Flowers

The Wellbeing Journal: Creative Activities to Inspire – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
The Wellbeing Journal: Creative Activities to Inspire is published and kindly sent to me to review by Michael O’Mara Books. This journal has been created in partnership with the mental health charity, Mind, all royalties from the sale of the book will be donated to them and thus, by purchasing it, you can not only help yourself (more on this later), but also the countless number of us who are mentally ill in the UK and further afield who are supported by Mind and their tireless work to raise awareness and reduce stigma about mental illness. The book itself is 14.7 x 19cm (just smaller than A5), paperback, with flexible card covers with pictures of brightly coloured birds and branches. The journal is printed double-sided and contains a mixture of single and double-page spreads. The paper is bright white, smooth, and medium thickness, it shadows and occasionally bleeds with water-based pens and pencils don’t work brilliantly unless you use graphite or soft leads due to the smoothness. The majority of the pages in the journal have space to write or draw, some are plain with borders or corner imagery and others are lined, scattered throughout are pages filled with colourful patterns or bright drawings of plants and animals. There are also lots of written activities and self-help suggestions including: relaxing your body, drawing how you’re feeling, organising your time, identifying your stress triggers, and lots more, all of these things may seem simple to people who are well, but it’s often the most basic of tasks, especially anything that involves self-care that those of us who are mentally ill struggle with and it’s great to have prompts all written in the same place for us to refer to when needed. A few colouring pages are scattered through the journal and a number of inspiring and uplifting quotes that might help you look at the world a little differently or remind you that it’s not quite as dark or hopeless as you might feel.

In terms of mental health, this journal couldn’t be much better, it’s been designed with mental health in mind and the tips included are genuinely useful for helping yourself to feel just a little bit better. Journaling is often credited as being great for mental health, it’s not something I’ve ever managed to regularly stick at but I certainly find blogging helps me make sense of things and writing things down can be really useful for this so having a dedicated space to do that interspersed with tips, quotes and activities to keep you perked up is ideal. This journal would be a great present for yourself (get started on the self-care journey by investing in this as something that can help you help yourself), or for others around you who might be struggling with self-care or mental health, it’s perfect for letting someone know you’re thinking of them and starting the conversation about mental health and letting them know that it’s ok not to be ok and it’s also ok to talk about it. The journal is not only a fabulous place to write down your thoughts, feelings, and symptom diary, you could also use it as a place to write down additional self-care tips, strategies, and activities, you could even get people around you who care about you to write nice messages in it for you to read when you’re having symptomatic days and need a boost! The journal is a great size for popping in your bag for journaling on the move or having a portable self-help guide. The tips included are sadly not likely to cure you, they may not even make a huge difference to how you’re feeling, but without trying them, you’ll never know, and starting to care about yourself and for yourself is notoriously difficult when you’re very unwell, therefore having written suggestions of basic things you can try can be a really useful tool for helping yourself feel just a little bit better, even just for a moment!

Overall, I would highly recommend this journal, the paper quality is slightly disappointing but other than that I can’t fault it, the content is great, with a good mix of activities and tips, and space for writing or drawing and if nothing else, the bright colours printed throughout might just brighten your day for the briefest of moments. It would make a wonderful present to yourself or others and better still, by purchasing it you’re helping support a wonderful mental health charity, it doesn’t get much better than that!

If you’d like to purchase a copy it’s available here:
Amazon UK – The Wellbeing Journal: Creative Activities to Inspire
Book Depository Worldwide – https://www.bookdepository.com/The-Wellbeing-Journal/9781782438007/?a_aid=colouringitmom

The image below was coloured with Stabilo Point 88 Fineliners.

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Millie Marotta's Beautiful Birds and Treetop Treasures, click through to see more images, read my review and see a video flick-through of the book.

Millie Marotta’s Beautiful Birds and Treetop Treasures: A Colouring Book Adventure – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Millie Marotta’s Beautiful Birds and Treetop Treasures is published by Batsford Books who very kindly sent me a review copy. This is the fifth book in Millie’s animal-centred adult colouring book series. It’s the same size and shape (25cm square) as her previous books, paperback, with flexible card covers with black and white line drawings that hint at some of the feathery and flighty creatures within the pages and the central illustration has highlights of colour added as well as gold foiling on it and the title. The spine is a lime green colour which compliments the other spine colours really well and they look gorgeous on the shelf together (see photo below). The covers have French flaps which each have a paired down version of the front cover on the outside and inside is a lime green background with white line drawings of birds (this isn’t colourable and is printed on quite glossy card). The spine is glue and string-bound so it’s very durable but it does mean that a little of some of the images is lost into it until it eases up with a bit of use. The images are a mixture of single and double-page spreads with a few being mirror images of each other. The paper is bright white and lightly textured, it’s the same paper as the previous titles and doesn’t bleed but does shadow a little with water-based pens; pencils work beautifully and blend and shade really well.

The book starts with a two-page introduction from Millie herself where she explains her illustration process and her love for birds from around the world. Following this are heaps of illustrations of everything you can imagine from truly exotic birds and creatures to the more mainstream and common and everything in between. The images include eagles, tits of all kinds, finches, butterflies, an American black bear, cicada, koala, veiled chameleon, Eurasian red squirrel, birds of paradise, pheasants, blue jays, and so much more. There are five matching spreads where there is a more detailed version on the left and a less detailed copy of the same image on the right where you can add your own details and patterns if you wish but there are no written hints so it’s entirely up to you what you do with these pages. A fabulous new feature at the back of this book (also featured in Curious Creatures) is a two-page list of all of the creatures in order of their inclusion in the book. This list has the English and scientific name (Latin name) for each creature and it makes identifying them super easy and also means that you can quickly google images of each creature so you can find out what they look like if you’re keen on the natural look in your colouring; it’s also a great way of finding out more information about some of the more unusual animals, I’ve already learnt loads of interesting facts! These images feel a little fuller and more finished than Millie’s first three books, more in line with Curious Creatures, there’s a little more scenery and a little more added to backgrounds such as clouds or leaves so the blank spaces are a bit less empty, this isn’t intrusive for those wanting to create their own backgrounds though, it just helps it look a bit more finished for those who don’t want to create their own. The content is particularly bird heavy this time, not a criticism and it was to be expected given that they’re mentioned in the title but it’s worth noting that around two thirds of the pages are filled with birds (59 bird pages vs 27 non-bird pages).

In terms of mental health, yet again, this book is fantastic. There is so much to look at, so much to discover, that it’s incredibly distracting and really focuses your mind on the illustrations themselves rather than any difficult thoughts or feelings you may be having. The image content is totally absorbing and nature-based images are the best for relieving symptoms of mental illness. This book is very intricate, but don’t let that scare you, you can use pencils, fine-nibbed felt tips, fineliners and gel pens, all with great effects and most of the images aren’t so detailed that you’re put off or overwhelmed. Many of the patterns drawn onto the animals can be coloured over in blocks as well making them less intricate and giving your colouring texture and pattern rather than outlined spaces to colour, so the possibilities are endless. If you have vision problems or issues with fine motor control then you may struggle with this book but for any of the rest of you I’d suggest giving this book a go and persevering into a more intricate world. The natural scenes of animals, flowers and trees definitely create a sense of calm and this will be one of my go-to books when I really need to focus on something and be distracted. It’s detailed enough that you have to focus and concentrate and this lends itself wonderfully to drowning out any anxious or disturbing thoughts you may want to shift. The line thickness is consistent throughout and is very thin so I’d advise colouring during the day or near a very good desk lamp. The images are really cohesive in their bird and treetop theme and they are truly fascinating to look through.

I can’t praise this book highly enough, I love Millie’s work and this book is absolutely stunning, it’s particularly bird-heavy this time but the title suggested that so I’d have been disappointed if this hadn’t been the case. The illustrations lend themselves to whatever colour scheme you fancy whether that be realistic, rainbow, monochrome, black and white, mixed media, or anything else you can dream up, it really is beautiful!

If you’d like to purchase a copy it’s available to pre-order here:
Amazon UK – Millie Marotta’s Beautiful Birds and Treetop Treasures
Book Depository Worldwide – https://www.bookdepository.com/Millie-Marotta-s-Beautiful-Birds-and-Treetop-Treasures/9781849944434/?a_aid=colouringitmom

If you’d like to see a silent video flick-through of the whole book then click here.

The image below was coloured using Magnetips Pens.

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.

Lost Ocean Artist’s Edition: 24 Illustrations to Colour and Frame – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Lost Ocean Artist’s Edition is illustrated by Johanna Basford and published and kindly sent to me to review by Virgin Books. This book contains 24 of the original images from the Lost Ocean colouring book all printed single-sided. The book is 25x33cm, paperback with thick card covers with beautiful gold foiling accents on the cover and blue text on the spine. The book has a lay-flat binding meaning there is no spine to contend with and that you can reach the whole image to colour it. The pages are all removable, they’re not perforated so there’s no risk of them not being fully perforated and you ripping a page when trying to remove it, they’re all glued onto the spine in the same way as postcard books so they’re easy to remove if you wish but they’re not stuck very strongly and in the process of colouring my page I’ve managed to detach nearly half of the pages so this book won’t stay together unless you’re extremely careful with it. The removable nature of the pages is ideal for two reasons, firstly, its main purpose, which is so that they can be displayed, framed, or gifted to friends or family so your colouring is no longer destined to stay hidden away in a book; secondly, it makes it much easier to colour if you remove the page first – the book is very large when fully open which makes it difficult to colour on your lap or even on a clipboard because it’s over A3 size when opened, but when you remove the page you can turn it to any angle you please so that you can colour each section easily without having to have your hand hanging off one corner or be rubbing over previously coloured areas and accidentally smudging bits. The pages are made of thick card which will hold up to just about any colouring medium (this is the same card as used in the Secret Garden and Enchanted Forest Artist’s Editions). I tested my Stabilo Point 88 Fineliners and they didn’t even shadow onto the back and they also didn’t bleed sideways or into the card, they seemed to glide on top instead of saturating the paper like so often happens with thick pages. The card is cream which I know isn’t everyone’s favourite, however, I love it because it makes it feel like a classic book with age and luxury. It also means there’s a less harsh contrast between the colouring and the background if you leave the background uncoloured and also allows you to easily add white as highlights or as a colour where white paper simply doesn’t.

The images included are from the original Lost Ocean book and I think they’re a really good selection. There aren’t any pattern or filler images this time and they’re all definitely frame-worthy. Of the 24 illustrations, 5 are landscape and the others are portrait orientation, 3 are printed smaller than the original illustrations but the others are all printed larger to varying degrees from 4mm to the largest being the skull at an extra 7cm larger, 5 of the images are taken from double-page spreads where a section has generally been enlarged (a couple have been shrunk but not drastically so) and the rest are from single page spreads. Because the majority of the images have been enlarged, at least a little bit, they mostly have larger spaces to colour which allows you to really go to town and the possibilities for blending and shading are increased. If you’re new to using pencils and want to learn about blending and shading then the slightly larger print would be ideal for practising these techniques.

As with all of the Artist’s Editions, this book doesn’t have a treasure hunt aspect. The Secret Garden Artist’s Edition arrived wrapped in thin plastic film, but this one didn’t, however that may be because it’s a review copy so do be aware that it may have plastic film on it in the shop and you may not be able to look through it in stores, this means that the cover is well protected and won’t be at risk of staining or marking which I personally think is pretty sensible, though it’s a shame they didn’t do a preview on the back of what images are included. Because of this, I have included pictures of all of the images from inside the book below so that you can “see inside” before you buy it, as well as comparing the size to the original images.

In terms of mental health, this book is wonderful. Colouring this book ready to review it has provided countless hours of calming distraction and the card is such a joy to colour that I’ve enjoyed every moment of colouring it and was almost disappointed when I finally finished my picture and had to move onto another review. This is a book where you really don’t notice the hours passing because you’re so engrossed and focused on colouring each section. Johanna’s books are not for the faint-hearted and are quite an undertaking and they’re not for those of you with poor eyesight or challenged fine motor control. However, for anyone who is mentally ill and doesn’t have poor eyesight, this book is ideal because not only are the images stunning but they’re also completely grounded in nature which is perfect for calming you down and relaxing you. When colouring these images, it feels like you’re going on a wonderful adventure into Johanna’s Lost Ocean, the journey is less obvious but the images are printed in the same order as they appear in the book so it does have a feeling of flow. It’s sure to lift your mood and focus your thoughts so that even the most racing of minds will be quietened, at least for a short while. The details and intricacies force you to concentrate and become immersed in a watery world filled with brightly coloured fish and enchanting sea creatures and you’re sure to feel your anxiety lessen and your dark thoughts soften a little. It’s by no means a cure, but this is a fabulous book for distraction and the fact that you can remove the pages and display them means that all of your hard work and creativity can be prominently displayed and used to brighten up your darker days and remind you that you can create beautiful things which I often find gives me a huge self-esteem boost.

I can’t recommend this book highly enough. If you liked Johanna’s original books or want to delve into her inky world for the first time then I’d strongly recommend purchasing it. With the best paper quality that I’ve come across in a colouring book, it contains the most stunning images and the feature of removable pages is one that I personally love because it means you can decorate your walls with your work or give wonderful, thoughtful presents to family and friends. This book exudes quality and luxuriousness from its thick card pages, to the signature gold foil accents on the front cover and the small selection of shells printed on the reverse of each picture, it is a work of art in itself and will be transformed into a masterpiece once you unleash your creativity upon it. I truly can’t enthuse enough about this book, it is a must-have and one that if you have been umming and ahhing about whether you should purchase it should be bought at once because I can just about guarantee that you won’t regret it. This book is ideal for anyone who is struggling with their mental health and anyone who just wants something truly beautiful to colour. Do check the images below to ensure the selection is one that you’re happy with and then get ordering because this is a book you definitely need in your collection, it’s gorgeous and one I can’t wait to get working on again!

If you’d like to purchase a copy of this book, it’s available here:
Amazon UK – Lost Ocean Artist’s Edition
Book Depository Worldwide – https://www.bookdepository.com/Lost-Ocean-Artists-Edition-Johann-Basford/9780753548134?ref=grid-view&qid=1491572389812&sr=1-1/?a_aid=colouringitmom

The image below was coloured using Prismacolor Premier Coloured Pencils and blended with a Caran d’Ache blender pencil.

The Flower Year: A Colouring Book – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
The Flower Year: A Colouring Book is published and very kindly sent to me to review by Laurence King Publishing. This book is the second colouring book offering from Leila Duly who illustrated the hugely successful and utterly stunning, Floribunda, reviewed by me here. This new book is a different format, with somewhat different content and very different production however, rest assured, it’s equally beautiful and an absolute must-have! Below the review are photos of inside so you can have a sneak-peek and if you want to view the whole thing you can see my silent video flick-through here.

This book is quite small at 23 x 18cm, it’s hardback with a pale pink linen-style cover in a slightly different shade from Floribunda, with black floral line drawings on the front and back covers and beautiful moss green interior and first and last pages. The spine of the book is stitch-bound and it is glued onto a flexible fabric tape strip which makes it easier to access the gutter in the center of the pages though in some cases this is still tricky and you’ll lose a little of some of the images. The illustrations are printed double-sided and are a mixture of single and double-page spreads. The paper is medium/thick, cream and very smooth, it’s similar to the paper used in Swedish colouring books though it has less texture; it’s ideal for water-based pens which apply smoothly and don’t bleed or shadow (do always test in an inconspicuous place as we all colour differently), I coloured my page with oil-based pencils (Holbeins and Polychromos’s) and found that I struggled to get even coverage as they didn’t want to blend very well and I was left with a slightly patchy appearance, even without any visible tooth to the paper, until I used a blending pencil (see photos below), this may be user error, but as many of us know, certain papers work better with certain types of pencils and I found that it performed much better with wax-based pencils when testing my Prismacolor Premier Pencils. The book contains a sage green satin ribbon bookmark which is very handy for keeping your page and really adds an extra touch of luxury in addition to the pale pink foiling which adorns the title on the cover and the spine.

The illustrations contain images of flowers from throughout the year with a title page for each month, starting with January and ending in December, each bordered with plants and flowers from that month, following each are 7 pages of floral illustrations containing a range of content styles including double-page spreads, single page spreads, collections of individual flower images and 7 pages with a written quote and a smaller flower image. There is a huge variety of content from birds to butterflies, dragonflies to berries and of course, heaps and heaps of flowers including, a dog rose, foxglove, bluebells, fuchsia, hellebore and plants including mistletoe, holly, horse chestnut and English oak. Some of the pages show small scenes of a zoomed in flowering plant or birds perched on branches, others show a small section of a whole plant, similar to images found in spotters guides and old-fashioned nature books, these collections have the flower’s name added on the page so they’re easy to identify. One of the best things about this book is that all of the pages are shown as thumbnails in the index and underneath each is a list of all of the flowers and birds depicted meaning that those of us who wish to colour the flowers realistically can, with great ease. A number of the pages have centralized images or sweeping spreads with large spaces left where you could add your own backgrounds or imagery if you wish, however this is by no means necessary and the pages will look finished and stunning, regardless of whether you add extras or not.

In terms of mental health, this book is wonderful, just as Floribunda was. The images are so realistic and they’re just packed with detail so even just looking through the pages is very calming and it really feels like you’re taken on a journey through the flowers and plants of the British seasons. I particularly like the way the book is split into months and that all of the illustrations are grouped together in this way, it means that you could just work through it in order or even colour the pages from each month as you go through the calendar year and see if you can spot some of those flowers when you’re out and about, I’ve certainly been noticing lots of crocuses (apparently January flowers) and daffodils outside my flat recently, as well as lots of birds, though I’ve not seen any wrens which are pictured for March, maybe I’ll see one soon. Nature-themed imagery is one of the best types for mental health because it’s so innately soothing and calming, even with no colour added, Leila’s illustrations are an absolute work of art and they are truly brought to life once coloured. The line thickness is spindly thin throughout, and while this does make it quite tricky to colour the images, they just wouldn’t look right with a thicker line, their beauty is in their delicacy. The intricacy and detail levels do vary from larger open spaces on periwinkles and bindweed to much smaller spaces of berries and lily-of-the-valley, but really you will need very good vision and fine motor control to get the most out of this book; I have good levels of both and it required a lot of time and patience to stay within the lines, even whilst colouring over many of the detailed sections. You will also need a good level of concentration to enjoy this book, while it will certainly cheer you up and calm you down on your worse days, it requires a lot of focus in order to stay within the lines and identify each section so that you’re not accidentally colouring a petal in leaf colours so this book is one to keep for your better days. That being said, when you’re well enough to colour it, it offers wonderful escapism and is extremely absorbing, leafing through the pages is like taking a garden walk, it really transports you outdoors and through forests, meadows and hedgerows.

Overall, I would highly recommend this book to nature-lovers and those with very good vision and fine motor control, Leila’s illustrations are second to none and while this book is absolutely beautiful as it is, it’ll be an absolute stunner when it’s full to the brim with colour. This is one book that I really hope I can colour from cover to cover in my lifetime because the end result will be incredible. While the paper can be a bit tricky with certain pencils, do persevere, I promise it’s worth the effort!

If you’d like to purchase a copy of The Flower Year, it’s available to pre-order here:
Amazon UK – The Flower Year: A Colouring Book
Book Depository Worldwide – https://www.bookdepository.com/The-Flower-Year/9781780679532/?a_aid=colouringitmom

If you’d like to purchase a copy of Floribunda it’s available here:
Review – Floribunda: A Flower Colouring Book
Amazon UK – Floribunda: A Flower Colouring Book (Colouring Books)
Book Depository Worldwide – http://www.bookdepository.com/Floribund-Leil-Duly/9781780677767/?a_aid=colouringitmom

The image below was coloured using a combination of Holbein Artist’s Coloured Pencils and Faber-Castell Polychromos Pencils. I also used a Caran d’Ache Blender.

Floribunda: A Flower Colouring Journal – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Floribunda: A Flower Colouring Journal is illustrated by Leila Duly and published and kindly sent to me to review by Laurence King Publishing. These journals often come shrink-wrapped in plastic so unfortunately, even if you’re able to hunt it down in the shops, you may not be able to see inside so here is my review to unlock its mysteries and show you inside so you can make an informed decision. This journal is beautiful, as you’d expect, those of you familiar with Leila’s first colouring book, Floribunda, will know just how stunning her artwork is and now some of the smaller elements have been collated into this journal. It’s really luxurious from its pale pink hardback cover with a beautiful floral scene from the book, to the black linen-style spine, this journal oozes class and specialness and will be perfect for using as a diary, writing special notes or taking down your life story, or even using as a scrapbook, this journal is certainly not for your run of the mill shopping or to-do lists! It is A5 in size and contains 144 pages which are plain and un-lined meaning you can write in it or even use it for doodling, the corners are rounded so there are no harsh lines or corners making this journal feel very warm and inviting. There is a handy shell pink ribbon bookmark so you can easily find your place each time and on every other double-page is a small image from Leila’s Floribunda colouring book. The 37 illustrations include lots of the single flower illustrations which were printed in colour on the inside covers of her original book, they are printed in a very similar size to those and therefore look very delicate on the page. Of these illustrations, around 5 are printed twice, first towards the front of the book and then towards the end, these include the freesia, iris, delphinium, and two others. They look beautiful left uncoloured or brightened up with splashes of colour. The cover has a paper strip which is folded over but not attached stating the title of the journal and the price and description on the back of it, which can be removed. The inside covers and first and last pages are pale pink and the first internal page of the book has a large floral image with a small lined space to write your name. The paper is cream adding to the luxurious, vintage feel of the book and it is smooth meaning it’s a little tricky to layer your coloured pencils but it is doable with a bit of effort. I tried out my water-based fineliners and they didn’t bleed at all and only had the slightest hint of shadowing with very dark colours but I only noticed because I was closely inspecting it. The ink lines do transfer ever-so slightly when pressing hard with pencils so do use a spare piece of paper behind when burnishing the images to avoid image transfer. My recommendation would be to use pencil to write in the journal or water-based pens rather than ball-points which would dent the paper heavily and take away from its lovely smooth feel.

From a mental health perspective, this journal is lovely because it gives you small little colouring projects for the days when a whole page is far too overwhelming. The illustrations are small and can be completed in a short amount of time meaning you don’t need a good attention span or level of concentration to be able to enjoy each illustration though you do have to focus very hard to not colour over the lines. You could complete them one by one, in order, each time you get to writing on that page, or pick and choose your favourites. The images are very intricate and detailed, and the lines are possibly the thinnest I’ve seen with the illustrations much smaller than those in the original colouring book pages and a similar size to their coloured counterparts on the inside covers of it, therefore you will need extremely good vision and fine motor control, a steady hand and some sharp pencils or a trusty set of fineliners so that you don’t go over the spindly thin lines. When compared to the two previous colouring journals Laurence King have published, I was very slightly disappointed with this one as there are no foiled elements on the cover (apart from the title on the removable paper strip), no metallic coloured edging to the pages, and half the number of colourable designs also including 5 repeats. This seems a little bit of a shame, however, as a standalone product it’s simply beautiful, I just feel the two journals of Johanna Basford’s artwork were better value for money as they had double the number of illustrations but for Floribunda fans this journal will still be ideal.

I would highly recommend this journal for stationery addicts, those who love to write and ‘need’ a new notebook, and fans of Floribunda and the stunning work of Leila Duly. This is wonderfully luxurious, beautifully illustrated and ideal for mixing colouring and writing and it’s perfect for your bad mental health days when all you can cope with colouring is one little flower. This journal is delicate and beautiful and a lovely addition to the colouring journal range.

You can purchase a copy here:
Amazon UK – Floribunda: A Flower Colouring Journal
Book Depository Worldwide – https://www.bookdepository.com/Floribund-Leil-Duly/9781780679402/?a_aid=colouringitmom

The images below were coloured using Holbein Artists’ Coloured Pencils.

Tangle Wood Collector’s Art Edition – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Tangle Wood Collector’s Art Edition is illustrated by Jessica Palmer and published and kindly sent to me to review by Search Press Publishing. This book is the artist’s edition of Jessica’s hugely popular debut colouring book, Tangle Wood, which I reviewed almost 18 months ago, she’s since gone on to produce two further titles, Tangle Bay and Tangle Magic. This artist’s edition is a different format from the original and contains 20 images, some originally single pages and others a full double-page spread, I’ve included photos of all of the pages below so that you can see if your favourites are included and decide if this book is for you. It’s currently listed on Amazon with a release date in the UK as the 31st of March but my contact at Search Press is expecting their own website to have stock by the end of January and Amazon doesn’t usually take long after that so do get your pre-order in (links below) and you’ll be sure to get a copy as soon as it’s available.

The book itself is very large, measuring 25 x 33cm (the same size as Floribunda and the JB artist’s editions), it’s paperback with covers made of the same card as the pages inside, it’s thick card which is a beautiful cream colour, lightly textured and perfect for use with water-based pens which don’t bleed sideways or through, and pencils which layer and blend beautifully. I tested my Stabilo Point 88 Fineliners and they didn’t shadow onto the back, they just seemed to glide on top instead of saturating the paper. Cream isn’t everyone’s favourite page colour but it definitely adds a vintage feel and seems more natural than pure white so it really fits the woodland theme and also means you’re left with a less harsh contrast if you decide to leave the background uncoloured. The 20 images are printed single-sided onto the card and all of them are landscape, some are single page images from the original book which are printed a little larger, and others are double-page spreads which have been shrunk to fit the new page size. The book has a lay-flat binding meaning there is no spine to contend with and that you can reach the whole image to colour it. The pages are all removable, they’re not perforated so there’s no risk of them not being fully perforated and you ripping a page when trying to remove it, they’re all glued onto the spine in the same way as postcard books so they’re easy to remove if you wish but do stay put as long as you’re careful and don’t twist the spine too much, mine arrived pretty stiff. The removable nature of the pages is ideal for two reasons, firstly, its main purpose, which is so that they can be displayed, framed, or gifted to friends or family so your colouring is no longer destined to stay hidden away in a book; secondly, it makes it much easier to colour if you remove the page first – the book is very large when fully open which makes it difficult to colour on your lap or even on a clipboard because it’s over A3 size when opened, but when you remove the page you can turn it to any angle you please so that you can colour each section easily without having to have your hand hanging off one corner or be rubbing over previously coloured areas and accidentally smudging bits.

The images included are all from the original version of Tangle Wood, unlike most artist’s editions, the majority of these images are actually smaller than in the original book, I personally don’t think this was the best decision as Jessica’s illustrations are some of the most detailed around and it would have been lovely to have slightly larger scale versions to get our teeth into. There are also some slightly odd image choices like the floral frame which doesn’t actually fill the page or have enough space in the middle to draw much of your own imagery, or the floral spray with a small hummingbird, I was very disappointed to see that the gingerbread house wasn’t included apart from as a faded background for the bio on the back page. However, those niggles aside, the book is lovely and the images are really beautiful. Of the 20 images, 3 are printed larger than the original, 11 are printed smaller than the original, and the rest are the same size (see comparison photos below). The illustrations are printed in a different order from the book and don’t show the journey through the wood as the original did, there also isn’t a treasure hunt aspect though there are jewellery pieces hidden in each illustration. On the back of each page it says “Hand Coloured By” with a line to write your name and then “On” followed by space to write the date, you could also add the colouring mediums you used as a great record for the future.

In terms of mental health, this book is great, Jessica’s work contains so much detail that there’s constantly something to look at and notice, there’s a really good mix of images from up-close plants and insects to more scenic pages and all of the chosen illustrations will look beautiful framed if you wish. The linework is fairly consistent throughout and is thin and spindly thin, the detail levels do vary because the scale of the images varies and it ranges from the tiniest of details up to much larger open spaces. While you will need pretty good vision and fine motor control, don’t forget that you don’t have to colour in each tiny section individually and you can get great effects from colouring over sections and using the black linework as pattern or texture through your colouring, I often do this with Jessica’s illustrations and it’s really effective. The drawings themselves are really natural and evocative and are sure to spark your imagination as well as calm you down, Jessica’s illustrations feel very peaceful so they’re great for slowing down a racing mind. A number of the images have large spaces where you could add your own backgrounds but this is by no means necessary and the pages will look beautiful with or without any additions. There is also a variance in the amount of content on each page so you can tackle a simpler page on bad days or a more complex design on days where you can focus and concentrate more fully. Fans of the original book are sure to love this edition, it feels quite different from the original but it has many more uses and is ideal for using heavy/wet media that you can’t use on double-sided pages.

Overall, I would highly recommend this book, while the image choice and layout is a little disappointing, this may just be my personal taste and what is here is very lovely and will look stunning finished and framed. The book itself would make a wonderful gift or you could colour and frame a page for a loved one, or just brighten up your own home with your wonderful creations, I will certainly be framing my own soon, I just love how my owl turned out!

If you’d like to purchase a copy, it’s available to pre-order here:
Amazon UK – Tangle Wood Collector’s Art Edition
Book Depository Worldwide – https://www.bookdepository.com/Tangle-Wood-Jessic-Palmer/9781782214878/?a_aid=colouringitmom
Search Press Website – https://www.searchpress.com/book/9781782214878/tangle-wood-collector-s-art-edition

The image below was coloured using Holbein Artists’ Colored Pencils and the background with PanPastels.