My mother, a breast cancer survivor, has experienced a phenomenon called "chemo brain" where one suddenly loses a great portion of one's mental faculties after chemotherapy. While she has been intending to get her brain active again using books like this one, it seems that her hectic schedule makes this impossible without my active involvement in encouraging her and finding puzzles she can actually do. I can't really gripe about finding this excuse to spend quality time with her; I enjoy watching light bulbs go off in people's heads from time to time, and some of the simpler puzzle types in this book have provided such experiences. Maybe I'll get a finger on how to write puzzles that she can enjoy and other people can enjoy, too (which will become easier if somehow I can train her to solve harder puzzles, such as easy Sudoku puzzles). However, my mother recently got herself a different book which, after working one puzzle together, I've felt the need to vent about. Hey, blog content!
Then we get four riddles; I'm not a riddle fan, for reasons I can't quite put my finger on. Either I find them too easy or too hard, and without the luxury of chipping away at a solution gradually, it doesn't feel like progress comes quickly. I won't count this against the book, since it's personal taste more than being flawed.
Next are eight cryptograms. In case you forgot, here are the rules.
Two of them in particular strike me as terribly edited, having accidentally spied the solutions (thanks for not having a buffer between the last puzzle and the answers, guys!).
Next are some word scrambles, and here's the one that reeks of bad editing:
Next are four pedestrian word searches, about which I'll only say this: pick a font and stick to it!
Constructor: I assume Timothy Parker himself?
Relative difficulty: Medium
THEME: Female parents — many different names for a female parent (MOTHER, MAMA, MAMMY, MOMMA, MOMMY, MAMMA, MOM).
- 20A: Nobel Peace Prize winner of 1979 (MOTHER TERESA)
- 29A: Really big singer? (MAMA CASS)
- 38A: Al Capp's Pansy Yokum (MAMMY)
- 43A: House owner in a Martin Lawrence comedy (BIG MOMMA)
- 51A: Term of endearment (MOMMY DEAREST)
- 29D: "____ mia!" (MAMMA)
- 38D: Maternal palindrome (MOM)
Definition of MOUE : a little grimace : pout / Origin of MOUE French, from Middle French — more at mow / First Known Use: 1850 (m-w)I'm middling on these theme, since a lot of the affectionate nicknames for a mother are so similar, making MOTHER feel like an oddball in this context. Also, the theme entry MOM isn't symmetrically opposite another one, almost as though it wasn't intended as a theme entry. The grid is solid for an ordinary crossword, but this is supposed to be an "easy" crossword in a "for Dummies" book. I have no idea how much has to do with my mother having chemo brain, seeing as it took her 6 minutes to recall that the religion that Muslims follow is ISLAM (49D: Sunni religion), and she even suggested the facepalm-worthy BUDDHA. This is definitely harder than the crossword we did in Brain Games, where I probably did 8% of the grid filling-in and not 30% of it. I'm no dummy, but I had to look up MOUE to make sure it was a word. Also, do LOAMS and OMPHALOS really belong in a crossword aimed at dummies? My mother hasn't even heard of IAMBS before, and I assumed those were common knowledge. I lack the TEMERITY to task my mother with the "Tough" crossword if this is "Easy".
The cluing reeked something awful in a couple of spots; Term of endearment for MOMMY DEAREST irked me because of the obvious etymological cousinhood via the word DEAR, and I'm not fond of answers appearing in other clues, such as ONCE in 45D: "Once upon a midnight ____. . .". Please tell me I'm just a terrible judge of crosswords, and these clues are all right.
In closing, we get two Sudoku puzzles, a Tricky and a Tough (why put these in a "for Dummies" book when you don't have room for a bunch of easy puzzles for warming up, or solving techniques to aid the new solver?), and three pointless Target Sudoku.
Can you see why I'd confiscate this book to review it after solving that crossword? I think such a small book needs fewer pages of fluff ("this is why you should use your brain") and more puzzles, perhaps of a particular focus instead of paltry amounts of various types. Also, the book should probably be bigger.
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