unread books. I'd love to have this under 200 by the end of the year, but we shall see!

Here are 10 books I hope to read in 2020.

Did you set any reading goals for yourself this year? What are they?


Monday, 30 December 2019

10 Books I Loved in 2019

Picking my favourite reads of the year is always tough. I've read 100 books this year, and I've become relentless at abandoning books I'm not enjoying, so that means I've really enjoyed the books I've read this year.

There are always a few that rise to the top, and I've tried to spread the love through different genres. Additionally, I read some really fantastic library books and books I gifted forward to others, but my list includes only books I have kept in my home library.

Of the 100 books I read...  (2018 numbers)

39 were published this year (29)
23 were ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐  reads for me (21)
0 were rereads (12)
27 were nonfiction (12)
1 was a novella (+ 1 collection of novellas) (3 + 1 collection)
85 were by female authors (92)
14 were by authors of colour (7)
20 were by Canadian authors (10)
2 Seb and I read together (1)
2 books in French (1)

In no particular order, because ranking them would be actually impossible, here are 10 books I loved in 2019!

1. On Boards, Lisa Dawn Bolton
If you follow me on Instagram @jennbairos, it's no secret that one of my new passions this year is making crowd-pleasing charcuterie boards. On Boards is my "go to" cookbook for inspiration! Read more about On Boards in this post.

2. A Ladder to the Sky, John Boyne
The Heart's Invisible Furies made my top ten list last year, so A Ladder to the Sky was a highly anticipated read of mine this year. With an antihero you will love to hate, this is a compelling book. Perfect for book clubs! You can read my review here.

3. A Mind Spread Out on the Ground, Alicia Elliott
One of my reading goals this year was to read more Indigenous literature. A Mind Spread Out on the Ground was a beautiful book that landed in my mailbox earlier this year, and I'm so glad it did. These essays are thoughtful, controversial, and absolutely necessary. Here's my review. (Also, Goodreads tells me this is the highest rated book I read this year coming in at 4.58/5!)

4. Us Against You, Fredrik Backman
I read four (!) Backman books this year, and it was hard to pick a favourite. A Man Called Ove is wonderful, Things My Son Needs to Know About the World is charming and relatable, but being back in the world of Beartown tugged at my heart the most.

5. Until The Last Star Fades, Jacquelyn Middleton
I read all three of Jacquelyn's books this year and was lucky enough to meet her in person! I love her romances, and Until The Last Star Fades is my favourite. Here's my review.

6. Dear Mother, Bunmi Laditan
I love pretty much anything Laditan writes, and her first poetry collection touched the core of my mama heart.

7. Under Pressure, Lisa Damour
The best book for professional reading I did this year is Under Pressure. I was also able to see Dr. Damour speak earlier this year. Hearing and reading her words about how we talk about stress and anxiety among teens has profoundly shifted how I address these topics with my students. Read more here.

8. All We Ever Wanted, Emily Giffin
This was my first Emily Giffin book, and I was surprised how much I enjoyed it! She takes on class, race, social media, rape culture, parenting, and marriage. While it feels like it's tackling a lot of issues, they are woven together in a compelling read that kept me turning the pages to find out what happened next. Read my review here. It's perfect for fans of Beartown by Fredrik Backman.

9. My Lovely Wife, Samantha Downing
I've learned that I am super picky about my thrillers. They seem to be published left, right, and centre, and I read a handful this year, but My Lovely Wife is the only one that really had me on the edge of my seat. I cannot wait for her next release!

10. Daisy Jones & the Six, Taylor Jenkins Reid
Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo made my favourites list in 2017. Daisy Jones is a completely different style, but also similar with a strong woman at the core of the story. Here's my review.

What was one of your favourite books this year?

If you're interested, here are my top 10 reads from 2018 and 2017.

Friday, 27 December 2019

Bibliostyle by Nina Freudenberger

"I don't want to sound pretentious, but I don't understand people who don't have books."
Emmanuel de Bayser.

Bibliostyle By Nina Freudenberger is a beautiful coffee table book that would be the perfect addition to any bibliophile's home. It is full of breathtaking photography of some of the most compelling personal libraries and bookstores from around the world.

A few highlights for me were peeking inside the home library of Art Spiegelman, creator of Maus, and learning about how Coralie Bickford-Smith designs the gorgeous clothbound Penguin classic covers book lovers have come to adore.

If you feel like you are always running out of bookshelves in your house (I know I am!), you will find comfort in seeing how other readers live at home with books in every corner.


Disclaimer - I received a complimentary copy of Bibliostyle courtesy of Penguin Random House Canada. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Monday, 23 December 2019

5 Authors I Discovered In 2019

One of my favourite things I like to do at the end of the year is reflect on the new authors I discovered that year. Here are five writers I came to know and love this year.

Diana Gabaldon - I have finally joined the Outlander fandom! I read the Outlander, Dragonfly in Amber, and Voyager this year, and I have fallen fully in love with Jamie Fraser. Rob and I are about halfway through watching season 3 of Outlander on Netflix, and then I'll dive into Drums of Autumn.

Jacquelyn Middleton - If you want a love story with a lot of heart, I encourage you to check out Jacquelyn Middleton's books. I read all three of her novels this year. Until the Last Star Fades was my favourite by far. You can read my review for it here.

Lyssa Kay Adams - I love discovering new romance writers, and Lyssa Kay Adam's book, The Bromance Bookclub, is excellent. Plus, it's a married romance! I can't wait to read her next release, Undercover Bromance.

Samantha Downing - I've learned that I am pretty picky when it comes to my thrillers. I was lucky enough to win a copy of My Lovely Wife in a giveaway over on Instagram, and it blew my mind. It's a little bit dark and twisty but compulsively readable.

Heather Webb - So, I haven't actually read a book written solely by Heather Webb, but I did read Ribbons of Scarlet and have started Meet Me In Monaco, and she did collaborate on both of these wonderful historical fiction novels. I look forward to reading more from her in the future.

If you're interested, here are the "new to me" authors I discovered in 2018 and 2017.

Did you come across anyone new this year? Who was it?