Saviors, Slayers, and Strong Women

It’s time for WWW Wednesday! In case you haven’t come upon one of these posts in the past, they are just a fun way to look at our current reading experiences.

The three Ws are:

  • What is the last book I read?
  • What book am I currently reading?
  • What do I think I will read next?

What is the last book I read?

The last book I read was Dune: Messiah by Frank Herbert. I have such mixed feelings about this book, especially after reading its predecessor, Dune. I will say I did enjoy this book, just maybe not as much as the first.

It was good, and now that I’m done, I am definitely happy that I read it. It was just so depressing to read though. The fact that Paul is able to read into the future added such a layer of sadness to this story. Not to be dramatic but honestly, I just kind of sat around wanting to cry a lot of the time while I was reading Messiah.

But, on the other hand, the writing! What a fantastic author Frank Herbert is. He has a truly one-of-a-kind method of drawing the reader into the fantastic world that is his imagination.

What book am I currently reading?

What an absolutely strange and wonderful book! Since the start, I have been just a little confused about what is happening. But not the type of confusion that makes me want to give up and quit reading. More like the type of confusion that makes me want to read even more.

I find the main character, along with the rest of the cast, thoroughly enjoyable so far. That isn’t usually the case for me, so I am quite pleasantly surprised. Evelyn gives me the same kind of vibes as Lucy Gray from The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes.

My favorite aspect of this book is its uniqueness. I truly have never read something like it, yet I can’t pinpoint exactly what it is that is so different. This is definitely a book that I will be writing a review on. I already have so much to say, and I’ve hardly begun!

My birthday was last week and among the lovely gifts I was given was Candace Owens’ new book! Like almost every other bookworm, I have a TBR list longer than I am tall, so I have quite a few other books I had planned on reading before starting this.

However, I’m super excited to begin Blackout as soon as possible. Candace is one of the few political commentators I have followed on social media for years, and I find pretty much everything she has to say fascinating. She’s such a strong, intelligent woman!

So, I have to apologize to the rest of my to-be-reads, because Candace just shoved them all aside. I can’t wait to get started and see what I think of this!

What book(s) are you currently reading?

Does Dune Live Up to the Hype?

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

I hate to begin a review by revealing my indecision but here we are. This book is a solid four-and-a-half stars for me. I’ve had the hardest time trying to decide which rating I want to give to this story, but we’ll leave it at four-and-a-half for now in favor of being decisive.

So what did this book do right? So, so much.

  • Dynamic characters

Where to begin? I love the characters of Dune from the bottom of my heart. First there is Paul Atreides, the main character. I typically don’t care for main characters, as they tend to all mesh into the same strong and mighty category, but he is an exception. What’s even rarer for me is to like a main character who is only fifteen for the majority of the story. Yet he is written in such a lovable way I can’t help but sympathize with him and his otherworldly problems.

His mother, Jessica, is also high up on the list of characters I like. Again, it isn’t common for me to love the main “strong female character,” as they typically end up being carbon copies of one another. Jessica, however, is nothing like what I’ve seen before. She is a complex, multifaceted character that can’t possibly be described in just one way or another. She constantly surprised me, and my love for her never waned throughout the story.

As anyone who knows anything about me already has guessed, I couldn’t make a list of my favorite Dune characters without Gurney Halleck: the man to end all other men, the Dune universe love of my life. What can I say? He plays music at random, sometimes inappropriate times throughout the book. He quotes the Bible. He knows how to expertly wield a knife. What is there not to love? Nothing. There is nothing not to love.

  • Compelling story

I genuinely cared what happened, and that’s saying something. What I like most about the story is its constant movement. It isn’t a stagnant plot that leaves me wanting to skim the rest of the book. It keeps moving. There’s plenty of action.

We transition from place to place and character to character, meaning that even if one particular part starts to get a little boring, chances are you’ll be moving on to a more interesting scenario in just a few pages.

  • Point of view

Third person omniscient usually isn’t my favorite point of view from which to read. When the narrator can look into everyone’s thoughts and speak about them all in turn, I typically find that I’m trying to process too much information at once. Oddly, though, I felt it was perfect for this book. I didn’t feel confused but, rather, more connected to each of the characters.

In books with a smaller cast, where just a few characters spend a lot of time together, I find it more beneficial to have learn just one person’s thoughts, either through first person or third person limited. The character whose perspective is used can typically tell who is feeling what, rendering it unnecessary to know everyone’s thoughts.

Fortunately, Dune is not one of those short-character-list books. It has a rather gigantic number of characters the readers needs to pay careful attention to. That makes it perfect for third person omniscient, as it allowed me to learn about each of the important characters through their own thoughts. It also worked to heighten the suspense: having multiple characters feel vaguely guilty will obviously make me want to read more!

So, does Dune live up to the hype? In my opinion, absolutely!

If you’re a fan of fantasy, science fiction themes, action-packed storylines, and complex characters, this is, indeed, the story for you.

Seeing as I just finished its sequel, Dune Messiah, be sure to look out for my review on that one very soon as well!

The Right Side of History: How Reason and Moral Purpose Made the West Great by Ben Shapiro

Rating: 4 out of 5.

If you’re a fan of Western philosophy and religion, boy have I got the book for you! I can honestly say I’ve never read a book that gave me so much to think about in such a succinct manner.

I should begin by telling you I am not a fan of nonfiction books. As in, I actively avoid them at all costs.

As to my reason for picking out this book, I cannot tell you. I guess I’ve been stuck in a bit of a reading rut, going over the same sorts of topics and feeling a little disappointed. Maybe even a little bored.

So I thought, why not spice up my life with a little Ben Shapiro?

And spicy it was, indeed.

I’m not going to review this book in terms of what I do and don’t agree with, as that would only take into account my preexisting feelings and beliefs and none of the writing. That sort of takes away from this kind of review, don’t you think?

So, throwing my personal beliefs out the window for the moment, I want to say that this was just plain a fantastic book!

I could tell right off the bat Shapiro did his research. He cites everything from modern research, to historical documents, to the Bible and the Torah. And he uses them exceedingly well in his argument about the importance of the values of Western civilization that we have lost in modern times.

This book was published last year, making its information extremely relevant to our lives today, maybe even more so than it would have been just one year ago.

My only complaint is that some of the descriptions got lengthy, as in I got a little sleepy. But everything he said had a purpose to it, so I can forgive the slower parts.

“America is struggling right now in a lot of ways. But its largest struggle is the struggle for our national soul. We are so angry at each other right now. That anger is palpable. Where did it come from? It came from the destruction of a common vision.”

— Ben Shapiro

I mean, woah!

Shapiro argues that the West is falling apart because we have lost our common vision, and that is to live under God and worship God, acting in accordance with His will.

While I was aware that Western civilization is not nearly as religious as it used to be, I didn’t exactly consider that might be the root of our problems.

One of the other aspects of this book—besides than the mindblowing revelations about religion and philosophical thought—that I love most is that Shapiro writes simply, but with great purpose.

No sentence is merely a glob of words. It’s a meaningfully constructed entity that makes me look at the world through a new lens. Not on political issues, as I already know where I stand, but on life as a whole. That’s the beauty of a book written about philosophy and religion, even if it is penned by a political figure. It focuses on something greater than our lives right here and right now.

“My father is fond of saying that in life, there aren’t six directions (east, west, north, south, up, and down). There are just two: forward and backward. Are we moving toward something or away from it?”

— Ben Shapiro

This might be one of my favorite quotes of all, because it can mean so many things in so many different contexts.

Think about it: isn’t the whole point of life to move forward, toward something?

I love that thought, though I might not have the slightest idea what that final destination is that I am working my way toward. But what better way is there to live than to look at oneself, one’s actions, one’s beliefs, and ask: am I moving forward?

From a community standpoint, it’s also interesting to think about where society is moving. What are we headed toward in the future? Is it wiser to look to the past for advice, paying careful attention to what has previously been proven successful in western countries, and what shaped us? Or do we disregard where we came from and look in another direction entirely?

“If we fight alongside one another rather than against one another, we are stronger.”

— Ben Shapiro

I tried to find the perfect quote to wrap up this review and, sure enough, there it was!

Can we all agree on this one point? I hope we can all agree on this one point.

Individuality is wonderful. Believe me, I am the biggest proponent of individuality, the poster child of being a loner and doing what I want.

But Shapiro is absolutely right that we are stronger united.

Whether we band together under religion, beliefs, interests, or simply under the fact that we are all human beings, we are stronger together.