Animals

My Colorful Town: A Coloring Tour – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
My Colorful Town: A Coloring Tour is illustrated by Chiaki Ida, a Japanese illustrator, and published and kindly sent to me to review by Get Creative 6. This book is pretty similar in style to the Romantic Country series by Eriy (reviewed by me here) and if you liked those books, you’re likely to be a fan of this too. This book was originally published in Japan and was somewhat different in format with it being larger, and including a few extra pages and some postcards. This edition has been translated into English.

This book is 22.4cm square, paperback, with flexible card covers and partially coloured images from inside the book. The spine is glue and string-bound and eases up with use, some of the images do reach the centre of the spine and therefore a little is lost but the majority of the images aren’t full-page and have a border so the spine isn’t an issue for most of the pages. The images are printed double-sided and are a mixture of double and single-page spreads. The paper is cream, medium thickness and smooth with very little tooth, it coped well with my Prismacolor Premiers but may not cope so well with oil-based pencils which you’ll possibly struggle to layer; water-based pens shadow but don’t bleed so you’ll probably want to avoid using these. The images themselves are all of shop exteriors, interiors and produce, at the back of the book is a double-page spread depicting a map of the street. The shops include a book shop, bakery, patisserie, dress shop, shoe shop, clock shop, art shop, antique shop, café, flower shop, fruit and veg market and food stalls. There is a real variety of things to colour from shop fronts and brickwork to furniture, cakes, fruit and veg and flowers, there are outfits, metalwork, wood, and so much more so there are plenty of techniques to perfect to make this book look amazing. There is a little girl who you follow through the book into the shops, she isn’t named or mentioned in the book so I’m guessing it’s meant to be Chiaki Ida herself, taking us on a childhood walk through the town.

In terms of mental health, this book is lovely, it has a very charming feel to it and the imagery feels really nostalgic and heartwarming and takes you back to simpler times where you don’t have a care in the world. The line thickness is consistent throughout and is thin, verging on spindly thin. The intricacy and detail levels vary somewhat with the majority of the pages being very intricate and detailed with a few having larger open spaces and less detailed imagery. You’ll need pretty good vision and fine motor control to enjoy this book. The majority of the images will be best kept for your good days because they’re just packed full with content and in a number of the pages there aren’t overly obvious stopping points, however, if you’re really keen to colour this on a day when you’re quite symptomatic, you could pick one of the pages filled with collection images and colour just one cake or clock rather than a whole shop front. You will need very good concentration levels to complete most of the pages but you can always colour in sections so that it’s easier to focus. You can use realistic colour schemes if you wish, or go more outlandish, bricks can always be blue and wood doesn’t have to be brown so spice things up if you fancy, these images will look amazing no matter what colours you choose!

Overall, I would highly recommend this book to those of you who liked Romantic Country and those looking for a nostalgic, warm, characterful colouring book. The illustrations are meticulously drawn, realistic but also slightly cartoony and therefore they’re not so perfect that they feel intimidating to start. It’s yet another beautiful Japanese colouring book, filled with charm!

If you’d like to purchase a copy of this book, it’s available here:
Amazon UK – My Colorful Town: A Coloring Tour
Book Depository Worldwide – https://www.bookdepository.com/My-Colorful-Town-Chiaki-Id/9781942021599/?a_aid=colouringitmom

The image below was coloured using Prismacolor Premiers and blended with a Caran d’Ache Blender Pencil.

Romantic Country: The Third Tale – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Romantic Country: The Third Tale is published and kindly sent to me to review by St Martin’s Griffin. I’ve been looking forward to this book being published for such a long time and I was delighted when it arrived just a few days ago and I was able to complete my Romantic Country collection. I think that the second book is my personal favourite, it seems the most cohesive and most exciting in terms of content, however, this third instalment is beautiful too though the story does jump around from us being shown Elena meeting Joset the duck in Chapter 4 to seeing new scenes of shops and places we’ve seen in previous books as well as visiting new islands and areas. The book is illustrated by Eriy, a Japanese artist who creates her work using a toothpick dipped in ink. This whole book took approximately 900 toothpicks and because of the way the lines are created they’re not a uniform thickness and aren’t a stark black colour (more on this later). This series was the series I’ve been hoping would be made, with its childlike charm but with adult levels of intricacy, it’s what I always felt was missing for me in JB’s books, don’t get me wrong, hers are stunningly beautiful, I really love them, but they’re a little too perfect for my imagined perfect series. Eriy’s books are utterly charming, not quite perfect, and truly heart-warming and that’s what makes them so wonderful.

This book is square, the same size as the bestsellers, paperback, with a removable paper dust jacket with partially coloured images from the book on the front and back. The book itself has brown card covers with two line drawings from inside the book and blank covers on the inside. The paper is a lovely rich creamy colour (it’s hard to describe but it’s a little warmer in colour than the paper in Johanna’s first two books but not yellowy and it’s the same as in the previous Romantic Country titles), and it’s thick and doesn’t bleed or shadow with water-based pens when used carefully, it also holds up well to water and doesn’t bleed through with Derwent Inktense pencils. The paper is lightly textured and while you can’t get loads of layers, pencils do lay down well on it and it’s perfectly possible to get some lovely blending and layering. The spine is glue and stitch-bound so it’s durable but a little difficult to get to the centre of each spread, however, spines of this type do ease up with use so do persevere. The images are printed double-sided and borderless and are a mixture of single and double-page spreads so a little of each image is lost into the spine to begin with.

The images themselves are beautiful, charming, and begging to be coloured and are split into the following 5 chapters: 1. Peaceful Days in the North; 2. Peaceful Days in the South; 3. Beautiful Island Scenes; 4. Good Times for Elena and Joset; 5. The Passage of Time in the Secret Forest. The book starts with a single page spread showing a map of the islands of Cocot (the name of the land in which the first two books are set, which was dreamt up in the imagination of Eriy when she was a child), depicting the landmarks introduced in this book. Following this, are two double-page spreads showing mapped scenes of Sarryska Island and Cocot North, and Uisce and Melati Islands and their landmarks which are pictured in more detail later in the book so you can clearly see where they’re situated in relation to each other. Following the maps, the images show beautiful scenes of children posting letters to Santa Claus, vegetable carts, snow-capped castles, farmyard scenes, cutlery and crockery, a library, Island traditional dress, a lamp shop, inside a boat, a picnic, fairies, mermaids, a dragon receiving healthcare, a witch’s hat shop, and so much more. Each image is shown as a thumbnail at the back of the book too with a short description telling you more about each place and life there. At the back of the book are two fully colourable pages with single-sided scenes to cut out and assemble into a 3D shop that Elena and her duck friend Joset, are visiting.

In terms of mental health, I doubt there’s a book (or series) that’s better for it in all honesty! Certainly for mine anyway! The illustrations are so charming and because they have a beautiful childlike quality to them they really have a nostalgic aspect which will remind you of colouring books you used as a child but with so much more detail and intricacy that it’s still very entertaining as an adult. The content is wonderful because it whisks you off to a simpler, happier, gentler place where there is a slower pace of life and mythical creatures live alongside people and even witches are good. The line thickness varies throughout because Eriy draws with a toothpick and so it naturally varies however the majority of the lines are thin but not spindly so they’re perfectly colourable with moderate vision and fine motor control. The lines themselves are not a stark black, they’re an uneven brown because they’re drawn in dipping ink and while this may not sound great and does take a little getting used to, it truly adds so much charm to the drawings and these illustrations just wouldn’t look right drawn in harsh, black, perfect lines. The images range in intricacy and detail from large open spaces in some of the landscape pages, to small intricate details of vegetables, books and leaves, and everything in between, it’s very wide-ranging but the intricacy level in this book is significantly higher in most images than in Romantic Country though most of the images would still be suitable for those with moderate, or higher, vision or fine motor control so this is a great book for nearly anybody! The images are detailed and contain lots of things to look at and colour but most are not so overwhelming that you don’t know where or how to start and because they’re all depicting real things like buildings, plants, and food, they’re easy to work out colour schemes for whether that be subtle pastels, realistic browns and greys, or bright fantastical colours, this book isn’t so perfect that you don’t want to touch it which is part of its huge appeal. The images are less cohesive in this book and don’t tell a chronological story, however, they do create a wonderful sense of place and they offer great escapism as you walk through the streets, castles, countryside and shops, by the end of the book you really feel like you’ve visited the fantastical lands and you’ll be planning your next visit as soon as you can!

I would highly recommend this book to anyone who likes to colour scenes, landscapes, shops, food and flowers. This is one of the most beautiful books I’ve ever seen, it’s cute, pretty, whimsical, magical and charming and it truly is the book of my dreams, and hopefully of yours. If you don’t already have the first two Romantic Country titles then get them too, this series is truly perfect!

If you’d like to purchase a copy of this gorgeous book then it’s available here:
Amazon UK – Romantic Country: The Third Tale
Book Depository Worldwide – https://www.bookdepository.com/Romantic-Country-The-Third-Tale-Eriy/9781250133830/?a_aid=colouringitmom

Book 1 and 2 are available here.

The image below was coloured using Holbein Artist’s Colored Pencils and blended using a Caran d’Ache Blender Pencil.

Rhapsody in the Forest – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Rhapsody in the Forest is illustrated by Kanoko Egusa, a Japanese artist, who very kindly sent me a copy to review. Kanoko’s work is yet to be picked up by a US or UK publisher which is a real shame because her work is truly stunning, it’s unlike anything we’ve seen before in the UK but is similar to many of the other beautiful Japanese books on the market, they have such a lovely quality to them and are very whimsical and cute with plenty of detail. Kanoko has created two books so far, this one and a second called Menuet de Bonheur which I’ve reviewed here.

The book itself is just under 25cm square, paperback with very flexible card covers and a beautiful thick paper dust jacket with linework from inside the book. The pages are printed double-sided and the spine is glue-bound, the images are printed full-page and therefore do enter the spine so you’ll need to be careful when trying to reach the centre of the pages not to break the spine or you may end up loosening the pages. The paper is white, medium/thin and very lightly textured, it doesn’t bleed or shadow with water-based pens but do make sure you check this somewhere inconspicuous as we all colour differently, pencils blend and shade well despite the lack of tooth in the paper and sparing amounts of water were tolerated very well and didn’t cause bleeding when I used my Derwent Inktense Pencils. The images are a mixture of single and double-page spreads and the content is all heavily nature-based with lots of animal characters. The book is printed in Japanese so it’s not possible to read the text at the beginning of the book which I assume explains what’s happening through the pages but most of the scenes are pretty self-explanatory.

The illustrations contain all sorts of imagery from food to flowers, postage stamps to books, circus and nautical scenes and lots and lots of animals in various stages of anthropomorphosis from very animal-like, possibly wearing a hat, to very anthropomorphic and doing human jobs like decorating cakes, trick-or-treating, and even going to a ball. They are very natural and filled with detail, objects, and plenty to look at and the content is really wide-ranging and very pretty. I’m not entirely sure what the specific theme of the book is but it seems like it’s following the lives of lots of woodland and more exotic creatures and their travels, tales, exploits and even parties! It’s a really lovely theme for a book and the pictures are truly exquisite and beautiful! Five of the pages have black or grey backgrounds which is quite novel and a nice addition to the book.  Of the two books, I personally prefer this one as it’s more natural and less anthropomorphic which suits my tastes more, however, both are just gorgeous! At the back of the book are two light brown pages, the first has two postcard sized images which can be cut out and coloured, the second has 5 illustrations each with dotted lines drawn around them so that they can be cut out and attached to cards or used as gift tags etc either coloured or uncoloured.

In terms of mental health, this book is fantastic, it’s so calming and distracting and there’s just so much to look at in each picture so it’s really absorbing. It also offers wonderful escapism because you can create stories about what the animals are doing and what they might be baking a cake or wearing their best outfits for and immerse yourself in their lovely world. The book feels really peaceful and reminds me of my childhood reading Beatrix Potter’s wonderful stories about animals, I’m sure Peter Rabbit and Mrs Tiggywinkle would fit right in with Kanoko’s forest of creatures and you could have great fun naming all of the characters depicted in this beautiful book. The line thickness is pretty consistent throughout and is thin but not spindly thin so it’s perfectly colourable. The intricacy and detail levels vary throughout from very detailed sections with lots of intricate parts to much larger sections where you can really go to town with your blending and shading if you wish; this book would be suitable for those with moderate to good vision and fine motor control. This book will require a fairly good level of concentration but there are lots of natural stopping points so you can colour for as little or as much time as you want and still get a good sense of accomplishment. The amount of content in each page varies so some are centralised single page images, others are fully covered double-page spreads and a few have spaces where you could add your own imagery or backgrounds if you wish.

Overall, I would highly recommend this book and Kanoko’s second book, Menuet de Bonheur, both are truly beautiful, really natural and calming and just charming to look through. Having seen lots of coloured images from inside, these illustrations are really brought to life with colour and they look spectacular when finished.

If you’d like to purchase a copy, it is available on Amazon but price varies so do check there as well as Amazon Japan (postage is steep but does reduce per item if you buy more than one thing) and check Etsy too where an increasing number of Japanese and other International colouring books are being stocked for a reasonable price.

Amazon UK – Rhapsody in the Forest

The image below was coloured using Derwent Inktense Pencils activated with water.

Menuet de Bonheur – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Menuet de Bonheur is illustrated by Kanoko Egusa, a Japanese artist, who very kindly sent me a copy to review. Kanoko’s work is yet to be picked up by a US or UK publisher which is a real shame because her work is truly stunning, it’s unlike anything we’ve seen before in the UK but is similar to many of the other beautiful Japanese books on the market, they have such a lovely quality to them and are very whimsical and cute with plenty of detail. Kanoko has created two books so far, this one and a second called Rhapsody in the Forest which I’ve reviewed here.

The book itself is just under 25cm square, paperback with very flexible card covers and a beautiful, thick, dusky pink, paper dust jacket with linework from inside the book. The pages are printed double-sided and the spine is glue-bound, the images are printed full-page and therefore do enter the spine so you’ll need to be careful when trying to reach the centre of the pages not to break the spine or you may end up loosening the pages. The paper is white, medium/thin and very lightly textured, it doesn’t bleed or shadow with water-based pens but do make sure you check this somewhere inconspicuous as we all colour differently, pencils blend and shade well despite the lack of tooth in the paper and sparing amounts of water were tolerated very well and didn’t cause bleeding when I used my Derwent Inktense Pencils. The images are a mixture of single and double-page spreads and the content is all heavily nature-based with lots of animal characters. The book is printed in Japanese so it’s not possible to read the text at the beginning of the book which I assume explains what’s happening through the pages but most of the scenes are pretty self-explanatory.

The illustrations contain all sorts of imagery from flowers to teacups, baby clothes to fruit baskets, fireworks to vegetables and lots and lots of animals in various stages of anthropomorphosis. This book contains many more human-like animals than Rhapsody in the Forest and it appears to show family life from bathing the children to hanging up washing, reading a bedtime story to food shopping, preparing dinner to going on holiday and even depicting a wedding! The images are very natural and filled with detail, objects, and plenty to look at and the content is really wide-ranging and very pretty. Animal family life is a really lovely theme for a book and the pictures are truly exquisite and beautiful, it feels like you’re taking a peek into their life and stepping into their story. Three of the pages have black backgrounds which is quite novel and a nice addition to the book. At the back of the book are two light brown pages, the first has two postcard sized images which can be cut out and coloured, the second has 5 illustrations each with dotted lines drawn around them so that they can be cut out and attached to cards or used as gift tags etc either coloured or uncoloured.

In terms of mental health, this book is fantastic, it’s so calming and distracting and there’s just so much to look at in each picture so it’s really absorbing. It also offers wonderful escapism because you can create stories about what the animals are doing and immerse yourself in their lovely world. The book feels really peaceful and reminds me of my childhood reading Beatrix Potter’s wonderful stories about animals, I’m sure Peter Rabbit and Mrs Tiggywinkle would fit right in with Kanoko’s creatures and you could have great fun naming all of the characters depicted in this beautiful book. The line thickness is pretty consistent throughout and is thin but not spindly thin so it’s perfectly colourable. The intricacy and detail levels vary throughout from very detailed sections with lots of intricate parts to much larger sections where you can really go to town with your blending and shading if you wish; this book would be suitable for those with moderate to good vision and fine motor control. This book will require a fairly good level of concentration but there are lots of natural stopping points so you can colour for as little or as much time as you want and still get a good sense of accomplishment. The amount of content in each page varies so some are centralised single page images, others are fully covered double-page spreads and a few have spaces where you could add your own imagery or backgrounds if you wish.

Overall, I would highly recommend this book and Kanoko’s first book, Rhapsody in the Forest, both are truly beautiful, really natural and calming and just charming to look through. Having seen lots of coloured images from inside, these illustrations are really brought to life with colour and they look spectacular when finished, they’re also ideal for practising colouring fur!

If you’d like to purchase a copy, it is available on Amazon but price varies so do check there as well as Amazon Japan (postage is steep but does reduce per item if you buy more than one thing) and check Etsy too where an increasing number of Japanese and other International colouring books are being stocked for a reasonable price.
Amazon UK – Menuet de Bonheur

The image below was coloured using Derwent Inktense Pencils activated with water.

Romantic Country: The Second Tale – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Romantic Country: The Second Tale is published by St Martin’s Griffin and is from my personal collection. Ever since Romantic Country was published in April, I’ve been eagerly anticipating this second instalment in the three-part series. I didn’t think it was possible to love a book more than Romantic Country, but I do love The Second Tale more, it feels more in depth and has even more exciting content as well as all of the beauty and charm of the first book. It’s illustrated by Eriy, a Japanese artist who creates her work using a toothpick dipped in ink. This whole book took approximately 1200 toothpicks and because of the way the lines are created they’re not a uniform thickness and aren’t a stark black colour (more on this later). This series was the series I’ve been hoping would be made, with its childlike charm but with adult levels of intricacy, it’s what I always felt was missing for me in JB’s books, don’t get me wrong, hers are stunningly beautiful, I really love them, but they’re a little too perfect for my imagined perfect series. Eriy’s books are utterly charming, not quite perfect, and truly heart-warming and that’s what makes them so wonderful.

This book is square, the same size as the bestsellers, paperback, with a removable paper dust jacket with partially coloured images from the book on the front and back. The book itself has brown card covers with a wraparound line drawing from inside the book and blank covers on the inside. The paper is a lovely rich creamy colour (it’s hard to describe but it’s a little warmer in colour than the paper in Johanna’s first two books but not yellowy and it’s the same as in Romantic Country), and it’s thick and doesn’t bleed or shadow with water-based pens when used carefully, it also held up well to water and didn’t bleed through at all with my Derwent Inktense pencils. The paper is lightly textured and while you can’t get loads of layers, pencils do lay down well on it and it’s perfectly possible to get some lovely blending and layering. The spine is glue and stitch-bound so it’s durable but a little difficult to get to the centre of each spread, however, spines of this type do ease up with use so do persevere. The images are printed double-sided and borderless and are a mixture of single and double-page spreads so a little of each image is lost into the spine to begin with. The images themselves are beautiful, charming, and begging to be coloured and are split into the following 5 chapters: 1. The Glow of Beautiful Old Castles; 2. Magnificent Lakeside and Mountain Landscapes; 3. Fairies and Works of Nature; 4. The Witch and the Hidden Secret Forest; 5. Cheerful Town Scenes. The book starts with a single page spread showing a map of Cocot (the name of the land in which the book is set, which was dreamt up in the imagination of Eriy when she was a child), depicting the landmarks introduced in this book. Following this, are two double-page spreads showing mapped scenes of the landmarks which are pictured in more detail later in the book so you can clearly see where they’re situated in relation to each other. Following the maps, the images show beautiful scenes of mushroom villages, shopping streets, witches’ houses, shop interiors, vegetable gardens, interiors and exteriors of castles, windmills, churches, underwater scenes including a mermaid, holiday scenes including Halloween and Easter, fairy houses, village markets and so much more! Each image is shown as a thumbnail at the back of the book too with a short description telling you more about each place and life in Cocot, you will truly want to move there and never leave! At the back of the book is a removable fold-out poster featuring the main character who is followed through the book (a little girl called Elena) and her duck friend Joset, which is fully colourable and can be cut out and glued together to create two beautiful 3D scenes showing a castle interior and the forest.

In terms of mental health, I doubt there’s a book that’s better for it in all honesty! Certainly for mine anyway! The illustrations are so charming and because they have a beautiful childlike quality to them they really have a nostalgic aspect which will remind you of colouring books you used as a child but with so much more detail and intricacy that it’s still very entertaining as an adult. The content is wonderful because it whisks you off to a simpler, happier, gentler place where there is a slower pace of life and mythical creatures live alongside people and even witches are good. The line thickness varies throughout because Eriy draws with a toothpick and so it naturally varies however the majority of the lines are thin but not spindly so they’re perfectly colourable with moderate vision and fine motor control. The lines themselves are not a stark black, they’re an uneven brown because they’re drawn in dipping ink and while this may not sound great and does take a little getting used to, it truly adds so much charm to the drawings and these illustrations just wouldn’t look right drawn in harsh, black, perfect lines. The images range in intricacy and detail from large open spaces of the stained glass window page I coloured and scenery, to small intricate details of vegetables, books and leaves, and everything in between, it’s very wide-ranging but the intricacy level in this book is significantly higher in most images than in Romantic Country though most of the images would still be suitable for those with moderate, or higher, vision or fine motor control so this is a great book for nearly anybody! The images are detailed and contain lots of things to look at and colour but most are not so overwhelming that you don’t know where or how to start and because they’re all depicting real things like buildings, plants, and food, they’re easy to work out colour schemes for whether that be subtle pastels, realistic browns and greys, or bright fantastical colours, this book isn’t so perfect that you don’t want to touch it which is part of its huge appeal. The images are really cohesive and almost tell a story as you walk through the streets, castles, countryside and shops, by the end of the book you really feel like you’ve visited Cocot and you’ll be planning your next visit as soon as you can!

I would highly recommend this book to anyone who likes to colour scenes, landscapes, shops, food and flowers. This is one of the most beautiful books I’ve ever seen and I’m pretty sure it’s my favourite with its charming illustrations and beautiful thick paper. This book is cute, pretty, whimsical, magical and charming and it truly is the book of my dreams, and hopefully of yours, if you don’t already have Romantic Country then get that too, this series is truly perfect!

If you’d like to purchase a copy of this gorgeous book then it’s available here:
Amazon UK – Romantic Country: The Second Tale
Book Depository Worldwide – http://www.bookdepository.com/Romantic-Country-The-Second-Tale-Eriy/9781250117281/?a_aid=colouringitmom

You can find my review of Romantic Country here. Or it’s available to purchase here:
Amazon UK – Romantic Country
Book Depository Worldwide – http://www.bookdepository.com/Romantic-Country-Fantasy-Coloring-Book-Eriy/9781250094469/?a_aid=colouringitmom

Romantic Country: The Third Tale will be published in May 2017 and is available to pre-order here:
Amazon UK – Romantic Country: The Third Tale
Book Depository Worldwide – http://www.bookdepository.com/Romantic-Country-The-Third-Tale-Eriy/9781250133830/?a_aid=colouringitmom

The image below was coloured using Derwent Inktense Pencils activated with water which I applied as sparingly as possible.

Zemlja Snova (Land of Dreams) – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.

Zemlja Snova roughly translates as Land of Dreams or Dreamland, it’s a Croatian book which is notoriously difficult to get hold of and the methods keep changing. Detailed information can be found below the review, above the photos and I’ll keep this updated as best I can, for the most up to date information, please join my dedicated fan group on Facebook where we run international group orders.

This book is one of the best I’ve ever seen. After reviewing over 200 books, there aren’t that many that manage to take my breath away, but this one does, it’s stunning and the illustrations are just incredible! Before requesting it I saw a flick-through of it and was absolutely hooked but once it arrived I was completely blown away so before I combust with compliments for this book, let me tell you about it. The book is just over 25cm square, the same size as the UK bestsellers, paperback, with flexible card covers and two-third French flaps which open out to reveal a white line drawing on a purple background, colourable black line drawings on the flaps themselves, and a partially coloured image from inside the book on the front cover. The spine is glue and string-bound and the binding is fairly tight on arrival meaning that it’s durable and hard-wearing but also a bit tricky to get to the very centre of some of the images. The images are a mixture of single and double-page spreads and are printed double-sided. The paper is bright white and thick with a light texture, it’s perfect for pencils and my Prismacolor Premier pencils went on like a dream but sadly water-based pens do heavily shadow so this is definitely a book best kept for pencils and the illustrations certainly lend themselves well to beautiful blending and shading. The book contains 81 pages of illustrations and they are genuinely incredible! The images are all fantasy-based and include lots of dragons, mermaids, unicorns, fairies, tree-men, and so much more. Over half of the spreads are double-page designs which are either scenes, depicting all manner of things from castles to sea voyages, gnome villages to woodland, dragons to underwater scenes, or paired images that can be coloured separately but are strongly linked with the opposite page (see photos below). I could go on for days describing the imagery, there is just so much to look at, when you first look at each image you start to get a feel for the general theme of the spread whether it be a castle, village or underwater scene, but as you look closer you discover lots of hidden things from gnomes to mermaid tails, working animals or birds’ nests, flowers growing off dragons and even hidden villages. The illustrations are just packed full with details and stories and they will take you ages to colour so this book is certainly good value for money! The ink is very permanent and doesn’t transfer even with very hard pressure from pencils and the paper doesn’t dent or curl either so it’s very good quality. The line print quality is good too with smooth lines throughout and no pixelation to be found! While a few of the spreads do enter the spine, care has been taken in the majority for them to not enter it, or for there to not be much detail there which is ideal for people who can’t bear to break the spine in order to colour the entire page.

In terms of mental health, wowee, I found this book exceptional! It offers so much to look at that it’s the perfect distraction for even the most persistent symptoms and it just draws you in to a magical fantastical world filled with mythical creatures, princes and princesses, castles, fairies and more. The more you look at the images, the more you see and the more you get drawn in and it’s done wonders for my anxiety during what has been a very challenging and anxiety-filled week. This book will be ideal for those of you who love fantasy colouring and also nature because so much of it is animal and scene-based so it’s combined 2 of our favourite things into one incredible book! The line thickness is consistent throughout and is thin with spindly thin details (it’s pretty similar to the linework in Johanna Basford’s books), the illustrations are very detailed and intricate so there are lots of tiny spaces which you can colour within or colour over if you prefer to use them as texture underneath your colour. You will need pretty good vision and fine motor control in order to enjoy this book and you’ll need some good sharp pencils so that you don’t go over the lines too much. I would highly recommend investing in a T’Gaal sharpener so that you can keep your pencils as sharp as possible! There are plenty of natural stopping points so this book is ideal for those with fluctuating conditions or concentration levels as you can colour one flower, all of the bricks or an entire dragon, you can also focus on a single page or go all out on a double-page spread. The pages for the most part are pretty busy and there’s loads to see so it can be a little tricky at times to identify all of the parts and sections so you will need good concentration for that part to ensure that you’re colouring a petal and not a foot accidentally! The content of the illustrations is totally absorbing and this book will look just incredible when it’s finished cover to cover. I adore this book, even just flicking through the pages gets me out of my head and calms my anxiety down and colouring it is just so much fun because you can use any colours you fancy from more natural colours to fantastical colours like blue for tree trunks and oranges or purples for leaves, in a fantasy world the only limit is your imagination and these images will look amazing no matter what colours you choose!

Overall, I can’t recommend this book highly enough, it’s a genuine work of art and while it’s a shame that pens can’t be used without shadowing, these illustrations lend themselves brilliantly to beautifully blended pencils. The artwork would appeal to male and female colourists and is highly fantasy-based with a strong storybook theme and lots of natural imagery. The drawings are incredible and you’ll be hooked once you’ve seen inside! I’ve included lots of images from inside below as usual but this book really has to be seen to be believed so I’ve also recorded a silent video flick-through which can be found HERE.

If you’d like to purchase a copy, it’s currently available to be purchased from the Croatian publisher, Fokus. Shipping from Croatia is very expensive and therefore it’s best to place orders as a group with one person ordering a number of books to their address and then separately shipping them out to others in their country. My Facebook group is the best place to do this as we have the largest community of Zemlja Snova fans in one place and we regularly run group orders to various countries around the world. A Dutch publisher has also acquired the rights and will be publishing copies later in the year (around mid October 2017) with the title Dromenvanger and this is available to pre-order on Book Depository where you can benefit from free worldwide shipping; this appears to be the cheapest option if you can bear to wait that long!
Dutch edition on Book Depository with free worldwide delivery – https://www.bookdepository.com/book/9789045321868/?a_aid=colouringitmom

Fans of Zemlja Snova Facebook Group

The image below was coloured using Prismacolor Premier Coloured Pencils. I tested Stabilo Point 88 Fineliners which heavily shadowed.

The Menagerie Postcards – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
The Menagerie Postcards is illustrated by Claire Scully and Richard Merritt, and published and very kindly sent to me to review by LOM art, an imprint of Michael O’Mara Books. This book of postcards contains 20 scaled down illustrations from the hugely popular The Menagerie (reviewed by me here). The postcards are standard size and have a lay flat binding which makes them easy to remove when you wish but is sturdy enough to keep the postcards in place while you’re colouring and for if you wish to keep them as a complete book. The covers are made of thick card with black tape down the spine, the signature bear image is pictured on the front with bronze foiling. None of the image is lost into the spine and the whole thing is fully colourable. The back of each postcard has a dotted outline for a stamp and four address lines. Each of the 20 images has elements of the animal and in some cases the background foliage embellished with bronze foiling which really adds a touch of luxury to these postcards. The card itself is bright white and smooth, water-based pens colour brilliantly on this with no sideways bleeding, bleed through or shadowing. Unfortunately, pencils don’t colour well on this card because it’s just too smooth and there’s no tooth so they don’t layer or blend well and I found my normally vibrant colours looked very dull and flat. The images are printed single-sided and are a great selection from the original images from The Menagerie, most of the favourites are included from the bear to the fox, tiger to lion, elephant to rhino and even the llama! The only original image that I personally was disappointed isn’t included was the highland cow because I think that would have looked wonderful with bronze foiling but we can’t have it all! The images have been scaled down well and are of course much smaller but they’re definitely still colourable though you may need to change your technique for these smaller versions.

In terms of mental health, this book is lovely, it’s really natural and there is so much detail that it really draws you in and focuses you on the here and now rather than your symptoms or thoughts. The line thickness is consistent throughout at spindly thin so there is no room for manoeuvre and you’ll easily colour over the lines so this is definitely a postcard set for those of you with very good vision and fine motor control. The intricacy and detail levels do vary from very detailed to extremely, super teeny tiny, microscopic detail that is a struggle to see, let alone colour. However, don’t despair, while you certainly won’t be able to colour within each teeny tiny section, you can easily colour over the smallest details and use them as texture underneath your colouring. Many of the images are fully colourable but around 50% of them do have areas that are filled with miniscule detail and while this didn’t interfere with my enjoyment of the postcards at all, it’s just something to be aware of, especially as pencils don’t work so well on this card. These illustrations are so detailed that you can’t help but practice mindfulness and focus intently on colouring each section carefully and neatly and this really helps you to get out of your head and away from difficult thoughts. While these images are small in size, they take a surprisingly long time to colour so you’re certainly getting value for money and you will need pretty good concentration and lighting to get the most out of these. As a side note, they would look beautiful framed either coloured or uncoloured, especially with the luxurious bronze foiling.

I would highly recommend this postcard book to fans of The Menagerie who have very good vision and fine motor control. Pen lovers will find these postcards ideal but you’ll definitely need to stick to the finest of fineliners to stay within the lines and keep the images looking crisp. These postcards are beautiful and other than not being well suited to pencils, they’re pretty much perfect!

If you’d like to purchase a copy of this book it’s available here:
Amazon UK – The Menagerie Postcards
Book Depository Worldwide – http://www.bookdepository.com/The-Menagerie-Postcards-Richard-Merritt-Claire-Scully/9781910552346/?a_aid=colouringitmom

If you can’t get enough of The Menagerie then you can get the book here:
My Review – The Menagerie: Animal Portraits to Colour
Amazon UK – The Menagerie: Animal Portraits to Colour
Book Depository Worldwide – http://www.bookdepository.com/Menagerie-Richard-Merritt/9781910552155/?a_aid=colouringitmom

The image below was coloured using Stabilo Point 88 Fineliners and Stabilo 68 Fibre-tips.

Romantic Country: A Fantasy Coloring Book – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Romantic Country: A Fantasy Coloring Book is published by St Martin’s Griffin and is from my personal collection. This book has been on my radar for months and it’s been absolute torture waiting for it to arrive, especially as it was published in the US at the beginning of March and not until the 12th of April here in the UK. You can imagine my disappointment when my copy arrived damaged on Tuesday and I had to wait another day for my new copy to arrive and to finally be able to break out my pencils and get colouring. However, it was worth the wait! This book is genuinely stunning and I think it might even be my favourite book! Eriy, the illustrator is Japanese and creates her work using a toothpick dipped in ink. This whole book took approximately 700 toothpicks and because of the way the lines are created they’re not a uniform thickness and aren’t a stark black colour (more on this later). This is the book I’ve been hoping would be made, with its childlike charm but with adult levels of intricacy, it’s what I always felt was missing for me in JB’s books, don’t get me wrong, hers are stunningly beautiful, I really love them, but they’re a little too perfect for my imagined perfect book. Eriy’s book is utterly charming, not quite perfect, and is truly heart-warming and that’s what makes it so wonderful.

This book is square, the same size as the bestsellers, paperback, with a removable paper dust jacket with partially coloured images from the book on the front and back. The book itself has brown card covers with a wraparound line drawing from inside the book and blank covers on the inside. The paper is a lovely rich creamy colour (it’s hard to describe but it’s a little warmer in colour than the paper in Johanna’s first two books but not yellowy), and it’s thick and doesn’t bleed or shadow with water-based pens when used carefully. The paper is lightly textured and while you can’t get loads of layers, pencils do lay down well on it and it’s perfectly possible to get some lovely blending and layering. The spine is glue and stitch-bound so it’s durable but a little difficult to get to the centre of each spread, however, spines of this type do ease up with use so do persevere. The images are printed double-sided and borderless and are a mixture of single and double-page spreads so a little of each image is lost into the spine. The images themselves are beautiful, charming, and begging to be coloured and are split into the following 5 chapters: 1. Hill and Town Overlooking a Clock Tower; 2. Stories of Castles; 3. A Villagescape with Beautiful Forests and Lakes; 4. A Town Where Genial People Live; 5. Windmills are a Symbol of This Village. The book starts with 3 double-page spreads of maps of Cocot, the name of the land in which the book is set, which was dreamt up in the imagination of Eriy when she was a child. She has created 3 books, all depicting Cocot, the other two of which are only currently available on Amazon Japan (links at the end of this review) but hopefully they’ll be picked up and published in English editions soon. Following the maps, the images show beautiful scenes of shop-filled streets, cakes and pastries, tea rooms, luxurious castle interiors, magical castle exteriors, walks through the woods, hilly scenes, farms, windmills and just so much more! Each image is shown as a thumbnail at the back of the book too with a short description telling you more about each place and life in Cocot, you will truly want to move there and never leave! At the back of the book is a removable fold-out poster featuring the main character who is followed through the book (a little girl called Elena) and her duck friend Joset, which is fully colourable and can be cut out and glued together to create a beautiful 3D scene.

In terms of mental health, I doubt there’s a book that’s better for it in all honesty! Certainly for mine anyway! The illustrations are so charming and because they have a beautiful childlike quality to them they really have a nostalgic aspect which will remind you of colouring books you used as a child but with so much more detail and intricacy that it’s still very entertaining as an adult. The content is wonderful because it whisks you off to a simpler, happier, gentler place where there is a slower pace of life and cakes are probably calorie-free, food is simple and delicious, and horse-drawn carriages are the only method of transport. The line thickness varies throughout because Eriy draws with a toothpick and so it naturally varies however the majority of the lines are thin but not spindly so they’re perfectly colourable with moderate vision and fine motor control. The lines themselves are not a stark black, they’re an uneven brown because they’re drawn in dipping ink and while this may not sound great and does take a little getting used to, it truly adds so much charm to the drawings and these illustrations just wouldn’t look right drawn in harsh, black, perfect lines. The images range in intricacy and detail from large open spaces of pine trees and buildings to small delicate flowers in window boxes and everything in between, it’s a wide range but almost all of the images would be suitable for anyone who doesn’t have poor vision or fine motor control so this is a great book for nearly anybody! The images are detailed and contain lots of things to look at and colour but they’re not so overwhelming that you don’t know where or how to start and because they’re all depicting real things like buildings, plants, and food, they’re easy to work out colour schemes for whether that be subtle pastels, realistic browns and greys, or bright fantastical colours, this book isn’t so perfect that you don’t want to touch it which is part of its huge appeal. The images are really cohesive and almost tell a story as you walk through the streets, castles, countryside and shops, by the end of the book you really feel like you’ve visited Cocot and you’ll be planning your next visit as soon as you can!

I would highly recommend this book to anyone who likes to colour scenes, landscapes, food and flowers. This is one of the most beautiful books I’ve ever seen and I’m pretty sure it’s my favourite with its charming illustrations and beautiful thick paper. This book is cute, pretty, whimsical, magical and charming and it truly is the book of my dreams, and hopefully of yours!

If you’d like to purchase a copy of this gorgeous book then it’s available here:
Amazon UK – Romantic Country: A Fantasy Coloring Book
Book Depository Worldwide – http://www.bookdepository.com/Romantic-Country-Fantasy-Coloring-Book-Eriy/9781250094469/?a_aid=colouringitmom

Books 2 and 3 are available on Amazon Japan here:
Book 2 – Romantic Country – The Second Tale
Book 3 – Romantic Country – The Third Tale

The image below was coloured using Faber-Castell Polychromos Pencils.

UK GIVEAWAY and Review – Adult Coloring Book: Stress Relieving Patterns for Grown-Ups

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Flowers, Mandalas and Animals: Adult Coloring Book: Stress Relieving Patterns for Grown-Ups (Stress Relieving Coloring Books for Adults) is published by ZenGalaxy Coloring Books and was kindly sent to me to review. If you live in the UK and would like to enter my Giveaway for a copy then head over to my Facebook page HERE where you have until Wednesday the 23rd of March at 8PM GMT to enter on the pinned post.

This book is filled with a variety of images and is a great one to start your colouring journey with or to use for fluctuating conditions and interests. This book is A4, paperback, with a soft-feel cover with a dark grey background and a full colour mandala wrapped around the front and back cover. The images are printed single-sided onto standard CreateSpace paper which is bright white, thin and toothy making it pretty good for layering and blending pencils and fine for pens which will all bleed through so pop a spare piece of paper behind to protect the image on the next page. The spine of the book is glue-bound, however, none of the images are lost into it because they are all either centralised or have a border around them preventing them from entering the spine. The book contains almost 60 images of a multitude of things including mandalas, patterns, paisleys, henna style images, flowers and lots of animals. They are drawn in quite differing styles and look like they’ve been created by a number of different artists though it’s unclear how many.

In terms of mental health, this book has a real variety of images both in content and in intricacy ranging from fairly large open spaces to incredibly detailed and intricate, so much so that a few of these designs will be very challenging to colour without going over the lines. The line thickness varies throughout from medium to spindly thin and the majority of the images are extremely intricate and drawn in a spindly thin line. This book is definitely not one for those of you with any issues with vision or fine motor control and it would be much more suited to those of you with good to perfect levels of both. The images don’t feel especially cohesive because they’re clearly created by different artists and are arranged in quite a random order with a lot of the patterns near the front of the book and the animals being nearer the back but these are interspersed with other images so they’re not arranged into any order or collections. The animals contain huge amounts of pattern and zentangling so there are lots of small spaces to occupy yourself with colouring, or you can colour over them to make it an easier task. This book will require a fairly good level of concentration because of the sheer amount of detail and intricacy and there aren’t really any separate small sections to tackle on bad days so I’d suggest this book for those of you that can colour for a few hours at a time rather than a few minutes. The images are very distracting and the patterns keep you absorbed and busy thus taking your mind off symptoms of any kind.

I would recommend this book to new colourers who are interested in a good variety of image styles and who have good vision and fine motor control. This book contains most themes of image and is a great trial book for narrowing down your interests or for those of you who like to colour lots of different things. Don’t forget that I’m running a UK Giveaway for a copy over on the pinned post on my Facebook page until Wednesday the 23rd of March at 8pm GMT.

You can purchase a copy here:
Amazon UK – Flowers, Mandalas and Animals: Adult Coloring Book: Stress Relieving Patterns for Grown-Ups (Stress Relieving Coloring Books for Adults)

The image below was coloured using Staedtler Ergosoft Coloured Pencils.

GIVEAWAY and Review – My Mystical Wonderland: Art Therapy Colouring Book For Creative Minds

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
My Mystical Wonderland: Art Therapy Colouring Book for Creative Minds (Crafts) is published and was kindly sent to me for review and a UK giveaway (see details at the end of this review) by Plexus Books. In short, this book is stunning and, in my opinion, comes close to rivalling the current bestsellers in the field. This book is the second in the series and my review of the first can be found here. This square book is paperback, glue-bound and contains a whopping 101 images that are printed double-sided with no border so a small amount of the image is lost into the spine until this loosens up with use. The paper is white and medium thickness with a little texture so it is ideal for use with pencils, but not so great with fineliners as they shadow a little but they don’t bleed through. Always test in an inconspicuous area to avoid ruining an image that you’re desperate to colour on the back if your pens bleed.

The images in this book are fairly cohesive and there is a lovely flora and fauna theme running through it though there are a few very different image styles which are dotted throughout and seem a little out of character in comparison to the majority of the book. Mostly though, this book has a great flow and contains heaps of images of flowers, animals, patterns and mandalas to keep you colouring for weeks. The images vary in intricacy level but this is not a book for beginners or those with poor eyesight or fine motor control issues because mostly the images are intricate-highly intricate with a lot of detail added to most so good visual acuity and a steady hand will be a must! The line thickness varies from spindly thin to thick and chunky but mostly resides in the thin (but not too thin) area. Many of the images are realistically drawn but there are also a huge number of stylised and almost cartoon-style drawings. Some of the images are double-page spreads and others show a pattern or whole image on one side and then a zoomed in or repeated version on the opposite page creating a really nice pair without them being matching. There is no pre-added colour in this book but there are a number of pages that have gaps and spaces and written hints about what you can add there so for those of you that like drawing there is scope to add to and embellish this book. This book follows the same format as the first in the series – My Magical Oasis, and if you liked that book then you’re sure to love this one too! A whole host of plants and creatures are included in these images from unicorns to deer, flower trees to mushrooms, peacocks to frogs, geckos to beetles, dragons to elephants and many more things including fruit, flowers and feathers as well as a host of abstract patterns.

In terms of mental health, this book is a great one and should definitely be added to your collection. The sheer variety of image content means this book was already onto a winner but the level of intricacy and detail in the majority of the images means that it’s perfect for keeping you focused and occupied. Those of you who have days of poor concentration will be able to use one of the simpler images contained within to still get your colouring fix but these are sparing so those of a moderate to advanced level of colouring would be best suited to this book. That said, I found it really relaxing, calming and distracting and it’s staying firmly in my “to keep” pile as it’s joined my ever-growing favourites list. As you’ll have seen in my other reviews, I rate books with natural images of animals and flowers very highly because they seem to have the greatest calming effect on me. I also find it very soothing colouring natural images because I’m virtually housebound and don’t often get the chance to go outside and experience these things in the real world anymore so being able to colour my own flowers and animals is a helpful way in which I can reconnect with nature without my anxiety disorders kicking off and ruining my enjoyment of it.

This book really is a mystical wonderland of reality and fantasy and totally brings you back to nature. This is a fabulous book for calming your thoughts and has more than enough detail to keep you focused and distracted from worries and stresses. I would highly recommend it, in particular to those of you who are fans of JB and MM’s work as this book is somewhere inbetween but with its own unique and beautiful style.

If you’d like to purchase a copy then it’s available here:
Amazon UK – My Mystical Wonderland: Art Therapy Colouring Book for Creative Minds (Crafts)
Book Depository Worldwide – https://www.bookdepository.com/My-Mystical-Wonderland-Eglantine-De-La-Fontaine/9780859655439/?a_aid=colouringitmom

The images below were coloured using Stabilo 68 Fibre-tip pens, Steadtler Triplus Fibre-tip pens and Stabilo Point 88 Fineliners.

GIVEAWAY – If you live in the UK and would like to win a copy of this beautiful book then head over to my Facebook page here and enter via the pinned post at the top of the page. You have until 8pm GMT on Sunday the 24th of January to enter! Good luck!