A fine primer that should dramatically upgrade readers’ Sudoku chops.

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SUDOKU

ITS POWER UNLEASHED

Learn to solve beguiling brain teasers faster with this superb how-to guide.

Most aficionados struggle through Sudokus on nothing more than untutored brain power, but debut author Klein offers a systematic way to efficiently analyze these ubiquitous math puzzles and suss out solutions. He begins with the basics of the deceptively simple puzzle: a nine-by-nine grid of squares, subdivided into nine three-by-three boxes, with some of the squares filled in. He tasks the puzzler with filling in the rest so that each nine-square row, column, and box includes the numbers one through nine with no repetitions. Then he introduces the key methodology of “candidates”—writing down the possible numbers that could fit in each square to help spot clues that allow the candidate numbers to be ruled out until only one is left for each square. (Most of Klein’s practice puzzles do the first step by already having the candidates printed in the blank squares; purists will object to this crutch, but many readers will be happy to outsource the tedious number crunching.) Filling in candidate numbers pays off by making it easy to see useful patterns, which the author explains in an engaging, easy-to-read style. These range from simple repeated pairs and triplets of candidate numbers that enable candidates in other squares to be eliminated to more abstract and diffuse spatial-numerical patterns like “the X-wing,” “the swordfish” and its gangly comrade “the jellyfish,” and the subtly holistic grouping called the “unique rectangle.” While cunning, these patterns and their associated solving strategies are easy to learn and work astonishingly well; using them, and with the candidate lists handily reducing cumbersome chains of logical deduction to simple pattern-recognition searches, readers should immediately be able to solve Sudokus much faster and to tackle harder puzzles. Klein includes a trove of hundreds of Sudokus, from easy to expert level, and keeps it crazy by throwing in Sudokus that use letters instead of numbers as well as some interesting variants of his own device that have coded phrases and math equations jumbled in the squares. This is the best Sudoku guide in print and should give fans plenty of fuel for their addiction.

A fine primer that should dramatically upgrade readers’ Sudoku chops.

Pub Date: Oct. 24, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5305-6446-0

Page Count: 302

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Jan. 27, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2017

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WHAT A WONDERFUL WORLD

A LIFETIME OF RECORDINGS

Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)

Pub Date: May 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-19-508629-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1995

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Necessarily swift and adumbrative as well as inclusive, focused, and graceful.

A LITTLE HISTORY OF POETRY

A light-speed tour of (mostly) Western poetry, from the 4,000-year-old Gilgamesh to the work of Australian poet Les Murray, who died in 2019.

In the latest entry in the publisher’s Little Histories series, Carey, an emeritus professor at Oxford whose books include What Good Are the Arts? and The Unexpected Professor: An Oxford Life in Books, offers a quick definition of poetry—“relates to language as music relates to noise. It is language made special”—before diving in to poetry’s vast history. In most chapters, the author deals with only a few writers, but as the narrative progresses, he finds himself forced to deal with far more than a handful. In his chapter on 20th-century political poets, for example, he talks about 14 writers in seven pages. Carey displays a determination to inform us about who the best poets were—and what their best poems were. The word “greatest” appears continually; Chaucer was “the greatest medieval English poet,” and Langston Hughes was “the greatest male poet” of the Harlem Renaissance. For readers who need a refresher—or suggestions for the nightstand—Carey provides the best-known names and the most celebrated poems, including Paradise Lost (about which the author has written extensively), “Kubla Khan,” “Ozymandias,” “The Charge of the Light Brigade,” Wordsworth and Coleridge’s Lyrical Ballads, which “changed the course of English poetry.” Carey explains some poetic technique (Hopkins’ “sprung rhythm”) and pauses occasionally to provide autobiographical tidbits—e.g., John Masefield, who wrote the famous “Sea Fever,” “hated the sea.” We learn, as well, about the sexuality of some poets (Auden was bisexual), and, especially later on, Carey discusses the demons that drove some of them, Robert Lowell and Sylvia Plath among them. Refreshingly, he includes many women in the volume—all the way back to Sappho—and has especially kind words for Marianne Moore and Elizabeth Bishop, who share a chapter.

Necessarily swift and adumbrative as well as inclusive, focused, and graceful.

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-300-23222-6

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Yale Univ.

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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