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Welcome

 

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 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 2021 and am a contributing writer for various mainstream websites, main writer/creator/coach at www.IgniteYourCreativity.netwww.WriterzBlox.net, a partner at Professor Owl’s Book Corner, main reviewer at www.bohoandbookish.wordpress.com and www.UrbanWordNerd.wordpress.com.

**Unavailable to accept further book review requests until Winter 2021**


© Belinda Witzenhausen, 2009-2020. 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.

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#NetGalley #BookReview of The Bone Hunger (Benjamin Oris #2) by Carrie Rubin #Thriller #Medical # Psychological

 

Review

The Bone Hunger

(Benjamin Oris #2)

by Carrie Rubin

Release date: August 11th, 2020

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I received a complimentary ARC copy of The Bone Hunger (Benjamin Oris, Book 2) by Carrie Rubin from NetGalley and Indigo Dot Press in order to read and give an honest review.

…in this brilliantly executed, clever, page turning psychological medical thriller…

Having read and reviewed the Author’s first book Bone Curse I was thrilled to get to read and review her second entry in the Dr. Benjamin Oris series. I am pleased to say Bone Hunger definitely did not disappoint. This is an excellent follow up but is also a perfect stand alone.

The Bone Hunger takes place three years after the horrifying events which occurred in the Bone Curse. Ben Otis has worked hard to get his professional life back on track. Working as a second year orthopedic surgical resident who is brought in to be part of a tightly knit surgical team run by the prestigious Dr. Lock. The team endured a horrific trauma and although the odd man out Ben is earning the respect of Dr. Lock and his colleagues. When a patient dies post op Ben is upset, but events take a gruesome turn. While out jogging with his family they find a severed leg with the implant Ben himself put in which Ben recognizes as his deceased patient’s lying in the morgue. When another patient goes missing and their amputated limb is found this time harvested from a once living patient Ben’s past reputation puts him on the detective’s radar. Without giving away too much this book takes surprising twists and turns when the body count goes up. When an old friend, Laurette, introduces Ben to a well-respected forensic psychologist the race is on to catch the killer, clear Ben’s name and save his loved ones.

Being a physician, author Carrie Rubin gives you the goods in this brilliantly executed, clever, page turning psychological medical thriller. Cannot wait to read the next in the series. I thoroughly enjoyed it and would highly recommend!

 

 

 

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Two Cuddly Feline Fur-babies Looking for Their “Furever” Home! #Toronto #kitten #cat #AdoptDontShop #ScarboroughBluffsCatRelief

 

Meet Lincoln!

Lincoln

Meet the sweetest kitten EVER!
Lincoln is about 14 weeks old and is one of most affectionate little boys you’ll ever know. Also called Linc for short, this fella is a real stunner with his silky soft marble tabby coat. He has the most expressive face with pretty pale olive eyes, and the most kissable kitten belly.
This little social butterfly almost never stops purring. His purring has been known to penetrate doors! All Lincoln wants to do is to cuddle and play all day long. He loves to be picked up and will curl up into your neck or on your shoulder. When it’s bedtime, he will sit right on your chest or next to your head and nuzzle into your ear, purring you to sleep. He is not picky with toys and will play with anything and anyone. Although, he prefers to chase toys on a string, he will also happily baff balls and toy mice around the room by himself. Whenever you’re having a bad day, Linc is guaranteed to make you laugh and put a smile back on your face.His mother, Porsche, was abandoned outdoors heavily pregnant when her family moved away. Fortunately, some kind neighbours noticed and Porsche was brought into foster care where she gave birth to Lincoln and his siblings at the end of March.Lincoln is dewormed, flea and parasite free, and will be vaccinated prior to adoption. Adopters will be able to have him neutered at a rescue-discount rate through Scarborough Bluffs Cat Relief when he turns 6 months old. Preference will be given to local, experienced pet owners who may already have a social and playful cat for Lincoln to befriend. If you are interested in giving Lincoln his forever home, please contact us at scarboroughbluffscatrelief@gmail.com. Adoption fees apply.
For more on this sweet little guy… click here


Meet Porsche!Porshe
She is as sweet as she is pretty and petite.

This affectionate grey tabby girl with the most stunning bright green eyes is just looking for love. Once Porsche gets to know you and can tell you want to be her friend, she will cuddle up next to you and melt into a puddle. This sweetheart loves face and neck scratchies. She will headbutt your hand asking you to pet and stroke her. She meows and walks up to you as soon as you come through the door.

Porsche had a bit of a rough start. She was abandoned in a garage, heavily pregnant, when her owners moved away. Luckily, some kind neighbours noticed and got in touch with our rescue. Soon after, she gave birth to seven kittens despite practically still being a kitten herself. We estimate she’s only about a year old. She did an excellent job teaching her babies to use the litterbox as she is very tidy herself. Porsche loves her food and treats. She is an insatiable little vacuum — really food-motivated. While she currently still needs to put on a little more weight, she must be fed portioned meals instead of free-feeding to avoid becoming overweight in the future. Fortunately, meal times are done in the blink of an eye. She’s been an incredible doting mom, but her kittens are grown now and it’s time for Porsche to find her new family… and this time, forever.

Porsche is dewormed, flea and parasite free, and will be ready for adoption very soon. She will be vaccinated and spayed before adoption. For more info or if you are interested in giving Porsche a forever home, please contact us at scarboroughbluffscatrelief@gmail.com or call Katherine at 647-476-4797.

For more about this adorable girl click here

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#NetGalley #BookReview of The Insider by Craig Schaefer (@craig_schaefer) #Thriller #Mystery

Review

The Insider Cover

The Insider

by Craig Schaefer

Release Date: July 7th, 2020

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I received a complimentary ARC copy of The Insider by Craig Schaefer from NetGalley and Thomas & Mercer in order to read and give an honest review.

I’m a recent fan of Craig Schaefer having been introduced through his book, Ghosts of Gotham, which I reviewed here. Although I haven’t read The Loot the first book in the series, I found this perfect as a stand-alone.

In book two, Charlie McCabe is working with Dom and Beckett as part of the Boston Asset Protection Agency as a bodyguard hired on two separate cases. The first case revolves around protecting an author and all-around narcissistic jerk, Lincoln Gable, who is on a promotion tour for his controversial book. The second case is a bit more complex involving keeping alive the prime witness, Hayden Cobb, a witness to a murder case involving three dirty cops known as the East Boston Three. While under Boston Asset’s protection in a secret location an attempt is made on his life. To Charlie and crew it appears there is a leak somewhere in the DA’s office and rumours of a fourth dirty cop who could be the one trying to silence Cobb forever. When a member of mob boss’s Jimmy Lassiter’s crew is falsely imprisoned as the hit man, he blackmails Charlie to exonerate him,putting one of her loved ones in danger. Running out of time Charlie is almost pushed too far. Along the way there are so many intriguing and interesting players that show up at the race this book is definitely one wild ride.

I absolutely loved everything about this book, the strong, intelligent, resilient yet flawed female characters, the pacing, his twisty plot turns that draw you in and keep you voraciously reading until the end. Filled with murder, mayhem and amazing plot twists which will throw you for a loop this is a fantastic book which I highly recommend!

#WATWB

Five #Positive Stories:#CommunitiesComingTogether & #ActsofKindness! #WATWB

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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, heart-warming story that will add some light and lift the human spirit. The last Friday of every month bloggers will share their stories led by six co-hosts, this month’s co-hosts are Sylvia McGrath, Susan Scott , Shilpa Garg, Damyanti Biswas, and myself, Belinda Witzenhausen To learn more about #WATWB or to join us click here!


“Unexpected kindness is the most powerful, least costly, and most underrated agent of human change.” ~ Unknown

With the events of the past few months it may seem there are very few positive stories out there. What better way for us to warm our hearts than to hear about five incredible tales of human kindness… communities and people doing what they can to make other’s lives a bit easier! Click here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eFq5drCBXOA

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#NetGalley #BookReview of A Declaration of the Rights of Magicians A Novel by H. G. Parry #Fantasy #Historical

A Declaration of the Rights of Magicians

A Novel

by H. G. Parry

A Declaration of Rights for Magicians

Release date: June 23rd, 2020

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I received a complimentary ARC copy of A Declaration of the Rights of Magicians
A Novel by H. G. Parry from NetGalley and Redhook Books in order to read and give an honest review.

Clever plot lines, interesting characters, well written and researched,I loved everything about this book.

This book is unlike anything else I have read, this dark epic historical fantasy was complex and took a while to get into but was definitely worth it.   

Set in the 18th century, A Declaration of the Rights of Magicians is an alternate history of the times including the infamous French Revolution. The story features three interconnecting plot lines set in the Caribbean, Paris and London. There are multiple political events driven by a dark powerful entity whose endgame is shocking.  It’s thought provoking in so many ways as the characters are challenged with moral dilemmas surrounding issues such as slavery, classism, to what end are they willing to go to succeed and at what cost. 

To get to the basics of the story, we are witness to the alternate version of history where magic is strictly regulated. Commoners are forbidden to use it and are given magic dampening bracelets that burn if their powers are used and face imprisonment or execution for breaking the law.  Even to save a life, magic is forbidden to commoners, only aristocrats and nobility are allowed to wield their power without consequence.  The three plot lines were equally compelling reminding me of a game of chess with the characters being pieces moved along the board with a singular purpose invisible to the reader until the end.  

H.G. Parry introduces us to Fina a slave working on a sugar plantation under British rule in Jamaica. The slaves are mistreated, their powers bound by a potion so that they are under the plantation managers  complete control. In a brief period when her magic seeps through Fina hears a voice telling her to flee Jamaica in order to save her fellow slaves and join a slave rebellion on Santa Domingo.  Meanwhile in France, Robespierre is fighting for the rights of the commoners and their ability to use magic for the betterment of their lives and in London, a trio of politicians are working for the abolition of slavery despite it being heavily debated. Each character is well developed and deals with unique obstacles and the consequences of their actions.  There is so much going on in this book it’s difficult to capture it all in this review without spoilers. Bottom line I loved the book although, ending on a cliffhanger of sorts was surprising and I certainly hope we get a second in the series from H.G. Parry. 

Clever plot lines, interesting characters, well written and researched, I loved everything about this book. This book is for you if you enjoy compelling, thought provoking historical fantasy with a twist!

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#NetGalley #BookReview of The Indigo Ghosts by Alys Clare #HistoricalFiction #Mystery

 

The Indigo Ghosts

by Alys Clare

Indigo Ghosts Cover

Release date: June 2nd, 2020

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I received a complimentary ARC copy of The Indigo Ghosts by Alys Clare from NetGalley and Severn House Publishers in order to read and give an honest review.

intricately woven and well written plot contains twists and turns with intriguing historical details and authentic, multifaceted characters which make this a thoroughly enjoyable read

This is my first time reading Alys Clare’s work and I have to say I loved it! The Indigo Ghosts is different as it mixes mystery and history with a touch of the supernatural and teeters on the edge of being in the vein of Gothic literature. Although the third book in the series, having not read the first two I found nothing lacking in it as a stand-alone and found it quite enjoyable. 

Set in Plymouth in the 1600’s When his former Captain, Captain Colt calls Dr. Gabriel Taverner in to investigate strange occurrences aboard the ship he used to serve on. Sailors have been experiencing strange things such as blue ghosts and whispers from a malicious spirit. The crew are terrified when it appears stowaways had once resided in a small hold on the ship and left something behind, and as Taverner and Captain Colt explore the holds they find a small hiding space in which a small desiccated adult body is found nailed through the chest to the ship’s ribs.  When another body is found hidden in a waste barrel on the ship with his hands died blue the mystery takes off. There are intelligent arguments for and against the paranormal events melding science and mysticism and we go on a twisting journey with touches on vodou, trade routes, slavery and the Caribbean. 

The intricately woven and well written plot contains twists and turns with intriguing historical details and authentic, multifaceted characters which make this a thoroughly enjoyable read.  I will definitely be reading more of Alys Clare’s work! Entertaining read that I would highly recommend. 

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Meet Sassy! An incredibly cuddly girl looking for her “furever” home! #Toronto #Ontario #Cat #AdoptDontShop #ScarboroughBluffsCatRelief

Meet Sassy

Sassy


Scarborough Bluffs Cat Relief is looking for a loving, forever home for adorable Sassy, a three year old tabby. She needs a home with no other pets as she is terrified of dogs and not happy to share her human with another cat.  Sassy has been vet checked, vaccinated and spayed. Super affectionate, she will be your best friend! She loves to just be around people and spend time with you. Like any cat when she wants your attention she will go out of her way to get it! She loves to show off how absolutely adorable she is by rolling around, especially if you’ve just gotten home from a long day she’s a cat who will definitely show you how much she’s missed your love during time away!

Sassy

Playful, she loves to play! Laser pointer, teaser toy or just noisy little ball toys that she can pat around! She loves them all! I think as long as you’re taking some time to just play and show her you’re there she’ll enjoy just about any toy you throw her way!

Please note that an adoption fee applies. For further information or to meet her, please contact scarboroughbluffscatrelief@gmail.com

***Please note: GTA/Toronto adoptions preferred***

 

#WATWB, Quotes

A Little Kindness Goes a Long Way #WATWB

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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  Susan Scott, Lizbeth Hartz, Shilpa Garg, Mary J. Giese and Damyanti Biswas.   To learn more about WATWB or to join us click here. For updates, news and monthly reminder notifications please join us on our FB page here and follow us on our Twitter account: @WATWB


“Unexpected kindness is the most powerful, least costly, and most underrated agent of human change.” ~ Bob Kerrey

We are living through very trying times and for many of us our lives have changed so vastly and so quickly we are learning that many of the things we often took for granted mean the world to us. Often an act of kindness can make a huge impact to someone’s life.

Recently there has been a lot mentioned about a certain act of kindness that helped a woman reconnect with her family during this trying time.  A woman in her 90’s from the Rexdale area of Toronto had been desperately trying to access the library’s free Wi-Fi which she relied on to contact her family . She kept trying to access the signal from the parking lot after her branch closed due to COVID but to no avail. When Toronto Public Library (TPL) employee Young Lark Jin, Library Service Manager for the York Woods District heard about the issue he went above and beyond to make sure the woman could communicate with her family once again. Once learning of the issue, Jin said he contacted multiple library departments, including IT, to see if the Wi-Fi at those branches was working. When Jin got the confirmation that the wireless network was in service, he informed the woman.

“She was using her iPad to connect with her family members because I believe she didn’t have an internet connection at home. She was coming to the local library to get an Internet connection,” Jin said.

However, Jin said the woman called him back to let him know that she went back to the library and still couldn’t access the Internet.

At that time, I realized that she might have some issues with connecting her device to our Wi-Fi. So, I went to Albion and Rexdale and checked our Wi-Fi signals. They were strong, and I was able to connect.”

So, Jin offered to meet the woman at the library to help her resolve the problem. He said they met at the library parking lot while maintaining physical distancing.

“We rolled our windows down, and she passed her iPad to me, and I cleaned it with a hand sanitizer and then I tried to help her. In the end, she was able to connect to the Wi-Fi at the Rexdale branch so she will be able to connect with her family members,” Jin said.

 

To see video on the story,  please click here….

https://www.cp24.com/news/toronto-public-library-employee-praised-for-helping-elderly-woman-connect-with-family-1.4952523

 

“Kindness begins with the understanding that we all struggle.” – Charles Glassman

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#NetGalley #BookReview Sea Change by Nancy Kress #ScienceFiction #Ecology #GMO

 

Sea Change

by Nancy Kress

Release date: May 22nd, 2020

Sea Change Cover

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(3.5) Rounded Up


I received a complimentary ARC copy Sea Change by Nancy Kress from NetGalleyTachyon Publications in order to read and give an honest review.

To give her credit, the book is well-written, clever and the author does write realistic, multifaceted and mature characters …

This was the first work of fiction I have read from Nancy Kress. In the past I had read her non-fiction books on writing as part of a workshop I had taken and really enjoyed them.  I was really looking forward to reading this novella and although well-written in many ways, it just wasn’t what I expected.

Coined a bio-thriller, although interesting wasn’t as dynamic or “thrilling” as advertised.  The author bases an espionage story around the benefits of GMO’s over traditional agriculture but much of it felt like a huge info dump interspersed with an interesting mystery and very character driven story.  To give her credit, the book is well-written, clever and the author does write realistic, multifaceted and mature characters.

The Protagonist, Renata Black is driven by her beliefs, all her life she has been championing for good, always looking for a cause even to the point of ruining her marriage to her Hollywood bound husband.   When her son dies because of a water issue attributed to agricultural run-off she makes promoting GMO’s her new mission.

Set in the future, an incident ten years prior involving an bio-pharmaceutical incident resulting the deaths of children causes major GMO companies to disappear and agriculture with pesticides and fertilizers to become the norm.  Looking for a cause to help her deal with her grief  of losing her son she joins “The Org” as operative Caroline Denton. The Org, a pro-GMO, ultra-secretive , underground organization is working to bring back GMO’s to reduce starvation and ecological disasters around the world. When not working as an operative as Renata she works as a paralegal for a lawyer prosecuting rape cases for the Quinault reservation, where her son passed away.

The story opens with Caroline getting to investigate a runaway  self-driving house blocking traffic and its operator/owner believed to be an Org operative is missing, and it appears to be the result of a mole in “The Org”. When a splinter cell gets raided and her name becomes known, Caroline/Renata is hunted by the government and labelled a terrorist.

The hunt for the missing operator, a case involving the rape of a Quinault teenager and her grief over losing her son are the plot-lines running through this novella, but they all felt overshadowed by too many info dumps revolving around GMO’s which in my opinion took away from the story of this short novella.  Reading is subjective and although I found Sea Change hard to immerse myself in, doesn’t mean it won’t be appreciated by someone else.