Monday, February 5, 2018

Scottish Mystery

Death of a Gossip (Hamish Macbeth, #1)Death of a Gossip by M.C. Beaton
Reviewed by Jason Koivu
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Question for Beaton/Hamish Macbeth fans: Are they all like this?

I like a good murder mystery/detective story, and with the Hamish Macbeth series at 32 books and still going strong, I thought this might be my next favorite series to launch myself into. So I started at the beginning and gave Death of a Gossip a go.

This book is a jack of all trades and a master of none. It's a little bit romance, a little bit mystery, and a little bit comedy. It does all of them adequately to erratically, and never does it wow on any level. The romance is trite, the mystery is all right, and the comedy oh so light.

Some of the characters are only just sketched out and some come off like stereotyped caricatures. It seemed like Beaton was still feeling her way around the town constable and central figure of Macbeth. I'm guessing (hoping) that with such a long series, Macbeth eventually gets fully fleshed out.

I'm not a big romance fan to begin with, so take this review with a grain of salt. I love Austen's stuff, but I really dislike modern romances. A rom-com I can manage now and then, if the com is particularly strong. Unfortunately the com was almost nonexistent in Death of a Gossip. Irregardless, I vowed to give it the ol' college try and I've already started on book two!

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Getting to Know Hinduism

Great World Religions: HinduismGreat World Religions: Hinduism by Mark W. Muesse
Reviewed by Jason Koivu
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

These Great Courses are great! If you're not hearing Tony the Tiger in that line, I don't even know how to talk to you.

Seriously though, I'm really enjoying them. When I first discovered them I thought they were on par with those Learning Annex "courses", which do not have a good reputation. However, Great Courses puts together very solid lectures from highly qualified teachers. The dude who did this one, Mark W. Muesse is a Harvard-educated professor.

This lecture is an overview of Hinduism, and I mean overview literally. This is a quick, entry-level course that touches upon the basics: the important philosophies and beliefs, the major gods, etc. That's fine, because it's exactly what I was looking for. Since I'm a Hindu noob, anything deeper would've been right over my head.

Muesse is a good speaker, who clearly conveys his thoughts. Even so, I still felt slightly confused by concepts like the Vata. This is where the value of an intro course like this ends. You get a mere taste of a belief system, not the intricacies. Also, the history and world impact of Hinduism was brief. Little more than Gandhi's movement was touched upon. Again, further research will be necessary, however, this is a solid first step introduction and I highly recommend it for the beginner.

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