May 2015 Meetup – The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle

cat tail

The book..

The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami

We loved…
…the style of writing in general
…the sections on the war
… learning about the minutiae of Japanese life in general


We didn’t love…
…how quickly it wound down at the end.
…how sometimes we would be reading a passage with infinitesimal detail about something then realise you we have missed that crucial sentence which explains why the character has moved from A to B.

We agreed…
…that despite the length and occasional tedium, the language was enjoyable enough to keep going. Someone said that the sentences were lovely, and they turned into good paragraphs, which turned into great chapters, and it just made you want to keep reading.
…that the surreal nature to the writing is probably something much more prevalent in Japanese culture.
We disagreed…
…about whether the bit about stroking someone’s bum to see if it is your lost cat’s tail is the best thing we have ever read or not.
We digressed….
…and talked about how it seemed to remind people of a computer game, where there are different levels to reach, and seemingly unrelated surroundings are all placed together.

Reviewed by:
Zuhal, Chris A, Judy D, Anne, Drew, Paul, Karen, Jackie, Carol, and me J

Next month…
SKyfaring by Mark Vanhoenacker – White Hart, Llangybi, last Weds In June, 2015, 7:30pm.

April 2015 Meetup – Wild by Cheryl Strayed

The book..

Wild by Cheryl Strayed. This is a book about a woman’s journey by foot on the PCT trail in America, which she undertakes as a response to her mother’s illness and various other triggers in her life. She describes physical suffering as a way to combat the emotional suffering at the time.

We loved…

…that we had the book club’s first ever film night, and nearly all of us went to the Riverfront, Newport, to watch Wild the day before discussing it.
…how raw and real the writing was
…Michelle’s question boot
…Judy and Drew’s discussion:

Judy J: <some comment about the book>
Drew: ‘you would say that.’
Judy J: ‘I would, and I have.’
We didn’t love….
…that there was a lack of good description of the countryside at times and often we didn’t feel as though we were in the scenery with her.
…that it could be a little too self-indulgent at times.

We agreed…
…that there seems to be more of a rebellion involved in a woman taking off and going on a long journey just because it is not something that was as easy for them to do in the past with gender stereotypes and different roles.
We disagreed….
…about the first chapter. Some of us thought it was the best part of the book, and that it didn’t go on to live up to expectations, others thought that the opening was a little cheesy and that the writing got better over time.

…about whether she used her sexuality to get help along way.

We digressed….
…and talked about whether we would have thrown the second boot over the side of the cliff or not. Some of us were adamant that we would not have done that as it’s not very green, but others would have lost their temper and thrown it without a second thought.

Reviewed by:
Chris A, Judy D, Carol, Anne, Drew, Julie, Nadia, Michelle, Karen, Jackie, Judy J, and me J

Next month…
The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami – White Hart, Llangybi, last Weds In May, 2015, 7:30pm.

January 2015 Meetup – Autobiography Month

jan photo

The books…

This Boy by Alan Johnson and I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou

We loved…
…how Alan Johnson tells his story in such an ordinary way, and that he is very likeable.
…some of the language in I Know Why the Cage Bird Sings

We didn’t love….
…some of the flat bits in This Boy and felt that there wasn’t as much depth to the people he was describing as there could have been.
…some of the embellished style in I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.

We agreed…
…that This Boy was often awe-inspiring, as it is inconceivable how certain characters could have done what they did. People found it jaw-dropping what the sister managed to do.
…that they were two books to read in parallel, as they offer stark contrasts of writing style.

We disagreed….
…about whether the style of Maya Angelou’s writing distanced the reader or not.

We digressed….
… and talked about how some of us grew up just 4 miles from Alan Johnson and were in shock about realising what was happening just down the road.

Reviewed by:
Judy J, Jackie, Karen, Carol, Paul, Zuhal, Drew, Anne, Chris G, Robin, and me J

Next month…
The Third Policeman by Flann O’Brien – White Hart, Llangybi, last Weds In February, 2015, 7:30pm.

December 2014 Christmas Meetup

The books…
Haroun and the Sea of Stories by Salman Rushdie, poetry open mic, a quiz and a secret santa book swap

We loved….
…the welding of two worlds, the dark and the light
… how politicians were depicted in a negative light
…the boll*cks-ometre (the strange ‘boing boing’ Christmas toy someone brought along) that we could set off everytime someone started to spout some rubbish (It went off quite a lot)
…all the poems that were read out, especially Judy D’s self-penned villanelle.

We didn’t love….
…how women came off badly in the book and that feminism is very much in question.
…losing track because of the number of characters in parts.

We agreed…
…that it was a great book about the freedom of speech and that he manages to get all his themes into a children’s book.
We disagreed….
…about whether Rushdie was on drugs when he wrote this.

We digressed….
… and talked about science and how the moon and sun move in the sky.

Reviewed by:
Judy J, Judy D, Jackie, Pauline, Karen, Michelle, Carol, Paul, Zuhal, Lydia, Julie, Nadia, Drew, Anne, and me J

Next month…
This Boy by Alan Johnson and I know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou – White Hart, Llangybi, last Weds In January, 2015, 7:30pm.FullSizeRender (1) IMG_9611 FullSizeRender (2) IMG_9632 FullSizeRender IMG_9635 IMG_9638 IMG_9652 IMG_9653 10405424_10203631004397752_3077152419360182275_n 10846047_10203631004957766_5220757091901146195_n 10540809_10203631009717885_3046598127746365856_n 10847917_10203631012677959_5074323061177455994_n 10451781_10203631015198022_8679178773112771671_n 10854300_10154945710045285_3601702277279421874_o 10265451_10154945712370285_8138985465959469438_o

How to make a cake for someone who is a guitarist

  1. Buy a guitar cake mould.
  2. Put a shed load of cake mix into the mould and bake it. I went for a good old trusty chocolate number.
  3. Use a wire thing for levelling cakes to make sure you cut all the mounds off the cake and make it flat.
  4. Tip it out of the mould when cool. Tip it directly onto the surface you are planning to serve it on.
  5. Use ready-rolled icing and cover the cake. Patt it in tight to the base and use a sharp knife to cut around the shape of the guitar.
  6. Get loads of people to help you. Ideally get one of them to be a guitarist themselves so you don’t put 14 strings on.
  7. Use loads of orange and red food dye to make a guitar colour and paint the icing. To get a more wooden effect you can use a dry bristled brush and dab it in a slighter darker shade, and lightly brush it over the icing so that it leaves slight streaks.

  8. Paint the bit down the middle (yes, that is the technical term) black.
  9. Use white icing pens for the strings once the black dye is dry.
  10. Use white chocolate buttons for the tuning screws.
  11. Use silver edible balls for the ball type things at the base of the strings. No, I’m not a musician, can you tell?
  12. Stick a candle in it and bask in all the glory.guitar-cake