Review: “Life is an Open Book: Paris” by Aimee Stewart, Buffalo Games – 9.5/10

Publisher: Buffalo Games (US), published 2017

Size: 1000 pieces 

Title:  “Life is an Open Book: Paris” by Aimee Stewart 

Finished size: 26.75″ x 19.75″

OUR RATING: 9.5/10

Box Quality:  (9/10)

The Buffalo Games boxes are very sturdy and have nice packaging design. The box is small at 8″ x 8″, but it comes with a poster inside so you don’t need to depend on the image on the box lid. The front, which you can see above, has the “Aimee Stewart Collection” logo, and the Buffalo Games logo. The name of the puzzle, “Life is an Open Book: Paris”, is also shown on the front. I’m happy to see Buffalo doubling down with Aimee Stewart and branding a line with her name. I hope this means many more Aimee Stewart puzzles to come!

Back:

The back of the box has a generic Buffalo Games back (below).

Sides:

The sides all have the Aimee Stewart logo prominent and large. The puzzle name is shown on two sides. There’s also the Buffalo Games logo, the piece count, and a picture of the image. All sides would work pretty well for shelving side-out.

Inside:

The box is glued shut on the sides (instead of being shrink wrapped) and the glue has to be cut by inserting a knife down the side. Inside the box the pieces are packed loose (not inside a bag) and there’s also a poster. You can see the poster below. It’s good size, at least twice the size of the image on the box. The poster shows a few other puzzles in this series too. The back of the poster is blank white.

Overall, I’ve given the box an 9/10. I particularly like the poster and the way Aimee Stewart’s name is used so prominently. When the puzzle comes with a poster included like this, I prefer the smaller box because it takes up less space in my collection.

The Image:  10/10

I got my first glimpse of the “Open Book” images last fall when I did this interview with Aimee Stewart. I loved the look of them then, and this new series is just as good as I thought it would be. Aimee previously had great success with her “shelf” series of puzzles, and the new “Open Book” puzzles deserve to be as popular.

Each “Life is an Open Book” puzzle features a city with an open book surrounded by iconic images of the city. This creates a themed collage with lots of bright colors, nostalgia and travel “feels”. I found the Paris one the “prettiest”, but all three of the current releases are excellent. Also out now are “London” and “New York”, which you can see at the bottom of this post.

As usual with Aimee Stewart, this image is a digital collage of elements from various sources, but everything is touched up and painted over to achieve a cohesive image and consistent style throughout. I particularly like the Archway with the Moulin Rouge windmill, the Eiffel Tower, and the kissing couple. The book page with the background of a Paris map makes for a nice large area to assemble.

As with most collages, this image provides many small “mini puzzles” within the larger puzzle, in this case book covers and vintage ads. The colors are bright and fun.

I’ve given the image a perfect 10 score.

(Click on any of the images in this review for a closer look.)

Puzzle Quality: (9/10)

You can see my brand page for Buffalo Games here.  This 2017 puzzle is fully compatible with the puzzles I reviewed for my brand analysis. The quality is very good. The pieces feel sturdy, the box and contents are undamaged and in great condition, and the artwork reproduction is spot on.

The cut is a standard grid-cut puzzle with a wide variety of piece shapes and even a few ‘zig zag’ sided pieces. I never had a question about whether or not a piece actually fit. The connections are average–neither particularly tight or lose. If you try to move small groups of pieces around they will fall apart unless you’re very careful. Click on the image below to get an enlargement of the piece shapes.

The final surface is fairly flat and seamless. The finish is glossy, which can lead to glare under overhead lights, but that didn’t cause a problem with this puzzle because there aren’t a lot of dark areas. Overall, puzzle quality scores a high 9 out of 10.

Assembly:  (10/10)

My difficulty rating for this puzzle is: EASY. It took me a three sessions to complete it.

DAY ONE & TWO

After starting with the border of the puzzle, the first area I completed was the cetntral book. The cream background (which is a Paris map on close inspection) is an easy color/texture to find since all the vintage ads and other elements around the book are more brightly colored and busier. The central book page went together at the same time as the letter at the bottom of the puzzle since both have that “cream paper” texture.

The central book page has some nice elements to help break it up including balloons, the blue “PARIS” letters, a postal stamp, and kiss.

There’re also quotes about Paris in the book, which make putting it together a snap.

The letter at the bottom of the puzzle has a cream paper background and handwriting. The handwriting make it easy to distinguish these pieces from the central book page.

DAY THREE:

After the central book and letter were completed, I worked on the large rose-surrounded archway. the blue sky in the archway in only seen this one place and involves just a few pieces. The pink flowers were a nice little challenge because they run all the way around the archway and have a repeating pattern.  But the background on the pieces helps you figure out where the flowers go.

The clothing on the couple is distinctive as is the umbrella. I love the way you can see through the umbrella to the kiss.

After this central part of the puzzle is completed, what remains are all the vintage ads and elements around the edges of the book.  The coffee cup and cookies are a large area in the lower left that’s super easy to complete.

The red checked picnic blanket on the lower right is also very easy to identify. The grass is a repeating pattern, but there’s not much of it that doesn’t have a tip of some other area.

The vintage ephemera is the most “collage-y” aspect of the puzzle. Every vintage ad or element has a unique set of colors and textures, making the puzzle quite easy.

I’ve given assembly full marks. I particularly liked the combination of larger areas, like the book page and central archway, that took a little while to do but could be done without referencing the poster/box lid, and all the small vintage “busy” elements.

Summary:

“Life is an Open Book: Paris” is part of a terrific new series of travel-themed collage puzzles by Aimee Stewart. The series so far includes London, New York, and Paris. I really enjoyed doing the “Paris” puzzles. The colors are bright and cheerful and the collage elements are seamlessly integrated into a cohesive feeling whole. I particularly liked the central book image with the background map of Paris and the archway with the couple under the umbrella. This is an easy puzzle because every area has unique colors/patterns that are easily identified. It’s ideal for working on with a partner since so many areas of the puzzle can be treated as separate units. The Buffalo Games quality is very good with grid cut pieces and a nice box that comes with a poster. Recommended to all fans of collage puzzles. Suitable for framing.

Where to find:

Review Sale — 15% off for the next 3 days!  Find it at Puzzle Warehouse. Click on the logo below.

PWLOGO

Other Puzzles In This Series.

Grab them at Puzzle Warehouse by clicking on the images below.

Life is an Open Book: New York (Buffalo, 1000 pieces) 

Life is an Open Book: London (Buffalo, 1000 pieces) 

JJ

5 responses to Review: “Life is an Open Book: Paris” by Aimee Stewart, Buffalo Games – 9.5/10

  1. Debby Z says:

    I too found the Paris puzzle the prettiest in the series. So that’s the one I bought! Haven’t put it together yet. I have so many Aimee Stewart puzzles to do I think it will be awhile before I get to it. I’m really enjoying the Puzzle of the Month Club, although I’ve only been a member for a month. My favorite part is being able to purchase one puzzle and not have to pay shipping, especially when I see a puzzle I want that is marked “This puzzle has been discontinued and there is only 1 left in stock.” Those words make me want to hit “checkout” immediately. And now that’s just what I do. Happy!

    • Jane says:

      Hi, Debby – I’m glad to hear you like the puzzle of the month club. The shipping is definitely the main bonus for me. I almost always swap my month puzzle out, but I often end up with a better price on the puzzle I choose — plus the shipping feature.

  2. Marcia Hanover says:

    This puzzle looks great, but I got TWO puzzle of hide and seek that were terrible. Ceaco told me they were cut with the last die so they were NOT interlocking and they have no idea where the hide and seek objects are – they are having a “Team” looking into it. There was also no poster with this puzzle. I am waiting for the “Team” to locate the objects in the attic puzzle before I put it together. Have some one at Puzzle Warehouse put one of her hide and seek puzzles together and you will see what I mean. (Ceaco did offer to replace the puzzle, but there was no point.)

    • Jane says:

      Ceaco is a different brand than this puzzle, which is from Buffalo Games. And no, Ceaco puzzles don’t come with a poster. I’m sorry to hear about your quality issues. Maybe you should get take the Ceaco replacement. If you did get an end-of-run puzzle another one might be in better condition.

  3. Scottish Jen says:

    In the U.K. the London puzzle is made by Ravensburger and called ‘London Recollections’. I have it but my real favourite is the Paris puzzle. I’m just hoping Ravensburger brings out that one too, as well as the New York one of course. I love Aimee Stewart’s work.

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