Reviews by Category
- A blend of paranormal, science fiction and love story
- A new cozy mystery series set in an candy shop in Amish country
- More than a romantic comedy, this book looks at the ups and downs of life
- A great new murder mystery series set in post World War II London, England
- A murder mystery series revolving around a group of intrepid quilters
- June 2019 (5)
- May 2019 (8)
- April 2019 (5)
- March 2019 (4)
- February 2019 (4)
- January 2019 (4)
- December 2018 (16)
- November 2018 (20)
- October 2018 (25)
- September 2018 (20)
- August 2018 (26)
- July 2018 (25)
- June 2018 (23)
- May 2018 (25)
- April 2018 (28)
- March 2018 (24)
- February 2018 (23)
- January 2018 (26)
- December 2017 (12)
- November 2017 (10)
- October 2017 (37)
- September 2017 (48)
- August 2017 (19)
- July 2017 (30)
- June 2017 (30)
- May 2017 (44)
- April 2017 (32)
- March 2017 (49)
- February 2017 (32)
- January 2017 (54)
- December 2016 (29)
- November 2016 (36)
- October 2016 (39)
- September 2016 (31)
- August 2016 (49)
- July 2016 (64)
- June 2016 (52)
- May 2016 (52)
- April 2016 (66)
- March 2016 (72)
- February 2016 (60)
- January 2016 (59)
- December 2015 (72)
- November 2015 (81)
- October 2015 (59)
- September 2015 (41)
- August 2015 (33)
- July 2015 (30)
- June 2015 (25)
- May 2015 (42)
- April 2015 (40)
- March 2015 (32)
- February 2015 (26)
Monthly Archives: May 2016
Mythical Mermaids – Fantasy Adult Coloring Book (Fantasy Coloring by Selina) (Volume 8)
By: Selina Fenech
Rating: 5 of 5
Mythical Mermaids the latest fantasy coloring book by Selina Fenech. She is one of my favorite fantasy designers and this is my first book by her that is devoted to mermaids (though she does have an earlier coloring book with a similar subject.) The designs are of primarily mermaids though there are some mermen and a man or two who has been saved from a watery grave by a beautiful mermaid. Some of the designs include more than one mermaid but most of them focus on a single beautiful female.
Once again with Ms. Fenech’s books, I’m really happy that the book contains two of each design because it gives me the opportunity to explore each in different colorways. I generally go towards light and clean looking lines in my coloring but having a second copy of each design gives me an opportunity to try different techniques and darker colors and heavier shading.
The mermaids are all gorgeous, of course. There is a hint of nudity but all of the female parts are well covered by hair and whatnot. The mermen are without shirts but that doesn’t really matter in any case. There are no children in this book and most of the poses are highly romanticized while stressing the female form of the subject.
For my first two projects, I chose to use alcohol-based markers. I have been using pencils to shade but for these two, I tried using my markers for shading as well.
I will provide a more detailed description of the physical book below but here is a quick overview of what I found:
25 x 2 Mermaid Fantasy Designs
Printed on one side of page
Paper is white, thin, slightly rough (tooth) and non-perforated
Designs do not merge into the binding and there is plenty of room to remove pages if you wish to do so.
Alcohol and water-based markers bleed through the paper (though water-based is more spotty compared to alcohol-based)
India ink pens and gel pens leave shadows on color on back of the page. Gel pens left dents on the back of the page.
Coloring Pencils work well with this paper. I was able to put down good color, layer, and blend well with both wax and oil based pencils. Hard lead left dents on the back of the page.
I recommend a blotter page below your working page to keep ink and dents from marring the page below.
The artist has placed a frame around the majority of the designs in this coloring book. There are three that do not have the lines but for the most part have finished elements on the outer edges of the design. I really appreciate when an artist includes this thoughtful touch. It makes it easier for me to complete the project with a finished look and saves me time, trouble, and especially ink.
Adult Coloring Book Vintage Series: The Masters of Fashion Illustration
By: Wendy Piersall
Rating: 5 of 5
This is an absolutely beautiful fashion coloring book. The artist pays homage to five artists from the Art Deco and Art Nouveau periods: Helen Dryden, Erte, George Wolfe Plank, Frank Leyendecker, and George Barbier. The designs in the book are hand-drawn from the original works and have been beautifully rendered for coloring.
I own a number of fashion coloring books and I must say that this one is one of my favorites both for style of the design as well as for the care with which they have been drawn. The designs all have a framing line around the edge to give you a definite end to the design. I always find that gives me a more finished and polished look to my project.
This is my second coloring book by Wendy Piersall. While the subject matter is wildly different, what is not different is the extremely high caliber of the artwork. I just can’t say enough about how much I enjoy this artist’s work. What I can say is that my sincere hope is that Ms. Piersall will make this merely a volume 1 in her fashion design coloring books. I hope to see more in fashion from her in the future.
I was so pleased that the artist included test pages at the front of the book as I usually end up with a discard page when I test my various mediums on designs themselves. I love each of the designs in this book and didn’t want to lose even one of them. The designs are detailed and in some cases have intricate and small areas to color.
This is what I found what I found while coloring in and testing this book:
30 Beautifully hand-drawn fashion designs from the Art Deco and Art Nouveau periods
Printed on one side of the page
Paper is medium weight, white, slightly rough (tooth), and non-perforated
Designs do not merge into the binding area
Plenty of room to cut pages out if you wish to remove them
Book easily opens to fairly flat position for coloring
Alcohol-based markers bleed through the page. I recommend using a blotter page below your working page with this medium to keep ink from seeping through and ruining the page below.
Water-based markers, India ink pens, and gel pens leave shadows of color on the back side of the page
Coloring pencils work extremely well with this paper. I was able to lay down color lightly as well as firmly. I was able to layer and to blend very easily with both wax and oil based pencils. Hard lead pencils did not dent the back of the page.
Beautiful 126 page Assortment of Flora Chang’s Folk Art Cat Designs printed on both sides of non-perforated paper
Posh Adult Coloring Book: Cats & Kittens for Comfort & Creativity
By: Flora Chang
Rating: 5 of 5
This is my second coloring book by Flora Chang. The first one was a variety of modern folk art while this book is single subject, cats and kittens in the same wonderful folk art style. This is one of my favorite styles in coloring books. They are fun and easy to color. Some of the designs have a lot of detail but for the most part, they are more open and don’t require any special coloring medium in order to color them.
I’ve been having a fun coloring these designs. As I like to use markers, I’ve already ordered a second book because, unfortunately, my alcohol-based markers always bleed through on not only this paper but 99% of the adult coloring books that are made. It’s a problem with this book because the designs are printed on both sides of the page and using my markers means I ruin the design on the backside of the page.
This is what I found in coloring and testing coloring medium in this book:
126 pages of hand-drawn Cat and Kitten folk art designs
Designs are printed on both sides of the page
Paper is medium weight, white, somewhat smooth, and non-perforated.
Most designs do not merge into the binding area; however,
Some designs spread across two pages and merge into the binding area
Slightly smaller than average format size with rounded corners
Opens fairly flat if you crease the spine
Alcohol-based markers bleed through the page.
Water-based markers had mixed results. My Tombow’s did not leak through when I used the brush end. My other water-based markers did not bleed through completely but you could definitely see a shadow of the color on the backside of the page.
Gel pens and India ink pens did not leak through the page.
None of my gel pens leaked through and they did not require additional drying time.
Coloring pencils worked well and put down good color, layered and blended fairly well. Hard lead pencils did not leave dents on the back of the page.
Color God’s Creation: An Adult Coloring Book for Your Soul (Color the Bible)
By: Caroline Simas
Rating: 5 of 5
This is a lovely Christian coloring book by artist Caroline Simas. The theme of the book is God’s creative power. The scripture verses remind us about the inherent goodness of what He created and our role in appreciating it and taking care of it. The verses are taken from both the Old and New Testaments but the primary focus is on the Old Testament. The original, hand-drawn designs show lovely flowers, animals, including birds and fish, the earth, and even the stars.
The artist, Caroline Simas, is known for her brand, Multiple Blessings, and her work is well known in home decor and the gift industry. Her primary work is done in watercolors, gouache, mixed media, abstract and pen and ink. Based on the thickness of the lines, the designs in this book are line drawings that appear to have been done with a mixture of both regular ink as well as markers.
The translations used in this coloring book are: Holy Bible New International Version (NIV), ESV Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version), New American Standard Bible, and the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible.
I chose my first three projects based mostly on the verses. I enjoyed coloring the designs but I really needed to think about the words and what they meant to me. It was fun to color as I meditated on the glory of creation. In a very slight way, I got a feeling of the creative spirit at the same time.
This is what I found while coloring in this book:
37 Scripture Based Creation oriented designs
Designs are printed on one side of the page
Paper is medium weight, white, smooth and perforated
Alcohol and water-based markers bleed/spot through on this paper
Gel pens and India ink pens leave shadows on the back of the page
Coloring pencils also leave a slight shadow and the the hard lead pencils dent the page of the page. I found that colored pencils went on well and layered and blended easily.
I recommend a blotter page below your working page to keep ink and/or dents from marring the page below.
This is a series of Christian coloring books that I really appreciate. The designs are all really nice but the focus is on the Scripture. I really enjoy coloring in these books and have given them as gifts as well.
56 Abstract Organic style Designs in somewhat Kaleidoscope fashion large designs printed on one side of page
Magic Scope: Coloring Book
By: Irina Vinnik
Rating: 5 of 5
I was first introduced to Irina Vinnik’s coloring book designs in Manic Botanic. I so enjoyed that coloring book, that I purchased Magic Scope without seeing a preview of what was inside. While the artwork is unmistakably Ms. Vinnik’s, it is different enough that it warrants a closer look when making a purchase decision. While I appreciate the abstract and rather organic look to the designs, the subject matter is quite different. Where Manic Botanic concentrated on animal and plant life, Magic Scope seems to be more about the flow of lines and other elements one into the other.
I find it to be a quite detailed book of designs, often with elements that are intricate and small to color. In one design that I colored, I chased a tiny thin line around the design as it wove in and out amongst all the others. I also saw this in her previous book as well and it is this type of detail work that I appreciate and enjoy. The designs in this book have more detailing and in some cases, remind me almost of grayscale coloring.
The paper used in the coloring book is standard CreateSpace paper. It is thin, white, slightly rough and non-perforated. It is not the best of papers to work with. If you have an especially juicy marker, you may find it feathering outside of the lines fairly easily. I’ve gotten used to this type of paper as a trade-off for getting to experience so many different independent artists. I’m still not thrilled with it but I have accepted it for these books and I know what I will be getting when I place my order (though hope still springs eternal that Amazon (who owns CreateSpace) will improve the paper quality.) I also find that it works better for colored pencils than for markers so a lot of my work in CreateSpace books involves pencils.
The Bicycle Coloring Book: Journey to the Edge of the World
By: Shan Jiang
Rating: 5 of 5
This is a wonderful and imaginative coloring book about the adventures of a bicycle and a cat. I’ve never seen anything quite like this before and was really impressed by the scope and detail of the book. It is like a visual story book with lots of interesting locations. There is a twist at the end that I wasn’t expecting, so be sure to look for that. The illustrations are quite fun to color but are detailed and have small and intricate spots to color.
In addition to the regular coloring pages there is a two page, two sided fold-out in the middle of the book. On the inside is the colored version of the design. On the outside is the line drawing of the same design. Other than wishing that the reverse had been done (so my colored version would be on the solid page, I think it is a fold addition to the book. Because of the switch in positions, you can never see your colored designs in whole as the colored one is presented.
There is also a really fun flip-page motion story of the cat. It is in the lower left hand corner of the backside of each page. You see the motion by flipping through the pages rapidly.
I had some fun coloring my first project in this book. I decided to try the Sargent’s 50 pencil set that I leave out for guests to use when they come to visit. I had never colored a full design with these pencils before and I was surprised at how well they worked (though the color went on extremely light and took several layers to show up the way I wanted them to.) I will certainly be using a wide range of medium with this book (as it is printed on one side of the page.) I will also switch colors on the cat and bicycle to suit my imagination on that day.
This is what I found in this book and by coloring and testing with various medium:
65 single page designs plus two foldout pages for a total of 69 pages of coloring designs
A Flip-page motion book of the cat (reverse side of the page in the corner
Designs printed on one side of the page
Paper is white, smooth, heavyweight, and non-perforated
Except for the fold-out pages, designs do not merge into the binding area and have a framing line around the outside of the design edge.
Book is quite thick and the spin must be creased in order to get it to lay somewhat flat for coloring
Alcohol-based markers bleed through this paper in a spotty fashion. I suggest a blotter page under your working page to keep ink from spotting through to the next design.
Water-based markers, India ink pens, and gel pens do not bleed through the paper. Gel pens require extra drying time.
Colored pencils had mixed results. Wax-based, oil-based, soft lead and hard lead all put down good color and layered well though Prismacolor Premier pencils needed several layers to get good solid coverage. None of the pencils I tested did a great job of blending though my best results were with Caran D’Ache Luminance wax-based pencils. It was still great but it was better. The blending issue was not of as much importance to me in this book as the details are so small, I will not be doing blending too often.
Spellbinding Images: A Grayscale Fantasy Coloring Book: Advanced Edition (Volume 2)
By: Nikki Burnette
Rating: 5 of 5
This is my third book of Nikki Burnette’s Spellbinding Grayscale coloring books though it is the first one that I have purchased at the advanced level. After working with both beginner versions of her first two books, I felt that I wanted to try the advanced version. I’m fairly new to grayscale coloring and as most of the work I have done previously involved light colored images, I was comfortable with the idea of the lighter prints in the advanced book.
What surprised me (in a good way) was the the how-to and hints at the beginning of the book were geared to the advanced prints. There were additional ways of working with markers that I was really pleased to see. I am utilizing those hints in all of my grayscale books whether the prints are lightly printed with light contrast or heavy in contrast with bold printing. Before getting buying this series of books, I only used colored pencils with grayscale. I highly recommend this book for anyone interested in learning grayscale as the tutorial is so well-written.
This is a beautiful set of 20 grayscale designs. They are the same designs as are included in the beginner version of the same volume (2) but are printed in a completely different way. They are much lighter in tone and in contrast and it makes for a much more involved coloring process. I am doing much more shading, both with markers and pencils, than I did in my first projects in the beginner books. The end result is also much lighter but with much more detail that I have added. The projects also take more time. I think the artist has rightfully named these as advanced but I think that anyone could attempt these, especially with the tutorial included in the book.
In addition to the 20 designs being printed on one side of the page, Ms. Burnette has included thumbnail color samples of each design along with two additional thumbnails in which you can test your own colors and mediums. I’ve found these thumbnails even more useful in the advanced version as I am doing samples of shading for almost every portion of the design.
The artist also has a tutorial on her website which has proved invaluable as well. If all of this wasn’t enough, she has graciously provided permission to copy her designs onto other forms of paper if your coloring medium doesn’t work well on the paper in this book. The pages in this book are medium weight and do not have the glossy look that the beginner version of the book has.
The designs are printed on one side of the non-perforated page. The designs all stop well before the binding and the book easily opens to a flat position for coloring. There is plenty of room to work if you plan to keep the pages in the book as I am doing (though I absolutely have to use a blotter page below my working page when using markers.) If you wish to remove pages, there is also room to cut the pages out.
I am really pleased with these grayscale books and plan to buy new volumes as they appear. The artist has really given a lot of thought and attention to details that make it easier for me, at least, to have a fun and successful coloring experience with her books.
Another Beautiful Beginner level Grayscale book with 20 Fantasy Designs in Dark Contrast Grayscale with how-to tips
Spellbinding Images: A Grayscale Fantasy Coloring Book: Beginner’s Edition (Volume 2)
By: Nikki Burnette
Rating: 5 of 5
This is my second volume of Nikki Burnette’s Spellbinding Grayscale coloring books at the beginner level. I am just learning how to do grayscale, having started with it just this year. Because of issues I have had with another book, Ms. Burnette’s book was recommended to me. I’m so glad I followed everyone’s advice because Ms. Burnette not only has great designs to color, she also provides many how-to tips that have challenged me to try new ways of coloring both grayscale and with my regular coloring books as well.
Before getting buying this series of books, I only used colored pencils with grayscale. Because of the suggestions in these books, I am now using water-based and alcohol-based markers and even gel pens with my grayscale not only in these books but in my other grayscale books as well. I highly recommend this book for anyone interested in learning grayscale as the tutorial is so well-written.
This is yet another beautiful set of fantasy designs. In addition to the 20 designs being printed on one side of the page, Ms. Burnette has included thumbnail color samples of each design along with two additional thumbnails in which you can test your own colors and mediums. I am definitely using the thumbnails to try out colors and find that it is extremely helpful It feels like the artist has done just about everything but color the design for me to help me with my choices and coloring methods.
The artist also has a tutorial on her website which has proved invaluable as well. If all of this wasn’t enough, she has graciously provided permission to copy her designs onto other forms of paper if your coloring medium doesn’t work well on the paper in this book. The paper is a medium weight that has what she calls a satin sheen and to me, a glossy feel to it.
The designs are printed on one side of the page. The page is non-perforated but I find it opens to a flat position very easily. The designs all stop well before the binding, so you won’t have to twist and tweak the page and book to color in it. You also have room to remove pages if you choose to do so.
I was so impressed with my first purchase of Volume 1 of this series, I knew that I would be buying future books when I found them. I now have volume 2 in both the beginner and advanced form (definitely more challenging) and will be looking forward to more grayscale books by this artist in the future.
Color the Classics: Beauty and the Beast: A Deeply Romantic Coloring Book
By: Jae-Eun Lee
Rating: 5 of 5
t the time I am writing this review, there are now three classic storybook coloring books released by Jae Eun Lee. I was less pleased by the number of simply story book pages as compared fully coloring pages in the first release Anne of Green Gables. In Alice In Wonderland and now again, in Beauty and the Beast, I appreciate that there are more coloring pages and that some of the story is inset in those pages instead of taking up a lot of the book with story. Of the 72 design pages in Beauty, only 14 are simply illustrated story book pages. Note that the book is listed as having 85 pages but that includes title pages, the foreward, and the thumbnails images at the back of the book.
To be clear, the story portrayed in this book is not the happy, feel-good version that we have seen on the big screen. This story goes back to the roots of the tale and includes some less than happy characters (for instance, Beauty’s sisters apparently plot to have the Beast devour Beauty.) While the story harkens back to the original, it is in no way complete. You may want to pick up a classic telling of the story to keep along side the coloring book for future reading and reference.
I really love the illustrations in this book as I have the two prior ones. Artist Jae Eun Lee has a beautiful ability to draw and make the scenes highly romantic. I found that the designs were open and flowing and easy to color without resorting to specialty pens to get into tiny spots.
For my first two projects in this coloring book, I chose to do first a design of Beauty with the Beast and then for the second design, I chose a lovely design of hands in lace partial gloves. I used Caran D’Ache Pablo oil-based Colored Pencils. While I found that these, as well as other oil-based pencils did not blend as well, I liked the way the pencils worked with the paper otherwise and I used them more for layering colors than for any blending. I might have used Verithins for the lacework but I am trying to keep my coloring pencils consistent within each book in this series. For fun, I will use a different brand of colored pencils for each book going forward to give each one a slightly different appearance.
Here is what I found in a brief overview:
72 pages of Designs and Story Book Illustrations
Printed on both sides of page
Pages are heavyweight, slightly smooth and non-perforated
Some Designs merge into the binding
Some Designs spread across two pages
Alcohol-based markers bleed through the page
Water-based markers do not bleed through
India ink pens do not bleed through
Gel pens do not bleed through but require extra drying time
Coloring pencils did well in laying down good color with this paper. I was able to use them with a light touch as well as with multiple layers for a more solid appearance. Colors also layered well over other colors. Wax-based pencils did better at blending than did oil-based colors but both were acceptable for my use. Hard lead pencils did not did through the back of the book.
Drawn to the Sea: A Colouring Book of Sea Forms
By: Sabrina Impieri
Rating: 4 of 5
Drawn to the Sea is my first coloring book by Sabrina Impieri. She has a lovely free-flowing design style that suits sea forms. The designs in this book are line drawings of sea creatures and plant life. I find them open and easy to color without an extreme amount of detail or tiny spots to color.
The designs were fairly free-form rather than realistic. I like to see an artist’s interpretation, so this is something I do appreciate. There were a number of designs that used circles or bubbles. There seemed to be three types of use for these: 1) as part of the design (as with my project, I used them to show water without having to color the entire background), 2) some use as a form of pointillism to give the shape of another object, and 3) decorative and without as much meaning. In the first two uses, I would showcase the circles. In the last one, I would try to blend them in rather than bring attention to them if they were too distracting.
In my first project, I used Tombow water-based brush markers to color a crab in the ocean. I really liked the way the designs looked with watercolor and it allowed me to layer colors and blend them to get the effect that I was looking for.
This is what I found in coloring and testing this book:
51 Hand-drawn artistically interpreted Sea Form Designs
Printed on one side of the page
Paper is typical CreateSpace paper thin, white, slightly rough and non-perforated.
Designs do not merge into the binding area
Alcohol and water-based markers bleed through the page (I suggest you use a blotter page under your work.)
Gel pens and India ink leave colorful shadows on the back of the page.
Coloring pencils work well with this paper both oil and wax based pencils lay down good color, layer and blend well. Hard pencils dent the back of the page.
While I could wish for thicker, perforated paper, it appears that this is the quality that comes from CreateSpace (which is an Amazon company.) What I really like about the CreateSpace is it is a way that independent artists can get their work self-published. That way, I get a huge choice of design styles albeit with not the best paper.
I was provided a free copy of this coloring book for test and review purposes.