My Favorite Books

The Walking Drum
Ender's Game
Dune
Jhereg
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
The Curse of Chalion
The Name of the Wind
Chronicles of the Black Company
The Faded Sun Trilogy
The Tar-Aiym Krang

Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Review: I Call Him HIM

I Call Him HIM I Call Him HIM by Scott W. Kimak
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

Sadly, it is very hard to find quality “Christian” fantasy stories … with many, like this one, focused on imagining the dystopian world of the “Tribulation” coming with the Eschaton (End of the World), they all seem to eschew any true world building and character development in favor of streams of descriptions (info dumps) that overly emphasizes the Mary Sue/Gary Stu nature of the hero with the requisite deus ex machina plot points and the unredeemable evil of the “ultimate” antagonist … complete with a appalling voyeuristic telling of how said evil manifests in the world (presumably for shock value … though frequently it’s gratuitous).  

This book fits neatly into that apocalyptic style … with the added detraction of what appears to be a freshman debut of the writer’s craft.  Conceptually it was pretty interesting, but there is little to no nuance in this extremely derivative story (so many tropes so little time) … and pretty much everything is obvious or otherwise predictable.  While there is a hero … the hero’s journey is nearly unrecognizable and flat.  Character interactions were nearly cartoonish in their simplicity and the humor overly crude … and the POV disciple was almost non-existent (switching between 1st person to various 3rd persons).  The “Big Guy,” aka HIM, apparently doesn’t speak (vow of silence?  to make him darkly mysterious?), so the author adds a narrator and sex crazed “Bill” to provide the needed dialog … until HIM speaks for some unidentified reason (sort of … so not an actual vow?  just being a jerk?) … 

Seriously … this book needs a few trigger warnings (and maybe some bleach).  Also Physics (or pretty much any realism) was apparently only a suggestion (possibly the result of lazy research which seems undermine a significant portion of the book).  Finally, without any connection to the protagonists (I actively disliked them), it was extremely hard not to feel disappointed at the missed opportunity (the flap copy was the best part).  I wanted to like this story … I just couldn’t (almost a dnf).

Unfortunately … where good narration can sometimes improve a marginal story, the narration here had the opposite effect for me.  The cadence and enunciation were so extremely discordant that it gave the whole work an unnatural and amateurish feel that emphasized the shortcomings of the story itself.

I was given this free advance listener copy (ALC) audiobook at my request and have voluntarily left this review.

#ICallHimHim  #FreeAudiobooks

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Sunday, November 27, 2022

Review: Untrustworthy: The Knowledge Crisis Breaking Our Brains, Polluting Our Politics, and Corrupting Christian Community

Untrustworthy: The Knowledge Crisis Breaking Our Brains, Polluting Our Politics, and Corrupting Christian Community Untrustworthy: The Knowledge Crisis Breaking Our Brains, Polluting Our Politics, and Corrupting Christian Community by Bonnie Kristian
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

In the past decade or so, I have encountered a veritable avalanche of questionable assertions based upon dubious facts (if any) obviously designed to manipulate their target audience. It seems as if people are more gullible than ever and this book tries to identify why we are apparently unable to separate fact from fiction. In fact … given the proliferation of slanted news “opinion” and poorly researched news “entertainment” re-enforced by misleading news “memes” … how to we know what is true and what is not.

The author tries to explain what the problem actually is, how we got here and what we should do about it … the later from a decided Christian perspective … and while I am generally in agreement on pretty much everything she says, I am not as optimistic. Yes … forwarding that “political” meme on facebook designed to falsely enflame the heart against your opponent is decided unchristian and we have an obligation to avoid such evil gossip … but that doesn’t seem to be much of an impediment for many American Christians (including members of my own family who, when forced to acknowledge what they are forwarding/saying was untrue, simply respond by saying they didn’t really mean it … and they just like to stir the pot … before doing the exact same thing again). Unfortunately I typically respond just like the author … with verified sources and debate trying to get them to recognize the error of their ways come back to reason and logic and fairness and christian love. It has taken me awhile to get there, but ultimately I did … you can’t win that argument … so just don’t engage. It is a hard lesson to be sure.

So how did we get to a place where alternative facts and relative truth are the norm? From the constant attribution of ‘fake news” to anything we don’t like to the tribal identity politics that denies any authority to dissenting voices … the media seems like the obvious place to start … and “There is something off here, but it’s generally not intentional, ideologically motivated inaccuracy, as so many American fear.” The optimism here is cute. I used to think this too; but, the battle lines now have been drawn and information is the weapon of choice in this war. While profit is still important, power is the real goal … significantly more than entertainment and speed. Profit here is easy when you have the ability to so easily manipulate your partisans with fear and anger (and Entertainment generally plays on a different set of emotions … or includes such more often than not). How we got here might be chalked up to profit and entertainment initially … but we are well beyond that now.

Regardless … while biased news is not really a recent phenomena, the ability of these news outlets to so easily manipulate their audience is (at least for Americans). They are simply taking advantage of the cracks in our society and the author does a very good job at identifying what these are (and even offers advice on how we, as christians, should respond). Ultimately the author provides a few healthy habits and some welcome advice by which we might be able to stem the tide of this “epistemic crisis” by our example … and maybe bring a few of our friends and family back from the brink … I mean, it has got to be better than simply walking away from them right?

I was given this free advance review copy (ARC) ebook at my request and have voluntarily left this review.

#Untrustworthy #NetGalley

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Thursday, November 24, 2022

Review: A History of War: From Ancient Warfare to the Global Conflicts of the 21st Century

A History of War: From Ancient Warfare to the Global Conflicts of the 21st Century A History of War: From Ancient Warfare to the Global Conflicts of the 21st Century by Chris McNab
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This was a hugely ambitious effort to summarize the History of War in under 233 pages … that is some 5 thousand years of perhaps the most prominent human activity since we came together in communities to control the natural resources around us. As might be expected, it is frequently overly general in its treatment for many of the pivotal moments in history. That would not have been as much of a problem, except the work also suffers from a confusing organization of what facts are actually presented that the principle question was often left unanswered … and how did this specific fact alter our world (or as the blurb states how did these conflict periodically reshape history). In nearly every battle, we see some combination of foot soldiers, mobile warriors and ranged combatants … but we don’t often see how these actually evolved. 

There is some discussion of a few formations … but there is not so much an explanation of of how one formation had an advantage over another formation and how the weapons and technology influenced that effectiveness. Finally … the early history did not appears to be as well researched as I had expected … example: the claim that Scythian horse archers could hit a SINGLE target from horseback at a gallop is not supported in any of my historical sources outside of myth and legend. Instead, they were known for showing [as a group] “clouds” of arrows back toward their opponents while riding away (which was awesomely effective and very dangerous in its own right without need of exaggeration). There are fewer of these issues as we move more into modern history, so perhaps there is where the author’s specialty is and perhaps that is why the early treatment of war history (in the first half of the book) was not as solid I as wanted … since the modern history from the 19th century on was much better. Over all, I just didn’t get what I wanted to out of this book.

I was given this free advance review copy (ARC) ebook at my request and have voluntarily left this review.

#AHistoryOfWar #NetGalley.

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Tuesday, November 22, 2022

Review: City of Keys

City of Keys City of Keys by Kat Ross
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Previous Review of City of Storms 
Previous Review of City of Wolves 

This is the third installment of a four (4) book series that moves the story to the City of Nantwich (Emblem of Crossed Keys) … after a very slow start with Malach in the Land of Witches that didn’t really do much for me (although I was pleased to see an Arc of Redemption start to play out for him).  Once we actually get to Nantwich things start to pick up once again … and for the first time we get an undeniable big bad as the powerful nightmage Balaur (revealed in the previous book) gathers his forces under the Banner of the Black Sun to return to power … now that the Void is gone and the Ley restored to the nightmage cities (with secrets and betrayals throughout).  The previous Cold War is now very Hot … perhaps enough to even pull in the mysterious witches.

There is less world building here (still some with the Witch Realm) and once the action gets going, that pulls you through the story quickly as the focus seems to shift to more character building (especially Malach and Nikola); although we do see a few hints as to how the current world came to be and a vague reference to a bound or sleeping dragon.  What I continue to find interesting are the flawed heroes that rise to the occasion to [mostly] carry the day.  The magic system of Marks, Alchemy, Cartomancy,  Lithomancy (Witches) gain a little more definition, but still manage to avoid becoming so over the top that it derails the plot (and I continued to enjoy that as well).  What really drives this part of the series though is the political intrigue that still manages delivers surprises that place ur heroes in a variety of difficult situations.  Although the bloom is off the rose, this is still a fanatic series and this book will join the others on my favorites shelf … looking forward to the conclusion in the City of Dawn (as the story moves to the southern desert).

I was given this free advance review copy (ARC) ebook at my request and have voluntarily left this review.

#CityOfKeys #BookSirens

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Sunday, November 20, 2022

Review: The Road Away from God: How Love Finds Us Even as We Walk Away

The Road Away from God: How Love Finds Us Even as We Walk Away The Road Away from God: How Love Finds Us Even as We Walk Away by Jonathan Martin
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Every now and then, if you are lucky, you will have an encounter that resonates with your soul and you weep for the beauty now revealed.

Reading this book was one of those encounters for me, and I was totally not expecting that. To begin with, I didn't pick up the book for myself, I picked up the book because I wanted to be able to reach the “unchurched” who no longer feel that my Church is a spiritually safe home … and this book is absolutely aimed at those people, but the advice here was not the answer I was searching for. Ultimately this reimagining of the “Road to Emmaus” story in Luke re-affirms the idea that regardless of the reason they left and whatever road they are on, they are right where they are supposed to be. Sometimes that is hard to take when you are the one left behind … and that is where this book hit me.

I have never really had a “crisis of faith” that would set me adrift to wander the “Godforsaken Road” to Emmaus. In fact, I come from a family with generations of preachers, teachers and missionaries that helped create a rock solid faith foundation. And while I have changed church traditions, I never really considered myself as the target audience … because when all is said and done … I stayed. In fact, by seeking ordination, you could say that I even doubled down on the place so many now find it impossible to stay in. Imagine my surprise when one of the vignettes profiles a woman that “has not walked away from her faith, but she has had to walk away from some of the spaces that once seemed to nature it.” <— Yeah … that is me looking back from the mirror. What is more … I found the pain and grief that many of my friends and family have also encountered in the Church that prompted them to “walk away.” Until now … I had always felt it was my mission to help bring them back when perhaps it would have been better to walk with them on the their Road to Emmaus instead. In short … I have a new perspective on dealing with the “people in the margins” where we can find the true Christ.

However, if you have trouble seeing these “people in the margins” and understanding their pain … this book is not for you. In the very first chapter, under the subheading of “What Sent You on the Road?” Martin introduces to a woman just coming to terms with her experience of sexual assault when the preacher decides to makes an impassioned defense of then Brett Kavanaugh along the lines of dismissing any concerns under the idea that the righteous are often falsely accused … if you are a partisan on either side, you have likely already formed your opinion about the author’s political views at this point … and you would have completely missed the point the author was trying to make. There is no opinion and condemnation of Kavanaugh here … instead you find a woman who feels that her own experiences, that color her world view, are irrelevant and were callously discarded by a pastor who job it was to minister to the broken. In other words, we the Church failed! Instead of answering Christ’s call to Love, we forced people to pick a side … so regardless if you have left to wander your own road (or if like me you have stayed despite the flaws), “Just keep on following the voice of Love. Don’t let the louder voices into your head. Don’t give in to the panic. Don’t let anybody else establish the terms.” You are exactly where you are supposed to be.

Chapter 1. The Road Called Godforsaken

Chapter 2. God on the Road Away from God

Chapter 3. When the Story Gets Too Small

Chapter 4. Your Pain in Real

Chapter 5. It’s Good to Be a Fan

Chapter 6. The Moment of Recognition

Chapter 7. People of the Burning Heart

Chapter 8. The Way Home

Chapter 9. What Had Happened on the Road


I was given this free advance review copy (ARC) ebook at my request and have voluntarily left this review.

#TheRoadAwayFromGod #NetGalley.

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Thursday, November 17, 2022

Review: Stoicism Collection: Meditations, On the Shortness of Life, and Enchiridion

Stoicism Collection: Meditations, On the Shortness of Life, and Enchiridion Stoicism Collection: Meditations, On the Shortness of Life, and Enchiridion by Marcus Aurelius
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Recognizing that these are reconstructed classics, there really isn’t much to critique outside of organization/structure and delivery … with the primary compliant being the rather useless chapter designations.  Next would be production quality … for which there are occasions of skips, repeats and other errors that should have been caught with a good editorial process.  The work opens with an Introduction (Chapter 2) to the Meditations of Marcus Aurelius (Chapter 3-14) and a comparison of Stoicism and Christianity … (specifically Meditations vs Imitation of Christ) … using Ye Fancy Olde English Thees and Thous (which comes across as an irritating affectation) although is probably a factor of the translation used (Project Gutenberg 17th century).  Still, it was a good summary of the basics of Stoic Philosophy.  Each book barely has any topical organization, being more a collection of personal musings (think personal diary).  Next up is the essay on the Shortness of Life by Seneca … with each chapter representing a very short paragraph (why can’t these all be in one chapter).  The most interesting to me was the “Handbook” … a collection of maxims and precepts in 52/3 chapters spread across 4 sections.


Chapter 01-15: Meditations by Marcus Aurelius (12 Books about 25 mins ea)


Chapter 16-37: On the Shortness of Life by Seneca (20 Chapters)


Chapter 38-90: Enchiridion [Handbook] by Epictetus (53 Chapters)

  • Chapters 39/1–59/21. What is up to us and not, and how to deal with external things
1–2. What is up to us and not, and the consequences of choosing either.
3–14. How to deal with external things (reining the reader in from them)
15–21. How to use external things correctly and without disturbance.
  • Chapters 60/22–66/28. Advice for intermediate students.
22–25. The problems faced by intermediate students.
26–28. Miscellania: the common conceptions, badness, and shame.
  • Chapter 67/29  Discourse on Training
  • Chapters 68/30–85/47. Technical advice for the discovery of appropriate actions (kath─ôkonta).
30–33. Appropriate actions towards (a) other people, (b) God, (c) divination, (d) one's own self.
34–47. Miscellaneous precepts on justice (right actions).
  • Chapters 86/48–90/52. Conclusions on the practice of precepts.
48. Final advice and his division of types of people.
49–52. The practice of precepts.


I was given this free advance listener copy (ALC) audiobook at my request and have voluntarily left this review.


#StoicismCollection  #AudibookFree 


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Tuesday, November 15, 2022

Review: Raine of Fire

Raine of Fire Raine of Fire by Susan Stradiotto
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

As promised … an urban fantasy about a crime fighting duo with echos of the TV show “Castle” (and elements of “Lucifer” and a few from the Dresden files such as tech issues).  It comes across a bit “pulpy” at times and the humor can be a bit forced, but over all, it was an enjoyable read (for somebody who is a fan of all of the previously mentioned inspirations).  There are a few surprises as they investigate an apparent open and shut case of murder that seems a bit too pat … So a mischievous fairy “nudges” the hard as nails lady detective to dig a little deeper and finds that a few things just don’t add up … with the case AND with her meddling Samaritan whose knows more than he should ... because he can’t admit that he is actually a creature of magic when there is an entire Police Dept dedicated to hunted down his “kind.”  That makes this a fast/light read without a lot of depth … which is why it was more fun that I expected … so I may pick up the sequel to see where it goes from here.

I was given this free advance review copy (ARC) ebook at my request and have voluntarily left this review.

#RaineOfFire #BookSirens.

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Sunday, November 13, 2022

Review: Interpreting Your World: Five Lenses for Engaging Theology and Culture

Interpreting Your World: Five Lenses for Engaging Theology and Culture Interpreting Your World: Five Lenses for Engaging Theology and Culture by Justin Ariel Bailey
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Man is a social animal where we divide ourselves into groups or communities that are typically determined by something we call “culture.” In fact, culture plays an outsized role in determining our identity, purpose and “tribe.” Some philosophers argue that the very nature of self can only develop within and without other people … for it is be such comparisons and contrasts that we find out what makes us different and what makes us the same (e.g. the boundaries of self and the collective and of the other). Culture is such a ubiquitous part of our psychology that it is actually difficult to define it distinctly … so it is more of a recognition when you see it (a sort of this are my people and these are not division of the world) … Much like the author, I find that I “gravitate to spaces in which I am comfortable, where I know what will be asked of me, spaces where I have some measure of power, influence , and control.” And yet, isolation is Not the Call of the Christian.  So while I bring my own culture into the world, conflict is inevitable when I encounter other cultures … some markedly different than my own. How should I “interpret” and “differentiate” myself unless I can understand how culture drives my own motivations and that of others?

This book gives us 5 “lenses” by which we can better understand what culture is and how it works in our communities and weaves that into the generally call by Christ to love [our enemies] and what that means. Each lens highlights an aspect of culture that should ultimately be viewed together as a whole. Each lens is introduced with a bit of an explanation of why that particular metaphor works (for example … Jonathan Haidt is used to introduce a Moral Foundations Theory that explores sin (6) [paired] innate moral intuitions and the tension within each pair in terms of resonance and resistance). Also within each, the author proposed several theological threads exploring the intersection of culture and theology (the point of the book). The sections each end was a series of questions to reflect on or discuss. Over all, this was an quick and easy read without any of the “big” words or ideas often found within a theology piece, so I would recommend that book for any inquirer interested in a culture and how such interacts with [christian] theology (in both directions).

Introduction: Is There Anything to Say?

1. The Meaning Dimension: Culture as Immune System
2. The Power Dimension: Culture as Power Play
3. The Ethical Dimension: Culture as Moral Boundary
4. The Religious Dimension: Culture as Sacred Experience
5. The Aesthetic Dimension: Culture as Poetic Project

Conclusion: The Lived Dimension

I was given this free advance review copy (ARC) ebook at my request and have voluntarily left this review.

#InterpretingYourWorld #NetGalley.

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Thursday, November 10, 2022

Review: Echo: The Curse of the Blackwood Witches

Echo: The Curse of the Blackwood Witches Echo: The Curse of the Blackwood Witches by Yasmine Maher
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

An urban fantasy with the chosen one trope.  While it was a fairly easy read and it comes with the “feel good” ending I was looking for, it took a few strange mind bender trips toward the end that didn’t quite work for me.  This was not helped by the tendency to use flashbacks as info dumps (a lot of which could have gone into a prologue).  Then stir in a healthy dose of time travel hijynx and it seems like we get a bit of "try everything and hope somethings works" approach to the story.  Add this to a general feel of a simple writing style typical of YA fantasy,  and the narrative comes across as pretty mechanical.  The magic system of connecting with souls to "grimoires" was actually kind of interesting, as was the elemental divisions of magic (into 8).  

All that said … I did still enjoy it as something I didn’t have to think much about (so a solid beach read or airport/travel pastime) and it kept me engaged enough to rock through it fairly quickly and the author avoided any big mistakes that would have been hard to ignore … so I might pick up the next one if I am in the right mood.

I was given this free advance review copy (ARC) ebook at my request and have voluntarily left this review.

#Echo #BookSirens.

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Tuesday, November 8, 2022

Review: The Secret of Chimneys

The Secret of Chimneys The Secret of Chimneys by Agatha Christie
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Okay ... 

1) I love mysteries stories (+1) and Agatha Christie writes some of the best classics in the genre (+1) where all the characters are interesting and intelligent (+1)
 
2) The performance is one of the best I have encountered (+1) ... making this book a 7 out of 5

Over the course of 8+ hrs you are treated to an evolving mystery that will keep you fully engaged and constantly guessing about what is really going on all the way to the end with an mysterious crime boss vs scotland yard and a dashing hero that nobody really knows ... it's a fun ride!

I was given this free advance listener copy (ALC) audiobook at my request and have voluntarily left this review.

#TheSecretOfChimneys #AudibookFree           

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Sunday, November 6, 2022

Review: A Christian Theology of Science: Reimagining a Theological Vision of Natural Knowledge

A Christian Theology of Science: Reimagining a Theological Vision of Natural Knowledge A Christian Theology of Science: Reimagining a Theological Vision of Natural Knowledge by Paul Tyson
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I am an Engineer (aka Man of Science). I am also a practicing Christian (aka Man of Faith) … so I was intensely interested in this ambitious attempt to integrate the two (where I have traditionally seen the two in completely different domains of knowledge). Unfortunately … I am NOT a Philosopher (ergo I eschew sesquipedalianism) … and that makes this book a struggle. The nearly complete lack of simple and/or common language in the treatment of this topic makes it primarily accessible to academics (and probably a small subset of those). This alone makes it difficult to recommend the book.

But wait … there's more. Unless I have totally missed the principle argument here, the author is basically complaining that our society places more emphasis on science to understand our world than theology/philosophy … without coming straight out as a fundamentalist fanatic that denies the benefits and efficacy of science. Any time there is a confirmed advantage to a scientific approach, the author seems compelled to call out just how dangerous this is as well … without ANY specific examples of how or why that would be true.  It just is ‘cause.  And that is not likely to convince anybody of anything. Even outside of the prodigious use of fancy allegories, I found no clear answers to any of the questions posed … especially the big one asking if science and theology are even compatible.

In fact … the author specifically condemns my own approach that limits the application of science to those questions that lend themselves to the scientific method (aka reductionism and patterns) and theology to those questions that deal with existential meaning and “first order truths” (truth is another term thrown around so much that I started hearing the meme from A Few Good Man in my head saying “You can’t handle the Truth”). Obviously science has no purview in adjudicating the ultimate meaning of life or even one-off miracles that have few analogs in the natural world. Asking it to do so and then claiming science is somehow flawed is simply sophistry.

Introduction

1. Starting Definitions of Christian Theology
1.1 What is Christian Theology?
1.2 What is Science?
1.3 Prescriptive Theology and Science
1.4 Christian Theology and Science?

2. Viewing Christian Theology through the Truth Lens of Science
2.1 Empiricism and Christian Theology
2.2 Rationalism and Christian Theology
2.3 Physical Reductionism and Christian Theology
2.4 Are Modern Science and Christian Theology Incompatible?

3. Christian Theology as a First Truth Discourse
3.1 Secularization and Interpretation
3.2 The Primary Interpretive Commitments of Christian Theology
3.2.1 God
3.2.1 God as the Source of All Created Essence and Existence
3.3 Theocentric Foundations versus Egocentric Foundations

4. Viewing Science through the Truth Lens of Christian Theology
4.1 Christian Theology and Empiricism
4.2 Christian Theology and Rationalism
4.3 Christian Theology and Physical Reductionism
4.3.1 Nominalism and Physical Reductionism
4.3.2 Voluntarism and Physical Reductionism
4.3.3 Pure Matter and Physical Reductionism
4.4 Physical Reductionism Is a Useful and Dangerous Abstraction

5. The Remarkable Reversal - Revisiting History
5.1 Modern Scientific Historiography and Christian Theology
5.2 The Social Sciences and Christian Theology
5.3 “Science and Religion” and Christian Theology after the 1870s
5.3.1 Functional Demarcation
5.3.2 Autonomous Overlap
5.3.3 Integration
5.4 The Unremarkable Remarkable Reversal

6. Thinking “After” Science but Not “After” Christian Theology
6.1 “After” Science
6..2 No “After” Christian Theology

7. Rediscovering Christian Theological Epistemology
7.1 The Fall, the Foundations of Science, and Two Theological Anthropology Trajectories
7.2 In Nature Knowable?
7.3 Can Fallen Humanity Know Nature?
7.4 Complexity Issues regarding Natural Light and Divine Light
7.6 An Integrative Zone for “Science and Religion” Today?
7.7 Ockham’s Pincer
7.8 Christian Theologian Epistemology and Post-Victorian Science

8. Myth and History - the Fall and Science
8.1 Myth and History in Christian Theology
8.2 Eternity and Time
8.3 Myth Defines Norms
8.4 The Myth of Secular Progress Falters
8.5 Ricoeur on the Four Basic Mythic Archetypes
8.5.1 The Mythos of Original Violence
8.5.2 The Fall Mythos
8.5.3 The Tragic Mythos
8.5.4 The Mythos of Exile
8.6 Ricoeur on Myth, Time, and Power
8.7 What Stands and Falls with the Edenic Fall?
8.8. On Finding What You Are Looking for - the “Myth” of Epistemic Neutrality
8.9 Eden and the Shibboleth Dynamic
8.10 Myth and History - Adam and the Fall
8.11 Myth and Christian Theological Epistemology

9. Recovering an Integrative Zone
9.1 The “Myth” of the Autonomy of Science from Theology
9.2 Obstacles to Recovering the Integration of Knowledge and Understanding
9.3 Christian Theology’s Need for an Integrative Zone for Knowledge and Understanding
9.4 Rejecting the Sublimation of Understanding into Knowledge
9.5 Obstacles to Integrating Christian Theological Understanding with Scientific Knowledge
9.6 What a Working Integrative Zone for Christian Theology and Modern Science Might Look Like
9.7 A Confident and Uncomfortable Stance

Epilogue

I was given this free advance review copy (ARC) ebook at my request and have voluntarily left this review.

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Thursday, November 3, 2022

Review: The Immortality Thief

The Immortality Thief The Immortality Thief by Taran Hunt
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The “back cover blurb” sets up the story nicely. Three (3) factions converge on an ancient, disabled ship recently rediscovered and thought to have the secret to immortality. Unfortunately, each needs this information in order to survive … and there can be only one … and they already hate each other … and the long dead author of this information doesn’t want this "evil" to get back out into the wild.

What follows is basically a story of redemption between these groups along the lines of an “Enemy Mine” type story where some members of each must temporarily call a truce to team up against the horrors between them and the ultimate goal. It was a well told story, with the only critique I had being the tendency of every encountered being a similar “We are going to die” style combat that gets a tad old over the 600+ pages … on the upside, that was not enough for me to put the book down very often (as I read through in only two sittings). That is actually a strong endorsement of the book (high recommended).

I was given this free advance review copy (ARC) ebook at my request and have voluntarily left this review.

#TheImmortalityThief #NetGalley.

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Tuesday, November 1, 2022

Review: ILLBORN

ILLBORN ILLBORN by Daniel T. Jackson
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

The concept here was pretty interesting and the back-cover blurb was good enough to hook me. For a debut novel, it was not too bad … but it was not very good either. The opening scene starts with an encounter between a priest/witch hunter and a child with mysterious abilities that apparently are something of a threat to the established church (which is a dead ringer for the Catholic Church with a mashup of inquisition and crusades). What this threat is remains a mystery for the entire story (why are they hunted as heretics) … in fact … I can’t really identify what the main plot conflict actually is, other than 4 POV just trying to survive the world trying to kill them (and we never find out why; although they are apparently linked by a recurring dream that the author felt needed to be repeated nearly word for word ad nauseam). Without an identifiable plot conflict, you can’t really expect any resolution at the end right … which is what you get; a story that just sort of ends with just as many questions as it started with … except all the pieces have been moved on the board a little.

I had a tough time connecting to any of the four (4) main characters … they, just like the supporting characters, seemed pretty one dimensional and interactions too mechanical to make them natural or realistic. In fact, the only one to which I had any interest in was the priestess … just barely. The powers themselves were interesting, but they were revealed rather awkwardly with very little nuance or finesse (and they started to overlap toward the end … which for some reason didn’t seem right). There is potential for a great story in the guts of this story, it just hasn’t been fleshed out very well yet.

I was given this free advance reader copy (ARC) ebook at my request and have voluntarily left this review.

#ILLBORN #NetGalley

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My Ratings Explained ...

  • [ ***** ] Amazing Read - Perfect story, exciting, engrossing, well developed complex characters, solid plot with few to no holes, descriptive environments and place settings, great mystery elements, realistic dialogue, believable reactions and behaviors; a favorite that I can re-read many times.
  • [ **** ] Great Read - Highly entertaining and enjoyable, exciting storyline, well developed characters and settings, a few discrepancies but nothing that can’t be overlooked. Some aspect of the story was new/refreshing to me and/or intriguing. Recommended for everyone.
  • [ *** ] Good Read - Solid story with a 'good' ending, or has some other redeeming feature. Limited character development and/or over reliance on tropes. Noticeable discrepancies in world building and/or dialog/behavior that were distracting. I connected enough with the characters/world to read the entire series. Most of the books I read for fun are here. Recommended for fans of the genre.
  • [ ** ] Okay Read - Suitable for a brief, afternoon escape … flat or shallow characters with little to no development. Over the top character dialog and/or behavior. Poor world building with significant issues and/or mistakes indicating poor research. Excessive use of trivial detail, info dumps and/or pontification. Any issues with the story/characters are offset by some other aspect that I enjoyed. Not very memorable. May only appeal to a niche group of readers. Recommended for some (YMMV).
  • [ * ] Bad Read - Awkward and/or confusing writing style. Poor world building and/or unbelievable (or unlikeable) characters. Victimization, gaslighting, blatant abuse, unnecessary violence, child endangerment, or any other highly objectionable behaviors by Main characters. I didn't connect with the story at all; significant aspects of this story irritated me enough that I struggled to finished it. Series was abandoned. Not recommended.