My Sweet Friend by H A Leuschel #NewRelease #Book Review

Sweet Friend

Would you be suspicious of someone who described you as, “My sweet friend”?  This novella tells the story of the relationship between Alexa and Rosie.  When smart, charismatic Alexa joins the Parisian PR firm where Rosie is a trusted employee, she quickly makes her mark.  Her glowing reference and impressive CV are matched by her immaculate clothes and well organised manner and she quickly strikes up a friendship with Rosie.

Told in turn by Alexa and Rosie we learn what has happened, both by their admissions to the reader and by the dialogue between the two young women.  Rosie is saddled with the problem of providing care for her mother who had Alzheimer’s, while Alexa has no contact with family.  Also affected by the changing dynamics in the office is Jack, who is close to Rosie but develops a love/hate relationship with Alexa.

The most revealing passages are in Alexa’s voice.  We sympathise with her concern over the high expectations at work.  She is not coping but is determined to maintain her calm exterior and charm.  The detailed description of her immense pleasure in sitting in the sunshine drinking delicious coffee while her blonde hair lifted softly in the sea breeze, emphasise her need to put herself first.  There is evidence that she is deceiving others, but she is also deceiving herself.

We have all met needy people who take and never give.  Where do you draw the line?  Are we sometimes too gullible?  The questions posed by this story are, why is Alexa like this and what will happen next in her life.  An intriguing, thought-provoking tale.

You can purchase My Sweet Friend on Amazon UK

Helene

Helene Andrea Leuschel grew up in Belgium where she gained a Licentiate in Journalism & Communication, which led to a career in radio and television in Brussels, London and Edinburgh. She now lives with her husband and two children in Portugal and recently acquired a Master of Philosophy with the OU, deepening her passion for the study of the mind. When she is not writing, Helene works as a freelance journalist and teaches Yoga.

You can read my review of Helene’s short stories Manipulated Lives here

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Away for Christmas (A Novella) by Jan Ruth #NewRelease #BookReview

Away

Jonathan is at a crossroads in his life; disillusioned with his work as an accountant he is about to launch his first book, but was it wise to give up his job just before Christmas?  As he and his girlfriend, Catherine, set out for a couples Christmas with their usual friends, at a rented house in Llangollen, their relationship is heading for a crisis.  And he already has unresolved issues with ex-wife Denise and their teenage daughter, Lizzie.

There are many complications with his book trilogy, due to the incompetency of the publishing company and he is concerned about Catherine’s grandfather Gwilym, who is rapidly developing Alzheimer’s.  He cherishes Gwilym’s small bookshop on the seafront and doesn’t want it to close.  Could he find a solution to all these problems?

There are some delightful observations about the difficulties of publishing a book.  Tangerine Press and editor, Eden Edwards, act as if they are on the ball as a prestige company but it is all smoke and mirrors.  It doesn’t take the reader long to identify the online bookseller, Marathon, where Jonathan searches for his sales figures.

For a novella, this story packs in many strands: of parental and romantic relationships, of friendship and community spirit.  Set over three Christmas seasons, 2015 -2017, we see Jonathan find a way through his problems, gaining wisdom and appreciating his friends and family.  He acquires a dog called Frodo and sets out on a new life.  There is a satisfying conclusion which keeps you guessing and even leaves the way open for the possibility of a follow-up book.  A warm, rewarding book for the Christmas season, set in a realistic, inviting location.

Away for Christmas can be purchased from Amazon UK

Jan Ruth

Jan Ruth

About My Books

Fiction which does not fall neatly into a pigeon hole has always been the most difficult to define. In the old days such books wouldn’t be allowed shelf space if they didn’t slot immediately into a commercial list.
As an author I have been described as a combination of literary-contemporary-romantic-comedy-rural-realism-family-saga; oh, and with an occasional criminal twist and a lot of the time, written from the male viewpoint.

No question my books are Contemporary. Family and Realism; these two must surely go hand-in-hand, yes? So, although you’ll discover plenty of escapism, I hope you’ll also be able to relate to my characters as they stumble through a minefield of relationships. I hesitate to use the word romance. It’s a misunderstood and mistreated word and despite the huge part it plays in the market, attracts an element of disdain. If romance says young, fluffy and something to avoid, maybe my novels will change your mind since many of my central characters are in their forties and fifties. Grown-up love is rather different, and this is where I try to bring that sense of realism into play without compromising the escapism.

Jan Ruth

Manipulated Lives by H A Leuschel #TuesdayBookBlog

manipulated

Sometimes a book’s title and cover can deter you from opening the first page. You suspect it will be rewarding but you are worried that the experience might be distressing. But opening Manipulated Lives gives instant gratification. From the first paragraph of the first novella “The Narcissist” I was involved with the feelings of the protagonist, lying trapped in a hospital bed. It is difficult to avoid spoilers when describing this book, but what is plain is that, “Nothing is but what is not.” The author manipulates her readers.

The manipulation of another, by a character in each story, is not creative. It is abusive and is fuelled by selfishness and a need to control, but the study of how charm and deception can entrap a victim is intriguing and believable. At times, we too feel empathy for the manipulators, even though they are incapable of considering others. In the story of “Tess and Tattoos” we come to realise the complexity in the back life of a lonely old lady and in “The Spell” we begin to understand why an intelligent, talented young woman can become entangled in the lives of a busy, single father and his loveable son.
The novella, “Runaway Girl” is perhaps the most fulfilling to read. It is easy to identify with Lisa, from the point of view of her mother, her teacher or one’s own teenage years. You feel a sense of impending doom, as her life starts to fall apart and yet the story ends with such promise. The final story of “The Perfect Child” will remind any reader of mothers they have encountered or children they remember. Putting children on a pedestal has become the norm in modern society but what calamities are we laying up for ourselves by this action and who is happy? Neither parent nor child.

These novellas are beautifully written, carefully revealing characters and situations through a variety of viewpoints. H A Leuschel is a writer to watch. Her understanding of human psychology, cause and consequence, make her stories credible and fascinating.

To read an interview with Helen Leuschel go to Portobellobookblog

Rosie's Book Review team 1

I read this book as a member of Rosie’s Book Review Team.

 

 

 

 

Best Seller by Terry Tyler

Best

 

What is it, that engenders the desire and energy to write fiction?  That is the question which underlies the plot of Best Seller by Terry Tyler.  Three young women are writing and publishing novels.  They have become acquainted through the North Norfolk Novelists, either online or in person.  But the outcome of their efforts varies greatly.

 

Stunningly attractive, Eden Taylor has hit the big time, Becky Hunter has made steady sales from her light romances but not enough to give up the day job, while Jan Chilver writes to escape her sad, lonely life.  Can they support each other and enhance all their careers or will jealousy and the desire for fame and fortune get in the way?

 

The plot of this novella is very intriguing and the conclusion keeps the reader’s imagination active.  It seems as though success as an author may come at a high cost to personal happiness.  The story is told clearly and simply as it unwinds, but the questions of why do we write and why do we select a book to read are the underlying subtext.

 

For fans of Terry’s previous books, this story includes the expected amusing, manipulative, minor characters who make the book both real and such a pleasure to read.  For me, it’s a Best Seller.