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Welcome

Belle Sketch

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 young adults with special needs and learning challenges.

Currently, I am working on novels inspired by my love of archaeology and mythology set to be released in 2021/22. I am also a contributing writer for various mainstream websites, main writer/creator  of  BelindaWitzenhausen.com  and WriterzBlox.net, a partner at Professor Owl’s Book Corner, main reviewer at Boho & Bookish and Urban Word Nerd as well as Creativity Coach at IgniteYourCreativity.net.


*Updates*

Due to courses and writing I will be taking a brief hiatus.  Please be advised I am fully booked (pardon the pun) and unavailable to accept further book review requests until  Spring 2022.


© Belinda Witzenhausen, 2009-2021. 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 Chapter and Curse (Cambridge Bookshop Series #1) by Elizabeth Penney #Cozy #Mystery

Chapter and Curse

Cambridge Bookshop Series #1 

by Elizabeth Penney

Release date: September 28th, 2021  

🌟🌟🌟🌟 🌟

I received a complimentary ARC copy of Chapter and Curse (Cambridge Bookshop Series #1) by Elizabeth Penney from NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press in order to read and give an honest review.  

… “I really enjoyed Chapter and Curse and found it entertaining”…”It’s a quick fun read”…  

Chapter and Curse by Elizabeth Penney is the first in the new Cambridge Bookshop Series and introduces us to Molly Kimball and her Mother Nina who respond to Aunt Violet’s plea for assistance with her struggling bookshop, Thomas Marlowe—Manuscripts and Folios. Uprooting their life in Vermont and moving to Cambridge, England opens a world of opportunities for Molly but when a poetry reading at the bookshop becomes a murder scene, her new life becomes more than she bargained for.  

The victim, an old school mate of Violet’s, as well as a habitual blackmailer is murdered using Violet’s knitting needles ensuring that Violet becomes prime suspect in her murder. Molly is now on a mission to save both her aunt and their livelihood but needs to look to the past to unlock secrets and save the day.  

Elizabeth Penney has done an incredible job creating a cast of characters that include a former spy, a handsome neighbor as well as new friends and foes for Molly.  For me, although I really enjoyed Chapter and Curse and found it entertaining it was somewhat predictable and I guessed the perpetrator and motive fairly early. It’s a quick fun read if that’s what you are looking for and I am looking forward to reading future books in this series! 

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#Netgalley #BookReview ~ #Writing Down the Bones Deck 60 Cards to Free the #Writer Within by Natalie Goldberg #Creativity #Non-Fiction

Review

Writing Down the Bones Deck

60 Cards to Free the Writer Within

by Natalie Goldberg

🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

I received a complimentary ARC copy of Writing Down the Bones Deck 60 Cards to Free the Writer Within by Natalie Goldberg from Netgalley and Shambala Publications, in order to read and give an honest review.

… a continuation of Goldberg’s wonderful process and as always, are insightful, interesting, and engaging….

I remember picking up a copy of Writing Down the Bones about twenty years ago and it was one of the books that helped me fall in love with writing again. Anyone who has worked through any of Natalie Goldberg’s books will know that her approach is unique as it challenges you to think about writing in a unique way and these cards are no different. Through these sixty cards, Goldberg inspires and motivates, offering sage advice and proposing challenges which you set yourself allowing you choose how deep you delve into your writing.

These are great for anyone looking to ignite their creativity, whether you’re looking for inspiration, drafting a novel or keeping a daily journal, these cards are a brilliant addition to your writing/creativity library. Writing Down the Bones Deck 60 Cards to Free the Writer Within are a continuation of Goldberg’s wonderful process and as always, are insightful, interesting, and engaging, I would highly recommend.

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#NetGalley #BookReview Ancient Egypt: The Cradle of Civilization by Peter Mavrikis #AncientEgypt #Egyptology #Photography

Book Review

Ancient Egypt: The Cradle of Civilization

by Peter Mavrikis

Release date: September 14th, 2021

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐


I received a complimentary ARC copy of Ancient Egypt: The Cradle of Civilization by Peter Mavrikis from NetGalley and Amber Books to read and give an honest review.

…Ancient Egypt: The Cradle of Civilization truly is a captivatingly beautiful journey through Egyptian history…

I have been fascinated with Ancient Egypt since I was a child and recently have started taking courses in Archaeology, in particular Egyptology. I was thrilled to be afforded the opportunity to read and review Ancient Egypt: The Cradle of Civilization and I loved this book.

Ancient Egypt: The Cradle of Civilization is a stunning collection of photographs of Ancient Egyptian relics, covering items from the Old Kingdom, Middle Kingdom, New Kingdom, Late Period, and Greco-Roman Period, revealing recent finds amongst its collection. Accompanying each photograph are brief captions by author Peter Mavrikis that discusses concisely the relevance of each photograph and its significance in history.  

They say, A picture is worth a thousand words….” and in this case Peter Mavrikis has shared volumes, Ancient Egypt: The Cradle of Civilization truly is a captivatingly beautiful journey through Egyptian history.  

This would be perfect gift with anyone who is fascinated by Ancient Egypt and its amazing wonders, I would highly recommend it.   

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#NetGalley #BookReview Reading Between the Crimes A Jane Doe Book Club Mystery #2 by Kate Young #Mystery #Cozy #CrookedLaneBooks

Murder by the Bookend 

Reading Between the Crimes

A Jane Doe Book Club Mystery #2

by Kate Young

Release date: September 7th, 2021  

🌟🌟🌟🌟

I received a complimentary ARC copy of Reading Between the Crimes (A Jane Doe Book Club Mystery #2) by Kate Young from NetGalley and Crooked Lane Books in order to read and give an honest review.  

brilliantly crafted characters and intriguing clever plotlines that will keep you turning pages

Reading Between the Crimes, the second in the Jane Doe Book Club Mysteries begins a year or so after the events of book one, On Borrowed Crime. Lyla Moody has established herself at her Uncle Calvin’s Private Investigations Agency, has settled into a comfortable relationship with her agent boyfriend and seems that her family has become a bit more understanding of her life choices. When a local librarian and friend of the true crime book club the Jane Doe’s, Harper Richardson, seems to be under duress and confides in her, Lyla steps up as a friend, agreeing to help her find her missing aunt. Things deteriorate when Lyla and her beloved Gran stumble across the body of Harper’s husband Leonard Richardson at a fundraiser hosted by Lyla’s parents. While waiting for the police to arrive a key piece of evidence goes missing and everyone becomes a suspect. When the case takes a turn and Lyla becomes a target, taunted with clues that coincide with their book club pick, Agatha Christie’s the Crooked House along with her friends Lyla begins to put the pieces together and a strange connection to Lyla’s Mother and Uncle Calvin’s past makes this even more chaotic.

Author, Kate Young has done it again, brilliantly crafted characters and intriguing clever plotlines that will keep you turning pages and if you’re like me…losing sleep. I really enjoyed Reading Between the Crimes, although the second in the series it works well as a stand-alone, but I would really recommend On Borrowed Crime as well, both are fantastic reads, and I am looking forward to reading future books in this series! 

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#NetGalley #BookReview Murder By The Bookend by Laura Gail Black #Mystery #CrookedLaneBooks

Murder by the Bookend 

An Antique Bookshop Mystery #2 

by Laura Gail Black 

Release date: September 7th, 2021  

🌟🌟🌟🌟 🌟

I received a complimentary ARC copy of Murder by the Bookend (An Antique Bookshop Mystery #2) by Laura Gail Black from NetGalley and Crooked Lane Books in order to read and give an honest review.  

… A clever cozy with suspects you’ll love to hate, clever red herrings and unexpected twists, the author has crafted …  

Murder by the Bookend is the second book in the An Antique Bookshop Mystery series and author Laura Gail Black does not disappoint. Life is finally looking up for Jenna Quinn after the events that occurred in “For Whom the Book Tolls.” Jenna has settled into her new life in Hokes Folly, North Carolina and is having a grand re-opening of the antique bookshop she inherited from her beloved Uncle Paul.

After all the struggles she has endured and the store surviving after being associated with two murders, Jenna is determined to get her life back on track, she reopens the store under a new name, Twice Upon a Time, with Mason as her Manager, her best friend next door and her Police Officer boyfriend, life is good. The re-opening is going well but in a small town there can be quite a few characters both the two and four legged variety. After a few tense moments with warring patrons was averted, a well-received raffle was held it concluding the opening on a high note…that’s until they see a patron’s dog running loose in the parking lot, which leads them to finding the victim’s body lying next to his car, murdered with a bookend that he had won at Twice Upon a Time. The victim and his dog were well known in Hokes Folly and Jenna although not overly close went to him for help with appraising books. The victim was always kind to her when many in the town were not, and Jenna wants to do right by him agreeing to take in his grieving pup and keeping it out of a shelter. When “Twice Upon a Time” gets targeted by the police, the press, as well as the murderer suspicious of the dog recognizing them, Jenna does what she must to save her shop and the new life she has built for herself.  


 Murder by the Bookend is a clever cozy with suspects you’ll love to hate, clever red herrings and unexpected twists, the author has indeed crafted a novel with living breathing characters and compelling plotlines that will keep you on the edge of your seat until the end. Although I preferred the first book in the series, Murder by the Bookend was a fantastic read, and I am looking forward to reading future books in this series! 

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#NetGalley #BookReview The Real Valkyrie: The Hidden #History of #Viking Warrior #Women by Nancy Marie Brown

Book Review

The Real Valkyrie

The Hidden History of Viking Warrior Women

by Nancy Marie Brown

Release date: August 31st, 2021

⭐⭐⭐⭐


I received a complimentary ARC copy of The Real Valkyrie: The Hidden History of Viking Warrior Women by Nancy Marie Brown from NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press to read and give an honest review.

… unique, professionally researched, and brilliantly written, …

Being huge lover of history, I was thrilled to get the opportunity to read and review The Real Valkyrie and I wasn’t disappointed.

Author, Nancy Marie Brown delves into a Viking warrior whose bones were found in grave Bj581 dated between 913 and 980 was discovered outside the Swedish town of Birka in 1878. Initially based on preconceived biases of the Victorian era the body was said to be that of a male Viking warrior. Buried with the body were grave goods such as weapons including a blade, spearheads a sword, knives, an axe, shields, various daily essentials, and a set of game pieces normally signifying a strategic thinker and were common of a warrior’s grave. In 2019 a team set out determined to prove that contrary to long held stereotypical beliefs there were in fact women warriors during Viking Era. The team, after running DNA tests on the bones, proved conclusively that the bones in grave were that of a female in her thirties or forties. The Author intrigued by this has tried to give the reader insight into the life of this and other female warriors by overlaying what stories could be found by way of sagas, poems, and documentation of the time to create a skillfully imagined vignette of the lives of these women warriors.  

Although, at times this book meandered a bit, I thoroughly enjoyed it. Very unique, professionally researched, and brilliantly written, Nancy Marie Brown has taken us back through time to walk in the footsteps of brave female Viking warriors, keeping them alive when history forgot. 

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Meet Orion Jean ~10-Year-Old On A Mission To Race to Kindness and Share His Love of #Reading #WATWB

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. #WATWB was started in  2017, this month marks our forty-ninth opportunity to share positive uplifting stories to inspire, give hope and motivate others. The last Friday of every month bloggers share their stories led by two co-hosts, this month’s co-hosts are Mary J. Giese and Belinda Witzenhausen.

Books are a uniquely portable magic.” ~Stephen King

For those who know me…and those who follow me on social media, it’s common knowledge that I am an avid reader, I love books! Yes, I’m one of those annoying people who has a TBR piled high with books still left to read and thinks a good time is staying home with a good book.

When I stumbled across the story of ten-year-old Orion Jean and his mission to share his love of reading with other kids by collecting 500,000 books to give to thousands of kids in an effort to share his love of reading, I had to share. What was even more impressive he has launched a mission called “Race to Kindness” which inspires good deeds such as toy drives and providing meals to families in need.

Orion is definitely a go-getter and known for his compassion, so much so that in 2020, he won a student kindness contest where he displayed his own campaign of compassion. “Kindness is a virtue we can all possess. If we are willing to,” he said. “So why not start today. Because right now, it’s what we need more than ever.” With his prize money he donated toys to the Dallas Children’s Hospital where he lives and helped collect meals for Texas families in need. Orion credits that contest as being the catalyst for his “Race to Kindness”. Now feeling blessed, he wants to help children without access to books at home to find their passion for reading by supplying them with the books they need. Orion really is on a mission and I can’t wait to see what his next mission is.

For more information please check out his website linked above and check out the video below for his most recent mission!

If you wish to join us this month share the link to your #WATWB on Facebook here or on Twitter at @WATWB so we can visit.

“It’s all about my moral duty to help people,” he said. “You know, it’s my responsibility to be able to see these people who need help and knowing that I have the resources to help them.”~ Orion Jean

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Meet Ryan Hickman: The Eleven Year Old Who Shows Us What One Person Can Do To Help Save The #Environment #WATWB

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. #WATWB was started in  2017, this month marks our forty-eigth opportunity to share positive uplifting stories to inspire, give hope and motivate others. The last Friday of every month bloggers share their stories led by two co-hosts, this month’s co-hosts are Sylvia McGrath and Belinda Witzenhausen.

It is time for us all to stand and cheer for the doer, the achiever – the one who recognizes the challenge and does something about it. ~ Vincent Lombardi

This month I came across a story that seems so relevant especially now. Meet Ryan Hickman of Orange County, CA who at the tender age of seven started his own recycling company Ryan’s Recycling.

It became Ryan’s mission at a young age to help save the environment by collecting items that could easily be recycled. At eleven years old, Ryan is still going strong. His company and sponsors are working together to help make a difference and help people realize the importance of recycling. According to the rolling tally on his website, Ryan means business, to date he has accomplished the following: Recycled 1,369,595 Cans & Bottles , Recycled 149,977 Pounds, and raised $13365
for Pacific Marine Mammal Center and there is no sign of him slowing down. Goes to show that everyone has the ability to make a difference. Check out a CNN report on Ryan below.

If you wish to join us this month share the link to your #WATWB on Facebook here or on Twitter at @WATWB so we can visit.

“What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make” ~ Jane Goodall

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#NetGalley #BookReview Silence in the Library (Lily Adler Mystery #2) by Katharine Schellman #Historical #Mystery

Review 

Silence in the Library 

(Lily Adler Mystery #2) 

by  

Katharine Schellman  

Release date: July 13th, 2021 

⭐⭐⭐⭐ 

I received a complimentary ARC copy of Silence in the Library (Lily Adler Mystery #2) by Katharine Schellman from NetGalley and Crooked Lane Books in order to read and give an honest review. 

… A true whodunit with multiple suspects, clever red herrings and unexpected twists and turns … 

In Silence in the Library, we meet up again in Regency London after widow Lily Adler had proven herself as a brilliant sleuth in the first book in the series The Body in the Garden which I was fortunate enough to review here.

Silence in the Library begins with the unexpected arrival of Lily’s somewhat estranged and extremely critical father. Her father a society climbing solicitor is concerned more about social mores than his daughter’s happiness. Despite being widowed two years prior young Lily has carved out a wonderful life for herself with close male friends and a consulting position with the local police much to her father’s chagrin. Her father insists she visit an old society friend Sir Charles Wyatt and his new wife. After an uncomfortable visit Lily returns home, the next day she receives word that Sir Charles has been murdered and Lily feels compelled to follow the trail with her friends who make a re-appearance, namely Captain Hartley and officer Simon Page, a member of the Bow Street Runners. I was disappointed at first but pleasantly surprised with the appearance of Ofelia later in the book.  

A true whodunit with multiple suspects, clever red herrings and unexpected twists and turns Silence in the Library keeps you guessing until the end. Although I preferred the first book in the series Silence in the Library was a great read, and I am looking forward to reading future books in this series! 

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#NetGalley #BookReview The Night Hawks (Dr. Ruth Galloway #13) by Elly Griffiths

Book Review

The Night Hawks

 Dr. Ruth Galloway #13

by Elly Griffiths

Release date: June 29, 2021

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐


I received a complimentary ARC copy of The Night Hawks by Elly Griffiths from NetGalley and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt  to read and give an honest review.

… brilliantly written, atmospheric with dynamic and multifaceted cast of characters…

Being a huge fan of Elly Griffiths’ Ruth Galloway series, I was thrilled to get the opportunity to read and review the thirteenth book “The Night Hawks” and for me although not the best in the series it was a wonderful read.  

We pick up with Ruth having left her prestigious position at Cambridge University to replace Phil Trent as head of Archaeology at the University of North Norfolk. When a group of metal detectorists called “The Night Hawks” uncover more than they bargained for DC Harry Nelson is on the case along with his consulting archaeologist Dr. Ruth Galloway. A body is found on the beach and what seems to be a simple death takes on a sinister turn especially when one of the Night Hawks reports gunshots at the legendary and supposedly haunted Black Dog Farm. As the bodies start to pile up and the race is on to unravel the truth from the legends and catch the killer before it is too late.  

  As with any Galloway novel we have murder, mayhem, mythology, and archaeology along with a touch of whimsy in the form of Cathbad ,an old druid friend always happy to add his insights to the case. I loved that it felt like the old gang was back together again after Ruth’s departure to Cambridge to move in with her former boyfriend Frank. The author has created the perfect cast of characters which to me is the huge draw of this series, they feel genuine with their strengths and their insecurities which make them unpredictable and interesting. In this entry we have the introduction of a new character, David Brown a new appointment to the university’s Archaeology department. There is an instant combativeness between him, and Ruth and we learn the secrets he has been harbouring.  

Always brilliantly written, atmospheric with dynamic and multifaceted cast of characters I would highly recommend reading this book, but I highly recommend reading the whole series in order.