Book Review: Adult Colouring Books by Daria Song & Johanna Basford 

IMG_0500_Fotor2015 has seen the rise and surge in demand for adult colouring books. Fun, stress busting, and did I say fun?  If you’ve started on these, you know you won’t be stopping anytime soon.

As much as the joy of these books lie in your colouring them in and bring them to life, the huge array of adult colouring books in the market warrants some (very painstaking) decision making (re. I WANT THEM ALL! and TAKE MA MONEY!). Sadly, after much trial and error, I humbly feel that it’s really best (for my wallet) to purchase those that really fit with one’s idea of relaxation in order to maximise the fun (and stress relief). I’ve personally bought a few (with also another few on their way *shifty eyes*) to try out and I’ve found that I love to colour in moderately spaced/drawn pictures. Intricately drawn illustrations whilst beautiful to look at, actually cause me stress rather than relieve it. At the same time, pictures that are too sparsely drawn (i.e. lack of details) are not my cup of tea either. What do you mean I’d have to fill them in with my lack of creativity?! I’m a difficult customer to please. Also, I much prefer animals, inanimate objects and landscapes, rather than architectures or portraits of cities (i.e. Fantastic Cities, you beautiful, beautiful piece of art). Hence, do keep in mind the kind of pictures you yourself would be more inclined to colour in before purchase! Or just blow your money like I did, that’s cool too.

Now onto the review! In order to enable accurate representations and hence review of the illustrations, the photos of each drawings are unfiltered. A separate post will be made for the medium I use to colour (:

The Secret Garden by Johanna Basford 26248204

Goodreads, Book Depository 

What: Illustrations of insects, flowers, gardens and more insects.

Intricateness: 4/5. Probably only usurped by Animorphia and Fantastic Cities in terms of Intricateness. Can be very tedious to colour (look at those minute sized leaves!), but still very beautiful to look at.

Paper: Thick, lightly yellow coloured pages. I personally don’t like the colour of the paper since it can tone down the intensity of the colour pencils. As such, the paper is a little more difficult to work with student grade colour pencils.

Suggested medium: I used colour pencils and markers for this and the latter did not seep through the page. The paper is quite thick hence, watercolours shouldn’t be a problem but if you’re concerned, you can put a piece of thick paper behind the page you’re colouring in to reduce/prevent colour transfer.

Rating: 3/5

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Fantasy Recommendations

I’ve always admired those booktubers/bloggers that had a ton of books to recommend every month regardless of genre. Romance? No problem. Fantasy? No biggie. Non-fiction? Bring it on. Not only were they voracious readers, but they are also willing to try out enough books from various genres to have a shortlisted pool of books that they could deem as love-its or hate-its.

Now I know for sure I’m not as well read as them, but I’m gonna work on it (hurry up, reading speed!). In the meantime, I’m presenting to you my list of fantasy recommendations because god knows this is one of my most read genres (apart from crime and sci-fi). Let the rambling begin.

1381The Odyssey by Homer

Goodreads, Book Depository

Probably one of the first, if not the first, fantasy books I have ever read. My chancing upon The Odyssey was quite… peculiar. I remember stumbling upon a brightly illustrated book that was shaped and decorated like a box. You guessed it, it was Pandora’s Box. And like Pandora, I was curious and dived into the world of greek mythology with child-like wonder and probably reverence (’em greek gods seemed so… godly to a child who didn’t knew any better). That book lead me to discover the rest of the greek mythology books by that author (the trademark was box shaped books) and eventually, Homer’s Odyssey.

All these might not sound very “peculiar” to you, but the thing is that I’d never found that book again after I returned it to the library. Nor the other books in the series. Fast forward 10 odd years later and even with the aid of goodreads, I still couldn’t find it. Strange isn’t it?

33The Lord of The Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien

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The father of modern fantasy. The magic and genius of Tolkien was that he was able to extract elements and characters that commonly existed in folklore and legends, each with an already preconceived idea of who and what they are, and gave them new and distinct personalities and characteristics that morphed into our modern definition of folklore. Plus the invention of a totally new language. The man’s a legend I tell ya. Must read for all those who haven’t.

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10 Books I want to read in 2016

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2015 has come and gone, and it’s already the second week of January 2016! Can you believe it? Time just seems to pass by faster and faster with age, no?

You know, I was never one to make resolutions with each passing year. It just seemed so corny to me (and lame too). I mean, why plan for each year when you can plan for each day? But that was the younger self, the one with all the time in the world and freedom to explore her choices. Now that I’m older, its hard to keep track of my personal goals if I don’t write them down somewhere to remind me (age is catching up, that’s for sure). Somewhere that’s not a post-it note slapped onto my desktop, that is.

For 2016, I want to read more diversely in that I want to try different genres, some of which I might have been too scared to give it a shot in 2015. In a sense, I want to step even further away from my reading comfort zones. I want to give a book another chance (another 50 pages more) before I slam it down and say it’s not for me.

I also want to read harder, in that I might be reading more philosophy, socio-critics, and others that were meant for the academic curriculum but sadly didn’t make it into mine. To be honest, I’ve always been afraid to do this because now that I’ve graduated from college, I don’t exactly have the privilege of discussing a text I don’t understand with my classmates and professors (that’s a part of college I’ll always miss). What if I misunderstand a text and nobody corrects me? What if I don’t even understand a portion of the book and there’s nobody to enlighten me? Still, I’m going to give harder texts a try, and we’ll see how it goes from there (crossfingers that I won’t give up too quickly).

So onto the 10 books I want to read in 2016. They’re a mixture of literary fiction, older books, and maybe some popular fiction that I’ve always wanted to check out but didn’t. I see these books as a priority for me to get to in 2016, thought they are not an urgent priority. I believe I will get to them soon, and even if I don’t by the end of 2016, it will be interesting to see how many I’ve (remembered to) read.

As usual, links, short synopses, and my own commentary will be included so onwards and away!

184419The Man Who Was Thurday: A Nightmare by G.K. Chesterton, Jonathan Lethem

Goodreads, Book Depository

 

G.K. Chesterton's 1908 masterpiece, The Man Who Was Thursday, is a metaphysical thriller, and a detective story filled with poetry and politics. Gabriel Syme is a poet and a police detective. Lucian Gregory is a poet and a bomb-throwing anarchist. Syme infiltrates a secret meeting of anarchists and becomes 'Thursday', one of the seven members of the Central Anarchist Council. He soon learns, however, that he is not the only one in disguise, and the nightmare begins…

Recently I had a dream of hiding from my doppelgänger. It started out with me climbing up a huge stacks of books that were stored in a library/safe house of sorts and it was then that I saw someone looking at his/her doppelgänger. God knows why, but I realised then that mine was following me and coming up soon, which resulted in a nightmare of hide and seek.

It could be that this sparked my interest in The Man Who Was Thursday, though I’m not entirely sure if it contains any doppelgängers. Either way I hope to not get any more of such weird dreams any time soon.

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Favorite Books of 2015

I’M BACK!

.

.

Not yet, not really, but I’m trying to ease myself slowly back into the process of reading for leisure.

So, 2015 has been a really, really turbulent year for me. Health issues, inconducive environments, daily tension, but I’m glad that all these troubles have made me more emphatic, more brave to pursue what I want, and to say no to things I do not enjoy and do not like. I’m also thankful to the friends who have stood by me and also, my family (even though times weren’t always sunshine and rainbows). All these of course, is not possible without God’s love and grace, and everyday that I’m alive, I thank Him.

Now, onto the gist of the post. The books that I’ve read this year were an assortment of genres, but those that I really enjoyed were centered around families (dysfunctional or loving), and a strong support group of friends. Probably because I was going through a really difficult phase of my life, i felt that these genres gave me comfort and reassurance when no one else could, and for those reasons, they made it into my favorites list. For a complete list of what I’ve read in 2015, (41 books!!) click here. 

In no particular order:

Stitches by David Small

6407014A grotesquely beautiful graphic novel about silence and the impact miscommunication can have on a family.This book has the rare ability to speak to you without words. Small utilises the picture medium so well that panels come alive even without speech, and unloving stares from behind clouded spectacles feel as if they’re cast upon you, not Small. Anyone can enjoy this book, and undoubtedly a masterpiece in the graphic novel genre.

Displacement: A Travelogue by Lucy Knisley

Goodreads, Book Depository

22488052A lovely memoir about aging and the impact it has on not only the people around them, but also the psyche and mental burden it can pose on the aging. Knisley’s neat, colorful style juxtaposes the heavy and much avoided topic of aging (its costs, healthcare providers, the role of a filial/dutiful child, generation gaps, etc) really marvelously and sets one thinking about their own role in the family. Are you a good child? Are you loving towards your elders who might seem like burdens, but used to take care of you when you were young (and burdensome)? Food for thought without slipping into the detestable abyss of preaching.

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The Big Slump

I’m caught in a slump.

Well, it’s kind of a wave more than a slump, really. It hits you like a sudden wave of sleepiness you know you can’t fight but to let it run its course. These situations are often always recognized as problems with many posing their 5/10/however-many step solutions to rid the unfortunate of such predicaments.

I enjoy reading, and it is easy to make it into a chore with the silent, background pressure of a blog or mediums that catalogues and shares your reading experience. And I don’t want that. I wouldn’t want to chug through a book just for the sake of it, make a review of it just for the sake of reviewing without knowing whether or not I like the book and gave a solid, accurate account of that fact, or really disliked it due to my skimming of its contents due to the slump, which is unfair and avoidable.

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Book Haul #3: MPH Booksale 2015 (September)

AlqDR1muBpCiq1Rx5SIYFKfzKPpvGkUMW80HLOfXCSsZWhaddaya know, a backdated book haul. Who knows that life had (or has) me caught up in its busy trenches?

As usual, back synopsis + short commentary + online links will be available, so here we go.

From left to right, top to bottom:

Half A King (Shattered Sea Book, #1) by Joe Abercrombie

Goodreads, Books Depository

Betrayed by his family and left for dead, Prince Yarvi, reluctant heir to a divided kingdom, has vowed to reclaim a throne he never wanted.

But first he must survive cruelty, chains and the bitter waters of the Shattered Sea itself - all with only one good hand. Born a weakling in the eyes of a hard, cold world, he cannot grip a shield or swing an axe, so has sharpened his mind to a deadly edge.

Gathering a strange fellowship of the outcast, he finds they can help him more than any noble could. Even so, Yarvi's path may end as it began - in twists, traps and tragedy...

From what I heard, Half A King’s protagonist is not your typical heir to the throne and he may or may not be physically disabled. Novelty is king and novelty here means have-not-yet-encountered-before.

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Book Review: Stitches

Stitches by David Small
Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company
Genre: Graphic Novel, Memoir
Literary Awards: Pennsylvania Young Readers’ Choice Award Nominee (2011),Michigan Notable Book (2010), ALA Alex Award (2010), National Book Award Finalist for Young People’s Literature (2009),Goodreads Choice Award Nominee for Nonfiction & Graphic Novel (2009)
ISBN 0393068579
329 pages
Goodreads, Books Depository

Certain tragedies accompany you as would a favorite toy. Memories that were supposed to be sweet and endearing contort to become garbled versions of nightmares you desperately want to forget. These images entrench themselves deeply into the recesses of your mind, haunting and chiding you for every step. Some of us are lucky enough to have few of such monsters, others are cursed to live with them for the rest of their lives.

Your voice is not meant for talking about issues. Your hands are. Open your mouth only when you really need to, and that’s during happier times or when to shout at your children. Vent your anger at the children who bear no fault over your adult choices and never express a single word of affirmation for them. Let them know that you view life as nothing but a bleak landscape, and their existence adds no color to your already dreary life.

Repress your feelings. Everyone in David’s family does it. Nobody talks about things that sadden, confuse, or anger them. Not even when one of the children has cancer that was a result of a father’s experimental x-ray treatments. Truth, like a sacred artifact meant for the Louvre, is placed behind layers of tempered glass, awaiting the day to never be unearthed. That, coupled with first hand experiences of insanity and a mother’s secret double life, makes up David’s childhood.

The pain and mental anguish in Stitches makes any sane person want to draw a hole and bury themselves in it, yet never has a graphic novel utilized the comic medium so well.

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