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I’ve decided to do a monthly round up for everything we’ve read each month. Himself focuses on science articles and forums and news, so he’s not getting a section – books only!
The Burning Maze by Rick Riordan
Apollo is still Lester, a human teenager. He has to defeat Triphinus, the dark Oracle and get across ships and extinguish a burning maze and kill the titan of the sun’s daughter, Medi. He also has to find and attack Caligula and Julius Caesar. I’m confused but large boy thinks it’s great. The burning maze in Palm Springs was his favourite bit.
The Tyrant’s Tomb by Rick Riordan
Apollo has to go to Camp Jupiter, kill an evil Roman king and two emperors. He enjoyed this one, it was even better than the others in the series because they actually ended up defeating the emperors after they failed last time. He thinks they should have put Greek fire in their pockets. He can’t wait til the next one comes out in the autumn.
Nevermore: The Trials of Morrigan Crow by Jessica Townsend
Morrigan gets chased by bad guys and ends up in a magical world, she wants to go back though. When she gets back she has to complete lots of trials, finding out that she’s a wondersmith. Next stop the library for the next book.
Percy Jackson and the Singer of Apollo by Rick Riordan
Percy has to find Apollo’s lost celestial singer. This was a great introduction to Percy Jackon, another one to search for in the library. Indeed, our trip to the library resulted in 6 new Rick Riordans – after an argument about not removing the entirety of his works from the library in one go.
Hello World by Hannah Fry
Yeah, so I’m getting my geek on. I love listening to Hannah Fry’s guest spot on Lauren Laverne’s BBC Radio 6Music show, even better she presented the RI Christmas lectures in winter 2019-2020. She’s awesomely enthusiastic about maths. I also work in software and “hello world” is the first most basic task in programming. So this seemed a perfect fit for me.
This book is all about how algorithms are used throughout daily life in our society – whether we realise it or not. Discussing their successes, failures and loopholes, as well as how the failures can be prevented through human cooperation rather than reliance. At times it’s a very scary read, if you happen to have the same face as a serious criminal or the wrong name or professional body there could be serious consequences. Because many algorithms are built on past data, which is in itself biased (most often racially), they are also biased as a consequence. Hannah Fry discusses the science and mathematics behind the algorithms, how they’re used and their impact in an accessible way. I had to concentrate a bit because I read at bedtime when I’m tired, but her style and humour make the content broadly appealing.
If you’re interested in driverless cars or election swaying or your supermarket recommendations, or any of the other situations where machine learning has an effect, pick this up now. Be scared and be hopeful.
Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
Another genre change after detective novels and some non-fiction. I’d had this on my to read list for ages and ages, I knew nothing about the story, just that it had a good reputation and the author is highly regarded.
I think this book felt easy and natural to me because the narrator tells a winding story, going off on tangents and telling little side anecdotes as she goes – just like the way that I tend to ramble on. That said, I didn’t really connect with any of the central characters, they’re all flawed to the extent that I didn’t like any of them particularly. I wanted to shake the narrator and tell her to stand up for herself.
I enjoyed the style and the detail in which the dystopia is imagined so much that I’ll definitely be following it up with something else.
Small boy has just turned 5. He’s in reception and learning to read with the marvellous Read Write Inc phonics scheme. Its brilliant and he’s made huge progress since we began home learning. This month he’s read:
- Tab’s Kitten
- Dens and Nests
- Ron Rabbit’s Big Day
- Big Blob and Baby Blob
- Chip’s Robot
- The Big Egg
- The greedy green gremlin
Some of these are repeats because we’ve just been on library books, and repetition builds confidence, word recognition and fluency.