Quarter Two Non-Fiction Reading 2022

Better late than never right?

I was flying in quarter two when it came to non-fiction and the majority of it was fabulous! Isn’t it funny that my long reviews are always for books I really dislike? This is probably true for a lot of people tbh. When you love a book? ‘It was just so good.’ When you hate it? ‘It was terrible and let me tell you why…’

Crying in H Mart by Michelle Zauner – 5

A beautifully written memoir that was unapologetically candid.

This wasn’t an easy read, it’s especially hard when I think about the fact that my relationship with my own mother didn’t start to level out until close to my 30’s. Mother/daughter relationships can be tough and when you are in the midst of it you definitely don’t think about the possibility of one of you not being there before you come to the realisation that your mother is actually human!

I feel like Michelle got there but it was a much harder journey for her. It’s just sad that they didn’t get to grow into the adult daughter and mother relationship. I mean it doesn’t all become magically fixed but I feel like as you get older mutual understanding is reached.

One of the most beautiful parts of this book was the ‘food is love’ aspect. Even when Michelle and her mother weren’t getting along, food was their bridge. It even became a bridge to healing for Michelle after her mother passed away. It’s a powerful message and a definite gift!

There is a reason this is a well loved book, it’s a must read!

A memoir about growing up Korean American, losing her mother, and forging her own identity.

Michelle Zauner tells of growing up one of the few Asian American kids at her school in Eugene, Oregon; of struggling with her mother’s particular, high expectations of her; of a painful adolescence; of treasured months spent in her grandmother’s tiny apartment in Seoul, where she and her mother would bond, late at night, over heaping plates of food.

As she grew up, moving to the East Coast for college, finding work in the restaurant industry, and performing gigs with her fledgling band–and meeting the man who would become her husband–her Koreanness began to feel ever more distant, even as she found the life she wanted to live. It was her mother’s diagnosis of terminal cancer, when Michelle was twenty-five, that forced a reckoning with her identity and brought her to reclaim the gifts of taste, language, and history her mother had given her.

Crying in H Mart by Michelle Zauner
Crying in H Mart
Amazon UK

The Vanishing Triangle by Claire McGowan – 2

Unfortunately this wasn’t very good, I’ve multiple issues with it, chief among them is that it was just poorly written.

I said this MANY times while reading it, the author could have written a really insightful and important book about violence against women in the border counites as she seems to have a good handle on the border and the problems the lack of cross border cooperation cause.

As a woman who is almost the same age as the author I can say that I and the people I knew and grew up with were FULLY aware of the women who went missing in the 90’s within the triangle.

She points out numerous times how the news in Northern Ireland at that time only focused on the troubles and while they were absolutely covered in the South these women who disappeared were also big stories. Jo Jo Dullard, Fiona Sinnott and Imelda Keenan in particular were CONSTANTLY being talked about as they all went missing relatively close to where I grew up.

To be honest, I found the author a little disingenuous, and I couldn’t believe that after talking about how she or the people around her didn’t know anything about all these disappearances when she was growing up, she proceeded to lament about how, when she asked the people she knew in England if they knew about them, they’d also never heard about them. Well yeah, I also don’t know about all the women missing or murdered in the UK in the 90’s and I’ll bet €1,000 there are some.

The constant back and forth and the ‘it could be anyone’ or ‘it could be this guy’ was also really exhausting. The whole country and the whole of the UK is a suspect. Go figure! The lack of details in some cases was also annoying, for example, she talked a good deal about the murder of Marilyn Rynn in 1995 in a Blanchardstown park and never mentioned the name of the park. This seems like really basic true crime writing. This stuff is important and why on earth would you not name the actual place where a victim is raped and murdered? It was Tolka Valley Park by the way.

This happened more than once, details that on the face of it might not seem important but it’s true crime, it’s part of the story. Interesting point, when I went to look for the name of the park, Marilyn Rynn’s murder was listed on ‘List of major crimes in Ireland’. The park is not mentioned on that list. It is however mentioned in the newspaper of record (The Irish Times) in a piece on the sentencing of David Lawler on Tue, Jan 27, 1998 along with a piece about Marilyn Rynn called ‘Fatal chance brought together an unlikely killer and his victim’ (terrible title, I will never not hate the centering of the men who murder women), note the date, it’s 3 years after Marilyn Rynn was murdered, so you might be led to believe that her murder wasn’t reported at all given that these articles are the first to pop up in a search, dig a little deeper though (as in look at not just page one of a google search) and you’ll find articles about the murder from that time period, those articles are behind a paywall though.


I’m skeptical about the authors assertion that there was little to no media coverage.

The biggest pity about this is that I 100% agree with most of what she was going for, the influence of the church and state in regards to how women and girls in Ireland were treated and how appallingly women and girls who are victims of rape and domestic violence are still treated today, but it was poorly executed. To be honest it felt like the author just doesn’t like Ireland, and you know, that’s absolutely fine, I’m glad she found her home but this book didn’t seem like the right place to center herself. She isn’t Michelle McNamara, she didn’t pull it off. Stick to fiction.

From the bestselling author of What You Did comes a true-crime investigation that cast a dark shadow over the Ireland of her childhood.

Ireland in the 1990s seemed a safe place for women. With the news dominated by the Troubles, it was easy to ignore non-political murders and sexual violence, to trust that you weren’t going to be dragged into the shadows and killed. But beneath the surface, a far darker reality had taken hold.

In this candid investigation into the society and circumstances that allowed eight young women to vanish without a trace—no conclusion or conviction, no resolution for their loved ones—bestselling crime novelist Claire McGowan delivers a righteous polemic against the culture of secrecy, victim-blaming and shame that left these women’s bodies unfound, their fates unknown, their assailants unpunished.

McGowan reveals an Ireland not of leprechauns and craic but of outdated social and sexual mores, where women and their bodies were of secondary importance to perceived propriety and misguided politics—a place of well-buttoned lips and stony silence, inadequate police and paramilitary threat.

Was an unknown serial killer at large or was there something even more insidious at work? In this insightful, sensitively drawn account, McGowan exposes a system that failed these eight women—and continues to fail women to this day.

The Vanishing Triangle by Claire McGowan
The Vanishing Triangle
Amazon UK

Unmasked: My Life Solving America’s Cold Cases by Paul Holes

– 5

Great insight into what it takes to do the very tough job that Paul Holes spent most of his life doing. I mean it’s no surprise that his personal life suffered, and in some respects still suffers, from taking on the demons he takes on voluntarily.

If you have or had any interest in The Golden State Killer you won’t need me to tell you that this is a must read but just in case, if you have any interest in The Golden State Killer this is a must read. 🙂

Recommend reading I’ll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman’s Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer before reading this.

From the detective who found The Golden State Killer, a memoir of investigating America’s toughest cold cases and the rewards–and toll–of a life solving crime.

I order another bourbon, neat. This is the drink that will flip the switch. I don’t even know how I got here, to this place, to this point. Something is happening to me lately. I’m drinking too much. My sheets are soaking wet when I wake up from nightmares of decaying corpses. I order another drink and swig it, trying to forget about the latest case I can’t shake.

Crime-solving for me is more complex than the challenge of the hunt, or the process of piecing together a scientific puzzle. The thought of good people suffering drives me, for better or worse, to the point of obsession.

People always ask how I am able to detach from the horrors of my work. Part of it is an innate capacity to compartmentalize; the rest is experience and exposure, and I’ve had plenty of both. But I had always taken pride in the fact that I can keep my feelings locked up to get the job done. It’s only been recently that it feels like all that suppressed darkness is beginning to seep out.

When I look back at my long career, there is a lot I am proud of. I have caught some of the most notorious killers of the twenty-first century and brought justice and closure for their victims and families. I want to tell you about a lifetime solving these cold cases, from Laci Peterson to Jaycee Dugard to the Pittsburg homicides to, yes, my twenty-year-long hunt for the Golden State Killer.

But a deeper question eats at me as I ask myself, at what cost? I have sacrificed relationships, joy—even fatherhood—because the pursuit of evil always came first. Did I make the right choice? It’s something I grapple with every day. Yet as I stand in the spot where a young girl took her last breath, as I look into the eyes of her family, I know that, for me, there has never been a choice. “I don’t know if I can solve your case,” I whisper. “But I promise I will do my best.”

It is a promise I know I can keep.

Unmasked: My Life Solving America’s Cold Cases by Paul Holes
Unmasked Amazon UK

Life as a Unicorn: A Journey from Shame to Pride and Everything in Between by Amrou Al-Kadhi – 5

So good and so sad. I’ve been thinking about this one a lot to be honest. The fish tank in particular is staying with me.

Here is an idea. If people insist on having children can they please not traumatise those children when they don’t take the path they would like or turn out how they’d imagined? Can we make this a thing?

Gosh my heart hurt at times!

Amrou’s story isn’t an easy one at times but I’m in awe of them and how they have come to understand themselves and their place in the world.

From a god-fearing Muslim boy enraptured with their mother, to a vocal, queer drag queen estranged from their family, this is a heart-breaking and hilarious memoir about the author’s fight to be true to themself.

‘It should be read far and wide’ Ian McKellen

Amrou knew they were gay when, aged ten, they first laid eyes on Macaulay Culkin in Home Alone. It was love at first sight.

Amrou’s parents weren’t so happy…

From that moment on, Amrou began searching in all the wrong places for ways to make their divided self whole again.

Life as a Unicorn is a hilarious yet devastating story of a search for belonging, following the painful and surprising process of transforming from a god-fearing Muslim boy to a queer drag queen, strutting the stage in seven-inch heels and saying the things nobody else dares to.

Life as a Unicorn: A Journey from Shame to Pride and Everything in Between by Amrou Al-Kadhi
Life as a Unicorn Amazon UK

One thought on “Quarter Two Non-Fiction Reading 2022

  1. Pingback: Catching up…

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