Book Review: Weaver of Dreams

Guest Review by Kerry Hartjen

Book Review Weaver of Dreams Brenda SparksYou know how it is: sometimes, you’re just in the mood for a good alien seduction story. That’s why the premise of Brenda Sparks’ “Weaver of Dreams” caught my interest immediately. “Weaver of Dreams” is the story of a young woman who is being tormented in her dreams by a life-draining “Dream Stalker” from another dimension, and a handsome, manly (though not human) Energy Being is sent from the same other dimension to protect the woman and kill the Dream Stalker. What more could you ask for?

I began reading this fantasy/sci-fi/horror/suspense/thriller/alien romance novel with high hopes. I was delighted to find far fewer typos, grammatical errors and other mechanical problems than have plagued many of the indie-published books I have read lately, and I counted this as a major plus. I was grateful for the attention to those little details.

Unfortunately, however, I found it difficult to become involved in the story.

I immediately had trouble empathizing with the main character, Maggie. She’s a guidance counselor at a high school, and for the most part I felt that the author handled this part of Maggie’s life reasonably well. But Maggie is also severely sleep-deprived, has a mean, vengeful ex-lover for a boss, is under tons of pressure at work, suffers from a paralyzing public speaking phobia, has terrible eating habits, is being stalked in her sleep by an evil alien, and has no personal life to speak of.

With all of those things on her mind, I just couldn’t believe that the only thing she can seem to think about is having sex with Zane, an imaginary being from another dimension.

Zane’s superiors – who reminded me of the subway-dwelling Mensa mutants at the end of “Beneath the Planet of the Apes” – have sent him into Maggie’s world to kill the Dream Stalker that has violated their version of a prime directive. He is the white knight riding to Maggie’s rescue, the romantic interest, and the hero. Yet his behavior towards her is more like that of a Peeping Tom, his manner condescending, possessive and patronizing. Here is an excerpt from one of the early scenes in which he secretly watches Maggie while she sleeps:

“One of the woman’s legs now peeked out from under the quilted comforter. Her dainty foot flexed slightly in her sleep to draw his attention… Before his mind registered his intention, his hand stroked the smooth skin of her calf. He felt the warmth of her skin on the pads of his fingers. They moved up her leg in a slow glide, allowing him to savor the softness of her skin.”

To me, this is more creepy than romantic or erotic. I mean, this woman is asleep. She’s totally vulnerable and unaware that her home has been invaded and that she’s being fondled by some voyeur from another dimension. Zane is supposed to be the Good Guy, but his actions are just as predatory as the Dream Stalker’s.

To make matters worse, not only is our hero engaging in inappropriate touching – it turns out that Maggie’s into it. I could not understand why this professional, strong, intelligent and independent young woman would think that what he’s doing to her is okay. Better than okay, in fact.

There is a lot of daydreaming about sex, thinking about sex, and talking about sex in this book, which is fine. But the actual sex, when it eventually happens, seems forced and artificial. The tongue-sucking scenes are more amusingly gross than erotic, with Maggie and Zane apparently competing to see whose tongue can drill down to the other one’s duodenum first: “His tongue danced with hers in a sensual waltz. Each pass by his tongue a thorough examination, he left no part of her mouth unexplored.” And later, “Their tongues danced between their mouths, each seeking dominance.”

Sex scenes are very hard to write convincingly. They are the quicksand of romance writing. The thing is, I think that if the characters of Maggie and Zane been more substantially and believably written, all of that passionate lust they share could have been conveyed without the need for scenes of dancing tongues probing into damp nasal cavities.

Eventually, they do get beyond the tongue wrestling. But I was never sure if what they were having was real sex, dream sex, or hallucinated sex. I could never figure that out.

I also couldn’t figure out why the author would suddenly introduce a previously unheard of and conveniently psychotic major character, along with a new subplot, 80 pages into the story. It was like starting to read a whole different book. And then, 40 pages later, there is yet another new character – Maggie’s friend since high school, the person she always calls first “when things get rough”. If that’s true, then where has this person been for the last 119 pages?

Things like this bother me as a reader because they seem to happen for no other reason than that the author needed them to happen in order to get to the next chapter. I feel tricked, somehow, and that makes me not care about what happens anymore. If I feel tricked too many times, I lose interest and stop reading, which is what I did halfway through this book on page 125.

The idea behind “Weaver of Dreams” was a good one, and Brenda Sparks definitely has skill as a writer. I just wish she had devoted more of her talent to giving her characters greater depth and dimension, and spent less time describing their oral fixations.

The bottom line, for me, is that there wasn’t enough substance here to sustain an entire novel. It may have worked a lot better as a short story or novella, but there were too many repetitive passages, mechanical sex scenes, and not enough character development to maintain my interest beyond the halfway mark.

Book review for Fight for Your Write

About the Author

Brenda Sparks has always loved all things spooky and enjoys incorporating paranormal elements in her writing. She refuses to allow pesky human constraints to get in the way of telling the story. Luckily the only thing limiting her stories is her imagination. Her characters are strong, courageous, and she adores spending time with them in their imaginary world.

In real life, she is married to a loving, supportive husband and together they have one grown son who has brought much joy to their lives. Her idea of a perfect day is one spent in front of a computer with a hot cup of coffee, her fingers flying over the keys to send her characters off on their latest adventure. Follow her on Goodreads, Twitter, or her website.

About the Reviewer

Kerry Hartjen is a retired magician/clown/playwright who has recently returned to pursuing the life of a writer. He has had poetry, short stories and nonfiction published in “RipRap”, “The Journal of the San Juan Islands”, and more recently at www.helium.com . Two of his one-act plays were produced at The Uprising Theatre in Long Beach, CA and his full-length musical comedy “Little Red Riding Hood, The Musical… Sort Of” was commissioned by and produced at The New Wharf Theater in Monterey, CA. He is a graduate of The Hollywood Scriptwriting Institute and was a script reader for the Monterey Film Commission Screenwriting festival for three years. His blog can be found at: www.raviolithewriter.com .

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Book Review: Lessons Learned by Sydney Logan

Novel Review by Vicki Kay

Book review for Fight for Your WriteSydney Logan’s book, Lessons Learned, has plot lines right out of today’s headlines: school shootings, bullying, and teachers accused of having affairs with their students. All subjects we read about and ask ourselves, “How can this happen?”

Ms. Logan’s book addresses those questions. She writes from the perspective of the witness, the bullied, and the accused. Sarah Bray, who leaves her urban teaching position after witnessing a school shooting to teach at the small town high school she attended. Matt Stuart, the Sycamore High School quarterback, who is bullied. Lucas Miller, a new teacher looking for a fresh start.

Although an interesting idea, the characters were difficult to identify with. I had to stop and check the genre, wondering if it was YA, then go back and check Sarah and Lucas’s ages. Their mannerisms, actions, reasoning, and behavior all seemed more teenager than responsible adult. This feeling was only strengthened as the story went on, as none of the adults reacted in a way I could relate to, not only to the situation playing out among their students but also between themselves.

Sarah’s reaction to Matt’s hints for help and attention were more those of a contemporary, a friend rather than a teacher or adult authority figure. Her interactions with Lucas were also more of an immature teen testing hormones and boundaries. Would two adults really park and make-out in the back seat of a car–two new-hire teachers in a small town who know they were trespassing on property where the owner would strongly object and be on the lookout for such shenanigans? And it was really hard to believe they were so overtaken by lust for each other they would take the risk at that point but then are able to control their amorous activities in private on other occasions as the story progressed.

Sarah giggles. A lot. Lucas’s eyes shine, shimmer, twinkle, and ghost over things. He whispers softly and sadly. A lot. I loved how protective and kind he was, how caring, but I just couldn’t buy into their romance. I didn’t get the intensity of their connection or any real intimate tension.

Okay, those are my personal hang-ups. But would a high school principal really do nothing to protect the safety of a student? If not morally or ethically, then certainly legally, no matter his personal beliefs.

Ms. Logan has put much thought into this book and does a good job of showing what the consequences of your actions or inactions can be. I just wish the characters were as strong as the issues.

Book review for Fight for Your Write

About the Book

A young girl needs to spread her wings, but a young woman needs roots.

English teacher Sarah Bray never thought she’d return to Sycamore Falls, but a traumatic event at her inner-city school leaves her desperate for the sanctuary of home. By returning to her roots, an older and wiser Sarah hopes to deal with the demons of her present and confront the ghosts of her past.

She discovers a kindred spirit in Lucas Miller, a teacher from New York with demons of his own. As the newest faculty members at Sycamore High School, they quickly become friends – bonding through Lucas’s culture shock and their mutual desire to build new lives. When they open their wounded hearts to each other, their friendship effortlessly evolves into romance.

Their love is put to the test when Matt, the quarterback of the football team, shares his deepest secret with Sarah. When the conservative community finds out, Sarah and Lucas – along with the town of Sycamore Falls – are schooled in the lessons of acceptance, tolerance, and love.

About the Author

Sydney Logan is an Amazon bestselling author and holds a Master’s degree in Elementary Education. With the 2012 release of her first novel, Lessons Learned, she made the transition from bookworm to author. Sydney has a very unhealthy obsession with music, and her iPod is filled with everything from Johnny Cash to Eminem. She is also the author of two short stories: “Mistletoe Magic,” available exclusively on Amazon Kindle, and “Stupid Cupid,” which is featured in the Romantic Interludes compilation. When she isn’t reading or writing, she enjoys playing piano and relaxing on her front porch at her home in East Tennessee with her wonderful husband and their very spoiled cat.

Her second novel, Mountain Charm, is slated for a summer 2013 release. Visit Sydney’s website, follow her on Twitter, check out her Goodreads profile, and find her on Facebook.  

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Vicki Kay, who loves to travel but hates to fly, lives in the Midwest with her husband. A dog lover and avid book lover, she has passed those traits to her two daughters, both of whom she is incredibly proud. A former majordomo for a small advertising company, she is now all things grandma.