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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: Major and Mynah: Operation Raven by Karen Owen

Review: Major and Mynah: Operation Raven by Karen Owen

When Bo sneaks into Callie’s bag on her school trip to the Tower of London, she and Grace make plans to keep him secret. But when some gold coins are stolen from the site, having a spy in the sky comes in useful! 

I really enjoyed Major and Mynah, so I took the first opportunity to read Operation Raven, the sequel. The Super Perceptive Undercover Detectives (SPUD) are now well established, with three operatives, Callie, our main character, her best friend Grace and of course the spy in the sky, Bo the mynah bird. And as in the first book, Callie can talk to Bo due to her hearing aids, the slugs, but everyone else just hears him making chirping noises.

This story combines a school trip to the Tower of London with a daring theft. Callie, Grace and Bo are the only ones aware of it for much of the book, having spotted some suspicious behaviour, but they're left facing two problems: how to stop the criminals and how to alert people to what's going on without having to explain that they know about it because of a talking bird! There's also the problem of keeping Bo's presence on the school trip a secret, not easy to do when he's flying around the Tower courtyard!

The balance of the plot threads worked really well. I liked a lot of the school trip stuff, dealing with other students and the teachers, and Callie's mum being on the coach too (as she is driving it), and the occasionally grisly and often fascinating trip around the Tower made an excellent backdrop to the crime mystery elements of the story. It was particularly fun seeing Callie and Grace make all sorts of different efforts to investigate without letting on that's what they were doing, and seeing the ways they overcame this challenge is a central part of the book. Bo is as troublesome as ever, and I love the balance between him being a really useful investigator, with his abilities to fly and go unnoticed, and him being a huge pain in the bum, Despite being able to talk to her, he often pays no attention to what Callie tells him to do, and his very presence on the trip is the result of him totally ignoring instructions. With a lot of ravens around, things look pretty scary for Bo at times, though he doesn't seem to be as worried about it as Callie is for him!

Once the crime mystery really kicks into high gear, it's really cool watching Callie and Grace getting involved in a real and serious criminal investigation, working with the Robbery Squad. In Operation Raven the SPUD are definitely moving things up a notch and it's fascinating to watch. 

It's a fairly short book, and the language and sentence structure are going to make it very accessible to younger middle grade and reluctant readers. The proof I read had a few illustrations by Lousie Forshaw, and they're fantastic! I'm hoping there are more of these in the final edition. And as with the first book, it's great to see a heroine with a hearing disability, something that's still pretty rare in books. As well as the fantastical elements, there is a lot of consideration for real life difficulties, from batteries running out to burgomasters blowing whistles too near your hearing aid.

There's even a hint of romance! Bo sneaks away on the school trip because he wants to meet one of the ravens, Branwen. Unfortunately we don't really see any resolution for that particular thread. I just hope that for Bo, travelling to London to meet with his crush didn't end in disappointment!

A charming, fun mystery with a highly engaging pair of main characters. Major and Mynah: Operation Raven doesn't disappoint!


Major and Mynah: Operation Raven by Karen Owen is published on 2nd March 2023 by Firefly Press.

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


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