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Kate Milford's Greenglass House: lyrical, tense YA mystery

Kate Milford made a name as a young adult writer able to tap into a rich Bradburian vein of lyricism with the Boneshaker -- now she shows us that she's an expect mystery writer as well, in Greenglass House, an illustrated middle-grades novel that will keep you guessing.Read the rest

Cthulhu Dice – Curse your opponents before you lose all your marbles and go insane

The Cthulhu Mythos is turned into a game of dice in Steve Jackson's Cthulhu Dice. The demonically beating heart of the game is a large, beautiful, and gem-like 12-sided die covered in Cthulhu-related runes. Each rune has a different effect in making one person or another go insane (or taking some of their insanity away from them). Players take turns choosing someone to curse and then casting the die against them. Every player has a stash of Sanity Tokens (little glass disks), a.k.a. “marbles,” and when you've lost all of your marbles, you go insane. But this is a game from the world of H.P. Lovecraft, so you're still not out of the game. Insane players continue to play just to try and drive other players mad. The goal of the game is to be the last sane Cthulhu Cultist standing. If everyone goes rubber room bonkers, Cthulhu wins.

Cthulhu Dice is very easy to learn and especially fun to play in situations where you want the social interaction of gaming, but don't want to play a long game, or you don't want to be tremendously engaged in the game you're playing. People always talk about “beer and pretzels” games, well this is a game you could actually play in a boisterous bar or as a sort of palate cleaner between main attraction games at a gaming night.

Cthulhu Dice
Steve Jackson Games
Ages 10 and up, 2-6 players
$7 Buy one on Amazon

See sample pages from this book at Wink.

The 1-star reviews convinced me to buy this spoon holder

The fact that many Amazon reviewers were aghast to realize that this stainless steel double spoon holder resembled a scrotum was reason alone to buy it.

Culina Stainless Steel Double Spoon Rest 7" ($10) on Amazon

Unicorn on a Roll: more comics in the tradition of Calvin and Hobbes

The first collection starring Phoebe and her unicorn friend Marigold Heavenly Nostrils was the strongest new syndicated strip I'd read in years; with Unicorn on a Roll, Dana Simpson demonstrates that she's got plenty more where that came from.

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Spinning solar-powered Titan & Luna globes

If you liked the solar-powered spinning Mars globe, but wanted something more exotic, there's the spinning Titan globe, and for something closer to home, there's the Lunar edition.

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The largest worm in the world is as tall as an elephant, and many other wormy facts in We Dig Worms

Three fun facts about worms:

1. The largest worms in the world are 10 feet long (that's feet, not inches!).
2. Worms move with the help of tiny bristles.
3. A million worms can live in one small park.

A lot more facts can be found in We Dig Worms, an adorable and interesting picture book for ages 4-8 that turns the worm “eww” factor into a sense of awe and respect for the hard-working cold-blooded creatures. As a fun side note, Author Kevin McCloskey, an illustration professor at Kutztown University of Pennsylvania, used paper bags as his canvas for the book’s charming paintings, “because, just like worms, he believes in recycling.”

We Dig Worms
by Kevin McCloskey
Watson-Guptill
2015, 40 pages, 9.2 x 6.1 x 0.4 inches
$11 Buy a copy on Amazon

See sample pages from this book at Wink.

Deal: ZeroLemon SolarJuice 20000mAh Battery

Power up your iOS, Android, and USB-compatible devices over and over again with a massive 20,000mAh of portable juice. The high-quality Lithium Polymer SolarJuice ($49.99) is designed to charge at home or with just the power of the sun, for an enormous amount of extra battery fuel for life on the move.

Hand-selected from the coolest innovative products at CES 2015!

  • Top Grade A cell, built-in 20000mAh Lithium Polymer battery charges via a powerful 1.2W monocrystalline solar panel
  • Dual output allows for simultaneous charging of multiple devices at high speeds
  • Anti-explosion, lightweight, compact, and reliable
  • 1000+ recharge cycles over the life of the battery
  • Solar charging capabilities with any light condition
  • 4 LED indicators reflecting charging & discharging process
  • Fast charging 2.1 & 1A power output for maximum iOS & Android charge rates (more than 7x charge for iPhone 6)
  • Ultrabright LED flashlight

Solar-powered spinning Mars globe

It's 4.5" in diameter and spins slowly so long as there's light for the solar cells: $140 on Thinkgeek.

Gotcha Gadgets – A book with a built in electronic mischief maker

Build Your Own Gotcha Gadgets comes with a multifunction electronic circuit, wires, and sensors that kids can use to build a variety of pranksterish devices: A cookie jar that sounds an alarm when the lid is removed, an electronic whoopie cushion, an intrusion detector, a fake lie detector, and more. Once you try a few projects from the book, it wouldn’t be hard to come up with other ways to use the components, both mischievous and mild.

Build Your Own Gotcha Gadgets
by Ben Grossblatt
Klutz press
2015, 32 pages, 0.5 x 10.2 x 12 inches (paperback)
$21 Buy a copy on Amazon

See sample pages from this book at Wink.

Star Wars Frames looks at the movies' gorgeous cinematography piece by piece

You’ve seen the movies, now see the book. Star Wars Frames collects selections of single frames from the entire Star Wars saga. This giant two volume set features a book for each trilogy. Inside you’ll find selected frames that literally show you the movie piece by piece.

This book draws attention to a dimension of filmmaking that is hard to study as it’s happening. You might remember a cool shot in The Empire Strikes Back, but until now you couldn’t marvel at the shot unless you watched the film and paused it. With Frames, the entire movie is laid out for you to experience at your own pace, letting you fully absorb the weight and technique of each shot. It’s a great look at the gorgeous cinematography at work in each film. The pages are massive, so you can see plenty of detail. If you’re a fan of Star Wars and/or filmmaking, this is a must own. – Alex Strine

Star Wars Frames
by George Lucas
Harry N. Abrams
2013, 736 pages, 12 x 13.5 x 3.5inches
$95 Buy a copy on Amazon

See sample pages from this book at Wink.

Makies Doll – A doll you customize before it's 3D printed

The most fun my 12-year-old daughter ever had shopping for a toy was last winter when she ordered a Makies doll (pictured above). Or shall I say, when she created her Makies doll. With endless choices ranging from hair color to nose width and length to eye shape and color to ear roundness (or pointiness!) to the volume of the cheeks, and many more options, Makies allows you to completely customize your own doll, and then prints the unique doll out from a 3D printer before shipping it to you. My daughter spent the better part of an afternoon getting all of the details of her doll just the way she wanted them.

Makies was started by my friend Alice Taylor (Boing Boing editor Cory Doctorow is her husband), whose own nerd-chic style is reflected in the cool selection of printed and hand-sewn doll outfits offered (dresses with patterns of skulls or scissors, T-shirts with “3D” or “Geek” printed on them, thick black-framed glasses, candy-colored wigs, blue platform shoes…). I have to say, the clothes and accessories are the coolest I’ve ever seen for this type of doll and makes me wish they sold them in human sizes as well.

Whether you want to make a “mini-me” replica of yourself or allow your imagination to run wild, customizing a Makie doll is almost as much fun as owning one.

Makies Doll
Makies
Ages 6 and up
$115 Buy one on Amazon

See sample pages from this book at Wink.

Congratulations to the 2014 Nebula Award winners!

Best novel: Annihilation;, Jeff VanderMeer; Novella "Yesterday’s Kin," Nancy Kress; Novelette “A Guide to the Fruits of Hawai’i,” Alaya Dawn Johnson; Short story “Jackalope Wives,” Ursula Vernon; Movie Guardians of the Galaxy; YA Love Is the Drug, Alaya Dawn Johnson.

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Here's a colorful set of pseudo-sporks for travel

spooforksI have my own titanium spork that I travel with. I recently added this $7 set of plastic not-sporks so my kids can enjoy yogurt and salads on planes and hotel rooms. The spoon is capacious, and the fork side has a serrated edge that can be used as a knife/saw (it doesn't hurt your lip, fortunately).

A comprehensive collection of John Lennon's visual art

In the years since his death, John Lennon's whimsical artwork has appeared on baby bedding, greeting cards, T-shirts, prints, posters and even in a few slim books. But this volume is the most comprehensive collection of his visual works to date. The book includes early drawings inspired by Ivanhoe and other childhood reading, as well as Lennon's darkly funny, Thurber-esque cartoons of the mid-1960s. And it concludes with his gentle, almost Matisse-like sketches of family life with Yoko Ono and son Sean in the late 1970s. Together, you get a full sense of how Lennon used simple artworks to express himself throughout his life.

Lennon dropped out of the Liverpool College of Art to become a full-time Beatle in his early 20s. Probably a good move. Unlike his classmate Stu Sutcliffe, Lennon didn't have the makings of a great painter. Yet, he might've made it as a cartoonist. The works here demonstrate imagination and potential, and a fluency for relating concepts in pencil, ink and brush. With a few minimal lines, Lennon could clearly convey whatever was on his mind: silly, sentimental or sad. Which is what it was all about: He used art to express an idea and then quickly moved on to the next thing on his agenda, be it writing or recording a song, or baking bread for Sean and Yoko during his house-husband years.

The book's text, on the other hand, seems to suggest Lennon should be acclaimed as a great visual artist as well as musician. That's pushing it. Certainly, he had his own style and you can see him working to develop it in different ways. For example, late in life, he started experimenting with Japanese-style watercolor and brushes. But his visual art is just one aspect of Lennon, not the big picture. Leaving art school was no mistake or lost opportunity. By leaving, he was following his true passion: music. And that's what made him the man we remember today. – John Firehammer

See sample pages from this book at Wink.

John Lennon: The Collected Artwork
by Scott Gutterman (author) John Lennon (artist) Yoko Ono (Foreword)
Insight Editions
2014, 204 pages, 11.2 x 11.2 x 1 inches
$34 Buy a copy on Amazon

3D printed cochlear implants for your toys


Building on their Toy Like Me accessories, Makies has shipped 3D printed cochlear implants for your 3D printed custom doll, in white or pink.

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Crazily chunky knitwear and blankets


Etsy's Ohhio knits with crazily thick Merino wool yarn in 70 colors that runs 3"/stitch: the cuddliest blankets; lush scarves and giant cowls (via Crazy Abalone).

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Deal: Sound Kick Bluetooth Speaker

Sound Kick ($49.99) trumps the competition with its robust sound, compact size, and sleek design — all at a great price point. The go-to travel speaker for Bluetooth audio aficionados, the Sound Kick grants you 7 hours of non-stop full sound on each charge.

The Best $100 Bluetooth Speaker, Gizmodo

Overall Best of Show CES winner, iLounge

  • Enjoy up to 7 hours of playtime with the built-in rechargeable battery
  • Stream music wirelessly via Bluetooth
  • Control the volume & playback functions directly from the speaker
  • Quickly connect to any device w/ a simple line-in option that works with a standard headphone jack
  • Enhance your playlist w/ full sound, natural bass response, vocal clarity & UQ3™ spatial enhancement
  • Charge your mobile devices w/ the USB power port even while Sound Kick is running on battery power

Order by 6/8 to guarantee delivery in time for Father's Day.

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