Tess and Tattoos by H. A. Leuschel (Story #1 from the Manipulated Lives compilation)

Tess and Tattoos by H.A. Leuschel
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I read Tess and Tattoos in H A Leuschel’s compilation Manipulated Lives. It was the first short story out of the five, and although they were all great stories, this was definitely my favourite. I always enjoy reading about older characters. There’s something very heartwarming and poignant about the older generation, they seem to have a way with words, looking at the world through older and wiser eyes.

The author absolutely nailed it with the main protagonist in this story. Tess, an octogenarian is spending her final years living in a care home, the highlight of the day is when her carer, Sandra, does her rounds and the two women bond and form a touching friendship which is the basis of the story.

This novella is divided into short chapters with clear paragraph spacing which is something I always appreciate in a book.

On starting this, I was given very clear visuals of the scene the author created, vividly placing the characters in a setting that was easy to picture in my minds eye. The character personas were portrayed with precision and simplicity, I connected with them instantly, particularly Tess.

This story has mystery, feel good factor, and a touch of sadness. I was pleasantly surprised by the conclusion, I had an inkling as to where it was going, but the writing was stylised in such a way that it kept me hooked, drip feeding little details at perfectly timed moments.

H A Leuschel has a knack, she gently builds insight into the human psyche in story form, adding feeling and creativity which creates powerful stuff. In Manipulated Lives, Tess and Tattoos was the one novella that stood out the most, and it deserves an individual review in its own right. The other four are also exceptional, so I’d go read them all, they won’t disappoint!

A well deserved 5 star rating from me! 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

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Manipulated Lives by H. A. Leuschel (A 2017 top read)

Manipulated Lives by H.A. Leuschel

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

5 Stories 5 Stars

This is the first collection of novellas that I’ve read in all my years of book-worming. I’ve always preferred to read one longer story, to acclimatise myself to the writing style and characters. Taking the time to find that pull you get when immersed into an authors world. The connection, that moment when you know that you’re hooked. It’s something that can’t be rushed, I love the savouring feeling of meeting a new set of characters, and being a fly on the wall, whatever the scene or situation. This is my reasoning for always choosing one book, one story. It’s why I have never opted for a collection of short stories, I felt that their length wouldn’t give me the time I need to get settled in.

Manipulated Lives by H A Leuschel has completely overhauled that thought process! I think I may have been missing out all this time because I never gave novella compilations a chance. This collection is outstanding, it is going to be a very hard act to follow indeed.

The five stories are very different. But they all have one common denominator, a manipulator. These characters are cleverly calculated, likeable and hateable in equal measures, and yet, fascinatingly brilliant. You’ll find yourself relating to them, whether you’ve been on the receiving end of manipulation, or if you are a manipulator yourself.

The author had the ability to grab my attention within a paragraph or two. This goes for every single story. That pull I mentioned above was instant. This collection could be written as five full length books, the characters were absolutely fascinating, I’d like to know more about each and every one of them.

Manipulators come from all walks of life, and without sounding too sinister, Ms Leuschel has manipulated me into changing my opinion on short reads!! Luckily, this kind of bookish manipulation is very welcome, but once you read these stories, I’m sure you’ll agree that being manipulated is extremely distressing. If you even realise that it is happening to you of course.


Tess and Tattoos

Tess, an Octogenarian, who is haunted by her past.


The Spell

Sophie, a young, successful woman, who gets totally sucked in by the life of a small boy and his father.


Runaway Girl

Holly, a teenager who falls for the school heart throb.


The Narcissist

A manipulators POV, trying to fathom out his life and his current situation.


My Perfect Child

Lisa, and her unconditional love for her son.

With punchy titles, and well written characters this collection was a superb read. There is dark and disturbing undertones of how twisted and truly evil humans can be, making for a fascinating character study that I cannot fault.

After each story when I closed the book, I caught sight of the cover, and it dawned on me just how fitting it was. A simple picture capturing a young woman obscuring her face with the back of her hand. As I went from story to story, it became apparent that this reaction spoke volumes.

This is a collection of stories that will stay with me for quite some time. It was relatable and thought provoking, and I’d like to say a HUGE thank you to the author for sending me a copy to read and review.

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Welcome 💜📚💜

So, if you’ve just stopped by as you’ve arrived here from my Tweet, nice to see you! And I thank you for taking the time to read this far. 😉

My blog isn’t very old, and I am still trying to understand a LOT of basic stuff. I’m too busy bloody reading or scrolling on Goodreads/NetGalley 😱 I do not need any more ARC’s. OK? I have plenty. Plenty.

Anyway, I digress, generally my blog is for my Goodreads reviews, but as I get more confident, I’ll post stuff…ummmm, bookish stuff mainly. And maybe the odd nice photo, owl-related probably.😉

OK, well, that is all. And follow me. If you want. Up to you. No pressure.🙅

The Witchfinders Sister by Beth Underdown

The Witchfinder’s Sister by Beth Underdown
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

4.5 stars rounded up to 5

Every time I read a historical fiction book, I’m reminded just how fascinating English history is, and that I absolutely bloody love this genre!

Beth Underdown has done a superb job of writing her debut novel based on true events surrounding the fear and intrigue of Witchcraft in seventeenth century England. The story is based on the life of the 1640s Witchfinder Matthew Hopkins, with the main protagonist being his sister, Alice.

The authors writing style created such feelings of helplessness and pity. The scenes were full to the brim of atmosphere, I could smell the filth, hear the whispers of townsfolk, visualise the clothing and wretched children playing in the gutters.

It all sounds so deeply depressing, but, believe me, it was far from it. To say I was gripped by the story would be a lie. It took me just over a week to read it, which is quite a time for me, but I thoroughly enjoyed every single aspect of this book. I think it took me so long because I was savouring each chapter, hanging on to every beautifully written paragraph, and wallowing in the thought of reading another installment. A great book doesn’t necessarily need to be devoured in one sitting.

The Witchfinder’s Sister has everything to pull the reader into the dark and terrifying times women had to endure during this period. Suspicion was rife and the threat of torture, and ultimately, death if you so much as grew any kind of herb on your windowsill filled many a woman with dread. Seems to me that male chauvinism was as rife as dysentery, and God help you dear if you have any thoughts or beliefs of your own!

I’m bound to give this kind of novel the five star treatment, I just can’t help myself, I can’t resist historical fiction, and when Witchcraft is the subject matter, and the writing is this good, I’m sold.

Oh, and before I forget, this has major cover~love from me. I’d like to own a physical copy of this just to touch and appreciate that artwork. Stunning.

I’d like to thank the publisher, Penguin Random House UK, the author, Beth Underdown and NetGalley for the opportunity to read this in exchange for an honest review.

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