BOOK REVIEW of Twisted by Lola Smirnova

I received a message from Kelsey of Book Publicity Services asking if I wanted to review Twisted by Lola Smirnova. Under normal circumstances, I most probably would have graciously declined since I'm not really comfortable with the subject matter. But then I was intrigued by the fact that this was "inspired by real-life events", so I decided to take the leap and said "yes". Let me tell you guys...this is more than what I expected.

Title: Twisted (Twisted #1)
Author: Lola Smirnova
Genre: Dark, Suspense, Drama, Adult, Fiction
Publication Date: January 21, 2014
Published by: Createspace
Source: Copy Given by Author and Tour Organizer

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.  
Julia is the youngest among three sisters.Both of which are very protective of her, but she feels the need to prove her independence resulting to reckless and downright stupid actions. She loses herself in drugs and alcohol, all because she feels the need to prove herself. 
Natalia is the eldest and the first to get in the world of "entertainment". She's the "perfect daughter", the one who gets all the support and praises. Envy and jealousy arises because of this, resulting to more complications.
Lena is a hopeless romantic and a complete idiot when it comes to men. She falls in love easily because it's too easy for her to believe the BS that guys who pursue her spouts off. 
The story was "real". There's no denying that thousands of families all over the world struggle to survive. They are willing to do anything for the slightest chance of getting out of their miserable situations, even if it means selling their mind, bodies, and souls. There were no sugar-coating in this book, which I truly appreciated. Details of the sisters' hardships were clearly detailed; the men they had to "entertain", the environment of which they had to function in, even the messed up fetishes, habits, and sexual situations they had to endure. It was so easy to understand why Julia turned to alcohol and drugs to escape her life -- her reality. I've always been aware of the unfair situations many people face, but reading Twisted, it gave my concern, fear, and sorrow for those people a renewed flame. 
Lola wrote this book in a way that is somewhat humorous. There were a few quips that made me think, "Look at that, she can still joke around." I thought it in an affectionate way of course. The stunts the girls also pulled just to satisfy their clients and employers while trying to be "intact" as much as possible were very creative and quite an I-feel-very-sorry-for-you-women kind of way.

This is a trilogy so it was to be expected that the ending wouldn't really give the readers closure. But that? After all they've been through, that was how this book was going to end? I was very much bothered by that.

I give Twisted 4 stars. It's not for the faint of heart, but I believe that it's a book that we must all read to somehow be aware of the darkness, pain, and injustice that is just around us.
"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

"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
Aspiring author from Ukraine, Lola Smirnova loves twisting a suspenseful tale through the dark lens of realism around the sexual underworld, so clocked in secrecy and shame. Lola’s work is inspired by real-life events and is meant for the open-minded readers who are not afraid of a little blood, sweat and semen. 
Her debut novel Twisted was released in 2014. The book placed as Honorable Mention in General Fiction Category of The 2014 London Book Festival’s Annual Competition. 
Whether you prefer to slide your finger across a touchscreen or turn a paper page, Lola’s thrilling tales will surely shock and surprise you, with both its storyline and its literary value. 
Now living in South Africa, Lola is about to release her second novel – a sequel to Twisted – Craved, which proves just how many fascinating stories she has to share about the ordinary women in the global sex industry. 



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