Manipulated Lives by H.A. Leuschel

30509344Five 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.

….Full blurb on Goodreads

*I received a free copy of this book directly from the author in exchange for an honest review* 

I am going to start this review off with something that’s niggling on my mind. This collection of 5 stories around manipulation offers a truly captivating, yet emotionally exhausting read and even though a quick internet search tells me that men are more likely to have narcissistic tendencies than women, I would have loved to have more of a balance in the book. Out of the 5 stories, only one of them had a female narcissisistic pervert, <SPOILER>and even this was delivered as a twist prior to which the reader was made to believe that the man/husband/father was the manipulator</SPOILER>. To give it to you straight, this felt a little bit unfair to me. There, I said it… and that was the only ‘negative’ thing I have to comment on.

As far as psychological fiction goes- this collection of 5 different lives dealing with a manipulator was an intense read because as I read each story they truly felt real. And scary. We have characters, victims of manipulation, from all walks and ages of life, ‘imprisoned’ by the unbeatable force in their lives brought on by their blind love fuelled by their ignorance of multiple red flags. The characters in each of their stories either was lucky enough to learn their lesson early on, or ended up having a soul full of regrets around their past mistake of ignoring the warning signs. Look… I love psychology, human beings are fascinating- what drives them, what shatters them, the list of various reasonings and triggers are endless, but I readily admit that I don’t even know the half of what goes on with the human mind. Keeping this in mind, it would be unfair of me to offer any deeper analysis around the topic… It’s fascinating nonetheless!

In terms of choices with characters you already know I would have wished a more balanced male v female approach, however, all the characters that were chosen for this collection were unique. Ages, backgrounds and their personal reasonings were all different and for that I am grateful- it eliminated the risk of repetition. The writing and execution of each story was solid and enjoyable to read. Very very strong indeed, in terms of managing to pull me into the ongoings of fictional characters and their thoughts and emotions. I found it very easy to empathize and connect with each of the victims, which made the reading experience that much more intimate and personal.

I have two favorite stories out of the five: Tess and Tattoos  really pulled on my heartstrings- a long life lived; the feelings of loneliness, regret… and that ending. I admit here, quite honestly, I dislike people&society quite often, a bit of a misanthropic tendency, but if there is one thing that manages to bring a tear to my eye is a thought of an elderly person alone. Imagining the weight and feeling of solitude I have often noticed among elderly in a community, just simply breaks my heart! Spell I enjoyed so much because of the twists and turns of the story. It was ingenious in terms of story delivery!

My rating: 4 stars. I highly recommend reading this book.



  1. Such a cool trick that you did with the spoiler.. didn’t know that existed! I’m happy to hear you liked this book so much. I admit that it’s a fascinating topic. I politely declined to read this book for several reasons when given the opportunity, one was that I already read about manipulators before and it didn’t sit good with me that he didn’t get what he deserved (I’m still all for happy endings), and another reason is that I’m not a big fan of different stories in a book.. I’m afraid that doesn’t give enough time to develop a story fully in such a short amount of euhm pages and to really connect, but I’m glad to hear this worked really well here. Great review!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you :).. Yes, I’ve seen the spoiler trick on few of the blogs and thought it was a good way to say what you want to say and yet hide it from potential readers who don’t want spoilers…

      I think your reasonings for declining to read this book are valid. After all, you know best what you’d rather read and what not. It sounds very fair- to yourself and towards the author as well 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. ooooooo you’re the first person i see do the spoiler thing, i never even knew that existed lol! So cool! Anyways, great review. I really do want to pick up this book but when I’m ready for it cause topics like these are kind of hard. You and Lilly both gave it high ratings so I have high hopes that I will enjoy it myself ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • 🙂
      The spoiler thing really easy… just put the text color the same as your background color and voilá! 😀
      I get ya! It is a difficult read, especially when the manipulators have no remorse… but then again, this is something some people actually deal with in reality so it’s… yeah, it’s difficult.
      I hope that when you are ready to read the book, you won’t be too deeply affected and still manage to take something good out of it! ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  3. We are all so excited over your spoiler trick haha. But your review was spot on really! I am so glad you enjoyed this, but now reflecting back, I am guilty of not maybe realizing that it was a tad unbalanced huh? I think sometimes I get on a train of thought and just roll with it. So it is pretty cool to read your review and take a moment to reflect a bit more. That is the beauty of comparing thought eh ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • Aw, thank you… I think Jackie over at Death by Tsundoko used it and Magini as well… so, I hopped on the spoiler train.. it’s a handy trick, so it is! 🙂

      It absolutely is the beauty of comparing thoughts.. at first I thought I was making a big deal out of nothing, but when a thought sticks in mind then I have to mention it… I commented above as well, that the unbalance made me see the topic/theme as if it’s always the men are bad and women the victims and I fully believe this wasn’t the author’s intention, just something that stuck… There was a lot of condescending behaviour at it was mostly from one angle… however, still enjoyed the read. I truly did!

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Ah yes I do see what you mean- unfortunately male victims of abuse are too often overlooked- I read a shocking statistic the other day that more than 40% of victims of domestic violence are men and some articles suggest narcissistic abuse is about 50/50. Quite shocking. But I digress- basically I agree it would have been better to have more of a balance of abusers (then again I wouldn’t want to cut stories so that might have made it pretty bloated). I agree this is a fascinating subject! So much scope too! And I read this and enjoyed it- if “enjoy” is the right word! Tess and Tattoos was definitely one of the best!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for your comment and for the facts! It is quite shocking…
      I don’t think I’m educated enough on the subject matter, but with all the female empowerment happening (which is a good thing, don’t get me wrong), it’s easy to go from one extreme to the other and forget about the men… if that makes sense… In the collection, the balance thing just screamed to me, that in majority it was the men that were the manipulators and hence the overall message was that ‘men are manipulators’.. I know that’s not the case and not what author intended, but just something that stuck with me…

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Thanks for pointing out the unbalance in the book, I had completely missed this point! It definitely would have been nice to see male victims have a bigger place, I feel sorry that they are often overlooked. I loved those short stories, I thought the different voices were very good and the subject is fascinating 🙂 Brilliant review!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Great review. I completely understand where you are coming from with the unbalanced protagonist perspective. Lately, I find I’ve been reading far too many books where women are willing victims and men are villains. Similar concept, we should escape it. This books sounds really fascinating, but it probably isn’t for me. Most of my reading is done for escapism. I don’t need the negative emotions piling in my already distressed brain. But I’m glad you enjoyed it! Great review, Liis.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I hear ya! and thank you… Funnily enough… relating to this comment and the thought process behind it.. I just came across a news article.. well, a column that one of the Irish women is writing, so she claims that it’s impossibl for women to be sexist towards men and I was like- what is she on?… god almighty, we’re so into the feminism and equality that the lines are being blurred big time and I don’t like it… it’s all good, we all should be treated the same, but that was downright bamboozling statement to make by her I think… sigh…

      Liked by 1 person

      • The world of the internet makes it super easy to find someone who supports your ideas, no matter how crazy and unfounded. Plus with all our fake news outlets… well, I’m not surprised people have unrealistic expectations of the world and other people.
        I just wish there was an easy way for people to see the suffering they cause through ignorance.

        Liked by 1 person

        • You said it! Thanks to internet even the smallest thing can snowball into a mass psychosis and panic… I also never understand how with some things people tear someone of something down even before that change (whatever it is) is given a chance.. and it’s because of that mass psychosis… hell, all I know, some changes can bring about something positive but no- let’s cause havoc on the streets and burn cars and kill people because we just KNOW that something isn’t going to work out… I know I’m being proper vague here, but there are so many different things that have happened to spur on a total overreaction form masses.

          Liked by 1 person

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