Books for bonding
My 14-year-old son lives within a cone of silence, communicating mostly in mumbles and grunts. He will lift the cone, however, to talk about one of our shared interests : fantasy book series.
We’ve been through Harry Potter, Percy Jackson and various other young-male-hero-based fiction, but the best is Megan Whalen Turner’s "The Queen’s Thief" series.
The most recent installment, "A Conspiracy of Kings" (Greenwillow Books, $16.99), was released in March. All follow the adventures of the impossibly clever Eugenides, who is always stealing something (in one case a queen) or conning someone (in one case an entire nation).
The books are complex, steeped in royal conspiracies and plot twists, touched with mysticism and a little romance. They all have sword fighting, too, which helps reach boys inside of cones. — Betty Shimabukuro
Cute Kitty’s practical side
Hello Kitty continually creates adorable products, but when the stuff is useful as well, that’s a bonus. My new hard-case, hinged wallet, designed with a snap closure, holds all of my smaller essentials.
I went with the cute, classic design, but I’ll admit I was drawn to the glittery letters and Kitty’s shimmering bow. It’s $18 at Hot Topic. — Nancy Arcayna
Easy on the eyes
At the risk of damaging my objectivity, I’ve been crushing on the cast of the "Hawaii Five-0" reboot, especially since seeing them up close on the red carpet at Monday’s Sunset on the Beach premiere. The eye-candy quartet of Alex O’Loughlin (dashing in a tailored suit), Scott Caan (great hair!), Grace Park (OMG) and Daniel Dae Kim (cheekbones that could cut glass) looked even more stone-cold gorgeous in person than in their CBS publicity stills and earned extra points for being gracious with fans. As for the show, meh. But I’m willing to give it another look. A long, languid look. — Christie Wilson
A haven for urbanites
Need a break from the stresses of the daily grind or a serene atmosphere to clear your mind? Then this hidden piece of paradise is for you.
Ho’omaluhia Botanical Garden at the foot of the Koolaus in Kaneohe offers 400 acres of rare tropical plants. It also has a 32-acre lake for catch-and-release fishing from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. weekends.
Ho’omaluhia (translated as "to make a place of peace and tranquility") provides a scenic campground and meandering pathways. It offers family-friendly fun and a great way to relax, reconnect and capture the beauty — away from the hustle and bustle — of Oahu. Hours are 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily; call 233-7323. — Kristen Consillio
Pretty protection for iPod
ISkin’s Vibes case for the iPod Nano protects your iPod while giving it a subtle kick of personality. They come in several designs, though all provide a clear case that gives the illusion of graphic etchings on your iPod. I chose the one with flowers and a butterfly to complement my girlie pink Nano. The case is sold at the Apple Store for $24.99 or order at amazon.com for $15.99. — Donica Kaneshiro