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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 - Dragonracers by Peter Bunzl

Review - Dragonracers by Peter Bunzl

Twins Kitty and Harris Hawk have grown up at the airfield where their father works as an engineer. Kitty in particular is obsessed with the idea of becoming an aeronaut but her father thinks children should stay firmly on the ground.

When the twins discover a strange and unusually large egg from which a dragon hatches, little do they imagine that this is the first step on a journey that will see them taking to the skies and competing in the first long-distance air race.

Can they win the huge prize that’s at stake and will their daring adventure lead their father to change his mind about Kitty’s future?

Dragonracers is such a fun little book!

It's published by Barrington Stoke, whose praises I've sung many times before on this blog, but that's not going to stop me from doing so again. Barrington Stoke specialise in publishing stories for reluctant readers and people with reading difficulties. This philosophy infuses everything they do, from the colour and thickness of the paper they use, through the font, to the language used, to make sure the whole thing is as accessible as possible. They also have some of the best children's authors in the business writing for them too. These short books are written beautifully, and cleverly and are definitely not "dumbed down" for any potential audience. They also make wonderful short reads for those of us who are highly capable and not at all reluctant readers. Sometimes you just want a great story that you can finish in a couple of hours, like after a long, and intensely emotional novel, or, in my case with Dragonracers, when you're on a coach to London to take part in a kids' lit pub quiz with Peter Bunzl on your team. (We finished second, Alwyn Hamilton and her team narrowly beat us.)

Dragonracers is a superb example. It's about two siblings, twins Kitty and Harris Hawk, who grow up on an airfield. The setting is the exciting days of early aviation, when planes were new and exciting and there were challenges to see how far people could fly them. It is 1910, and the skies are just opening up to the "Bird Men", those early daredevil aeronauts. 

Kitty is the engineering minded twin, taking after her dad, Peregrine, who is an engineer at the airfield. She really wants to fly, but isn't allowed, One of the things I really liked about this was, despite the early twentieth century setting, there was no suggestion that Kitty wouldn't be allowed to fly because she was a girl, or that this would prevent her from her engineering studies. It's more that it's too dangerous and she's too young. Her brother, Harris, is more interested in reading, particularly dragon stories, while Kitty is desperate to fly. 

One of the main drivers for the plot is a proposed flying race, from London to Manchester. The local ace, Claud, is going to compete against a French pilot, Lois Paulhan, for glory and bragging rights and a very large prize purse. I really love those early days of exploration and challenge, when things like flying from London to Manchester were new and bold and ambitious, and Dragonracers captures the feel of that period beautifully.

It's not all historically accurate though, because there's this dragon!

Honestly, it's brilliant. This lovely little historical novel about the early days of aviation and adventure gets completely derailed when the twins find a dragon egg, that then hatches, and imprints on them. Somehow the blend works incredibly well, this mix of the fantasy and the historic, and it is so fun watching the twins trying to conceal and train their new draconic friend. And, well, Harris loves dragons, and Kitty is just desperate to fly, so it's all quite the perfect mix. It all leads up to that long distance race, which is tense and thrilling and exciting.

A wonderful mix of fantasy and history, with two wonderful young characters.

Dragonracers by Peter Bunzl is out now, published by Barrington Stoke

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


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