Game review: 'Skylanders Trap Team' is an awesome toy-driven adventure for kids

Parents need to know that "Skylanders: Trap Team" is an action/adventure game in which kids control fantastical creatures, each of which has its own real-world toy counterpart. Players fight a variety of non-human enemies as they try to protect Skylands from a group of escaped villains. The shtick this time around is that kids can pull these villains out of the game and "trap" them in plastic crystals, then summon them as playable characters when needed. Like other "Skylanders" games, the cartoon violence is frequent but relatively mild. Characters use weapons including swords, guns, and magic in their attacks, but defeated enemies simply fall to the ground and disappear. Keep in mind that "Skylanders: Trap Team" will tempt kids to buy additional toys to enhance the game experience. Kids can use their existing collection of "Skylanders" toys from previous games to help limit costs, but they'll need to spend at least $125 beyond the price of the starter pack to be able to unlock all of the game's secret areas and special quests.


On 60th anniversary, 60 things you might not know about Disneyland

Much of Disneyland is built to scale to create the illusion of a full-scale experience. The trains circling the park and the Mark Twain Riverboat are built to five-eighth scale. Sleeping Beauty Castle and the storefronts on Main Street, U.S.A., use forced perspective to make the buildings appear taller.


Family Meals Matter: Beat the heat

When temperatures rise, sometimes all desire to spend time in the kitchen flies right out the window. However, good nutrition and balanced eating are important at any temperature, so be sure to start even the hottest days with a healthy breakfast.

Home & Garden

Plumber: Special bathtubs have cornered the market

Q: Dear Ed, we have a master bathroom with a large walk-in closet area. We plan to turn part of this area into a small bathroom, complete with a bathtub. Since floor area in the new bathroom will be tight, what type of space-saving bathtub could you recommend we look into?

Home & Garden

Home Fix: How to keep an attic cool

Q: I was reading one of your postings recently that had to do with roof venting. I have a question that you may, or may not, be able to help me with. We have a home in Raleigh, N.C., built in the '30s. It has a beautiful slate roof. It underwent major renovation and additions about eight years ago, all of which also had matching slate applied. Well, on these hot days, the upstairs in the original part of the house has trouble cooling. I noticed there are no powered through-the-roof fans as we had in our previous home. It gets mighty hot in the attic as there does not appear to be any ventilation up there. Do you recommend these powered roof fans to attempt cooling the attic? The heavy-duty slate roof potentially complicates any type of installation I would think.

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Book reviews: 10 new books your teens will be obsessed with

Eager to get your kids hooked on a new book series like "The Hunger Games"? Want to discover the next "Divergent"? You're in luck. From the New York Times bestseller "A Court of Thorns and Roses," by Sarah Maas to the awesomely weird "I Crawl Through It," by the enormously popular A.S. King, the blockbusters in the latest crop of young adult books are itching to be uncovered. We've ID'ed the top 10 new and soon-to-be-released titles that are sure to appeal to a young adult reader near you.


Movie review: Is the new flick 'Pixels' too raunchy for kids?

Parents need to know that "Pixels" is a sci-fi comedy starring Adam Sandler and Kevin James about a group of misfit video game lovers who end up fending off an alien attack (in the form of giant classic video game characters). As per usual, Sandler plays an immature man/boy, this time one who never got over losing a video game championship as a kid in the '80s and now gets to redeem himself. There's explosive, destructive action violence - Pac-Man eats his way through New York City, Centipede takes on Navy SEALs, a smurf gets shot with a laser and killed - as well as fighting, weapons, and some fairly raunchy (and sometimes offensive) humor. Sexual innuendo includes talk of a three-way (though nothing is shown), and one character slaps others' butts. There's also a fair bit of social drinking by adults and some aggressive yelling and swearing, including "bitch," "sluts," and "s--tballs." Fans of Sandler, James, and gaming may find this Chris Columbus-directed movie entertaining, but it's not for little kids.


Project: Jennifer Garner, 'I Made It' craft kits

Jennifer Garner, the famous mom-of-three, actress and ambassador for Connecticut-based Save the Children also recently revealed her crafty side by launching a line of do-it-yourself kits for kids with Jo-Ann Fabrics called "We Made It." Children can garden, make costumes and bake treats. The kits also inspire them to paint and sew. (The Fascinators Hairwear is darn cute.)


10 super stops on the Blue Ridge Parkway most motorists overlook

Jason Frye, a Wilmington, N.C.-based travel writer, zeroes in on the Southeast. His third guidebook, "Blue Ridge Parkway Road Trip," was published in May (Moon/Avalon Travel, $19.99), with four more books for Moon lined up for 2016. Two will be about the Carolinas, one about Asheville and the fourth about Great Smoky Mountains National Park.


Vancouver: 5 places off the beaten track

Stanley Park. Granville Island. If you've been to Vancouver, British Columbia, you've probably been to those two top spots. But the park's lovely Seawall walk and the farmers market can be jammed with tourists and locals on summer weekends.


App review: Facetune, more than just a selfie-editing tool for teens

Parents need to know that Facetune is a photo-editing app that lets users fix imperfections in photos, adjust lighting, and blur backgrounds. It can be used on photos beyond selfies and has more sophisticated editing capabilities, so it isn't just about making personal images "perfect." Teens can share the photos via email or on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Flickr, or other apps, so even though there's no minimum age set in the terms of use for Facetune specifically, it's best for ages 13 and up.

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