Information

Welcome

Belle BW

Hello, I’m Belinda (McGrath) Witzenhausen and in a nutshell; I am a Writer, Creativity Coach, Artist, Student, Bookworm, History Geek, Armchair Archaeologist, Amateur Photographer, Coffee Connoisseur & Hubby’s Grossly Under-Paid Bass Roadie. 😉

I have always enjoyed helping others, as well as being creative. Both my education and work history have revolved around social services, counselling, art therapy, coaching and expressing my creativity be it through writing, art or photography.

Over the years I have been blessed to cross paths with many interesting, inspiring and creative people who have been a source of inspiration. I love life and try to make sure that each of my days is touched by the creative process. I make it my mission to help others heal by igniting their creativity, as well as acting as an advocate for children and young adults with special needs and learning challenges.

Currently, I am working on an Urban Fantasy novel to be released 2018 and am a contributing writer for various mainstream websites, main writer/creator/coach at www.IgniteYourCreativity.net, www.WriterzBlox.net and a partner at Professor Owl’s Book Corner .


© Belinda Witzenhausen, 2009-2018. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Belinda Witzenhausen with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Advertisements
Books

The Berkeley Bowl Cookbook by Laura McLively via #NetGalley #Review #Vegetarian

 

Review

Berkeley Bowl Cover

The Berkeley Bowl Cookbook

Recipes Inspired by the Extraordinary Produce of California’s Most Iconic Market

by Laura McLively

Release date: April 17th, 2018

🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟


I received a complimentary ARC copy of The Berkeley Bowl Cookbook
Recipes Inspired by the Extraordinary Produce of California’s Most Iconic Market
by Laura McLively from NetGalley and Parallax Press in order to read and give an honest review.

Loved this cookbook! It’s nice to bring Californian cuisine to Toronto Canada.  This book was full of amazing vegetarian recipes with unique ingredients, easy to follow instructions, beautiful coloured photographs, and creative seasonal menus.

Although some of the ingredients aren’t found in your average grocery store I was able to find them at a local Asian grocery store. Even if you can’t obtain the ingredients easily, one of the things that impressed me about this book was the fact it gave you a few suitable and easily available substitutions. I was also fond of the fact it categorized the recipes by the type of vegetable you’re using I.e. Leaves; Flower, Seeds and Pods; Spores and Succulents; Stems; Roots and Tubers; and Sweet and Savory Fruit instead of the appetizers, entrees etc.

I recommend this to anyone looking for a culinary adventure! It has something to suit every vegetarians’ taste. With dishes such as Sweet & Sour Tofu with Gooseberries, Indian Stuffed Eggplant and my new favorite dessert, Lemongrass Coconut Ice Cream you can’t go wrong! 

Information

#BookReview of Macbeth (Hogarth Shakespeare Project) by Jo Nesbø via #NetGalley

Review

Macbeth cover Jo Nesbo

Macbeth

(Hogarth Shakespeare Project)

by Jo Nesbø

Release date: April 10th, 2018

🌟🌟🌟🌟


I received a complimentary ARC copy of Macbeth (Hogarth Shakespeare Project) by Jo Nesbø from NetGalley and Crown Publishing/Penguin Random House in order to read and give an honest review.

As part of the Hogarth Shakespeare Project, this retelling of perhaps one of Shakespeare’s most famous plays, Macbeth, Jo Nesbø has done it in a way only he can…brilliantly. 

The story set in the 70’s, opens with a drug bust of a biker gang gone wrong, hostage taking and SWAT commander Macbeth coming to the rescue of his childhood friend and fellow officer Duff.  Macbeth receives praise and accolades after saving the day which starts him on a path of personal and political ambition that will lead to his downfall. Growing up as a drug-addicted orphan who gets his life together after being raised by Banquo, Macbeth is what is considered a principled man.  After being coerced by Lady, the love of his life, to murder his boss Duncan in order to move his way up in the department, Macbeth’s life takes a dark turn. When he descends into addiction with drugs called “brew” and then the much stronger ”Power” his principles become corrupted and he becomes fraught with paranoia.  Friends become enemies, and enemies, friends to the point that you don’t know who to root for.  

If you have read Macbeth you’ll see where the story is going, and Nesbø follows the storyline pretty well (from what I remember) but it is entertaining nonetheless. Although very slow to start it does pick up and takes you on a journey you’ll never forget. This book has it all political intrigue, police corruption, addiction, murder, mayhem, organized crime, adultery…basically the things that show the worst of humanity, but all told with Nesbø’s unique and interesting voice. 

 

 

Books

Book #Review of The Wolf (Under the Northern Sky #1) by Leo Carew (@leocarew1) (#NetGalley)

Review

The Wolf Cover

The Wolf

(Under the Northern Sky #1)

by Leo Carew

Release date: April 1st, 2018

🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟


I received a complimentary ARC copy of The Wolf (Under the Northern Sky #1) by Leo Carew from NetGalley and Orbit/Hatchette Book Group in order to read and give an honest review.

Intense, gripping and an adventure not to be missed.  

When young Roper, son of the Anakim’s Black Lord watches his father slaughtered in battle, he is thrust into the role of leader of the Black Kingdom’s Army and new Black Lord of the Kingdom. When forced to retreat or lose thousands of soldiers he becomes a disappointment and is mocked by everyone in the kingdom.  Their opponents, the Sutherners, after the death of their commander, are left in the hands of Bellamus, referred to by the kingdom as an “upstart” or “nobody”. Both sides fates being left to men who are sorely underestimated and who must prove their worth’s to their kingdoms.

Roper faces opposition at every turn by the Black Kingdom’s fiercest and most decorated soldier,  Uvoren.  Uvoren, feels the kingdoms should be rightfully his and will go to any length to obtain it.  After basic posturing, humiliation and a smear campaign by Uvoren, Roper must find a way to become a hero to his people and gain confidence in himself.  He does everything in his power to not only become a great warrior but to become a great and fair leader to his people.

In his debut novel, Carew does an impeccable job of creating a foreboding frozen northern landscape along with masterfully depicting the lifestyle and culture of the Anakim people who live there. His characters feel genuine, flawed and incredibly believable. Fraught with intriguing political twists and battle scenes that are as vivid as they are powerful this book will keep you engaged in Carew’s world right to the end. The end leaves not on a cliffhanger but open to the next instalment which I for one will be eagerly waiting for.

Although I read urban fantasy and am not a regular reader of Epic Fantasy I loved The Wolf, I found it intense and captivating.  If you enjoy epic fantasy such as George RR Martin’s Game of Thrones this series might appeal to you.

Information

Book #Review of Everyday Gratitude: Inspiration for Living Life by A Network for Grateful Living, David Steindl-Rast (Foreword), Kristi Nelson (Introduction) (#NetGalley)

REVIEW

Everyday Gratitude

Everyday Gratitude: Inspiration for Living Life

by A Network for Grateful Living, David Steindl-Rast (Foreword), Kristi Nelson (Introduction)

Release date: April 3rd, 2018

🌟🌟🌟🌟


I received a complimentary ARC copy of Everyday Gratitude: Inspiration for Living Life by A Network for Grateful Living, David Steindl-Rast (Foreword), Kristi Nelson (Introduction) from NetGalley and Storey Publishing in order to read and give an honest review.

~A great reminder when things become overwhelming, Everyday Gratitude guides us to find the small treasures of positivity in our everyday lives.~

Everyday Gratitude: Inspiration for Living Life as a Gift is not a how-to book per se but a great reminder when feeling overwhelmed to find something to be grateful for each and every day. Each page has a colourful image, an inspiring quote from everyone from Helen Keller to Dalai Lama, as well as a question which prompts you to think about how that quote can be applied to your life.  If you journal these would make excellent journal prompts to help you find the positives in your lives

All in all, not an in-depth heavy read but a nice reminder to help gain clarity and perspective when things might not necessarily be going well for you. I personally found it to be the little boost to get my focus going in the right direction, especially on the trying days.

I really enjoyed this book which I know will become one that I will refer to time and again.

Information

Book #Review of A Glimmer of Hope (The Avalon Chronicles #1) by Steve McHugh (@StevejMchugh) (#NetGalley)

Review

Glimmer of Hope Cover

A Glimmer of Hope

(The Avalon Chronicles #1)

by Steve McHugh

Release date: April 1st, 2018

🌟🌟🌟🌟


I received a complimentary ARC copy of A Glimmer of Hope (The Avalon Chronicles #1) by Steve McHugh from NetGalley and 47North in order to read and give an honest review.

…a well written, unique and fast-paced #urbanfantasy novel!

 Layla Cassidy, daughter of an infamous serial killer, spent her life running away from her old life and the possibility of turning into her father.  She changes her name, hides her past and settles into a routine of night clerk at a train depot and student of metallurgy during the day. One night while at work she is kidnapped and her friends slaughtered in an attempt to gain information on her father’s secret prison. She is kidnapped and held captive in a secret compound underground guarded by vile supernatural creatures. She manages to escape but not before activating secret scrolls which bind her with three spirits and a demon, all of which now residing in her head and giving her powers outside of her realm of understanding.
Now she must learn to cope with them all talking to her, control her new powers and tame the demon inside her head threatening to turn her into the murderer. After her escape, she learns she is not alone, there are others just like her who will help protect and guide her.

I enjoyed A Glimmer of hope, although slow to start it is well worth the wait. A caution to those squeamish about violence, there are some gory scenes but on the whole, the book has well-developed characters, a unique and interesting plot culminating in a heart-stopping conclusion.  If you want to a well written, unique and fast-paced #urbanfantasy novel, this is for you.

#WATWB

Armchair Archaeologist~ Helping piece together the puzzle. #WATWB

banner-650-x150-white

Welcome to the “We are the World Blogfest” (#WATWB ). The #WATWB was inspired by a simple conversation about how all the negativity on social media was weighing on us. Wanting to make a difference we decided to try to do our part to infuse social media with all the good stories that are out there. We hope to share the stories that show kindness, compassion, hope, overcoming challenges and in general, the impressive resilience of the human spirit. For every dark, negative story out there, there is a positive, heartwarming story that will add some light and lift the human spirit. The last Friday of every month bloggers will share their stories led by five co-hosts, this month’s co-hosts are Sylvia McGrath, Sylvia Stein, Shilpa Garg, Eric Lahti and myself. To learn more about #WATWB or to join us click here!


Talk to those who know me and they can tell you how passionate I am about history and archaeology. I study archaeology, read about it and even write fiction about it. I also include the term “armchair archaeologist” in most of my bios, so when I found this video…well, I just had to share it. 😊

Meet Sarah Parcak, a modern-day Indiana Jones whose job title is space archaeologist. Space archaeology uses satellite imagery in order to find hidden ancient sites throughout the world. With GlobalXplorer, an online platform, which uses everyday people working together online to protect and monitor archaeological sites. Through GlobalXplorer Parcak is empowering others who might not be able to run off and “play Indy” to become “armchair archaeologists”. One such person is 90 year old Doris Jones. Doris is one of the leading contributors to GlobalXplorer, having mapped out thousands of sites using her home computer she has helped Parcak gain valuable information to help the archaeological community. Thanks to people like Jones and Parcak, more and more pieces of our human history are being put into the puzzle that is our past.

Please check out this video…

To learn more about GlobalXplorer or join the mission click here: https://www.globalxplorer.org/

“It is never too late to be what you might have been.” ~ George Eliot
Books

Book #Review of The Bone Curse (Benjamin Oris #1) by Carrie Rubin (@carrie_rubin) (#NetGalley)

 

Review

Bone Curse Cover

The Bone Curse

(Benjamin Oris #1)

by Carrie Rubin

Release date: March 27th, 2018

🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟


I received a complimentary ARC copy of The Bone Curse (Benjamin Oris #1) by Carrie Rubin from NetGalley and ScienceThrillers Media in order to read and give an honest review.

Part thriller, part paranormal mystery, this is a fast-paced, well-crafted and brilliantly original novel!

Pragmatic medical student, Ben Oris, is on vacation with his best friend Laurette, a Haitian medical student, when an injury occurs while visiting the Catacombs. Ben possessed by unseen forces accidentally cuts his hand on a centuries-old bone, a cut that puts Ben and all those he holds dear in a life and death battle with evil forces too irrational for his rational mind to believe. Laurette knows that something evil is following Ben but it challenges his logical, scientific mind putting their friendship and lives in peril.

The book weaves a tale through medical anomalies, Haitian Vodou and the bonds of family and friendship which culminates in a heart-stopping conclusion. The characters are interesting, quirky and believable which when combined with an intriguing plot will keep you turning the pages until the wee hours of the morning.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book, I found this to be unique and captivating and would recommend it to anyone who enjoys a good thriller with an occult twist. I’m definitely looking forward to reading Carrie Rubin’s next Benjamin Oris book!

Information

#Review of #EgyptianEnigma (Dr Pimms, Intermillennial Sleuth Book 3) by L.J.M. Owen #Mystery #Archaeology #NetGalley

 Review

Egyptian Enigma Cover

Egyptian Enigma

(Dr Pimms, Intermillennial Sleuth Book 3)

by L.J.M. Owen

Release date: March 1st, 2018

🌟🌟🌟🌟


I received a complimentary ARC copy of  Egyptian Enigma (Dr Pimms, Intermillennial Sleuth Book 3) by L.J.M. Owen from NetGalley in order to read and give an honest review.

As a mystery lover and student of archaeology and Egyptology, I was intrigued when I heard about this book. There are so many things I thoroughly enjoyed about this book, but some that left me very disappointed. I would rate this a 3.5 at this moment.

The main plot was fantastic, rich in historical and forensic details. Our protagonist, Dr Elizabeth Pimms decides after a trip to Cairo to investigate and determine the name of an unknown mummy on display from the Golden Tomb. With the help of her friends, a 3D printer and a brilliant mind, Elizabeth realizes the mummy on display is too large for the sarcophagus and the hunt to find the original occupant is on. We jump back to 1192 BCE as a mystery unfolds which ties to the Golden Tomb.

As I mentioned there was so much I enjoyed, the main plot was intriguing, the historical plot and forensics were informative but as much as I enjoyed those aspects, I found it hard to stay engaged. The biggest issue for me was the protagonist, she seemed interesting, but I didn’t feel like I really connected with her until much later in the book. In all fairness, this is the third book in the series and I haven’t read the previous two, which, most likely gave her regular readers a better idea of who she is.

My second issue is that the author has a feminist theme that weaves through the book, and although I consider myself to be a feminist, there were sections that seem unnecessary and a distraction from the plot. The historical aspect that was addressed worked but there were minor incidents such as an innocuous conversation and a scene at a café, which just didn’t add to the story in any way.   I am curious to read her previous two books to see if I warm up to Elizabeth and of course I would read them for the archaeological aspect as well.

#WATWB, Quotes

The Power of Forgiveness #WATWB

banner-650-x150-white

Welcome to the “We are the World Blogfest” (#WATWB ). The #WATWB was inspired by a simple conversation about how all the negativity on social media was weighing on us. Wanting to make a difference we decided to try to do our part to infuse social media with all the good stories that are out there. We hope to share the stories that show kindness, compassion, hope, overcoming challenges and in general, the impressive resilience of the human spirit. For every dark, negative story out there, there is a positive, heartwarming story that will add some light and lift the human spirit. The last Friday of every month bloggers will share their stories led by five co-hosts, this month’s co-hosts are Shilpa Garg, Peter Nena, Eric Lahti, Roshan Radhakrishnan and Inderpreet Kaur Uppal


In 1995, Ples Felix’s 14-year-old grandson, Tony Hicks, as part of a drug and alcohol-fueled gang initiation shot and killed Azim Khamisa’s son Tariq in cold blood. Losing his son was perhaps one of the worse tragedies any parent could endure. It could have spawned more hate, more anger which under the circumstances would be expected. However that is not what Azim Khamisa wanted for his life, or his son’s memory. Azim decided that anger would not be the solution, both boys were victims. In the same vein Felix had to face the fact that his grandson was responsible for killing another person, an innocent teen. Both teens had a life ahead of them, that would no longer be. Felix and his grandson met with Azim from there life changed for all of them. Khamisa and Felix both had to travel down paths of deep meditation and prayer to focus on forgiveness, instead of issuing blame and both chose to become part of the solution. In a courageous act of these two men are working together, using their story to cultivate a more empathetic, peaceful and compassionate society showing victims of tragedy that they can grow and heal. They started the Tariq Khamisa Foundation to educate, counsel and support children and teens on how to live life with peace and empathy. The video below tells their story….

“Peace is possible,” Khamisa says. “How do I know that? Because I am at peace.”

Visit The Tariq Khamisa Foundation website: tkg.org

Books

Book #Review of Your First Novel: Revised and Expanded Edition by Ann Rittenberg, Laura Whitcomb and Camille Goldin (#NetGalley)

YourFirstNovelCover

Your First Novel: Revised and Expanded Edition

by Ann Rittenberg, Laura Whitcomb and Camille Goldin

Release date: February 16th, 2018

🌟🌟🌟🌟


I received a complimentary ARC copy of Your First Novel: Revised and Expanded Edition by Ann Rittenberg, Laura Whitcomb and Camille Goldin from NetGalley and F+W Media/Writer’s Digest Books in order to read and give an honest review.

If you are an aspiring writer who wants to publish your first book, Your First Novel: Revised and Expanded Edition is a perfect guidebook for you.  Some of the biggest challenges a writer faces often just boils down to a lack of knowledge.  This book is a very comprehensive how-to guide that which walks you through every step of the writing process. From creating a positive mindset, idea creation, POV and dialogue to finding an agent and publishing.  I loved the tone of the book, it was easy to read and comprehend.  The authors offer examples from well known published books to illustrate each section as well as reading lists of other books that focus on that specific aspect of writing. I don’t think they leave any aspect of the writing process out.  Although it leans primarily towards traditional publishing it does feature an informative chapter on self-publishing.

All in all, I really enjoyed this book which I know will become a reference that I will refer to time and again.