Posted in *** rating 3/5

Manipulated Lives by Helene Leuschel

MoMo’s Book Diary recommends Helene Leuschel’s Manipulated Lives as a provocative 3 star read.

Helene Leuschel has created a thought-provoking collection of well-rounded and believable characters in each of the five stories.

It is clear from the beginning this is an emotional read.

Five stories of the devastatingly long-lasting affect manipulators have on their victims.

Thanks to the author, Helene Leuschel, for inviting me to read and review this book.

I was taken with the synopsis and although I don’t read many short stories I was drawn into each story. I found the theme to be a difficult read but very focused and interesting.


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.

AUTHOR Helene Leuschel
BOOK TITLE Manipulated Lives
PUBLISHER Self-published with CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
PRINT LENGTH 274 pages
ISBN 978-1534708976


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Helene Andrea Leuschel was born and raised in Belgium to German parents. She gained a Licentiate in Journalism, which led to a career in radio and television in Brussels, London and Edinburgh.

Helene moved to the Algarve in 2009 with her husband and two children, working as a freelance TV producer and teaching yoga. She recently acquired a Master of Philosophy with the OU, deepening her passion for the study of the mind.

Manipulated Lives is Helene’s first work of fiction.

Helene is on TwitterFacebookGoodReads and Amazon


Posted in *** rating 3/5

Good Me Bad Me by Ali Land

I found this novel to be very disturbing – but isn’t that the point of psychological thrillers?

The author has told a very interesting, yet chilling, tale which I found difficult to read at times but was so hooked that I had to keep reading – and read it in a day.

I did struggle with the author’s style of writing at the beginning. It seemed more young adult fiction than psychological but once I got over the tone I did enjoy the book, although did find it predictable.

Thanks to Ali Land, Penguin UK and NetGalley for the opportunity to read this new and exciting novel for 2017.


SET TO BE ONE OF THE MOST EXTRAORDINARY, CONTROVERSIAL AND EXPLOSIVE DEBUTS OF 2017 – for fans of quality psychological suspense and reading group fiction: once you read this book you’ll want to talk about it .

‘NEW N A M E . NEW F A M I LY. S H I N Y. NEW. ME . ‘

Annie’s mother is a serial killer. The only way she can make it stop is to hand her in to the police. But out of sight is not out of mind. As her mother’s trial looms, the secrets of her past won’t let Annie sleep, even with a new foster family and name – Milly. A fresh start. Now, surely, she can be whoever she wants to be. But Milly’s mother is a serial killer. And blood is thicker than water. Good me, bad me. She is, after all, her mother’s daughter…

Translated into over 20 languages, Good Me Bad Me is a tour de force. In its narrator, Milly Barnes, we have a voice to be reckoned with, and in its author, Ali Land, an extraordinary new talent.

PUBLISHER Penguin UK – Michael Joseph
PRINT LENGTH 324 pages






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Ali Land on Penguin website


Posted in *** rating 3/5

Between Hope & the Highway by Charissa Stastny

The title and cover of this book caught my attention – I just love those boots!

The story is well structured and it was a nice clean-ish romance but it just didn’t grab my full attention.  The style of writing is not a style I enjoy reading – but that’s just my opinion – if you enjoy a slow moving Christian romance then this is just the book for you as it has the basic elements of a good romance.

This story is told from the point of view of three characters, Bentley, Liz and Rawson which was a good way of telling the story and helped to understand the characters better and follow their development but I didn’t feel about any of the characters warmly – Liz wasn’t a nice character, Rawson was crude and Bentley wasn’t a strong enough character.

I was surprised at the amount of swearing and sexual tension/innuendo throughout the book given that the book was marketed as a “clean Christian romance”. I felt it was unnecessary and spoiled the story.

Thank you to ebooksforreview for the opportunity to read and review this novel.


After losing her fiancé in an auto accident, Liz Ruthersford flees her home and her parents’ pity to seek refuge on a remote ranch in Montana where no one knows about her tragic past. But her safe haven seems to hold troubles of its own. When she quite literally runs into Rawson Law, the son of her new boss, and has the scare of her life, she wonders if she might have to flee again. The cocky cowboy seems to have it out for her, and when they are paired together to work with the new horses, he undermines her in every way. But Liz cowgirls up and refuses to be intimidated by the handsome man who both annoys her and makes her heart pound every time he glances her way.

Rawson Law appears like he has it all, yet he’d gladly give it all up for the chance to change one foolish decision five years ago that left one brother dead, another broken, and his best friend spiraling down a path of self-destruction. When he returns home to find a strange girl has taken over not only his coveted job with the yearlings, but his position as ‘favorite’ with his family as well, he determines to push her out of the picture and reclaim his life. He’s not about to get shafted by a woman again, even if she appears innocent and sweet.

Though Rawson and Liz fight their attraction, embers of hope flicker to life as their hearts tangle and they discover what it means to truly love. Can forgiveness really allow new beginnings, or will secrets from the past keep them from embracing the present?

AUTHOR Charissa Stastny
BOOK TITLE Between Hope & the Highway
PUBLISHER Amazon Digital Services LLC
PRINT LENGTH 468 pages
OBTAINED: ebooksforreview




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Posted in *** rating 3/5

To Die To Live by Jason Hershey

MoMo’s Book Diary enjoyed Jason Hershey’s debut novel “To Die To Live” and recommends it as an emotional 3 star read.

Jason Hershey has written his debut novel for the Young Adult market.  I was provided with a copy to read and review for the author and I am glad I did, it’s a real page turner and   I read it in one sitting.

The lead character of the book is Thelonious Mitchell, known as Theo, adopted by his aunt and uncle following his mother’s death. Theo is a teenager with issues, he is a loner and doesn’t have the confidence to make friends easily.  One day he bumps into Draven at school and they soon become good friends.

This short story tells of friendship, heartache and loss and determination to make the most of the life we are given.

Whilst I enjoyed the story, I felt that if the author had given the characters more depth the reader would be able to feel a stronger connection. A  fuller backstory would perhaps bring the characters to life. However, the lack of a backstory allows the reader to build their own in which they may relate to the character.  Either way, you need to read it!

I would like to thank Jason Hershey for the opportunity to read and review this novel.


Thelonious “Theo” Mitchell is a down on his luck teenager, wandering aimlessly through life with no desire or focus.

When tragedy strikes, he is taken in by his aunt and uncle. Thrown into a new school with unfamiliar surroundings, he befriends the class “troublemaker”.

After yet another tragedy, will Theo fall victim to life, or use the tragedy as a spark and motivation to embrace all that life has to offer?

AUTHOR Jason Hershey
PUBLISHER CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
ISBN 9781539041979


About the Author

Jason Hershey has been a teacher for 10 years, teaching everything from early childhood to high school. He has a BS in Elementary Education from Bethel College in Kansas. His love of writing was evident from an early age. Originally from Phoenix, Arizona, he now resides in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio with his family. This is his first book.

Posted in *** rating 3/5

After Church Mysteries by Will Martin

MoMo’s Book Diary recommends this a 3 star read.                  

I was drawn to the description of this book however I was not aware of it, or the author, before viewing on NetGalley but it sounded like the type of book I would enjoy reading. I was wrong. Don’t get me wrong, the book is good its just not my type of read.

The author is excellent at describing where, when and why but I did not get the comedy side of it… just wasn’t for me.

I received a copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.



Armed with snacks and voted ‘Most Likely to Succeed’ by his fly-by-night private investigator school, Reverend Richard Burgess has left the pulpit behind to try his hand at helping people in a different way.

After shedding his pastor duds for a newly acquired closetful of somewhat questionable disguises, Detective Burgess sets out to leverage his considerable people smarts to solve crimes and bring closure to his clients.

In this hilarious novel of linked short stories, the former minister busts a smuggling ring, solves a murder, launches a viral video on YouTube, tracks down a ghost, and after exposing a deadly real estate scam, finds CNN in his front yard.

After church is over, staying out of trouble might just be Richard’s new full-time job.


AUTHOR Will Martin
BOOK TITLE After Church Mysteries
SERIES Rev Richard Burgess P.I.
PUBLISHER Wil Martin – CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
PRINT LENGTH 296 pages
ISBN 9781535548083





Will Martin website

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Will Martin on Amazon

Posted in *** rating 3/5

The Hope That Kills by Ed James

I liked some things about this book and but found the style of writing missing something. I recommend this as a 3 star read.

I liked the cover image and the synopsis sounded just my type of book.

The author gets a bit too involved in details and I felt the book dragged on. I prefer books that are faster paced than this. However, the main story was good and it was an enjoyable read although a little hard-going at times.

I am undecided on this author and will purchase the second DI Fenchurch book to give him another go…

I would like to thank netgalley for the opportunity to read and review this book.


The body of a young woman is found on the streets of East London, in the shadow of the City’s gleaming towers. No ID on her, just hard-earned cash. But there is no doubting the ferocity of the attack.

DI Simon Fenchurch takes charge but, as his team tries to identify her and piece together her murder, they’re faced with cruel indifference at every turn—nobody cares about yet another dead prostitute. To Fenchurch, however, she could just as easily be Chloe, his daughter still missing after ten years, whose memory still haunts his days and nights, his burning obsession having killed his marriage.

When a second body is discovered, Fenchurch must peel back the grimy layers shrouding the London sex trade, confronting his own traumatic past while racing to undo a scheme larger, more complex and more evil than anything he could possibly have imagined.

BOOK TITLE The Hope that Kills
SERIES DI Fenchurch #1
PUBLISHER Thomas & Mercer
PRINT LENGTH 366 pages
ISBN 9781503936553
OBTAINED: Netgalley






Ed James writes crime fiction novels, predominantly the SCOTT CULLEN series of police procedurals set in Edinburgh and the surrounding Lothians – the first four are available now, starting with GHOST IN THE MACHINE which has been downloaded over 280,000 times and is currently free. BOTTLENECK (Cullen 5) is out on 17-Mar-14. He is currently developing two new series – DI SIMON FENCHURCH and DS VICKY DODDS, set in London and Dundee respectively. He also writes the SUPERNATURE series, featuring vampires and other folkloric creatures, of which the first book SHOT THROUGH THE HEART is out now and free.

Ed lives in the East Lothian countryside, 25 miles east of Edinburgh, with his girlfriend, six rescue moggies, two retired greyhounds, a flock of ex-battery chickens and rescue ducks across two breeds and two genders (though the boys don’t lay eggs). While working in IT for a living, Ed wrote mainly on public transport but now writes full time.

Find out more:

Ed James website – website

Ed James on Twitter – Facebook – GoodReads and Amazon