Monday, April 4, 2016

A Colouring Book of Hours: Castle by Marcia Overstrand and Angie Sage, 2015

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Come and explore Marcia's Castle in this beautifully produced colouring book from Septimus Press.
Hardback bound, no bigger than an iPad, and with a velvety matt surface, you can take A Colouring Book of Hours: Castle with you wherever you go. It will become your own private world that you dip into and develop for an afternoon, or whenever you want a few moments' peace.
In a series of exquisitely drawn vistas and vignettes, the book takes you through a day in the Castle, from first light and the dawn chorus, to a refreshing sleep in the second-best bed.

I'd heard so much about the adult coloring book craze (and my sister has, like, three of them) that I decided I just had to try one out for myself. When I saw that the author of Septimus Heap, one of my all-time favorite authors, was starting a publishing company and releasig a Septimus Heap coloring book she'd illustrated herself, I knew that I just had to have it. I sent a pleading email to the publisher, got a very nice email back from Angie Sage herself (I squealed so loudly when it showed up in my inbox!), and - about week later - got a beautiful international package sent all the way from England to my doorstep. When I pulled out the signed Fyre bookplate and saw that the book was autographed, I just about fainted. Angie Sage is amazing.

But what about the coloring book itself? Well, let me tell you, I totally get this whole coloring book craze now. It's just so relaxing! The pictures in the coloring book are really cool - though so detailed it's a little hard to color them in when you only have like five colors, I will admit - and once you finish one it's really breathtaking to sit back and take the full effect in. In the picture on the right you can see my finished version of "The Dawn Singers." The curtains are my favorite, because the pattern is just so cute! I can't really show you in the photo, but when I tilt the book different ways the light hitting it makes the entire picture shimmer. I'm not sure how that happens, but it's really pretty.

To be perfectly honest, most of these pictures are a little too complex for me. I haven't developed an eye for putting together a picture, so I just color specific portions of the picture and then back up, look at it, and pick another portion to color, so sometimes it kind of clashes a little bit. Flipping through the book I'm pretty daunted by how complicated some of the pictures are - and, to be honest, slightly put off by one or two of them because they shatter the image I had in my head about how certain parts of the Castle look. Coming from the girl who spent literally five years pronouncing Marcia "Marsha," though, that probably doesn't carry much weight.

For you coloring aficionados, I'm not really sure what information is useful in deciding what coloring books to get. Besides the pictures, you're also focused on paper quality, right? Well, the quality of this paper is really good. It's nice and thick, so none of my markers bleed. There's a page in the back specifically meant for testing your pens, too, so you can double-check before actually beginning to use a utensil in the book. The spine lays really flat, too, so you can just set the book down open to the right page and it won't flop closed. I remember in my far-off little-kid coloring book days that books not laying flat was a major annoyance.

I haven't really been able color anything for a few months, because I had wrist surgery on my dominant hand, but now I'm actually supposed to be building up my writing stamina I'm looking forward to jumping back into coloring. I was stopped in the middle of my second full picture (you can see my progress in the photo on the left), so I'm going to finish it and move on to some of the others. My goal is to get through all of the pictures, preferably in time for the next book in the "Colouring Book of Hours" series.

If you're as big a fan of the Septimus Heap universe as I am, you'll probably also be interested to learn more about Septimus Press. Here's the link to their website, where you can check it out for yourself. The only book they've published so far is this Castle coloring book, but they have more of these coloring books coming down the pipeline as well as some Septimus Heap novellas (squeal!) and some other non-Septimus Heap-related projects. They also have a YouTube channel here, which has videos of someone (I think Angie Sage?) coloring in different pictures with various coloring utensils - colored pencils, watercolors, markers, etc. It's really impressive and pretty intimidating to watch her just sit down and casually draw these beautiful pictures, so I haven't watched all of them, but if you want a better idea of what the coloring book is like you can check the videos out and decide for yourself whether it's what you want. Let me know if you do decide to get it, and definitely send me photos of the pictures you color!

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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