WINK Mother’s Day gift guide


Hey all you spoiled sons, daughters, and fathers out there! Take 5 and make your Mother’s Day purchase before it’s too late! You’ve got until May 6 – less than two weeks, but no worries. The 7 books listed in this handy Wink Books Gift Guide have been hand-picked for 7 different types of moms: bakers, crafters, survivalists, cocktail mamas, cat lovers, journal addicts, and the all too popular frazzled moms. The best part: all the books on this list can be delivered in 1-2 days. So order now, while supplies and time lasts!

For the gourmet pastry chef: Meringue by Jennifer Evans Gardner and Linda Jackson / Gibbs Smith $19 Buy a copy on Amazon

A decadent, fancy dessert, meringue is more than just a beautiful white fluff that sits on top of a sweet lemon pie. As it turns out, meringue comes in many different shapes, textures and forms, from melt-in-your-mouth cookies and creamy pies to thick frosting and crisp pavlova shells topped with fruit and whipped cream. This beautiful book is both an art piece as well as a really fun cookbook.

Full review and more images.

For the mother of cocktails: The Bar Book: Elements of Cocktail Technique by Jeffrey Morgenthaler and Alanna Hale / Chronicle Books $20 Buy a copy on Amazon

While the author does include expertly curated recipes for some must-know cocktails, instead of focusing on what to mix (which can always be found with a quick Google of “How to make a Cosmopolitan”), it focuses on how, why, and when to mix it. Read the rest

Patterns in Nature – The most magnificent designs come from math and nature, not human beings


See sample pages from this book at Wink.

Step outside, look in any direction, and you’re sure to spot some exquisite designs in nature: the vivid jewel-like symmetry found on the wings of a butterfly, the fractal branching of trees, the pointillist patterns sported by a snake, or the hexagonal nest of a wasp, just to name a few. And science writer Philip Ball has captured some of this beauty with over 300 stunning photographs that he includes in his latest book, Patterns in Nature.

Categorized in chapters such as Symmetry, Fractals, Spirals, Cracks, and Flow and Chaos, Ball explains with both images and an accessible narrative how the most magnificent designs on the planet come from math, physics and chemistry, not human beings. He describes the various mathematics that create various patterns, and also points out parallels between similar patterns with seemingly unrelated sources. For example, the spots on a butterfly mimic the face of an owl. The “spots” on a giraffe look similar to cracked mud. Ball turns complex science into a fascinating read, and his gorgeous coffee table book is perfect for both the science and art minded alike.

Read the rest

The Electric Pencil – A man draws for 37 years from the State Lunatic Asylum No. 3


See sample pages from this book at Wink.

Back in the 1970s, a 14-year-old boy walking down a residential street in Springfield, Missouri found a cool-looking handmade, hand-bound book in a pile of trash. He opened the book to find 283 drawings, each on a ledger sheet with either “State Hospital No. 3” or “State Lunatic Asylum No. 3” printed at the top. The drawings depicted people in 19th-century clothing, Civil War soldiers, steamboats, antique cars, animals, and brick institutions. The boy held on to the book for 36 years.

In 2006, the boy (now obviously a man) decided to unload the art portfolio. He also wished to remain anonymous and, after contacting a retired professor of Missouri State University about the book, he vanished from this story without a trace. After a couple of bounces, the book ended up in the hands of art dealer and artist (fabulous sculptor!) Harris Diamant, who researched and traced the mysterious art book back to its original owner.

The creator of the book was James Edward Deeds Jr., born in 1908 and raised on a farm in southwestern Missouri. He resisted working on the farm, butt heads with his authoritarian father, and by the time he was 28 he was labeled as “insane.” He was admitted to the State Hospital No. 3 and stayed there for 37 years.

The Electric Pencil, the name of this book as well as the name given to Deeds before his identity was discovered, is a complete collection of Deeds’ artwork. Read the rest

The Art of Zootopia – A fantastic companion book to a fantastic movie


See sample pages from this book at Wink.

I got my hands on a copy of The Art of Zootopia last week, days before the movie opened, and was so enamored with the fresh yet classic Disney-inspired art that I was already set on reviewing the book. Then over the weekend I watched the movie with my 12-year-old daughter and friends, and wow! What a brilliantly humorous and moving winner of a movie it was. Bravo to directors Byron Howard and Rich Moore! But this is Wink, so back to the book…

The Art of Zootopia is such a treat in the way that it not only revisits the movie’s delightfully heartwarming characters and fantastic art, but gives us an engaging look at what went into the making of Zootopia. The book starts with author Jessica Julius describing the movie’s original story pitch – a 1960s spy story – and how it evolved over four years into the modern day tale of underdogs, prejudice, and fighting for justice for all. She gives us the scoop on how the characters were developed (balancing a feminine yet tough, naïve yet sharp, optimistic yet challenged bunny cop isn’t so easy!), shows us amazing “sets” I don’t even remember in the fast-moving film, and she lets us in on all kinds of fun details, like the fact that it took eight months to get the various animals’ fur just right (color, texture, and direction of fur growth takes more contemplation than I realized). We are also privy to many sketches and scenes that were eventually cut from the film. Read the rest

Hansel and Gretel – a thrilling grim version by Neil Gaiman


See sample pages from this book at Wink.

Neil Gaiman’s stirring narrative of Hansel and Gretel combined with artist Lorenzo Mattotti’s oppressively black illustrations give the Brothers Grimm fairytale a nightmarish quality different from what I remember as a kid. Back then the terrifying takeaway was the trusting old woman in the candy-coated gingerbread house who transformed into a mean and hungry cannibal. Don’t get me wrong, the evil old woman is still mighty sinister in Gaiman’s book, but this time the takeaway was the horror of parental abandonment and betrayal. Maybe because I’m now an adult, or maybe because it wasn’t told in such detail when I was a kid (I can’t remember), the events leading up to Hansel and Gretel finding the gingerbread house in this version are quite unsettling. Although it’s a great creepy book for kids, I’d be careful not to read it to younger children who might be sensitive to the darker side of fairy tales. After all, there are no good fairies in this book.

Hansel & Gretel by Neil Gaiman (author) and Lorenzo Mattotti (illustrator) Toon Graphics 2014, 56 pages, 7.5 x 10.3 x 0.4 inches $13 Buy a copy on Amazon Read the rest

Tales from the Loop – An eerie account of a physics research facility gone awry


See sample pages at Wink.

Unfamiliar with sci-fi artist Simon Stålenhag, I was sucked into his eerie dystopian history the instant I cracked open Tales from the Loop. His hyper-real digital paintings depict beautiful Swedish country towns where snow falls in the winter and children play in nature. But each of these pastoral scenes are jarring, with intrusive machines, robots, discarded equipment, and power lines upstaging the otherwise serene landscape.

The book explains that these paintings were inspired by childhood memories of the author, who grew up in a large area of Sweden that housed an underground experimental physics research facility known as The Loop. Alongside each painting is a short essay from the author’s memory. For instance, the three cooling towers in the photo above were built to release heat from the core of the Loop. The towers, which “started like a deep vibration in the ground that slowly rose to three horn-like blasts,” remind Stålenhag of a miserable day he had with a boy named Ossian, who had lured him to his house to play Crash Test Dummies, but ended up bullying him with the help of his brother until Stålenhag went home in tears.

Each painting is accompanied by one of these short yet captivating stories, and their detailed, relatable quality had me going. As I read about Stålenhag and his best friend Olof sneaking off with a boat on a nice summer day to a disturbing machine-littered swimming pond, I kept thinking, “I must go online and research the Loop! Read the rest

The Book of Frogs – A meticulous field guide for the serious fan of the frog


See sample pages from this book at Wink.

If you are a serious (and I mean serious) fan of the frog, you are in for a real treat. The Book of Frogs is a meticulous field guide to 600 diverse species of frogs, including wonderfully striking, life-size photographs for each and every entry. From poisonous frogs to tiny toenail-sized frogs, whistlers, “explosive breeders,” endangered frogs, and recently discovered frogs, author and one of the world’s leading frog experts Tim Halliday covers an exhaustive gamut of frog species from around the planet. Although a wonderful source for anyone trying to decipher and learn about frogs they find in nature, it’s a hefty, weighty tome of a book and would probably do better on a coffee table than inside a backpack.

The Book of Frogs: A Life-Size Guide to Six Hundred Species from Around the World by Tim Halliday University of Chicago Press 2016, 656 pages, 7.1 x 10.5 x 1.8 inches $37 Buy a copy on Amazon Read the rest

An inviting encyclopedia of historical happenings that shaped our world


See sample pages from this book at Wink.

Yay! Another captivating DK book for children has just come out today. 100 Events that Made History is an encyclopedia of ideas, inventions, wars, scientific breakthroughs, disasters (both natural and human-made), and other historical happenings that had a major influence on how our world looks today. The book's colorful collage-art layout is attractive and inviting.

I enjoyed this book along with my 12-year-old daughter, and I actually learned a lot of little nuggets that I missed in school. The wide range of topics include the discovery of bronze, Confucius, Teotihuacan, Julius Caesar, the birth of Israel, the fall of the Berlin Wall, the first flight, global communications, and about 92 other influential milestones in history. Each are explained with fun facts in 1-2 pages, which isn’t enough to turn readers into scholars on any one subject, but will certainly whet their appetites to devour more on their own. And put together, 100 Events allows readers to connect the dots from the beginning of human ideas to where we are now scientifically, politically, spiritually and socially.

100 Events that Made History: Memorable Moments that Shaped the Modern World by DK DK Children 2016, 128 pages, 8.8 x 11.2 x 0.6 inches $17 Buy a copy on Amazon Read the rest

Released today! Beverly – Six intertwined stories that show the underside of suburban life


See sample pages at Wink.

Nick Drnaso’s Beverly, released today, is a brilliant set of six intertwined stories that show the underside of suburban life. Each story starts off with a smile, while pretty pastel colors and manicured lawns are plentiful. The art is crisp, geometric, simple and orderly. But scratch just a bit underneath the astroturf and horrific, heart-breaking details emerge. Broken-down parents cut their family vacation short after walking in on their sexually-repressed son in the middle of a cringe-inducing act. A teen girl who disappears from the diner she works at isn’t as innocent as her xenophobic town first thinks. A lonely housewife has stars in her eyes when she takes part in a sitcom focus group, only to find out she’s been duped.

With a structure like Richard Linklater’s Slacker and the temperament of Daniel Clowes’ Ghost World, each story of bored, angst-filled teens and desperate adults features at least one character from one of the other stories, and yet each is its own separate tale. I was completely taken in, thinking at times that I was right there sharing the same stifled air as these folks, and now they exist in my mind as memories, rather than pieces of a graphic narrative.

Beverly by Nick Drnaso Drawn & Quarterly 2016, 136 pages, 7.5 x 9.5 x 0.4 inches (softcover) $17 Buy a copy on Amazon Read the rest

Japanese in Mangaland – Study the language with manga


See sample pages from this book at Wink.

If you’re like me when it comes to speaking Japanese – extremely clunky with with a limited conversational vocabulary but can read the two syllabaries (katakana and hiragana), this book is a fantastic supplement to further study. Besides the high fun factor of studying with manga (which teaches you to speak like a Japanese person rather than a formal text-book-taught foreigner), it’s the first book I’ve read that clearly explains the grammar (such as when and where to use particles like wa, ga and o), the complicated number systems, conjugating verbs, telling time, etc. I’m also learning some basic kanji as well as silly things you find in manga like exclamations and swear words. Each chapter gives you exercises to do on separate paper with answers in the back of the book. This lesson book is packed with great info on how the Japanese language works, and it’s presented in an interesting way that makes me look forward to picking up the book. I'm really loving it.

However, I have to say that the title of this book is a bit misleading. Yes, we are studying Japanese using manga, but Learning the Basics is a bit of a stretch. The book does touch on the basics but it moves quickly, and if you’re brand new to Japanese, I would hold off on reading this book until you actually have learned the basics.

Japanese in Mangaland: Learning the Basics by Marc Bernabe Japan Publications Trading 2004, 269 pages, 6.8 x 10.3 x 0.9 inches (softcover) $17 Buy a copy on Amazon Read the rest

Female teacher in Turkey sentenced to prison for making rude hand gesture


A female teacher in Turkey was sentenced to almost a year in prison today for hurting President Tayyip Erdogan’s feelings. She made an “ugly gesture” with her hand towards the leader at a political rally in 2014, and in Turkey it’s against the law to criticize official leaders, even if it’s with a quick hand movement.

The teacher isn’t the first to be under fire by Turkey’s sensitive leader. Last February BloombergBusiness reported that Erdogan had charged 67 people for insulting him – including Miss Turkey, who’d written a satirical poem about the president – which was an average of one person for every three days since he’d been elected president in 2014. Read the rest

Plane passenger snaps photo of shadowy humanoid walking on cloud

This incredible photo, shot from a plane at 30,000 feet, captures what looks like a silhouette of the Iron Giant strutting across a cloud. When passenger Nick O’Donoghue, who was on his way back to Ireland from Austria, first saw the image, he thought he was hallucinating. But his two colleagues, sitting next to him, saw it too, so he whipped out his camera and caught these cool images.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t really the Iron Giant (damn!), but more likely an optical illusion known as Fata Morgana, or a mirage, according to weather experts. Thanks Daily Mail! Read the rest

Airlines with the highest –and lowest – safety ratings


They say that flying is safer than driving. In fact, according to travel statistics, the odds of dying in a car crash is 1 in 98 in a lifetime, while the odds of dying in a plane wreck is 1 in 7,178 in a lifetime. Still, when plane accidents do occur, they’re usually catastrophic, and it doesn’t hurt to know your airline’s track record before climbing on board.

So let’s start with the good news. Australia’s Qantas has never had a fatality and is considered the safest airline to fly according to Other airlines on their top twenty list of safest airlines include (alphabetically):

Air New Zealand, Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, All Nippon Airways, Cathay Pacific Airways, Emirates, Etihad Airways, EVA Air, Finnair, Hawaiian Airlines, Japan Airlines, KLM, Lufthansa, Scandinavian Airline System, Singapore Airlines, Swiss, United Airlines, and Virgin Atlantic and Virgin Australia.

Now for the bad news. There are 38 airlines that got a rating of 3 or lower (with 7 being the highest, 1 being the lowest). That means 38 airlines that are wobbly when it comes to safety standards. The 10 airlines with a rating of only 1 include (alphabetically):

Batik Air, Citilink, KalStar Aviataion, Lion Air, Nepal Airlines, Sriwijaya Air and Nam Air, Tara Air, TransNusa, Wings Air and Xpress Air.

Click here for the rest of the airlines that landed at the bottom of the list. Read the rest

U.S. states that allow you to keep tigers, monkeys and bears as pets

Why anyone would want to keep a wild animal like a tiger, monkey or bear as a pet is beyond me. But in the U.S. it’s not a federal crime to own exotic animals – it’s up to the states to decide which animals are legal – with or without permits – to keep as pets. The six U.S. states that have no restrictions on keeping large cats, primates and bears include Nevada, Oklahoma, Wisconsin, Alabama, North Carolina and South Carolina. Other states allow primates but not bears and tigers, such as Virginia and Tennessee. Even more states allow all three of these exotic animals to be kept as pets once a permit is obtained. The Humane Society lays it all out for you here: Thanks Tech Insider! Read the rest

Patterns of the Universe: A Coloring Adventure in Math and Beauty


See sample pages from this book at Wink.

I’ve already reviewed a few adult coloring books for Wink and thought I had moved on, but then Patterns of the Universe came my way and I couldn’t resist. When I was editor of Craft Magazine we used to cover projects that involved mathematical crafting, such as crocheting a hyperbolic reef. Although mathematical coloring is a lot simpler, it’s just as fun to see what kind of beauty will emerge when you play with patterns, numbers, and chance.

This coloring book is split into two sections: Coloring and Creating. The first offers your basic color-in-the-lines patterns, but they’re all math based and come with a short description to help you appreciate what you’re beautifying. The second Creating section includes simple instructions on how to create patterns, mostly through randomness, such as Coin Hex, which asks you to choose for your hexagon pattern only two colors (but I chose three). Then you must toss a coin (or number generator in my case) to determine the color for each hexagon. The point of an activity like this? Even though your colored pattern is random, “stare at it and you will see patterns. It’s a reminder that we find randomness very difficult to comprehend.” Very difficult indeed. I'm only one-quarter of the way through Coin Hex and already I see all kinds of patterns popping out of the page.

Patterns of the Universe: A Coloring Adventure in Math and Beauty by Alex Bellos and Edmund Harriss The Experiment 2015, 144 pages, 8.4 x 8.4 x 0.5 inches (softcover) $11 Buy a copy on Amazon Read the rest

Listen: David Bowie's little known video game soundtrack


Here’s some great music from David Bowie that I didn’t know about until today. Even though it was created over 15 years ago it would fit in perfectly alongside his newly released Blackstar.

Released around 2000 for PC and the ill-fated Sega Dreamcast, Omikron was a strange hybrid game that let players do a bit of body snatching around the titular science fiction city…

Bowie is said to have had some input into the storyline, but his most memorable contributions are to the soundtrack and of course his in-game cameos. 'Hours...', the 1999 album Bowie released just prior to the debut of the game, featured a number of songs that had been written just for the game, but were slightly reworked so that they were not so specific to the sci-fi world. They would appear on the Omikron soundtrack in more tribal, remixed forms alongside original instrumentals Bowie also composed for the game.

Read more on Atlas Obscura. Read the rest

IKEA's secret passageways and other behind-the-scenes surprises


IKEA isn’t just the largest furniture store in the world. It’s also the amusement park of shopping malls – or a claustrophobic shoppers’ hell, depending on both your mood and how mobbed the winding labyrinth of Swedish goods happens to be on any given day.

But did you know that there are secret shortcuts for those who just want to get in and out? The public is allowed to use the shortcuts, but there is no map on where they are. In fact, the shortcuts frequently change so that savvy customers don’t get used to them and bypass the megastore’s intended walkway.

The walkway, by the way, has a code name: Long Natural Way, aka Long Natural Path. Speaking of codes, if you hear an employee announcing “Code 99!” there’s a lost kid roaming the path. If you hear an urgent “Code 22!” blasting through the speakers there are long lines at the registers and help is needed.

If you’re a confused customer there isn’t a code – you’ll have to find an employee and ask for help. Employees are told not to approach customers to see if they need anything (this is the Swedish way).

After hours IKEA actually does become an amusement park, with employees moving the walls (yes, the walls move) to play hide-and-seek and compete in pallet jack races. To add to the merriment, at the end of the year employees receive awesome holiday gifts including electronics and even plane tickets.

Many more Behind the Scenes Secrets of IKEA Employees can be found here. Read the rest

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