Hardback

Magical Jungle: 36 Postcards to Colour and Send – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Magical Jungle: 36 Postcards to Colour and Send is published and was kindly sent to me to review by Virgin Books. It is with a heavy heart that I have to write a less than positive review of these postcards. I had high hopes for them after detailing my criticisms of the Lost Ocean Postcards and raising these issues with the publisher and hoped things would be changed, but when they arrived I’m afraid to say I was very disappointed. This set of postcards contains 36 scaled down images from Johanna Basford’s hugely successful Magical Jungle adult colouring book (reviewed by me here). Each postcard is printed single-sided with a leaf-outlined stamp space and space for an address (left blank with no lines) on the back so that you can send them to family, friends and loved ones. The postcards arrive in a sort of box that doesn’t have a top or bottom and opens out to reveal the postcards inside with three black images drawn in a white line from inside the book, in two designs. The cover is cream with beautiful gold accents and a scaled down version of the book cover. The postcards are attached to the inside back cover of this box and have a glue binding which isn’t attached to anything other than the cards, it’s very sticky on the outside and also not very hard or strong, after the first careful look through the postcards I had already loosened a few and by the fourth time looking through them over half had completely detached. I’ve only had this set for two days and I’ve already had to completely remove the glue binding because so many postcards had fallen out and they’re now all loose in the box-type cover which they fall out the bottom of.

This time there is only one size of set including 36 postcards rather than the 50 we were offered for Lost Ocean. Of my 36 postcards, one was duplicated meaning I got 36 postcards with 35 designs and of the duplicated cards, one had a printing error with a centimetre gap of unprinted design at the top (see photo below), I’ve been in touch with a fellow reviewer whose set also has the duplicate. Four of the postcards didn’t have the design printed centrally and were drastically shifted to one edge of the card (see photo below) and a further one had some text printing at the very top which I assume should have been cut off during manufacturing. The majority of the postcards are landscape and a few are portrait (7 including the duplicate image twice), they measure 16×11.2cm (a little smaller than the SG and EF postcards). Some are of the whole original image scaled down (8) and others are of sections of the original image that have been shrunk so there is a variety of intricacy levels from very intricate to virtually impossible to colour – the majority of the postcards are nowhere near the same size as the original illustrations with some being shrunk from 22.5cm across to just 9.5cm so you can imagine just how small these are. All but one of the designs are unique and they’re a beautiful selection of images from the book.

The postcards are made of thick, cream card which doesn’t bleed with water-based pens. The cards are a much yellower colour than the Secret Garden and Enchanted Forest Postcards and books. There were issues with white circles and patches on the Lost Ocean postcards which haven’t continued with this set, however, the card is identical and as before, water-based pens don’t colour smoothly or evenly and are repelled by the surface causing a much paler colour and a patchy appearance (see photo below – I will definitely be avoiding pens on these cards because of this). The postcards are lightly textured but don’t take pencils well, when covering larger areas the pencils almost clump and won’t apply smoothly, no matter what brand I’ve used, and it’s difficult to get smooth coverage over any size of area. I’ve found my Holbein pencils the best on this card but even they struggle and burnish quickly. There isn’t much space within the designs to blend or shade unless you want to colour over the lines. The line thickness is spindly thin, I have very good vision for small, close things, and also have very good fine motor control but many of the images on these postcards are so tiny that they’re almost impossible to colour and I went over the lines a number of times on my card which was one of the larger designs. Fineliners would be best to colour such intricate images but can’t be used due to being repelled so you’ll need some super sharp pencils and patience to colour slowly and sharpen very regularly. It’s such a shame because I’m a huge fan of Johanna’s images and I just love her books but scaling down the images to postcard size really wasn’t a sensible choice because it’s so limiting. The postcards are beautiful to look at and would be gorgeous to send or display as they are but given that they’re sold as colouring postcards, I expect to be able to colour them and I just haven’t found that possible to do as neatly as I’d like to. I had assumed that the images would include full-size zoomed in sections of the original images so that you can still blend and shade with pencils but because the images have been shrunk, many of them are just too small to colour (see the photos below where I’ve shown a 0.4mm Stabilo nib for scale).

Unfortunately, from a mental health perspective I really can’t recommend these, I really struggled to colour them and found it quite stressful because I just couldn’t get it to look right. They require a huge amount of concentration and while they’re less intricate than the majority of the Lost Ocean postcards, this is because Magical Jungle was Johanna’s least intricate and detailed book and therefore had larger spaces but when scaled down this doesn’t make a huge difference. Though they’re really interesting to look at, I would have to say that they’re really not well designed for colouring (I coloured one of the largest, least detailed images and still really struggled). All in all, I’m afraid I’m really disappointed. It’s such a shame these postcards didn’t follow the format of the Secret Garden Postcards, or those of Millie Marrotta’s Animal Kingdom and Tropical Wonderland which had very few uncolourable images due to them being zoomed in sections of the illustrations, a much more sensible and usable format. My recommendation would be to get the book of Magical Jungle instead, this is a fairly expensive set of postcards when you factor in that many of them aren’t colourable. These postcards would look beautiful framed as they are but for me, they’re just not suitable for colouring, a real shame!

If you’d still like to purchase them or view them online, they can be found here.
Amazon UK – Magical Jungle: 36 Postcards to Colour and Send
Book Depository Worldwide – https://www.bookdepository.com/Magical-Jungle-Johann-Basford/9780753548158/?a_aid=colouringitmom

The book of Magical Jungle can be found here:
Review – Magical Jungle
Amazon UK – Magical Jungle
Book Depository Worldwide – https://www.bookdepository.com/Magical-Jungle-Johann-Basford/9780753557167/?a_aid=colouringitmom

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

Tidevarv (Seasons) Målarbok – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Tidevarv is the fourth instalment of colouring books illustrated by Hanna Karlzon and published and kindly sent to me to review by Pagina Förlag. I have previously reviewed Hanna’s first three books, Dagdrömmar (Daydreams), Sommarnatt (Summer Nights), and Magisk Gryning (Magical Dawn). The latest book is identical in format so if you already have a previous title of hers then skip to paragraph two, for those of you who are new to her work, this book is hardback and just a little smaller than A4 at 21.6 x 25.8 cm. The covers are a beautiful lemon yellow colour with a black and white design from inside the book with gold foiling accents and lettering adding a touch of luxury! The spine of the book is black with gold lettering (these books look really luxurious on the shelf and look like classic tomes). The pages are glue and string-bound and the pages are attached to a sturdy ribbon which is flexible rather than being rigidly glued to the hardback spine; the spine is durable and hard-wearing but it can be a bit difficult to get to the very centre of some of the pages though this does ease up with use. The paper is thick, cream and smooth and pencils work fairly well on it, with it being relatively easy to build up layers for blending and shading; water-based pens don’t bleed or shadow (always test somewhere inconspicuous because everyone colours differently). The illustrations are printed double-sided and consist of single and double-page spreads.

The image content is gorgeous, varied, and possibly the best yet! This time, they’re organised into four sections of season-themed images starting with Spring and ending with Winter. The vast majority of the images are heavily nature-centred and realistically drawn but with Hanna’s signature quirkiness and magic added to them with gemstone fruit, anthropomorphised animals, and hair morphing into fruit, florals and even migrating geese. This book contains the second largest number of women (18) with seasonal accessories, beautiful headdresses, piercings and tattoos, these are in my opinion, the best drawings of women that Hanna has given us so far, they’re beautiful and so inventive, and in keeping with the seasonal theme, however, if you’re not interested in colouring people then don’t despair, these are not the majority of the images and there are loads of images of animals, flowers, plants, fruit and lots of gemstones as always! There is so much content in each of these books, it’s hard to sum it all up in a written description but the book contains everything from potion bottles, birds, mushrooms, seedlings, beetles, and mice, to snakes, fish, berries, cats, candles, houses, lanterns, Christmas baubles, presents and stars, it’s absolutely jam-packed with content. The illustrations are all highly decorative and ornate, they are beautiful in black and white but they’re completely brought to life with colour! Hanna’s work has always been beautiful but the added theme of seasons is spectacular, it’s really brought a new dimension to her work and has led to some really creative and beautiful illustrations.

In terms of mental health, this book is just wonderful, it offers escapism, natural imagery and lots of whimsy and it’s perfect for distraction even just by looking through the images! The line thickness is consistent throughout and remains medium/thin so it’s definitely manageable to colour. The intricacy and detail vary throughout and mostly range from medium to high but a few have much larger open spaces. The detail is part of what makes Hanna’s work so special and beautiful, if you’re wanting to colour within each teeny tiny section then you’ll need to have very good vision and fine motor control but if you’re happy to colour over some of it and use it as texture underneath then moderate vision and fine motor control would be absolutely fine! Unlike Hanna’s first book Daydreams, this book doesn’t contain any outline images or written prompts. This may be a welcome change for those of you who don’t like to draw. A number of the images are centralised and have large surrounding spaces so there are plenty of opportunities to create your own backgrounds if you wish, though of course this isn’t a requirement! I found this book and the illustrations within it great for my mood, just looking through it and noticing all of the different details, patterns and creatures makes me feel calmer and the images are just charming so they’re sure to lift your mood and keep you distracted from any difficult thoughts or persistent symptoms. The images do vary in size and difficulty and they consist of a mixture of collections of components, portraits and scenescape images. This makes it ideal for good and bad days because you can work on one gem or potion bottle on a bad day, or a whole page on a good day so it’s ideal for those with fluctuating conditions or concentration levels.

I would highly recommend this book to anyone who loves natural images, highly ornate illustrations, and anyone who likes all things pretty or magical. Hanna’s books are genuinely stunning and some of my favourites, I love just looking through them and this is definitely my favourite with the seasonal theme, it’s added another dimension and gives the book more flow.

If you’d like to purchase a copy it’s available right now from Sweden from the site below and if you use my exclusive discount code Lucy_PW you’ll get a 10% discount on all items in the Book category until the 8th of June 2017.
www.printworksmarket.com

The image below was coloured using Holbein Artists’ Colored Pencils and Prismacolor Premier Coloured Pencils.

Millie Marotta’s Animal Kingdom Book of Prints – A Review and Comparison of UK and US Editions

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Millie Marotta’s Animal Kingdom Book of Prints is published in the UK by Batsford Books who kindly sent me a copy to review, and is published by Lark crafts in the US and I purchased a copy of this edition myself.

Comparison

  • The US edition contains 18 prints and the UK edition contains 20, the additional images are the octopus and the lobster.
  • The card in the US edition is MUCH thinner than the UK edition, it feels like school card and is very flexible whereas the card in the UK edition is thick and much less bendy, similar in thickness to the card used in Johanna Basford’s Artist’s Editions.
  • The spine on my US edition broke really quickly because it’s only very lightly glued and the pages are already completely loose from the book covers despite very careful handling, the pages in the UK edition are glued more strongly.

The book itself is 25 x 33cm, paperback with flexible card covers that have a re-jigged version of the Animal Kingdom book cover on the front. The book has a lay-flat binding which is quite stiff to begin with but loosens up over time, each card page is glued onto the spine and it’s therefore easy to remove them for framing or gifting so do be careful not to twist the spine if you wish for your pages to remain in the book. The images are each printed single-sided and are mostly portrait with 4 landscape images (2 in the US edition). The card is thick, white, lightly textured and lovely to use with any medium, my pencils were a dream to blend and shade with, water-based pens don’t bleed, shadow or spread and alcohol markers will work well too, just make sure you pop a protective sheet behind to ensure no bleed-through. The images are all taken from Millie Marotta’s debut colouring book, Animal Kingdom, and all are printed the same size as the originals. No text is added to any of the pages and the majority of them contain large open spaces around them so you’re free to add your own imagery or backgrounds if you wish but this certainly isn’t a requirement and with or without, the pages will look incredible. I’ve included photos below of all of the illustrations including the two additional images in the UK edition of the octopus and lobster. The images contain a good range of animals from the book and a really good range of Millie’s different illustration styles including full page designs, floral component parts, and centralised single animals.

In terms of mental health, this book is great because it offers a manageable project which you can frame or gift once finished, this is ideal for cheering up dark days or for boosting your confidence and self-esteem because you’ll have evidence and proof on your walls of just what you can create and achieve; the colouring projects I have displayed in my flat never fail to make me smile, even on really bad days. The line thickness, as with all of Millie’s work, is spindly thin and the images all contain really high levels of intricacy and detail so it’s really geared up for those of us with very good vision and fine motor control. The pages contain a range of amounts of content from a centralised animal to a page filled with leaves and a bird so there are some pages that will take much less time than others. Millie’s work has very natural stopping points but does require a lot of concentration so this is a book to either colour in small chunks or to save for your good days when you can focus well. While the images are all filled with huge amounts of detail, these sections don’t all have to be coloured individually and can easily be coloured over so that they show up as texture underneath (see my lobster below). The nature-themed imagery is very calming and distracting because there’s so much to look at on each page and Millie’s work is some of the best I’ve found to work on when I’m feeling anxious and need to really focus on something other than the thoughts swirling round my head.

Overall, I would highly recommend this book to fans of Millie’s work and those who want to be able to frame or gift their finished pages. I would recommend the UK edition over the US edition as the card is much thicker, the binding is more sturdy and you get 2 extra images to colour. This is a lovely new format for Millie’s images and one that I hope will be reproduced for all of her other titles.

If you’d like to purchase a copy of either edition of the book, they’re available here:
UK Edition
Amazon UK – Millie Marotta’s Animal Kingdom Book of Prints
Book Depository Worldwide – https://www.bookdepository.com/Millie-Marotts-Animal-Kingdom-Book-of-Prints-Millie-Marott/9781849944014/?a_aid=colouringitmom
US Edition
Amazon UK – Millie Marotta’s Animal Kingdom Book of Prints to Color
Book Depository Worldwide – https://www.bookdepository.com/Millie-Marotts-Animal-Kingdom-Millie-Marott/9781454710318/?a_aid=colouringitmom

If you’d like to frame your work, you can find frames of the correct size here on Amazon.

The images below are coloured using Stabilo Point 88 Fineliners (Giraffes), and Prismacolor Premier Pencils (Lobster).

Press Out and Colour: Butterflies – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Press Out and Colour: Butterflies, is published and very kindly sent to me to review by Nosy Crow. This book is aimed at children but actually, it’s ideal for anyone who’s young at heart and I really enjoyed colouring my butterfly ready for the review. This book is hardback, a little larger than A5 and spiral-bound. The covers are bright blue and the spine is pink with silver foiling on the spine and the front cover. On the inside covers are white line drawings on a pink background showing 5 of the butterflies fully assembled and named on each. The book contains 10 models of butterflies which you can press out (before or after colouring), colour and assemble and then hang around the house. The pages are made of very thick card/hardboard and are covered in silver foil throughout. The butterflies are white with silver line-drawn patterns all over them which you colour within and these catch the light beautifully when you hang up your assembled butterfly and it moves against the light. The butterflies are printed double-sided, they’re designed to look like real butterflies so some have the same design printed on the top and underside and others have different tops and undersides like their real counterparts thus making them look more realistic when hung up. The cuts around the little sections that need to be removed in order to slot the butterfly together and hang it up are really well cut so that you can push the unneeded bits out with your fingers or something a bit pointier if needed. The pieces slot together really well and are very sturdy and will remain so if you don’t disassemble and reassemble them a lot so they won’t fall apart by accident and they shouldn’t need gluing. Each butterfly has a small hole in the centre of each wing so that you can tie some thread through (the hole is a little small for string) and you could either hang the butterflies separately or together, or even create a mobile or ceiling centrepiece. If you don’t want to keep the butterflies hung up then they can be disassembled and the pieces can be popped back into the guides in the book for safekeeping. The guides can also be used as stencils to draw within (or you could draw around the pieces but be careful to only use pencil so you don’t accidentally damage your finished butterfly) so that you can create kaleidoscopes more than the original 10 you’re getting. Simply draw within the slots and holes on the pieces to make sure it’ll slot together just like the original or, if you’re using thinner card, make them thinner and adjust with scissors as you go if it’s a bit too tight a fit! The butterflies included are: Blue Morpho, Buckeye, Lime, Monarch, Painted Lady, Peacock, Pearl-Bordered Fritillary, Red Admiral, Tiger Swallowtail, and Zebra Longwing.

As mentioned before, the card is very thick hardboard and therefore you can use whatever mediums you fancy. I used alcohol markers on mine as they’re much more fade-resistant than water-based pens and they didn’t shadow at all. The patterns are quite detailed so you may struggle with pencils and little people almost certainly would so I’d stick to pens for this (do put down some protective stuff on the table if letting your child loose with Sharpies or it may not just be the butterfly that gets permanently subjected to their creative flair). These butterflies would make a perfect family project, you could do one each or even do a piece each and see what you come out with, I’m sure you could create some stunning butterflies! It would be a lovely activity to do for or with your children and once you’ve completed all 10 you could hang them at different heights in their bedroom so that you and they are constantly reminded of the fun you had creating them together. The hardboard is really durable and will hold up to a fair bit of bashing, scrubbing, and over-colouring (children can get a little over-enthusiastic with pens sometimes) so these butterflies would be ideal for children of almost any age, if they can hold a pen and colour, they can colour these butterflies! The parts are all fairly big so it’s advised on the book that you don’t give it to a child under the age of 36 months but above that you’ll be good to go!

In terms of mental health, what could be better than an activity that you can share with your children? The process of colouring them together will be sure to lift your mood and if you’re ever having a bad day or feeling anxious, go and check out your handiwork and lie on the floor gazing up at the masterpieces you and your children have created and imagine you’re a butterfly fluttering through the sky and away from your problems; it can’t just be me who’s always wished they could fly?! The intricacy and detail level is surprisingly high for a book that’s aimed at children but the silver lines can either be coloured within by adults, or over by children, it really won’t matter either way and you’ll get some very unique butterflies regardless of the way you colour them. If you want the butterflies to look realistic then you could find some images of the butterfly to show your child so they can have a go at matching it or you can let their creativity loose and have a multitude of rainbow butterflies. All of the butterflies are made of 2 pieces so they’re really easy to assemble and they don’t take hours and hours to colour, even if you do colour each section separately (like I did) so they’re a great quick project to create something beautiful and displayable for your home!

I would highly recommend this book to those with children, or the young at heart. These butterflies are super cute and great fun to colour and they look even better once assembled, a fully coloured kaleidoscope of them hung up in a room will look fabulous and be sure to delight your child and brighten up the darkest of days be those due to weather or mental health. Get colouring yourself a kaleidoscope of butterflies!

If you’d like to purchase a copy it’s available to pre-order here:
Amazon UK – Press Out and Colour: Butterflies
Book Depository Worldwide – https://www.bookdepository.com/Press-Out-and-Colour–Butterflies/9780857638755/?a_aid=colouringitmom

The butterfly below was coloured using Sharpies.

Press Out and Colour: Easter Eggs – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Press Out and Colour: Easter Eggs, is published and very kindly sent to me to review by Nosy Crow. This book is aimed at children but actually, it’s ideal for anyone who’s young at heart and I really enjoyed colouring my Easter Eggs ready for the review. This book is hardback, a little larger than A5 and spiral-bound. The covers are bright yellow and the spine is pale blue with gold foiling on the spine and the front cover. On the inside covers are white line drawings on a bright blue background of Easter egg decorations hung on branches. The book contains 20 different sizes of Easter eggs, some of which are flat and some of which slot together to make a 3D shape all of which you can press out (before or after colouring), colour and assemble and then hang around the house. The pages are made of very thick card/hardboard and are covered in gold foil throughout. The Easter eggs are white with gold line-drawn patterns all over them which you colour within and these catch the light beautifully when you hang up your assembled egg and it moves against the light. The eggs are printed double-sided with the same design on both sides so that you can colour it identically and have a 3D egg at the end. The cuts around the little sections that need to be removed in order to slot the egg shapes together and hang it up are really well cut so that you can push the unneeded bits out with your fingers or something a bit pointier if needed. The pieces slot together really well and are very sturdy and will remain so if you don’t disassemble and reassemble them a lot so they won’t fall apart by accident and they shouldn’t need gluing. Each egg has small holes that you can tie some thread through (the holes are a little small for string) and you could either hang the eggs separately or together, or even create an Easter tree out of foraged branches. You may not want to keep these egg decorations up all year round and if that’s the case then they can be disassembled and the pieces can be popped back into the guides in the book for safekeeping. The guides can also be used as stencils to draw within (or you could draw around the pieces but be careful to only use pencil so you don’t accidentally damage your finished piece) so that you can create lots more eggs than the original 20 you’re getting. Simply draw within the slots and holes on the pieces to make sure it’ll slot together just like the original or, if you’re using thinner card, make them thinner and adjust with scissors as you go if it’s a bit too tight a fit! The eggs are in 4 different sizes: 6 of the largest which are all 3D; 2 of the second largest which are also both 3D; 8 of the second smallest which are flat in design and 4 of the smallest which are also flat in design. Once they’re all coloured, assembled, and displayed together they’ll look fabulous and you’ll be all set for the Easter Bunny’s arrival in April.

As mentioned before, the card is very thick hardboard and therefore you can use whatever mediums you fancy. I used alcohol markers on mine as they’re much more fade-resistant than water-based pens and they didn’t shadow at all. The patterns are quite detailed so you may struggle with pencils and little people almost certainly would so I’d stick to pens for this (do put down some protective stuff on the table if letting your child loose with Sharpies or it may not just be the egg that gets permanently subjected to their creative flair). These egg decorations would make a perfect family project, you could do one each or even do a piece each and see what you come out with, I’m sure you could create some really wonderful decorations! It would be a lovely activity to do for or with your children and once you’ve completed all 20, or just a few, you could hang them around the house or on an Easter tree in pride of place so that you and they are constantly reminded of the fun you had creating them together. The hardboard is really durable and will hold up to a fair bit of bashing, scrubbing, and over-colouring (children can get a little over-enthusiastic with pens sometimes) so these eggs would be ideal for children of almost any age, if they can hold a pen and colour, they can colour these decorations! The parts are all fairly big so it’s advised on the book that you don’t give it to a child under the age of 36 months but above that you’ll be good to go!

In terms of mental health, what could be better than an activity that you can share with your children? The process of colouring them together will be sure to lift your mood and if you’re ever having a bad day or feeling anxious, go and check out your handiwork and marvel at the gorgeous colours and look forward to the chocolate treats you’ll be sharing with each other soon! The intricacy and detail level is surprisingly high for a book that’s aimed at children but the gold lines can either be coloured within by adults, or over by children, it really won’t matter either way and you’ll get some very unique egg decorations regardless of the way you colour them. Each egg either has a pattern or Spring-themed scene on it so none of it needs to be coloured realistically and you could either theme them all with a Spring palette or just let loose with ALL the colours! Each egg is either made of one or two pieces so some need no assembly and those that do just require slotting one piece into the other so they’re really easy to assemble and they don’t take hours and hours to colour, even if you do colour each section separately (like I did) so they’re a great quick project to create something beautiful and displayable for your home!

I would highly recommend this book to those with children, or the young at heart. These egg decorations are super cute and great fun to colour and they look even better once assembled, a fully coloured set will look “eggcellent” (not even sorry!) hung up in a room or adorning an Easter tree and they’ll be sure to delight your child and brighten up the darkest of days be those due to weather or mental health. Get colouring yourself some “eggstra”-special egg decorations!

If you’d like to purchase a copy it’s available here:
Amazon UK – Press Out and Colour: Easter Eggs
Book Depository Worldwide – https://www.bookdepository.com/Press-Out-and-Colour–Easter-Eggs/9780857638694/?a_aid=colouringitmom

The eggs below were coloured using Sharpies.

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.

Magisk Gryning 20 Vykort (Magical Dawn 20 Postcards) – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Magisk Gryning 20 Vykort are illustrated by Hanna Karlzon, and published and kindly sent to me to review by Pagina Förlag. These postcards are taken from Hanna’s original colouring book Magisk Gryning/Magical Dawn (reviewed by me here), there is also an artist’s edition available. This postcard book contains 20 postcards, it’s paperback with thick card covers and a black tape binding. The cover is the same colour and design as the original book but printed on a smaller scale with the same luxurious gold foil accents. The book has a lay flat binding meaning there is no spine to contend with so you’re able to reach and colour the entirety of the image; the postcards are easy to remove if you wish so they can be sent or gifted or even framed but they’ll stay in the book as long as you’re careful not to twist the spine. The cards are a cream colour which looks quite vintage, it’s fairly smooth with a light texture and is perfect for blending and shading with pencils but pens glide over it seamlessly too. Alcohol markers won’t bleed if you’re careful and they don’t spread, they do shadow onto the reverse so bear this in mind if you’re wanting to write on the back. The postcards are printed single-sided and on the reverse are printed three address lines and space for a stamp with a little star motif within it. The drawings mostly have a small border around them but 6 are full page, they will be pretty easy to frame if you wish to do so. The illustrations are all very similar to those used in the Daydreams and Winter Dreams postcard sets in terms of intricacy level and content, none are impossible to colour and all will look beautiful when finished. The images are mostly nature-based but a number of them are magic-themed and for the second time Hanna has included female drawings, four have been included this time which is a lovely addition. There aren’t a lot of gems in this selection but the illustrations do contain a really good variety of things from birds to potion bottles, jewellery to cats, females to sand timers and beetles to flowers, this postcard set possibly contains the widest ranging content of all of Hanna’s postcards. They’ve all got a bit of added whimsy and fantasy which is a huge part of what gives Hanna’s images such charm and sets them apart from others, they’re just beautiful, even without colour added!

In terms of mental health, these postcards are just perfect! Postcards offer a smaller project which is less daunting to start and takes far less time to make progress on or finish than a full book page. The card is ideal for using any mediums and because they’re single-sided they’re perfect for framing so you can brighten up your darker days by just looking at all of the wonderful pages you’ve created, a great way of lifting your spirits. These postcards are fantasy-based which means they offer great escapism and distraction from difficult thoughts or symptoms, Hanna’s images really absorb you and transport you to far off lands and magical places. Fantasy images are great for those of you who don’t like being restricted with colour schemes and they’re a good challenge for those of you who like to colour things realistically as you can really let your hair down and use any colours you fancy for feline princesses or crystal mushrooms, there’s no right or wrong colour scheme and often the more vibrant and outlandish you go, the better the results! The line thickness is consistently thin throughout but it’s not spindly thin. The intricacy and detail levels are pretty high but none of the spaces are impossible to colour. You will need fairly good vision and fine motor control to get the most out of these postcards. As for concentration level, these pages are ideal because their smaller size means they take less concentration and you can focus on individual aspects if you prefer and colour just one gem or potion bottle rather than focusing on the whole picture at once. These postcards are ideal for good and bad days, they’re a manageable size and I personally find them very inspiring and easy to get into without having to stress over colours for hours, I can just dive right in. If you need any inspiration then just search online using Hanna’s name or the book title and you’ll find heaps of ideas to get you going!

Overall, I would highly recommend these postcards, they’re all beautifully illustrated and they’re perfect for days when you’re feeling poorly, down, or your concentration is waning. They make an ideal project to send to others, to frame, or to keep in the book and they’re truly beautiful even just to look through uncoloured! They are a great format for Hanna’s drawings and even if you have the original colouring book, it doesn’t feel samey or stale despite containing the same imagery, the change in scale somehow makes the artwork seem different and lends itself to different colour schemes and the use of different mediums and techniques.

If you’d like to purchase a set they’re available here:
Pen Store – https://www.penstore.com/art-design/magisk-gryning-20-postcards-to-color
Bokus – http://www.bokus.com/bok/9789163612831/magisk-gryning-20-vykort-att-farglagga/

Or you can pre-order the English language version, published in April, here:
Amazon UK – Magical Dawn 20 Postcards
Book Depository Worldwide – https://www.bookdepository.com/Magical-Dawn-20-Postcards-Hann-Karlzon/9781423646617/?a_aid=colouringitmom

The image below was coloured using Sharpie Fine Point Alcohol Markers and a few Promarker Alcohol Markers and the white highlights were added using a White Sakura Gelly Roll Gel Pen.

Magisk Gryning (Magical Dawn) Målarbok – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Magisk Gryning is the third instalment of colouring books illustrated by Hanna Karlzon and published and kindly sent to me to review by Pagina Förlag. I have previously reviewed Hanna’s original two books, Dagdrömmar (Daydreams) and Sommarnatt (Summer Nights). The latest book is identical in format so if you already have a previous title of hers then skip to paragraph two, for those of you who are new to her work, this book is hardback and just a little smaller than A4 at 21.6 x 25.8 cm. The covers are a very pale lilac colour with a black and white design from inside the book with gold foiling accents and lettering adding a touch of luxury! The spine of the book is black with gold lettering (these books look really luxurious on the shelf and look like classic tomes). The pages are glue and string-bound and the pages are attached to a sturdy ribbon which is flexible rather than being rigidly glued to the hardback spine; the spine is durable and hard-wearing but it can be a bit difficult to get to the very centre of some of the pages though this does ease up with use. The paper is thick, cream and smooth and pencils work fairly well on it, with it relatively easy to build up layers for blending and shading; water-based pens don’t bleed or shadow (always test somewhere inconspicuous because everyone colours differently). The illustrations are printed double-sided and consist of single and double-page spreads.

The image content is really varied and utterly beautiful! The pictures are very nature-centred as always but not all of them are realistic or as you’d find nature in real-life and this book has a good heap of magic and mystery in it too. This book contains the largest number of images of women (20) with flowing hair, floral tattoos and piercings but if you’re not interested in colouring people, don’t despair, these are not the majority and there are heaps of images of animals, flowers and plants and lots of gems for those of you who, like me, are addicted to colouring gemstones! There are also loads of potion bottles in this one. It’s hard to describe the sheer amount of content within this book but some of the pages include pictures of birds, jewellery, cats, beetles, arrows, mushrooms, butterflies, moths, sand timers, flowers, and just so much more! The illustrations are all drawn in a very ornate, highly decorative style and they’re just beautiful and they look incredible when coloured! Hanna’s books are pretty similar to each other so it’s difficult to make each review different, a few have criticised them as being same-y but this book has taken a more magical turn and is more human-centred and has lots more gems than the previous titles so those who are fans will still love it but it does also offer a little more variety compared to the first two titles.

In terms of mental health, this book is just wonderful, it offers escapism, natural imagery and lots of whimsy and it’s perfect for distraction even just by looking through the images! The line thickness is consistent throughout and remains medium/thin so it’s definitely manageable to colour. The intricacy and detail vary throughout and mostly range from medium to high but a few have much larger open spaces. The detail is part of what makes Hanna’s work so special and beautiful, if you’re wanting to colour within each teeny tiny section then you’ll need to have very good vision and fine motor control but if you’re happy to colour over some of it and use it as texture underneath then moderate vision and fine motor control would be absolutely fine! Unlike Hanna’s first book Daydreams, this book doesn’t contain any outline images or written prompts. This may be a welcome change for those of you who don’t like to draw. A number of the images are centralised and have large surrounding spaces so there are plenty of opportunities to create your own backgrounds if you wish, though of course this isn’t a requirement! I found this book and the illustrations within it great for my mood, just looking through it and noticing all of the different details, patterns and creatures makes me feel calmer and the images are just charming so they’re sure to lift your mood and keep you distracted from any difficult thoughts or persistent symptoms. The images do vary in size and difficulty and they consist of a mixture of collections of components, portraits and scenescape images. This makes it ideal for good and bad days because you can work on one gem or potion bottle on a bad day, or a whole page on a good day so it’s ideal for those with fluctuating conditions or concentration levels.

I would highly recommend this book to anyone who loves natural images, highly ornate illustrations, and anyone who likes all things pretty or magical. Hanna’s books are genuinely stunning and some of my favourites, I love just looking through them and this is possibly my favourite as it has so many gems and I can’t wait to colour it cover to cover!

If you’d like to purchase a copy it’s available right now from Sweden from the sites below:
Pen Store – https://www.penstore.com/art-design/magisk-gryning
Bokus – http://www.bokus.com/bok/9789163612688/magisk-gryning-malarbok/

Alternatively, if you’re happy to wait, you can pre-order a copy of the English language edition which will be published to the same specifications in April by Gibbs Smith.
Amazon UK – Magical Dawn
Book Depository Worldwide – https://www.bookdepository.com/Magical-Dawn-Coloring-Book-Hann-Karlzon/9781423646594/?a_aid=colouringitmom

The image below was coloured using Holbein Artists’ Colored Pencils.

Vinternatt 20 Vykort (Winter Night 20 Postcards) – A Review

Vinternatt Postcards are illustrated by Hanna Karlzon, and published and kindly sent to me to review by Pagina Förlag. These postcards are not taken from a book and have been published as a standalone postcard set and Hanna has categorically stated that there are no plans to turn these, or her other winter-themed postcard set, Vinterdrommar/Winter Dreams, into a full length colouring book. This postcard book contains 20 postcards, it’s paperback with thick card covers and a black tape binding. The cover is a pale blue with an illustration from inside the book with beautiful silver foiling accents and writing on the spine. The book has a lay flat binding meaning there is no spine to contend with so you’re able to reach and colour the entirety of the image; the postcards are easy to remove if you wish so they can be sent or gifted or even framed but they’ll stay in the book as long as you’re careful not to twist the spine. The cards are a cream colour which looks quite vintage, it’s fairly smooth with a light texture and is perfect for blending and shading with pencils but pens glide over it seamlessly too. Alcohol markers won’t bleed if you’re careful and they don’t spread, they do shadow onto the reverse so bear this in mind if you’re wanting to write on the back. The postcards are printed single-sided and on the reverse are printed three address lines and space for a stamp with little star doodles within it. The drawings mostly have a small border around them but 4 are full page, they will be pretty easy to frame if you wish to do so. The illustrations are all very similar to those used in the Daydreams and Winter Dreams postcard sets in terms of intricacy level and content, none are impossible to colour and all will look beautiful when finished. The images are very nature-based and for the first time in a postcard set two of Hanna’s female drawings have been included which is a lovely addition. There are a good number of gems which many of you will know I’m a huge fan of colouring and the illustrations also include lots of birds, stars, a cat, candles, a crown, a beautiful house, lanterns, a beetle and more. They’ve all got a bit of added whimsy and fantasy which is a huge part of what gives Hanna’s images such charm and sets them apart from others. These images are all winter themed with a real Nordic style to them, there’s nothing Christmas-themed in this book and if you’re looking for that then I’d recommend the Vinterdrommar/Winter Dreams set, this set is very bird and star heavy and it’s really ornate and highly decorated.

In terms of mental health, these postcards are just perfect! Postcards offer a smaller project which is less daunting to start and takes far less time to make progress on or finish than a full book page. The card is ideal for using any mediums and because they’re single-sided they’re perfect for framing so you can brighten up your darker days by just looking at all of the wonderful pages you’ve created, a great way of lifting your spirits. These postcards are nature-based and I find this the best thing for mental health as they’re very calming and peaceful and if you struggle to conjure up colour palette ideas you can just go with the one nature already created or spice things up a little if you’re feeling brave. The line thickness is consistently thin throughout but it’s not spindly thin. The intricacy and detail levels are pretty high but none of the spaces are impossible to colour. You will need fairly good vision and fine motor control to get the most out of these postcards. As for concentration level, these pages are ideal because their smaller size means they take less concentration and you can focus on individual aspects if you prefer and colour just one star or bird rather than focusing on the whole picture at once. These postcards are ideal for good and bad days, they’re a manageable size and I personally find them very inspiring and easy to get into without having to stress over colours for hours, I can just dive right in. If you need any inspiration then just search online using Hanna’s name or the book title and you’ll find heaps of ideas to get you going!

Overall, I would highly recommend these postcards, they’re all beautifully illustrated and they’re perfect for days when you’re feeling poorly, down, or your concentration is waning. They make an ideal project to send to others, to frame, or to keep in the book and they’re truly beautiful even just to look through uncoloured!

If you’d like to purchase a set they’re available here:
Pen Store – https://www.penstore.com/art-design/vinternatt-20-postcards-to-color
Bokus – http://www.bokus.com/bok/9789163612664/vinternatt-20-vykort-att-farglagga/

The image below was coloured using Holbein Artists’ Colored Pencils, the background was coloured using a black Sharpie and the white highlights were added using a White Sakura Gelly Roll Gel Pen.

Deluxe Edition Serenity – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Deluxe Edition Serenity is published and kindly sent to me to review by Parragon Books. The book is described as a deluxe edition and indeed it is, but this is the only edition published, there is no regular edition. This is one of two titles and the other, Happiness, can be found reviewed by me HERE. The book is 26cm square, the hardback cover is a beautiful dark grey colour with a linen-style texture, the illustration is printed in white and the text on the cover and spine is embossed in turquoise foil. The spine is glue and stitch bound so it’s durable but quite difficult to get the book to open fully and lie flat. The book fastens shut with beautiful pale turquoise ribbons and there is an identical ribbon bookmark which is very handy for marking the page you’re colouring. The pages are all printed single-sided and all of them have a thin border around them meaning none enter the spine and they would be easy enough to remove and frame if you wish. The paper is medium thickness, bright white and smooth, water-based pens shadow occasionally, alcohol markers will bleed so pop a protective sheet behind your work, pencils give even coverage because of the smoothness but it’s difficult to blend or layer with them because there’s no visible tooth. At the back of the book is a pocket containing a colourable poster which opens out to be a square, 4 times the size of the book pages (see photo below). The images themselves are mostly patterns of various types from swirling to geometric, repeating to random, floral to angular and lots more. There is a huge amount of variety within these images however, a huge thing to note is that they are stock images taken from Shutterstock and iStock, this is perfectly legitimate and there are no copyright issues with this at all and a large number of colouring books are created in the same way, sadly this is where the problem is, if you’ve got a large collection of colouring books then some of the images in this book will be repeats; this won’t be the case if you have books illustrated by specific artists but any that don’t have illustrators named are likely to be created from stock images and they often use the same ones so do check out the images below. While this is quite a criticism, it’s only the case if you have lots of similar books, if this is your first book then it’ll be a fabulous introduction to the world of colouring and you won’t find a lot of books that have this amount of variety. My review probably sounds more negative than it should, most of this is disappointment, the production of the book is so good that I expected the image content to match that and in my view it simply doesn’t. Luckily the price of around £10 is very good still and given that it’s a single-sided book this is a really good price but the images don’t live up to the cover image and hardly any are nature-inspired as the cover image suggests.

In terms of mental health, this book offers a lot of variety so it’ll cover good days, bad days and anything in between. The content is very neutral with it being patterns so there’s nothing that might upset your mental health and you also don’t have to use any specific colours or try to make any of it look realistic so the sky really is the limit when it comes to colour choices. The line thickness varies throughout from spindly thin to medium thickness. The intricacy and detail levels also vary hugely from teeny tiny details that you’ll struggle to colour within and probably have to colour over, to larger spaces however none of the images are overly basic or able to be viewed as children’s images therefore you will need pretty good vision and fine motor control to enjoy the majority of the book and very good levels of both to enjoy the most detailed and fine-lined images. You don’t need perfect concentration to be able to enjoy this book as some illustrations consist of lots of component parts which you could colour one or two of on a bad day, or you could colour a whole page on a good day. None of the images will take you ages to colour, especially not in pen so you can get a sense of achievement quite quickly without rushing through the book in a matter of weeks. The poster at the back is a nice added feature and a much larger project, I personally find it a very strange image choice as it doesn’t seem special and isn’t really the sort of image that you’d want to frame or display once finished, but that could just be me, everyone likes different things.

Overall, I have to say that I’m deeply disappointed by this book. The production quality is really high, to the point where I really can’t fault it, but the images chosen are just stock images found in countless colouring books before this so not only will you get repetition from other books in your collection, it’s also not at all inkeeping with the cover or production. It offers good variety for pattern-lovers and will be very useful for pen-lovers who won’t have to worry about bleeding but the book just feels a bit samey and doesn’t really stand out like I expected from the cover.

If you’d like to purchase a copy of this book it’s available here:
Amazon UK – Deluxe Edition Serenity © Parragon Books Ltd 2016

The image below was coloured using Stabilo 68 Fibre-tip Pens.