Tag Archives: Dion Leonard

WWW Wednesday, 19-February-2020

19 Feb

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at A Daily Rhythm and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!IMG_1384-0

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Note: For users of Blogspot blogs, I’m unable to comment on your posts as a WordPress blogger unless you’ve enabled Name/URL comments. This is a known WordPress/Blogspot issue. Please consider enabling this to participate more fully in the community. 


Currently reading: I haven’t had as much time as I’d like for What the Eyes Don’t See by Mona Hanna-Attisha. My book club meets to talk about this on Monday and I’m not sure I’ll have it finished! I’ll have to make some more time for it this week than I normally would. It for sure is not going on vacation with me!
I started a new audiobook and, as planned, it’s Lethal White by Robert Galbraith (aka J.K. Rowling). This picked up right where the third one left off and I’m adoring it so far. These characters are great and I’m looking forward to seeing how the tension between them can be resolved.
I had a change of heart about my ebook and decided to pick up White Oleander by Janet Fitch. I listened to the audiobook of this a while back and realized later that it was abridged. It’s been long enough that I’ve forgotten most of what I listened to and I’m ready to read the full book this time. Strap in for a long one!

Recently finished: I was close to finishing Wild Ink by Victoria Hanley! I wrapped it up during lunch on Thursday. It was an OK read, nothing great but still enjoyable. I’ll have a review for it up tomorrow. I gave the book Three out of Five Stars.
I also finished Finding Gobi by Dion Leonard. I have a few quibbles about this one and ended up giving it Three out of Five Stars even when I really enjoyed parts of it. I posted my review yesterday so please go check it out.

I also posted my review of Sarah’s Quilt by Nancy E. Turner since last week. It was a fun story, but I still had some quibbles I couldn’t look over. I ended up giving the book Three out of Five Stars.

Reading Next: I still need to pick up Cuando era puertorriqueña by Esmeralda Santiago as a print book, but it might get put off a bit. I do plan to read it this year as my Spanish-language read, though, so I won’t forget it!
This close to my trip, I think I might grab the book I’ve decided to take with me, Fingersmith by Sarah Waters. It’s a longer book, but I think it will keep me entertained for the long flights and I won’t mind leaving it behind if I finish it and want to pick up another book.


Leave a comment with your link and comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Book Review: Finding Gobi by Dion Leonard (3/5)

18 Feb

My husband got me this book for Christmas a few years ago. I’d been enjoying a lot of books about endurance sports and this one involved ultra running and dogs. It sounded adorable. And it really was.

Cover Image via Goodreads

Finding Gobi: A Little Dog with a Very Big Heart by Dion Leonard

Summary from Goodreads:

Finding Gobi is the miraculous tale of Dion Leonard, a seasoned ultramarathon runner who crosses paths with a stray dog while competing in a 155-mile race through the Gobi Desert in China. The lovable pup, who would later earn the name Gobi, proved that what she lacked in size, she more than made up for in heart, as she went step for step with Dion over the Tian Shan Mountains, across massive sand dunes, through yurt villages and the black sands of the Gobi Desert, keeping pace with him for 77 miles.

As Dion witnessed the incredible determination and heart of this small animal, he found his own heart undergoing a change as well.  Whereas in the past these races were all about winning and being the best, his goal now was to make sure he and Gobi’s friendship continued well after the finish line.  He found himself letting Gobi sleep in his tent at night, giving her food and water out of his own limited supply, and carrying her across numerous rivers, even when he knew it would mean putting him behind in the race, or worse, prevent him from finishing at all.

Although Dion did not cross the finish line first, he felt he had won something even greater – a new outlook on life and a new friend that he planned on bringing home as soon as arrangements were made.  However, before he could take her home, Gobi went missing in the sprawling Chinese city where she was being kept. Dion, with the help of strangers and a viral outpouring of assistance on the internet, set out to track her down, and reunite forever with the amazing animal that changed his life and proved to him and the world that miracles are possible.

I feel like I need to start this review by saying I’m allergic to animal fur so I’ve never had a dog or cat. I have two turtles for a reason. I like dogs, but I’ve never owned and bonded with one. I hope that gives this some perspective. I liked parts of the book and were frustrated by other parts. I enjoyed the ultra running and the search for Gobi and the logistical nightmare of getting her home. I didn’t like the parts I felt were ‘edited.’ For example, when Dion covers the online donations and backers for the crowdsourcing effort, he’s only ever positive. I seriously doubt he liked feeling responsible to so many people and that so many people were always nice about everything. I bet some people really got on his nerves and times he wanted to go it alone so he’d get some peace. I don’t think an ultra-runner would have enjoyed talking to so many people; distance runners tend to like being alone for long periods. His media relations seemed to be very sugar-coated as well. He only says positive things and it’s hard for me to believe that it would always be that good.

I felt like everyone was shown in their best light. Dion didn’t want to say anything bad about any of the people who supported him and helped him find Gobi so every person he interacted with put their best foot forward. I think Nurali is the best example of this. She shows a bit of quick anger when Dion approaches her about his tent during the dust storm but it’s quickly brushed aside because she’s willing to help Gobi get back to Scotland. Then she takes forever to answer emails and goes dark for long periods. And Gobi disappears from her home when she’s traveling. Despite this, Dion talks about how great she was throughout everything. I thought it was a bit heavy-handed and made me feel like I was being lied to as a reader.

Lucja was my favorite person in this story. Talk about a devoted spouse! She was so supportive of Dion in his running career and in his quest for Gobi. I sometimes find it hard to say ‘yes’ to things my husband wants to do if they’re going to take us apart for a long time. She never seemed to hesitate. She always jumped into everything with both feet and I thought she was an admirable athlete as well. her relationship with Dion was very sweet and loving and I really hoped that wasn’t too contrived because I admired their relationship.

It was hard for me to relate to the emotions in this book at times. I’m not a big dog lover like Dion, though I like dogs well enough. I’ve never had a pet I was so devoted to. At times, his decisions seemed extreme to me and I couldn’t follow the logic. Risking my job to spend three months in China so I could bring a dog home with me? I wouldn’t do that; it’s just not me. That took me out of the last half of the book. Once the focus wasn’t on running, I started to lose interest.

Dion Leonard and Gobi
Image via The Times

The race was my favorite part of the book. I loved hearing about Dion’s experience in such an extreme endurance event. I have a lot of respect for athletes who complete those events and like hearing the first-hand perspective about training and racing in them. Having Gobi come into Dion’s life during such an extreme event was really special.

There wasn’t a part of this book I particularly disliked. Just because I liked the first half best doesn’t mean I disliked the second half. It was a cute story and it’s been too long since I read a memoir. It was a cute story and one that makes you believe that humans are naturally good.

The audiobook was narrated by Simon Bubb and I thought he was a good choice. Dion talks about his Australian heritage a lot so it made sense to have an Australian narrator. I felt he gave appropriate weight to emotional segments of the book and seemed to personify Dion’s serious nature well. I would have almost thought it was narrated by the author at times with how connected he seemed to Gobi’s story.

The dedication Dion had for Gobi was admirable. I think it was hard for me to relate to his attachment because I’ve never loved an animal as much as Dion loves Gobi. I do believe in a bond between man and animal and I think the instant bond Gobi and Dion had was special. When you find something that unique, you have to do whatever you can to protect it.

Writer’s Takeaway: Memoir can be hard. Sometimes there are truths that are hard to face. I think Dion struggled to be honest in this book and it was frustrating for me as the reader. I see this book more like a piece of marketing and a justification for all the donations he received than it is a true memoir. Parts of this book just didn’t sit right to me and I struggled to digest them. I think Dion might have written a very different book if he’d funded the search himself and hadn’t felt threatened by the Chinese government.

An overall enjoyable book but not what I was expecting. Three out of Five Stars.

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

WWW Wednesday, 12-February-2020

12 Feb

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at A Daily Rhythm and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!IMG_1384-0

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Note: For users of Blogspot blogs, I’m unable to comment on your posts as a WordPress blogger unless you’ve enabled Name/URL comments. This is a known WordPress/Blogspot issue. Please consider enabling this to participate more fully in the community. 


Currently reading: I think I’m nearing the end of Wild Ink by Victoria Hanley. I’ve been having more days I can dedicate to reading during my lunch which has been nice. I’m going to be optimistic and say I have two weeks left on this one.
I’ve really liked what I’ve read so far from What the Eyes Don’t See by Mona Hanna-Attisha. I thought this book was going to be a lot of science and politics that would be a drag to get through, but Hanna-Attisha has approached it like a memoir. It’s about her interaction with Flint and the water crisis and how she became active.
I’m already halfway through Finding Gobi by Dion Leonard. This is such a cute story and I love that it involves running! I haven’t ready an endurance sport book in a while and this is getting me ready for tri season starting soon.

Recently finished: After such a rush from last week, I’m not surprised that I don’t have any to add here this week. I think next week will see at least one title, though.

I was able to get some reviews written! I posted my review of The Extra Ordinary Life of Frank Derrick, Age 81 by J.B. Morrison on Monday. I gave it Three out of Five Stars. I’ll have another post about it soon because my book club met on Monday to talk about it.
I also reviewed The Dutch House by Ann Patchett. I’m so happy I finally finished this one because I really enjoyed it and I can’t wait to do another buddy read with this friend because we had a blast. I gave it Four out of Five Stars.

Reading Next: I have to change the plan here a bit due to the library due dates (boo). I’m picking out all the formats of books and I think I’ll need a new audiobook first. I’ve settled on Lethal White by Robert Galbraith (aka J.K. Rowling). It will feel good to be caught up on this series and I’d love to have a little mystery in my life for a bit.
As for an ebook, I’m thinking of The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides. I’ve loved his books before and I believe I’m caught up on his fiction after this one.
As for a print book, I think I’ve put off my Spanish read for too long this year. I’m going to dive in with Cuando era puertorriqueña by Esmeralda Santiago. I found this in a used book store in New Orleans a few years ago and I think it’s about time I opened it up.


Leave a comment with your link and comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

WWW Wednesday, 5-February-2020

5 Feb

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at A Daily Rhythm and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!IMG_1384-0

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Note: For users of Blogspot blogs, I’m unable to comment on your posts as a WordPress blogger unless you’ve enabled Name/URL comments. This is a known WordPress/Blogspot issue. Please consider enabling this to participate more fully in the community. 


Currently reading: I’m still plugging away with Wild Ink by Victoria Hanley. The part I’m reading is short interviews with YA authors who are sharing their stories and advice. It’s really encouraging, if I’m being honest, and I’m liking it a lot.
I’m excited to have a lot of new books here! My next book club pick is What the Eyes Don’t See by Mona Hanna-Attisha. This book focuses on the Flint Water Crisis. Since I live so close to Flint (less than an hour), this narrative really hits home because I’ve been there and see how differently the people in Flint have to live because of the crisis. And yes, it’s still ongoing.
I’ve decided on my next audiobook being Finding Gobi by Dion Leonard. My husband got me a print copy of this book a few years ago because it combines animals and running and he thought I’d love it. I’m sorry I haven’t been able to pick up the print version yet but I’m excited to experience it in audio.

Recently finished: I finally finished The Dutch House by Ann Patchett! My reading buddy and I were so excited to finish this one that we set a shorter time between our third meeting and this last one because we knew we’d rush to finish it. I’ll be reviewing it in the next week or two. I’m still teetering between four and five stars for this one.
I finally finished Sarah’s Quilt by Nancy E. Turner. It felt like I read this one very slowly though I’m not sure that’s really true. It was a good enough story, but it wasn’t as fun for me as I thought. I’ll still finish the series, though. Again, I’m teetering. This one is either three or four stars.
The Extra Ordinary Life of Frank Derrick, Age 81 by J.B. Morrison never picked up for me. It stayed pretty slow-paced throughout and I wasn’t able to get as invested as I wanted to be in the characters. This will be an interesting book club discussion and I’m curious to see what people think when we meet next week.

Reading Next: I’m not optimistic about starting it soon, but I still have The Running Man by Richard Bachman (aka Stephen King) waiting in the wings. I really hope I can start it before my vacation abroad, but we’ll see how it plays out.


Leave a comment with your link and comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!