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What if our lives were mapped out before birth? Does anyone have the power to change their destiny?

Ella hates London. She misses her old life in Spain and is struggling to get over her past—until she meets Zac. He’s always loved her but isn’t meant to be part of her story. Not this time. Not ever. Little does she know that his secret is the one thing that will tear them apart and force her to live in a world that no longer makes sense. A world full of danger, lies and magic.

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The Path Keeper is a passionate tale of first loves, second chances and the invisible threads that bind us. Can love ever be stronger than fate?


NATALI DRAKENatali Drake, who writes under the pen name of N J Simmonds, is an accredited member of the Society of Authors.

When she’s not busy working on her YA fantasy romance series she is also a freelance writer and brand consultant. She has written articles for various UK newspapers and online publications with two of her essays appearing in The Mother Book published by Selfish Mother. In 2015 she co-founded online magazine The Glass House Girls and is a regular contributor.

Originally from north London, Natali studied Feature Writing at City University and began her career in corporate publishing and marketing before moving to Spain to write and to raise her family. She now divides her time between her two homes in The Netherlands and Spain with her husband and two daughters.

You can find all Natali’s social media links on .

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When Ella finds herself having to get off her bus earlier than planned she is not in the best of moods.  However, as she struggles onto the pavement carrying two bags of books destined for the nearest charity shop, she is not expecting assistance from the tall attractive stranger standing there…

I was glued to this book from the very beginning, in the same way I had been back in 2012 when I began reading the first book in George R R Martin’s Game of Throne series.  I love fantasy and from the very start I knew this book was going to be a totally magical experience.

This first novel of three, The Path Keeper not only brings Ella and Zac together, it lays down the back story which has led to present day events.  It finished on a total knife edge, leaving me desperate for book two. I loved Ella, adored Zac and know after reading The Path Keeper this is going to be a hugely successful series.


Life Playlists: this week I’m hosting blogger Joanne Baird of Portobello Book Blog – who is choosing her five special tracks…

The Voyage – Christy Moore

This was the first dance at our wedding so it has to be included. I don’t think many of the wedding guests had a clue what the song was! We both really like Christy Moore’s music and have been to see him several times in concert. The words of this are particularly appropriate, describing the journey of a relationship.

Zanzibar – Billy Joel

Billy Joel is my all time favourite singer/musician and I’ve been lucky enough to see him three times. I like so many of his songs but have picked this one to show there’s more to his music than Uptown Girl! It has a brilliant trumpet solo in it.

Don’t Stop Me Now – Queen

Surely the ultimate feel-good start of the weekend song? I’m a big fan of Queen and wish I could have seen them live. Freddie Mercury was such a huge talent, a real performer.

Morningtown Ride – The Seekers

This is a song which takes me back to my childhood. Now it came out several years before I was born so I must either have heard it on the radio or maybe my mum sang it to me. I used to sing it to my girls when they were little as a bedtime song and I sing it now to my much younger nieces when they come to stay.

She – Elvis Costello

This is such a beautiful song. I like the particular version because when it’s used near the end of the film Notting Hill, it’s at a part which always makes me smile – any maybe cry a little. It’s also a song which I can play on my flute as part of a small music group and I get a wee solo bit.

About Me

Joanne Baird

I can’t remember not being a reader and always have at least one book on the go. I started my blog, Portobello Book Blog, in April 2015 to share my love of the books I was reading and it’s been great fun. I’m a busy wife and mum to two lovely girls, an avid book reader of course, a nature watcher, a keen cook and baker, always on the go and I love living by the sea.

Twitter Handle – @portybelle

Facebook –

Instagram – @portybelle


Author Promotion: Crime Shorts by Jane Risdon. Let’s hear it for the girls: seven individual stories featuring strong female protagonists…

Undercover Crime Shorts by Jane Risdon

Undercover: Crime Shorts

Under one cover for the first time a collection of crime shorts from Jane Risdon with more twists and turns than Spaghetti Junction – a must for those who enjoy gripping yarns.

Undercover: Crime Shorts features new short stories written with strong female protagonists at its heart and includes Sweet Sable – a redheaded nightclub singer with sex appeal and a sting in her tail, and The Look – a hit woman with an agenda for revenge and a talent for hire.

There is an extract form the first novel in the series Ms Birdsong Investigates Murder in Ampney Parva: Operation Matryoshka – where former MI5 intelligence officer, Lavinia Birdsong, is asked to look for a missing woman and finds herself embroiled in murder, the Russian Mafia, and Ukrainian gun-runners.

My readers say:

Roger A Price: former detective and crime author says: Crime Shorts is a wonderfully satisfying anthology of seven short stories which transcend above the crime fiction genre providing a ripping yarn irrespective of the reader’s crime fiction preference. Jane Risdon has cleverly stitched together a mix of tales to suit all fans of the genre.

Gloria Clulow: reader says: As with all Jane’s stories I find them intriguing and unpredictable, leaving me wanting more; I don’t want them to end.

Professor Margot Kinberg: Associate professor and author of the Joel Williams crime novels says: Undercover, what a gripping story, so well written. You’ve packed so much ‘punch’ into it, loved it. I really felt the rising tension and suspicion! You’ve captured the suspense of it beautifully and it is such a great set-up with good characters.

Charlie Plunkett: reader says:
Fast-paced, well written, page-turner that had me so engrossed my train journey flew by. The author clearly has done a lot of research, these short stories all felt very authentic and each had me gripped and on the edge of my seat wondering how they would play out. It’s been a long time since I read anything quite so intriguing and twisty. It certainly got my heart beating faster and I’d highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a great murder, mystery.
Jane Risdon – my pleasure lovely, praise where it’s due, you have written a fabulous selection of short stories and I will definitely look out for Ms Birdsong.

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Jane possible author photoJane Risdon began her working life in the international music business where she managed recording artists, songwriters, record producers, and where she has been instrumental in placing music on to soundtracks of many TV series and Movies, working alongside her musician husband.
After years of promoting talented young artists Jane decided it was time to do what she’s always wanted to do: write. She began writing in earnest some ten years ago starting with flash fiction and short stories – mostly crime/thrillers – and her writing was soon included in various anthologies – to date 15 different publications, some award winning. She has written for numerous online newsletters and magazines and is a regular blogger.
She has also written a best-selling novel with author and lifelong friend, best-selling, award-winning author, Christina Jones, set in the UK music scene of the late 1960s. Only One Woman is published by Accent Press with whom Jane signed in 2014.
With over 100 short stories needing a home, Jane has recently published Undercover: Crime Shorts with Plaisted Publishing House, which went into the UK Amazon ratings at #18 and into the USA Amazon ratings at #333 upon publication.
She is writing the sequel to Only One Woman and is completing a series of novels about a former MI5 intelligence officer; ‘Ms Birdsong Investigates.’ These crime/thrillers are set in the Vale of the White Horse, Oxfordshire, and Jane digs into her early career with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office at the height of the Cold War for her inspiration and knowledge of Britain’s Security Services.
Jane’s interests include photography, history, and science, and she and her husband enjoy walking and visiting places of interest – something they never had time to enjoy when ‘baby-sitting’ singers and musicians whilst travelling all over the world.
For Jane’s Books: most digital platforms incl. Amazon worldwide, and in paperback
Undercover: Crime Shorts…/under…/paperback/product-24082039.html
ISBN: 9780359397839

Only One Woman:
53 5* reviews from guys and gals. Available in most countries too.
Paperback and eBook on most digital platforms
Paperback Waterstones and good indie stores. 9781783757312…/…/1783757310…/…/B075D88JB



This week Blogger Anne Williams chooses her five special tracks…

I suspect everyone knows by now about my love of books – and the way I get palpitations whenever anyone asks for “my favourite”, together with the agonies I go through coming up with a different book every time, after hours of deliberation. But that’s nothing compared with the sheer torture of choosing five music tracks for this feature – I really should have made it easier for myself by just choosing some of the R&B and soul tracks that I’ve always loved. But this is such a wonderful feature Jo – thank you so much for inviting me!

Between you and me, I did fall out of love with reading for a while – in my 20s and 30s, when my social life seemed somehow more important. But I’ve never fallen out of love with music.

Motown, rock, crooners, power ballads, glam rock, New Wave, New Romantics, Brit Pop, acid jazz, trance, garage – you name it, I guarantee it’ll be a phase I’ve passed through, and I’ll be able to lay my hands on a CD that’s still in my collection. My tastes continue to change – I stay up to date by listening to Jo Whiley on Radio 2, but my real comfort zone is perhaps more Trevor Nelson. My current favourites? Christine and the Queens, Janelle Monae maybe? No, I think I really must choose a track from Jack Savoretti…

My passion for music goes back a long way – as indeed, do I. The first record I ever bought was the EP of All My Loving by the Beatles, and I remember playing it – over and over – on my aunts’ gramophone. I was quite late getting my own record player – the first record I bought for that was Edison Lighthouse’s Love Grows (Where My Rosemary Goes), so forgive me for not choosing that one. I can always remember there being music at home, mainly the radio – coming home from school to my mum, always ironing, listening to Mick Luvzit (“your mad dad with the groovy turntables…”) in the afternoon on Radio Caroline.

A little later on, I vividly remember Sunday evenings with the microphone of my tape recorder against the radio speaker, recording my favourites from the Top 20 show, because Alan Freeman never talked over the songs (a radio cassette player changed my life). School days too – performing the dances to the Supremes and the Elgins in the playground to a friend’s battery record player. And later still there was the music we played constantly in our sixth form study – particularly Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust, and all that Deep Purple and Led Zeppelin. But I think I must choose a playground dancing song, because I still love it – the Velvelettes’ Needle in a Haystack.

You’ll know how important my family is to me, and I think my next two choices have to be inspired by and dedicated to mum and dad. I’ve mentioned elsewhere that I just can’t listen to the music of Chris De Burgh any more because of memories of my dad, and the fact that he never realised his ambition to see him play in Phoenix Park. I know though that some people have an aversion to Lady in Red for quite different reasons. But dad’s favourite song was actually Wonderful Tonight by Eric Clapton. I always remember him asking for it to be played on hospital radio when he was there on one of his frequent stays – tuning in excitedly, to hear “we don’t have that one – but instead here’s I Shot The Sheriff.” This one’s for you, dad…

Music also features heavily in my life with mum – even more so now that her dementia is worsening. I’ll admit I’m tiring a little of Michael Buble – but, while she might mistake me for her sister, she still remembers every word of every song by Nat King Cole and Matt Munro, and sings along whenever Alexa plays them for her. It has to be Unforgettable really, doesn’t it?

In recent years, I’ve been surprised to discover that I love classical music too – and I regularly go to concerts by the wonderful orchestras who regularly visit Leeds. I’m still learning – I love just about every Russian composer (well, maybe not Shostakovich, eh?), and like whatever I try to be a tune I vaguely recognise. This, I think, might be my favourite ever piece, because it makes me smile and feel emotional all at the same time – from Khachaturian. No, it’s not the theme from The Onedin Line – it’s the waltz from the Masquerade Suite.

And my goodness, I can’t believe I’ve managed to do this without including Aretha Franklin, Whitney Houston, Anita Baker or Mary J Blige…!

About me

15138560_10155548614361632_880964769938279772_o-3Anne Williams is a book blogger and reviewer, at Being Anne ( She lives in Wetherby in Yorkshire, and took early retirement five years ago to do everything she enjoys, including reading as many books as she can and indulging herself with exotic holidays. Life changed a little a couple of years ago, when she became carer for her mother, who has dementia: the travel has had to stop for a while, but nothing can come between Anne and the reading. Her blog has won the Best Pal award at the Annual Bloggers’ Bash for three years running.




Life Playlists: this week it’s Sara Gethin’s turn to pick her five special pieces of music…

I was delighted when Jo asked if I’d like to take part in her fabulous blog series, Life’s Playlists, but it’s been very hard to whittle down my choices to just five songs. Here are the ones that survived the final cut.
The first musician that made a real impression on me was Kate Bush. I was 14 when she appeared on Top of the Pops singing ‘Wuthering Heights’ and she instantly became my idol. I saved up the money I earned from my Saturday job on a market stall to have a Kate Bush perm. It took an awful lot of conditioning! I bought her album ‘The Kick Inside’ (on vinyl, of course) and adored the cover; but most of all I loved the way her songs inspired me to be creative myself. Over forty years later, her music still has that effect on me.

With my new Kate Bush hairstyle, I caught the eye of a boy at school I’d fancied for a while ‒ to be honest, that perm was hard to miss. I couldn’t believe my luck when he rang and invited me round to his house to listen to a new record he’d bought. That album was ‘Born to Run’ by a singer I’d never heard of but I was extremely impressed with the record ‒ so much so that I paid the music far more attention than the boy. The boyfriend lasted only a week but I fell head over heels for Bruce Springsteen that night, and I’ve been a fan of his ever since.

Like most people who grew up on the coast, I miss the sea when I’m away from it. My husband, children and I have lived quite happily in Bracknell and in Brussels in the past, but I always yearned to return to the coast. ‘Talk to Me of Mendocino’ by the McGarrigle sisters conveys that strong sense of longing for a beloved place, and even though we settled close to the sea more than 20 years ago, this song can still move me to tears.

From a song that makes me cry to one that never fails to lift my spirits ‒ Sia’s ‘Chandelier’. I love the video too. I always wanted to have dance classes as a child but there was only enough spare cash for piano lessons ‒ with a very strict woman who hit my knuckles with a ruler whenever I made a mistake. Had this video been around when I was 11, I’d have watched it on repeat and tried to master all of Maddie Ziegler’s moves. I might have had a bit of trouble doing the splits, though.

Finally, I’ve picked the song my husband and I chose for our first dance at our wedding in Wiltshire 27 years ago. A friend recommended a local jazz band and we happily booked them without checking what they were like. When they arrived at the village hall in Trowbridge for the evening do, they turned out to be pretty elderly. But the moment they began playing our song, Louis Armstrong’s ‘What a Wonderful World’, we knew they were the right choice. They were brilliant. And it’s such a beautiful song, full of joy and hope.

Thank you so much for inviting me to share my choices, Jo ‒ I’ve really enjoyed reminiscing.

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Tomos is five years old and lives with his teenage mother, Rhiannon, who’s hiding a drug addiction. He longs to return to another place, the place he thinks of as home and the people who cared for him there, but he’s not allowed to see them any more. At his new school, Miss takes him under her wing, finding him a warm coat in the lost property box and sharing her sandwiches with him. But his teacher can’t look out for Tomos in the school holidays, and at the start of the Easter break he’s caught up in the violence of his mother’s drug dealers. How will he survive on his own when Rhiannon takes off and leaves Tomos behind?

‘Not Thomas’ Extract:

‘The lady’s here. The lady with the big bag. She’s knocking on the front door. She’s knocking and knocking. And knocking and knocking. I’m not opening the door. I’m not letting her in. I’m behind the black chair. I’m very quiet. I’m very very quiet.

I’m waiting for her to go away.

‘Not Thomas’ Buy Links:

‘Not Thomas’ is available to buy in paperback direct from the publisher Honno Press:

and in paperback and on Kindle from Amazon:




About Sara Gethin:

P1040360 - B&WSara Gethin is the pen name of Wendy White who grew up in Llanelli, an industrial town on the west coast of Wales with a beach that gazes longing over the sea to the Gower. All her jobs have revolved around children ‒ she’s worked on a stall selling toys and in a children’s library; she’s been a childminder and worked for ten years as a primary school teacher. She now writes for children and her first book ‘Welsh Cakes and Custard’ won the Tir nan-Og Award in 2014. Her debut novel for adults, ‘Not Thomas’, written in the voice of a neglected five-year-old boy, was shortlisted for The Guardian’s Not the Booker prize 2017 and the Waverton Good Read Award. Her children are grown up now and home for Sara and her husband is still west Wales, but they spend much of their free time across the water in Ireland.


Social Media Links:

Website & Blog:


Facebook: @SaraGethinWriter


Twitter: @SGethinWriter



This week Life Playlists catches up with writer Kit Domino and here are her five choices…

Thank you, Jo, for inviting me to take part in this fabulous blog. Music, as well as books, has always played a major part in my life: from growing up with German folk songs and classical music to marrying a part-time DJ. From Saturday mornings listening to Children’s Favourites and Sunday lunch over Family Favourites on the radio and teenage years those of the 1960s and 70s, to right up to this very day. Thus love, life, family and memories are sealed by music – the happy and the sad. So, where to begin? A German song or the first 45 single I bought (Adam Faith)? The Beach Boys, Moody Blues, The Faces, or Keith Relf’s Renaissance? …The list is endless.

For my first choice, I’ve picked music from the late 1960s. What an era it that was with so many fantastic songs and bands out there. Living in London and having a music-mad boyfriend who became a part-time DJ, I was spoilt with shows, nightclubs and concerts and discos a constant happening. One big favourite was Fleetwood Mac. I’ve chosen the instrumental Albatross because it bringing back happy memories of warm summer days and sultry nights, of being allowed to stay out all night for the first time to attend a midnight concert at the Lyceum Ballroom, London where Fleetwood Mac, among many others were playing that night.


It was also back in the 1960s I came across folk singer Ralph McTell, a prolific and gifted songwriter whose style invites you into a unique world, weaving narrative that tugs on your heart, songs and music that are significant, poignant and sometimes amusing. It’s impossible for me to pick a favourite but this one, Let Me Down Easy, holds particular meaning from when my first marriage broke apart. However, Ralph’s music and songs have always been there for me, and always will be.


When I moved to Gloucestershire in the mid 1970s, I thought I would lose the concerts I habitually frequented in London. Thankfully, I was wrong. Bristol has two fantastic concert venues, the Colston Hall and the Hippodrome, and I was fortunate to attend both many times to see and hear Ralph McTell, Status Quo, Queen, Stevie Millar Band, Rod Stewart and the Faces, Mike Harding, Inspirational Choir and many, many more. It was at this time I also met (at a dance) the man who is my husband now for 40+ years, and no play list would be complete without “Our Song”. For us, it’s Just the Way You Are by Barry White. I was never a great fan of Barry’s but this song says it all. It has to be his version, mind. The original and other covers don’t do it for us.


The 1970s and beyond has been filled with wonderful singers, bands and music. George Michael, Billy Joel, Pink Floyd, the Eagles, ELO, Stevie Wonder, Abba and so much more. Amongst all of these the passion for classical music held strong, with many a summer evening enjoying what became a family tradition of open-air classical picnic concerts. Milton Keyes Bowl provided a regular location for music, song and fireworks. From Duxford airfield to the majestic grounds of Berkeley Castle, we much preferred listening to the Three Tenors than the Three Degrees. One piece in particular was a firm favourite of my family, one which we also played at my father’s funeral: the Intermezzo from Cavalleria Rusticana by Mascagni. From its melancholy start to the heart-tugging end, it took many years before I was able to listen to this again without the tears welling. But time heals.


Throughout all of the music world there is but one singer who can make the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. He came to the fore about 20 years ago with a voice often described as “The voice of an angel” and “If God could sing, he would sound like this.” Who? The one and only Andrea Bocelli, of course. His songs helped me through long convalescence when I was first struck down with a now life-long medical condition. His songs also bring back wonderful memories of holidays shared with my mother and two beloved sisters, of lying on sun-drenched Greek beaches with the beach bars close by playing his CDs. Utter bliss. Again, it difficult to choose which song from the many. Bocelli often duets with other singers, ie Celine Dion, Sarah Brightman, John Miles, his wife and even his son, but last year he duetted with another of my favourites: Ed Sheeran. A double whammy! Thus for my last shout I have included Perfect Symphony. Oh my, those hairs are on end again.

Music, in particular, classical music, is at the heart of Kit Domino’s forthcoming novel: White Stones, a haunting story of love and music transcending the barriers of time, featuring a relatively unknown real-life composer and one of his works rarely heard in the UK. In no way a frightening read, this novel may change your mind about the supernatural and how the world around us works.

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Due for release on 1 June 2019, it is available for pre-order on Amazon as an ebook, and will be available in paperback shortly thereafter.

Excerpt from White Stones

Disjointed notes faded in and out. Gone one moment, there the next – faint strands of music drifting up from downstairs. Cursing herself for having left the radio on, Penny Cornwall tossed down her book, threw back the duvet and reached for her dressing gown draped across the bottom of the bed.
On opening the bedroom door, the music became a fraction louder. Chords rose and fell, but the bars were incomplete, vague fragments of sound that lacked coherence. Head tilted, she listened for a moment before groping the wall for the light switch. The narrow stairwell flooded with harsh cold light.
As she reached the last few treads, one foot poised in mid-air, the music ceased. Her heart and mood lifted. He’s back!
“Harry! I didn’t expect you home yet. Why didn’t you ring? I’d have waited up.” She hurried down the remaining stairs. “Harry?”
No answer came. The only sound was the steady ticking of the grandfather clock by the front door.
“Harry? Harry, is that you?”
Skin prickling with fear, all thoughts transformed into the shape of someone lurking in the shadows, ready to pounce on her. Shivering against the cold sweat now trickling down her back, a vision played out in her mind. Of Alex, her estranged husband, creeping about in the darkness. Hiding. Waiting. Ready to pounce. Choosing this night, knowing she was alone, to break in and drag her back to London. Punishment for running out on him.
“Alex? Alex, is that you? Don’t do this to me!”
The solid oak front door shook in its frame, straining against a force trying to wrench it open. Her eyes flew first to the top bolt, then to the bottom one. Both were firmly shot.
If it isn’t Harry or Alex, then who the hell is it?
“I know you’re there, I’ve got a gun!”


Kit Domino (2)Kit Domino’s childhood was spent in West London alongside the banks of the River Thames, with Richmond, Kew and Osterley parks as her extended playgrounds. Living in South Gloucestershire, and now retired, she spends much of her time writing and reading, and travelling, especially to the Greek Islands which inspire much of her work. She writes in several genres including sagas, timeslip and mystery/paranormal. In 2004 she was shortlisted for the Harry Bowling Prize with her 1950s London story Every Step of the Way.

As well as a keen gardener, Kit is a keen cook and food blogger as well as being an international selling acrylic artist and tutor.

White Stones:
Every Step of the Way:
Kit’s Kitchen:
Kit Domino Art:
You will also find Kit on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram

It’s 23rd April and publication day for Kathryn Freeman’s Crikey a Bodyguard


Fabulous new book from the best selling author of Oh Crumbs and Too Damn Nice. Highly recommended.

She’s got the brains, he’s got the muscle …
When Kelly Bridge’s parents insist on employing a bodyguard for her protection, she’s not happy. Okay, so maybe not every woman is on the cusp of developing a vaccine against a potential biological terrorist attack – but crikey, it’s not like she’s a celebrity!

Ben Jacobs flunked spectacularly out of school, so he knows his new client Dr Kelly Bridge spells trouble for him. But on a conference trip to Rome he finds things are worse than he thought. Not only is he falling for the brilliant scientist, he’s also become horribly aware she’s in grave danger. As they go on the run, dodging bullets and kidnappers, can he resist his feelings and keep her safe?


Amazon UK:

Amazon US:







Other books by Kathryn Freeman:
Oh Crumbs, A Little Christmas Charm, A Little Christmas Faith, Too Damn Nice, Before You, A Second Christmas Wish, Search for the Truth, Too Charming, Do Opposites Attract?



5707-2Kathryn started her working life as a retail pharmacist but soon realised trying to decipher doctors’ handwriting wasn’t for her. Next she joined the pharmaceutical industry where she spent twenty happy years working in medical communications, doing a lot of writing – about medicines. What she really wanted to write about though, was romance.

In 2011, backed by her family, she left the world of pharmaceutical science to begin life as a self employed writer, juggling the two disciplines of medical writing and romance. Some days a racing heart is a medical condition, others it’s the reaction to a hunky hero…

She lives with two teenage boys and a husband who asks every Valentine’s Day whether he has to bother buying a card again this year (yes, he does) so the romance in her life is all in her head. Then again, her husband’s unstinting support of her career change goes to prove that love isn’t always about hearts and flowers – and heroes can come in many disguises.

She can be found at: