Categories
Literary

Review: The Woman of My Dreams by Glenn Fain

The Woman of My Dreams by Glenn Fain.

Blurring the line between dream and reality can be fatal.
 Sleepwalking through a decade of soulless jobs, Arnold Brinckman is still reeling from his girlfriend’s suicide. When he is convinced all hope is lost, the beautiful and exotic Anastasia appears in his dreams, teaching him to live and love again.

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If you need a book that covers multiple genres and moods, The Woman of My Dreams is for you. It’s somewhere in the realms of paranormal, suspense and romance, the latter two genres not being something I usually go for. The Woman of My Dreams starts off funny and light, grows into intelligent fun, and then dives into sensitive, well-crafted depression for the end.

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I’ve said this about books before, but the title and cover wouldn’t attract me to giving this book a go. It looks and sounds maybe a bit too girly for my tastes. This is one of the greatest perks to having a blog – I get approached about books that I wouldn’t usually try, I give them a go and I love them!

I really like Arnold, the main character of the book – he’s the kind of character that I think a lot of people can relate to. He made me laugh and I understood the choices he made throughout the story, even when he was being an idiot.

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Above: Drop Dead Fred gif from BuzzFeed

The story reminded me of one of my favourite films, Drop Dead Fred, with the writing style of Stephen Fry (when he’s writing novels) and George R. R. Martin (think The Armageddon Rag, not Game of Thrones). For those of you that don’t know Drop Dead Fred, the story is about a woman whose childhood imaginary friend returns to her when her life takes a turn for the worse… but the imaginary friend is real, existing in their own right. The Woman of My Dreams is very similar, but with the protagonist seeing a dead woman in his dreams instead. I refer to Stephen Fry as he manages to write excellent, relatable young male characters which are funny (laugh out loud funny at times) and honest.

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Above: Cover of The Woman of My Dreams. Owned by Glenn Fain. Image sent with review request.

This is a quick book to read at just 220 pages and a good pace, with chapters ending in such a way that you really need to read just one more… I find that a lot of self-published genre books at the moment have too much padding and waffle, but I can definitely say that this isn’t the case for The Woman of My Dreams.

The only issue that I had with this book is that I think it needs a final proof-read from an outside professional – but please don’t let that put you off as it really is an excellent read. I’m definitely interested in reading Glenn Fain’s other books in the future. This is his third, the first two being The Angel Experiment and Tease. They both have great reviews, as does The Woman of My Dreams.

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Above: Portrait of author Glenn Fain. Owned by Glenn Fain. Image sent with review request.

The Woman of My Dreams is available on Kindles and in paperback through Amazon. The kindle copy is pretty cheap, so you should definitely grab it.

Disclosure: The author sent me a free ebook in return for an honest review. This did not in any way influence my review. I am regularly sent books and artwork that I would not be comfortable endorsing through Examining the Odd. Please be assured that if I have featured a book and spoken positively about it, this is truly how I personally feel about that book.

 

Categories
Literary

My Top 101 Books (part B, 51-101)

Ok, let’s finish this!

51. ARh+ – H.R. Giger. This is a stunning book of A4 images of Giger’s work. As a teenager, I took out all of the pages and covered my bedroom walls! The great thing about a Giger piece is that you can never tire of looking at it. You spot something new every time.

52. Where the Wild Things Are – Maurice Sendak. I loved this book as a child! One night Max puts on his wolf suit and makes mischief of one kind and another, so his mother calls him ‘Wild Thing’ and sends him to bed without his supper. That night a forest begins to grow in Max’s room and an ocean rushes by with a boat to take Max to the place where the wild things are. Max tames the wild things and crowns himself as their king, and then the wild rumpus begins. But when Max has sent the monsters to bed, and everything is quiet, he starts to feel lonely and realises it is time to sail home to the place where someone loves him best of all.

53. The Gashlycrumb Tinies – Edward Gorey. Another Gorey book. I think this is probably the best.

54. A Song of Ice and Fire – George R.R. Martin. This is for the whole series (or those which have been written).

55. The Kite Runner – Khaled Hosseini. It’s been many years since I read this book, but I have vivid memories of crying uncontrollably on the bus to work. I never did get round to seeing the film adaptation. Anyone know if it’s worth it?

56. The Diary of a Young Girl – Anne Frank.

57. The Miracles of Archangel Michael – Doreen Virtue. Michael is my favourite of the Archangels (if that’s allowed!) and this is a wonderfully inspiring book. I’m a Spiritualist in case you’re wondering. archangel-michael

58. Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell – Susanna Clarke. Amazon link. I absolutely loved this book, particularly the little stories within the main story. As soon as I finished it I checked IMDB and saw that they were making the TV series, but when it finally aired I gave up after about three episodes as I found it excruciatingly boring.

59. Good Omens – Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman. Amazon link.

60. Frankenstein – Mary Shelley.

61. Pucca and Garu: First Meeting – Vooz.

62. Smoke and Mirrors – Neil Gaiman.

63. All About Symbols – Andrew T. Cummings. A very useful book when looking into dreams, planning art work, etc. ea963cc3ffe181be77fce84a24b344b4 Amazon link.

64. Justine – Marquis de Sade. I love this book because my mind battles with itself all the way through… I feel sorry for Therese… You can do it Therese!… What the hell Therese?! Sorry Therese…

65. The Chipmunka Anthology Volume 1 – Chipmunka. I mostly bought this book for the OCD diary segment, but the whole anthology is interesting. It also covers manic depression, abuse and self-harm.

66. Snuff – Terry Pratchett. Probably my favourite Sam Vimes Discworld book. According to the writer of the best-selling crime novel ever to have been published in the city of Ankh-Morpork, it is a truth universally acknowledged that a policeman taking a holiday would barely have had time to open his suitcase before he finds his first corpse.

67. Louise Bourgeoise – Ann Coxonlouise_bourgeois_spider_iv_d5739118h

68. Mindfulness Plain & Simple – Oli Doyle“Wish I’d heard of this years ago I could have been well chilled out by now.” – from a four star Goodreads review by Julia. This book does exactly what it says! “Nicely written, very simple and calming, and full of wisdom.” – from a five star Goodreads review by Ben Payne.

69. John Cage – Rob Haskins. I’m a little bit in love with composer and artist John Cage and this is a wonderful book all about him. I highly recommend watching a couple of Youtube videos of Cage speaking if you don’t know who he is. “I am a fan of John Cage. He shattered the barriers between composition and philosophy.” – from a four star Goodreads review by Tara Brabazon. Amazon linkRob Haskins is Associate Professor and Graduate Program Coordinator in the Department of Music at the University of New Hampshire, Durham, and has been involved with John Cage’s music as both a scholar and a performer for almost twenty years. He is the author of Anarchic Societies of Sounds: The Number Pieces of John Cage (2009). john-cage-2

70. A Little Book of Sloth – Lucy Cooke. Who doesn’t love a full-colour photo book of sloths?! “I loved this book so much that I renewed it from the library until I couldn’t renew it anymore, and after returning it, I went to Barnes and Noble on the same day to buy it.” – from a five star Goodreads review by Michelle.

71. The Metamorphosis – Franz Kafka.

72. Mermaids 101 – Doreen Virtue. Amazon link. This does at times seem like an excuse for Doreen to show off in her special mermaid costume, but it’s a cute book anyway.

73. How to Meditate on the Train: A Commuters’ Guide – Michael J.W. PockleyA brief, simplified guide to meditation for those who have to commute by train. Readers will learn postures and techniques appropriate to travel by train, transforming their commute from an uncomfortable waste of time into a joyful opportunity for personal advance. 51lgphLQhPL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_

74. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer – Mark Twain. Unfortunately, I never got round to reading this as a child, but I love it as an adult!

75. All-American Ads 60s – Taschenil_570xN.305180607 I try to avoid current advertising as much as I can, but I love looking back at old adverts!

76. The Visionary – James Hawthorne. Amazon link.

77. If This Is a Man – Primo Levitumblr_lp7ct3bkIf1qzn0deo1_1280 An unforgettable, harrowing, necessary book. I briefly studied Italian literature at university and this was on the reading list. I don’t know why it’s not on the UK school curriculum. It may have been at some point I suppose, but it wasn’t when I was at school. It belongs in the literature or ethics class just as much as it does in the history class. Levi is an amazing writer and I recommend his other books too. The photo above makes chemistry look super exciting. In my school I just doodled on the tables until I got sent out of the lab. There’s a lesson to be learnt here. In 1943, Primo Levi, a twenty-five-year-old chemist and “Italian citizen of Jewish race,” was arrested by Italian fascists and deported from his native Turin to Auschwitz. Survival in Auschwitz is Levi’s classic account of his ten months in the German death camp, a harrowing story of systematic cruelty and miraculous endurance. Remarkable for its simplicity, restraint, compassion, and even wit, Survival in Auschwitz remains a lasting testament to the indestructibility of the human spirit.

78. BloodMarked – Lu J. Whitley. This isn’t normally the sort of book I would read (it describes muscly men taking their shirts off etc), but I really enjoyed it. A ‘townie’ college student, living off campus with her overprotective mother, Greta Brandt thought everything about her life was right on track. Everything, except for the nightmares that have been plaguing her for as long as she can remember.
When her reality is torn apart, Greta finds herself adrift in a world she thought only existed in her fevered dreams.

79. Nothing Is Strange – Mike Russell. Ok, so the truth is: Mike Russell is my other half. But! I was a huge fan of his writing before we were a couple and this is genuinely one of my favourite books of all time. Inspiring, liberating, otherworldly, magical, surreal, bizarre, funny, disturbing, unique… all of these words have been used to describe the stories of Mike Russell so put on your top hat, open your third eye and enjoy: Nothing Is Strange

80. Pucca: Hands Off My Dumplings! – Vooz. Pucca is one of the cutest things to have ever been created. mnIJoHRuIqx8rFuzqlPhlHw

81. A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms – George R.R. Martin. This is a great way to fill your time whilst waiting for the next book in A Song of Ice and Fire!

82. Mapwise: Accelerated Learning Through Visible Thinking – Oliver Caviglioli and Ian Harris. I went to a workshop run by Oliver Caviglioli and he’s very passionate about visual learning, particularly through the use of mapping. The book is inspirational for teachers and students, no matter what their preferred learning style may be. He spoke about not labelling people as visual, auditory or kinaesthetic learners any more and I think this is really important. Once someone has given you the label, or you’ve attached it to yourself, you start to believe that you cannot learn in other ways. 41KV2GWTV3L._SX336_BO1,204,203,200_

83. Louise Bourgeois – Deborah Wye.

84. The Heart is a Lonely Hunter – Carson McCullers. I’m actually only halfway through this book, but I know it belongs on this list. It’s just so strange and wonderful, and I have no idea where it’s going! I love every character. I will have to search for more books by this author. Any recommendations? Please let me know in the comments. thialh *10 out of 5 lonely, burning stars, light years apart, yet winking together in a shared cosmos.” – from a five (or ten!) star review on Goodreads by Traveller. Amazon link.

85. Challenging the Prison-Industrial Complex: Activism, Arts & Educational Alternatives – Stephen John Hartnett.

This is a must-read for anyone who can see what’s wrong with the (US) prison system.

Stephen John Hartnett is an associate professor and chair of communication at the University of Colorado Denver. He is the author of Incarceration Nation: Investigative Prison Poems of Hope and Terror and Executing Democracy, Volume One: Capital Punishment and the Making of America, 1683-1807.

86. Magnificent Vibration – Rick Springfield. This book is hilarious, but it’s also surprisingly thought-provoking and emotional. It’s full of “laddish” humour and features the main character talking about (and to) his penis a fair bit. But it’s also full of romance, friendship, spirituality and self-reflection.

87. The Bloody Chamber – Angela Carter. Amazon link. A truly scary book. I’m quite new to Angela Carter, having only read this and The Sadeian Woman (mentioned earlier in this list). I’ve also seen a couple of her films. So far, everything is fantastic, so I’m looking forward to reading the rest! Any suggestions on what to try next? I think I have most of the books, so it’s just a matter of choosing. 1410384986 Born Angela Olive Stalker in Eastbourne, in 1940, Carter was evacuated as a child to live in Yorkshire with her maternal grandmother. As a teenager she battled anorexia. She began work as a journalist on the Croydon Advertiser, following in the footsteps of her father. Carter attended the University of Bristol where she studied English literature.

“Fairy tales reimagined for feminist times” (Grazia)

88. The Dalai Lama’s Book of Daily Meditations: The Path to Tranquility – Renuka Singh. Amazon linkHis Holiness the Dalai Lama is the spiritual and political leader of Tibet. Today, he lives in exile in Northern India and works tirelessly on behalf of the Tibetan people, as well as travelling the world to give spiritual teachings to sell-out audiences. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989. This is a page-a-day book. Sayings, prayers and stories drawn from the life and teachings of one of the world’s greatest spiritual teachers are here brought together – for the first time – as reflections for each day of the year. His Holiness the Dalai Lama speaks with an informal practicality about almost every aspect of human life, from the secular to the religious. Reminding us of the power of compassion and meditation, he shares his thoughts about science and its relation to the spiritual life, and how we can still retain the simple values of love and courage in spite of the fact that the world is changing so fast. he also points out the interdependence between an action and its result so that we never forget the responsibility that lies in each of our deeds. Wise, humane and inspiring, these words will bring daily solace to all with their message of hope and their deep yet easily understandable philosophy of kindness and non-violence.

89. The Power of Mindfulness – Nyanaponika Thera. Amazon link. A very small (60 pages) but helpful book.

90. The House of Mirth – Edith Wharton. Amazon link. A 320 page classic. 51sZlvr2pcL._SX303_BO1,204,203,200_ The House of Mirth tells the story of Lily Bart, aged 29, beautiful, impoverished and in need of a rich husband to safeguard her place in the social elite, and to support her expensive habits – her clothes, her charities and her gambling. Unwilling to marry without both love and money, Lily becomes vulnerable to the kind of gossip and slander which attach to a girl who has been on the marriage market for too long.

“Superb, utterly perfect, I recommend this book.” – from a five star Amazon review by Francesca Abagnale. A sad but wonderfully written book. Considering how much times have changed, the story still feels so relevant (unfortunately). “Lily is marriage material. And within Manhattan’s high society at the turn of the century, women are meant to marry; and in order to marry women are meant to maintain a reputation of “pale” innocence (indeed, they must).

Lily hesitates to question these two fundamental rules that bind her, save on rare occasion in conversation with Lawrence Selden, the man it seems she would marry if the choice were hers, and who stands far enough outside Lily’s circle to critique that circle from an apparent distance. Selden, however, presents Lily with several problems.” – from a five star Goodreads review by Jason.

91. The Drunken Driver Has the Right of Way – Ethan Coen. Amazon linkProvocative, revealing, and often hilarious poems by the Oscar-winning screenwriter of No Country for Old Men

In his screenplays and short stories, Ethan Coen surprises and delights us with a rich brew of ideas, observations, and perceptions. In his first collection of poems he does much the same.

“I have never read a book of poetry from cover to cover before…mainly due to induced narcolepsy after the first few pages. It was therefore with some degree of drowsy trepidation that I received this gift from a close friend. I read the first poem, then the next, then the last…and wondered where this guy had been all my reading life.
I found these poems to be surprising, cleverly metered and worded, and very, very funny. I loved “Agent Elegy”, a scathingly intimate portrait of a Hollywood agent in repose.” – from a five star Amazon review by A. Customer. “Hysterical! Just what you’d expect from a Coen. The author is Ethan Coen who is half of the Coen brothers duo who are famous for the movies, Fargo, Barton Fink, Raising Arizona, The Big Lebowski, Miller’s Crossing, etc. the limericks are crass just as a good limerick should be” – from a four star Goodreads review by Jaidene. I love this collection of poems. I don’t think anyone else could manage to be so filthy, clever and emotional. 144 I-can’t-believe-my-eyes pages!

92. The Complete Grimm’s Fairy Tales – Brothers Grimm. Amazon linkWith the words once upon a time, the Brothers Grimm transport readers to a timeless realm where witches, giants, princesses, kings, fairies, goblins and wizards fall in love, try to get rich, quarrel with their neighbours, have magical adventures of all kinds and in the process reveal essential truths about human nature. When Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm set out to collect stories in the early 1800s, their goal was not to entertain children but to preserve Germanic folklore; and the hard life of European peasants was reflected in the tales they discovered. However, once the brothers saw how the stories entranced young readers, they began softening some of the harsher aspects to make them more suitable for children. We have a lot to thank them for! 744 pages in fact.

93. The Haunter of the Dark and Other Tales – H.P. Lovecraft. Amazon link.

94. Five Children and It – Edith Nesbit. Free on Kindles! A good, old-fashioned children’s story. I think I saw a TV adaptation or a film of it as a child, but I loved reading this as an adult recently.

95. Surreal People – Alexander Klar. mg_9737

96. Children as Artists – R.R. Tomlinson.

An old and tiny book (31 pages).

97. Anna Dressed in Blood – Kendare Blake. Amazon link. ac6b35c41e854db268b036904c75c189

98. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks – Rebecca Skloot. 370 thought-provoking pages.

99. Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit – Jeanette Winterson.

100. Making History – Stephen Fry. “Slow to get started, but once the set up ended (around page 150), it got completely awesome and very interesting. Michael and Leo try to fix the world by making it so that Hitler was never born, except the world that results is even worse.

I loved the glimpses of the technology in the alternate world.” – from a four star review on Goodreads by Shelley.

101. Diving Magic: The Seven Sacred Secrets of Manifestation – Doreen VirtueDivine-Magic