All posts by PuzzlePaws

I like puzzles, building bricks, and coloring. But I have Fibromyalgia, which keeps me confined to the bed or couch many days. I'm creating this blog to share my opinions on the things I like in the hopes that others in similar circumstances can be inspired their low-impact hobbies.

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!

Computer Issues

SC here, Microsoft is at it again: Releasing OS updates to be Beta-tested by the general public. (Not how it is done, people!)

Puzzlepaw’s main PC (A Razer laptop), had the OS get corrupted via update (we think). Needless to say, the next update will (hopefully) be Friday.

Right now (between work obligations), I’m tech-ing the hell out of her PC, if the Microsoft-minutes are anything to go by the current scan should be done Thursday…maybe…

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!

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!