BOOK REVIEWS

BOOK REVIEWS

ENTER TO WIN by Kirsten Jany

Reviews of fiction booksPosted by Stevan V. Nikolic Sun, September 13, 2015 19:00:21

Kirsten Jany’s novel “Enter to Win” is a murder mystery of the “who-done-it” genre that keeps readers attention from the first to the last page.

A stage for the story is Daytime Soap Opera Show struggling to improve ratings. The contest was held to find real life stories for the soap opera and four finalists were picked for the chance to win $200,000. They were brought to the rented mansion just as the Show’s director was murdered. They became the main suspects in the murder mystery, and the plot starts building up in the tension. Every new page reveals a new twist in the story and new guess. However, the author masterfully manages to maintain suspense and suspicion towards several suspects all a way to the end.

I find characters in this story well developed, and particularly enjoyed hearing their individual first-person narrations in succession as the story was unfolding.

In mystery writing, plot is everything, and writers usually follow standard rules. Kirsten Jany bends those rules and applies unusual plot development with surprisingly good outcomes. This produces particular intellectual challenge for the readers and joyful reading experience.

Jany’s writing style is original and refreshing. I can only predict that her books will find its way to many bookshelves in times to come and I warmly recommend it.





DIVISION OF THE MARKED by March McCarron

Reviews of fiction booksPosted by Stevan V. Nikolic Sun, September 13, 2015 18:58:35

Division of the Marked is a fantasy novel with well-crafted characters and a story that keeps reader’s attention from the first to the last page. The world that Mrs. McCarron created, as the setting for the story about fifty boys and girls chosen to be “marked” and separated from the society in order to be trained as “knowledge-keepers, martial artists, and possessors of strange and wonderful abilities”, could be an unlimited source for many more adventures of the characters inhabiting this fictional realm.

Aside from some discrepancies in the plot development of the three part novel, it was a delightful read. The characters of Bray and Yarrow are believable, likable, and well balanced throughout the story. Contrary to this, some of the side characters and the background structure of the two Chisanta groups - Chiona and Cosanta seem to be a bit unexplained. But I don’t see this necessarily as a drawback. Perhaps it was done on purpose. In any case, it didn’t take away anything from the overall reading experience.

While I am really impressed with this work, I am even more fascinated with the potential that Mrs. McCarron’s fictional world has for the creation of future adventures, maybe even a whole series of books. With the writing skills that Mrs. McCarron displayed in this novel, it is quite possible to become a great success.



MEDICINE MAN by S.R. Howen

Reviews of fiction booksPosted by Stevan V. Nikolic Sun, September 13, 2015 18:54:26

S.R. Howen's Medicine Man is a very interesting and well written novel. The flow of the story is smooth and it captures the reader’s attention. Personally I enjoyed reading it, but I kept asking myself all along, would I like it as much if I didn’t have some previous knowledge about Native American culture and beliefs.

To fully appreciate this book it helps to visit Acoma Pueblo (Sun City) or some other Native American locality and believe in Bear Dreamers. But I don’t necessarily see that as a drawback. After all, as it is the case with numerous great works – “many were called, but few were chosen”, Medicine Man calls readers to truly engage in order to be rewarded with a full experience.

Based on the Native American historical tragedy as a broad setting for the story, S.R. Howen’s novel has all the characteristics of the Epic novel and it is a great starting point for an epic novel series. Here one can find everything - from clash of the cultures, adventures, unsolved historical issues, fight of the good versus evil, romance, mystery, hidden symbols, to time-shifts and parallel worlds.

The author did a great job in developing the main character of the story -Shannon Running Deer, a respected trauma surgeon. I find it almost ironic that the author chose for this character to be a “trauma surgeon” in the modern setting of this story. Caught between two worlds, two cultures, discovering his inner self, his true identity that spread throughout many lifetimes and reality levels, fighting an evil from the past ( and in the past) , he is trying to deal with conflicting feelings, fulfill the mission that he was destined for, and find his peace. It is a real “trauma” journey of the true Hero Archetype.

Of course, the Hero meets his Heroine. Her name is Morning Dove. In the modern setting of the story, she is a Native American teenage girl. As the story transcends into a different reality her identity gets more and more veiled into allegory. Here everything is a symbol! It is up to the readers to discover Morning Dove’s true greatness in her complex relationship with Shannon Running Deer. I don’t know if the author did this on purpose, but it works very well. Some readers may complain that they were “cut short” here, but I think that the author’s reasoning was more along the line – it is not about our “knowledge” of Shannon and Morning Dove’s relationship, but about our “understanding”.

All in all, S.R. Howen's Medicine Man is an enlightening read! Looking forward to reading Medicine Man II.