Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Driving Me Crazy!

Women learning to drive is becoming a bit of a joke in my family. My Mum can't drive because she was told that she couldn't steer by her instructor. My Aunt can't drive because she couldn't pass her test and my Nan can only drive a tractor. As you can see, it's not looking good. Unfortunately learning to drive is going to be a necessity. I regularly finish work at ten 'o' clock and although my Mum's partner comes to pick me up whenever he can (which is most nights), it's not fair for him. Especially on the weekend when he wants to unwind and relax. It will also be great when the snow hits, as I expect public transport to grind to a halt and when I travel down South to see my friends and family. So I took the plunge and booked up my driving lessons with a company called Zoom Zoom. I've now had two lessons with my instructor Shaun. For a start, he is a really good teacher, or coach, as he prefers to be called. He encourages independence, and only uses the other controls if necessary. So far, only once! He's also incredibly patient which is what I need! My brain has a habit of freezing up when I'm trying to do too many things. In fact I didn't realise how much the driver has to do! Steering, pedals, indicators, looking where you're going and checking the mirrors. I have no idea how drivers talk or sing as well as driving, let alone eat, or go on their mobile phones! Doing anything but driving should be made illegal! After my second lesson, two big problems have become apparent. The first is that my steering leaves a bit to be desired. It seems like I'm taking after Mum! I over steer, which I'm blaming Dad for, so it takes me a while to get straight again. The second problem is how much pressure I put on the accelerator. It is so sensitive, that sometimes I don't even realise I'm putting any pressure on it. Thankfully, (and hopefully) these things can be sorted out. Shaun has told me he's expecting me to drive home next Monday, which has made me both nervous and excited. It's such an achievement, but I can't wait until I'm able to drive like it's second nature! Hopefully all this worrying will pay off!

Friday, 21 October 2011

Book review: Panic by Jeff Abbott

PanicPanic by Jeff Abbott
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Panic by Jeff Abbott

I really wanted a book that I could race through and finish quickly, just so I could up the pace. This book unfortunately didn't do that.
It started off great. You're introduced to Evan Casher and his life. He's an interesting likable character, even if he's a bit mushy when discussing Carrie, his girlfriend. Then his life starts to go downhill as his life is revealed to be something different to what he knows. But around a third of the way through the book, my interest dwindled. There were too many characters, too many acronyms (CIA, FBI, MI5...) and the pace just stopped. I also didn't really care about the other characters, especially Evan's dad Mitchell, or the bad guys. Even the technology was too complicated and it went too far into the unbelievable. I understand that this isn't going to be fact, but at least it should be based on truth.
In the end, what would have been Abbott's twist in the story, was very predictable. So, just three stars from me. I still need to find a book I would give more than three stars!

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Thursday, 13 October 2011

Book review: Sea of Poppies by Amitav Ghosh

Sea of PoppiesSea of Poppies by Amitav Ghosh
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Sea of Poppies by Amitav Ghosh

This book took me forever to read and I'm not entirely sure why as it was my favourite 'book club' book yet!
In some ways Sea of Poppies reminded me of Pillars of the Earth, the way that all the characters are introduced separately and at some point in the novel are brought together. It's what I call an epic book and I really can't wait for the next one in the trilogy to come out. This one ends rather suddenly and leaves you wanting more.
The reason why this book only has three stars is for two main reasons, one which could have been avoided. The first was the chapter structure. I hate long chapters. Ideally I should be able to read a chapter in half an hour, that way I can read two or three if I've got the time, or only one if I'm tired. This book had a lot of long chapters, and when I got home from work I really couldn't be bothered to read a whole one, so I would just read chunks. It took me a lot longer because when I started reading the books, I might forgo a night of reading Sea of Poppies because I wasn't looking forward to it.
The other thing that put me off initially was the language. The way things are phrased and anything spoken by Serang Ali was particularly hard to read. To put it bluntly I couldn't be bothered to translate the text! But as I carried on reading I found it easier and eventually learnt to love it as something that makes the book unique.
Overall, three out of five! Bring on the sequel!

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