Belated – Trick or Treat! My Halloween Puzzle Review

Sometimes getting back into the saddle after a length of time can be difficult. I had finally shaken the nasty cold that had plagued me just in time to work NekoCon October 31-November 3rd. Unfortunately, even though I had gotten my flu shot days before, after con I had a small relapse of the cold.

While I was well enough to blog last Friday, I’ll admit to having a bit of a mental block. I wanted to write…but the very thought of tackling nearly a month’s backlog of emails and empty space was daunting. It still is. But! SC and I did an awesome puzzle for Halloween in the short space when I felt well, and I miss having the schedule of posts to organize my weeks. So this week you get a bonus post or two. I have a small backlog of projects to write up before I can tackle new ones.

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My mom knows I love Dowdle puzzles and she got me a handful of different ones during a summer sale.

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Included poster, front and back sides.

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if you can’t read the above photo, the Dowdle website has both the poem and a scavenger hunt here.

I don’t have my usual frame and pieces photos as I assembled this puzzle in a bit of a hurry with SC. I wanted to do SOMETHING for Halloween since I’d been too ill to decorate and had the last convention of the season coming up in a few days.

So I sorted the pieces according to location; sky/street/townhouses and we spent an enjoyable 3 or so hours trading pieces and exclaiming over all the little Easter Eggs that Eric Dowdle puts into his art.

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Because it was Halloween, I did dress up the cats in costume! Pandemonium as a BumbleBee and Hurricane Enlil as Sharknado!

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I have to admit, this 500 piece was a great way to get back to my puzzling habit. It’s bright, colorful, and busy; and the pieces are the perfect size for slightly arthritic hands.

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PUZZLE SPECS

  • Company: Dowdle Puzzles
  • Title: Trick or Treat
  • Artist: Eric Dowdle
  • Year released: Unknown
  • Pieces: 500
  • Cut-Style:  Random
  • Finished size: 16″ by 20″
  • Bonus poster: Yes
  • Made in USA

QUALITY: 

  • Box: Sturdy and compact, 7.5″ by 7.5″ by 3″, with paper sleeve
  • Board:  Medium weight chipboard, sturdy pieces
  • Cut: Steel-cut Die
  • Image Quality: Excellent, great color saturation
  • Finish: Semi-gloss, with great color saturation
  • Puzzle Dust: Minimal
  • Piece shapes: A good mix of traditionally cut and irregular pieces
  • Piece Fit: Very Good. Some of the irregular pieces make it so that pieces can only be moved in small groups.

Disability Notes: The slightly larger size pieces of the 500 piece puzzle are kinder to the hands while still being complex enough to challenge lovers of larger piece count puzzles. Honestly, I want to try this brands 300 and 100 piece counts for this winter when my hands threaten to swell into claws. I can recommend this for people with mild to moderate arthritis or hand/eye coordination.

Where to buy: Trick or Treat is available on the Dowdle Puzzles website for $19.99 USD.

Dowdle Puzzles : Website / FaceBook

Disclosure: I received this puzzle as a gift. The opinions are my own.

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!

Down, but not out

SC here, Puzzlepaws just got back from her birthday trip.  While she got some awesome stuff for the blog, she brought home an unwanted bit of con swag…”con plague”.  Nothing major, just a miserable cold.

With her disease, her immune system is compromised (it is too busy attacking her body to defend it.)  The “good” news: while she’s sick, she’s not in pain as her Fibromyalgia goes into remission while her body attacks this cold instead of her.  The “bad” news: Puzzlepaws has to take some pretty strong medicine to beat the cold down, so she’s essentially bedridden (and asleep) while she recovers. (Thus why I’m here.)

Thankfully, “pretty strong medicine” is available Over-the-Counter (OTC), with ID.  Why “with ID”?  Puzzlepaws (and myself) are part of the (large) subset of humanity for whom phenylephrine simply does not work.  Unfortunately, NyQuil® stopped including pseudoephedrine HCL years ago (because yahoos use pseudoephdrine HCL to make methamphetamine).  Walgreens® to the rescue!

Walgreens® makes a “Night Cold & Flu” that is what NyQuil® used to be.  (You can’t feel a cold if you’re in a coma.)  Unfortunately, it works just like NyQuil® used to: You take your dose, wait 10-30 minutes, then wake up 10-12 hours later. You feel better, but you lose the night and part of the day.  Rinse, repeat as needed until you can function again.  If you need this medicine, you have to ask for it at the Pharmacy (no buying it online), then you have to produce ID (Federal Law) before they will sell it to you.  (And then you can only buy so much in a month…which varies by state.)

While this is only a cold, it brings up a good point.  Diseases like what Puzzlepaws has are the reason for a thing called “Herd Immunity”.  This is what happens when people who are otherwise well get immunized (Eek, Needles!).  In a well-immunized society, a preventable disease has a hard time getting a foothold because most of the population is immune to the disease.  Thus, individuals like Puzzlepaws (those with compromised immune systems) have a lower chance of getting truly nasty diseases because those around them can’t get those diseases.  So we protect the most vulnerable individuals in our population by being immunized against the diseases that might kill them. (Example: The flu for me is 2-4 days of misery, then all better!  As for Puzzlepaws, she is looking at 10-21 days of misery.  That misery is extended if she gets complications like: bronchitis, pneumonia, or other incidental infections.  Any of these complications could hospitalize or kill her.)

If you’re going to haul out the “vaccines cause autism” (or any other similar argument), don’t bother.  You won’t get the argument you want, but you will get blocked.  If you can’t say something nice…

NyQuil® is a Registered Trademark of The Proctor & Gamble Company.

Walgreens® is a Registered Trademark of the Walgreens Company.

Disclosure: 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!

#walgreens #nyquil

Shave the Princess?? Acceptance and Self-Discovery on the High Seas.

The Princess Beard is the third in the Tales of Pell series, and while I’ve listened to the previous two books on audiobook, this was the first time actually reading one. There is a definite difference between listening to someone else interpret puns and wordplay, and reading and discovering that wordplay yourself.  Either way, this book is a delight!

The Princess Beard

The Blurb:

Shave the princess? Inconceivable! The hilarious bestselling authors of Kill the Farm Boy and No Country for Old Gnomes are back with a new adventure in the irreverent world of Pell.

Once upon a time, a princess slept in a magical tower cloaked in thorns and roses. 

When she woke, she found no Prince Charming, only a surfeit of hair and grotesquely long fingernails—which was, honestly, better than some creep who acted without consent. She cut off her long braids and used them to escape. But she kept the beard because it made a great disguise.

This is not a story about finding true love’s kiss—it’s a story about finding yourself. On a pirate ship. Where you belong.

But these are no ordinary pirates aboard The Puffy Peach, serving under Filthy Lucre, the one-eyed parrot pirate captain. First there’s Vic, a swole and misogynistic centaur on a mission to expunge himself of the magic that causes him to conjure tea and dainty cupcakes in response to stress. Then there’s Tempest, who’s determined to become the first dryad lawyer—preferably before she takes her ultimate form as a man-eating tree. They’re joined by Alobartalus, an awkward and unelfly elf who longs to meet his hero, the Sn’archivist who is said to take dictation directly from the gods of Pell. Throw in some mystery meat and a dastardly capitalist plot, and you’ve got one Pell of an adventure on the high seas!

In this new escapade set in the magical land of Pell, Delilah S. Dawson and Kevin Hearne lovingly skewer the tropes of fairy tales and create a new kind of fantasy: generous, gently humorous, and inclusive. There might also be otters.  

The Princess Beard is a book that makes you think, even as you laugh until you cry. Much like the movie that the title references, this story is beautifully complex and multilayered. I have read it twice over, and know that there is still much left to uncover the next time I pick it up.

Honestly, it’s hard to decide where to start gushing. I adore fairy tales and their retellings. The premise of the princess rescuing herself and becoming a pirate is only the start of the story. At its heart, it is about facing your personal demons, and embracing them to find your true self. The fact that this is accomplished by challenging traditional gender roles or stereotypes (Vic and Morgan), or by having to face both the disapproval of family and an inevitable fate (Tempest), or by forging an entirely new path (Alobartalus); it is done with both grace and humor.

I adore excellent wordplay. I grew up reading both Xanth and the Callahan series. Puns fly frequently between SC and I. Kevin and Delilah have made a world replete with clever words and multiple meanings. There are macguffins, and anagrams. There is edge-of-your-seat action sandwiched between genuine feelings and laugh-out-loud hilarity. And at the very end, there is the warm fuzzy of finally coming home.

Rating: 5/5

  • Title: The Princess Beard
  • Series: Tales of Pell, Book 3
  • Authors: Kevin Hearne & Delilah S. Dawson
  • Publisher: Del Rey
  • Released: October 8th, 2019
  • Language: English
  • Format: Ebook
  • Pages: 384 pages
About the Authors:
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Kevin Hearne is the NYT bestselling author of the Iron Druid Chronicles, as well as The Seven Kennings, an epic fantasy trilogy, and the Tales of Pell, a humorous fantasy series co-authored with Delilah S. Dawson. INK & SIGIL, a new urban fantasy series set in the Iron Druid universe, will be out in 2020.

 

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Delilah S. Dawson writes whimsical and dark Fantasy for adults and teens. Her Blud series for Pocket includes Wicked as They Come, Wicked After Midnight, and Wicked as She Wants, winner of the RT Book Reviews Steampunk Book of the Year and May Seal of Excellence for 2013. Her YA debut, Servants of the Storm, is a Southern Gothic Horror set in Savannah, GA, and HIT is about teen assassins in a bank-owned America. Her Geekrotica series under pseudonym Ava Lovelace includes The Lumberfox and The Superfox with The Dapperfox on the way. Delilah teaches writing classes at LitReactor and wrote the Island of Mesmer world for Storium.

Delilah lives with her husband, two small children, a horse, a dog, and two cats in Atlanta. Find out more at www.whimsydark.com.

Where to buy:
The Princess Beard is available on Amazon in Hardcover, Kindle and Audiobook. The hardcover retails for $27 USD, but is currently on sale for $19.80 USD. The Princess Beard is in bookstores right now!
Disclosure: I received a complimentary ebook 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!

It’s My Party….And I Had a Blast!

Today is my birthday. Officially, I’m older and presumably wiser. I’m not sure I’m convinced of that, as I’m currently paying the price for a weekend of excitement and excess. I came home from my trip with a hellacious head cold that has confined me to bed for the last few days. Was it worth it? Absolutely! Would I do it again? Absolutely!

So…definitely not grown wiser this year. But I’m out living my life and enjoying the heck out of it; despite my disabilities and health.

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It started as a question. Would I be interested in going to a Book Fest that my Bestie’s boyfriend was going to be speaking at? Such a silly question! I had never been as far west as Nashville, Tennessee.  So I did research, and found that The Southern Festival of Books was in it 31st year, and was a celebration of local authors, historians and readers. It’s a program presented by Humanities Tennessee, and as a veteran of many conventions, this was a treat to visit!

Nashville shuts down an entire street from the Nashville Public Library to the State Capitol Plaza. There were booths for everyone! The children’s section was closest to the library. Performance tents were tucked to the sides of the plaza and self-published authors were cheek-to-jowl- with both large and small press houses.

I got to meet Karen Abbott, the author of Ghosts of Eden Park, which was the one book I desperately wanted for my birthday.

That was Friday, and started the whole weekend on a high note!

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The Nashville Public Library is both beautiful and ginormous! On top of using it’s various learning spaces for the many scheduled author talks, they also hosted their annual book sale in the lobby. I won’t lie, I came home with a duffel bag of used books & movies.

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My Swag haul of books for review.

Now, I didn’t just live in the library all weekend. Brian Allison, who wrote Notorious Nashville and Murder and Mayhem in Nashville was able to guide me to some of the fun landmarks within walking distance of downtown.  We mutually geeked out about local history and murder.

My favorite place was the infamous men’s bathroom of the Hermitage Hotel. It is an Art Deco wonder! The entire hotel is beautiful, but that bathroom is amazing.

Overall, it was an amazing weekend. There was awesome company, great people to talk to and a new city to explore! I hope to visit again next year!

Disclosure: 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!

The New Ecru – Mystery Puzzles

I’m a sucker for a good mystery. It piques my curiosity and I just can’t seem to help myself! When Artifact Puzzles announced that they were debuting a new line of wooden puzzles I knew I wanted to try them out. Then Artifact upped the ante and announced that the new Ecru puzzles would include Mystery Puzzles. I was doomed!!

The Ecru puzzles are different from the main Artifact line in that they are made with a closer cut and a matte finish. The Mystery Puzzles are made to be ephemeral, they are only made for a few months at a time, then they are “revealed” and added to the main Ecru lineup.

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I love this. I was sent Mystery Puzzle #1, and it arrived in a plain gray box. IMG_6488

Like all Artifact puzzles, the box and contents are curated for maximum sustainability.  The box has a magnet closure in the lid and as you can see, you are given an envelope of resealing stickers so that you can be sure no pieces have escaped while in storage.

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These pieces look fiendish! I’ve never worked with anything quite like these. The pieces look like interconnected hexagons or simple chemical formulae. In fact, while assembling, I swear I saw a piece that looked like a sugar molecule!!

Continue reading The New Ecru – Mystery Puzzles

Rocking My Disability – Decorating My Canes

I am a rather low maintenance woman. I like my jeans and t-shirts, cozy pj’s and a handy cup of either coffee or tea. My main accessories are a bold lipstick and my cane.

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A standard lightweight aluminum cane, one of my favorites!
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My black Hurrycane with light-up base.

You read that right, my CANE.  My particular chronic illness means I have to fight both my balance and fatigue. My canes (yes, I have several), keep me moving for as long and as well as possible. I use a cane any time I am out in public, or at home when not feeling well. Pretty much my cane is less an accessory, and more like a third leg. I need it. But that doesn’t mean that I want to have my constant companion to be boring!!

Enter today’s topic: Cane Decoration!  Like many folks with mobility aids, I like to personalize. Usually, this involves stickers, washi tape, micro lights, or specialty vinyl decals. Last winter, I met with the awesome gang of Fctry at Toy Fair. They introduced me to quite a few of their products, including Rainbow Tape and Disco Tape!

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Of course I had to test these tapes! I beta tested a few strips of tape on my travel cane in February, but that wasn’t really enough to put these tapes through their paces. I received a box of goodies from Fctry  in July. I decided to fully cover two of my canes and put them through the usual amount of hell. IE: conventions, stairs, drops and super affectionate cats.

Disco Tape:

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I started with my Hurrycane, which is a folding cane with a light-up base that Spouse-Critter bought for me knowing that I enjoy the concerts at DragonCon, but that I’m often run over because in the dark, canes are hard to see! Disco Tape is a set of 6 iridescent holographic tapes in shades of blue, green, pink, purple, silver and yellow. They come with their own dispenser and can be easily switched  out.

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I found the tapes to be fantastically sticky, but could be removed without leaving residue or peeling the paint of the cane. As you can see from the close-up image, there is a learning curve to not have wrinkles or bubbles. The colors are gorgeous and super shiny!

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I love how this came out! I’ve tested this cane for the last 6 weeks and love how the light from the base and the Disco Tape work together to make me more visible in the dark. The tape works really well as a reflector, and I can now take night walks without fear! And!! I didn’t get squished at the concert! I may get a glow-in-the dark sticker or two to accent this cane, but overall I’m thrilled with it. The tape doesn’t lift or catch on the edges.

Rainbow Tape:

This tape was a little trickier to work, but that was only because of it’s width. Rainbow Tape is 2 inches wide and has stripes of red, orange. yellow, green, blue and purple.

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I’ll admit to being a little crafty with this tape. The cane I placed it on has an offset handle, and the curve needed a bit of care to decorate well.

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Rainbow Tape is different from Disco tape in that is a bit thinner, so the colors reflect the tones underneath. On my silver cane, the stripes are bright and a bit translucent, just like a proper rainbow! On a cardboard box, the colors are a bit darker and bolder.  The tape is very sticky! I had to be careful not to stick it to itself, otherwise that piece was a total loss. Once placed, the tape could be carefully moved and adjusted.

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Six weeks later and my cane still looks fabulous! I don’t have to worry about the tape lifting (it doesn’t) and my cane certainly can’t be confused for anyone else’s!

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Notes:  Both of these tapes were built for multiple uses. In that, I’ve found that the Disco Tape makes a fun accent for placing a name tag on presents, or accenting a plain box, but can be distracting if used to seal a package. Rainbow Tape is amazing at sealing a shipping box/moving box, but usually needs two layers to really pop! I know that with birthdays and the holidays coming up, both of these tapes will be getting heavy rotation in my house!

Disability Notes: Honestly, the only thing that needs mentioning is that Rainbow tape has a rather strong smell when it is first used. That is because it uses the same adhesive as other strapping tapes. If you are scent sensitive or allergic to polypropylene, I would recommend you steer clear for health reasons.

Where to buy: Disco Tape is $9.99 USD,  and Rainbow Tape is $7 USD. Both can be purchased from the Fctry website in the Magic Bodega section.

Fctry : Website / FaceBook / Instagram

Disclosure: I received these tapes for free in exchange for a review. The opinions are my own. All art shown on this post is Copyright ©Fctry.  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!

Razer Lives!! ….Mostly Back on Track

Hey gang, I’ve good news. Spouse-Critter managed to diagnose and fix most of the issues wrong with my baby and I’m back into blogging this week. It wasn’t easy, I found myself more than a little depressed and cranky with a disrupted routine, and SC had to make time in a week full of on-call emergencies.

Most of the issues stemmed from the fact that my Razer (a Razer Blade 17″ (2012)) was used by someone not terrible tech-savvy (SC: He knew enough to be dangerous, but not enough to fix what he broke.) before I got it. My battery which had been failing, gave up the ghost. I was performing the new Windows update, lost wall power to Razer, and nearly totally corrupted the hard drive (SC: software corruption). So, until we can afford a new battery, I’m tied to the power cord (and the couch) because every unplug means Razer dies immediately (and I have to reset the BIOS, and hope the hard drive isn’t corrupted again).

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Razer, my couch/workspace and Energy Drink! I’m ready to work!

We were concerned that the hard drive had also had a physical crash and ended up replacing it with a spare SC had in his gear. Most of my data transferred, but I’ll be the next few weeks replacing all of the photo editing, video editing, and writing apps I had had installed. (SC: The hard drive is fine after a format, so the issues were ALL software.)

Thankfully, my birthday is coming up, and both a new battery and an SSD hard drive have been added onto my list.

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Razer on a clean puzzle board with piles of puzzles ready to be done in the background.

The blog will be back tomorrow with reviews and cats and silliness!

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!