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Blog Tour Review - Service Model by Adrian Tchaikovsky

Blog Tour Review - Service Model by Adrian Tchaikovsky To fix the world they first must break it further. Humanity is a dying breed, utterly reliant on artificial labor and service. When a domesticated robot gets a nasty little idea downloaded into their core programming, they murder their owner. The robot then discovers they can also do something else they never did before: run away. After fleeing the household, they enter a wider world they never knew existed, where the age-old hierarchy of humans at the top is disintegrating, and a robot ecosystem devoted to human wellbeing is finding a new purpose. There is so much to love in Service Model, but one of the things I most love about it is the peculiar blend of charming innocence and insightful cynicism. Uncharles the domestic robot is such a simple soul (though he would state that he has no soul and this is an inaccurate description). He approaches the end of the world with optimism and hope, or whatever equivalent to these emotions h

Review - All Among the Barley by Melissa Harrison

Review - All Among the Barley by Melissa Harrison

The autumn of 1933 is the most beautiful Edie Mather can remember, although the Great War still casts its shadow over the fields and villages around her beloved home, Wych Farm.

Constance FitzAllen arrives from London to document fading rural traditions and beliefs. For Edie, who must soon face the unsettling pressures of adulthood, the glamorous and worldly outsider appears to be a godsend. But there is more to the older woman than meets the eye.

As harvest time approaches and pressures mount on the entire community, Edie must find a way to trust her instincts and save herself from disaster.

I found All Among the Barley a really fascinating look at a particular time and place in our history, rural England in the 1930s, while having some worrying parallels with our own time period.

Honestly, a lot of the farming terms and the descriptions of the farming practices went totally over my head. They tend to be presented and described without actually being defined, as though the narrator is talking to someone who knows what she's talking about. This didn't matter though, as the whole thing is told with a beautiful lyricism that made it absolutely entrancing. Listening to the family coming together to construct a rick was quite beautiful even without the first clue what a rick is or looks like, and I don't think a glossary of terms would have added anything, while slowing the story down.

Connie is a very interesting character. She brings such a romanticised vision of the countryside, seeing it all as quite a jolly lark helping out in the fields and talking about the importance of maintaining the old customs, when actually most of the farming folk she meets are quite interested in progress. The only reason for using horses to pull the machines rather than the new tractor is that they're more effective on the hard ground, not because it is some idealised vision of a traditional working farm. In some ways, Connie's vision of the countryside matches that of the reader, seeing this microcosm of the past captured between the pages of the book. Connie's true agenda unfolds slowly and in such a clever way that it is quite easy to agree with many of her positions and views, showing the seductive nature of her arguments and how so many people were swayed by people like her. 

There are hints dropped throughout about something happening to Edie, lots of "the last time I will..." types of references. When it does, it is shocking and heartbreaking, and done so very well. I was completely engrossed in what was happening. It made for a very moving ending to the story, especially with the author's notes included afterwards.

A fascinating, beautiful and moving book!


All Among the Barley by Melissa Harrison is out now, published by Bloomsbury Publishing.

I was given a review copy via Netgalley in return for an honest review.


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