Book Review: Winter Trials by K.S. Marsden

As if by magic, this book appeared on my Kindle. I read the blurb and knew I had to read it.

The Setting

The story is set up North during winter. The snowy setting got me excited for our forecasted snow.

The MC is an only child living with his mum and dad in the countryside, with his nana in the annex. He travels to his local high school by bus.

The Characters

Mark is the main character. He’s grown up in the small town where everyone knows he’s gay and his nana is a witch.

Mark’s best mate is pretty occupied with his girlfriend. When a new guy starts at the school, Mark invites him over for the winter solstice celebration, as well as his mate & his girlfriend.

My Review

I loved this short story. It’s hard not to blab as I want to gush about it. The characters felt so real, and I loved the magic woven into the tale. The snowy scenes were beautiful and the romance.

I gave it 5 stars! ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️


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Book Review: Envy by J D Groom

Fortunately, I have never been in an abusive relationship but wanting to understanding them leaves me fascinated. There is a grip to watching shows or films about it, like a thriller. You know the person is in danger and you on the edge of your seat, wanting them to get out but knowing its not straight forward. 

Shows I have enjoyed for this reason are:

Big Little Lies (2017)

I watched this because of the big names in it. The character played by Nicole Kidman is done incredibly well. I believe it was based on a book.

Dirty John (2018)

This series is based on a true story of one of John Meehan’s victims. There is also a documentary about the many victims of John Meehan.

You (2018)

I partly loved this series because it has a writer in it but that’s not what makes it compelling to watch.  That would be the tension of the show told from the viewpoint of the stalker, come murdering boyfriend.

Envy by J D Groom

If you loved the above shows, then you are bound to love Envy by J D Groom. It is a a short story available on Amazon for Kindle.

 Here is the blurb:

Kate had it all; a job she excelled at, friends, family and an apartment to call her own. Then she fell for her boss.

Finding herself stuck in his web, will she continue to live under his rule and be lost forever? Sometimes help can come from the most unexpected of places.

Blurb from Envy by J D Groom

What is it about?

If you haven’t figured it out yet, the story is about a main character trapped in a toxic relationship. Jodie doesn’t glamorise the situation by making it romantic or dramatise it with extreme scenes. She slowly builds the danger with all the control from the spouse, his sudden mood swings and unpredictability, the repressed freedom where the MC’s every move is tracked.

You get sucked into the dark tension and when the MC, Kate, has an opportunity to escape you feel her fear, her hesitation and you’re right there encouraging her to go but know the odds are stacked against her. Will her plan work, can she reach safety? Well… you’ll have to read to find out.

Would I recommend it?

100% Yes! This is a short story that packs a punch. If you want a quick read, then this short pacey page turner is for you.

How much development do you give you Secondary characters?

Day 18 of March’s Instagram photo challenge by  #womenwritingfiction #wwfchallenge2019 was “Tell us about your secondary characters.”
Personally, I spend quite a bit of time developing my secondary characters.  I like to know what makes them tick so I can ensure they remain true to who they are.  Often, I fall in love with a character so much that I want to write them their own story, like Kya – currently writing Diamond in the Sky about her.  
I decided to spotlight Denny.  One of the stories about this character is below.  I hope you enjoy this snipped into her background and I would love to hear about whether you enjoy developing your secondary characters as much as your primary characters.  
Image from Unsplash artist Kinga Cichewicz of how I picture grown up Denny


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Unpack (Denny)

Gwyn had been a mother and best friend all rolled into one neat package. I picked the sticky tape off another cardboard box. Packing up had been a difficult chore but unpacking was a never ending task.

Revealing the contents, I realised this would be no quick task. At the top was a powder blue photo album with white writing ‘My Baby’. I can’t resist the urge to look at pictures of my son. I clutched it to my chest in the same manner I had when he had been small enough to do so.

The first page was a photo of him only hours old. Gwyneth had been my only visitor at hospital and took the photo for me.

Gosh, I look so young. Too young to be a mum!

I pulled the rigid board of the front cover free from the slip to retrieve a picture I had hidden there. It had been taken in a photo booth, a sketch of us together in black and white. Dean believed pictures looked better like that. Now, it was disappointing as the picture didn’t show the kaleidoscope of golds his hair had shone that hot May.

The Easter fair had been in town, we were down for the holidays. Mum had given my brother Greg and I some money to go ‘treat ourselves’.

“What ride do you want to go on first?” Greg asked as we walked along the closed off road.

It was dark and the rides were lit up by brightly coloured bulbs and painted with images of seductive looking women with large breasts and glossy lips.

“I don’t know,” I shrugged. “They all look lame to me.”

Image from Unsplash artist Gabriel Matula of how I picture a teenage Denny:


There was the familiar crashing of bumper cars and the rotation of horses on the carousel. There were the more dangerous rides for older kids like Rock City where a row of chains rotated up and down getting faster and faster, Metropolis where everyone put their faith in centrifugal force as they stood in the cage of a spinning wheel tipping on its side as they stuck to the wall. There was Niagara Falls which consisted of two carpeted tubes that spun in different direction causing you to fall to the ground. Last time we were here it gave me carpet burn. All of them looked like they would either make me sick or cover me in bruises.

“I’m gonna get some candy floss.” My brother said irritated by my lack of adventure. He had been bored at the caravan and the fair was all that had kept him going.

I begrudgingly followed him whilst he flirted with two young girls in the queue. He allowed them to steal bites of the blue fluffy cloud of sugary sweetness. My brother was terrible with his cheesy lines ‘are all the girls around here as gorgeous as you?’

One of the girls, who had slicked her hair back into a ponytail eyed me with her dark lined eyes, “Your girlfriend?”

“Sister.” My brother quickly corrected her but his grin clearly read ‘I’m in there!’

The girl rubbed her arms to brush off the cold. “Wanna game of pool?”

Obviously my brother said yes. He had lost all interest in the rides now his sole attention was on this girl, who to me looked like a slapper. Sadly, that was probably what he liked about her.

Her friend was chewing gum and seemed to be eyeing everyone up for a fight. Even when she smiled at my brother her eyes were half closed and she almost looked as if she was snarling, so I was surprised when she said, “You want to play?”

I shook my head. “I’ll just watch.”

I felt a little like a gooseberry standing on the side lines watching my brother tickle this girl every time she tried to take a shot. She giggled and blushed, “Stop cheating!”

I saw a pinball machine and decided to give it a go. The popular theme tune to the Adams Family started up. I pulled back the lever and let it go. The spring raced forward, smacking into the round silver ball and spinning it onto the table. The ball bounced off some bells and was heading down towards the bottom. My hands leaned over the edge of the table ready to hit the buttons to cause the flickers to stop the ball from being lost.

“You’ll never beat my score.”

I jumped and hit the button too late. Angrily, I searched for the person responsible for my loss, only to be taken back by the most beautiful eyes and gorgeous smile I had ever had the pleasure of meeting. As if moving in slow motion, I blushed as I watched the ball bounce and roll down the middle bringing the game to a halt.

“Dean.” He said confidently.

All I could see was his cocky grin and cool blue eyes. He had long blond hair that swept across his face in rebellious waves. He looked like he had stepped off the set of some Californian beach surfer movie and I couldn’t take my eyes off him.

“You’ve still got another ball.” He said with a thick Suffolk accent that killed my Mr Muscle Beach fantasy.

My hands shook rapidly to the beat of my heart and it was more difficult to pull the bar back the second time. I let it go and tried again to keep the ball on the table but I was all flustered. I managed to hit it back into the game twice more before it disappeared for good.

“It’s your last ball. Do you want my help?”

My throat was tied up in knots, pretty much like my stomach and I couldn’t speak. I gave a nod. The next thing I knew, he was standing behind me. His hand clasped over mine and we drew back the lever together. “Never go all the way.” His hot breath tickled my neck like a forewarning my body wanted to rebel against. “Otherwise the ball will be too fast to keep up with. You need it to be just enough to put it on the board and get stuck behind those bells. Then you will get the maximum points.” He let go of my hand and I released it. I let it go and as my hands fumbled for the buttons, I felt his fingers guiding me into place, finally resting gently over the top of mine.

That was how my romance for ‘Hugo Boss’ had begun.  The scent surrounded me in the same way his arms were. It was intoxicating the way it gripped my senses and spun my world like the little silver ball. From that day forward, it became the smell that I associated with summer, replacing the uplifting fresh salty sea breeze and lashings of sun lotion. I no longer hungered for the tantalising sweetness of a ninety-nine vanilla ice-cream and chocolate flake; I just wanted to taste Dean. That was the start of the holiday romance that broke my heart and changed my life eternally.

Looking at the photo, I was surprised to discover how similar Dean looked to Jace. I shouldn’t have been surprised, after all Dean was his dad. The last time he had come to mind had been when I met Dave, my fiancé. The first thing that caught my attention was the heart capturing scent of Hugo.

Now Jace was wearing it thanks to Dave trying to bond with him “Wear this, the women love it.” I never told Dave why this woman loved it.

“Wings” by Birdy

This song has beautiful imagary that I feel captures the intoxicating feeling of first love and the magic of the whirlwind, followed by the crushing destruction when all is not as it was and all you have left is sweet memories that are painful to carry.  I think it captures the emotions of the scene above well.

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What theme is heavily portrayed in your story?

Do you keep notebooks of story ideas?

Does your story have an antagonist/bad guy?

I did #FebWritersChallenge


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