Of Butterflies & Birthdays

September 12th is the start of Birthday Hell in my family. My younger but much taller sister, Little-Big(not her real name) turned 33 today. She loves everything butterflies and purple, so I had to get Cobble Hill’s new Butterfly Magic for her.

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All right, full disclosure here. I did not touch this puzzle except to help sort out the edge pieces. Little-Big loved the idea of a birthday puzzle, and whenever I turned around, she was happily assembling her own present!

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This puzzle went together relatively quickly. I was down with no spoons yesterday, so Little-Big sent me pics while I rested in bed.

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Little-Big started sorting her pieces by trying to finish the monarch butterfly with the sunflowers; then ended up sorting her pieces into the different framed sections.

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My sister had the best time working on the random cut, which had her scrambling to find where pieces fit right up to the last 2 pieces!

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TaDa!! Butterflies! Little-Big managed to get this finished just a few hours before her birthday. It will be glued this weekend and then mounted in her room.

PUZZLE SPECS

  • Company: Cobble Hill
  • Title: Butterfly Magic
  • Artist: Rosiland Solomon
  • Year released: 2019
  • Pieces: 500
  • Cut-Style:  Random
  • Finished size: 19.25 x 26.625
  • Bonus poster: Yes
  • Made from recycled materials
  • Made in USA

QUALITY: 

  • Box: Sturdy, Medium-weight, 10″x14’x2.5″ Matte-Linen Finish
  • Board: Thick and sturdy pieces
  • Cut: Steel-cut Die
  • Image Quality: Excellent, great color saturation
  • Finish: Satin, linen texture
  • Puzzle Dust: Almost none
  • Piece shapes: Random
  • Piece Fit: Very Good, nice tight fit that if careful, I could lift it up completely

Disability Notes: Little-Big likes the larger pieces, which are easy on hands. The bright colors and different sections make dividing the pieces into workable groups easy.

Where to buy: Butterfly Magic is available on the Cobble Hill website for $15.99 USD. While Fall is fast approaching, this puzzle is perfect for any butterfly enthusiast or to brighten up those upcoming  gray days!

Cobble Hill Puzzle Company : Website / FaceBook

Disclosure: I received a complimentary puzzle from the manufacturer in exchange for review. The opinions are my own. All links are direct, I do not make money from them.

Thanks for reading, and please click the Follow Button under my profile on the right side of the page. To support posts like this in the future, consider joining my Patreon!

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Traveling the World – Travel Mosaic

 I’ve been traveling a lot this summer. While none of my destinations have been super exotic, I enjoy being new places and seeing new people. This week I’m in Atlanta, Georgia for DragonCon and I thought I’d share a new coloring book that’s been keeping me busy.

Travel Mosaic is a Color by Number coloring book by Belba Family, who also created the Animal Mosaic Book. This coloring book is fantastic!

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 There are 24 images of places and people from all over the world, done in a pop art sort of style.My sister, Little-Big really enjoyed this book. She did the majority of the coloring on some of the pages!

We both enjoyed the range of images and colors. I’ve found color by number books to be incredibly relaxing. All the colors are ones easily found in most crayon and colored pencil sets, and most marker sets as well.

Disability Notes: I found the coloring areas large enough to accommodate nearly any coloring age group, through a few pages have a higher level of difficulty than others. If you have eye issues, you may have difficulty seeing the numbers as they are printed in a charcoal ink that is designed to blend into the colored page.

Where to buy: Travel Mosaic is available at Amazon. The book’s MSRP is $7.99 USD.

Belba Family: Website / FaceBook / Instagram

Disclosure: I received this coloring book for free in exchange for a review. The opinions are my own. All art shown on this post is Copyright ©2019 Belba Family. The coloring is mine. All links are direct; I do not make money from them.

Thanks for reading, and please click the Follow Button under my profile on the right side of the page. To support posts like this in the future, consider joining my Patreon!

Coloring on the Go – Reviewing COLORpockit!

Back in June I was browsing my FaceBook when one of the sponsored posts caught my eye. I usually ignore these, but I’d been searching coloring books and such enough to have tripped the FB algorithms. This ad was for an odd little coloring kit called a COLORpockit.

I was intrigued and did a little research before reaching out to see if Dalaine Bartelme, the creator of COLORpockit would be interested in me doing a review. Thankfully she was! My new green COLORpockit came just before I headed north for inventory and the Convention Season. IMG_6347This is a rather unassuming little thing, isn’t it? The dimensions are only 8 inches long by 5 inches high by 1 inch deep. But you know what they say about small packages….IMG_6346BOOM. Check this out! The top slides to reveal the coloring deck, a dozen 4 by 6 inch postcards and the built-in pencil sharpener. The bottom conceals a drawer full of 12 double-sided colored pencils.

This kit is entirely self-contained, and refillable! which is a good thing, because after traveling to 3 conventions this summer, I put a serious dent on the colored pencils. I was seriously impressed by the pencils, the color they lay down is super smooth and surprisingly bright!IMG_6357

The Welcome coloring deck which comes with each COLORpockit is drawn by Dalaine Bartelme herself! I had a lot of fun choosing where to start my coloring journey! IMG_6349

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Colored by me 

I ended up giving this kit a real workout. It lived in my convention backpack and I would find myself coloring nearly everywhere. The train was easier than the car (I had a lap tray), I could color in my hotel room after work, or at home resting on my own couch. I could fit it in my purse and pull it out to distract Hime when she claimed she was bored.

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Colored by Hime.

Overall, I’m really pleased. I’ve already recommended COLORpockit to my mom, who is a avid colorist.

Disability Notes: I really only have nice things to say about this product. The COLORpockit body is sturdy and is kind to hands that may not have a full range of motion. The art on the various cards is a good mix of large and small coloring areas for people with eyesight issues. The prices are reasonable for folks on a budget and the kit fits well in a medium purse or small tote bag. I think this would be a great addition to a hospital bag or bedside kit for those awful I-can’t-move days. Bonus, because it is made with food-grade plastic, it can easily be cleaned and wiped down with sanitizer.

Where to buy: The COLORpockit is available on the COLORpockit website. The COLORpockit kit is normally $25 USD, but is currently on sale for $19.99 USD.  Each COLORpockit kit comes with the welcome coloring deck, and there are additional coloring decks done by different artists and with different themes for $10 USD. You can also buy additional pencils for $10 USD.

COLORpockit : Website / FaceBook

Disclosure: I received this product for free in exchange for a review. The opinions are my own. All art shown on this post is Copyright ©2018 COLORpockit. The coloring is mine. All links are direct; I do not make money from them.

Thanks for reading, and please click the Follow Button under my profile on the right side of the page. To support posts like this in the future, consider joining my Patreon!

Fathers, Sons, Murder, and Mystery

The Whisper Man by Alex North was previously released in the UK and will be hitting US bookshelves next week. I’ve been sitting on this book review for a while.  If you follow my Instagram or Twitter, you know that I tend to announce when I get an ARC that catches my attention.IMG_5987My video of opening this card.

I’ve been spending most of this week on the couch or bed due to powerful rainstorms that are a summer staple in the South. It’s not surprising I’m curled up with the cats to read this!

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Zane is my main book-buddy. He loves to curl up with me.

Here is the blurb from the back of the book:

After the sudden death of his wife, Tom Kennedy believes a fresh start will help him and his young son Jake heal. A new beginning, a new house, a new town. Featherbank.

But the town has a dark past. Twenty years ago, a serial killer abducted and murdered five residents. Until Frank Carter was finally caught, he was nicknamed “The Whisper Man,” for he would lure his victims out by whispering at their windows at night.

Just as Tom and Jake settle into their new home, a young boy vanishes. His disappearance bears an unnerving resemblance to Frank Carter’s crimes, reigniting old rumors that he preyed with an accomplice. Now, detectives Amanda Beck and Pete Willis must find the boy before it is too late, even if that means Pete has to revisit his great foe in prison: The Whisper Man.

And then Jake begins acting strangely. He hears a whispering at his window…

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Hurricane Enlil as a bookrest.

Okay, mild spoiler, I am female. The Whisper Man has a central spiraling theme of fathers and their sons, but honestly; it can easily be morphed to fathers and their children.  How are we shaped by the men who raise us? What happens when sons who had horrible fathers become fathers themselves? What unintentional lessons do we learn?

The mystery itself, of the disappearances of young boys and their deaths resuming after 20 years is intriguing; especially with the killer still in jail. We follow DI (Detective Inspector) Pete Willis, a recovering alcoholic who is still haunted by the Whisper Man case and the fact another boy has gone missing. We also follow Tom and Jake Kennedy, a father/son duo whose recent loss of Rebecca, Jake’s mother has both of them floundering. Tom had a father that filled him with doubt as to his worth as a human being, and he struggles every day to to relate to Jake, a sensitive, imaginative child. Jake is full of art and stories, and his imaginary friends worry his father. The problem is, Tom is seeing proof that at least one of those imaginary friends isn’t and that Jake is in danger.

While the twists and turns of this story are compelling, and I was thoroughly invested in discovering the identity of the Whisper Man; the most frightening aspect of the book for me was the whispers. Not the whispers of the Whisper Man; but the insidious inner thoughts of Pete as he battles to not drink, the whispers that echo in Tom’s mind that he is worthless and failing Jake, the whispers that any person who fights depression or childhood trauma hears. I have a chronic disease, I hear my own set of whispers often. I found Alex North’s realism in portraying them chilling.

  • Title: The Whisper Man
  • Author: Alex North
  • Publisher: Celadon Books
  • Released: August 20th, 2019
  • Language: English
  • Format: Hardcover
  • Pages: 368 pages
About the Author:

Alex North was born in Leeds, England, where he now lives with his wife and son. The Whisper Man was inspired by North’s own little boy, who mentioned one day that he was playing with “the boy in the floor.” Alex North is a British crime writer who has previously published under another name.

About the Publisher:

Founded by publishing industry veterans Jamie Raab and Deb Futter, Celadon Books, a division of Macmillan Publishing, selects each title with thoughtful consideration in an effort to create a list that is at once classic, uncommon, and fosters discoverability of new voices.

Our list includes a wide-ranging selection of fiction and non-fiction, from page-turning thrillers and literary novels to memoirs, works of history and psychology, narrative nonfiction and memoirs. The common denominator is that we aim to publish books of quality with commercial appeal.

Celadon Books : Website / FaceBook

Where to buy:
The Whisper Man is available for preorder on Amazon in Hardcover, Kindle and Audiobook. The hardcover will retail for $26.99 USD, but is currently on sale for $13.99 USD. The Whisper Man will be in bookstores on August 20th, 2019.
Disclosure: I received a complimentary book from the publisher in exchange for review. The opinions are my own. All links are direct, I do not make money from them.

Thanks for reading, and please click the Follow Button under my profile on the right side of the page. To support posts like this in the future, consider joining my Patreon!

Dog Days of Summer

I don’t know about you guys, but I both love and hate the Dog Days of summer. It’s too hot for me to spend much time outside, and some of my meds don’t react well to direct sunlight. So I spend a lot of time working on my hobbies. Of course, that means puzzles! I’m PuzzlePaws, aren’t I??

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Re-marks was awesome when I asked them to surprise me with a small piece count puzzle to review. I knew I had to wait until I was back home from a convention to give it a proper review.  As most of my puzzles are cat-themed, it was a delight to switch things up and work on a dog puzzle. IMG_6144My sister Little-Big helped me assemble this puzzle. I focused on the grass and doghouses, while she worked on the sky and words. I honestly cannot read this Charles Schulz quote without smiling. Add in the puppies, and this is a winner of a puzzle!

IMG_6147For all that this is a 200 Large Piece puzzle, it had some pieces that were unexpectedly challenging! For some reason, my eyes had a hard time differentiating between the sky and the mint doghouse.

XRXD1162As you can see, the pieces are definitely large! I found them to be lightweight but sturdy, and easy to handle on a day my hands were stiff and swollen.

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Isn’t this cute?? I may have to add more puppies to my puzzle images! This puzzle really brightened my summer day! I may have to stay inside, but at least I have puppies!

PUZZLE SPECS

  • Company: Re-marks
  • Title: Doghouse
  • Artist: Unknown, Quote by Charles Schulz
  • Year released: Unknown
  • Pieces: 200
  • Cut-Style: Grid
  • Finished size: 13 x 19 inches
  • Bonus poster: No
  • Made from Recycled Material
  • Made in USA

QUALITY: 

  • Box: Compact and lightweight, 8 x 4 x 2 inches,
  • Board: Blue chipboard
  • Cut: Cut with a steel-cut die
  • Image Quality: Good,
  • Finish: Semi-gloss
  • Puzzle Dust: Minimal
  • Piece shapes: 4 different shapes that repeat, Large size for easy handling
  • Piece Fit: Good! Most pieces could be moved in small groups.

Disability Notes: The large size of these puzzle pieces are great for a person with hand issues, or a short attention span. If you have eyes issues, like not being able to tell the difference between similar pastel colors, you may want to choose a different design. Thankfully, Re-marks has bunches!  The pieces are sturdy and well made.

Where to buy: Doghouse 200 Large Pieces Puzzle is available on Amazon website for $9.99 USD. Unlike most of the other puzzle companies I have reviewed, the Re-marks website is only for wholesalers. However, there are tons of retailers who carry Re-marks puzzles. I usually buy from either Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

Re-marks Puzzles: Website / FaceBook

Disclosure: I received a complimentary puzzle from the manufacturer in exchange for review. The opinions are my own. All links are direct, I do not make money from them.

Thanks for reading, and please click the Follow Button under my profile on the right side of the page. To support posts like this in the future, consider joining my Patreon!

Tiny But Mighty – and Hurricane Enlil

Almost 2 years ago in late September, I got a call from one of my Besties. “My husband found some abandoned kittens, I’m working two jobs, and can you foster this set? ”

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2 Small, scared, over-heated kittens

I’m the one in my friend-group that is the go-to cat person. I’d never fostered kittens quite this young before, but I figured I knew enough of the basics to manage.  Warmth, food, and patience, lots of it.

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Kittens hiding in my hair.

I named the black & white girl Morrigan and the orange male Enlil. I relied heavily on the Kitten Lady’s website to age my kittens(3 weeks), to properly feed them with a syringe, and to properly socialize them with my other cats.

Back then, I would have killed to have today’s book.

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Tiny But Mighty: Kitten Lady’s Guide to Saving the Most Vulnerable Felines

Here is the blurb from the back of the book:

From Kitten Lady, the professional kitten rescuer, humane educator, animal advocate, and owner of the popular Instagram @kittenxlady comes the definitive book on saving the most vulnerable—and adorable—feline population: newborn kittens.

Hannah Shaw, better known as Kitten Lady, has dedicated her life to saving the tiniest felines, but one doesn’t have to be a professional kitten rescuer to change—and save—lives. In Tiny but Mighty, Hannah not only outlines the dangers newborn kittens face and how she combats them, but how you can help every step of the way, from fighting feline overpopulation on the streets to fostering unweaned kittens, from combating illness to combating compassion fatigue, from finding a vet to finding the purrfect forever home. Filled with information on animal welfare, instructional guides, and personal rescue stories of kittens like Chloe, Tidbit, Hank, and Badger—not to mention hundreds of adorable kitten photos—Tiny but Mighty is the must-have kitten book for cat lovers, current-and-future rescuers, foster parents, activists, and advocates.

I managed to raise Morrigan and Enlil to adoption age, and adopted out Morrigan to an excellent home. I ended up adopting Enlil after she (stealthy girl) bonded to my ancient therapy cat, Pandemonium.

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Tiny But Mighty is the closest thing to a textbook for anyone involved in Kitten Rescue. Hannah Shaw uses her years of experience and hard-won knowledge to lay out a comprehensive how-to guide.

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This book covers literally everything. There are chapters explaining the correlation between Colony cats(AKA feral cats) and the high kitten shelter mortality rate, on what it takes to foster(surprisingly little!), on sicknesses and what to do, and how those who take on the monumental task of fostering should make a point to care for themselves. This is a definite must-read for anyone involved with cat care, especially kitten care.

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I found Tiny But Mighty to be laid out in a similar format to a user-friendly textbook, filled with charts, graphs, pictures and punctuated with stories from Hannah’s own experiences in the field. Not all stories are happy, but all serve a purpose, illustrating the points in that particular chapter. The amazing pictures that fill the book do the same, uplifting and educating.

Looking back, I can see where I made some mistakes in my fostering. But, some things can only be learned through experience or education. I’m incredibly grateful to Hannah for sharing this incredible resource to the cat community.

That being said, Hannah’s work as the Kitten Lady has saved hundreds of lives, both directly and peripherally. If not for her website and YouTube channel, I would not have my delightful therapy-cat-in-training, Hurricane Enlil! IMG_6248

  • Title: Tiny But Mighty: Kitten Lady’s Guide to Saving the Most Vulnerable Felines
  • Author: Hannah Shaw
  • Publisher: Plume/ Penguin Random House
  • Released: August 6th, 2019
  • Language: English
  • Format: Trade Hardcover
  • Pages: 336 pages
About the Author:
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Hannah Shaw is a kitten rescuer, humane educator, author, and unwavering animal advocate who has dedicated her life to finding innovative ways to protect animals. Her project, Kitten Lady, strives to create global change in the way we perceive and treat the tiniest and most vulnerable felines: orphan kittens.

Kitten Lady provides educational media, training resources, and instructional workshops and consulting services that help individuals and animal shelters learn how to save the lives of kittens–in a fun and engaging format.

Shaw, along with her partner Andrew Marttila, also operate Orphan Kitten Club, a 501(c)3 charitable organization which provides rescue and adoption services to orphaned kittens in the San Diego area.
For more information on Hannah and her adventures with kittens, visit her website or follow her on Youtube, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
Where to buy:
Tiny But Mighty is available on Amazon in Hardcover, Kindle and Audiobook. The hardcover will retail for $25.00 USD, but is currently on sale for $13.24 USD.
Disclosure: I received a complimentary book from the publisher in exchange for review. The opinions are my own. All links are direct, I do not make money from them.

Thanks for reading, and please click the Follow Button under my profile on the right side of the page. To support posts like this in the future, consider joining my Patreon!

Shark Week Blogiversary – Sunday

I have to be honest, folks. I didn’t enjoy either of these episodes for different reasons. But then, I’m a science nerd, not an entertainment junkie.

Sharks Gone Wild 2 –

This sort of episode is great for people who don’t know much about sharks or like jump scares. While the scripting did point out that messing around with sharks was dangerous, the film clips were deliberately sensationalist.

Shark Week Immersion –

I had never seen Rooster Teeth’s Immersion series before this, I tend to equate them with Red vs. Blue and RWBY. I found it to be an odd mix of MythBusters and internet trolling. It was interesting to see how sharks are portrayed in video games, though.

Shark Week 2019 Summary –

Overall, I really enjoyed this year. While there were some shows I disliked, most were both entertaining and informative. I am well aware that I am biased when dealing with documentaries and science shows, and that my opinion is no better or worse than anyone else’s. I woul dearly love for Discovery channel to kill Shark After Dark, as I find it a waste of a perfectly good time slot, and that all it does is recap the episodes of the day. Also, I want more diverse sharks! There are hundreds of different shark species, not just the popular Great White, Tiger, Mako, Bull and Hammerhead.

Shark Week Blogiversary Winners!

Please congratulate the winners of my first ever giveaway, Cassandra D. and Jenny H!!

Todays review is a little different, a friend of mine convinced me to pick up a paper craft kit from the local discount store. To my shock, I really enjoyed assembling it!

This is ArtZone Paper Sculpt Shark by Trends International. It is a preformed kit of heavy paper that is scored for folding with a tab system that is meant to be glued into place.

This kit includes 2 sheets of heavy paper printed on one side with numbers for assembly, and on the other side with shark coloration. There is a tube of craft glue, a paintbrush and some basic instructions. IMG_6230

I started out by folding each piece along the marked lines, then started to glue the end pieces to each other.

The assembly of this craft is a little tricky. Any time I work with glue, I get it all over my hands. The procedure is simple, you match the numbered tabs to the corresponding numbered space and glue. IMG_6231Slowly, my shark started to take shape!

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Look at that smile!!

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While the midsection is a little mangled, I’m rather proud of this! I haven’t done any sort of paper models quite like this!

Disability Notes: I can definitely recommend this craft for people with good hand/eye coordination. The numbers are clearly printed, but some of the tabs are very small and you need good focus. I did this on a good hand day, and Hime showed a lot of interest, so I’d rate the age range from 10+.

Where to buy: Trends International Shark Paper Sculpt Model is available on Amazon for $5.99 USD. Unfortunately, Trends International no longer carries this product, so Amazon or your local discount store may be the only place to find these.

Trends International: Website / FaceBook

Disclosure: I bought this craft kit specifically for review. The opinions are my own. All links are direct, I do not make money from them.

Thanks for reading, and please click the Follow Button under my profile on the right side of the page. To support posts like this in the future, consider joining my Patreon!

Little pieces make a bigger picture