National Read a Book Day is September 6th!

Tomorrow is National Read a Book Day, so it will be a great day to unplug and unwind in a cozy chair.

There are some overlapping benefits between reading and puzzling. Both improve concentration and memory and lower stress and keep your brain active. Additionally benefits of reading are a more expansive vocabulary and glimpses to other times, places, and cultures.

Need some book recommendations? Goodreads is fantastic for every type of recommendation you may ever need, including books you should read and others you should avoid, with lists such as:

Pick up something new, reread something old, or try out something that’s been sitting on your shelves for ages. Whatever you do, read!

We’ve previously highlighted puzzles with a post on 5 Reasons You Should be Reading Game of Thrones and Book-Related Puzzles. Today here’s all of the Classic Book Puzzles we have, which come in a collectible packaging that looks just like a book on your shelf! It even has a magnetic closing.

Jack and the Beanstalk by Master Pieces. 1000 pieces.

The Queen’s Croquet by Master Pieces. 1000 pieces.

Romeo and Juliet by Master Pieces. 1000 pieces.

Huck Finn by Master Pieces. 1000 pieces.

Wizard of Oz by Master Pieces. 1000 pieces.

Gone with the Wind by Master Pieces. 1000 pieces. 

National Pet Memorial Day

The second Sunday of September (the 8th this year) has been set aside as National Pet Memorial Day. There are many ways to honor and celebrate a pet that you have lost, such as dedicating time to an animal shelter or creating a memorial garden in your pet’s honor. We also think a great way to celebrate a pet is by creating a personalized puzzle—maybe your favorite picture of him or her, or the two of you together. It would be a lovely keepsake and you could either glue it and frame it in your home or redo it every year on Pet Memorial Day or your pet’s birthday.

13″ Round Custom Puzzle by Peaceful Wooden Puzzles, Various Piece Counts

I recently just saw an adorable post on the Internet of people posing with their animals as puppies and years later:

Of course there’s alway the option of finding a puzzle that already has an image that reminds you of your pet! We have cat puzzles, dog puzzles, and horse puzzles, among others.

Review: Venice by Clementoni

venice puzzles, travel, photography jigsaw

Venice by Clementoni. 500 pieces. 19 x 13 inches.

The following items in the chart was rated on a scale of 1-5, with 1 being the worst and 5 being the best.

Picture Quality: 5
Level of detail: 5
Piece Size: 4
How the pieces are cut: 5
Overall quality: 4.5

This 500 piece Clementoni puzzle was a first for me in multiple ways. I had never completed a 500 piece puzzle by myself, and I had never worked with Clementoni puzzles before. I was surprised by the quality of this puzzle for the price. The picture and details were so clear on so many pieces that I knew right where they went immediately, even if I didn’t have their connections yet.

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Before tackling the rest of the picture, I had most of the bridge finished and the side of the canal.

What I found really challenging in this puzzle was the perspective of the photo. The buildings on the left side were so thin that in reality they were represented on one or one-and-a-half puzzle pieces. I had them sorted by color from the very beginning, but I didn’t begin to actually put these pieces together until way later because my guess and check method wasn’t working.

Where the doors/entryways were, it was hard to find the correct pieces because there was nothing really distinct about the image there. Nothing was so difficult as the water, though. Once I had put together everything that seemed really distinguishable, I organized my pieces by shape. The colors were all too similar for me to really further organize them because there was a lot of whites, greys, and reflections of the water with the exact same colors!

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Pieces organized by shape

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The puzzle came together quite quickly after the shape organization.

Finally I was left with just the water! Now, with all the other pieces out of the way, it was a little easier to see the difference in colors with the water pieces and really focus on what they were reflecting.

The pieces fit together so well. They snapped right into place and didn’t shift around a lot. It was easy to know immediately if I had made a mistake or not.

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Final stretch!

I was surprised at how quickly this puzzle came together. I managed to finish it in 2 days. The water alone took a 2 hour stretch, but really, for my first 500 piece puzzle, I was really pleased. I found it challenging but never overwhelming. There was so much to look at in this puzzle, I found myself noticing things that I hadn’t noticed before all throughout creating the puzzle.

Also, my version of the puzzle didn’t feature the yellow “hotel” sign that the version on our website has!

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Overall, I will definitely be buying from Clementoni again. The quality to price ratio really impressed me. I’ve worked with other 500-range piece puzzles from brands that are maybe $1-$2 cheaper where the pieces left flaky cardboard residue on my fingers or that didn’t snap together so well, but I was more than pleased with Clementoni.

And bonus, the puzzle box made a nice pillow for my dog, Marlowe. :)

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Artist Profile: Nancy Wernersbach

When Nancy Wernersbach was a child, her parents gave her a gift of a box of 128 Crayola crayons. From there, her art career was born. She graduated from Southampton College in New York with a BFA degree in 1981 and post-college had multiple jobs in artistic fields. Wernersbach worked in illustration, had a stained glass company, and also worked as an assistant to a fashion jewelry design firm.

Seaside Summer by SunsOut. 500 pieces. 19 x 26 inches.

Birdhouse Heaven by SunsOut. 1000 pieces. 20 x 27 inches.

Fine art has been a particular passion of hers, though. She remained dedicated to creating oil and watercolor paintings of nature. Currently she even works as a watercolor teacher. Her paintings have earned her fame and she has been busy holding exhibits and selling her work—she has even won awards in some exhibits such as the Nassau County Museum of Art, Stonybrook, and the Long Island Museum.

Balloons Over Fields by SunsOut. 500 pieces. 18 x 24 inches.

Country Autumn by SunsOut. 500 pieces. 18 x 24 inches.

One could easy describe her work as “refreshing, happy, and calming.” Nancy herself has stated that “As an artist, I believe we can use the power of nature and art to help us stop our frantic, anxious pace for a moment and find the peace we need.” She invites her viewers to see the natural places in her work and find “rest and refreshment for the soul.”

Butterfly Garden by SunsOut. 1000 pieces. 20 x 27 inches.

Winter Companions by SunsOut. 500 pieces. 13 x 19 inches.

Meeting at the Clothesline by SunsOut. 1000 pieces. 27 x 35 inches.