Recent Reading

April 24, 2009

The Diary Of A Wimpy Kid

Having had it recommended in a number of places, I was really looking forward to reading Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney, and being that it was nice and short and unlikely to make me consider my own mortality, I thought I would give it a go.

I have to confess to being seriously disappointed. I think the main problem is that Greg, the main character is just, well if I am being polite, not a very nice kid. It is meant to be an amusing look at how Gregory misinterprets situations, whilst always believing he is pretty much the centre of the universe. Now this may not be that unusual for a child of his age, but I fail to find any redeeming aspect to his character. He is abusive and bullying to his dim-witted best friend Rowley, he is not nice to his younger brother, he is ungrateful to his parents when they clearly gone beyond what they can afford on his Christmas present. Yet the author seems to want us to side with this spoilt brat and thus allows him to come out on top.

What is worse is that it just was not funny. It was written with no concept of subtlety and generally left me wanting more.

I know that it is a kid’s book, but there are many kids books that do have sub text, that do have subtlety, and characters with far more depth and more importantly (to me at least) seem to adhere to a sense of justice.

But as I say, I have had this book recommended to me by adults that I actually respect, so if you have read this book, and liked it … tell me what I am missing, what are it’s saving graces?

Once

After the banality of the Wimpy Kid, I decided to prove to myself that books aimed at children did not need to be thought free fluff, and instead deciced to move to the other end of the spectrum and grab a copy of Once by Morris Gleitzman.

This story is about a young Jewish boy named Felix. When the story starts off, we find Felix unknowingly taking refuge in a Catholic run orphanage in Poland. The adults around him decided that he is too young to understand the horrors that are happening in the outside world, so they tell him that his parents (who run a book shop) have left him there while they go off to find some rare books. So when the Nazi’s come to the orphanage and Felix witnesses them burning books, his mind goes already highly active imagination goes into overdrive and he concludes that they hate books and he needs to escape the orphanage to return to his parents shop so as to protect the books.

With no real understanding of what is going on Felix tells a story of brutality and persecution through the innocent eyes of a small child.

This is one of those books that, whilst I could have empathised with the story prior to having children, now had me captivated, horrified and sickened, yet totally unable to stop reading.

Whilst being in no way comfortable reading, it is another book that is defiantly makes the reader think.

Liberation Day

Continuing in the vein of reacting to the previous book, I decided to get a book that really was not likely to make me think.

One of my guilty little pleasures is that regardless of just how low brow they may be, I really do enjoy reading the books of Andy McNab. I started with Bravo Two Zero which his non-fiction (although reportedly exaggerated) account of the SAS team of that name and their failed mission in Iraq in the first Gulf War.

He as since that gone on to write a fictional series based on the character Nick Stone, and I am slowly making my way through the this series. Liberation Day is the fifth book in the series and takes place 2002 in a post 9/11 world, where Nick has been charged with thwarting Al-Qaeda’s attempts to move money from Europe to Algeria, and thus preventing a planned attack on US civilians.

As I said, War and Peace it is not. However it is the literary equivalent to watching a Die-Hard film …. Just turn the Brain off and let it happen … A far more enjoyable experience than you may otherwise have credited.


Miscellaneous Update

April 22, 2009

This weekend was rather full. It started for me with a BBQ with the Shipmates from The kids club that my children had been attending at my friend’s church. I longed to take pictures of some of the antics, but I was forced to fall back on my iPhone camera, which unless it has buckets of light, I would be better off drawing you a picture! I do have a perfectly acceptable point-and-shoot camera; however the charger has decided to give up, so it is currently acting as a paper-weight on my desk 😦

At the BBQ Lisa got her face painted which is lovely until it is time for bed. War broke out between Mrs Geek and Lisa over the removal, and peace was finally declared when I offered to take a photo of it … I’m glad I did.

ButterflyButterfly

Saturday morning we took kites to the park [1][2] (who knew parks had webpages?), and fought with the fact that there was little to no wind. (No photos 😦 )

When we got back we let the kids play out for a bit, when Lisa fell and hit her bottom on a concrete flower basin. After being given chocolate for being brave (she is a total chocoholic!) all was forgotten, or so we thought.

At lunch Mrs Geek put the kids in charge, so Bart decided he was going to have a Scooby-Doo Sandwich.

Scooby-Doo

While Maggie failed to locate where she was meant to be putting the food.

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Much to Mrs Geek’s delight, my rugby match was cancelled, so we all headed off to another of the local parks [1][2] to make the most of the rare sunshine that we have been experiencing. Mrs Geek’s Gran had given the kids some money to get themselves something for Easter, so we allowed them to get scooters to take to the park, Again I am frustrated that I have no photos of these, but I do have Lisa on the train!

All Aboard

That evening Mrs Geek and I took an all too rare opportunity to get a baby-sitter and went to friends’ for dinner. Good food, good company … It was all rather civilised 🙂

Sunday we went to the church service that rounded off the kids club, and then went to the beach to see if we could get more luck with the kites (we didn’t 😦 )

But whist we were out, Lisa again repeatedly needed to go to the bathroom. Initially we just put it down to her being fussy and silly, but when I took her there was a large bruise and a little blood in the bowl.

NHS Direct told us to take her to A&E (English for ER). 4 hours of waiting, one movie on the iPhone (Beethoven), numerous games of the ABC game, a bottle of Diet Coke (I needed to get her to give a sample) and 3 waiting room story books later, we were told that it was she had a minor infection and given a course of antibiotics and that it was “likely to be coincidental”. How reassuring.

The Patient

However it seems like she seems to be ok again and it gave us her another experience of going to the doctor without having the inflict any pain, so her fear of the medical profession seems to be subsiding.


Half Term

April 9, 2009

This week has been half-term … Well at least it is for my kids. Mrs Geek’s school has taken the alternative approach of starting half term on Good Friday. This meant that we had to arrange childcare for Bart and Lisa for the week. This is where my parents came to the rescue.

My parents have been looking after them down in Bristol (~200 miles from here), and it sounds like they have had quite some week, with day-trips to all the fancy places that we never take them.

It has been rather novel for us too. We have become so used to the chaos of three children that just having Maggie seems to be like coasting. I am sure it was far more difficult when we had just Bart! So for us this week has been all about productivity. After sending them on their way (Thanks to Guy [Bart’s Godfather] for taking them back with him), we spent a couple of hours in the garden, mowing and raking the lawn, rounding up the multitude of outdoor toys from every corner of the garden, and an overall tidy-up. A job that under normal circumstances would have taken a whole Sunday in the garden.

My next task was to clear the loft… 😦

Our loft hatch is 10ft from the floor and so narrow that I have to climb trough it sideways. In the loft is what can only be described as filth. Dirt, dust and debris that has accumulated over the past century (well almost, our house is 98 years old). I came back down looking like an old fashioned chimney sweep.

Tonight Mrs Geeks dad and I will be taking the first steps to install a sensibly size loft hatch.

On the positive side, it has allowed me to invest some serious time listening to audio books, and I may actually end up being able to remove all of the Christmas decorations, spare electronics, cables etc that are currently causing me claustrophobia every time I go into my office.

All in all, I think Bart and Lisa’s week may have been somewhat more exciting, but we did get to go to the early bird special at one of the local restaurants, which was a rare treat. Maggie really like the garlic bread!

Tomorrow Mrs Geek and I will be going down to see my parents and rescue them from our kids, but I fear the kids may not want to come home! We are banking on Maggie being cute enough to tempt them to come back with us 🙂




P.S. I appologise for the quality of these pictures, the iPhone camera sucks!