Review: Manipulated Lives by H.A. Leuschel


manipulated-livesReview: Manipulated Lives by H.A. Leuschel

Date of Publication: June 8th 2016

Genres: Fiction, Contemporary, psychology, Short Stories

Pages: 274

Format: eGalley (provided by author)

Rating:★★★★ (4.5 Stars)

A very special thank you to the lovely H.A. Leuschel for providing me with a eGalley of her book Manipulated Lives. All opinions are my own.

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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. 

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Manipulated Lives is a short story collection that follows the lives of those who have fallen victim to manipulative people. Although this is a work of fiction, Leuschel accurately portrays the impact left on those affected by manipulation. Through personal experience alone, I was able to connect to her writing & feel the depths of confusion felt by those who had to have the veil lifted from their eyes one way or another. These short stories are packed with pain, sorrow, betrayal, but also hope. Hope for those that are able to escape the grips of manipulation & understanding that it isn’t something they did wrong. That it is however, a special trait in those inclined to manipulate, to target those that are seen as too caring or good hearted. I found it most interesting that in each story, the manipulator varied in age and gender. We get both sides of the coin, the effects on the lives of the manipulated but also the self destruction of the manipulator when discovered/confronted.  Each of these stories was impactful & moving in different ways but there are two that stand out the most for me. I won’t go into too much detail describing each of the stories because I do feel that it is is best to go in blind reading this collection. The manipulation described is so disturbing that it will catch you off guard which I took as a sign of great writing. The second story in this collection is titled Tess and Tattoos, this one is my favorite in the collection because it’s told from the perspective of an old woman in an assisted living complex. Tess is a very independent woman who really is in need of love & good company but instead she is lonely with not a single family relative to visit her. She befriends a nurse rather quickly who takes interest in Tess’ background & just why exactly she has no one come and visit her. Her story unfolds and ends rather sadly but I felt that in befriending Sara (nurse), Tess found the strength to liberate herself from all her demons. Tess was a living testament that you may physically detach yourself from a manipulative person however, their reach may be very far into your psyche. This story will probably stay in my soul. The last story in this collection is titled My Perfect Child, and it honestly sang to the mother in me. Although I couldn’t relate to the protagonists experience with her son, I was able to understand the need or want to be the BEST for your child because your own parent fell unbelievably short of mediocre. The mother in this story decided that her son would not want/need for anything, that she would be his EVERYTHING. She plays a big role in the man he grows up to be. I had a hard time digesting the ending for many reasons, in part because I am a mother myself. This one had me questioning what i’d do if I were in her shoes (no spoilers here lol)…it’s actually still lingering in my mind so i’ll take it as food for thought & a cautionary tale. I am really hoping to read more of Leuschel’s writing in the future, it stands out as one of the best for me in 2016.

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This was a tough read for me because of a personal experience that honestly has changed how I make and view new friendships. It’s not an easy thing to trust again after you’ve encountered a manipulative person, especially after many years of their mind games. The part that gets me, is that it’s always someone who is either very close to you or will manage to get very close to you. This book intrigued me as soon as I saw a few trusted blogger friends read & review it…that titlethat cover…it wouldn’t stop calling my attention. The author kindly reached out after seeing my re-tweet of a fellow blogger friends review & I was very happy to accept. What I hadn’t expected, was for this to be such an impactful & poignant read. I know now that there was a reason for my crossing paths with this book & it’s author. I spent many years after physically cutting ties with my manipulator,  wondering about them & how they were faring and if they were up to the same old games. I went through a range of emotions, some where I even got on myself for being so naive & blind to their intentions. See, although I had physically parted ways…that person still had a hold on my thoughts & therefore still had a hold on me. I am finally mentally liberated from this person as a whole but it wasn’t until reading Manipulated Lives, that I realized how lucky I am really, because this person didn’t get to ruin my life. I may still be a work in progress, but at least all is not lost 😉

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Author: LairOfBooks

"Between The Pages Of A Book Is A Lovely Place To Be"-Anonymous

22 thoughts on “Review: Manipulated Lives by H.A. Leuschel”

  1. Great review!! Sometimes hard reads is what the soul needs in order for us to reflect on ourselves. I’m so happy that you’re mentally liberated! (literally smiling) I would love to eventually read this book maybe some time mid next year.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Gretchen! & I agree, sometimes books that make us reflect are just what is needed. Timing is everything & I’m glad I came across it now after many years of distancing from my situation. I hope you enjoy the writing as much as I did 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’m pretty sure I will, we see about 97% eye to eye on everything (except for the raven cycle lmao!). I agree that timing is everything which is why I want to read it midyear of 2017 cause I usually don’t have a gloom surrounding me lol.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. This is a great review Lilly, and it sounds like a really interesting book. I feel like I’ve seen a review for this before on WordPress because the blurb sounds familiar to me, then again it could just because I’ve seen it on one of your previous posts.
    I love that it explores manipulators and the people who are manipulated, it must have been a unique reading experience seeing through both their eyes so to say. I’m sorry this was a tough read for you but it sounds like overall it was a good book, and it seems like you enjoyed it as well! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Beth! a couple of bloggers have reviewed it that I know of. Donna @ Chocolatenwafflesblog & Danielle @ BooksVertigoandTea have great reviews for Manipulated Lives. Although it was a tough read, I did enjoy the writing & overall message of hope 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I loved Tess and Tattoos! They were all very well written, but that one does bring on the feels. This resonated with me for personal reasons as well. I am still bound to a manipulator in a sense, and this was a real eye opener. I had a feeling that you would connect with this ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Wonderful review! I love the diversity of characters and stories the author put together, there’s something for every one of us to connect to. It particularly talks to those of us who have witnessed of suffered from a toxic relationship. I’m sorry to hear personal reasons made you especially sensitive to the stories. But like you said, hope is also present, and it is a relief ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Donna! Maybe reading this book back then, I would’ve been less receptive…in fact I can almost guarantee I wouldn’t love it. Mostly because your mind can easily play tricks on you, accepting only what it wants when it wants. Glad to have come across this collection on your page at this point in my life so thank you Donna 💕it spoke to a healing ❤️

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  5. I remember seeing a review for this one on Danielle’s blog a while back and adding it to my TBR. I love how the author explores both sides, the one being manipulated and the manipulator. It really does sound like a powerful read. Hopefully I’m able to pick it up in the future. Great review, Lilly! 😊💕

    Liked by 1 person

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