Book Review: In My Dreams by Cameo Renae + Author Interview and Giveaway

112603551Title: In My Dreams
Author: Cameo Renae
Genre: Paranormal Romance, Young Adult
Publisher: Createspace
Publication Date: April 30th 2011
Rating: 2,5 stars

It was happening again. The dreams. The nightmares. It was something seventeen year-old Elizabeth “Lizzy” Hayes thought she’d outgrown; dreams that would come true; detailed premonitions of how people would die. This time she dreams about her boyfriend, Michael Young, and soon discovers that he’s been found… dead.
Michael hasn’t crossed over because he was murdered, and now his murderer is coming for Lizzy. His spirit won’t rest until she is safe, and as a newbie spirit, the easiest way for him to make contact is through Lizzy’s dreams. When she dreams, it’s as if he hasn’t died.
Lizzy must learn to pull on her inner strength to survive horrifying events. Meanwhile, in the spirit world, Michael learns everything he can about his supernatural gifts to help. But will it be enough to save her?

In My Dreams tells the story of Liz (short for Elizabeth) who is desperately waiting for her boyfriend, Michael, to show up on their date for their fourth anniversary together. Unfortunately though, it seems as if Michael has stood her up. But then Liz has the strangest dream, and when she wakes up she gets the one phone call nobody should receive in their entire life: Michael is dead. They found his body in his car in a place where he had no business being, and it seems like he overdosed on drugs. The only problem is that Michael didn’t do drugs. He was your typical all-star goody-two-shoes boy and excelled in everything he did. On top of that, Liz starts dreaming about Michael, and in these dreams he slowly reveals what really happened to him. Now the person who murdered Michael is after Liz, and the only thing standing between Liz and this insane killer is the ghost of her deceased boyfriend…

Meh. Meh is the general emotion I feel about this book, because it could have been so much more, yet it doesn’t always deliver. It has the potential to be something remarkable, along the lines of the movie Ghost, if you will, but instead it ends up failing short of expectations. That’s not to say I wasn’t on the verge of crying occassionally throughout this book, because truthfully, it is an emotional rollercoaster. But on the other hand, I thought some scenes were too awkward, too rushed or too strange to bring out any emotion whatsoever except frustration. Don’t get me wrong. This isn’t a bad book by any means. The author does a remarkably good job telling the story, and her own emotional involvement with the story is clear from the start. The descriptions are beautiful and imaginary, the writing is fluent and effective, but sometimes the pacing is off. Sometimes the characters don’t act entirely human. And in a book with such a heavy emotional undertone as this one, that’s definitely not a good thing.

The weirdest thing for me was how Liz goes to work the day after she heard about her boyfriend’s death, and then laughs and jokes with her friend, Em. I sincerely doubt that anyone would be able to crack some jokes, or talk so casually, the day after their supposed love of their life died. In fact, these scenes could have been deleted altogether, if you ask me. They introduce us to the character of Lucy Crow, a native woman who hears message from the death, and who has been contacted by Michael as well. Lucy offers little or nothing to the story. She’s just there for this one random scene and then once more towards the ending. Her appearances are brief and unnecessary. I’m confident Liz would have been able to figure out everything on her own eventually. On top of that, these scenes portray Liz as being hardly emotional about her boyfriend’s death, something the rest of the book contradicts, making these scenes unbelievable as well.

I don’t want to be too harsh though. It can’t be easy writing about this topic, but those scenes just drove me crazy. The rest of the book does a good job keeping up with the emotions regular human beings feel in these circumstances though, ranging from immense and overwhelming sadness to wondering why they should go on if their beloved have passed away, and questioning the purpose of it all. When Liz is chased by Michael’s murderer, her fears and anxiety seem so real they practically drop off the pages. Those are some amazing scenes, but unfortunately they don’t make up for the rest of the story being rather bland.

We meet two side characters, Emily and Tyler. Both of them don’t have enough distinct personality traits to be very interesting. Because they don’t get a lot of time in the spotlight, I had a hard time connecting to them. Emily seems to be a social and fun girl, and she loves to watch paranormal movies and ghost shows on TV. But that’s really all I know about her, and that’s not an awful lot. I feel like more time should’ve been invested in this character. And yes, I know that I’m now contradicting everything ever said about books, but this book should have been longer. Period. At least that way I would’ve gotten to know the side characters a little bit better. The other character, Tyler on the other hand, is a very unbelievable and unrealistic character. Turns out that he went to do drugs and got in the bad crowd because he was in love with Liz, our main character who is suddenly being bombared in the Mary Sue role. Yes, because people start to do drugs all the time because they fall in love in high school and their big crush doesn’t return their feelings. Mind you, Tyler begins to grow romantic feelings for Emily half-way through this novel, making his claim utterly ridiculous. I might have believed it, if he didn’t turn around and fall for another girl instantly.

What else can I say? This book is severely suffering from missing-parent-syndrome. Liz’ dad left her when she was eight years old (or somewhere around that age, I can’t remember), and ever since her Mom turned into a raving alcoholic who is drunk 24/7. So Liz did what every other seventeen-year-old girl does, and she moved out to live on her own in her friend Emily’s cottage. Yes, because the alcoholic Mom added such a big part to this novel, or because Liz really had to live on her own for all these things to happen. In fact, this novel would have been a lot scarier and exciting if Liz had been living with her Mom at the time the serial killer named Buck came to pay a visit. Then we would have two people to worry about, and one of them would not be protected by forces of the beyond.

The pacing is off as well, as I already mentioned. Some vital parts are skipped over quickly, whereas other parts drag, especially the parts Liz spends with Michael in her dreamland world. Of course those are nice, romantic and cozy moments, but get on with the story already, will you? I mean, there’s a serial killer out there, and he’s out to get you.

Also, and I hate to admit it, but Michael is really stupid. I mean, he’s brave, kind, generous, yada yada, but he’s really stupid as well. Who in their right mind goes to play Mr. Righteous when a gun is being held to their head, or when they’re in a car with a serial killer? And if the problem is money, which he has lots of, why doesn’t he just give Buck what he wants? What does he think, that he can outsmart a crazy, drug-addicted, gun-carrying maniac? Does he even have any idea how selfish he is by wandering out in the middle of nowhere to help his friend Tyler, without even bringing the money along? Is he seriously so stupid he thinks he can just have a chat with someone pressing a gun to his ex-best-friend’s head? What is he, absolutely insane? I refuse to believe this is an act of heroism. This is an act of foolishness. And when Buck gives them a second chance to get the money, he should just have gotten the money. Him not doing so is an act of complete selfishness. Any idiot with half a brain would know the risk and consequences, yet he’s willing to put his poor parents and his loving girlfriend to the ordeal of him dying just to prove a point. That’s not being a hero. That’s being ignorant, stupid and selfish.

Oh, and let me talk to you a bit about Buck. Buck is the murderer/drug addict who Tyler supposedly owes money to. I have to hand it to Tyler, he doesn’t choose his friends very well. Buck also looks and acts like a bum. And…That’s all. That’s all we ever get about this character, as he claims one of the main roles and chases down Liz repeatedly, and then goes after her friends. I mean, he is our antagonist after all. Why did he become addicted to drugs? Why does he want to kill practically everyone he meets? Why does he need the money so badly – to pay for drugs, or has he got a debt himself? What brought him to this point in life? I might be the only one who had these questions haunt their mind while they were reading the book, but these are the kind of things I like to know, the things that shape the characters.

I liked the plot, from the murder on Michael to him trying to help Liz escape from a serial killer. It certainly had great potential, but unfortunately it didn’t live up to my expectations. The romance and love between Michael and Liz is what made me read through this entire novel, the rest of it left me feeling unsatisfied and annoyed. The dream sequences are too long whereas the action scenes are too short. The side characters are flat and boring. That said, Liz should also grow a backbone. She needs Michael for virtually everything, even for escaping the hands of a mad man. I mean, she could at least give it a try. But all of that kept in mind, I would have still given this book a higher rating, because I was quite impressed with the way Cameo Renae dealt with the romance between the two main characters. But that was until…

The ending. It has to be the most horrible ending I’ve ever read, or at least one of them. And I feel really bad saying this, because I don’t want to bash a book, but the ending seems like it’s taken out of the blue and misplaced. It’s not a suitable ending for this book. I don’t want to spoil things for you, so if you’re planning to read this book, you better not read the next few lines. But, right when everything it starting to look up as the bad guy stands defeated, a demon shows up with a contract Michael supposedly signed. Yes…This entire book evolves around ghosts and a human serial killer, but then the author decides, for the sake of filling another five pages, to just add a demon in the mix. I truly felt like ripping my hair out. The demon is then quickly defeated by…by an angel. Seriously. An actual, freaking angel decides it’s time to mingle, descends from the heavens, and just tears up the contract in a giant display of randomness. These acts are so completely random, unnecessary and stupid that I felt like bursting out in tears. How much better would the ending have been if these scenes were simply not written down? Or if they were, why not use book two to send Liz on a quest of her own trying to destroy the contract Michael made with the demon? Why bring an Angel down to help, like a deus ex machina?

I’m pretty sure a lot of people will enjoy this book. It’s young adult paranormal romance, and it’s good at the romance part. The love between Michael and Liz feels real and strong, and their bond is inspiring. It’s also good at the paranormal thing, because I absolutely loved Michael as a ghost, and his connection with Liz. It’s also pretty decent at displaying the emotions Liz goes through after finding out her boyfriend is dead, apart from the big going-back-to-work and hanging-out-with-friends fiasco. The descriptions from Michael’s funeral and Liz having dinner with his parents are heart-breaking and very touching. On the other hand, the action scenes are creative and thrilling as well. But that’s where it ends. Characterization could use some work – a lot of work actually – and some of the story elements are too random to be convincing. If you enjoy reaidng YA paranormal romance, you might want to take a look at In My Dreams, if you’re looking for a sad, emotional and heart-breaking love story. If you’re not a fan of those, you will probably not like this book either. I personally did enjoy it, and I might even be tempted to read a sequel since I have high hopes that the author’s writing and plot will only improve over time. But I wouldn’t blame you if you want to pass out on this one.

However, I have high hopes for the author, Cameo Renae. From what I gathered, this is her debut novel, and she did an impressive job. I have a feeling that, the more experience she has an author, the better her character-building, plot pacing, etc. will become and the better her books will be.

This book counts towards the Fantasy Challenge, the Speculative Romance Challenge and the Go Indie Challenge.

Author Interview


1) First of all, thank you Cameo, for answering these interview questions! I’m wondering how you came up with the idea for In My Dreams.
Thank you so much for having me!!! I didn’t really know what I was going to write until I actually started writing. In My Dreams started off because of a nightmare I had. That nightmare is actually the first part of Chapter 1 (of course with some extras). I really didn’t have a plan or outline for the story. I just started writing and the rest of the story just sort of came to life. I know… amazing. And believe me… now I keep lots of notes and outlines and descriptions of my characters and locations. In My Dreams was definitely my “learn and grow” novel.

2) In the book, protagonist Liz is visited by the ghost of her recently deceased boyfriend, Michael. Do you believe in ghosts? If so, have you ever seen one?
I actually do believe in ghosts or spirits, and YES… I did see one. I guess you want the story on that.
One night, after our son was born, he wouldn’t stop crying. I tried everything but he kept crying and crying, and I couldn’t figure out why. I finally took him into the living-room so my husband could get some sleep. After a few hours he finally settled down, so I turned off the TV and started to get ready for bed. I instantly had an eerie, cold feeling rush over me, like something was watching. I remember not wanting to turn and look down the dark hall behind me, but against my best judgment… I did.
A white mist appeared and was floating in the hallway. Every hair on my body stood on end. Suddenly the mist shot toward me. I froze, and gasped for air, feeling a heavy pressure on my chest. I couldn’t move. I couldn’t scream, and all I could remember doing was praying. It finally released me and I watched it shoot into the kitchen and dissipate into the refrigerator. Why there? Who knows? Maybe it was hungry?
So anyway… I ran through the hall and woke my husband.
Talk about a ghostly visitation! And why me??? I later found that the landlady’s mother had passed in the cottage. Maybe she wasn’t happy that I was there? If it was her, she was a BIG MEANIE!
We moved from the home a few months later, and since then I haven’t had any other horrible experiences. THANK GOD!!!
So the question is…
Do you believe in ghosts? Cause I do!

3) If you were a character in this book, which character do you think you would be?
Although Lizzy is the main character, I’d probably be Emily. Emily is like the kooky sidekick who has more of my character traits. I love watching paranormal shows, and my family thinks I’m goofy and quirky. Okay, okay… I’ll admit. I am a bit goofy… but fun!

4) Were there any other authors who influenced you during your writing career so far?
I know you’ve probably already heard this, but C.S. Lewis was my greatest influence. I loved his Chronicles of Narnia and read them time and time again.

5) Are you currently working on something new? If so, please tell us about it!
Yes, I am! 😉 I have a YA/Paranormal/Romance/Trilogy in the making. I finished the first book, and am in the process of finishing the second. This one promises lots of action, twists and turns, and emotions. Plus… it has SIX kick-ass, drop-dead gorgeous Guardians. (Angels that is.) I’m sorry… I can’t give away anymore. You’ll have to wait until it comes out! 😉


I’m also hosting a giveaway for two eBook copies of In My Dreams. The contest is open internationally. Thank you to the author for giving away these copies!

The contest runs from January 6th to January 31st.



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