Monday, December 22, 2014

2014 Holiday Gift Guide: The G

Hard to top all the excellent gift ideas my fellow nerds of a feather have already suggested, but in case you need some last-minute ideas, here goes...

-The G 

1. Kindle Voyage/Paperwhite or Kobo Aura

At $99, the Paperwhite is an incredible value. The Voyage, meanwhile, is arguably just a dressed up Paperwhite at twice the price. However, the higher resolution and better backlighting do make a difference to those who, like me, suffer from chronic headaches/migraines. I mean, that’s why I bought a dedicated e-reader in the first place—to be easier on the eyes—so if that’s a priority, and you plan to use the thing a lot, it makes sense to spend a little more to get the one that best fits your needs. For those wary of getting sucked into the Amazon ecosystem, the Kobo Aura also has a great reputation. 

2. True Detective: Season One Blu-Ray

The Best Show Ever, says two random guys you should definitely listen to. And at under $20, the DVD edition is practically a steal (you'll spend a bit more for the blu-ray). Sit back, relax and mainline the secret truth of the universe.

Buy: True Detective: Season One Blu-ray or DVD.

3. LEGO Bricks & More Creative Bucket (607 pieces)

Have kids? Don’t have kids but wish you could recapture the creative wonder of childhood? Well, look no further than this big ol’ bucket of Legos! Note these are just the colored blocks—no themes, no branding, just your imagination and 607 pieces to build whatever you can think of.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Holiday Gift Guide - Dean and Charles

Dean's Holiday Gift List

In a surprise to exactly zero people, holidays are not my thing. I hate anyone feeling like they're obligated to get me anything, but here's what you should get other people.

Funko Pop FiguresI love these little buggers. Like, way too much. There are enough to suit any even vaguely geeky interest and will only set you back between $10-20.

LEGO: Seriously, can't go wrong here. Or if you can, you really shouldn't be friends with the person who doesn't like Legos. You can go as large or as small as you want here, so price can go either way. If you're buying for me, the UCS Slave I comes out in January.

Board Games: If they are not already a big gamer, buy the Settlers of Catan and make them play it (if you don't, they'll assume it's a Monopoly clone and shelve it). If they already play a lot of games, you might have to get creative. A Catan or Arkham Horror expansion would probably be a welcome gift for someone who already has a couple hundred bucks sunk into those games. On the cheaper end, Forbidden Island is fantastic and under $20. If you have non-geekly friends who think Apples to Apples/Cards Against Humanity are good games (they are not), may I humbly submit Pit? It is way funner, and intellectually stimulating and you can yell at your family and get away with it.

Charles' Holiday Gift Guide

Salsa Nocturna by Daniel José Older

The reason for this pick has more to do with Half-Resurrection Blues not coming out until early January and so being ineligible for this list. As a fan of urban fantasy and Daniel José Older, it looks amazing. For those unfamiliar with his work, though, Salsa Nocturna is a great sampling of short fiction. Published by Crossed Genres, it's a great way to get a taste for a very talented writer, and a way to whet your appetite for the new novel.
Check it out HERE

Anything from The Signed Page
As a book lover there are few things as sublimely awesome as a book signed by the author. There's just something magical about it, something powerful about holding that in your hands. Enter The Signed Page, a site dedicated to bringing signed new books into your greedy little paws. Available for pre-order (so they can be personalized) or from stock, I love this site. And what's more. Because of moving, all in-stock signed stock is on sale. I'm talking as low as $10 for a signed book!
Go now, HERE.

Munchkin Adventure Time Game

And now for something completely different. Because Adventure Time is amazing. Like my favorite show. And now it's combined with one of my favorite infuriating, I mean fun card games. Probably much easier to just pick and play than the Adventure Time Card Wars (which is a little confusing), this game combines the characters and ridiculousness of Adventure Time with the random and wacky Munchkin system. Seems like a good match to me.
Available HERE.

The Inheritance Trilogy by N.K. Jemisin

Now in one volume. With extra content. Extra content! I really shouldn't have to say more about this. But I will. This is a tremendous deal. Three novels and the bonus content all for about $20. And out just in time for the holidays. I absolutely loved the Dreamblood books, and have thoroughly enjoyed Jemisin's short work as well. And with everything included in this omnibus, it's sure to please both die-hard fans and new readers. Seriously, this is a no-brainer. Go out and get this.
Maybe from HERE.

Through the Woods by Emily Carroll

Like horror? This is the best I have read in a long, long time. Like ever. The art is disturbing, beautiful yet twisted, and the stories are deeply chilling. Carroll's art bleeds from the page and right into our world, twisting images like the iconic Goodnight Moon room into something much, much darker. And nothing says Christmas like unbridled terror, right? 
Get it HERE.

Subscriptions! (I'm talking SFF zines, of course)
There are so many worthy places to throw your money at this holiday season. Or to give as a gift through something like Weightless Books. There are honestly too many magazines to really list them all, but anyone looking to narrow down the list can check out my suggestions in the last two Monthly Rounds. You really can't go wrong with subscriptions, and it supports,  you know, actually paying SFF writers for their craft. Most places release their stuff for free, but there are perks to subscribing and, if you can afford it, why not?

So there it is! I hope you're a little more prepared for this holiday season now!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Thursday Morning Superhero: Holiday Gift Guide Edition

My wife often complains that I am a hard man to shop for during the holiday season.  Partly because I already have too many comic books and board games, but nonetheless it can be quite tricky shopping for the comic loving person in your life.   In lieu of my weekly comic book round-up, I thought it might be helpful if I provided some handy comic related gift suggestions.

For the comic book fan who thinks he or she has everything:

With licenses like Hell Boy, Chew, Locke and Key, and Mouse Guard, there is a good chance that the Skeleton Crew Studio will have something unique.  I have a number of their products (some Locke and Key keys and a pink Chog) and their attention to detail is stunning.

For the old school comic book reader:

Somehow Boom! Studios acquired the rights to produce officially licensed Big Trouble in Little China tanks.  For the inner Jack Burton in all of us, these extremely limited shirt will without question be one of the biggest hits this holiday season.  It is going to take crackerjack timing as only 200 of these babies are being printed!

For the comic book risk taker:

Do you know someone who isn't afraid to jump into a new series?  Someone who looks forward to the big events despite the repercussions (there usually aren't any real repercussions) that may occur?  If you don't mind taking a stab in the dark, the good folk at J and K Stuff offer custom mystery boxes.  They range from $10 to $100 and they even offer a mystery  Wolverine box.  The items are guaranteed to be new and the value is guaranteed value of the purchase price.  I have seen some posts of people's hauls on various forms of social media and these are a lot of fun.

For the person who actually wants a comic book:

Unless someone tells you, it is usually quite difficult to know what comic to actually purchase for someone.  What if they already have it?  If you are concerned about these things, but know what types of comics they are a fan of, you should consider getting him or her a limited edition trade.  One of my favorites is the Sixth Gun: Gunslinger edition (limited to 1,000 units), but if you want some more options you should really check out IDW Limited.   They offer a range of items from G.I. Joe to My Little Pony.  While you are there feel free to order me a shiny Locke and Key Black Label book.  I'm not picky and will accept any of them.

POSTED BY MIKE N. aka Victor Domashev -- comic guy, proudly raising nerdy kids, and Nerds of a Feather contributor since 2012.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

2014 Holiday Nerd Gift Guide - English Scribbler

This time next year the new Star Wars film will be out and, although my wife has resolutely never seen any of them and describes Chewbecca as "that stupid talking dog", we have a 4 month old son who has 12 months to do the following in no particular order of importance :

- learn to sit
- learn to crawl
- learn to eat solid food
- learn to stand
- learn to walk a bit
- learn some basic English phrasing like "Can we go see The Force Awakens in IMAX 3D please father?"

Within this time it is paramount that given his disinterest in reading or understanding advertising that I indoctrinate him fully in the Star Wars universe. Purely for his own benefit. With that in mind my gift guide this year is perhaps the most selfless (and therefore Christmassy) act since Oates walked out of that tent into the Antarctic night, for it is not for me, but for him. You're welcome, Jesus.

For Bedtime Reading:  'Darth Vader and Son' by Jeffrey Brown

An initially unpromising cash-in of an idea, Brown immediately counters this with warm yet edgy humour and a firm grasp of both Lucasland and parent/childhood. Also available is a Princess Leia version for those of you lucky to have a pink human version. This little beauty will probably end up with chewed corners and sick stains so I might just keep this on the bookshelf and read him Seuss's Mr Brown Can Moo. Can You? again. Amazon.

For Those First Steps: R2D2 Crocs

Check out these bad boys. Sure, soon he will only want ones featuring whatever Ja-Ja annoyance Abrams and co come up with , but for now these sleek retro steppers will be constantly falling off into dog poo and then shoved by him into his mouth and driving us crazy after the first few seconds of amusement. Amazon.

For Waking Him Up In The Morning When I'm Hungover and He is Staying Over After I Get Thrown Out For Going On About A Kids Film With Talking Dogs In All The Time: Boba Fett Lamp and Alarm Clock

You will definitely get up with this slightly rotund Boba blaring at you, and you will make your dad toast and coffee. 
For I am your father. 


I know that by around March next year I'll already be sick of the hype and guiding Benjamin towards something less mainstream but in the meantime this can haunt his dreams.



Posted By : English Scribbler, contributor and resident monarchist since 2013.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Holiday Gift Guide (for Girls?) - Tia and Vance

Here at Nerds of a Feather, we're big believers in women in the sciences and the science fictions. And since I have three daughters, the oldest of whom is actively building up her nerd cred more and more, I pitched co-contributor Tia the idea of doing a gift guide for girls that goes in a totally different direction than your mainstream pink-and-princesses type guides we all see everywhere this time of year. The gifts that follow, then, are not really gender-specific, but we hope that if you're shopping for a special kid with an interest in nerdy things, regardless of their chromosomes, these will give you some ideas.

Gift Guide - Vance

I bestow upon you earned knowledge. Each of the gifts below has been kid-tested in my own home, so I've seen these things in action in grubby little kid paws, and pronounce them winners.

Board Games

The two most popular games in my house this year have been Labyrinth and King of Tokyo. Labyrinth is a board game made up of moving tiles that you can shift on your turn in order to create a path to the next piece of treasure you must collect. It's fun, and a wonderful exercise in spatial reasoning. In King of Tokyo, you are a monster battling other monsters for control of Tokyo. What's not to love?
Labyrinth from Amazon King of Tokyo at Amazon


I loved the 1960s Batman TV series when I was a kid, but in a new world that includes sprawling effects spectacles like The Avengers, I wasn't sure how the campy antics of Adam West and Burt Ward would go over. I needn't have worried. All three girls come from wherever they are in the house to dance when they hear the theme song begin, and all those "Pow"s "Biff"s and "Zowie"s have been tremendous fun for somebody who just learned to read. Now the complete series is available on disc for the first time, and even comes packaged with a snazzy die-cast Batmobile.

Monster Feet

My eldest daughter loves monsters and Godzilla. Somebody gave her some pink monster-feet house shoes, which are fine, but she and I both prefer the Godzilla feet slippers she has. Seeing a little kid walk around the house in these things is simply the best. It's the best.

Gift Guide - Tia

Dealing with Dragons: Book One of the Enchanted Forrest Chronicles by Patricia C. Wrede

This was my all time favorite book growing up. It’s about an improper princess named Cimorene, who doesn’t behave as a princess ought to. She tries to learn fencing and cleaning and magic and Latin…all subjects that are denied to princesses. But uncovering her parents’ plan to force her into an arranged marriage is the last straw and Cimorene skips town, eventually finding herself in the company of some dragons. She volunteers to be the dragons’ “captive,” a position she thoroughly enjoys, despite all the annoying rescue attempts by knights in shining armor.

I think I loved this book so much because it was different than all the other princess stories. I was condemned to Catholic school as I kid, so I could fully relate to being expected to act a certain way and not being able to learn anything cool. I can’t speak for the trilogy as a whole, because I never even knew there was more than one book until recently, but Dealing with Dragons is a story that will live in a little girl’s heart forever (well mine at least).

Harry Potter Gryffindor Jersey

This is the all time most awesome Harry Potter shirt EVER! When I finally made it to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter this summer, I was so overwhelmed with nerdiness I couldn’t handle it. Not to mention, the Diagon Alley expansion was finished but not open to the public yet, so I had to deal with that crushing blow at the same time. Talk about mixed feelings. I’m not going to lie, I did contemplate jumping the fence. There was only one guard on duty and I know I could have outrun him. But anyway, I saw so many little folks rocking this top around Orlando and it was fantastic. It’s not your typical flimsy T-Shirt, it has a little more substance to it and even some embroidery. I opted not to buy myself one while I was there and purchased a wand instead, a decision I regret. At a recent Harry Potter festival in Philadelphia I saw a mother-daughter duo sporting these matching HP jerseys and it was to die for. Universal Studios.

National Geographic Archaeology Kit: Pyramid Dig

Lets face it. Archaeology is cool, mythology is cool, and digging in the dirt is really, really cool. I worked as an archeologist for a time and was the only girl on the field crew (i.e., dirt diggers). All the other girls at the company worked in either administration or as researchers. If you ask me, we need more girls in the dirt digging department. This Ancient Egypt archaeology set looks like so much fun, and may be just the type of thing to get more of today’s youth interested in history and digging. It comes with a little chisel, brush, hammer, mummy, and sarcophagus. It even has directions on how to mummify an apple! Be aware though, this kit contains choking hazards, so make sure that the recipient of this gift isn’t one to eat non-food items.  Amazon.  

(Editor's note: Tia and I had overlapping gift recommendations, although mine involved digging up dinosaur bones, not ancient civilizations. Both are super cool. Here's the T-Rex skeleton dig we have here. - V)

Monday, December 15, 2014

Holiday Gift Guide -Mikey and Brian

Buying stuff for people is hard! I mean, how do you know what they already have? Do you know them well enough to make a guess? So we attempted to be a bit broad, think a little outside of the box. Getting people something they didn’t know they wanted until they got it is great! Alternately, we tried to get something that they would want but maybe not pay for themselves. Something not exactly exciting but always needed, like socks. With that said, here are our picks for the Nerds of a Feather Holiday Gift Guide 2014.

Brian's Picks:

Dishonored: The Dunwall Archives

I loved Dishonored. It’s a great game that encourages creative solutions, or allows you to play it as straight as you want. But beyond that, it’s a beautiful game with a great art style.  There are just mountains of fictional history and fluff that many games overlook. Dishonored: The Dunwall Archives collects some of the best parts and puts them in a hardcover book. It’s a well-made volume that I was proud to add to my collection of good video game books. Get it for anyone who is a fan of good video games, and maybe get them a copy of Dishonored (PS3 , Xbox One) to go with it!

Funko Classic Sci-Fi Mystery Minis

My wife recently got me a LootCrate subscription, and I was pleased to find a Funko Classic Sci-Fi Mystery Mini in one of the recent packages. It’s a small vinyl figure, but the detail on the sculpt and the paint is pretty impressive! Part of the fun of these is that you never really know what’s in the box until you open it. The Classic Sci-Fi series includes figures from Tron, E.T., and Firefly, among others. They make great little desk decorations so they’re perfect for the office-working sci-fi fan! Grab one here .

Xbox Live / Playstation Plus 12-month Renewal Card

These definitely fall under the ‘socks’ category, but they’re way better than socks. If you own a PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, or Xbox One, you know that your console is half as useful without a subscription to Playstation Plus or Xbox Live. You know that you’re going to be renewing it every year, and hoping the renewal doesn’t come before you find a good deal on a renewal card. You, the gift-giver, can save your gaming friends the hassle with a renewal card. Time on renewal cards stack with whatever they’ve already paid up for, so they’re instantly usable and the gift-recipient can forget about renewing for another year. Beyond that, these services give away free games to subscribers, so you’re technically buying your friend a full year of free gaming. Renewal cards are always appreciated.

Mikey's Picks:

Luke Skywalker's Lightsaber MimoPowerTube 

As a nerd who frequently travels around to various conventions, a portable power supply for your phone or tablet is a must.  While you gain points from your fellow convention attendee for being prepared, nothing is going to earn you more cred than charging your device with Luke Skywalker's freakin' lightsaber!  Not only do the good folks at Mimoco put such an amazing device in an amazing package, they include an adapter so you can plug in your MimoPowerTube into a handful of devices.  This is the Rolls Royce in the portable charging market and is perfect for the nerd in your life.  Pick one up directly from Mimoco here.

Machi Koro

About two year ago I ventured into the world of tabletop gaming.  Not knowing I was opening up a Pandora's Box of fun, I have made it my mission to indoctrinate as many people I can into this amazing world.  My strategy has been to target the youth with games that are quick and fun, but surprisingly deep and strategic.  Machi Koro is my current gateway game of choice.  You assume the role of a mayor who wants to construct four landmarks.  To accomplish this you must collect resources and build up your city.  I have read a lot of reviews that compare the game to Catan and while I think that is a fair comparison, Machi Koro really lets you control your own destiny in a way that Catan doesn't.  If your numbers aren't hitting, then simply buy a card with that number to increase your odds.  Are you a gambler?  Then focus on a couple of numbers and pray to the dice gods that you have a lucky roll.  Each game keeps you on the edge of your seat and it is enjoyed by gamers of all ages.  It has quickly risen to the coveted spot of my son's favorite game and I have already started to hook his friends with the delightful world of Machi Koro.  Highly recommended for gamers of all levels and ages.  Pick it up at Amazon at a ridiculously low price here.

Jedi Academy

I was introduced into the world of Jeffrey Brown through his delightful book Darth Vader and Son.  It was an instant hit in my family and we have been scooping up his books as fast as he can publish them.  His current series, Jedi Academy, tells the tale of a young man named Roan.  Growing up on Tatooine, he wants nothing more than to follow in his brother's, father's, and grandfather's footsteps and attend Pilot Academy.  After being rejected, Roan is in for a surprise for his life as he finds himself attending Jedi Academy under the tuteledge of Master Yoda.  It is easy to relate to the characters in this book and there are some genuinely hilarious moments (my favorite is the P.E. teacher Kitmum the Wookiee).  My favorite thing about this book and its sequel is the simple fact that it has my son excited about reading.  This is the perfect gift for an enthusiastic young reader.  You can find Jedi Academy at Amazon here.