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.

Shark Week Blogiversary – Wednesday

Sharkwrecked: Crash Landing

This episode was interesting, if unnecessary in my mind. Simulating a plane wreck/shipwreck to show the predatory behaviors of sharks and the dangers of dehydration was dangerous enough; but the experiment was flawed by the necessity of having safety equipment and health drops.

Laws of Jaws: Dangerous Waters

These experiments were fantastic! I like the challenging of Shark myths using the scientific method. Hime, my younger sister was absolutely fascinated by the concept of proving or disproving commonly held beliefs.

Air Jaws Strikes Back

Great episode! I had been concerned about how the Great Whites would react to the fact that their favorite seal hunting spot had been invaded by orcas hunting THEM. Finding a new area had been selected and was inhabited by both seals and juvenile sharks was gratifying. The use of drones to film was inspired!

Want a chance to win your own Shark puzzle? Giveaway Link: Here!

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On to today’s review! I won’t lie, this book is one I have been desperate to read. I love fairytale retellings and gothic horror/Lovecraftian horror is a guilty pleasure of mine. House of Salt and Sorrows is entirely satisfying on both fronts!

A little background story here: I received this book as part of a Goodreads promotional giveaway held by the publisher, Penguin Random House. I had no idea when the ARC was due to arrive. It showed up on the only day we had torrential rains in fortnight’s worth of hellishly hot days. IMG_E6125IMG_6127IMG_E6126My book was soaked!!

Thankfully, SC is the king of Macguyver hacks and had me layer the wet pages with paper towels and press the book under a heavy tote before I left for a con. While I was gone, he removed the towels and put the book back under pressure to keep the pages from curling. IMG_6189IMG_6194It worked!!

To explain why I’m so excited by this book, here is the blurb from the back of the book:

In a manor by the sea, twelve sisters are cursed.

Annaleigh lives a sheltered life at Highmoor, a manor by the sea, with her sisters, their father, and stepmother. Once they were twelve, but loneliness fills the grand halls now that four of the girls’ lives have been cut short. Each death was more tragic than the last—the plague, a plummeting fall, a drowning, a slippery plunge—and there are whispers throughout the surrounding villages that the family is cursed by the gods.

Disturbed by a series of ghostly visions, Annaleigh becomes increasingly suspicious that the deaths were no accidents. Her sisters have been sneaking out every night to attend glittering balls, dancing until dawn in silk gowns and shimmering slippers, and Annaleigh isn’t sure whether to try to stop them or to join their forbidden trysts. Because who—or what—are they really dancing with?

When Annaleigh’s involvement with a mysterious stranger who has secrets of his own intensifies, it’s a race to unravel the darkness that has fallen over her family—before it claims her next.

I won’t lie, I devoured this book. I literally cover to cover read it in a little under 3 hours in one sitting. Not to say that it is an easy read… Just because House of Salt and Sorrows(HOSAS for short) is labeled as YA, that doesn’t mean that the themes are not just as complex and compelling as adult fiction.

We meet Annaleigh at the funeral of her fourth sister, Eulalie. This is the fifth death in six years for the Thaumas family, and once again plunges the family back into the cycle of a year of mourning. The problem is, human beings aren’t built to mourn constantly for years on end, and while the youngest sisters literally have never not known anything but, the older sisters have started to chafe. When their new Stepmother chooses to announce her pregnancy and throw off mourning for the household, most of the girls are eager to embrace reasons to celebrate.

But the rumors of a curse upon the House of Thaumas makes finding a beau impossible; and when the girls find a portal that transports them to a series of endless balls, the girls jump at the chance. But Annaleigh has been plagued by the thought that Eulalie’s death wasn’t an accident and has been having visions and frights featuring the ghosts of her dead sisters. She finds herself increasingly conflicted between her need to find out what has happened to her family and her growing attraction to Cassius, the bastard son of one of her father’s sea captains.

HOSAS is full of wonderful themes of family, love and loss. Seeing the story unfold through Annaleigh’s eyes makes it all feel that much more real. The eventual reveal is both shocking and yet, it explains everything. Honestly, HOSAS is an amazing story. The twists and turns make an old familiar fairytale feel new, and the pacing leaves you on the edge of your seat! I’m thrilled to review this debut novel, and look forward to what Erin writes next!

  • Title: House of Salt and Sorrows
  • Author: Erin A. Craig
  • Publisher: Delacorte Press/ Penguin Random House
  • Released: August 6th, 2019
  • Language: English
  • Format: Trade ARC
  • Pages: 416
About the Author:
Erin A. Craig

Erin A. Craig has always loved telling stories.

After getting her B.F.A. from the University of Michigan, in Theatre Design and Production, she stage managed tragic operas with hunchbacks, séances, and murderous clowns, then decided she wanted to write books that were just as spooky.

An avid reader, a decent quilter, rabid basketball fan, and collector of typewriters, Erin makes her home in Memphis, TN with her husband and daughter.

For more information on Erin and her book, visit www.erinacraig.com or follow her on Facebook, Goodreads, and Twitter.
Where to buy:
House of Salt and Sorrows will be available August 6th on Amazon in hardcover,Kindle and audiobook. The hardcover will retail for $18.99 USD.
Disclosure: I received a complimentary book from the publisher via Goodreads 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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Shark Week Blogiversary – Tuesday

Sharks of the Badlands-

I rather liked this episode, but thought the title misleading. The trial and error aspect of finding a working solution for the problem of keeping humans in the water safe from the sharks that live there was well represented. I’m glad that the scientists in questions opted for a preventative solution, rather than a reactionary one.

Legend of the Deep Blue-

This episode was iffy for me. I thought the plot was amorphous, and not well defined. While the shark known as Deep Blue is one of the largest ever tagged, she isn’t the only large shark in the ocean, and finding her without tag data is like looking for a needle in a haystack. As the scientists I follow on Twitter noted, scars do heal, so they are not reliable identifiers after several years. DNA is the only way to be sure. That being said, the episode was fun and had amazing shark cage footage!

The Sharks of Headstone Hell-

So many tiger sharks! Another great shark episode with a great explanation of both the history of the area and the current events impacting both locals and the shark population. Hopefully, now that it is known that the area around Norkolk Island is a tiger shark hotspot it can be designated as a protected area.

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Today’s puzzle is a fun one! Ravensburger’s Smiling Sharks is a puzzle I’ve been hoarding for months, waiting for Shark Week. It is a part of Ravensburger’s Perfect Age Fit series, which features graduated piece sizes for young puzzlers. As a puzzler with hand issues due to arthritis and nerve problems, I really wanted to test these puzzles out. s-l1600

Smiling Sharks is a 300XXL puzzle, which is the smallest piece size in the series. I found the pieces to be comfortable in my hands, and the thick chipboard satisfyingly heavy.

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The border was the easiest part of this image.

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I love the fact that each shark in this puzzle has a different face and personality! Ravensburger is known for quality puzzles, and the attention to detail is  one of the reasons why!

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I adore this little fish!
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Look at their smiles!

Overall, a great puzzle! The image is challenging without being overwhelming. Little-Big and I had a nice afternoon puzzling. Shark Week and puzzles go together!

Want a chance to win your own Shark puzzle? Giveaway Link: Here!

PUZZLE SPECS

  • Company: Ravensburger
  • Title: Smiling Sharks
  • Artist: Howard Robinson
  • Year released: 2017
  • Pieces: 300XXL
  • Cut-Style: Grid
  • Finished size: 19 x 14 inches
  • Bonus poster: No
  • Made in Germany

QUALITY: 

  • Box: Sturdy but lightweight, 13 x 9 x 1½ inches, Linen finish
  • Board: Extra thick chipboard
  • Cut: Cut with a steelcut die
  • Image Quality: Excellent, great color saturation
  • Finish: Linen matte
  • Puzzle Dust: Minimal
  • Piece shapes: 2 different shapes that repeat, Large size for easy handling
  • Piece Fit: Excellent! Great snap and I could move multiple pieces easily

Disability Notes: The 300XXL size puzzle pieces are a great size for a person with hand issues, or a short attention span. The pieces are sturdy and wellmade.

Where to buy: Smiling Sharks 300 XXL Puzzle is available on the Ravensburger website for $14.99 USD.

Ravensburger 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!

Shark Week Blogiversary-Monday

I’m tired from traveling home from DC, but I had this sweet little puzzle by Ceaco and the first two episodes of Shark Week 31.

Expedition Unknown: Megalodon 

I’ll admit that I enjoy Josh Gates’s Expedition Unknown series. I found this episode to be both funny and informative, and SC and I loved all the movie references! It was a great mix of shark science and entertainment, while making no bones of the fact that Megalodon is extinct. The “can I lick science” moment was hilarious, and the explanations of the current theory behind the possible why of Megalodon’s extinction were well done.

Shark Trip: Eat. Prey. Chum

Ugh. I’m not going to mince words here. I despised this show. Rob Riggle and his friends are actors, and you cannot convince me that they knew EXACTLY what the script entailed. That being said, the writers of this particular episode need to go back for sensitivity training. Rob’s bullying and toxic masculinity for the sake of cheap laughs and Anthony Anderson’s over-the-top screaming and flailing were not funny. I watch Shark Week for sharks and shark science, not to watch actors act like jerks and spread shark fear.

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I had a devil of a time trying to find this puzzle! I’d seen it in my local Walmart months ago, but hadn’t bought it at the time. When it got closer to July, I started to panic because I could no longer find it! I trolled through every Walmart I went into looking for it! Thankfully, I found it in NH while camping.

IMG_6133 At 100 pieces, this isn’t meant to be a difficult puzzle. Normally,  puzzles of this size are marketed to children, but I’ve found that they are fantastic for bad hand days.

IMG_6136 My sister Little-Big has recently moved in with us, and she helped me assemble this puzzle.

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I found this image of a Great White swimming through a set of presumably Megalodon jaws perfect to start my Shark Week!

IMG_6161 This puzzle is part of Ceaco’s glow line, so SC pulled out the black light for this pic!IMG_6160

It glows!!!

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Here is the puzzle in all it’s sharky glory!

Giveaway Link: Here!

PUZZLE SPECS

  • Company: Ceaco
  • Title: Under Sea Glow – Great White Delight
  • Artist: Jerry LoFaro
  • Year released: 2016
  • Pieces: 100
  • Cut-Style: Grid
  • Finished size: 15″ x 11″ inches
  • Bonus poster: No
  • Made in USA

QUALITY: 

  • Box: Sturdy but lightweight, 6x6x2 inches
  • Board: Medium thickness, chipboard
  • Cut: Cut with a steelcut die
  • Image Quality: Excellent, great color saturation
  • Finish: Semi-gloss with glow in the dark lines
  • Puzzle Dust: Minimal
  • Piece shapes: 4 different shapes that repeat, Large size for easy handling
  • Piece Fit: Good,I could move small sections of 2-4 pieces

Disability Notes: This is a great puzzle for people with hand or eye issues. The image is clear and the pieces easy to handle. A quick small puzzle, it fits well on a lapdesk or puzzle board.

Where to buy: Under Sea Glow – Great White Delight Puzzle is available on the Ceaco website for $6.99 USD. It can also be found at certain Walmart stores.

Ceaco Puzzles: Website / FaceBook

Disclosure: I purchased this puzzle 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!! One Year of PuzzlePaws. Giveaway inside!

Last year I started this Blog on July 28th by watching Shark Week and assembling a Shark Puzzle by EuroGraphics.  It started as a way to write about my hobbies as I battle my chronic illness; but has morphed into a way to fight for the much needed recognition for people with invisable illnesses amongst the big names in the toy/hobby industries.

I’m watching Shark Week via Amazon Video this year, so each day’s post will include my thoughts on the episodes from the previous night.  Each day’s post will also feature a different shark or ocean themed review!

For my first every Blogiversary, I reached out to Eurographics. They sent me two puzzles to give away to my followers!

Prize 1 is a copy of my first ever review puzzle, 1000 piece Sharks!

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Prize 2 is is a copy of the same Sharks puzzle in 100 pieces, along with a copy of Mindware’s Color Counts Glitter Under the Sea.

To enter the giveaway, click on the Rafflecopter link!

 

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!

Rough week, but good things to come!

I didn’t want to write this, but I get antsy when bloggers I follow disappear for any length of time.

No worries, folks. I’m fine, just overwhelmed and tired.

There were no posts this week because of a thousand things needing to be done and the simple fact that I ran out of time. I underestimated how much time it would take me to recover from my previous trip and conventions, and it bit me in the butt. Chronic illness is like that. It’s always there, but sometimes it will stilly whammy you. I spent last week putting my house back to rights after being gone for most of a month, and forgot that both sleep and food are necessary parts of life(to be fair, it was hotter than hades and no one wanted food). I had to pack for my current convention, and deal with both SC and Little-Big have executive disfunction on different issues. Plus I had to plan around Hime’s summer visit.

I have the testing and notes for posts ready, but no spoons or brains to write them. I’m currently in Washington DC, at Otakon, busting my butt selling plush on little sleep and lots of caffeine! The Blogaversary posts are prepped, and should be ready to drop Monday!

Thanks for following the blog, and I promise I’ll try to plan a bit better next time!

Inventory and Plushie Zoo, or how I spend my summers.

I’m finally back home after being away for 3 weeks. Slowly, the cats are forgiving my absence while I rest from hard work and travel. Like most people with a chronic illness, I have good and bad periods. Summer is typically my good time. My Fibromyalgia flares are less, the weather is more conducive to being outside and active, and I feel less fatigued.

For the second year in a row, I went north to Massachusetts to The Dragon’s Lair HQ. The Dragon’s Lair is a convention-only pop-up shop that sells T-shirts and stuffed animals aka plushies.

Nice setup, right? But it takes a lot of work behind the scenes to make a good looking booth!

That’s where my summer trip comes in. I’m the inventory minion! At least once a year, the Boss needs to know exactly how many pieces of stock we have on hand; and how many we have lost due to shrink or sales.

As a pop-up shop, we don’t have a warehouse or brick-and-mortar store. Everything is either in our 12 foot trailer or the Boss’s front porch. So I end up emptying the trailer into the garage and then opening each bin of shirts and box of plushies before reloading the trailer.

Five bins high, four bins across and an extra column of bins equals 25 bins, full of T-shirts! This was a single days work, and I was super tired at the end. The Dragon’s Lair stocks T-shirts from adult smalls to 5x-larges.

This is my standard plushie inventory setup. I lay out a handful of empty boxes to sit on and have a clean place to lay out each box’s plushies. Each one needs to be counted by sku number and checked over for any damages. Any missing or mangled price tags are replaced.

I find all sorts of fun and different plush!

It takes roughly 3 to 4 days to go through all the boxes and to fill the trailer.

Now inventory is only part of the story! It is something we do annually, but conventions are something that happens several times a month!

When we arrive at a convention venue, the trailer and back of the pickup must be unloaded, then myself or another minion/booth bunny/assistant (there is a rotating schedule of minions depending on the convention) build the grid-cube wall that is a staple of our plushie zoo.

This usually takes between 3-5 hours depending on how large the grid-cube wall is to be and how many minions are working on it. Then we use whatever time we have before the close of the dealer’s room for the evening filling cubes with plushies. The Boss’s Wife is Queen of the T-shirts, so all I need to focus on is plush. Usually, there is a few hours the following day to finish filling the booth before the dealer’s room opens for business.

Tada! One epic booth including T-shirts and the Plushie Zoo!

Our next 2 conventions are Otakon on July 26-28th in Washington DC and DragonCon on August 29th-September 2nd in Atlanta, Georgia. If you are going to attend either con, come see us at in the Dealer’s Room!

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!

Mystery Mosaics – Brainteaser and Coloring Zen!

 I saw a lot of awesome stuff at Toy Fair last winter, and the MindWare booth was right up there as one of my favorites. You see, MindWare specializes in “brainy toys for all ages”.

 They have a ton of great activity and coloring books in their collection, and today I’m reviewing Color by Number Mystery Mosaics : Book 13. This book has 18 separate images, including 4 double-sized ones.

 Bonus, unlike most color by number books, MindWare has created their own matched set of color pencils!! I won’t lie, this really is what excited me about the brand. I like color by number things, but hate digging out coloring supplies to match, much less trying to remember which number is what color! This 36 color pencil set not only comes in a sturdy tin travel box, but each pencil is labeled with both its color and the corresponding number! And! All the MindWare CBN books are standardized!

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Intimidating isn’t it!

At first glance the pages looked super hard and I wasn’t sure I was up for this challenge!

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 But I decided to start small and focused on a single number and took it one row at a time.

Slowly but surely, my pattern grew!

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I really love these pencils! The colors are nice and bright( with the exception of #31 White Peach, which is too pale for my eyes); and they lay down smoothly. Having the prematched numbers took away all the stress, so I was able to fully enjoy coloring.

The above photo showing the camper is one of the 4 extra long coloring pages in the book. These 10 by 15 inch folded double spreads allows you to explore a larger image with great detail.

If you want to color with something other than the MindWare pencils, I colored this sunflower with basic Sharpies and it turned out great!

Disability Notes: I will admit that Mystery Mosaics is an advanced book, and may not be for everyone. You may not like it if you have eyesight issues or problems with fine motor skills. If you are a colorist who has anxiety about choosing colors, this set may be something to try! However, MindWare does have a set of color by number books called Color Counts that feature larger coloring areas. I’ll be reviewing one of those during my Shark Week special.

Where to buy: Mystery Mosaics: Book 13 and the 36 Colored Pencils Tin are available on the Mindware website. The book is $7.95 USD and the pencils are $19.99 USD. MindWare has tons of other Mystery Mosaic books are well as other coloring and activity books, so you’re sure to find something for nearly every taste!

MindWare : Website / FaceBook 

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 MindWare Corporation. 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!