Adult Book Review

Manipulated Lives by H.A. Leuschel

The Book:

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Book Title: Manipulated Lives

Book Author: H.A. Leuschel

Page Count: 273

Publishing Date: Jne 8th, 2016

Publisher: Self Published

Date Read: April 30th, 2018

Synopsis: 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 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, followed by a manipulator himself, trying to make sense of his irreversible incarceration. Lastly, there is 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.


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The Review:

As a whole, Manipulated Lives is profound, hard hitting, and emotional. It speaks volumes about knowing your own self worth, and not letting manipulative people push you around. It also teaches a lesson about being conscious of your own actions, and making sure you treat people with love and respect. I have really grown to love Helene’s writing and her emotional stories that deal with important issues of humanity and morality.

Tess With Tattoos

Wow, this first story in the Manipulated Lives collection was heartbreaking and powerful. Tess was strong and beautiful, and so full of secrets and despair. Sandra was a saint, and such an amazing friend to someone who truly needed to feel like she wasn’t alone before the end. This one really highlighted the deep, emotional scars that can be left years after a horrible experience from a manipulative, abusive relationship.

The Spell

This one was definitely heart pounding. On one hand, we had poor little Leo, who was stuck in a sad situation of not knowing his mother, and living with his single dad. On the other hand, we had the story of a creepy stalker, a psychopathic mother, and the potential of not being able to fully trust Leo’s father. It was a highly thought provoking story, and Sophie was put in a very delicate situation of caring for Leo, falling for David, and not fully realizing the messed up family situation she was getting herself in to.

Runaway Girl

This one was definitely an interesting story. On the one hand, I loved how it highlighted a re-occurring problem with both teenagers, and society. Teenagers have a lot going on with school, home life, and their hormones. It becomes quite easy for parents, and other teenagers, to manipulate teens, and it is a scary situation to have to look out for. On the other hand, though I loved how this one was written to be its own story, with the manipulated lives story inside of it, it seemed to go on a little longer than I expected. I thought it was interesting to have Holly being manipulated by two different people, to highlight the aforementioned issues, but having this included with what felt like a story on its own made it feel a little more awkward. It was still quite a powerful story, and really had me feeling bad for Holly and her struggles with both her alcoholic mother, and her need for attention that drove her in to the arms of a male, teenage manipulator.

The Narcissist

The Narcissist is a powerful, sad story about how the things you do can come back to haunt you. This one made my heart hurt and made me so angry knowing that there are still manipulative people in the world who hurt others for enjoyment, or to make themselves feel better. It hurt my heart knowing that there are men out there like the patient in this story. Men who think women are beneath them, and don’t understand that abuse is wrong. This story definitely struck an emotional chord!

My Perfect Child

What an interesting story this was! I am not a parent, but I have always hated seeing parents who don’t know how to discipline their children, and this story was a perfect example of what happens without discipline. It reminded me a little of a movie called The Good Son. We always think about manipulators being adults, but not many people talk about manipulative children who have learned from the start that they can do whatever they want with parents who don’t lay down rules. This one was definitely an intriguing story!

Even though I would not have given each story 5 stars, I would give the collection 5 stars as a whole. Just because I didn’t connect with every story, doesn’t mean I didn’t take something away from each one. Together, these stories are powerful and emotional. Helene has done a fantastic job with pouring raw emotion in to her writing and capturing the hearts and souls of those affected by manipulation.

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Thank you to the author for providing me with this free e-copy in exchange for my honest review!

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Manipulated Lives

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