Newsletter

Newsletter #1: A Wallflower in March (Issue 1, Mar 2023)

First newsletter! 🎉 March 2023 – I move house, get very excited about The Devil in Winter, learn to like audio fiction and rediscover RSS feeds amongst other stray thoughts!

[This was originally published on Substack on 28th March 2023]

Hi! 👋

This is my first-ever Wallflower Digest newsletter and hopefully gives you a little taste of things to come (whoever “you” are!). I want this to be a place to round up whatever it is I have had going on recently and thoughts I wanted to share – and maybe discuss!

Do I even want anybody to read this?

I finally close the loop and I realised I need to tune out the noise and write whatever, and however, I want to. 🧐

This newsletter is also going to be whatever I feel like – I just want to treat it like I’m writing it to myself. Even if nobody else ever reads it’ll be a fun exercise for me to look back on.

Book Review: The Devil in Winter (The Wallflowers #3) by Lisa Kleypas – This is The One!

I finally got around to reviewing this after I read it back in January!

You can also read my previous reviews of the earlier books in The Wallflowers series.

I enjoy this so bloody much that I have read it twice in 3 months. Partly because crammed it into my brain within 48 hours the first time around, and then sped onto the final book, and consequently my memory was a little faded by the time I came to write the review up and really wanted to make sure I did Sebastian justice.

Read my probably over long review with too many quotes!

Books, Books, Books

Mini-Reviews

I like to create my own book review graphics in Canva and share them on Instagram (and also on Mastodon). I find this helps me process my thoughts, and gives me an excuse to mess around with Canva!

I will link to my latest ones in this newsletter, the last one I posted was for Poison Study. I also cross-post the review to Goodreads (usually a slightly expanded review). Full book reviews I only write if I feel like the book gave me enough to explore, and those go on my website.

Audio fiction – maybe I do like it?

I’ve got through a few books in March!

I have had a new attempt to get on board with audiobooks. After I wondered “out loud” on Mastodon last month why it is that I struggle so much to listen to audio fiction I had a few people respond that they have a similar issue. I can listen to podcasts all day, and I can listen to non-fiction biographies with no problem but put a fiction book on and my attention is gone in seconds. Somebody suggested I try listening to them at 1.5x speed and, you know what, that has really helped!

I think listening to it a little sped up makes it feel to me less like I am being read to, as reading speeds tend to be much slower than if someone was talking directly to me. The narrators also read slower than I would read the words on the page, which is frustrating. Speeding things up gives my brain less time to get distracted and I can actually follow the story.

This month I’ve gotten through two audio books now and I’ve been onto my third. All are free through my local library in the BorrowBox app!

The Midnight Library by Matt Haig – I listened to this on the way to and from London on the coach (3 hours each way!) when we went to see Hamilton at the start of the month. Hamilton live on stage was awesome, much better than just watching it on DisneyPlus!

I have not gotten around to a mini-review post on this (or the other two!), but I did fire a quick one up on Goodreads. It was 3.5 stars for me, and I have some thoughts and feelings about it that I might explore more at some point – I am iffy on whether this book would be a good recommendation for someone in the throws of depression.

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab – I also listened to this on audio. I have loved V.E. Schwab’s past work but this one was a solid shrug 🤷 for me. It was fine, but not her best… and too poetic for me (see below!). Quick thoughts on Goodreads.

How To Lose The Time War by Amal El-Mohtar& Max Gladstone – Read on my kindle, I picked it up for 99p a while ago. This was another disappointing one (I’ve had such a bad run lately of 2-3 star reads!). If you like poetic writing you will probably love this, but it’s a nightmare for me! At some point, I want to ruminate a bit more on why I cannot get on with poetic, lyrical writing in so many of these books that other people rave about. Thoughts are up on Goodreads.

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Added to the TBR stack!

New Kindle e-books I’ve grabbed for 99p this month.

  • Book of the Night by Holly Black
  • Life Ceremony by Sayaka Murata
  • Run Rose Run by James Patterson and Dolly Parton
  • Daisy Jones and The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reed

Reading now

  1. Abaddon’s Gate (The Expanse, No.3) – a re-read along with my partner who I’ve persuaded to read The Expanse series for the first time (it is one of my faves!).
  2. The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires – on audio while I’ve been moving house! Fun so far.

Stray thoughts

RSS Feeds

It feels retro but I’m back to exploring RSS feeds as my way to get news. I want to follow more bloggers and this is the easiest way to pull in from different platforms.

I’ve been using Inoreader which I like a lot so far! Nice interface and all the basic features I need. I also found I can easily export into Instapaper for anything I might want to delve deeper into which is great.

Any recommendations for blogs to follow are welcome! I would love to find a blogger community to be part of.

Leave a comment

With Substack, I worked out a way to have emails redirected from my mailbox straight to Instapaper so I can collect the newsletters there and read them when I have the time. Otherwise, I have been finding that they just get lost with all my other emails.

The last week at my house

I have lived my last week in my house.

I wrote here about my mixed emotions over leaving. I collected my memories of the last times – meal cooked (stir-fried up some halloumi, tomatoes, leftover rice and harissa paste with some salad leaves), shower taken in my bathroom (though I won’t miss that weak shower), and the last time we cuddled up on my comfy sofa, in my living room to watch Star Trek: The Next Generation. We will do that at my partner’s house but it’s not as cosy!

Taking down all my pictures was the action I needed to really shift my mental gears in “I’m moving” – the place looks empty now though there are still larger items of furniture to move. This weekend has been utterly exhausting – and we had daylight savings take away an hour just to add to it.

I am looking forward now to putting up my pictures in this new house and making it feel like I do live here now!

Star Trek

Speaking of Star Trek I am still wrestling with my feelings over Star Trek: Picard. I was persuaded into watching Season 3 (absolute no on S1-2) against my gut feeling that it’s not for me (the fantastic Lower Decks aside, none of the “New Trek” has been for me). It feels like I am the only person in the world that doesn’t love it… I’m at this point only in it for Captain Shaw, and Riker, but I’m not completely hating it either!

Re-watching The Next Generation Season 7 Episode 5 – Gambit Part 2 there was one scene that reminded me why I loved that show so much, and what I missing from the new shows.

There was such a lovely friendship moment between Data and Worf after acting captain Data has to tell Worf off for his shitty attitude as his first officer. Worf takes this criticism on board and then immediately after they both have a check-in that they’re still friends! Maturity, great communication and immediately stamping out any misunderstandings (and between a Klingon and an android!). I don’t think we would get that in New Trek. ♥️

Also, I just really love Captain Data.

I have to say, that moment aside, Season 7 of TNG has not been the best… I am looking forward to moving on to Deep Space 9 next, and all the movies with the TNG crew!

TV

  • I finished watching Ghosts US on BBC iPlayer which did get better as the season went on, although definitely not as good and the characters don’t have the edge of the UK versions. The cast does not have the chemistry that the UK Ghosts do either – but I can give them time.
  • Started watching Abbott Elementary on DisneyPlus, loving that so far. I missed having a good 20min sitcom. Great cast too! I was with it from episode 1.

Tommy Wiseau dropped a trailer

As a HUGE fan of The Room I was thrilled to watch this. Everything I could have asked for.

Half of the trailer being a surreal advert for his underwear store is such a Tommy move.

Evidence-based exercise!

New Scientist has released for free many of their long-read articles on exercise: Seven days to a fitter you: Read our top exercise long reads for free.

I also have listened to a fair amount of the Maintenance Phase podcast lately and learned about many of the myths about diet and “wellness,” including the idea of calories in and calories out. Between this and the “skinny jab” madness, and my own experiences getting back to my pre-2020 body (vague feeling of guilt for trying to lose some weight?) – I feel like I have a lot to process in this area with my head buzzing with conflicting messages!

What I do know though is, I need to get back to exercise for my brain as much as my body – I need a new routine that works in my new home!

Essay Camp

I am intrigued by this Essay Camp that Summer Brennan at A Writers Notebook runs here on Substack. I really don’t need to lump on any more projects for myself, let alone a daily one while I am still in the middle of moving house but I might save these up for when I do have some bandwidth.

A Writer’s Notebook

Essay Camp Day 1

“A word after a word after a word is power.” — Margaret Atwood Welcome to the first day of Essay Camp. You’re here. You’ve hopped virtual flights, slept through imaginary train journeys, and driven through fictional nights to arrive here together. I’m so glad you could make it. Welcome, one an…

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If you read all this – thanks! 💕 Please do leave a comment if you want to chat about books, Star Trek, blogs, RSS feeds, moving home or how confusing it is to have a body in 2023!

Your friendly neighbourhood Wallflower,

Alice

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