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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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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Book Review: The Goldfinch

The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Genre: Contemporary
Literary Awards: Pulitzer Prize for Fiction (2014), National Book Critics Circle Award Nominee for Fiction (2013), Goodreads Choice Nominee for Fiction (2013), Women’s Prize for Fiction Nominee (2014), Andrew Carnegie Medal for Fiction (2014), Paris Review Best of the Best (2013).
ISBN 0316239879
1240 pages
Goodreads, Books Depository

Hypes, other than being mass market tools for confusion, are double edged swords. They can easily bring the object in question to stupefying heights, and just as easily bring it six feet under due to disappointment inflicted and an overall unmet satisfaction. The Goldfinch is one of those books that appear to bask in justified hype (‘Omg, Dickensian!’), and such words aren’t thrown around lightly, right?

Theodore Decker’s life is the kind of fucked up you would say you’re sorry for but  thank your lucky stars deep in your heart that such bad luck didn’t befall on yours. Having been caught smoking in school, Theo braces himself as he and his mother make their way down to the principal’s office on an otherwise sunny, uneventful Tuesday morning. Sunny soon turns to rainy as a terrorist bomb goes off in the museum they made a special stop for, killing his mother and signifying the start of a downward spiral into despondency. On his way out of the wreckage, Theo (for whatever reason) takes with him Carel Fabritius’s masterpiece, The Goldfinch, as well as a bejeweled ring that was behest to him, both of which would serve as his lifelines later in life.

Coming of age stories can be really fun to read. We are taken on fictional journeys that mirror some of our own, and are comforted that we are not alone in our personal struggles which can seem so lonely at times. We watch as the characters grow into adults, and feel a sense of completion and satisfaction, much like how a parent would feel, whether their children turn out to be successful or not.

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Book Review: A Constellation of Vital Phenomena

 A Constellation of Vital Phenomena by Anthony Marra
Publisher: Thorndike Press
Genre: Historical fiction, Cultural, Russia
Literary Awards: National Book Award Nominee for Fiction (2013), Anisfield-Wolf Book Award for Fiction (2014), California Book Award Gold Medal for First Fiction (2013), Dayton Literary Peace Prize Nominee for Fiction (2014), Goodreads Choice Nominee for Fiction (2013), Paris Review Best of the Best (2013), Athens Prize for Literature (2014), John Leonard Prize (2013)
ISBN 1410462048
605 pages
Goodreads, Books Depository

There are some stories that are so densely imagined and beautifully crafted that they blossom from the pages they reside in, and clouding the world-after with an afterimage so strong, no amount of blinking could erase it.

A Constellation of Vital Phenomena alternates between 1994 and 2004 in a remote village of Chechenya. Nothing much ever happens here, except land mines going off, amputations, and constant fear of being the next to be disposed by the authorities. Akmed watches from the his house as Dokka has just been taken in the middle of the night, knowing that his daughter will be next. Doing the only thing a morally responsible adult will do (and for other internal conflicts of his own), Akmed brings Havaa to the one place he knows safe — the hospital, or rather, Sonja’s hospital. Events then further unfold from there as Marra shows how everyone is connected in war times, from the hospital nurse, to the informer next door.

A Constellation of Vital Phenomena is not an action-packed war novel. It drags. It showcases exactly how war feels like for its inhabitants. Days seem like years hiding from the authorities, avoiding landmines, staying alive; years seem like minutes reminiscing the happy times, chiding the mistakes one had made, wishing to go back to fix them. One thing’s for certain, war isn’t ending and peace seems like a dream you can’t really recall.

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Book Review: American Born Chinese

American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang
Publisher: Square Fish
Genre: Graphic Novel, Cultural, Chinese
Literary Awards: Michael L. Printz Award (2007), James Cook Book Award Nominee (2007), Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards for Best Graphic Album – New (2007), National Book Award Finalist for Young People’s Literature (2006)
ISBN 0312384483
233 pages
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Books Depository: click here 

When faced with a reading slump, I like to check out graphic novels. Who doesn’t?

American Born Chinese is a story of Chinese-American boy who has just transferred to a new school, and is trying to fit into her all-american ways. Jin tries to settle in quietly and almost succeeds (minus the constant bullying, because they’re just trying to be friends right?), until a new Taiwanese student joins his class. Wei Chen is the FOB down the block and Jin doesn’t want to be associated with him, until Chen shows him his new robot transformer toy, and the rest is history.

American Born Chinese doesn’t end here though, in fact Jin’s story is just a third of the book.

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Book Review: I Am Legend

I Am Legend by Richard Matheson
Publisher: Gollancz
Genre: Horror, Science-fiction, Classics
Literary Awards: Tähtivaeltaja Award (2008)
ISBN 0575079002
161 pages
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Book Depository: click here

I’m not usually a Classics person, because let’s be honest, I’m (sometimes) intimidated by them. They’re huge, hard to read, difficult to digest, and nerve wrecking to talk about because I don’t want to sound stupid if I make a ‘wrong’ interpretation (Thanks, college). Imagine the hallelujah moment when I found a tiny Classic. Plus its about ’em vamps. Part of me was excited to find out how this would fare against the Mother of all vampire novels — Dracula, and another part of me was scared by the cover art (Tell me it’s not terrifying. No, shut up.). The excited part won.

Neville is the only man left in the world. Everyone else has become a vampire, and they’re hungry for his blood. At night, he locks himself in his (safe)house as any sane survivor would do, listening to the infected scratching at the barricades he has built, shouting for him to come out. But Neville is far from being the weak, scaredy-cat last survivor who hides in a corner waiting for his death. By day, he hunts. He hunts for tomato juice, fresh steak, and the infected humans. He drives a wooden stake through their hearts, and justifies his actions. “If it’s not them, it’s me”; “It’s either I hunt, or I’m the hunted”; “If they had any human left in them, they’d have begged me to kill them off anyways”; “This is not living”.

But who’s to say what’s living and what’s not?

But wait, there’s more!

Book Review: The Supremes at Earl’s All-You-Can-Eat

The Supremes at Earl’s All-You-Can-Eat by Edward Kelsey Moore
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Genre: Historical fiction, Women’s fiction, Cultural, African American
ISBN 1444758020
407 pages
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Books Depository: click here

***Note: Even after some research, I’m still not quite sure whether The Supremes should be classified under Historical fiction or Contemporary Historical fiction, since it spans between the 1960s and the present. I’ve hereby listed it as under Historical fiction but if anyone knows which genre’s the one it should rightly belong to, do let me know. Much thanks, and read on! ***

My reading stamina is probably waning. I’ve grown tired of the constant action and running amuck from previous novels much quicker than my younger self would have. And so, I picked up a light historical fiction. What could be better than a heartwarming, poignant light read, right? Right.

For four decades, Odette, Barbara Jean, and Clarice have spent every Sunday at Earl’s diner, talking and reminiscing about things present and past, but more often than not, reading between the lines of events unspoken. Be it a cheating husband, or alcoholism, or a fatal illness, the Supremes have got each other covered. The story fleets between past and present Plainview, explaining how things have came to be and how other things such as friendship and love always occur at unexpected places and times, as if they have a mind of their own.

But wait, there’s more!