A grab bag of fun brainteasers that most readers won’t have seen before.

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A Collection of Fascinating Games and Puzzles

WITH WORDS, NUMBERS, LOGIC AND CHESS

Think chess, sudoku, Rubik’s Cube and other games are just too easy? If so, Murali’s (Chess, 2011) compendium of arcane new variants will keep you guessing.

Murali, a software engineer, compiles a blizzard of board games and puzzles—some invented by others and some of his own device. The competitive games, most designed for a standard checkerboard, include “parity chess,” a variation of regular chess in which each player simultaneously moves during each turn and two pieces can occupy the same square; a hybrid of chess and Scrabble; and “concept chess,” in which players must both occupy squares bearing related ideas—a surefire party favorite. The author’s selection of puzzles, however, is much larger. It includes two-dimensional versions of a Rubik’s Cube, although Murali warns that “it would be better to implement these variants in software for ease of solving.” There are dozens of inventive, rather involved types of sudoku using prime numbers, words, shapes, dot patterns or chemical formulas, as well as a three-dimensional version. He also includes twisty logic puzzles about compulsive liars and truth-tellers, and amusing matchstick puzzles that morph into mathematical equations and geometrical patterns through delightfully creative maneuvers. Murali’s instructions are, for the most part, lucid and explicit, and he illustrates them with engaging sample puzzles (although at least one logic puzzle appears to contain an error). The book is reminiscent of the late Martin Gardner’s “Mathematical Games” column in Scientific American, but it’s pitched more at unabashed eggheads than casual puzzle-workers. Indeed, many of the puzzles are unconventional and require some hard thinking to get one’s head around them. However, because there’s usually just one sample of each puzzle, readers will have to make their own if they want to keep playing. Still, those who put in the effort will be rewarded with an entertaining workout of the wits.

A grab bag of fun brainteasers that most readers won’t have seen before.

Pub Date: June 27, 2014

ISBN: 978-1500216429

Page Count: 220

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Dec. 7, 2014

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...

THE ELEMENTS OF STYLE

50TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION

Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

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Analyzing his craft, a careful craftsman urges with Thoreauvian conviction that writers should simplify, simplify, simplify.

SEVERAL SHORT SENTENCES ABOUT WRITING

New York Times columnist and editorial board member delivers a slim book for aspiring writers, offering saws and sense, wisdom and waggery, biases and biting sarcasm.

Klinkenborg (Timothy; or, Notes of an Abject Reptile, 2006), who’s taught for decades, endeavors to keep things simple in his prose, and he urges other writers to do the same. (Note: He despises abuses of the word as, as he continually reminds readers.) In the early sections, the author ignores traditional paragraphing so that the text resembles a long free-verse poem. He urges readers to use short, clear sentences and to make sure each one is healthy before moving on; notes that it’s acceptable to start sentences with and and but; sees benefits in diagramming sentences; stresses that all writing is revision; periodically blasts the formulaic writing that many (most?) students learn in school; argues that knowing where you’re headed before you begin might be good for a vacation, but not for a piece of writing; and believes that writers must trust readers more, and trust themselves. Most of Klinkenborg’s advice is neither radical nor especially profound (“Turn to the poets. / Learn from them”), and the text suffers from a corrosive fallacy: that if his strategies work for him they will work for all. The final fifth of the text includes some passages from writers he admires (McPhee, Oates, Cheever) and some of his students’ awkward sentences, which he treats analytically but sometimes with a surprising sarcasm that veers near meanness. He includes examples of students’ dangling modifiers, malapropisms, errors of pronoun agreement, wordiness and other mistakes.

Analyzing his craft, a careful craftsman urges with Thoreauvian conviction that writers should simplify, simplify, simplify.

Pub Date: Aug. 7, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-307-26634-7

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2012

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