Blog Tour Book Review: In Her Wake, by Amanda Jennings #InHerWake

Publisher:  Orenda Books

Publication date:  10th February 2016 (Kindle)  |  1st April 2016 (Print)

Today, it’s my stop on the incredible #InHerWake blog tour and I’m delighted to share my review with you for this amazing book by Amanda Jennings.

In Her Wake My Review

In Her Wake by Amanda Jennings - CoverBooks of this calibre should be revered until the end of time. You know the ones I mean, don’t you? Those that evoke every emotion, challenge your waking thoughts, their perfect wordage standing out from the crowd, otherwise known as extraordinary.

Featuring arresting descriptions of the Cornish landscape and intensely vivid, desperately unsatisfied characters, this remarkable story of adversity is one to regard with wonder. In Her Wake sees the anatomy of Bella Campbell’s life being picked apart, piece by fragile piece, until nothing will ever be the same again.

Doctor Henry Campbell and his wife, Elaine, struggle to conceive a child causing a disturbing riptide throughout their marriage. His wife’s distress even tempts them toward religious intervention. So when precious Bella arrives, Doctor Campbell’s wife is overjoyed as her prayers have been answered. She is ‘complete’ and dedicates herself to providing care, home-schooling, and friendship for her daughter above everything and anyone else.

For all their neurosis Bella had no reason to feel anything but admiration and love for her overly-protective mother and emotionally distant father. Subsequently, despite adoring her parents and all their foibles, Bella leads a very lonely life, longing for people her own age to talk to. We discover she has an imaginary friend called Tori, whose personality is the complete opposite of Bella, encouraging her to try new and daring things she would never dream of for fear of disappointing her parents who offer her the world – albeit one that is locked behind a door closed to everyone else she is told for her own safety.

The odd attention that had been heaped upon her in her formative years may have been suffocating, but it was comfortingly familiar. Bella was finally given a chance to spread her wings at university and it was there she met a lecturer twenty years her senior called David, who whisked her off her feet to become the next stable figure in her life, where it seems her wings were stealthily being clipped.

Upon learning of the death of her mother, Bella returns to her childhood home to attend the funeral and is accompanied by David’s subtly condescending presence. They discover her father is bewildered, lost – episodes of his distress emanate from the page. As her mother was the eccentric, complicated bedrock she knew best, Bella’s visit entails awkward silences with her Father to eventually reveal a slither of a childhood she didn’t know existed when a letter written by Doctor Campbell drops the bombshell of all bombshells. Who could have predicated that a single day truly would change everything?

As a result, the world has been throw wide open for this young woman and she has no choice but to discover it for herself. Yet she is hindered by crippling anxiety when tasked to have her own thoughts and aspirations, of which there are excruciatingly heart breaking episodes throughout. After being greatly influenced by her mother’s choices and fears, being told the monsters would come for her if she stepped outside, and since being married to a much older, persuasive man, she didn’t quite manage to escape the clutches of a claustrophobic atmosphere – merely replacing the old façade with a newer, more sickeningly charming one. It seems monsters come in all shapes and guises…

For the duration of the story Bella is on a haunting journey of self-discovery. Accompanied only the occasional visit from her imaginary friend, a projection of her inner-self screaming to be released, she takes charge of her destiny the only way she knows how.  As the enigmatic layers are peeled away they reveal how an immense tragedy impacted greatly upon those around her, a tragedy that Bella will soon discover the effects of as she opens the ominous doors of her life and steps out into the world – a world that had been waiting for her, it seems, forever 

Rating: 5/5    ABSOLUTELY AND POSITIVELY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

(My thanks to Karen at Orenda Books for providing the most wonderful ARC for review and for saving a space on the tour bus for me once again. Much appreciated.)

In Her Wake Book Summary

(Courtesy of Amazon UK)

A perfect life … until she discovered it wasn’t her own

A tragic family event reveals devastating news that rips apart Bella’s comfortable existence. Embarking on a personal journey to uncover the truth, she faces a series of traumatic discoveries that take her to the ruggedly beautiful Cornish coast, where hidden truths, past betrayals and a 25-year-old mystery threaten not just her identity, but also her life. Chilling, complex and profoundly moving, In Her Wake is a gripping psychological thriller that questions the nature of family – and reminds us that sometimes the most shocking crimes are committed closest to home.

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In Her Wake Author Profile

(Author photograph and profile courtesy of publisher)

Amanda Jennings PolaroidAmanda Jennings made her literary début with the internationally bestselling novel Sworn Secret. Her second book, The Judas Scar, was optioned by a film and television production company shortly after release. She is fascinated by the ways people react to trauma and deal with its long-lasting effects, and also the complex relationships within a family unit.

She used to work at the BBC, but now writes full time and looks after her three daughters and a menagerie of animals. She writes a popular blog and is a regular guest on BBC Berkshire’s Book Club.

She enjoys running writing workshops, is a judge for the Henley Youth Festival creative writing competition, and is involved with the Womentoring Project, which offers free mentoring by professional literary women to talented up and coming female writers who might otherwise not have access to such an opportunity. She is a regular speaker at festivals and book events, combining her childhood love of the stage with her love of writing.

She likes to be active, preferably beside the sea or at the top of a snow covered mountain, and when she isn’t writing she can usually be found walking her dog and enjoying the peace and solitude of the great outdoors.

TWITTER   |   FACEBOOK   |   WEBSITE

Don’t forget to check out the other stops on the #InHerWake blog tour:

Next Blog Stop

Leah, at Reflections of a Reader blog

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BLOG TOUR BOOK REVIEW: Wicked Game (Robert Finlay), by Matt Johnson #WickedGame

Publisher:  Orenda Books

Publication date:  24th December 2015 (EBook) & 31st March 2016 (Paperback)

Wicked Game My Review

Wicked Game by Matt Johnson

The sheer dogged determination of Robert Finlay provides one hell of an exhilarating ride, as he dodges bullets, explosives, and the shadows of his past, in this Wicked Game of cat and mouse.

Expect nothing less than a thrilling journey, where secrets and revenge are delivered with guts and precision and the stakes are as high as they get – Finlay gives new meaning to the SAS motto of “Who dares, wins“.

He’s coordinated the siege on the Iranian Embassy back in 2001, he’s single-handedly stopped IRA terrorists in their tracks on-masse, but at 48 years old he was convinced he’d moved on from his old life in the SAS.  Yet, no matter how his career and his life progress he keeps constant vigil over his family as he’s afraid of losing them. When you’ve experienced exactly what people are capable of, you’re aware of dangers all around.  Even more so now, as several tragic incidents have occurred involving his old buddies, setting alarms bells off (plus detonations and sporadic gunfire).

It feels like too much of a co-incidence, almost like their names are being checked of a list. It’s thought to be impossible, as no one should know who or where they are – not even his colleagues at Stoke Newington Police Station where Finlay has joined as an Inspector. It seems implausible to even consider how anyone could be privy to such sensitive information, since he was assured his and others’ personnel records and their associated high profile deeds were sealed and would never see the light of day. Their identities should remain forever anonymous to protect them, and those they love.

After Finlay evades a couple of tragic near misses, where the initial feeling is that random police officers are being target, it’s thought the IRA are responsible. Between clandestine off-the-record meetings with MI5 and evading questions thrown at him from his own superiors, he quickly realises he doesn’t know who to trust anymore, as the evidence is pointing to someone far more dangerous than first thought. He can’t even confide in his wife as she is oblivious to his past. All he can do is fear for her safety and that of his daughter – and he’ll do anything to protect them.

Robert Finlay, ex-SAS officer, protector of Royalty, Detective to Scotland Yard, more importantly a husband and father, places all his faith in his semi-rusty skills. He’s been out of the game for a little while and he’s not as young as he used to be. He misjudges situations, he’s allowing his emotions to get the better of him, all the things you shouldn’t be when dealing with an invisible threat. But he must put an end to the terror, even if it’s the end of him. This is very, very personal, and those responsible had better watch out. Finlay won’t rest until he stops them – whoever they are.

The threads are pulled in one by one to weave a highly dangerous web and catch a very specific target. I may not have got to grips with the various military acronyms but it truly is a cracking read from start to finish, and puts into perspective what some people have to sacrifice in order to keep others safe.

Rating: 4/5

(My thanks to Karen at Orenda Books for providing a digital copy of this book for review – plus a surprise paperback! – and thanks also to Liz Barnsley for saving a stop on the Orenda tour bus for me once again. Much appreciated, both.)

Wicked Game Book Summary

2001. Age is catching up with Robert Finlay, a police officer on the Royalty Protection team based in London. He s looking forward to returning to uniform policing and a less stressful life with his new family. But fate has other plans. Finlay’s deeply traumatic, carefully concealed past is about to return to haunt him. A policeman is killed by a bomb blast, and a second is gunned down in his own driveway. Both of the murdered men were former Army colleagues from Finlay’s own SAS regiment, and in a series of explosive events, it becomes clear that he is not the ordinary man that his colleagues, friends and new family think he is. And so begins a game of cat and mouse a wicked game in which Finlay is the target, forced to test his long-buried skills in a fight against a determined and unidentified enemy.

Wicked Game is a taut, action packed, emotive thriller about a man who might be your neighbour, a man who is forced to confront his past in order to face a threat that may wipe out his future, a man who is willing to do anything to protect the people he loves. But is it too late?

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Wicked Game Author Links

(Courtesy of Publisher)

Matt JohnsonMatt Johnson served as a soldier and Metropolitan Police officer for twenty-five years. Blown off his feet at the London Baltic Exchange bombing in 1993, one of the first police officers on the scene of the 1982 Regent’s Park bombing, Matt was also at the Libyan People’s Bureau shooting in 1984 where he escorted his mortally wounded friend and colleague, Yvonne Fletcher, to hospital. Hidden wounds took their toll.

In 1999, Matt was discharged from the police with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Whilst undergoing treatment, he was encouraged by his counsellor to write about his career and his experience of murders, shootings and terrorism. One evening, Matt sat at his computer and started to weave these notes into a work of fiction that he described as having a tremendously cathartic effect on his own condition. He has used his detailed knowledge and memory to create a fast paced, exciting and authentic tale of modern day policing. Matt Johnson is living proof that PTSD is a condition that can be controlled and overcome with the right help and support. He has been described by many fans as an inspiration to fellow sufferers. Matt is currently working on a sequel ‘Deadly Game’ scheduled for publication Summer 2015.

CONNECT WITH THE AUTHOR:

TWITTER   |   FACEBOOK   |   WEBSITE

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Be sure to visit the other stops on the WICKED GAME tour…

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Thanks for stopping by, folks.

All the best,

Wendy sig