Thursday, 9 June 2022

Review: Tails: The Animal Investigators of London by Martin Penny (Children's, 9 years +, 10/10E)

 March 2022, Eyewear Publishing, Hardback, 250 pages, Review copy 

Book summary from Blackspring Press

Yowl is a very special tabby kitten owned by 6-year-old Lucy. Sitting on her lap through endless children’s books, he learns to read. From the local paper, he discovers there’s a criminal on the loose in Croydon targeting cats. TV news reports confirm over seventy incidents.

With the help of his feline neighbours, he enlists the support of Big Red, the leader of the foxes, to hunt down the killer. Secret, a squirrel who’s afraid of heights, will play a crucial role, but it’s Hoot the owl whose help they need most. An eye in the sky will prove essential in identifying the culprit. Yowl will be forced to risk his life to earn his assistance.

Just as they’re making progress, the police close the case. They point the finger firmly in the direction of the foxes. In response, Big Red steps up their involvement. Together, they identify the killer, but what can they do to stop him?

Nayu's thoughts

 Having an animal mystery told from the perspective of a clever cat is a brilliant way to tell a tale and make it seem interesting. For starters Yowl is extremely clever - he does not know everything but that is what his friends are for. They aren't just cats and he has to make alliances with animals who would normally be trying to hunt the other, which in itself makes the story that bit more exciting. Yowl lacks some life experience but he makes up for that in charisma and a great sense of adventure. He does not want harm to come to cats, including himself, and he is in a good position to find the criminal and bring them to justice. 

There is a fair amount of humour in the interaction of Yowl and his friends, and bucketloads of danger when they deal with the criminal, and when unexpected problems occurs. The way that the team solve the case and make it obvious to the humans that the criminal is the culprit made it a book I couldn't put down and had to read in one sitting. I am really interested in seeing what Yowl's next adventure is, he has such a big presence in the book, a kind and caring cat with big plans to save his fellow animals from harm. Yes he gets in over his head and tail at times, but his confidence is what helps bring the case to a close. His relationship with his owner Lucy is charming and realistic.

Suggested read

If you like animal themed reads check out Ship Rats: A Tale of Heroism on the High Seas by Rhian Waller (Chidren's, 9 years +, 10/10E)


Sunday, 3 April 2022

Over On Nayu's Crochet Dreams #65 Ramadan 2022


Find out which anime I'm currently watching too!

 Check out what I'm up to this year from Ramadan on Nayu's Crochet Dreams

Saturday, 12 March 2022

Zero Water 12 Cup Water Jug Vs Brita Maxtra Plus Water Jug

My Brita Maxtra + vs ZeroWater 12cup


Recently I had the opportunity to review a Zero Water water filter jug. I am happily a Brita water filter jug user: while my water does taste ok, I am in a hard water area with a lot of calcium which is not good for my guinea pigs, so I use a Brita Maxtra Plus jug filter. It took an age to figure out a jug that would fit in my fridge because I need it to be lightweight as I have weak hands and I like cold water (I let it warm on the counter before giving to my piggies and birds).Despite loving Brita I have been intrigued by Zero Water systems. Zero Water focuses on removing particles in the water. So when the chance came to review a Zero Water jug I took it! Will I change from Brita to Zero Water? Let's take a look, but first here is some info taken from the email by Marc Parker who compiled the info about the benefits of filtered water (he is the one who offered the jug for review). 

TDS meter was elsewhere but is included for free

ZeroWater reduces 99.6% of all total dissolved solids in your drinking water. It delivers the purest tasting water in minutes. ZeroWater removes much more from tap water than other leading filter brands in the UK. ZeroWater removes 97% of lead, 96% of mercury, 95% of chlorine, and even 97% of asbestos which is often displaced from old and aging water pipes. ZeroWater removes almost twice as much from tap water than other leading brands.


ZeroWater gets better results due to a 5-stage filter, most filters only have 2-stage. ZeroWater patented technology ensures that you can save money on buying bottled water and ensure your tap water is pure. The 12-Cup ZeroWater comes with a free TDS Reader (Total Dissolved Solids). Some areas of the UK have readings of more than 300. When water is filtered through the ZeroWater filter it will score 0, Meaning you can enjoy great-tasting pure water at home.


As you can see ZeroWater has a lot going for it. The UK site has 11 types of jugs available, from small to large, plus filters and a filter subscription service which can save up to 15%, although is probably more for those who use their ZeroWater jug a lot.


The ZeroWater 12 cup Jug
I received this beautiful and extremely large 12 cup ZeroWater jug. 


I love that it has a tap on one side, which has to be pushed in to use and does not drip. 

This is useful as this particular jug is too heavy for me even with just a small amount of water in. 

Preparing the ZeroWater jug for use

Time to get into the water filter itself! Unlike Brita water filters which require several filling and emptyings of the water to get the filter system working, ZeroWater does not need all that. The filter top is taken off. 

Filter with the top on

Then it is screwed into place in the jug filter - the instructions note to not drop it in from the top but screw in from the bottom of the filter part otherwise it won't create a proper seal.

It is easy to see how it screws in

  I simply put some water in and was ready to go! I did a quick taste test and honestly the water tasted fine. So in that respects I prefer ZeroWater to Brita.

TDS (Total Dissolved Solids) Tests



Next I used the TDS tester to check water levels for all 3 types of water. First was my normal tap water. 


The reading was 266 which I expected it to be high. Let's see how the Brita filter that is a good 2 weeks into using the current filter is. 

Brita read 066 which is a massive reduction and I was really happy about. Finally time for the ZeroWater reading! 

And I got 012! The instruction say to get zero make sure the cup is really clean: my cups are clean but the tester probably had remains of the previous two waters and honestly even 012 is really good if not quite zero. 

The Verdict

Getting rid of various elements in water does sound like a good idea as who knows what is in our tap water. ZeroWater does remove the most solids for sure, and does have smaller jugs which would be easier for me to use. However, while I did not do an exact calculation on filter costs, the ZeroWater filters are significantly more expensive than Brita water filters. I do not know exactly how long a ZeroWater filter will last - I would need to keep testing the water over time until it stopped filtering as well. Even if it lasted 1 or 2 months, it still is expensive to replace compared to Brita (which while I have name brand filters for now I will be switching to even cheaper off brand filters). 


If price of the filters isn't an issue then yes I absolutely would switch to ZeroWater. But as someone who can't work due to health issues money is less than for most people and I will happily stick with my Brita. I will either use ZeroWater for my animals or I will give the jug to my family to try to see if they like it. I am thankful that I received a sample of ZeroWater to try for review and happily will recommend it to family and friends if they want to get a water filter. 

Find  out more about ZeroWater filter systems on ZeroWaterUK

Tuesday, 22 February 2022

Balance by Inghild Okland (Fantasy, Romance, 9/10E)

Totally gorgeous cover!

 5th February 2022, Dragonsong Publishing, 316 pages, Paperback & Ebook, Review copy 


A runaway princess. Time-twisting magic. What she doesn’t want? A knight to the rescue.

As Vildi, the less important princess of Rimdalir, my duty is to marry, and marry well. To the glacial chasms of hell with that!

I want adventure. A nice, suitor-free yet fairy-tale adventure. I can even endure rants about a tragic prince, if it brings me honey cake. Throw in a few mysteries, a sprinkle of old magic, and I’m happy.

That's what I thought.

Yet upon arriving in Lakari, Land of the Sun, I wander through familiar streets. I recognize the people, the taverns, even the black cat strolling as royalty through the market square. In this new land, no one was supposed to know my name, and yet I'm hunted.

Already they have killed me many, many times. And so I start over.

When a stranger finds me in the desert night, will he be my savior, or my undoing?

Nayu's thoughts  

Full disclosure, I recieved a copy in exchange for a fair review as always, but additionally I am friends with Inghild so there is a bit more bias than normal. That said Balance is an awesome tale! From the beautiful cover to the beautiful story, Vildi's adventure is super fun to read. So why doesn't it get full marks?

This is probably unique to me but I detest groundhog day style films/books where the same thing happens over and over only slightly differently. Possibly because I once had a groundhog day dream, and yes I have seen the film too. I really hate it. It was a bit hard having to read the mechanic in what is a fun read, however it does work as a plot mechanic and is cleverly done. I was extremely glad when Vildi's do-overs became less frequent due to circumstances. 

Personally Vildi does not know how good her life is. She is trying to rebel against it. I can see why she may not want to get married but running away from her duty...let's just say I wanted her life ever so much, so mid to late book I was very happy with how events turned out. I understand she is a free spirit and wants to do what she wants which is why she ran away, but I did question her sense of duty to her people. Few people get to be in positions of power. I get that she didn't choose who she is, but she still has a duty to her family and her people. At times it was hard to truly get into Vildi's shoes. I didn't like all her choices but I respected her for needing to make them. Dying all the time was a horrendous occasion, more so as she told no one. She kept it to herself, and due to what was happening as time passed she chose to be true to herself in how she acted by trying to stay alive, which is a lot harder than it sounds when people were so keen on killing her. 

Both world building and characters are memorable and felt like a foreign land I wanted to be in. Well maybe not starving to death in a desert which nearly ended up being Vildi's fate. I loved learning about her family, and being able to meet some of them later in the book was a real treat. The sandstorm experience felt so very real that I wonder if Inghild has experienced one first hand. I loved learning the different customs that Vildi both has and encounters, there is a spiritual sense too which resonates with me even though it is fictional. 

As you can see from the cover Balance is the first book in the series - there are going to be more which is awesome! I want to know more about Vildi and her family and friends. Yes she does make a new friend eventually! Lakari is not all doom and gloom for her, even if she feels like it is. She tries to resist her fate but some things can't be changed and they turn out to be not all bad.

Be sure to follow Inghild on Twitter to keep up with the latest news on her books!

Suggested read

If you like the sound of fantasy and danger combined then try out some of Maria V Snyder's books, like Night Study by Maria V Snyder (Fantasy, 10/10E, Short 'n' sweet review)