Countdown Cafe by Kristi Helvig #BookReview @KristiHelvig

Cover: Countdown Cafe
by Kristi Helvig

I could not resist – had to get this book (epub format) after reading the blurb.

My rating:  ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐  (five stars)

Plot
(by Goodreads)

In this speculative fiction short story, a teenager grieving the death of her twin sister stumbles across an unusual coffee shop only to discover that its inhabitants aren’t quite who they seem. It is a contemporary tale with a twist, reminiscent of The Twilight Zone. This story is from the award-winning anthology, Tick Tock: 7 Tales of Time, which was named a Finalist for the 2017 Next Generation Indie Book Award in the Anthology category.

Genre(s): > One-Hour Literature & Fiction Short Reads
> Magical Realism
> One-Hour Science Fiction & Fantasy Short Reads
Series: n.a.
Length: 43 pages
Release date: 2017-07-15

 

Teaser


The opaque, frosted glass window is etched with a steaming cup of coffee next to a croissant. An intricately carved wooden sign hangs over the door saying Café au Lait in fancy cursive writing. Sophie would have loved this place. I don’t understand how I missed this shop before; however, judging by the sparsely populated parking lot, it must go unnoticed by many. It bothers me that I can’t see through the window.


My Opinion

This book introduces you to to a teenager who lost her twin nearly a year ago.

With Countdown Café”, Kristi Helvig has created a tenderly narrated and thought-provoking story that kept me glued to my Kindle. Kristi Helvig gets you very close to the main character as the story proceeds; I felt with her right from the start. The story is about bereavement and how a teenager handles the loss of her twin sister. The story has a good flow; it certainly will not leave you unaffected as it is touching and has a fabulous paranormal touch.

This is a book for you if you like well-told unusual stories, psychology, and food for thought.

Highly recommended.

In brief:

Cover ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐  (four stars)
Writing ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐  (five stars)
Plot ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐  (five stars)
Characters ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐  (five stars)
Mood Suspenseful
Pace Steady
POV First person – past tense
Language :mrgreen:  (appropriate)
Violence :mrgreen:  (none to speak of)
Sexual content :mrgreen:  (none)

 

About the author

Kristi Helvig is a Ph.D. clinical psychologist turned sci-fi/fantasy author. Her debut sci-fi novel, BURN OUT (Egmont USA/Lerner Publishing), was called “a scorching series opener not to be missed” by Kirkus Reviews. Her latest book, KILLER POINTE (Dark Edge Publishing) is an urban fantasy involving a teen who plans to fund her dreams of Juilliard School for dance in this world by serving as an assassin in a parallel fairy tale world. Kristi muses about Star Trek, space monkeys, and other assorted topics at http://www.kristihelvig.com and on Twitter (@KristiHelvig). Kristi resides in sunny Colorado with her hubby, two kiddos, and behaviorally-challenged dogs.

Connect with the author:

Please take a look at my statement on reading in My train of thoughts on …reading.  Now I am asking you.  🙂

My questions for you bibliophiles:
What about you?  What did you think about “Countdown Café”?  Or – if you did not yet read “Countdown Café” – are you now interested in reading it yourself?

I am looking forward to reading your comments.  🙂

 

 

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The Memories We Bury by H. A. Leuschel #BookReview @HALeuschel

Cover: The Memories We Bury
by H.A. Leuschel

 

The author sent me an ARC of this book (mobi format) in exchange for an honest review.

My rating:  ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐  (five stars)

Plot
(by Goodreads)

An emotionally charged and captivating novel about the complexities of female friendship and motherhood.

Lizzie Thomson has landed her first job as a music teacher, and after a whirlwind romance with Markus, the newlywed couple move into a beautiful new home in the outskirts of Edinburgh. Lizzie quickly befriends their neighbour Morag, an elderly, resourceful yet lonely widow, whose own children rarely visit her. Everything seems perfect in Lizzie’s life until she finds out she is pregnant and her relationships with both Morag and Markus change beyond her control.

Can Lizzie really trust Morag and why is Markus keeping secrets from her?

In ‘The Memories We Bury’ the author explores the dangerous bonds we can create with strangers and how past memories can cast long shadows over the present.

Genre(s): > Mothers & Children Fiction
> Women’s Psychological Fiction
> Psychological Fiction (Kindle Store)
Series: n.a.
Length: 314 pages
Release date: 2020-04-17

 

Teaser


‘It was so hard to live up to her expectations, Morag. I just wanted her to love me…’ I said, pausing to consider my train of thought.

‘Yes, my dear, yes …’ I’d looked at Morag, astonished that for once she’d not offered more than a perfunctory answer. ‘You’ll find out soon enough how difficult it can be to bring up a child.’ That last sentence came out as even more of a surprise.


My Opinion

This book introduces you to Lizzie, freshly married, moving in next door to Morag, a retired nurse.

With The Memories We Bury”, H. A. Leuschel has created an intense and thought-provoking story that kept me glued to my Kindle. Helene Leuschel introduces her characters as the story proceeds; I suddenly realised that I knew them quite well – or at least I thought I knew them. The main characters are complex – as well as believable. The story has a good flow; it certainly will not leave you unaffected. Not everyone will have the ‘Been there, done that.’ feeling, and they still will have goosebumps on their arms.

This is a book for you if you like compelling stories, psychology, and food for thought.

Highly recommended.

In brief:

Cover ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐  (four stars)
Writing ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐  (four stars)
Plot ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐  (five stars)
Characters ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐  (five stars)
Mood Suspenseful
Pace Steady
POV First person – past tense (Lizzie and Morag in their chapters)
Language :mrgreen:  (appropriate)
Violence :mrgreen:  (none to speak of)
Sexual content :mrgreen:  (decent)

 

About the author

Helene 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.

Connect with the author:

Please take a look at my statement on reading in My train of thoughts on …reading.  Now I am asking you.  🙂

My questions for you bibliophiles:
What about you?  What did you think about “The Memories We Bury”?  Or – if you did not yet read “The Memories We Bury – are you now interested in reading it yourself?

I am looking forward to reading your comments.  🙂

 

 

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My Sweet Friend by H. A. Leuschel #BookReview @HALeuschel

Cover: My Sweet Friend
by author H. A. Leuschel

The author sent me an ARC of this book (mobi format) in exchange for an honest review.

My rating:  ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

Plot
(by Goodreads)

A stand-alone novella from the author of Manipulated Lives.

A perfect friend … or a perfect impostor?

Alexa is an energetic and charismatic professional and the new member of a Parisian PR company where she quickly befriends her colleagues Rosie and Jack. She brings a much-needed breath of fresh air into the office and ambitiously throws herself into her new job and friendships.

But is Alexa all she claims to be?

As her life intertwines with Rosie and Jack’s, they must all decide what separates truth from fiction. Will the stories that unfold unite or divide them? Can first impressions ever be trusted?

In this original novella, H.A. Leuschel evokes the powerful hold of appearances and what a person is prepared to do to keep up the façade. If you like thought-provoking and compelling reads with intriguing characters, My Sweet Friend is for you.

Genre(s): Kindle eBooks
> Mystery, Thriller & Suspense > Suspense > Psychological
> Kindle Short Reads > Two hours + (65-100 pages) > Literature & Fiction
Books
> Mystery, Thriller & Suspense > Thrillers & Suspense > Psychological Thrillers
Series: n.a.
Length: 92 pages
Release date: 2017-12-06

 

Teaser


‘Oh, don’t tell me she’s already wanting to give you a make-over.’ She eyed me suspiciously. ‘Don’t trust her,’ she said, leaning closer to my ear, so that no one else could hear. ‘There’s something about her I don’t like,’ she added, her eyes a steady, calm stare.


My Opinion

This book introduces you to Alexa, new employee at a Parisian PR company.

With My Sweet Friend, H. A. Leuschel has created an intense and thought-provoking story that kept me glued to my Kindle. Helene Leuschel introduces her characters as the story proceeds; I suddenly realised that I knew them quite well. The main characters are of sufficient depth – as well as believable. The story has a good flow; it certainly will not leave you unaffected.

This is a book for you if you like compelling stories, psychology, shorter reads, and food for thought.

Recommended.

In brief:

Cover ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
Writing ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
Plot ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
Characters ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
Mood Suspenseful
Pace Steady
POV Third person – past tense
Language :mrgreen:
Violence :mrgreen:
Sexual content :mrgreen: – 😳

 

About the author

Helene 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.

Connect with the author:

Please take a look at my statement on reading in My train of thoughts on …reading.  Now I am asking you.  🙂

My questions for you bibliophiles:
What about you?  What did you think about My Sweet Friend?  Or – if you did not yet read My Sweet Friend – are you now interested in reading it yourself?

I am looking forward to reading your comments.  🙂

 

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Tess and Tattoos by H. A. Leuschel #BookReview @HALeuschel

The Amazon version of this book (mobi format) was available for free; it is also part of H. A. Leuschel’s ‘Manipulated Lives‘.

My rating:  ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

Plot
(by Goodreads)

A suspenseful and emotional novella exploring whether we can ever be free from our past mistakes.

In this story, the reader is taken on a compelling journey into the human mind where genuine friendship offers the key to inner peace.

Meet Tess, an elderly lady living in a care home apartment in the outskirts of Edinburgh, whose past is haunted by a wrong decision. She meets Nurse Sandra, a warm and bubbly single mother of three, who is instantly intrigued by Tess’s personality and the mystery that surrounds her.

‘Tess and Tattoos’ is one of five gripping stories in HA Leuschel’s story collection Manipulated Lives centred around psychological manipulation

.

Genre(s): Kindle Short Reads
> 90 minutes (44-64 pages) > Literature & Fiction
Kindle eBooks
> Literature & Fiction > Short Stories > Single Authors
Mystery, Thriller & Suspense > Suspense > Psychological
Series: n.a.
Length: 61 pages
Release date: 2017-05-29

 

Teaser


‘Good morning, Tess.’ She knew instantly on hearing the voice that it did not sound familiar. She was probably about to meet a new member of staff, she thought. The woman entering the living room was in her mid-thirties with an energetic step and friendly smile and eyes that conveyed sympathy. Oh well, Tess told herself, that is a good start. The nurse’s uniform was light blue and her shoes squeaked as she walked over to Tess, holding a clipboard. There was something different and fresh about this particular nurse and Tess didn’t think it was due to the brand-new shoes or what looked like an only recently unwrapped and perfectly ironed uniform. It was hard at the best of times to explain why one was drawn to certain people and not at all to others. Was it the smell? The sound of their voice or … Before she could finish her thoughts, the nurse’s hand reached out to take hers.


My Opinion

This story introduces you to Tess, living in a care home, as well as to Sandra, the new nurse.

With Tess and Tattoos, H. A. Leuschel has created a highly remarkable story about how one human has been manipulated – and how this has affected also the lives of others. Helene Leuschel delicately introduces her characters, revealing the story with utmost care. The main characters are complex – as well as believable. The story got under my skin; it is excellently written and has the right flow. This story and the persons therein certainly will not leave you unaffected.

This is a book for you if you like great storytelling, compelling stories, psychology, shorter reads, and food for thought.

Highly recommended.

In brief:

Cover ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
Writing ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
Plot ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
Characters ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
Mood Suspenseful
Pace Steady
POV Third person – past tense
Language :mrgreen:
Violence :mrgreen: – 😳
Sexual content :mrgreen:

 

About the author

Helene 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.

Connect with the author:

Please take a look at my statement on reading in My train of thoughts on …reading.  Now I am asking you.  🙂

My questions for you bibliophiles:
What about you?  What did you think about Tess and Tattoos?  Or – if you did not yet read Tess and Tattoos – are you now interested in reading it yourself?

I am looking forward to reading your comments.  🙂

 

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Manipulated Lives by H. A. Leuschel #BookReview @HALeuschel

The author sent me an ARC of this book (epub format) in exchange for an honest review.

My rating:  ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

Plot
(by Goodreads)

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 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, followed by a manipulator himself, trying to make sense of his irreversible incarceration. Lastly, there is 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.

Genre(s): Books
> Parenting & Relationships > Family Relationships > Abuse > Partner Abuse
Kindle eBooks
> Parenting & Relationships > Family Relationships > Dysfunctional Relationships
> Mystery, Thriller & Suspense > Suspense > Psychological
Series: n.a.
Length: 273 pages
Release date: 2016-06-08

 

Teaser


They arrived at the train station and he was all over her when they walked into the main hall.

‘Babe, I’m skint, I’ve got to get some cash out of the machine first, so I can treat you.’

‘Yes, don’t forget the train tickets and the seventy pounds. I can’t afford to pay for all of this, you know.’

‘Now, now are you pleading poverty? You told me that you worked!’ He looked at her expectantly.

‘Still, I … you said you’d treat me and the money was to help you buy shoes.’


My Opinion

This book introduces you to five cases of manipulation – i.e. five fates that could easily have been ours.

With Manipulated Lives, H. A. Leuschel has created five remarkable stories about how one human being manipulated – and therefore interfered with one other’s well-being. Helene Leuschel delicately introduces her characters, revealing each story with utmost care. The main characters are of sufficient depth – as well as believable. The stories all have a good flow. These stories and the persons therein certainly will not leave you unaffected.

5 stars:  Tess and Tattoos, Runaway Girl
4 stars:  The Spell, The Narcissist, My Perfect Child

This is a book for you if you like compelling stories, psychology, shorter reads, and food for thought.

Recommended.

In brief:

Cover ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
Writing ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
Plot ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
Characters ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
Mood Suspenseful
Pace Steady
POV Third person – past tense
Language :mrgreen:
Violence :mrgreen: – 😳
Sexual content :mrgreen:

 

About the author

Helene 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.

Connect with the author:

Please take a look at my statement on reading in My train of thoughts on …reading.  Now I am asking you.  🙂

My questions for you bibliophiles:
What about you?  What did you think about Manipulated Lives?  Or – if you did not yet read Manipulated Lives – are you now interested in reading it yourself?

I am looking forward to reading your comments.  🙂

 

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