H.A. Leuschel

All posts tagged H.A. Leuschel

My Sweet Friend – H.A. Leuschel

Published June 6, 2018 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

A stand-alone novella from the author of Manipulated Lives
A perfect friend … or a perfect impostor?
Alexa is an energetic and charismatic professional and the new member of a Parisian PR company where she quickly befriends her colleagues Rosie and Jack. She brings a much-needed breath of fresh air into the office and ambitiously throws herself into her new job and friendships.
But is Alexa all she claims to be?
As her life intertwines with Rosie and Jack’s, they must all decide what separates truth from fiction. Will the stories that unfold unite or divide them? Can first impressions ever be trusted?
In this original novella, H.A. Leuschel evokes the powerful hold of appearances and what a person is prepared to do to keep up the facade. If you like thought-provoking and compelling reads with intriguing characters, My Sweet Friend is for you.

What did I think?:

First of all, a huge thank you to the author, H.A. Leuschel for getting in touch with me via email and asking if I would like to read her new novella, My Sweet Friend after thoroughly enjoying her short story collection, Manipulated Lives last year. Of course I jumped at the chance. Manipulated Lives really spoke to me personally as a past victim of psychological and emotional abuse/manipulation and I was intrigued to read more of Helene’s work where the theme of manipulation is once again explored. Unfortunately, I’ve been unlucky enough to experience these kind of problems with an ex-boyfriend and with friends and once again, so many parts of this novella resonated with my own personal experience. I saw so much of myself in the character of Rosie and I recognised other people I have known in Alexa – in short, it brought so many memories back and made me thank my lucky stars that I’m a stronger person in a much better stage of my life.

Helene Leuschel, author of the novella, My Sweet Friend.

So in a nutshell, this novella focuses on two female leads, Alexa who has had to take leave from a job she has only recently started as a result of stress and she is off sunning herself on a beach in Bairritz. Then we have Rosie who has been with the company for a long time when Alexa joins the team and they strike up a friendship. It is not long before Rosie begins to feel uneasy about the nature of their relationship however. There are the snide comments, the unrealistic expectations and the way Rosie is slowly made to feel as if she is going crazy. There are particular incidents where Alexa denies saying or doing a certain thing putting Rosie in serious financial and emotional difficulties and Rosie is constantly covering for her mistakes at work. Is Alexa a real, honest friend that is just misunderstood? Does Rosie really know the real Alexa at all? Finally, is their relationship a genuine friendship with all the ups and downs that a regular friendship suffers or is it something toxic that needs to be extinguished as soon as possible?

The town of Bairritz, France where Alexa travels to after taking leave from her job.

I was utterly gripped by this short story and quite frankly, appalled by the ever so subtle manipulation carried out which sadly, works all too well on vulnerable people. The author has dug remarkably deep into the human psyche and the ways in which we can affect another human being’s emotions, even by the tiniest little act. Things like this may seem insignificant and in Rosie’s case, are very difficult to prove that they are happening but when it builds up gradually over time, it can destroy a person’s self-esteem which from personal experience, can be very difficult to recover from, if you ever really fully recover. This is a fascinating tale which draws on psychology to illustrate how a person’s thoughts and emotions can be disassembled, piece by piece until the affected victim becomes almost a shadow of themselves, questioning everything, even their own sanity.

My Sweet Friend is another brilliant outing from H.A. Leuschel and I’m incredibly grateful to have been given the opportunity to experience her writing style once more. This is a tale to make you think, reflect and consider people you may have met in your own life, especially if you recognise having been manipulated in the past.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0

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April 2018 – NetGalley/ARC Month (and my first buddy reads!)

Published April 1, 2018 by bibliobeth

Hello everyone! Every other month I alternate what I’m reading quite specifically between three things. It’s either Chrissi Cupboard Month where I try my best to get through all the books my sister and fellow blogger Chrissi Reads lends me (and that’s a lot!). Then there’s Real Book Month where I try and read all the physical books just waiting to be devoured on my bookshelves (also a LOT!) Finally, there’s Book Bridgr/NetGalley/ARC Month where I try and catch up on all those ARC/review copies sent to me by authors, publishers, NetGalley and Book Bridgr. (A LOT!) April is going to be one of the latter months and here’s what I’m looking forward to getting to this month:

The Curse Of Time (Bloodstone #1) – M.J. Mallon (with kind thanks to the author)

What’s it all about?:

Fifteen-year-old Amelina Scott lives in Cambridge with her dysfunctional family, a mysterious black cat, and an unusual girl who’s imprisoned within the mirrors located in her house. When an unexpected message arrives inviting her to visit the Crystal Cottage, she sets off on a forbidden pathway where she encounters Ryder, a charismatic, but perplexing stranger.

With the help of a magical paint set, and some crystal wizard stones she discovers the truth about a shocking curse that has destroyed her family’s happiness.

Drift Stumble Fall – M. Jonathan Lee (with kind thanks to the publisher, Hideaway Fall)

What’s it all about?:

The author of five novels, M Jonathan Lee is a tireless mental health awareness campaigner, working closely with organisations including Mind, Time to Change and Rethink and blogs regularly for Huffington Post. Having personally experienced anxiety and depression during his life, Jonathan draws on his experiences to inform his writing.

Richard feels trapped in his hectic life of commitment and responsibility. From the daily mayhem of having young children, an exhausted wife and pushy in-laws who frequently outstay their welcome, Richards existence fills him with panic and resentment. The only place he can escape the dark cloud descending upon him is the bathroom, where he hides for hours on end, door locked, wondering how on earth he can escape.

Often staring out of his window, Richard enviously observes the tranquil life of Bill, his neighbour living in the bungalow across the road. From the outside, Bills world appears filled with comfort and peace. Yet underneath the apparent domestic bliss of both lives are lies, secrets, imperfections, sadness and suffering far greater than either could have imagined. Beneath the surface, a family tragedy has left Bill frozen in time and unable to move on. As he waits for a daughter who may never return, Bill watches Richards bustling family life and yearns for the joy it brings. As the two men watch each other from afar, it soon becomes apparent that other peoples lives are not always what they seem.

Savages: The Saint-Etienne Quartet Volume 1: The Wedding – Sabri Louatah (with kind thanks to Corsair publishers)

What’s it all about?:

A Saturday in May. Paris.

It’s the eve of the French presidential elections – ‘The Election of the Century’ say the newspaper headlines – and Chaouch, the nation’s first Arab candidate, has victory in his sights. It has been a long campaign, and with his wife Esther and daughter Jasmine by his side, he spends the remaining hours with close advisors in a hotel in Nimes. Much of the dinner table chatter revolves around Jasmine’s boyfriend; Fouad Nerrouche, a well-known actor with the same Algerian origins as her father, who has just publicly endorsed Chaouch’s candidacy. However shallow it may seem, it’s difficult to ignore the influence of celebrity support in this complex and unpredictable race . . .

The same day. Saint-Etienne.

The Nerrouche family is frantically preparing for a grand wedding, and Fouad himself is there to help out. But younger cousin Krim – who has recently lost his job – is becoming increasingly agitated, and no one knows why. As the day goes on, it becomes clear that the cousin’s problems go far deeper than unemployment. Krim has been stealing from a local gang leader and after being discovered, found himself indebted to his powerful cousin, Nazir – Fouad’s brother. Nazir is a very shady figure, and is heavily involved in a dark underworld of crime. Together, their plans will cause Fouad’s two very different worlds to meet in a way no one would have dared to imagine. Within a few hours, the threads start to unravel, and the collision between the destiny of a family and the hopes of a country becomes inevitable.

With the pacing of a thriller, Louatah melds the tense atmosphere of a family saga with the gripping suspense of a political drama into one breathtaking read.

The Two O’Clock Boy – Mark Hill (with kind thanks to Sphere Publishers, via NetGalley)

What’s it all about?:

TWO CHILDHOOD FRIENDS…ONE BECAME A DETECTIVE…ONE BECAME A KILLER…

One night changed their lives
Thirty years ago, the Longacre Children’s Home stood on a London street where once-grand Victorian homes lay derelict. There its children lived in terror of Gordon Tallis, the home’s manager.

Cries in the fire and smoke
Then Connor Laird arrived: a frighteningly intense boy who quickly became Tallis’ favourite criminal helper. Soon after, destruction befell the Longacre, and the facts of that night have lain buried …until today.

A truth both must hide
Now, a mysterious figure, the Two O’Clock Boy, is killing all who grew up there, one by one. DI Ray Drake will do whatever it take to stop the murders – but he will go even further to cover up the truth.

Discover the gripping, twist-filled start to a fantastic new London-set crime thriller series starring morally corrupt DI Ray Drake – the perfect new addiction for fans of Luther.

Happily – Chauncey Rogers (with kind thanks to the author)

What’s it all about?:

If the shoe fits, wear it.
If it doesn’t, 
make it.

Laure is a teenage street urchin just trying to get away. Where the rest of the world sees an enchanting love story, Laure sees royal incompetence and an opportunity to exploit it. She’ll have wealth and a way out of a life she detests, if she can only manage to hoodwink the royal family and survive to tell the tale.

The Resurrection Of Mary Mabel McTavish – Allan Stratton (with kind thanks to Dundurn Publishers)

What’s it all about?:

It’s the Great Depression and Mary Mabel McTavish is suicidal. A drudge at the Bentwhistle Academy for Young Ladies (aka Wealthy Juvenile Delinquents), she is at London General Hospital when little Timmy Beeford is carried into emergency and pronounced dead. He was electrocuted at an evangelical road show when the metal cross on top of the revival tent was struck by lightning. Believing she’s guided by her late mother, Mary Mabel lays on hands. Timmy promptly resurrects.

William Randolph Hearst gets wind of the story and soon the Miracle Maid is rocketing from the Canadian backwoods to ’30s Hollywood. Jack Warner, J. Edgar Hoover, and the Rockettes round out a cast of Ponzi promoters, Bolshevik hoboes, and double-dealing social climbers in a fast-paced tale that satirizes the religious right, media manipulation, celebrity, and greed.

My Sweet Friend – H.A. Leuschel (with kind thanks to the author)

What’s it all about?:

A stand-alone novella from the author of Manipulated Lives
A perfect friend … or a perfect impostor?
Alexa is an energetic and charismatic professional and the new member of a Parisian PR company where she quickly befriends her colleagues Rosie and Jack. She brings a much-needed breath of fresh air into the office and ambitiously throws herself into her new job and friendships.
But is Alexa all she claims to be?
As her life intertwines with Rosie and Jack’s, they must all decide what separates truth from fiction. Will the stories that unfold unite or divide them? Can first impressions ever be trusted?
In this original novella, H.A. Leuschel evokes the powerful hold of appearances and what a person is prepared to do to keep up the facade. If you like thought-provoking and compelling reads with intriguing characters, My Sweet Friend is for you.

So that’s most of what I’ll be reading in April. If you’ve followed me for a while, you will know that I will also be reading my banned book and my kid lit for the month (both challenges that I carry out with my sister and fellow blogger, Chrissi Reads) and anything else I manage to squish in will count as part of my Mount TBR Challenge 2018. Luckily, I can also use quite a few of the titles on this April TBR as I received them before January of this year. Oops.

This month I’m also very excited as not only will I be collaborating with my sister as usual but for the first time, I’ll be doing buddy reads with the lovely Janel from Keeper Of Pages and Stuart from Always Trust In Books. They are both fantastic bloggers and you’re probably following them already but if you don’t, you totally should they’re amazing. I keep up with both of their sites on an (almost) daily basis and I hugely admire both of them. With Janel, I am continuing my love affair with Stephen King’s son by reading The Fireman by Joe Hill and Stuart and I are going to tackle the young adult book Scythe by Neal Shusterman which I’ve heard some terrific things about. Hopefully this can be the start of many more buddy reads, I really am very excited about it!

Finally, I have to mention that I’m going on holiday for two weeks from Wednesday April 11th so apologies if I’m slow to share your posts or comment on them (or indeed, reply to my own comments if you’re kind enough to leave me some!). I’m going to attempt to schedule some posts written in advance but probably won’t be able to get enough for one to go out every day of the two weeks so posts might be a bit erratic for now until the end of April! I’m not taking my laptop but hey, the hotel has Wi-Fi so I’m sure I’ll be able to keep up with what everyone else is posting.

Anyway, hope everyone has a wonderful reading month and I’ll speak to you all soon.

Love Beth xx

Manipulated Lives – H.A. Leuschel

Published September 8, 2017 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

Five stories – Five Lives.
Have you ever felt confused or at a loss for words in front of a spouse, colleague or parent, to the extent that you have felt inadequate or, worse, a failure? Do you ever wonder why someone close to you seems to endure humiliation without resistance?
Manipulators are everywhere. At first these devious and calculating people can be hard to spot, because that is their way. They are often masters of disguise: witty, disarming, even charming in public – tricks to snare their prey – but then they revert to their true self of being controlling and angry in private. Their main aim: to dominate and use others to satisfy their needs, with a complete lack of compassion and empathy for their victim.
In this collection of short novellas, you meet people like you and me, intent on living happy lives, yet each of them, in one way or another, is caught up and damaged by a manipulative individual. First you meet a manipulator himself, trying to make sense of his irreversible incarceration. Next, there is Tess, whose past is haunted by a wrong decision, then young, successful and well balanced Sophie, who is drawn into the life of a little boy and his troubled father. Next, there is teenage Holly, who is intent on making a better life for herself and finally Lisa, who has to face a parent’s biggest regret. All stories highlight to what extent abusive manipulation can distort lives and threaten our very feeling of self-worth.

What did I think?:

First of all, a huge thank you to the author Helene Leuschel for providing me with a copy of her series of novellas, Manipulated Lives in exchange for an honest review. I have read some fantastic reviews of this collection around the blogosphere and was really excited to discover the stories for myself. I was slightly concerned that the subject matter would be too difficult for me to read about (having been a victim of emotional manipulation in the past) but in fact, it was quite a cathartic reading experience and I appreciated the way in which the author presented all the possible guises of a narcissistic/manipulative personality.

Manipulated Lives is a collection of five different novellas, all involving a character that has been manipulated in some manner. Covering both sexes, differing sexual preferences and across a broad age range this versatile collection of stories includes an old woman called Tess who almost lost her family because of the manipulation of her lover, a coming of age story about a teenage girl called Holly who is falling in love for the first time with entirely the wrong sort of boy, a woman called Lisa who realises (perhaps, too late?) the type of son that she has raised and the story of Sophie who begins a relationship with a man and his son only for things to become incredibly intense very quickly. My favourite story in the collection has to be The Narcissist where we get a fascinating insight into the personality of an expert manipulator as we learn more about his life and how he ended up in the hospital bed where he now finds himself, confused and completely alone.

Normally when you read a short story/novella collection, there are those stories that you don’t necessarily warm to that much but I can definitely say, hand on heart, this wasn’t the case with Helene’s collection. I may have liked some of the tales slightly more than others but there wasn’t one story in the bunch that I disliked, a rare thing indeed and proof of the author’s wonderful ability for story-telling. Some of the things she wrote, especially when she was describing the personality of a manipulative individual were so spot on I found myself nodding along, instantly transported back to the past when I had the misfortune to be involved with such a person but the good luck to find a way out of it. I loved the variety of characters and situations that were explored and found it so easy to read this collection in one sitting, instantly compelled to read “just one more story,” until the collection was complete. If you’re looking for a gripping read with a psychological edge that can be enjoyed bit by bit or all in one go, I highly recommend Helene Leuschel’s writing.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0