Review: “St. Francis” by Randy Wollenmann, Sunsout – 9.25/10

"St. Francis" is a gorgeous inspirational puzzle with a stained glass look. The puzzle is bright and beautiful with very crisp artwork, and the end result is worthy of framing. I loved assembling it too. The inner scene of St. Francis was easy to piece together, but the arched frame of leaves, berries, and doves was challenging because it's a repeating pattern. I had a blast assembling that part because I was in the mood for something that took more thought and effort. The Sunsout quality is very good, with sturdy pieces and a nice random piece cut. I like that you can move around a set of joined pieces without them falling apart. This is a moderate-to-difficult puzzle but worth every piece placed! Highly recommended.

Review: “Cat’s Life” by Marino Degano, Heye – 9.75/10

"Cat's Life" is terrific fun and a perfect example of the awesomeness of cartoon puzzles from Heye. It's a fairly easy puzzle to assemble. Despite the large body of the cat and the green background, there are unique little characters (fleas, ticks, and mosquitoes, among others) that inhabit every inch of the brilliant composition by cartoonist Marino Degano. Each little critter has a unique outfit, expression, or action, and you can match your pieces against the large poster that comes in the box. There are many joke and puns and pure silliness to discover as you assemble this puzzle.

Review: “A Girl’s Stocking” by Liz Goodrick Dillon, Sunsout – 9.25/10

I loved shaped puzzles. There aren't that many released each year, so I treasure the good ones when they come along. This stocking-shaped Christmas puzzle is really delightful. The curved border is fun to work with and the image is filled with bright colors and patterns that keep you moving from one object to the other without wanting to stop. I love the quiet scene by the Christmas tree and the soft, painterly art style. The Sunsout quality is excellent too, with sturdy pieces and a fun random piece cut. Highly recommended.

Review: “Butterfly Menagerie” by Aimee Stewart — Sunsout, 9.5/10

love shaped puzzles, and this offering from Sunsout and Aimee Stewart is really gorgeous and fun to assemble. The image is filled with a variety of brightly-colored butterflies and flowers in different colors and patterns, and those are easy to assemble. The fill around them–greenery and a blue pattern–appears in small doses and wasn’t too difficult. I really liked assembling the irregular edge, especially the antenna. Cute!

Review: “Sunday Lunch” by Steve Read, Falcon — 9/10

"Sunday Lunch" is a wonderful puzzle for the holidays. The subject is unusual in puzzles, with a contemporary family around a holiday table. It's a breeze to assemble thanks to each character's unique face, hair, and clothing, the orange curtains, the windows, and the loaded dining table. This is a puzzle you can work without constantly referring to the box lid. I found it particularly fun to piece together the "feast" on the table. The Falcon quality is excellent. It's a grid-cut puzzle with thick, sturdy pieces, a soft matte finish, a solid 'click into place' fit, and a seamless finish. Highly recommended!

Review: “Swans” by Cris Ortega — Heye, 9.5/10

"Swans" is gorgeous gothic fantasy puzzle from Heye and artist Cris Ortega. The puzzle is moderately difficult but fun to assemble with its bright reds, greens, and blues. The puzzle comes in a collectible box and has that solid Heye German-board-game quality from start to finish. The puzzle is grid cut, but there's a wide variety of shapes, and I never had trouble thinking a piece fit where it didn't really go. The pieces are thick and sturdy and have a nice matte finish. This is one you might consider framing when you're done. It's been in print since 2012, thanks to its popularity, but pick it up before it is retired. Many other Cris Ortega puzzles are now quite pricey on ebay. Highly recommended!

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