5 Book Reviews + Alitta’s Poem + Podcast

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The Happiness Between Tails podcast speaks to and from the heart. Like its corresponding blog, HBT also connects book lovers and writers who'll enjoy the novels I’m drafting, which will soon become podcasts I will totally narrate. “Flamenco + the Sitting Cat" and “Tango + the Sitting Cat” are my love letters to all who fear they're too old, too damaged, too whatever to find love and happiness with or without a partner. HappinessBetweenTails.com • ContactdaAL@gmail.com Like what you hear? Buy me a coffee at buymeacoffee.com/SupportHBT — Send in a voice message: https://podcasters.spotify.com/pod/show/depe9/message Support this podcast: https://podcasters.spotify.com/pod/show/depe9/support

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Now that I’ve decided to try again to attract a literary agent for my novel, I’ve spent a lot of time working up the ‘perfect’ (as if such a thing exists) thumbnail, elevator pitch, and synopsis. They’re finally decent, so next in line are an agent letter and a list of agents who represent my type of writing.

What gets me through the ensuing terror and drudgery of it all is listening to audiobooks. People are forever asking me how I manage to get through so many. The first hour or so, I listen on regular speed, to get a feel for the sensibility. After that, I start upping the speed, depending on how much I can focus I can devote at the moment, what the book is like, and how crisply the reader enunciates. It’s amazing how quickly many short listens here and there can add up, like while I’m working out, cooking, brushing my teeth, walking my dog, making the bed, or whatever.

Here are the reviews I wrote for Amazon and Goodreads for what I’ve listened to most recently…

Cover of All You Can Ever Know, by Nicole Chung.

Love, family, politics, prejudice, our place in the world… Born to Korean parents who gave her away to anglo parents who raised her among only anglos, Nicole Chung’s experience offers us a chance to ponder. From a practical viewpoint, she shares with it was like for her, first as a child and now as a mother. Relatable to anyone who has ever felt different, known a family, or experienced inequality. Janet Song does a lovely audio narration.

Cover of The Answers by Catherine Lacey, narrated by Megan Tusing.

Love, emotion, and attachment contemplated through the eyes of a woman who resorts to submitting to a sociopath in order to pay her medical bills. What’s it like to be a super star who’s lost the ability for compassion? What’s it like to be his girlfriend, a living mannequin following a script? Great premise and well written, but cynical in the worst victim-minded sense. Megan Tusing offers a validating audiobook performance.

Cover of Royal Holiday by Jasmine Guillory, narrated by Janina Edwards.

Stumbled onto this as I don’t gravitate to romance genre, but was intrigued by the rare depiction of older romance. So glad that Gillory didn’t disappoint. Though must admit that I was only able to appreciate the super gentle pace and low-level tension when I read an interview with Gillory, wherein she discussed her underlying the theme of ‘consent.’

Cover of The Old Woman with the Knife: A Novel by Gu Byeong-mo, translator Chi-Young, Nancy Wu narrator.

How can anyone not fall in love with a protagonist who is an assasin-for-hire, 65-year-old woman about to be put out to pasture? Shame on her would-be assigned murderers who underestimate her… Nancy Wu does a great job narrating. Adding to the intrigue is that the audiobook publisher is a division of Harlequin Romance despite this being anything but a romance novel.

Cover of People Person by Candice Carty-Williams, narrator Danielle Vitalis.

You’ve got 4 half-siblings via a dad who fathered everyone via four moms. Haha, he calls himself a ‘people person.’ You don’t have a relationship with any of them, outside of your own mother, and the worst possible thing happens to you. Now what? Novelist Carty-Williams’ madcap story is underpinned with a serious rumination on acceptance and forgiveness; who, how, and is it worth it? Danielle Vitalis is a wonderful narrator.

Today’s guest, Alitta, blogs (and is also on Instagram) from Kerala, which is in Southern India. A part time content writer and a full time chartered accountant student, she’s taking a break from the finance world to explore freelancing and writing. She describes her poetry and blog posts as combinations of wittiness, emotion, and thoughts with sarcasm and dark humor with a light at the end of the tunnel. In this poem, she ponders, in her words, how a person feels initially after a breakup, when  nothing feels right and everything becomes taxing…

Rear View by Alitta

Months passed, the loss persists,

Writing helped, but the pain still exists,

Deeply sceptical about love and wrath,

But I’d promised to never lose faith.

Moving in is mutual, I wish moving on was too,

Sleep is easy after a pill or two,

Waking up with that fake smile is constant,

None of which would have happened. If you weren’t so distant.

The sweeping fierceness which my soul betrayed,

The skill with which wielded the keen blade;

The bright world dim, and everything beside

Seemed like the fleeting image of a shade.

Which no thought of living spirit could abide.

I breathe but it’s not air,

Something else in the wind,

Calm and empty, a rush of silence,

Yet plenty and whole, a vacuum of stillness,

I seem to have been paused 

somewhere along the way. 

Now it’s time to resume,

Heading towards the start of the play,

No drum rolls, no intros,

Just a smooth shift of state

In, then, out of time,

A second, maybe less,

Growth, taking up an instant,

Change, stealing away each moment,

Set to sail on the turbulent waves,

Whose effects are none to

 the eyes that witness,

To the ears that listen and

 to the hands that touch…

Wishing that maybe

Maybe my soul was carried away, 

out into the openness,

Beyond the horizon, 

Across the marvels of the universe ,

Perhaps even closer to home,

Maybe there’s a world bigger than the world,

A world that never talks,

A world that never betrays.

What gets you through a fearful project?

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