Sunday, September 27, 2015

The Time Garden - Adult Coloring Book

Another blogger I respect and follow (Paperback Writer), recently mentioned Blogging for Books.  My thought was 'free books' and 'blog about them'...this is a win-win situation.  So for my first book I selected an adult coloring book.

First off, I have to say coloring as an adult is far from new for me.  I spent the early 70's in my bedroom, going through scores of flair pens, coloring away on the huge art posters to color.  Back then there was no teenage angst, you dealt - quietly.  After 9/11, I would often bring coloring books from the dollar store into work.  I was ahead of the curve and knew about zentangling before it became the thing to do. So the whole craze these days about color books for adults - old hat.

I requested The Time Garden by Daria Song as my first book.  Before I get to my review, let me tell you about the journey the book arrival took.  Apparently it is suppose to arrive sooner than I was thinking it should.  And I get this email about how they thought it had been sent out, but there was actually a backlog at the warehouse and it didn't get sent out on time.  So they sent me a second book as an apology.  Also a coloring book - completely different from The Time Garden.


About this book.  I LOVE IT!

First off, it seems almost a sacrilege to color in it.  The illustrations are delightful and there is a story behind the pictures.  The cover, which is also an illustration in the book, is embossed with metallic paint on the leaves.  Everyone I have shown the book to before I started coloring in is were all 'ah's' over it.

Daria Song is Korean and the pictures are delicate and detailed.  This is not a book for your crayons.  You could use crayons, but I think they would be too 'bulky' feeling for this book. I was a little worried about possible bleed-through on the pages even though the paper has a good feel to it.  I decided to try different coloring implements on the pages.

When I got out my markers, watercolors and colored pencils it drew an assistant like flies to sweets.  The story behind the drawings is a little girl, who couldn't sleep, getting drawn into a magical cuckoo clock which transports her to this garden.  Very simple story, detailed drawings.

There is NO way these little hands are touching this book.  In fact, I am even pouting a bit about letting my 22 year old daughter color in it and she's an artist.

One page caught my attention immediately.  It's a picture of blossoms and I knew I wanted to try a watercolor wash on it.

I was a little hesitant because I didn't know how the paper would react with the water.  I did very well.

The pink and green wasn't enough for me, so I had to add sky to the page.

I am pleased with how the paper held up to the watercolors.  No bleeding on the top or bleed through on the back.  Little, if any, wrinkling of the paper due to water.

This page I tried out flair pens, colored pencils and Stadler markers.  All worked well and didn't show on the other side.

Overall, I have to give the book a major thumbs up.  Not only is the story and drawings fantastic without any additional coloring, but the quality of the paper makes it a joy to use.  This book is one which would make a great gift to someone special.

Note:  I received the book from Blogging for Books in exchange for a fair and true review.  All opinions I have given above are mine.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

The Secret Rooms: A True Story of a Haunted Castle, a Plotting Duchess, and a Family Secret

I am a fan of Downton Abbey.  It's great fun to see how the 'other half' lives, or did live, in the early 1900's.  I am also a fan of family letters, documents and journals.  So when I came across this book by Catherine Bailey, The Secret Rooms: A True Story of a Haunted Castle, a Plotting Duchess and a Family Secret, I had to snatch it up.  Actually, I listened to it as a audio book on my walks.

Bailey had traveled to Belvoir Castle (pronounced Beaver in the audio book) to do research on soldiers in the early days of World War I.  The Dukes of Rutland, who owned the castle, had for centuries, collected and preserved thousands of letters and documents over the centuries.  Well cataloged and filed, she felt this would be a great source of material as to how soldiers felt about the war and how they fared.  But entering Belvoir Castle, she entered a mystery.

The Ninth Duke of Rutland, who had been alive during WWI, died in 1940, in rooms in the castle which were cold, dark and in the servants quarters.  His son had the rooms sealed for decades.  In starting her research, Bailey found three periods in the Duke's life where all correspondence and documents had been eliminated.  But why? Though painstaking research across England, Bailey pieces together a life which was based on fabrications and lies.  And offers a glimpse into a life of privilege we can only marvel at.

With a very manipulative mother, the death of an older brother, and the backdrop of World War I, this was a fascinating listen.  Rank does have privilege and The Duchess of Rutland was not afraid to use her influence and connections to their fullest.  

Bailey fills in the gaps missing from the papers of the Rutland's and shows a look at a family whose outward face painted a very different picture than the inner workings of the Rutland Dukedom.

What fascinated me was the fact these letters, telegrams and correspondence were actually saved to the extent they were.  Most of us would read a letter and trash it, but everything was saved.  And the value of journals, faithfully kept by the Ninth Duke, in piecing together this mystery was priceless.  While I journal, I don't think I am covering up any great secrets.

The narrator of the audio book was male, which threw me a bit since the author is female.  I think I would have preferred a feminine voice reading the book since it was written by a female.  The Secret Rooms, is a modern day, real-life mystery definitely worth the time reading or listening to.  

Friday, September 4, 2015

Bug In A Vacuum - Melanie Watt

Much to my surprise a couple of days ago, the nice UPS man dropped off a package with my name on it.  Inside was a book I had not realized I had 'won' off the Goodreads giveaway page.  Opening the package, I was delighted to see a picture book for Lady K.

And Lady K was equally excited to get her hands on it.  By Melanie Watt, Bug in a Vacuum, is the story of a bug which, in his travels, flies into a vacuum cleaner.  The results is his experiences in trying to get out of the vacuum cleaner.

First, let me say, the illustrations are lovely.  The bug is a generic fly-like bug with big, beautiful eyes.  The dog, which features in the story, also has great eyes.  And since I love the color green, the tones in the book are very soothing and right up my alley.  (And it's sad, I remember those old vacuum cleaners.)

I was enjoying the pictures and the story until I got to "Stage One" in the story and then I was puzzled.  It seems, and I didn't realize it until an adult explained it to me, was the story is about the five stages of grief.  Okay....

While a young child would probably like the pictures and looking at the bug trying to get out of the vacuum cleaner, this is a book which would need to be read by an adult to the child and the issues discussed.  I am not sure exactly how I feel about the book, so I am turning it over to our children's librarian for her thoughts on the book.  She is familiar with Melanie Watt and her Scaredy Squirrel series and interested in seeing her latest book.

It's sad when a children's book is over my head!