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

Sunday, December 31, 2023

Review: Paul and Time: Life in the Temporality of Christ

Paul and Time: Life in the Temporality of Christ Paul and Time: Life in the Temporality of Christ by L. Ann Jervis
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This work opens with a lengthy introduction that gives us a foundation with which to start thinking about time. This is important, because most of us don’t really think too deeply about time … it is simply something that passes in which events happen whereby those events become fixed or permanent. We approach eternity much like to approach infinity in mathematics, by adding more to the dimension we call time (in either direction). Classical though where eternity is outside of temporality and is unchanging and unmoving (Plato). Next up is a survey and comparison of current (and perhaps competing) viewpoints that government interpretation through an historical/salvific or an apocalyptic lens. I found the idea that the apocalyptic interpretation sees the eternal God “invading” history (time) to be an interesting perspective. Chapter three (3) introduces the idea that there is an overlap between the current (and dying) age and the age to come … an idea that I had not previously found in my current studies, but is none the less a good talking point for evaluating how early Christians responded to the fact that believers were dying before the second coming of Christ … and which the author specifically rejects. It is in chapter four (4) that we finally see the paradigm shift that the author wants us to consider, breaking time in the “death-time” and “life-time” with the rest of the book dedicated to explaining what that even means.

The rest of the book is a bit tricky and can be hard to understand, which is why so much effort went into the previous chapters to enable the reader to at least grasp the basics. While I think I understood the concept, I still struggled a little with understanding how this all changed or otherwise impacted how the salvation offered by Christ works … leaving me with an over all feeling that this was more of an academic exercise. It was very interesting, but I will need to think on it a lot more before I have a good handle on it.

The chapters and sections in this work are:

Introduction: Thinking About Time

1. Paul’s Conception of Time in Salvation Historical Perspective
2. Paul’s Conception of Time in Apocalyptic Perspective
3. Time in Christ - Not in the Overlap of Ages
4. Christ Lives Time
5. The Nature of the Exalted Christ’s Time
6. The Future of the Exalted Christ’s Time
7. Union with Christ and Time
8. Life in Christ’s Time: Suffering, Physical Death, and Sin

Conclusion
Bibliography
Name Index
Scripture and Ancient Writings Index

Some of the other points that really got my attention are:
Interestingly, despite their differences, both salvation historical and apocalyptic readings rely on a common conviction that Paul inherited a two-age framework, which he had to modify in order to make sense of the fact that Christ was resurrected but the faithful were not. Paul fit Christ’s resurrection into his inherited schema by reworking his inherited framework: the two ages are not sequential but rather, because of Christ, now overlap.
Augustine articulates this experience: “There are three times, a present of past things, a present of present things, and a present of future things. Some such different times do exist in the mind, but nowhere else that I can see. The present of past things is the memory; the present of present things is direct perception; and the present of future things is expectation.”
Time that ends has a different quality from time that does not. Time that ends is shaped by its end; time that does not end is shaped by the abundance of ongoingness, which for Paul is the abundance of life. This is not only everlasting duration but everlasting life. Seeking to resonate with Paul, I call the former type of time “death-time” and the latter “life-time.”
Union with Christ means direct access to moments in Christ’s incarnated past: Christ’s death and burial. This is the case not because believers travel to Christ’s past but because Christ’s past is present and can be known in human present tenses.
Admittedly, those joined to Christ do not yet have glorious bodies like Christ’s. This is, however, of no moment to Paul, for that will come (1 Cor. 15:16–19). Believers can know that they are now free of the power of Death (e.g., 2 Cor. 4:10–5:5). Their physical deaths are simply doors to a fuller experience of resurrection life.
Believers suffer, as does the exalted Christ in whom they live, not because they remain partially subject to the present age but because from a situation of liberty they groan along with the unliberated. Believers share Christ’s suffering; like Christ, their suffering is embraced by, even defined by, resurrection and exaltation.
Paul did not think in terms of “already–not yet,” if that moniker signals that believers remain enslaved to Death.544 Paul believes that those united with Christ are, like Christ, now liberated from Death. Those who belong to Christ live life-time in mortal bodies;
Union with Christ is freedom from Sin, but it does not obliterate the capacity for sinning.567 Sin can be compared to a colonizing power, which distorts and disfigures the character and appetites of those it oppresses. In a post-colonial context, when the colonizing power is defeated, the previously enslaved find it challenging to fully claim their free identity
I was given this free advance reader copy (ARC) ebook at my request and have voluntarily left this review.

#PaulAndTime #NetGalley

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Thursday, December 28, 2023

Review: The Caucasus Cauldron

The Caucasus Cauldron The Caucasus Cauldron by James Lingard
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Book: **
Performance: **

An Awkward and Confusing Action/Adventure

This book didn’t work for me. To start, the cadence and emotive performance didn’t seem natural to me, and it exacerbated the uneven prose, awkward dialog (including several internal soliloquies) within a plot that struggles to find traction. The bulk of the story is a contrived hunt for two uninspiring agents (from MI6 and FSB) … and I can’t for the life of me understand why they are working together. So while dodging Georgian and Chechen thugs …. er …. soldiers, the duo stumbles from one encounter to another without rhyme or reason outside of a strange need to add even more gratuitous violence and manufactured outrage to hide the general lack of any finesse (I lost count of how many versions of now you die English that pops up in this story). Unfortunately this was not evident in the short sample I listened to. Nominally they are looking for Sergei (a former British agent now separatist leader). Oh … let’s throw in a dysfunctional mr & mrs smith style romance to stitch together all the action. Honestly, I had a hard time following the story as very little made sense to me.

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

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Sunday, December 24, 2023

Review: Dictionary of the New Testament Use of the Old Testament

Dictionary of the New Testament Use of the Old Testament Dictionary of the New Testament Use of the Old Testament by G.K. Beale
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Written as companion for the “Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament” (CNTUOT), this work takes a more synchronic and holistic approach as it examines links between the Books of the Bible (including how the OT books reference other OT books). As such, this fills a notable dearth of such works at this perspective/level (with most covering language evolution and/or concordance). Each essay may have a different author, so the structure may vary somewhat, but most topics are arranged similarly … for example, most essays on the Books will include an analysis of Composition, Structure and Context. General topics, such a Covenant, will examine OT and then NT usages. Given the extensive length on many of the entries, while organized to facility research, it really is more a collection of biblical essays on a specific topic … such as Abraham, Idolatry, Luke, etc. This makes it great as a companion, but more difficult as a stand alone work despite the depth of many of the essays (several pages in many cases). An index of terms with jump links would help make this even more useful.

Although organized alphabetically (aka dictionary), each entry generally covers one of five (5) distinct themes
1. Surveys of Biblical Books (55)
2. Biblical-theological topical essays (54)
3. Jewish exegetical-traditions essays (25)
4. Inner-biblical exegesis (26)
5. Systemic Theology (5)

Some of the other points that really got my attention are:

In fact, this is what Nicaea and Chalcedon were doing. They were reflecting on Scripture in light of Scripture’s own teaching, so that the church could faithfully confess, defend, and proclaim the God of the Bible as triune and Jesus as the eternal Son made flesh, our only Lord and Savior.
This increase in literacy was the product of the Roman Empire, or at least the product of its administrative needs.
The Garden of Eden Is a Temple in the First Creation
Israel’s Tabernacle in the Wilderness and Later Temple Reestablish the Garden of Eden’s Sanctuary

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

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Thursday, December 21, 2023

Review: A Diplomat of Mars: War in space

A Diplomat of Mars: War in space A Diplomat of Mars: War in space by Stephan Bellesini
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Book: ***
Performance: ****

A Simple [Christian] Space Opera

It’s a space opera, so the normal science rules do not apply (except where convenient). The story really revolves around a few [earth] warships out by Titan and a mysterious girl at the center of a conspiracy that strains credulity … but it’s an opera, so that is ok. In fact, this is really a mash-up with the Christian fantasy genre, and it you judge it strictly on that, it was actually a pretty good story. The good guys are really good and the bad guys are really bad and there are a handful of traitors just in it for the 30 silver. While there is a little preaching here, it is generally not forced and logically fits in the storyline … so kudos for that; however, like many in the genre, there really isn’t a lot of constancy here (or if there was, I missed it). The warships are armed with cannons … which seem to actually be mass projectors (eg. canon balls?) with segregated gun decks (one side for women and one side for men … and not patty fingers if you please, at least without a chaperone. Acceleration and maneuver are done via magic hand waving and comms are instantaneous using EM tech.

Basically think "Master and Commander" in space and you get the feel. Of course the whole watch bells was way off with a bell system that was totally incomprehensible even after it was explained. For the record, in naval terms a watch would generally be 4 hrs with one bell each 30 mins (so 8 bells is the change of watch). A dog watch is designed to sift the watch rotation … and is half a normal watch (you could also go the other way a lengthen the watch (sometimes know as a Swedish watch rotation). Of course the is a limited cast of characters driving these capital ships, so when one character is assigned as the cook for the entire crew, she whips up burgers and fries in a fry pan all by herself … learning how to do this from scratch in a little less than 2 hrs. Refer to rule 1 … it’s a space opera … learn to let go (still working on that myself).

The audio production is actually pretty good … with sound effects and good voice differential. In fact, it is the narration that pulls this book up from a slightly subpar feel good story filled with mary sues into the realm of being a fun, if fairly silly, listen. The background music can get a little over dramatic and annoying at times, but it does help take you mind of the speechifying and moralizing goin’ on (sure … I have a quirky sense of humor and this just tickled it all the time … no sure if that was intentional so YMMV). It was really only a problem during the long stretch where the hero catches up on family emails that droned on so long I almost started skipping sections until it got better. Over all, I enjoyed it enough to round up a star.

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

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Sunday, December 17, 2023

Review: Revelation: (A Paragraph-by-Paragraph Exegetical Evangelical Bible Commentary - BECNT)

Revelation: (A Paragraph-by-Paragraph Exegetical Evangelical Bible Commentary - BECNT) Revelation: (A Paragraph-by-Paragraph Exegetical Evangelical Bible Commentary - BECNT) by Thomas R. Schreiner
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a new addition to the Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament (BECNT) series and will eventually end up replacing Osborne’s 2002 contribution. It weighs in at a hefty 896 pages; although less that Osborne’s commentary of 1536 pages, it still represent approximately 30 pages or so of commentary for each page in the Book of Revelation. By design, this is supposed to be a serious exegesis for “busy” pastors and in general keeps it short enough to accomplish that. Given the extensive amount of symbolism and other literary devices within Revelations, it is not surprising that they can be a lot more that what is covered here, so as expected, there is not a lot of exploration of heterodox positions or interpretations.

There are ten (10) parts that each over a small section of Revelation, with the extensive opening Introduction providing a solid look at the history and perspective of Revelation to give a good context to what follows. Each Part represents a topical transition; although many Bibles may be organized slightly differently (generally combining some of the Parts provided here and using a more general title). At the beginning of each part is a quick recap of the contents with a pointer should where you are in Revelation, followed by a quick summary of the part. Each sub-part does the same before adding the Exegesis and Exposition that walks through each verse/pericope ending with additional notes that has more information on translations aspects. The commentaries are generally clear and fairly detailed with references to others books of the Bible as well as external academic works; a few times I would have likes a more thorough contextual discussion in addition to the more concise interpretive comments and concerns. Finally the author is a self-professed premillennialist, so you also get a couple of Excursus that goes into that idea a little. Over all this is a very solid reference book.

The chapters and sections in this work are:

Introduction to Revelation

Part I - Introduction and Seven Letters (1:1 - 3:22)
A. Prologue
B. Vision of the Son of Man
C. Letters to the Seven Churches

Part II - Visions in the Throne Room (4:1 - 5:14)
A. God as the Holy Creator
B. The Lamb as the Slaughtered and Risen Redeemer

Part III - The Seven Seals (6:1 - 8:5)
A. The First Six Seals
B. Interlude
C. The Seventh Seal and the Seven Trumpets

Part IV - The Seven Trumpets (8:6 - 11:19)
A. The First Four Trumpets: Cosmic Destruction
B. Fifth Trumpet: Demonic Locust Plague
C. Sixth Trumpet: Demonic Cavalry
D. Interlude
E. The Seventh Trumpet: Kingdom Come

Part V - Signs in Heaven and Earth (12:1 - 15:4)
A. The Woman and the Dragon
B. The Beast from the Sea
C. The Beast from the Land
D. The 144,000 on Mount Zion
E. Declarations from the Three Angels
F. Two Harvests
G. Praise of the Conquerors

Part VI - The Seven Bowls from the Sanctuary (15:5 - 16:21)
A. The Seven Plagues from God’s Temple
B. The Seven Bowls

Part VII - The Judgement of Babylon and the Wedding of the Bride (17:1 - 19:10)
A. The Harlot Babylon Destroyed
Excursus: Babylon in the History f Interpretation
B. The Declaration of Two Angels
C. Lamentation over Babylon’s Fall
D. Rejoicing over Babylon’s Fall
E. Rejoicing over the Marriage of the Lamb

Part VIII - The Triumph of God in Christ (19:11 - 20:15)
A. Defeat of the Beast, the False Prophet, and Their Adherents
B. Reigning with Jesus a Thousand Years
Excursus: The Millennium
C. The Last Battle
D. The Last Judgement

Part IX - The New Heavens and New Earth (21:1 - 22:5)
A. Making All Things New
B. The Bride and the Holy City

Epilogue (22:6-21)

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

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Thursday, December 14, 2023

Review: Blood Ties

Blood Ties Blood Ties by L. Waithman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A Great YA Fantasy with Abrupt TBC Ending


Book: ****
Performance: ****

A young boy with a mysterious past is taken in by fighting monks after his father is murdered. This is the first of the series that introduces us to Lucas, the blacksmith’s son with unique abilities that may play a role in a prophecy about two warring kingdoms. Not content to stay in the monastery, young Lucas leaves to join a traveling circus, where his special abilities start to reveal themselves … and he draws the attention of the King. Tragically, the jealousy of another young boy sends Lucas into hiding until a mysterious group of toughs/assassins flushes him out into the open and he is finally accepted into a group of young soldiers known as The Chosen (no spoiler here … the series is called The Kings Chosen so you had to be expecting that right). What follows is another typical YA trope where the leader of the Elite Born takes an instance dislike to Lucas and uses his authority over all the Chosen to make his life difficult … but Lucas manages to survive and gain a solid reputation despite all of that. The writing here is surprisingly tight and well done that, with the aid of a solid narration for each of the characters, makes this one of the better audiobooks in the fantasy genre that I have encountered.

The only reason it failed to get top marks is the abrupt ending … obviously this is a setup for the series; however, it is still a stand alone book and it should have resolved at least one of the plot conflicts … if it does I missed it as it seems to be to simply drop off after a new character states that it is time for Lucas to know who he really is … so tune in at the same bat time on the same bat channel to see the exciting conclusion to who the heck is Lucas. It should say something that regardless of my displeasure at the ending … I will probably pick up the next installment

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

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Sunday, December 10, 2023

Review: Angels and Saints: Who They Are and Why They Matter

Angels and Saints: Who They Are and Why They Matter Angels and Saints: Who They Are and Why They Matter by Elizabeth Klein
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a short (160 pg.) book that is part of an expanding series to provide clarification to the rich traditions found within the Catholic Church. Here we get an overview of what the Church teaches about Angels and Saints is a way that should be interesting to both Catholics and those interested in understanding more about Catholicism.  

The book itself is divided into [the expected] two (2) parts to cover Angels and Saints separately with each very short chapter designed to address a common question (in that respect, this is very much like an FAQ).  Each question provides a basic and easy to follow answer with a few relevant sources, but it really serves as a starting point for anybody who wants a more detailed understanding beyond the casual.  

 you already have a solid understanding of these concepts, there isn’t much here for you … unless you need help simplifying the answers for somebody else just beginning their spiritual journey (so this would be great within the context of teaching the faith).

The chapters and sections in this work are:


Introduction


Part I - Angels

Chapter 1 - What Does the Bible Say about Angels?

Chapter 2 - What Does the Church Teach about Angels?

Chapter 3 - What is a Guardian Angel, and Do I Have One?

Chapter 4 - Do the Angels Participate in the Liturgy?

Chapter 5 - Do the Angles Have Ranks?

Chapter 6 - How Can I Be More Devoted to the Angels?

Chapter 7 - Who Are the Fallen Angels, and Should I Fear Them?


Part II - Saints

Chapter 8 - What Is a Saint, and Am I Becoming One? 

Chapter 9 - What Is the Communion of Saints?

Chapter 10 - What Is Canonization, and Why Does the Church Canonize Certain People?

Chapter 11 - Why Would I Ever Pray to a Saint If I Can Just Pray to God?

Chapter 12 - What Are Relics, and Why Do Catholics Venerate Them?

Chapter 13 - Why Does It Mean to Take a Saint’s Name at Confirmation or to Be Named after a Saint?

Chapter 14 - Why Do Saints Have Feast Days, Why Do They Mean, and How Can I Celebrate Them?


Conclusion


Some of the other points that really got my attention are:

First, the Catechism (§329) speaks about the word “angel” as indicating a job title, not a nature. In other words, “angel” describes what a celestial spirit does, not what it is.

But perhaps the place where it is most obvious that we are joining in the praise of the angels at Mass is when we sing the Sanctus. The word sanctus is Latin for “holy” and refers to the part of the Mass when we sing the song of the seraphim heard by Isaiah.

This understanding of holiness as a doxological category (a category pertaining to glory) explains all of our different articulations of holiness. An object—like a golden chalice used at Mass—is holy because it participates in worship of God insofar as it can as an inanimate thing, and it has been blessed for this purpose. 

He accomplishes this union in the Incarnation, in the Church, and in the Eucharist (we use the phrase “the Body of Christ” to refer to all three of these mysteries).

The word “relic” comes from the Latin word reliqua, and it means something that is left behind. In other words, relics are the remains of the saints (this includes things left behind by Christ himself, such as the relics of the true Cross). Primarily, the word “relic” refers to the body or part of the body of a saint (what is known today as a “first-class relic”), but it can also refer to other remains, such as a saint’s clothing or items that he or she has used (a “second-class relic”). We even recognize what are called “third-class relics”—objects that have been put into contact with a first-class relic.


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


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Thursday, December 7, 2023

Review: Christmas on the Nile: A Sherlock Holmes and Lucy James Mystery

Christmas on the Nile: A Sherlock Holmes and Lucy James Mystery Christmas on the Nile: A Sherlock Holmes and Lucy James Mystery by Anna Elliott
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Book: ***
Performance: ****

The is the finale of the storyline begun in "The Curse of Cleopatra's Needle” and left hanging in "The Coded Blue Envelope.” The fact that it is a continuation of a cliffhanger means this story starts in the hole (not only because I dislike cliffhangers, but because the mid-story start was a tad disorienting). This is now my 12th Lucy James adventure and the two voices on the narration is very enjoyable and pretty much continues to “save” there series. If you are truly looking for a Sherlockian mystery, this series won’t be very satisfying (they seem to be more adventure and international intrigue for most of them). Strangely enough, even though this is a continuation from a previous story, it still takes awhile to get going as it tries to weave two distinct plot lines together … one in England with Flynn, Becky, Jack and Mycroft chasing down plans by the Sons of Ra to throw the government into Chaos (in a rehashed and somewhat unbelievable conspiracy) while Watson, Lucy, Holmes and Zoe prose their new arch nemesis to Egypt to foil a similar plan there. Frankly it seems that the series is a bet long in the tooth now (as it is repeating elements from previous stories now); however, as previously indicated, the narration was good, the characters are fun and the over all story unmemorable if suitable for a quick diversion.

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

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Sunday, December 3, 2023

Review: Let There Be Light-Genesis

Let There Be Light-Genesis Let There Be Light-Genesis by Richard Rinberg
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a commentary (peshat) on the grammar and words found within the Book of Genesis the seeks to understand the some of the more difficult and at times unique usage of many of the words found in the text be looking at etymology and potential antecedents outside of the biblical corpus (primarily Akkadian and Babylonian sources) as well as context of use within. As might be expected, there are areas where the authors find modern interpretations difficult or problematic where they attempt to introduce another interpretation that appears to be a better fit. Few, if any, change much of the over all meaning or intent of the text, avoiding any significant controversy while providing helpful nuance towards a better understanding for the reader.

Each chapter provides an analysis of a specific pericope taken in order, with subsections highlighting a particular term or phrase that starts with the current interpretation (and any problems and alternatives, keeping in mind the text doesn’t include vowels so there is the potential for several different terms using different vowels and some letters are visually similar), followed by any related usage within other places in the Bible (if any exist) and then external sources from which we see similar usage, idioms, and euphemism … which I found to be the most interesting and helpful part of the analysis (especially the examinations of idioms). There are a few limited observations with respect to style (prosaic and poetic), but most seems to focus of language evolution.

Again, this book is focused on what the words say and does not really venture into any theological explanation outside of explaining a few come idioms. This keeps each section very short where at times I wished for a bit more. And while there is a significant debate on some terms, there are a lot where they doesn’t seem to be any controversy at all and I am left wondering why it was included. However, overall, this is an excellent reference for any student of the Bible.


The chapters and sections in this work are:

Chapter 1: Creation
Chapter 2: The Garden of Eden
Chapter 3: Cain and Abel
Chapter 4: Noah and the Ark
Chapter 5: Babel
Chapter 6: Enter Abraham
Chapter 7: Allies and Foes
Chapter 8: Offspring for Abraham
Chapter 9: A True Heir
Chapter 10: Sodom and Gomorrah
Chapter 11: Abimelek
Chapter 12: The Binding of Isaac and Sarah’s Death
Chapter 13: Purchase of the Cave of Machpelah
Chapter 14: A Match for Isaac
Chapter 15: Isaac and Rebekah’s Legacy
Chapter 16: Esau and Jacob Part Ways
Chapter 17: Jacob in the House of Laban
Chapter 18: Family Matters
Chapter 19: Joseph in Egypt
Chapter 20: Joseph’s Downfall and Rise
Chapter 21: Jacob’s Family Get Down to Egypt
Chapter 22: Jacob Blesses His Family
Chapter 23: Jacob and Joseph Pass On
Glossary of Terms
Tables of Chronology
Map
Patriarchal Genealogy

Some of the other points that really got my attention are:

In light of the above, it seems best to read Gensis 3:16 instead of “heronekh” (your childbearing), rather as “charonekh” (your distress).  In biblical Hebrew, the letters heh and chet are interchangeable because of the graphic similarity.

In summation, to our mind, the phrase ve-el ishekh teshukatekh does not express a sexual desire, but rather an urge, yearning for economic and social dependency and protection.

This grammatical difficulty may be removed if one considers the Hebrew “rovetz” to be a loan word from the well-known Akkadian word “rabitzu,” a term for a “demon,” depicted both as benevolent and malevolent, often lurking at the entrance of a building to protect or threaten the occupants.

The traditional translation of the phrase ‘am ha-aretz is “the people of the land,” but a study of this compound noun reveals that this phrase has a different connotation, namely, “landed gentry.”

Returning to Joseph’s life span of 110 years, as told to us in Genesis, we note that Egyptian doctrine considered the age of 110 to be the maximal ideal span of life.


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

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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.