I don’t know about you, but I always wait until the last minute to get obligatory holiday gifts. And then I hate going to anything like a mall or shopping center. Praise be to Amazon.com and UPS.

His Dark Materials (trilogy)

From the publsiher, on book I:

When Lyra and her daemon Pantalaimon decide to spy on a presentation her uncle, the commanding Lord Asriel, is making to the elders of Jordan College they have no idea that they will become witnesses to an attempted murder–and even less that they are taking the first steps in a journey that will lead them into danger and adventure unlike anything Lyra’s unfettered imagination has conjured up.

Though she has been reised at the college in an atmosphere of benign neglect that has allowed her to become a half-wild child of the streets, Lyra soon finds herself apprenticed to the elegant Mrs. Coulter–and in possession of a strange device called the alethiometer, a “golden compass” that reads not true worth, but truth itself.

But truth is a precious commodity, and before long Lyra and Pan are running for their lives, the object of an obsessive hunt by mysterious forces who have been stealing children for dark purposes that no one understands. Lyra will need all her street-learned wiles if she and Pan are to survive.

An international sensation from the moment it was published, The Golden Compass comes to spectacular new life in this unabridged recording, narrated by Philip Pullman himself, with the support of some of the finest actors of the London stage.

The Last fo the Really Great Whangoodles

From the publisher:

What on earth is a Whangdoodle? A “fanciful creature of undefined nature,” it was also once the wisest, kindest, most fun-loving living thing in the world–until people stopped believing in it. When that lack of faith became widespread, the last of the really great Whangdoodles created a special land full of extraordinary creatures: furry Flukes, the sly High-Behind Splintercat, and the wonderful Whiffle Bird. But when an open-minded professor–the one adult who still believes in the Whangdoodle–joins forces with three children with active imaginations, they become an unstoppable team on a fantastic and sometimes terrifying journey to Whangdoodleland.

The Nine Lives of Romeo Crumb (series)

From the publisher, on “Life Three”

Awakening scared and confused from his second death, Romeo finds himself in the deepest, most forbidden place there is, Vent City. Falling into immediate peril, a stranger plucks him to safety only to reveal himself as a long, lost relative. After reluctantly meeting the gruesome Vent City mutants and hearing their heart-wrenching story, they band together to finally get their just revenge from the viscous Alleys who have taken control of the Factory. But a crushing illness threatens to end it all for Romeo, ultimately taking him away from his beloved Dennis forever. Will Romeo’s third life be spared in time to face Fidel and bring the Factory back to its rightful owners? Or will the Alleys win again?

The Magic Detectives: Join Them in Solving Strange Mysteries

Review from Infidels.org:

in Joe Nickell’s, The Magic Detectives (Prometheus Books) thirty actual cases of seemingly supernatural and paranormal phenomena are presented. At least two of the cases are directly relevant to religion: The Shroud of Turin and The Religious Healer, The Reverend Peter Popoff. The young reader is asked to provide solutions to the mysteries based on clues provided in the presentations and to compare his or her answers with those in the book that show how the mystery is solved in rational terms. Readers are told not to be discouraged if their answers differ from the ones in the book for they may have valuable ideas that are worth talking over with their science teachers. They are told that the important thing is to think critically. They are urged to try their hand at solving other mysteries they have heard of by doing research and are referred to sources listed at the end of the book.