Thursday, July 16, 2015

BOOK REVIEW: "Twisted" by Lola Smirnova

Inspired by real life events, Twisted is a fascinating story of vulnerability, courage and the art of making a living in the sex trade... Back in the 90's, the corrupt post-Soviet Ukraine with its faltering economy, is thrown into a devastating depression. Times are hard. Opportunities are scarce. Three young and eager sisters - Natalia, Lena and Julia - dream of a better life and weigh their options: do they stay and struggle like their parents, or join scores of their compatriots in the sex trade in glittering western European cities, who earn in a night what they'd take several months to earn at home? Naive and tempted by the allure of 'quick' money, the girls set off on an adventure that changes their lives forever... For sensible, resilient and calculating Lena and Natalia, the transition to the underworld of Luxembourg's deceptive champagne bars is eye-opening, but smooth. But for fragile, brittle Julia, haunted by a childhood assault, the change is more than just vocational. Struggling to adapt, she turns to alcohol and drugs, exposing herself to increasing danger and depravity; and, ultimately, betrayal, when a deceitful client, who claims to love her, drugs her and cleans her out. Despite her sisters' best efforts to intervene, she finds herself in Istanbul - culturally a world apart - in an attempt to make back the money and self-respect she's lost. Vulnerable without the protection of Luxembourg's champagne bars, she descends into a hell of drugs and high-risk sex until, at the novel's terrible climax, a kidnapping, brutal assault and one-sided justice system lead to her imprisonment and a threat of deportation. How will Natalia and Lena save Julia? Twisted is available for sale on Amazon in ebook and paperback.

Twisted is the first book in the trilogy. The second book Craved will be released soon.
"A gripping and mature story deftly woven by Lola Smirnova, "Twisted" is the kind of suspense novel that will linger in the mind and imagination long after it is finished and set back upon the shelf... "Twisted" introduces an extraordinarily gifted author to an appreciative readership looking eagerly toward her next literary effort." - Midwest Book Review
"Charged with some disturbing sexual scenes (including rape), the book manages a steady, readable flow as it shines a light on the multifaceted world of the European sex trade."
 - Kirkus Reviews "Smirnova takes us on a philosophical and pseudo-psychological pilgrimage through
the sexual underworld as Julia, in first person narrative, describes her struggling introduction into a profession where she can ply the only skills currently marketable." - 5 star review from Readers' Favorite "I highly recommend 'Twisted' to open-minded readers who aren't afraid of a little blood, sweat and semen. It's sure to shock and surprise you, with both its storyline and its literary value." - 5 star review from Red City Review "In the meantime, Smirnova hopes that Twisted will raise awareness to the problems of the sex industry... Kudos to Smirnova for an outstanding job achieving that goal!" - 5 star review from Pacific Book Review "While the subject matter does not make for a light read, a breezy writing style and Julia's willingness to fully and shamelessly lift the veil on her controversial lifestyle makes an irresistible combination."

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You might remember a few months back I reviewed a book called Adoptive Personality, about a troubled teen who chooses to go into the sex trade business in America. Why am I starting out a review by mentioning another book? Because, reader, I want you to see the stark, black and white difference between the American sex industry and what goes on overseas.
In America, when it comes to work teenage girls have a LOT of choices, from sales clerks at the mall or waitressing. In the post-Soviet Ukraine, girls never had the kind of luxury and a life of sordid activity was oftentimes their only choice.
In Twisted, we meet three teen girls whose lives truly are twisted. Now, before any of you go off thinking this is a Ukrainian Fifty Shades, stop here. This book is, if anything, a sociological thriller, encompassing the social, emotional and physical implications of wanting to make a living in a place that does not have the kinds of resources that will facilitate that.
Greed also plays a role in this book, as the girls really do want quick money. But is money really worth the risks? That's what we read to find out.
Many people can relate to the girls, being poor and wanting to do better than their parents, especially in that area of Europe. It's common to want these days, with recessions and layoffs abounding. Ms. Smirnova teaches us that money is not the most important thing in life, and many other things you cannot buy are priceless.
A great book with thrills and strong, resonating emotions.

4/5--very enjoyable!

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