With Her in Ourland by Charlotte Perkins Gilman

““We have always had war,” Terry explained. … “It is human nature.”

“Human?” asked Ellador.

“Are some of the soldiers women?” she inquired.

“Women! Of course not! They are men; strong, brave men…”

“Then why do you call it ‘human nature?’ she persisted. “If it was human wouldn’t they both do it?”

“Do you call bearing children ‘human nature’? she asked him. “It’s woman nature,” he answered. “It’s her work.”

“Then why do you not call fighting ‘man nature’ — instead of human?””

3/5 stars.
ebook, 144 pages.
Read from September 19, 2019 to September 20, 2019.

Picking up where Herland left off, Ellador and Van set off around the world to show Ellador the rest of the world away from her homeland and all of her matriarchal values. Van decides to leave America for their last visit, his home, in hopes that she will see it more favourably. While Ellador adapts fairly well in many aspects of his society she is truly traumatized and cannot shake the horror of how women, animals, and children are generally treated. Ellador is the most disappointed that America had the chance to do things differently and didn’t.

Even though Ellador struggles, Van and Ellador grow deeper and more intimate in their relationship. Ellador does eventually want to attempt to bear children by Van but still doesn’t understand or have the urges for physical intimacy, which Van completely respects and understands.

This book steered away from a novel and narrative and read more like an essay or a rant of the author’s ideologies, similar to the first book in the trilogy, Moving the MountainWhile I enjoyed aspects of this novel, particularly how Ellador managed particular situations during some of her encounters with men, this book was generally unsurprising and concluded as I expected it to.

In terms of its ideological content, this book solidifies the author’s views and any remaining issues she has found with the patriarchal society while reaffirming previous values made in the other novels. If you’re interested in all of the author’s ideologies then I feel that reading the whole trilogy is important, however, if you’re looking for more of an interesting story, you could easily get away with just reading Herland. 

Night of the Hunter by R.A. Salvatore

“Is that not the whole point of gaining experience, to use it to make wiser choices, to temper destructive instincts, to find better resolutions?”

3/5 stars.
ebook, 410 pages.
Read from September 4, 2019 to September 11, 2019.

You know, I never thought I’d make this far into the series. I really should slow down the rate I’m reading this series as I know I’ll mourn not being able to fall back onto these new adventures when I need to escape reality. Though it has probably been more than a decade since I read the first book so at least I can look forward to re-reading it.

After a miraculous rejoining, The Companions must return to Gauntlgrym to help their old friend Pwent escape the curse of his vampirism. Bruenor is also convinced that he erred in his previous life and that making a truce with the orcs was a big mistake. Everyone else seems to agree too, though Drizzt only reluctantly because there isn’t much that he wouldn’t for his friends. Artemis and Dahlia have also found themselves wrapped up in Gauntlgrym too unfortunately so have the major houses of the dark elves. The dark elves are plotting something big as they scheme over Gauntlgrym and of course, themselves, in order to please and understand their chaotic goddess, Lloth.

I have to say, I am surprised that Bruenor is going to go after the orcs again and that everyone seems to be on board with the idea. It just doesn’t seem like something these wholesome characters would do but maybe they’re right, that the orcs are just biding their time to attack…regardless, Salvatore is going to have to do a lot more to convince me that this isn’t out of character for the companions and that it’s a smart decision going forward in the next few books. I also have to say, I really enjoy this laidback version of Wulfgar as he has shed all the burdens and seriousness of his past life he finally has a chance to live his best life in this one.

I did enjoy that a good portion of this book focuses on some of the big houses in the dark elf realm as it made for an especially gruesome and exciting read because the creatures of the Underdark are always nightmarish to envision. I’m interested to see what direction the plot takes next and hope that there are few twists and turns with the anticipation of Bruneor eventually returning to Mithral Hall. Overall, another solid Salvatore read.

Finding Gobi by Dion Leonard

“I just decided to try my best to ignore the voices that told me I was a failure.”

3/5 stars.
Paperback, 272 pages.
Read from August 14, 2019 to August 25, 2019.

I adore books about running and racing. I also love true-story books involving animals. This book brought those two worlds together for me. After having this book on my TBR list for a while after a friend’s recommendation, I spotted a paperback copy of this book while I was slightly drunk at an airport. Drink having contributed my book-buying issue, I compulsively purchase this book. However, I did share it with a family member afterwards so it was worth it.

Dion Leonard is an accidental elite runner. He doesn’t run because he likes it but because he wants to challenge himself and be competitive. It all started after he made a bet with his friend that he would beat him in a half marathon, despite having never done one or trained for one. After successfully beating his poor friend (honestly, that would piss me off so much) he decided to keep running and set his sights on some of the most competitive and challenging marathons and ultras in the world. Dion decides that he wants to tackled a 155-mile race through the Gobi desert in China. It’s during this race that he meets a durable, resilient, and tiny dog that follows him for a whole 77-miles of the race. This little dog taught Dion some lessons about running that made his journey more about just trying to finish first. After such a journey, Dion knew that this dog, who he named Gobi, had to come home with him. However, things don’t go to plan and Dion struggles to get Gobi back home with him.

As a runner, I really enjoyed reading about the specifics of Dion’s race, though I’d be lying if wasn’t in envy of his speed in doing a sport he didn’t particularly enjoy that much outside of the competition and winning. Thankfully Gobi managed to teach Dion a thing or two about that. It was interesting what Dion mentioned about Tommy Chen during the race. I feel like we only got a censored or partial part of that story.

Dion had to manage some steep hurdles in getting Gobi home, especially trying to manage the Chinese media which I’m sure had its own unique challenges. I wondered if there were aspects and experiences that Dion wanted to be a bit more honest about but felt he couldn’t in the book in case there was some sort of backlash.

I think Dion is likely a better runner than a writer as there were aspects of this book that felt a bit unnecessary, such as the back story on his family.  This story probably could have been a short novella or a feature-length magazine article instead of a full book and I felt the excitement waivered shortly after the race was finished. The book and the story are slightly self-serving in the way Dion discusses his running and the media hype that came with Gobi, but the story of the two of them is sincere so it was wonderful to know that everything all worked out in the end for them both.

For those that don’t have a large interest in anything running related, the first part of this book might be a bit dull for you but after that, the story revolves fully around trying to get Gobi.  Overall, a nice easy read for any dog-lover or runner.