WORLDWIDE GIVEAWAY and Review – Winterkleurkaarten: 20 Ansichtkaarten & Enveloppen (Winter Colour Cards: 20 Postcards and Envelopes)

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Winterkleurkaarten: 20 Ansichtkaarten & Enveloppen (Winter Colour Cards: 20 Postcards and Envelopes) are published and very kindly sent to me to review by BBNC Utigevers. They have also very kindly provided me with an extra set and an extra copy of Schemertijd Kleurboek by Maria Trolle which I’m currently running a Worldwide giveaway for on my blog until 23.59 GMT on the 10th of October, to enter please click hereThis set of cards is illustrated by Jessica Palmer, the hugely talented illustrator of Tangle Wood, Tangle Bay, and Tangle Magic. These cards arrive in a gold card box with an image of one of the cards on the front, this box is a little bit flimsy and did get a bit squished on its travels to me, however, none of the cards or envelopes were damaged. The box contains 20 cards, these are not greetings cards, they are square postcards that are single-sided with a design illustrated on the front, and text at the top on the back saying Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year in Dutch, along with the copyright information at the bottom. The 20 plain white envelopes fit the cards perfectly and will be ideal for giving or sending the cards to others. The cards are made of bright white, lightly textured, medium thickness card, it doesn’t bleed or shadow with water-based pens but will with alcohol markers so do be aware of this, pencils, especially oil-based ones or those with harder leads, are very difficult to colour with on this card and require a lot of patience as the lack of tooth makes it difficult to layer or blend, my Prismacolor Premiers worked pretty well but I really struggled with Holbeins which seemed to clump and not colour evenly. The images themselves are all drawn in Jessica’s beautiful signature style and are really varied in content, some are winter-themed and the majority are Christmas themed. As always, none of them include people but rather beautifully anthropomorphised animals in humanesque scenes from ice-skating foxes to a mummy rabbit bearing cake and presents, badgers sharing a candlelit dessert to dancing herons, dogs decorating a Christmas tree to daddy bear reading a bedtime story to mummy and baby bear, each card is different from the last, they all feel similar because of Jessica’s drawing style but the content really does vary between each one. These cards are different from any imagery you’ll see on normal Christmas cards, or any colouring Christmas cards and they really are something special!

In terms of mental health, these cards offer a great, manageable project, they’re small enough not to be overwhelming, but large enough that they’re not coloured in seconds and you can take your time colouring each section without needing days to do so. The line thickness is consistent throughout and is thin and spindly thin. The intricacy and detail levels do vary a little across the images as well as within them but mostly they’re very intricate with lots of small details so you will need very good vision and fine motor control to enjoy these cards. You will need pretty good concentration to get the most out of them, some of the cards consist of lots of fine details that can be a little tricky to decipher if your focus is elsewhere so I’d suggest leaving those cards to colour on your better days. Colouring cards are a great project because not only do you get to enjoy colouring them, you can then send them to others and share the joy or even send them uncoloured to a friend who might need a little push to start colouring, they’re great for spreading some happiness and colouring love! The shape of them would make them ideal to frame if you wish, they could be a lovely added extra to your Christmas decorations or a really personal touch for your loved ones.

Overall, I would highly recommend these colouring cards, they’re beautifully drawn and really varied in content and they’re a lot of fun to colour, you will need good vision and hand control but these are really worth taking time over to make them perfect and they’re ideal for pen colourists! If you liked Jessica’s Tangle series of colouring books then you’re sure to love these cards!

If you’d like to purchase a set, they’re currently unavailable on the usual sites though they are listed there so do sign up for email alerts and they’ll tell you when they have them in stock, hopefully it’ll be soon! If you just can’t wait then you can order from Bol.com, below.
Amazon UK – Winterkleurkaarten: 20 Ansichtkaarten & Enveloppen
Book Depository Worldwide – https://www.bookdepository.com/Winterkleurkaarten/9789045322070/?a_aid=colouringitmom
Bol.com – Winterkleurkaarten

Don’t forget, I’m running a Worldwide giveaway to win a set of these cards and a copy of Schemertijd by Maria Trolle, to enter click here by 23.59 GMT on October the 10th.

The image below was coloured using Prismacolor Premier Colored Pencils  and Holbein Artist’s Colored Pencils.

Advertisements

WORLDWIDE GIVEAWAY and Review of Schemertijd Kleurboek (Skymningstimman Målarbok)

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Schemertijd Kleurboek is published and kindly sent to me to review by BBNC Utigevers. They have also very kindly provided me with an extra copy of this book and an extra set of Winterkleurkaarten by Jessica Palmer which I’m currently running a Worldwide giveaway for on my blog until 23.59 GMT on the 10th of October, to enter please click here. This book is illustrated by Maria Trolle and was originally published in Sweden by Printworks with the title Skymningstimman which roughly translates as Twilight/Dusk Hour, the book reviewed here, Schemertijd, is the Dutch edition. This book is most similar to Maria’s first title, Blomstermandala (Published in English as Twilight Garden) and has the same format as that, therefore much of my review is the same, skip to paragraph two for information about the content of this title. I don’t have the Swedish edition of this book and am therefore unable to comment on any differences between the two though I would assume these are minimal based on what I’ve seen of the Swedish edition online from others.

The book itself is just a little smaller than A4, measuring 21.8 x 25.7cm, it’s hardback with very sturdy thick covers with a black background and partially coloured image from inside the book with gold foil accents on the front and back and the blurb also written in gold foiling. The spine is covered in black tape with beautiful debossed gold writing, it is glue and string-bound and attached to tape within the hardback binding so it’s very durable but a little tricky to get the book to lie flat and reach the very edge of the image in the gutter. The images are printed double-sided throughout and are mostly single page designs with some double-page spreads, a whopping 32 pages have black backgrounds, this is roughly every third double-page spread so those who like colouring ‘midnight’ pages will adore this book! The paper is cream, thick and very lightly textured, water-based pens don’t bleed or shadow but do always test in an inconspicuous area because we all colour differently. Pencils go on smoothly but oil-based pencils can be a little tricky to blend and layer due to lack of tooth, experienced colourists will manage to get stunning results though I’m sure and my Prismacolor Premiers worked very well.

This illustrations are all based in nature and consist of various different styles from wreaths to scenes, centralised images and portrait style pictures, the imagery is absolutely stunning and this book feels just a little more polished than Blomstermandala, it really is lovely! There is so much pictured within the pages that it’s hard to even begin to make a list but some of the things illustrated include: tree houses, nests, squirrels, butterflies, peonies, deer, fairies, frogs, rabbits, birds, mushrooms, owls, bees, ferns, foxes, pussy willow, snowdrops, waterlilies, spider webs, and even dragons. There are countless flowers and plants included and at the back of the book is a double-page spread with all of the pages numbered and a list of all of the flowers pictured in each so that you can easily identify them and colour them accurately if you wish which is a major plus point of this already fabulous book! The images are drawn in a mostly realistic style but some are slightly surreal in context with women pictured with nests in their hair, a girl sat in the centre of a sunflower, owls nestling in a peony’s leaves and lots more; these quirky scenes are lovely to look through and give a really whimsical feel to the book, some of the images have a beautiful childlike charm and this is aided by some of the cute and quirky characters included which we first saw in Maria’s book about Vivi finding a friend (Vivi Soker en Van and Dutch edition, Droomreis), but all are adult level colouring rather than basic or boring. Much of the imagery consists of anthropomorphised animals in humanesque scenes and situations. The sheer amount of different content means that you’re offered a huge variety of things to colour from practising skin tones and fur to feathers and water, if you want a book to challenge you out of your comfort zone then this is ideal. Equally though, this would look gorgeous block coloured or with minimal blending and shading, or with a touch of added sparkle from some glitter gel pens so don’t be put off if you’ve not mastered fur, I haven’t yet but I’ll be giving it a go in this book. A few of the images have dots on to indicate shading and these are very useful, especially for beginner colourists to learn where light and shade can be placed in an image.

In terms of mental health, this book is just fantastic because it’s so centred around nature and is inherently very calming and relaxing. Even just looking through the book soothes my mind and noticeably slows it down and it really helps distract you from any negative thoughts or difficult symptoms. The line thickness is consistent throughout and is thin but not spindly thin so there is a little leeway for slight issues with vision and fine motor control though you will need a fairly high level of both of these but not perfect! The intricacy and detail levels vary throughout from large open spaces all the way down to small spaces but nothing is teeny tiny and none of the sections would be impossible to colour separately if you wish. The imagery is just beautiful and I absolutely love it, there’s a lot of variety but all centred around the same floral garden theme which makes it feel really cohesive and it’ll look incredible coloured cover to cover! The images are often made up of lots of component parts which is ideal for those of you with poor concentration or symptoms that make completing a whole page too daunting or difficult and you can easily colour one mouse, hedgehog or daffodil and still get a sense of achievement. On better days you can tackle a whole page or even a double-page spread so this book is filled with lots of different size projects. A number of the images are centralised images with space around them where you could add your own backgrounds, there are no written hints so this is by no means obligatory but the option is there if you wish, the images do of course look finished without any additions though.

Overall, I would highly recommend this book to people who love Maria’s colouring books and who love nature. The illustrations are beautiful and they’re drawn in a mostly realistic style which makes them ideal for realistic or surreal colour schemes. If you like pretty images of flowers, animals and plants then you’re sure to love this book, it’s gorgeous and utterly charming from beginning to end!

If you’d like to purchase a copy of the book, it’s listed below, it seems to be taking a while for Amazon and Book Depository to be getting stock (this also happened with Droomreis which is now available on Amazon UK) but it is available currently at bol.com (direct link below).
Amazon UK – Schemertijd Kleurboek
Book Depository Worldwide – https://www.bookdepository.com/Schemertijd-Mari-Trolle/9789045322674/?a_aid=colouringitmom
Bol.com – Schemertijd

Don’t forget, I’m running a Worldwide giveaway to win a copy of this book and a set of Winterkleurkaarten by Jessica Palmer, to enter click here by 23.59 GMT on October the 10th.

The image below was coloured using Prismacolor Premier Colored Pencils  and Pan Pastels for the background.

The Wellbeing Journal - Created with the mental health charity, Mind, it's filled with self-care tips, space to write, and activities. Click through to read and see more.

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.

Mermaids in Wonderland 20 Postcards - Click through to read my review, see photos and a video flick-through of this gorgeous set!

Mermaids in Wonderland: 20 Postcards – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Mermaids in Wonderland: 20 Postcards is published by Harper Design and illustrated and kindly sent to me for review by Marco Chin. This is the second set of postcards by Marcos who previously illustrated the Fairies in Wonderland Postcards, this set is identical in format and therefore much of my review is the same, skip to the second paragraph for information about the content. This set of 20 postcards contains scaled down artwork from Marcos’s original Mermaids in Wonderland book which you can read my review of HERE. Each postcard is printed single-sided with a beautiful seahorse, a dotted stamp area and address lines on the back so that you can send them to family, friends and loved ones. The postcards are not perforated but are removable with a similar glue to that of note blocks which means they can be removed with a nice clean edge ready for sending or displaying, it also means the book lies nice and flat for colouring. The postcards are made of thick, white card which didn’t bleed at all with my water-based pens and only very lightly shadowed with alcohol markers! The line thickness remains spindly thin throughout which is somewhat problematic. I have very good vision for small, close things, and also have very good fine motor control but a few of the images on these postcards are so tiny that they’re almost impossible to colour and you’re certain to go over the edges. This is a shame because I’m a huge fan of the imagery and I just love the illustrations but scaling down the images to postcard size wasn’t the most sensible choice because it’s quite 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 all of them and I will struggle to do that neatly with a few of them. That being said, the images are very beautiful and are definitely worth putting the time and effort into to get them perfect and if you don’t colour each section individually and colour over some off the pattern instead then a lot of the problem is alleviated.

The images chosen for these postcards are a good selection from the book and contain a number of beautiful mermaid images, as well as the crab, starfish, dolphins, shells and more, and unusually, 6 of the images have black backgrounds. There is a very good mixture of mermaids and creatures, though I would have liked to see a few more mermaids pictured, given the title, only 14 of the images actually contain mermaids. The riddles from the book aren’t added to this postcard book but a few of the images do contain letter keys which are fairly subtle and certainly don’t detract from the beauty of the images. The colouring book contains 4 removable postcards and these are identical to 4 within this set so if you have the book already you’ll be getting 16 new cards in this set and 4 that duplicate those in the colouring book.

In terms of mental health, I would recommend the majority of these postcards but you will need very good vision and fine motor control to enjoy them because they are extremely intricate and detailed. You will also need pretty good concentration and focus because these postcards take a surprisingly long time to colour given the size of them. They take less time to colour than the images in the book do but they’re still very time-consuming, however, this is great for distraction, each postcard is like a window into the mermaid world and if you let it, you can be really absorbed into it and away from any difficult symptoms or thoughts. All in all, I would recommend this postcard book to those of you with very good vision and fine motor control. The pictures are a challenge to colour because of the intricacy but they will look beautiful coloured and would be lovely to send to people, or frame and you could frame the uncoloured ones very nicely too. The card is lovely and thick and great for pens and pencils and it’s a nice format for these delicate images.

If you’d like to purchase a set they’re available here:
Amazon UK – Mermaids in Wonderland: 20 Postcards
Book Depository Worldwide – https://www.bookdepository.com/Mermaids-in-Wonderland-20-Postcards-Marcos-Chin/9780062565662/?a_aid=colouringitmom

If you love the imagery but these are just too intricate why not take a peek at the original book:
Review – Mermaids in Wonderland Colouring Book
Amazon UK – Mermaids in Wonderland
Book Depository Worldwide – https://www.bookdepository.com/Mermaids-in-Wonderland-Marcos-Chin/9780062465603/?a_aid=colouringitmom

Silent video flick-through of the whole book below.

The image below was coloured with Bic Marking Alcohol Markers and Promarker Alcohol Markers.

Mermaids in Wonderland: A Coloring and Puzzle-Solving Adventure for All Ages – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Mermaids in Wonderland: A Coloring and Puzzle-Solving Adventure for All Ages is published by Harper Design and illustrated and kindly sent to me for review by Marcos Chin. This is the second book my Marcos who illustrated Fairies in Wonderland last year, this book is identical in format and therefore much of my review is the same, for information on the content in this book, please skip to paragraph two. This book is square, the same size as the bestsellers and paperback with a card cover with 2/3 French flaps which open out to reveal a white background mermaid design inside the front cover, and a black background mermaid design inside the back cover. The paper is bright white and medium thickness, it doesn’t bleed with water-based pens but does shadow sometimes so do be careful. The paper is smooth with no visible tooth at all, it is a bit tricky to blend and layer with pencil but if you work slowly and remain patient then it is possible to get some lovely effects, I have had to press harder for block colouring than I’m used to in most books but overall, it’s not too bad. The spine is glue and string-bound this time and the images are borderless so a little of each image is lost into it, the spine does ease up with use and unlike with purely glue-bound spines, the pages don’t fall out when they’re also stitch-bound which is a welcome change! The images are printed double-sided and a large number of them are double-page spreads but there are a large number of single pages too.

The book contains 96 pages and the images contain a number of written riddles with keys hidden throughout the illustrations which spell out the next clue when unscrambled correctly so this is kind of a treasure hunt, set of riddles and colouring book in one. The riddles cleverly arrange each section of images into a ‘chapter’ because they’re each set in a different place and also run from day to night, with a whopping 37 pages having black backgrounds to indicate night time. The images are beautifully drawn and pretty but not girly, they’re very delicate and contain lots of natural elements like sea creatures, plants and corals. The images are set in a variety of places including the sea bed, an underwater hair salon, a dance performance, a carousel, a Chinese dragon procession, an archery lesson, a cocktail party, and more! There is a whole heap of content with a huge variety of things pictured including winged mermaids, hot air balloons, starfish, lobsters, dolphins, whales, crabs, corals, shoals of fish, swordfish, jellyfish, just to name a few! The mermaids also vary throughout from beautiful mermaid ladies adorned in jewellery to dancing and gymnastic mermaids and those flying hot air balloons, the majority are female but there are a few males pictured too. The images are beautifully cohesive and stunningly drawn with a great deal of detail and thought. At the back of the book are two perforated half pages, each with two postcards on them which can be removed and coloured, these are a great addition to the book but sadly, they are identical to four of the postcards that are printed in the 20 set of colouring postcards that accompany this book, this isn’t a problem, it’s just a shame that they aren’t different.

In terms of mental health, this book is really calming and beautiful because it’s so grounded in nature whilst also being wonderfully fantastical. There is a huge amount of intricacy and detail so this is definitely a book for those of you with good vision and fine motor control as the line thickness is also thin, verging on spindly thin at points. There are some large spaces in the images including the hot air balloons, some fish and the mermaid tails if you colour over the scales rather than colouring each individually but mostly the images consist of lots of teeny tiny bits and most aspects are surrounded by a thin border so you will certainly need some fineliners or well-sharpened pencils for this book. Most of the images are of scenes and these don’t have a lot of space for you to add your own drawings or backgrounds, but a few of the images are of centralised illustrations with large spaces left around them where you could create your own backgrounds and scenes if you wished. There are no written hints so this is by no means obligatory and the artwork looks finished as it is but there is space to add your own bits if you wish. I found this book particularly calming and absorbing and the mermaid world really does draw you in and offers wonderful escapism. The illustrations are beautiful and you’re sure to spend hours lost in a faraway miniature land where symptoms of mental illness melt away and dark or anxious thoughts are left at the door.

I would highly recommend this book to all mermaid-lovers and those who like intricate and detailed pages to colour. You will need good vision and fine motor control and pencils and fineliners are a must for this book to be able to complete the stunning images. Get lost in Marcos’s Mermaid Wonderland, you may never want to leave!

If you’d like to purchase a copy of this book, it’s available here:
Amazon UK – Mermaids in Wonderland: A Coloring and Puzzle-Solving Adventure for All Ages
Book Depository Worldwide – https://www.bookdepository.com/Mermaids-in-Wonderland-Marcos-Chin/9780062465603/?a_aid=colouringitmom

There is also a set of 20 accompanying postcards which are also currently available:
Review –
Amazon UK – Mermaids in Wonderland 20 Colouring Postcards
Book Depository Worldwide – https://www.bookdepository.com/Mermaids-in-Wonderland-20-Postcards-Marcos-Chin/9780062565662/?a_aid=colouringitmom

My video flick-through of the book can be found here.

The image below was coloured using Stabilo Point 88 Fineliners, Stabilo 68 Fibre-Tips and Prismacolor Premier Colored Pencils.

Exploratorium: A Search and Colour Mission – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Exploratorium: A Search and Colour Mission is illustrated by Lei Melendres and published and kindly sent to me to review by Michael O’Mara Books. This book is 25cm square, the same size as the bestsellers, paperback with black covers and coloured elements from inside the book on the covers. The spine is glue and string-bound and relatively tight but it does become more pliable with use so that you can reach the majority of the image to colour it. The images are printed double-sided and all of them are double-page spreads. The paper is bright white, medium thickness and lightly textured, it takes pencil well and water-based pens don’t bleed but do shadow a little so you may not want to use these but it should get covered when colouring the other side. This book is primarily aimed at children, however, the images are pretty detailed and packed with content and therefore plenty of adults will love it too. The book starts with a short introduction explaining the premise of the book, it’s a search and find colouring mission so there are a list of objects depicted which can be found within the pages. Following this, each double-page spread is dedicated to a different world and these drastically range in theme from space and future-themed to prehistoric and historical, there are heaps and heaps of scenes from a circus to haunted house, alien invasion to science lab, candy land to the North Pole, skate park to volcano and time travel to under the sea and so much more, there is a really wide scope to the content and something to suit everyone. Lei’s art style is most similar to Kerby Rosanes’s and is very much drawn in a doodle style, the images are packed with alien creatures and strange forms and the content is really quirky, whimsical and fun. The search and find aspect is surprisingly difficult for a book that’s aimed at children, my boyfriend spent ages searching for the items in one of the spreads and in the end had to give up on the last one and look at the answers, luckily there are thumbnail pictures of the spreads at the back that identify where the hidden creatures and objects are so there’s no need for frustration if one or two elude you.

In terms of mental health, this book is pretty good, the pages are packed with content and are very distracting, there’s loads to look at, to hunt down, and then to colour and this book really will keep you occupied for hours. It’s certainly not a calming book so those of you with anxiety or a racing mind may want to keep this book for calmer days but the content is quite invigorating so those suffering from low mood may well be perked up by the humour often depicted and added into the scenes. The line thickness is fairly consistent within each page but differs between them as do the intricacy and detail levels, all have a lot of content but some are much more detailed and fine-lined than others so do check out the photos and video flick-through as you’ll need fairly good vision and fine motor control to get the most out of this book, it’s certainly not well-suited to young children, probably advanced 8 year olds and up. While the content isn’t nature-based, the fantasy elements and imagination of it all are great for absorbing you into a far off land in the past or future which is often better than the here and now and is great for keeping your mind busy and focused on the task at hand rather than any troublesome thoughts or symptoms you might be experiencing. A lot of the images are filled with wacky, surreal creatures and therefore don’t have a “real” colour scheme that you need to follow so you can really go to town and use any colour you fancy and it’ll look equally fabulous and even the realistic aspects can be spiced up by unusual colour schemes like trees with blue trunks and orange leaves, purple pumpkins or red rocks, just grab a pen or pencil and get colouring and you’ll soon be fully immersed in this intricate, doodle-filled world.

Overall, I would highly recommend this to older kids and adults, it’s great fun to hunt the hidden items and to colour and the different scenes make for a really varied colouring experience with each scene being different from the last and transporting you to a far off place. This book is surreal, wacky and a joy to colour for the young, the old, and everyone in between!

If you’d like to purchase a copy, it’s available here:
Amazon UK – Exploratorium: A Search and Colour Mission
Book Depository Worldwide – https://www.bookdepository.com/Exploratorium-Lei-Melendres/9781910552759/?a_aid=colouringitmom

You can see my silent video flick-through of the book here.

The page below was coloured using Staedtler Fibre-Tip Pens.

Staedtler Ergosoft Pencils: 36 Set Click through to see the 12 new shades and read my review!

Staedtler Ergosoft Triangular Coloured Pencils: 36 Colours – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Staedtler Ergosoft Triangular Coloured Pencils: 36 Set are made and kindly sent to me to review by Staedtler, a well-known German Stationery brand. These pencils are endorsed by Johanna Basford (colouring queen) so I was very excited to see what all the fuss is about and if they’d live up to expectations. The pencils are wax-based, I usually prefer oil-based but these (and Prismacolor Premiers) are definitely changing my mind. They have triangular barrels which are entirely coated in the exact colour of the pencil lead so they’re very easy to identify with little need for a colour chart. Each side of the pencil carries printed information: Staedtler ergosoft, space to write your name (ideal for kids or those going to art classes who want to identify their own supplies easily), and the colour number. The pencils arrive pre-sharpened and are very easy to sharpen in a normal sharpener, despite the triangular shape and they sharpen to a really nice point. The pencils are now available in 36 different colours and I was sent the 36 set to review which come in a single layer tin (ideal for having out whilst colouring and not losing your pencils). Other sets available are the 12 set in a blue stand-up box, the 12 set in a cardboard box, the 24 set in a Johanna Basford themed cardboard box and 24 set in a blue stand-up box, the pencils are also available as open stock meaning you can order one or two to trial before buying a full set if you’re unsure. The ergosoft pencils are also available in watercolour so do check what you’re ordering, I will be reviewing the watercolour ergosoft pencils at a later date (the major visible difference between the two is that the watercolour pencils have a blue barrel and a coloured tip – see photo below).

The pencils themselves are smooth to touch and the ergonomic triangular design makes them very comfortable to hold which is ideal for those of us with joint problems, issues with grip strength or easily dented fingers, I have lots of problems with the shape of pens and pencils, especially when colouring for long periods of time for reviewing, and these are one of the comfiest sets I’ve come across. The pencil leads have a white coating which adheres the leads to the wooden pencil sheath and this protective coating helps to reinforce the lead core in order to prevent breakage. I have used these pencils for a long time and have had no issues with breakage or problems with sharpening so these are very well-made. The leads are quite hard but they have a good vibrant pigment meaning you get a bright colour without needing a lot of pressure. However, because the leads are quite hard, you do need to use quite a bit of pressure when colouring toothier paper so I’d advise these for smoother paper if you have joint problems or you’re going to have to press quite hard to get a bold, full colour with no white gaps. I also noticed that while the pigment is very vibrant, you do get a wax bloom when using the hardest pressure and this makes blending more difficult than with oil-based pencils because you can’t get many layers before the wax bloom builds up so much that it interferes with colour lay down.

The pencils do blend fairly well together but you will need to be careful with your layering because the wax builds up quickly. Because the pigment is so bright, it’s quite difficult to get a pale even coverage with a thin layer on toothy paper so these pencils are much better for vibrant, burnished colouring, rather than pale, thin layers. They erase very well, even when coloured and burnished, obviously some pigment is left but a surprising amount is removed with very little effort so these pencils would be ideal for those who regularly colour over the lines, or who want to create highlights in their work. These pencils are in the mid-range price category and vary hugely in price. They’re quite expensive when full-price but when on sale they’re much more affordable and better value for money and if you can get a set on sale then I’d highly recommend them. These are definitely a great wax-based pencil.

The pencils used to only be available in 24 colours and there have been lots of questions in the colouring community about what shades are now included in the new 36 set. A really good range of colours have been added across the spectrum and pretty much one of each colour has been added in to help fill in the gaps that were there before so there is now a better range of greens, we have a lilac, a beautiful turquoise and two new browns amongst others. You can see the added colours in the photos below as well as the mandala page which I coloured exclusively with the 12 new colours, they look a little strange on their own because none of them are core colours, they’re all in-between shades to fill in the gaps but in conjunction with the other 24 pencils they look beautiful and the set covers a really good selection of colours with very few shades now missing that you can’t ‘mix’ by combining a couple of the pre-existing colours. For those who already have the 24 set, who are wondering whether it’s worth investing in this new set (sadly the 12 new colours aren’t available as a set on their own though you can buy all of them open stock), I would suggest that yes, it’s definitely worth getting them, the new shades are really useful, the tin is a great way of storing them and having extra colours is always a huge bonus, I think we’re all hoping that Staedtler will add further colours at a later point though this hasn’t been announced but there are 60 colours in their watercolour set so we can dream!

If you’d like to purchase a set, they’re available here:
Amazon UK:
Set of 24 in blue stand up box
Set of 12 in blue stand up box
Set of 36 colours in tin

The longest colouring book in the world, packed with content ranging from realistic to mythological, click through to see photos, video and written review!

To the Ends of the Earth and Back Again: The Longest Colouring Book in the World – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
To the Ends of the Earth and Back Again is illustrated by Good Wives and Warriors of the Escape To… series and published and kindly sent to me to review by Laurence King Publishing. This book is a really unusual format with only two others that I’m aware of on the market like this, both of which are smaller. This book is paperback with flexible card covers, the covers are portrait but the pages are landscape, they are all attached together and folded in a concertina so that they make one continuous strip of images stretching out for a full 17ft, I’ve never seen anything like it (you can view my silent video flick-through of the whole book here)! The pages fold into A4 size and the book consists of 15 pages in total, all joined together, they’re easy enough to colour because you can keep them folded and therefore just have two pages ‘showing’ at once which makes it a much more manageable size to contend with though it is still a little tricky and may require a table or a large lap tray. The images are printed single-sided and make up one continuous scenescape. The paper is white apart from the sky in the images which gradually changes colour through the pages from white to a dark teal-blue, this transition is seamless and I didn’t actually notice it until the second time I looked through, the backs of all of the pages also fade through from white to the same dark teal-blue colour which is a nice touch. There is no spine to contend with, just folds and these are very easy to colour over so you don’t lose any of the image and can colour its entirety. The paper is white, thick and smooth, it doesn’t have any visible texture but seems to take pencils well and you can happily blend, shade and layer them, water-based pens don’t bleed or shadow and you can use alcohol markers if you wish as the pages are single-sided and therefore bleeding won’t matter, just pop some protective sheets behind so that it doesn’t bleed through to any other pages. The image is a continuous scenescape journey that takes you from a house with a pretty garden around various landmarks from around the world and delves into folklore and mythology and pictures of all sorts of weird and wonderful things. There is such a wealth of imagery that it’s hard to even know where to start when describing it all, there are llamas, dragons, jackalope, wolves, deer, mountains, the pyramids, a sphynx, totem poles, an Aztec calendar, peacocks, rivers, Chinese dragons, sea serpents, lizards, turtles, otters, walruses, Easter Island statues, cacti, snakes, the Arctic, elk, polar bears, geese, igloos, penguins, and finally ends back at the house which is filled with animals and souvenirs from the trip and a space to write your name in a This Adventure Belongs To box.

In terms of mental health, this book isn’t for the faint-hearted, it really is one hell of a project and will be better suited to those of you without concentration problems and those who don’t mind spending time on a project for a really long time as there’s no quick way of getting this book coloured. That being said, it offers a great level of distraction, there is so much to look at within each section and I know I’ve not yet seen even half of what’s pictured despite looking through it heaps of times, there’s just such a lot of content packed in that you always notice new things. The line thickness is consistent throughout and remains thin. The intricacy and detail levels vary a little within the scenescape but mostly remain at a very high level with some really small sections and lots and lots of components making up each section, you will therefore need very good vision and fine motor control to get the most out of this book. The content is a great mixture of realistic animals and scenery and mythological creatures and surreal settings, this combination lends itself well to realistic or outlandish colour schemes and you could even mix media and colour each page differently or even each type of imagery, the sky is the limit! The images are so wide-ranging that it’s almost like loads of different colouring books in one and you’ll always be able to find something you fancy colouring in here if you have a look through. There are lots of natural stopping points because the whole scenescape is made up of lots of component parts so you can easily colour just one creature or type of flower or work through it systematically from beginning to end, it really is up to you.

Overall, this book is amazing, it’s unlike any others and it’s just packed with content and different things to colour. It offers an amazing project which isn’t for the faint-hearted but it’ll look amazing when it’s finished and be so worth all of the time and effort you’ll need to put in.

If you’d like to purchase a copy, it’s available here:
Amazon UK – To the Ends of the Earth and Back Again
Book Depository Worldwide – https://www.bookdepository.com/the-Ends-of-the-Earth-and-Back-Again-Good-Wives-And-Warriors/9781786270351/?a_aid=colouringitmom

If you’d like to see the full book then you can find my silent video flick-through here.

The image below was coloured using Staedtler Ergosoft Coloured Pencils.

Into the Wild: An Exotic Woodland Colouring Book – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Into the Wild: An Exotic Woodland Colouring Book is published and was kindly sent to me to review by Laurence King Publishing. This book is the second brought to us by artist Daisy Fletcher who illustrated Birdtopia last year which was one of the most unusually formatted books I’ve seen during my time reviewing. This second book, Into the Wild is formatted in the same way (detailed description of this below) but this time rather than being focused on birds, it’s a whole lot more exotic and wide-ranging in content – to illustrate this I’ve recorded a video flick-through which can be found HERE as well as a full written review and photographs as usual. This book is a little larger than A4 at 23.5 by 31cm, paperback with sturdy card covers with a gold foiled title. The paper is bright white, thick and lightly textured, the paper takes pencil very well and allows for lots of light layers which makes blending a breeze and even better, there’s absolutely no shadowing or bleed-through with water-based pens, unless you use very dark colours, which is a huge bonus! The really strange part of the formatting is that the paper is white and the colouring spaces are left white but all of the backgrounds are printed in a strong cream colour. These backgrounds don’t feel printed and there isn’t a weird surface to the paper so you can still add your own background with pencil or pastel or any other mediums you normally use, but it means the uncoloured pages look quite strange and different from any other book I’ve seen. The images are printed double-sided and some are full page images and others are small illustrations somewhere in the middle of the page. There is a mixture of single page and double-page spreads and the spine is glue and string bound and is very durable but a little of many of the images is lost into it though with some bending it does loosen up a lot.

The book starts with a This Book Belongs To… page and then contains 76 images of animals, flowers, and other wildlife and plants, the last two pages have a beetle printed on each and open out to reveal a fabulous four-page woodland scene including lots of deer, giant mushrooms, a griffin and even two unicorns! The images contain a huge number of different animals from hares to butterflies, deer to otters, fish to chipmunks, wolves to leopards, horses to lynx and lots more. Some of the images are drawn to scale with butterflies and flowers drawn in a realistic scale and others have varied scale with deer perching on flowers and owls sitting on mushrooms so there is a real variance in scale and realism in the scenes. Each double-page spread includes at least one animal, usually many more, and at the back of the book there are thumbnail pictures of each image with the names of each of the animals and many of the plants and flowers that are included which makes them easy to identify and research if you want to colour them realistically. In addition to the line drawings, there are also a few, quite strange, greyscale animals and background plants (this time there are no fully coloured elements), these greyscale items almost look photoshopped into the images (see photos below), these features can be coloured over if you wish, they certainly aren’t the majority and there are fewer in this book than in Birdtopia. None of this is a criticism of the features, and I don’t dislike it, it’s just very unusual and different from anything I’ve seen before (other than Birdtopia) and therefore worth commenting on.

In terms of mental health, this book is pretty good because of the information at the back of the book identifying what each animal is so that you can head to google and get searching for the accurate colour schemes if you wish. This means that colouring can be very relaxing and thought-free as you’ve got a ready created colour scheme that nature has handed you on a plate that can be found with a quick internet search. The natural images are lovely and relaxing and are sure to ground you and calm you down. The sometimes unusual arrangements are quirky and intriguing and these are almost energising as you ponder the surrealism of them. The line thickness is consistent throughout and is spindly thin so you will need very good fine motor control to enjoy and fully utilise this book. The intricacy and detail level varies throughout from large open spaces to teeny tiny sections so this book will only really suit those of you with good vision. The images themselves vary in size hugely so this a great book for those of you with fluctuating conditions because you can do some of the smaller images on your bad days or tackle the full four-page spread on your good days and everything in between. There are lots of large open spaces around the images where you could add your own drawings or backgrounds and there are no drawing hints so these images look and feel finished but you can add to them if you wish.

I would highly recommend this book to animal and plant lovers and those who love to colour nature and natural images, who don’t mind a bit of the surreal. This book is beautifully drawn and if the cream background doesn’t bother you then this book is sure to be a winner and the paper quality is great!

If you’d like to purchase a copy of the book, it’s available to pre-order here:
Amazon UK – Into the Wild: An Exotic Woodland Colouring Book
Book Depository Worldwide – https://www.bookdepository.com/Into-Wild-Daisy-Fletcher/9781786270849/?a_aid=colouringitmom

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

The image below was coloured using Prismacolor Premier Coloured Pencils.

Johanna Basford 2018 Colouring Day-To-Day Calendar in a Keepsake Box – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Johanna Basford 2018 Colouring Day-To-Day Calendar in a Keepsake Box is published and was very kindly sent to me to review by Andrews McMeel Publishing. This page-a-day calendar arrives in shrink-wrapped plastic which keeps the keepsake box clean and free from damage. The keepsake box is made of thick ivory card which is covered all over (including the bottom) with a black line drawn flower and foliage pattern most similar to the flower scenes in Secret Garden, the top and all four sides of the box have gold foiling accents. The box opens with a hinge-style (the lid remains attached at the top) with two pieces of black ribbon holding it open at a >90degree angle; the inside of the lid and the box are lined with black paper with white flower and foliage designs drawn in Johanna’s signature style; the box is fully colourable if you wish. A black ribbon allows easy access to lift out all of the loose calendar pages which aren’t bound in any way so it’s easy to pick out which ones to colour, move them around, leave them out to dry if using wet media and so on. The pages are the same size and format as any other page-a-day calendar, the illustration is on the left and takes up two thirds of the page and on the right at the top is a leafy-lettered title of the month and at the bottom is the date and day, above this in small text are written the important festivals and celebrations and the country they’re celebrated in; as with all others, Saturday and Sunday share a page so there are approximately 312 pages of colouring for you to complete over the year. The pages are pale cream this time rather than bright white (they are less yellow than the Secret Garden book paper and more cream than the new ivory paper in Magical Jungle; see photo below of the different paper colours), thin (slightly thicker than copier paper), and lightly textured, pencils don’t build up many layers on this paper but I’m sure those of you who are more talented than me will have more luck with this and create wonderful masterpieces; water-based pens do heavily shadow and may bleed through if you’re particularly heavy-handed but the images are printed single-sided so really you can use whatever mediums you like, these pages would be ideal for testing out new mediums or trialling colour schemes.

The illustrations themselves are all taken from Johanna Basford’s five currently published colouring books, Secret Garden, Enchanted Forest, Lost Ocean, Magical Jungle, and Johanna’s Christmas, I have carefully looked through all of the images and there is one tree that I couldn’t find in any of her books and appears not to be from one and a couple of butterfly images that have been adapted from the originals to have line drawn butterflies and blacked out ones too but apart from these 3/4 images all of the images are directly from the books. Some of them are the whole page scaled down, others are sections of the page printed at the original size, others are zoomed in sections which are printed larger than the original so there is a really good mix of detailed sections, larger spaced illustrations to practice blending and shading on, and whole pages which you’ll need your finest of fineliners and sharpest of pencils to colour accurately. The lid is designed to display the current day’s page in but it will hold plenty more pages than this so you could easily place a month’s worth in there before having to move them under the proceeding days’ pages. At the bottom of the stack are 4 pages for you to test your colouring mediums on so that you can see how the paper behaves so you don’t have to accidentally ruin any proper pages.

In terms of mental health, this page-a-day calendar is fantastic because it provides you with a manageable size of project to attempt each day, you could colour the page in a few minutes or really take your time to try out new techniques and spend much longer, it’s entirely up to you. You could colour the day’s page ahead of time or on the day itself, you could even spend the next 4 months colouring the whole thing ready to look at your beautiful work throughout the coming year, or even to gift to someone else (what a labour of love that would be and it would make an incredible present if you could bear to part with your work, perhaps you could start if off for them to finish?). The pages are a great size to practice colour schemes for your copies of the actual books, or even to try out colouring mediums on a smaller page. The loose pages make it easy to access the page you need without having to move the whole block around all the time and it means you don’t have to worry at all about bleed through. At the end of the year you could even cut out all of the images and create collages, small framed pictures or gifts or even add them to cards or craft projects so this is a really versatile product that goes way beyond just being a calendar! There isn’t a treasure hunt element in this calendar and there are no written hints for drawing though there are plenty of spaces on a number of images to be able to add your own details or backgrounds to really make the pages your own but this of course isn’t necessary and it’ll look finished without the need to draw at all. This page-a-day calendar is perfect for fans of Johanna’s work and it is a beautiful new way of using her illustrations. The line thickness varies a little throughout from thin to spindly thin and the intricacy and detail levels are often much higher than in the books because many of the images are shrunk down to fit the pages so you will most definitely need very good vision and fine motor control to get the most out of this calendar if you’re wanting to colour it; you could of course leave it blank and just admire the illustrations because they really are beautiful to just look at with no need to add colour if that’s too challenging. The images aren’t arranged into any order and there are no duplicates, a number of the calendar pages show parts of the same original image but these are all of different aspects of it, with varying size or depicting different areas (see images below) and this is by no means the majority of the pages, most are of entirely separate illustrations or aspects within them, they also don’t appear to duplicate the images used in the 2017 edition of this calendar so those of you who already have that won’t be disappointed by duplicates. The page size is much more manageable and less daunting to colour and this is ideal for those of you with fluctuating conditions or concentration levels because these pages are much quicker to finish and likely to cause less frustration, they’re also fantastic for trying out new things without worrying about ruining a whole page in your books.

I would highly recommend this page-a-day calendar to fans of Johanna’s work and to those who love to be organised. It’s a great size and format, ideal for those who find the full-size book pages too daunting. It’s also great for practising colour schemes or using new colouring mediums and it’ll be a lovely keepsake to work through from beginning to end and see how you’ve progressed over the year it runs for; you can even remove the images afterwards and frame or gift them or even use them in craft projects and the box will make a wonderful keepsake.

If you’d like to purchase a copy of this page-a-day colouring calendar, it’s available here:
UK Edition
Amazon UK – Johanna Basford 2018 Colouring Day-To-Day Calendar in a Keepsake Box
US Edition
Amazon UK – Johanna Basford 2018 Coloring Day-To-Day Calendar in a Keepsake Box
Book Depository Worldwide – https://www.bookdepository.com/Johann-Basford-2018-Coloring-Day–Day-Calendar-Johann-Basford/9781449482787/?a_aid=colouringitmom

Can’t get enough of Johanna’s images? Below are my reviews of her new colouring planner and two new wall calendars so you can be fully organised and colour to your heart’s content for the coming year!
Magical Jungle 2018 Wall Calendar
Secret Garden 2018 Wall Calendar
Johanna Basford 2017-2018 16-Month Weekly Colouring Planner

The pages below were coloured using Stabilo Point 88 Fineliners and Magnetips Pens.

Johanna Basford 2017-18 Weekly Colouring Planner - a great combination of colouring and organisation, click through to read my review and see images of inside

Johanna Basford 2017-2018 16-Month Weekly Colouring Planner – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Johanna Basford 2017-2018 16-Month Weekly Colouring Planner is published and was very kindly sent to me to review by Andrews McMeel Publishing. This planner is the perfect combination of organisation and colouring with space to write plans, appointments and notes, whilst also having weeks and weeks of colouring for you to do too. This planner is paperback with flexible pale cream card covers which have a beautiful black floral and foliage design on the front and back with the negative image drawn in pale cream on the insides of the covers, the front cover has gold foiling accents and the front and back cover have removable brown card strips with the information about the planner and the barcode etc printed on them. The planner is spiral-bound and measures 21.6 x 19.6cm, the covers aren’t especially sturdy so I’d be careful about travelling with it much and you’ll want to keep it safe somewhere rather than stuffing it in a bag or it’ll get damaged very quickly. This isn’t the best planner I’ve seen in terms of features and organisation, but for the combination of colouring and organising, it’s perfect and strikes a really good balance. The planner runs for 16 months and starts from the 28th of August 2017 all the way to the 6th of January 2019. The planner is printed double-sided and starts with a one-page overview of the year 2018 and then the planner itself starts with an image on the left of each double-page spread from one of Johanna’s five colouring books, images from all five (Secret Garden, Enchanted Forest, Lost Ocean, Magical Jungle and Johanna’s Christmas) are included, and the week’s days and dates with writing space for each on the right (this is in the same style as normal planners with added leafy accents and leafy lettering for the month title at the top). Each week runs from Monday to Sunday with equal space to write for each day, the dates are on the right and important festivals and bank holidays etc are written in small text on the left of the page, as well as the country it’s celebrated in. After the planner pages, which make up the vast majority of the book, there is a double-page spread with sections for each month of 2019 for you to add your advance plans to. Following this is a full page of 2017 dates and a full page of 2019 dates, followed by 5 lined pages where you can write notes (all with added leaf accents) and the final page is a colouring test page where you can test out your mediums to check for bleed through.

The paper this time is pale cream rather than bright white (it is less yellow than the Secret Garden book paper and more cream than the new ivory paper in Magical Jungle; see photo below of the different paper colours), lightly textured and medium thickness, sadly it does shadow a fair bit with water-based pens but it doesn’t bleed through; I’d strongly advise writing in pencil throughout or you’ll ruin the image on the reverse either with shadowing or indentation from ballpoint pens. Pencils work well on this paper so I’d suggest mostly colouring with pencils and using water-based pens if you don’t mind the shadowing showing through on the planner pages. A great selection of images from Johanna’s books are included with some being sections of original images at the original size and others being the whole page shrunk down to fit on the planner page so some of the illustrations are quite tricky to colour neatly but almost none look impossible as long as you use a good set of fineliners or sharp pencils. Because this is the second planner and the publisher has tried not to duplicate images it means that a number of my favourite images from her first three colouring books haven’t been included as they were in the 2016/17 planner, however, we’ve got new images from those as well as from the newer two books and there are some lovely inclusions so there’s no disappointment to be had with this planner and it really is a great mix between organisation and colouring (two of my favourite things)!

In terms of mental health, this colouring planner is ideal. It gives you a manageable goal of colouring one page per week which could either be next week’s page so that it’s coloured ready for that week or this week’s page so you can colour as you plan. You could even colour it ahead if you’re quick but you’ll need to get a wriggle on as it’s already been running for a week. The pages are a great size to practice colour schemes for your copy of the actual books, or even to try out colouring mediums on a smaller page. The spiral-binding makes it easy to access the whole page and none of the images go into the spine, it’s also ideal because once you’ve finished using the planner at the end of 2018, the pages are easy to remove for framing or gifting if you want to get more use out of your works of art. There isn’t a treasure hunt element in this planner and there are no written hints for drawing though there are plenty of spaces on a number of images to be able to add your own details or backgrounds to really make the pages your own but this of course isn’t necessary and it’ll look finished without the need to draw at all. This planner is perfect for fans of Johanna’s work and it is a beautiful way of using her illustrations. The line thickness varies a little throughout from thin to spindly thin and the intricacy and detail levels are higher than in the books because many of the images are shrunk down to fit the pages so you will most definitely need very good vision and fine motor control to get the most out of this planner if you’re wanting to colour it; you could of course leave it blank and just admire the illustrations because they really are beautiful to just look at with no need to add colour if that’s too challenging. The images aren’t arranged into any order but a few have been cleverly chosen to fit celebrations like a heart for the week of Valentine’s Day, a skull for Halloween week 2018 and images from Johanna’s Christmas through December. The page size is much more manageable and less daunting to colour and this is ideal for those of you with fluctuating conditions or concentration levels because these pages are quicker to finish and likely to cause less frustration.

I would highly recommend this colouring planner to fans of Johanna’s work and to those who love to be organised. It’s a great combination of planner and colouring pages and the size and format is ideal for those who find the full-size book pages too daunting. It’s great for practising colour schemes or using new colouring mediums and it’ll be a lovely keepsake to work through from beginning to end and see how you’ve progressed over the 16 months it runs for; you can even remove the images afterwards and frame or gift them.

If you’d like to purchase a copy it’s available below, there has been a delay in getting stock to retailers and therefore Johanna has released a free download of the pages for September which can be found here.
UK Edition
Amazon UK – Johanna Basford 2017-2018 16-Month Weekly Colouring Planner
US Edition
Amazon UK – Johanna Basford 2017-2018 16-Month Weekly Coloring Planner
Book Depository Worldwide – https://www.bookdepository.com/Johann-Basford-2017-2018-16-Month-Coloring-Weekly-Planner-Calendar-Johann-Basford/9781449482794/?a_aid=colouringitmom

Can’t get enough of Johanna’s illustrations and the ability to organise your life? Then check out the following reviews for two different wall calendars and a page-a-day calendar too.
Magical Jungle 2018 Wall Calendar
Secret Garden 2018 Wall Calendar
Page a day calendar

The image below was coloured using Holbein Artist’s Coloured Pencils.

Magical Jungle 2018 Colouring Wall Calendar - Some of the best images from the book, ready to colour and display on your wall throughout the year, click through to read my review and see more images.

Magical Jungle 2018 Colouring Wall Calendar – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Magical Jungle 2018 Colouring Wall Calendar is published and was very kindly sent to me to review by Andrews McMeel Publishing. This calendar is beautiful and is the same format as the previous JB wall calendars. The calendar itself is the same size as most others at 12 inches square, making it significantly larger than Johanna’s books. It includes 13 of Johanna’s signature and most well-known designs from her fourth colouring book, Magical Jungle (this calendar doesn’t include any new images), an illustration for each month of the year and one at the beginning for a 4-month overview of September to December 2017. I have included pictures of all of the calendar pages below so that you can decide if this is for you, as well as comparison photos of the book and calendar size. The whole calendar, including the covers, is made of thick pale cream paper which is good quality (it is less yellow than the Secret Garden book paper and more cream than the new ivory paper in Magical Jungle; see photo below of the different paper colours) – I thought it was going to bleed with water-based pens but there was no bleed-through at all and only some shadowing when using my darker fineliners. Do bear in mind, when writing on the calendar I’d strongly advise using pencil so that you don’t get bleed through onto the next month’s image, or indentation from using a biro. The images are printed larger in the calendar than in the book so this is a great purchase for those of you who found Johanna’s books just a little too detailed and small. You definitely can’t use alcohol markers because the images are all printed double-sided with the dates for the previous month on the back of the page which will get ruined by bleed-through if you colour ahead but would be fine if you colour month by month. The paper is quite smooth but has a little tooth and I didn’t have any issues with getting a few layers built up with my Holbein and Prismacolor pencils. The calendar is spiral-bound so you can easily fold it back on itself for easier colouring as it’s a little unmanageable when it’s not folded in half. Each page has a small hole at the top, this is smaller than on normal calendars and doesn’t fit a nail through it so you’ll have to very carefully hang it up with string (be careful so you don’t rip the pages). The cover has signature gold foil accents and is fully colourable, as always, and each calendar page has lots of tiny leaf accents and each month has a leafy lettering title.

In terms of mental health, this calendar is ideal because not only does it give you hours of colouring fun and distraction, you can also easily display it on your wall to brighten up even the darkest of days and you’ll get satisfaction every day looking at all of your beautiful hard work. The slightly larger image size means it’s more suitable to those of you who don’t have perfect vision or fine motor control. It’s a great project that will help motivate you with a deadline of making sure each image is ready for the first day of the following month. The pages could also be removed at the end of the year once you’re done with the calendar and could be easily framed or gifted to others to bring enjoyment for years to come. There is a small inky treasure hunt within the pages, like in the book, but I feel this was a bit of a pointless venture because some of the items you’re expected to find are the entire subject of the image e.g. one chameleon, one toucan or one tiger, rather than hidden within the image, two of the months don’t have this, January and November. Magical Jungle was Johanna’s least intricate and detailed book and while a few of the pages are quite intricate, a number of them have much larger, open spaces so there is a really good variety of images needing varying levels of concentration which can be used to keep you occupied and distracted when you’re feeling anxious or low, or requiring less focus if you need a more relaxing colouring experience. Johanna’s images are really good for practising mindfulness techniques because many require a lot of focus and time to complete meaning this calendar is ideal for those of us who are mentally ill and needing to zone out. The line thickness is thin throughout but it’s not spindly so there is a little leeway when colouring, especially in those images with larger spaces.

I would highly recommend this for any colouring fan who needs a calendar in their life. Johanna fans won’t be disappointed with this calendar, it’s beautiful with a lovely selection of designs and great paper quality and it will brighten up the darkest of rooms and moods. It would make a fabulous gift either as it is, or fully coloured for someone and it’s not only useful for the coming year as a calendar, but for years to come when you can frame your pictures to continue the joy.

If you’d like to purchase a copy it can be found here:
Amazon UK – UK Edition – Magical Jungle 2018 Colouring Wall Calendar
Book Depository Worldwide – US Edition – https://www.bookdepository.com/Magical-Jungle-2018-Wall-Calendar-Johann-Basford/9781449482800/?a_aid=colouringitmom

Can’t get enough of Johanna’s illustrations and the ability to organise your life? Then check out the following reviews for another wall calendar, planner and page-a-day calendar:
Secret Garden 2018 Wall Calendar
Johanna Basford 2017-2018 16-Month Colouring Planner
Johanna Basford 2018 Colouring Day-to-Day Calendar

The image below was coloured with Holbein Artist’s Coloured Pencils, Prismacolor Premier Pencils and a Caran d’Ache Blender Pencil.

Secret Garden 2018 Colouring Wall Calendar – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Secret Garden 2018 Colouring Wall Calendar is published and was very kindly sent to me to review by Andrews McMeel Publishing. This calendar is beautiful and is the same format as the previous JB wall calendars. The calendar itself is the same size as most others at 12 inches square, making it significantly larger than Johanna’s books. It includes 13 of Johanna’s signature and most well-known designs from her first colouring book, Secret Garden (this calendar doesn’t include any new images), an illustration for each month of the year and one at the beginning for a 4-month overview of September to December 2017. A Secret Garden Wall Calendar was also published in 2016 and I reviewed that too, none of the images are duplicates between calendars so this is an entirely new selection of images from the book rather than a differently dated copy of the 2016 calendar. I have included pictures of all of the calendar pages below so that you can decide if this is for you, as well as comparison photos of the book and calendar size. The whole calendar, including the covers, is made of thick pale cream paper which is good quality (it is less yellow than the Secret Garden book paper and more cream than the new ivory paper in Magical Jungle; see photo below of the different paper colours) – I thought it was going to bleed with water-based pens but there was no bleed-through at all and only some shadowing when using my darker fineliners. Do bear in mind, when writing on the calendar I’d strongly advise using pencil so that you don’t get bleed through onto the next month’s image, or indentation from using a biro. The images are printed larger in the calendar than in the book so this is a great purchase for those of you who found Johanna’s books just a little too detailed and small. You definitely can’t use alcohol markers because the images are all printed double-sided with the dates for the previous month on the back of the page which will get ruined by bleed-through if you colour ahead but would be fine if you colour month by month. The paper is quite smooth but has a little tooth and I didn’t have any issues with getting a few layers built up with my Holbein and Prismacolor pencils. The calendar is spiral-bound so you can easily fold it back on itself for easier colouring as it’s a little unmanageable when it’s not folded in half. Each page has a small hole at the top, this is smaller than on normal calendars and doesn’t fit a nail through it so you’ll have to very carefully hang it up with string (be careful so you don’t rip the pages). The cover has signature gold foil accents and is fully colourable, as always, and each calendar page has lots of tiny leaf accents and each month has a leafy lettering title.

In terms of mental health, this calendar is ideal because not only does it give you hours of colouring fun and distraction, you can also easily display it on your wall to brighten up even the darkest of days and you’ll get satisfaction every day looking at all of your beautiful hard work. The slightly larger image size means it’s more suitable to those of you who don’t have perfect vision or fine motor control. It’s a great project that will help motivate you with a deadline of making sure each image is ready for the first day of the following month. The pages could also be removed at the end of the year once you’re done with the calendar and could be easily framed or gifted to others to bring enjoyment for years to come. There is a small inky treasure hunt within the pages, like in the book, unlike the Secret Garden 2016 Calendar and the 2017 Enchanted Forest Calendar, these are actually properly hidden objects though there is no key so it can be a little tricky to know exactly what you’re looking for, only one or two are extremely obvious to find due to being the entire or central subject of the image (e.g. find one owl)! As with all of Johanna’s images, they are intricate and detailed and do require a fair amount of concentration which is great for keeping you occupied when you’re feeling anxious or low. Johanna’s images are really good for practising mindfulness techniques because they require a lot of focus and time to complete meaning this calendar is ideal for those of us who are mentally ill and needing to zone out. The line thickness is thin throughout but it’s not spindly so there is a little leeway when colouring.

I would highly recommend this for any colouring fan who needs a calendar in their life. Johanna fans won’t be disappointed with this calendar, it’s beautiful with a lovely selection of designs and great paper quality and it will brighten up the darkest of rooms and moods. It would make a fabulous gift either as it is, or fully coloured for someone and it’s not only useful for the coming year as a calendar, but for years to come when you can frame your pictures to continue the joy.

If you’d like to purchase a copy it can be found here:
Amazon UK – UK Edition – Secret Garden 2018 Colouring Wall Calendar
Book Depository Worldwide – US Edition – https://www.bookdepository.com/Secret-Garden-2018-Wall-Calendar-Johann-Basford/9781449484682/?a_aid=colouringitmom

Can’t get enough of Johanna’s illustrations and the ability to organise your life? Then check out the following reviews for another wall calendar, planner and page-a-day calendar:
Magical Jungle 2018 Wall Calendar
Johanna Basford 2017-2018 16-Month Colouring Planner
Johanna Basford 2018 Colouring Day-to-Day Calendar

The image below was coloured using Stabilo Point 88 Fineliners.

Die Welt unter der Lupe zu Wasser, a beautiful close-up look into an underwater world that you can colour, click through to read my review!

Die Welt unter der Lupe – Zu Wasser (The World Under the Magnifying Glass – Water) – A Review

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

Die Welt unter der Lupe – Zu Wasser (The World Under the Magnifying Glass – Water) is published and kindly sent to me to review by Bastei Lübbe. This book is the fifth illustrated by Rita Berman, a highly talented German illustrator, she previously brought us the hugely successful and utterly beautiful series of season colouring books, reviewed by me here. I had high hopes for this new book which will be joined in November by a land themed title and I wasn’t disappointed, I didn’t think that her season books could be topped but I think this new book might just have done that, it’s exquisite and absolutely packed full with content. As with all of her books, I was absolutely blown away by its beauty, I can’t enthuse enough about it, it’s stunning! It is identical in format to her previous four books and therefore my review of each is the same, as are the mental health benefits, skip straight to the second paragraph about content and photos at the end to see what’s inside this title.

The book itself is slightly smaller than most at 20cm square, it’s paperback with a partially coloured image from inside the book on the front cover and a hole in the centre of the magnifying glass which gives a very clever 3D effect of looking at an octopus printed on the inside of the full size French flaps. Both covers have fully illustrated French flaps with colour added to the external covers and the internal front flap but none add to the back one so it’s fully colourable with alcohol markers if you wish. The spine is glue and string-bound so it’s durable and strong and will ease up with use; many of the images are full page designs and therefore a number of them do reach or span the gutter however as the spine becomes more supple, you’ll be able to reach almost all areas of the page. The images are printed double-sided and are a mixture of single and double-page spreads, the book contains 72 pages of images, at the back of the book are three pages showing the book covers of the previous and upcoming titles. The paper is bright white, medium/thick and lightly textured, water-based pens didn’t bleed or shadow when I tested them but dark colours or colouring the same spot may cause shadowing so do ensure that you test them yourself in an inconspicuous area; coloured pencils blend and shade well. The images themselves are where these books really come into their own, there are similar style images in each of Rita’s books but they’re beautifully tailored to the specific theme of the title, previously seasons, and this time under water and it’s very clear from looking through each book what it’s dedicated to.

The drawings are incredible, each time I look through the book I see new things that I didn’t notice before. The content ranges from double-page spreads of whales or jellyfish to small central images of hermit crabs, shoals of pufferfish and a close up on the opposite spread to patterns including shells and waves, large centralised images to underwater scenes of deep sea diving, shipwrecks and a shell city and so much more! There are tropical fish, buried treasure, sea plants, shells and even an Arctic scene of seals and penguins. You can colour pearls, octopi, bubbles, seahorses, crabs, jellyfish, dolphins, starfish, seaweed, coral, anemones, clownfish, lobsters, turtles, squid and even a nautilus, it really is packed with watery, sea-dwelling creatures! The illustrations are all drawn quite realistically but each is filled with patterns and small sections to colour which really opens up the possibilities of how to colour them. The pages are filled with cute, whimsical and friendly-feeling images, none are intimidating, they just welcome you in to fill them with colour.

In terms of mental health, each of Rita’s books is just wonderful, the images are really natural and the content is very cute and packed with details so each time you flick through the book you notice more in the images. Because of how the illustrations are drawn, with mostly realistic outlines of obviously recognisable things but filled in with patterns and whimsical doodles, you can either colour the pages realistically, or in outlandish colour schemes and either will look totally fabulous as you’ll see from completed pages on social media. The line thickness is consistently variable throughout, each image is outlined in a medium/thin line with thin-lined details. The intricacy and detail level varies across the images from low-ish to very high, however, don’t despair if your vision or fine motor control aren’t perfect, they don’t need to be, none of the parts are impossibly tiny to colour and many of the images can be simplified by colouring over the internal patterns rather than within them which instantly reduces the intricacy to a much lower level for almost all of the images. The size of the book is ideal because it’s smaller than most and therefore doesn’t require quite so much time to complete each page, the content varies from full double-page spreads depicting scenes to much smaller images so it’s ideal for those with fluctuating conditions or poor concentration as you can colour one object or group of objects on a bad day, or colour a full double-page spread when you’re feeling focused and well. There are also a number of pages that have large open spaces where you could add your own backgrounds or imagery if you wish, this is by no means a necessity but the option is there if you want it. The illustrations create a wonderful sense of place and offer great escapism, they really transport you into Rita’s super cute world filled with charming animals and beautiful plants and away from any difficulties or symptoms you might be experiencing.

Overall, I would highly recommend this book and those in the seasons series, they complement each other beautifully and really transport you into a whimsical world. The pages offer a manageable project for any level of functioning and they are just gorgeous when finished.

If you’d like to purchase a copy it’s available here:
Amazon UK – Die Welt unter der Lupe – Zu Wasser (The World Under the Magnifying Glass – Water)
Book Depository Worldwide (currently reduced in price!) – goo.gl/8CQa2s

You can read my reviews of the other books in the series here.

You can view my silent video flick-through here.

The image below was coloured using Prismacolor Premier Colored Pencils, the bubbles were created using a circle template, a Derwent burnishing pencil and the background with various colours of PanPastels.

Do you love unicorns? Check out these colourable decorations, ideal for adults and children!

Press Out and Decorate: Unicorns – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Press Out and Decorate: Unicorns 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 unicorn and rainbow ready for the review. This book is hardback, a little larger than A5 and spiral-bound. The covers are deep blue and the spine is rainbow with pink foiling on the spine and the front cover. On the inside covers are white line drawings on an orange background of some of the decorations assembled and made into mobiles and garlands. The book contains 20 different shaped decorations relating to unicorns and weather, 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 or create a mobile or garland with. The pages are made of very thick card/hardboard and are covered in pink foil throughout. The decorations are white with pink line-drawn patterns all over them which you colour within and these catch the light beautifully when you hang up your assembled decoration and it moves against the light. The decorations are printed double-sided with the same design on both sides so that you can colour it identically and have a 3D decoration at the end. The cuts around the little sections that need to be removed in order to slot the shapes together and hang them 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 decoration has small holes that you can tie some thread through (the holes are a little small for string) and you could either hang the decorations separately or together, or even create a mobile or garland with. If you don’t want to keep these decorations up all year round 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 decorations 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 decorations are in a number of different sizes and are a mixture of 3D and flat with 13 being 3D once slotted together. Once they’re all coloured, assembled, and displayed together they’ll look fabulous and you’ll have created your own unicorn-tastic room! The decorations are a variety of things from winged unicorns to shooting stars, rainbows, clouds and lightning bolts, a number of the shapes also have pictures of unicorns and rainbows on them so you’re getting plenty of unicorns throughout the book!

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 decoration that gets permanently subjected to their creative flair). These 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 that would be treasured for years to come! It would be a lovely activity to do for or with your children and once you’ve completed all of them, or just a few, you could hang them around the house or on your child’s bedroom 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 decorations 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 you chose! The intricacy and detail level is surprisingly high for a book that’s aimed at children and is higher than the previous titles in the series with a few of the pieces having really very intricate, small sections which you may struggle to colour within, however, the pink lines can either be coloured within or over, it really won’t matter either way and you’ll get some very unique unicorn decorations regardless of the way you colour them. Each decoration has unicorn or weather-themed imagery on it including winged and un-winged unicorns, rain, clouds, rainbows, suns, and flowery patterns, you could use any colour scheme you fancy and tailor it to a specific room’s colour scheme or just let loose with ALL the colours! Each decoration 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 unicorn decorations are super cute and great fun to colour and they look even better once assembled, a fully coloured set will look wonderful hung up in a room 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 fabulous decorations and fill your world with unicorns and rainbows!

If you’d like to purchase a copy it’s available to pre-order here:
Amazon UK – Press Out and Decorate: Unicorns
Book Depository Worldwide – https://www.bookdepository.com/Press-Out-and-Decorate-Unicorns-Kate-McLelland/9781788002172/?a_aid=colouringitmom

You can see my silent video flick-through of the whole book here.

The decorations below were coloured using Bic Marking Alcohol Markers.

Colourable Christmas decorations, ideal for kids and adults alike!

Press Out and Colour: Christmas Decorations – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Press Out and Colour: Christmas Decorations, 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 Christmas Decorations (so much so that I did two) ready for the review. This book is hardback, a little larger than A5 and spiral-bound. The covers are dark green and the spine is red with gold foiling on the spine and the front cover. On the inside covers are white line drawings on a red background of Christmas decorations hung on tree branches. The book contains 20 different shapes of Christmas decorations, 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 or on your Christmas tree. The pages are made of very thick card/hardboard and are covered in gold foil throughout. The decorations 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 decoration and it moves against the light. The decorations are printed double-sided with the same design on both sides so that you can colour it identically and have a 3D decoration at the end. The cuts around the little sections that need to be removed in order to slot the shapes together and hang them 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 decoration has small holes that you can tie some thread through (the holes are a little small for string) and you could either hang the decorations separately or together, or even on your Christmas tree. You may not want to keep these Christmas 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 decorations 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 decorations are in a number of different sizes and are a mixture of 3D and flat with 11 being 3D once slotted together and 9 being flat. Once they’re all coloured, assembled, and displayed together they’ll look fabulous and you’ll be all set for the arrival of Christmas and all its festivities. They are in a variety of shapes including a candy cane, Christmas pudding, nutcracker, heart, bauble, Russian dolls in three sizes, a donkey, snowflake, Christmas tree and circular.

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 decoration that gets permanently subjected to their creative flair). These Christmas 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 that would be treasured for years to come! 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 your Christmas 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 decorations 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 presents and food 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 Christmas decorations regardless of the way you colour them. Each decoration has Christmas-themed imagery on it including presents, snowflakes and festive birds so none of it needs to be coloured realistically and you could either theme them all with a Christmassy palette or just let loose with ALL the colours! Each decoration 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 Christmas decorations are super cute and great fun to colour and they look even better once assembled, a fully coloured set will look wonderful hung up in a room or adorning a Christmas 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 fabulous decorations and get into the Christmas spirit early this year!

If you’d like to purchase a copy it’s available to pre-order here:
Amazon UK – Press Out and Colour: Christmas Decorations
Book Depository Worldwide – https://www.bookdepository.com/Press-Out-and-Colour-Christmas-Decorations-Kate-McLelland/9780857639684/?a_aid=colouringitmom

You can see my silent video flick-through of the whole book here.

The decorations below were coloured using Bic Marking Alcohol Markers.

Do you love unicorns and rainbows? Then these colourable cards and envelopes are perfect for you, click through to read more and see more photos!

The Colouring Book of Cards and Envelopes: Unicorns and Rainbows – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
The Colouring Book of Cards and Envelopes: Unicorns and Rainbows are published and very kindly sent to me to review by Nosy Crow Publishing. These cards will be published on the 7th of September and are the sixth set in the series, my reviews of the previous titles can be found here: Nature, Flowers and Butterflies, Summertime, Christmas, A Year of Celebrations! This book, as with all of the others in the series, is fantastically well made and everything has been thought of, matched and produced with quality in mind. The book itself is large at 28cm square, it’s paperback with a flexible card cover with blue foiling lettering and detail. Inside the front cover are instructions detailing how to fold the envelopes for the cards. Following this are pages of colourable cards with two on each page connected by tabs on perforated pages which are very easy to remove from the book with no issues or bending and a thin strip that the perforation is attached to that you can cut off with scissors to neaten up the card edges. There are 24 cards, each with a unique design, and all 4 sides of the cards have illustrations on that you can colour including a “Coloured For You By…” section on the back, they measure 13.5cm square when folded. Following the card pages are 24 unique envelope designs that match the cards perfectly and are printed in the same order as the cards so it’s very easy to match up the paired cards and envelopes together. The envelopes have illustrations on the front, each of the four flaps, and the whole of the back of the page which makes up the inside of the envelope has a repeating design on it that can be coloured if you wish. The folding instructions are very clear and easy to follow and the pre-scored lines on the cards and envelopes allow for a perfect fold every time. On the very last page of the book are 24 circular stickers with matching designs to seal the envelopes with. One small gripe I have is that these stickers are arranged in a random order and it’s not clear which card many of them are designed for, with many being suitable for a number of cards which just irks the perfectionist in me.

The card itself is bright white, medium thickness and lightly textured. I experienced absolutely no bleeding and very minimal shadowing when using water-based pens; alcohol markers will bleed through. Pencils would be ideal for these cards if you’re wanting more subtle colours, or wanting to blend and shade. The envelopes are printed onto bright white, thick paper which I didn’t experience any bleed through of water-based pens on but did get the lightest of shadowing when I coloured too slowly and the ink saturated the paper a bit much so do please be careful if you’re wanting the inside of your envelopes to remain pristine for colouring too. There isn’t a huge amount of space for an address on a few of the envelopes but really, they’re too pretty to send as they are in the post as you risk them getting damaged so when sending them to friends and family I always pop them inside a normal envelope to keep them safe and damage-free, it also means you don’t have to stick a postage stamp over some of the design.

The designs themselves are utterly charming and absolutely adorable. This set is a great combination of unicorns and other cute creatures as well as lots of rainbows, one thing to note that has slightly bothered me is that lots of the cards contain rainbows but just one of them has the full seven strands, all of the others have up to 6, usually 4 or 5 which is a bit difficult to colour properly, especially with pens, it’s irritated me ever since I was a child that so many rainbow drawings don’t have the full 7 strands, this may well not bother others though! The illustrations include all sorts of things from lots of unicorns and rainbows to cupcakes, clouds, flowers, stars, deer, swans, cats, dogs, and even a peacock, the cards in this set feel more samey than the previous sets have and a few of them I had to look at twice to check they weren’t the same but there definitely aren’t any duplicates, just some similar ones. All aspects of the cards and envelopes are hand drawn and while some are very similarly arranged, they are all unique. The cards feel luxurious and are extremely well made, I couldn’t ask for more from a set of colouring cards, and with an RRP of just £9.99, with previous sets often being found for under £5, they’re an absolute bargain and I’m sure I’ll be purchasing set after set of these, I’m a huge unicorn fan!

In terms of mental health, I personally found these cards absolutely fantastic, they’re really distracting, and very helpful for calming you down and helping you to zone out and focus on a manageable project which you can colour in sections or larger bits when you’re feeling better. The line thickness is thin throughout and the images are mostly very intricate and detailed with a few larger spaces on animal bodies but predominantly each image consists of lots of teeny tiny elements so these cards are definitely for those of you with pretty good vision and fine motor control. The image content is really natural and has a childlike quality which adds so much charm and character to the illustrations and is sure to brighten the darkest of days and spread a little cheer, no matter how low you’re feeling. The cards take a surprisingly long time to colour so you get hours and hours of enjoyment from this book and you can really spread the colouring love by posting them coloured or even uncoloured to family and friends.

I would highly recommend these cards to anyone looking for greetings cards to colour and send, or anyone wanting to persuade their friends or family into starting colouring, these cards are so charming that the recipient surely can’t help but start colouring them if they’re sent uncoloured! You’ll need pretty good vision and fine motor control to enjoy them but if you have those then you’re sure to love these cards, because apart from the address section being a little small, they’re genuinely perfect! Unicorn lovers will adore this book, either as the recipient of a card or of the whole book, they’re fabulous!

If you’d like to purchase a set, they’re available here:
Amazon UK – The Colouring Book of Cards and Envelopes: Unicorns and Rainbows
Book Depository Worldwide – goo.gl/UZUsQv

The card and envelope below were coloured using Stabilo 88 Fineliners and Stabilo 68 Fibre-tips.

Carovne Lahodnosti (Magical Delights), practically perfect in every way, click through to see more photos and read my review of it.

Čarovné Lahodnosti (Magical Delights) – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Čarovné Lahodnosti is illustrated, self-published and kindly sent to me to review by Klara Markova. It is Czech and the title translates into English as Magical Delights and the book truly contains all manner of magical and wonderful imagery. The book itself is hardback with beautiful dusky pink covers and a darker pink cloth binding down the spine with gold foiling text, it measures 25.4 x 21.6cm so it’s the same size as most Swedish books and their translations. The spine is glue and string-bound so it’s very durable but a little tricky to get the book to lie flat and reach the central part of the images that enters the book gutter. The illustrations are all printed single-sided and all but one are single-page spreads with one double-page spread near the back of the book. The paper is cream, medium thickness and very lightly textured, it’s most similar to the paper used in Swedish colouring books, oil-based pencils struggle a bit with layering and blending due to the smoothness of the paper; water-based pens don’t bleed but do shadow, alcohol markers will bleed through so make sure you put protective pages behind your work to avoid any accidents! The images are all beautifully drawn and contain all manner of things from mice to cats, mushrooms to berries, fairies to potion bottles and lots and lots of fairy houses which are just gorgeous! Some of the illustrations contain quite heavy shading in the form of dots but don’t be put off, these are really useful for beginner colourists and very helpful for those who are more advanced as it really shows where the shading should be placed in the image. The drawings are all quite fantastical and fantasy-based and many contain what look like enchanted objects and beings, these can all be coloured in whatever palette you choose and they look amazing whether you choose monochrome, realistic or as bright as can be so you really can go to town with your colour choices. At the back of the book is a page that can be cut out and included are 3 colourable doors that you can colour, cut out and then stick onto the corresponding colouring pages to make a lift-the-flap style page, a completely new idea which is fantastic and truly beautiful, the instructions are written in Czech but it’s fairly self-explanatory so don’t worry if you don’t understand the text. On the back of each colouring page is a pair of small designs, identical on each page, and 3 dotted lines where you can write your name, date and possibly even what colouring mediums you used.

In terms of mental health, this book offers wonderful escapism and distraction, there’s loads of content in each image so there’s lots to look at and decipher as well as lots of natural stopping points for days when your concentration is poor. The line thickness is consistently variable throughout and ranges from thin to medium, mostly staying in the thin range. The intricacy and detail levels also vary within each page with most containing a range of large open spaces and much smaller details so you’ve got lots of areas to practice blending and shading if you wish. You’ll need a moderate level of vision and fine motor control to enjoy this book, none of it’s too small to contend with. Because the content is fantasy-based it means there’s no set colour scheme and you can colour everything however you wish which is ideal for those of us who feel quite restricted when colouring realistic things and feel we have to use the “correct” colours, these images might help push you out of your comfort zone and spice things up with glowing blue berries, pink butterflies and more! The illustrations are drawn beautifully and are very absorbing, they create a wonderful sense of place and truly draw you into Klara’s magical world, you may never want to leave as the houses look so cosy and inviting!

Overall, I’d highly recommend this book, it’s gorgeous, beautifully produced and filled with wonderful creatures and magical scenes. If you like Swedish books, fantasy-based imagery or all things pretty then you’ll love this book and the fact that it’s single-sided means that you can use whatever mediums you wish.

If you’d like to purchase a copy it’s available via Klara herself on her Etsy shop and her website. Occasionally it crops up on various Amazon sites for a stupidly cheap price (usually around £7 and under) please be aware that this is always a scam and not from legitimate sellers, you won’t get the book and will have to try to get your money back through Amazon. The only registered distributor is Klara herself so if it seems too good to be true, it definitely is!
Amazon UK – Čarovné Lahodnosti

Klara has recently announced that she’s nearly finished creating a second book, Tenderful Enchantments, this time it will be published in Czech and English and more information can be found here. https://www.facebook.com/klara.markova.12/posts/10209569730744522

The image below was coloured using Prismacolor Premier Colored Pencils and Sudee Stile Pencils for the blue berry.

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.