Three staffers, three unabashed recommendations.
After recently deleting Tiny Tower because I realized you can unlock a certain red hat for your little guys (seriously NimbleBit, what the fuck?), I found myself in need of a new iPhone game that’s simple enough to play casually but engaging enough to not be instantly forgettable. After exhausting the free puzzles in the New York Times crossword app, I settled on Bonza, a weird crossword/word search mashup that involves assembling a jumble of letters to form words that fit a simple clue. It’s very chill and relaxing, but some puzzles build up to a moment where there’s only one word left and I find myself muttering nonsense syllables to myself in hopes of tricking my brain into recognizing part of a real word. Completing a Bonza doesn’t make me feel as accomplished as those free New York Times puzzles did, but a low-key word game like this should at least make me better at doing, you know, word stuff. The best thing of all, though, is that Bonza doesn’t seem to have any pointless MAGA bullshit that comes out of nowhere and ruins an otherwise fine real estate management simulator. [Sam Barsanti]
I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter by Erika L. Sánchez
I’m less than halfway through Erika L. Sánchez’s bicultural bildungsroman, but it’s already got a hold of me. I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter is the story of a rebellious Chicago teen named Julia, who is left to wrestle with grief and a sense of obligation after the death of her “perfect” sister Olga. The older sibling was the model of Mexican femininity, but that’s not a path Julia wants to follow. She couldn’t even if she tried. As she realizes Olga’s saintly legacy isn’t what it appears to be, Julia sets off on a journey of (self-)discovery. This teen-centered adventure is loaded with heavy themes, including domestic violence and patriarchal demands on young women, but it’s also darkly comedic. Sanchez’s prose is a bawdy mix of Spanish and English, as poignant as it is incisive. And now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go finish reading it. [Danette Chavez]
Coming off the letdown that is the disappointing remake of Murder On The Orient Express, I’ve been longing for someone to make Agatha Christie adaptations like the great ones I used to watch on PBS. Then I realized, “Why not just watch those again?” Luckily, Acorn is here to help: It’s released The Best Of Agatha Christie Volumes One And Two in handy DVD collections. These are the great British adaptations—the ones that know exactly how to tell a mystery, without the tonal and structural confusion that dogs so many of the American efforts. Plus, you may not remember since some of these were from a few years ago, but the productions feature an embarrassment of riches both in front of and behind the camera. Volume one includes Death On The Nile (with Emily Blunt), Five Little Pigs (featuring Game Of Thrones’ Aidan Gillen), and the recent adaptation of And Then There Were None, which this very site called “a triumph of atmosphere and an adaptation bold enough to make you uncomfortable to the very last.” Volume two offers up The Witness For The Prosecution and a pair of Hercule Poirot whodunits, Three Act Tragedy and Hallowe’en Party, both solid entries that will help you forget the bad taste left by Kenneth Branagh’s weird take on the detective. [Alex McLevy]