If you're a fan of Tintin comics and of Hergé (Georges Remi), this is one book you’ll want to own. Nothing “comic book” or throw away about this beautifully produced volume. The form factor and details are wonderful: a square format with an elegant embossed black and white drawing close-up of Tintin with his trademark quiff on the cover. It has also red- and white-checkerboard page edges, just like the iconic rocket ship from “Destination Moon.” This one will display nicely with the rest of your Tintin collectibles.
It won't stay on the display shelf for long. The 480 pages inside are just as delightful. It’s full of colorful images of all things Hergé, from enticing photos of the Hergé Museum in Brussels (you’ll want to go!), to artifacts and models used in the production of the Tintin books, snapshots and promotional pictures of Hergé, and lots of images of actual camera art.
You’ll see up close and in detail how Hergé created his books, from preliminary rough sketches and figure drawings, pencil layouts and revisions, reference materials and photography, original camera art line (with all the corrections) and the final colored print version. A real look “inside” that the comic fan will appreciate.
Tintin: The Art of Hergé
by Michel Daubert
Harry N. Abrams
2013, 480 pages, 8.5 x 8.5 x 1.8 inches (paperback)
$31 Buy one on Amazon
Betrayal at House on the Hill is a board game that takes place in a haunted mansion. You and your friends must explore the mansion to discover its dark secrets. But you should tread carefully as one of you might be a traitor.
The game starts out as cooperative, in which players explore the abandoned mansion to find omens, trigger events and pick up items. This continues until the 'Haunt' phase starts. The Haunt is triggered by the omen cards. Every time an omen card is picked up, the player must roll the dice and try to score more than the collective omens currently on the board. If the player fails the Haunt starts and then, depending on the omen, one player will take on the roll of the Spider-Queen, Witch, Demon, Zombie Lord or Werewolf and the rest will fight for survival.
This is a really fun game for anyone interested in horror. It's interesting, different and will always keep you guessing. Every play through the mansion will be different. Couple this with random card picks, twelve characters to choose from and over 50 scenarios you can play, and this game equals great replay value. However, it isn't perfect. The Haunt will sometimes favor one side or the other, which can make it next to impossible to win, so it can be a little unbalanced.
The quality of the game is great. There are six miniatures (all colored), and each has a character's sheet printed on glossed cardboard. The tiles are solid, strikingly eerie and excellent quality. The sliders, which keep track of your stats, is the only drawback. They're not well-fitted and slide off the card pretty easily. It can play up to 6 players (three being the minimum) and plays about 1-2 hours, depending on the amount of players you have. – Engela Snyman
Betrayal at House on the Hill
by Wizards of the Coast
Ages 12 and up, 3-6 players
$34 Buy a copy on Amazon
I found these matchbox size wood puzzles at a general store in Colorado and bought three of them. There are a bunch of different ones in the series and I plan to get them all because they are almost like magic tricks and it’s fun to challenge your friends by showing them the end result (without letting them see the process of solving them).
The Baffle Board is a miniature version of an old classic known as the Red Goose puzzle. The challenge is to move the three beads from the loop of string on one side of the block to the loop on the other side. The printed solution included with the puzzle isn’t very clear, so here is a YouTube video, if you can’t figure it out.
Push N Pull is similar to the Red Goose, but a little easier to solve. The solution included in the puzzle is clear.
Brass Monkey is the hardest puzzle of all, but also the most fun. The challenge is to make a pyramid out of the six wooden pieces. The pieces tend to roll away as you work with them, so it helps to do this puzzle on a non-slippery surface, like a rubber computer mouse pad, or to support it with something like a stack of Post-It Notes. The included solution is not very clear, so here’s a YouTube video with the solution. – Mark Frauenfelder
Pocket-size wood puzzles
By House of Marbles
Baffle Board $3 Buy one on Amazon
Push 'N' Pull $3 Buy one on Amazon
Brass Monkey $3 Buy one on Amazon
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The Shiroko High Carbon Steel Kurouchi Kujira Whale Utility Chef's Knife is available in four models (the Type B has some clever handle-stuff going on -- and the charming, hand-forged kids' pencil sharpening knives are now available in the US!
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Eames: Beautiful Details
by Eames Demetrios
2014, 408 pages, 12.5 x 9.2 x 2.2 inches
$41 Buy one on Amazon
One of my favorite speakers at San Mateo Maker Faire this year was Llisa Demetrios, granddaughter of Charles Eames. Her talk included very personal remembrances of times with her grandfather and with his wife Ray Eames. Llisa shared family photos taken at their iconic home, Case Study House #8, as well as playful letters from her grandfather in rebus form and rare snips of their short films. All very charming and enjoyable to get an inside look at Charles and Ray Eames. If you missed it, you now have a second chance to explore the personal side of the Eames in Eames: Beautiful Details.
The title is apt as the unusual format with 400 twice-as-wide-as-tall pages makes for panoramic layout spreads, not unlike the multi screen format of their films. You may think you have seen some of these images before, but not like this with extra detail and context. And as Charles Eames famously said, “The details are not the details; the details make the product,” or in this case, the book.
This elegant book is organized by chapters for each of the various aspects of the Eames’ work, e.g., graphics+textiles, furniture+experiments, toys+games, etc., with personal essays and quotes by three generations of the Eames family: Charles and Ray, daughter Lucia Eames, and grandkids. It’s like sitting down with the family and their photo album. The many candid (and cleverly posed) photos depict their proto-Maker life, with work, family and home all blended together in and around their lively house/studio: Charles at a Moviola at work on a film, Ray designing textiles and painting, then, later, the same space reconfigured as a giant play area for visiting grandkids with a mountain of boxes for stacking (and crashing!).
The Eames’ love of color, design and detail are evident in the book’s many full-page photos and generous layouts. Even lowly, everyday objects become a colorful kaleidoscope of tools, kites, flowers, textures, and more. You can tour the historic Eames house today, but it’s like a quiet museum. All that’s left now of the Eames’ original design office in Venice, CA is a memorial wall with a few photos. On the other hand, Eames: Beautiful Details is very much alive with the life and work, family and friends of Charles and Ray Eames.
Lavie Tidhar writes, "The Apex Book of World SF 4 is out today - this is the fourth volume of the series began in 2009, and features 28 stories from 25 countries, seven of which are translations, and it is the first volume to be edited by Mahvesh Murad - marking this also as the first genre anthology ever edited by a Pakistani woman."
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My daughter Jane has been asking for a laminator so she can make bookmarks, club ID cards, and other projects. I just learned that Amazon is selling a Swingline thermal laminator for $15 (regularly $60) so I ordered it. It comes with 5 letter-sized lamination pouches. (A pack of 100 lamination pouches costs $10.)
The story goes that William Blake worked until the very day he died. His final drawing was said to be a portrait of his wife sitting by his deathbed. Earlier in the day, he had spent his last shilling on a pencil. He'd been commissioned two years earlier by friend and patron (and fellow painter) John Linnell to do a series of illustrations for Dante's The Divine Comedy. Friends would frequently give Blake work to keep him and his wife fed and to keep him creating art. It was these images that he was working on when, on August 12, 1827, he finally laid down his pencil and left his “mundane shell,” allegedly drifting away “signing songs of his own design.”
There have been other published editions of Blake's 102 sketches and watercolors in his Dante series, but nothing has ever come close to this stunning edition from Taschen. We've come to expect impressive art books from Taschen, but the “out of box experience” on this gem was off the charts. First, it's impressively big and heavy, at an outsized 18” x 12” and 324 pages. When I opened the shipping box and found a cardboard briefcase inside, I thought whatever was inside better be something special. Hefting this giant buckram-covered tome from the case and cracking it open soon had me gasping, squealing, and feeling as dizzy as a teenage girl at a Beatles' concert.
Anyone who knows me knows that I have a serious William Blake obsession. I have a significant library of and about him, have traveled far to see his exhibitions, and I've memorized dozens of his poems. And yes, even some of his long-form prophetic ones. Preface to Milton, anyone? But even with all that, I was ill prepared for the impact of this book. It is breathtakingly beautiful. The production is impeccable. The paper they used is so heavily woven, the book is basically printed on linen, thick and sumptuous. I don't know how they managed to produce such spectacularly vivid images on such textured paper, but the printing is just that—spectacular.
The book not only contains the 102 illustrations, fourteen of which fold out, but there are also extensive excerpts from The Divine Comedy as well as two fascinating essays about Dante and Blake and the tradition of artists inspired by Dante's work, including Sandro Botticelli, Michelangelo, Eugène Delacroix, Gustave Doré, and Auguste Rodin. And, of course, the works of these other artistic giants are given the same glorious treatment.
This is the first book I've ever reviewed where I don't feel guilty about telling you that I haven't finished it. In fact, I'm not even halfway through. This book is so impressive and high-impact to me, I can only handle a few pages a night. And I look forward to those before-bed sit downs every evening.
The other impressive thing about this book is that it's available at Amazon for under $95. Even at its full retail of $150, it would be a bargain. William Blake: The Drawings for Dante's Divine Comedy is almost as impressive as the Folio Society's Edward Young's Night Thoughts (with over 530 watercolors by Blake) and that book costs $1700.
William Blake: The Drawings for Dante's Divine Comedy
by Sebastian Schütze and Maria Antonietta Terzoli
2014, 324 pages, 12.8 x 18 x 3 inches
$94 Buy one on Amazon
Corie writes, "We have a project Happy Mutants may be interested in -- an anthology of science fiction stories for middle grade readers, with a focus on diversity and representation. We have 22 great stories from a wide range of authors, from Hugo and Nebula winner Nancy Kress, to relative newcomers in the field."
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The Light My Fire spork isn't technically a spork, but rather a handle with a fork on one end and a spoon on the other. It's regularly priced at $15, but Amazon is selling it for $6.33 + $0.99 shipping.