Thursday, 6 February 2014

AOTW #13: RJ Crayton

Welcome to Author of the Week! Every week on my book group, an author member is chosen to be Author of the Week and will be featured here, tweeted on Twitter, shared on Google Plus and Pinterest and generally treated like royalty! Group members are asked to do features and talk about our AOTW to help each one to promote his/her work to the book community.

This week:  RJ Crayton!

RJ Crayton grew up in Illinois and now lives in a Maryland suburb of Washington, DC. She is a fiction writer by day and a ninja mom by night (What is a ninja mom, you ask? It's the same as a regular mom, only by adding the word ninja, it explicitly reveals the stealth and awesomeness required for the job of mom). Before having children, Crayton was a journalist, so all the stuff she wrote had to be true (sniff, sniff). She's worked at big publications like the Wichita Eagle and the Kansas City Star, and little publications like Solid Waste Report and Education Technology News. Her novels Life First and Second Life were published in 2013. The final novel in that series will be published in 2014. Also look for a paranormal love story in 2014.

Susan Harper is being held captive by her government in this romantic thriller, Second Life. As the normally feisty Susan’s hopes of freedom dwindle, a mysterious stranger sneaks into her room and promises to help her.

Susan and mystery man Rob grow close as he tries to orchestrate her escape. When the duo discovers the truth behind Susan’s captivity, they realize she is in grave danger, and they must act quickly. Susan and Rob will need more than passion for each other and their wits to succeed. They will need help from old friends, including Kelsey Reed.

In the previous book, Life First, Susan gave Kelsey a chance at a second life. But now will she get a chance at her own?

My Review:
*I received a free copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review* Please note that this review contains a few small plot spoilers.

Susan's part in Kelsey's escape has backfired and she is being held in another facility against her will, forced to take part in taped therapy sessions. If she helps to discredit her friend and support Life First, they might have an incentive for her, but failure to do so could end in disaster.

Susan was one of my favourite characters in Life First and I was hoping that we would find out what happened to her. Her story is central to the plot but we also get updates on what is happening to Kelsey in her new life which was also good. Rob was a nice addition as he was a really nice, ethical guy who wants to help people but got in over his head on a dodgy medical project. Kelsey's doctor is also back and I liked that we saw a different side to him in this book, giving him more depth and letting the reader see what makes him tick. The character development is strong and there are plenty of bad guys for our heroine to encounter, which is fun for the plot. The story flows nicely in our two locations with no confusion, and the storytelling is straightforward and easy to follow.

Plot wise, I liked the action sequences with Kelsey in danger again, as it showed that she is not truly free even though she escaped from her prison cell. I liked the scenes were Rob's mother was interacting with Susan because you can feel her hatred shining through, and where the Colonel was making it clear what would happen if Susan refused to cooperate. These were tension filled sequences which let the reader experience the danger that Susan was in. I liked the way she was bullied and manipulated with the stick and carrot approach and the fact that a cure was dangled in front of her because we all want Susan to get that cure! The climax to the book was clever, well thought out and gripping for the reader, as you wonder whether success or failure is just around the corner.

I liked both books in the series-book 1 was a mainly dystopian novel with elements of romance, friendship, betrayal and mystery to it. This book felt a bit more like a romance novel for Susan for the first two thirds of the book and then in the final third it returned to it's tension filled dystopian roots. I am not a fan of romance novels so I did find this a lot slower in plot when it went back to Susan and Rob each time. Their dates tended to drag a bit for me in places when I wanted to get back to escape plans or evil people trying to hurt them. It was still a good novel and these niggles are just about my personal taste and no reflection on the author or how good the plot was in general.

Overall the book is enjoyable and tension filled, with something in it for fans of romantic suspence, dystopian and thrillers. I'm looking forward to the third book to see what happens to everybody. 

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Where can I buy this book? 

***BOOK ONE***
Strong-willed Kelsey Reed must escape tonight or tomorrow her government will take her kidney and give it to someone else.

In this future forged by survivors of pandemics that wiped out 80 percent of the world's population, life is valued above all else. The mentally ill are sterilized, abortions are illegal and those who refuse to donate an organ when told are sentenced to death.

Determined not to give up her kidney or die, Kelsey enlists the help of her boyfriend Luke and a dodgy doctor to escape. The trio must disable the tracking chip in her arm for her to flee undetected. If they fail, Kelsey will be stripped of everything.

My Review: 
*I received a free copy of this book from the author through Making Connections in exchange for an honest review*

Kelsey is young, healthy and happy until she is told that she must donate her kidney to a stranger. Scared that the procedure could disable or kill her, Kelsey decides to run away, knowing that if she is caught she will go to prison and her organs will all be harvested until she is dead.

This book turned out to be nothing like what I was expecting-in a good way. It is a story that will get people talking because this society has very clear ideas about Life First-abortion is illegal,women are put at risk to try and save the baby,organ donation is compulsory and those who refuse are regarded as murderers and killed for their organs. It will get emotions running high depending on where you stand on these issues. I don't let my personal opinions affect me when I read a book and I didn't have any problem with the book or its content.

The characters are all well written and you can really feel for them as they face each emotional incident. I really liked Dr Grant, Susan and Kelsey's father as they all add real emotion and depth to the plot. It's easy for readers on one side of the divide to think Kelsey is selfish but when you get deep into her story it does challenge you to think what you would do with her history. The plot was really well worked with lots of twists and surprises that keep you hooked. I expected this to just be one of these on-the-run dramas but it was so much more than that. There was depth, drama, tension and action in this book that I didn't expect. The storytelling was done beautifully, and you can't help but care what happens to everyone involved.

I don't really have a negative on the book. I liked the way the author presented the story, the plot was good, the characters interesting and 'real', and a society that was different. Pehaps an epilogue would have been nice to tie up what happened to everyone but that's me being a bit picky. A good dystopian read for adult and NA/older YA to read.

One thing I would change: I hate each chapter having a title as it gives away the plot for that chapter. I found that frustrating.
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