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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, a partner at Professor Owl’s Book Corner and main reviewer at  www.bohoandbookish.wordpress.com.


© 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.

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#NetGalley #Review The Burning Chambers by Kate Mosse #HistoricalFiction #Mystery

Review

The Burning Chambers Cover

The Burning Chambers

by Kate Mosse

Release date: July 3rd, 2018

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I received a complimentary ARC copy of The Burning Chambers by Kate Mosse from NetGalley and Publishers Group Canada/Pan Macmillan.

…brilliant, captivating and so rich in detail…

I am a huge fan of historical fiction and no one does it like Kate Mosse.  Although as with most in the genre, this book is slow to unfold yet definitely worth it.  Ms Mosse immerses the reader with her vivid descriptions of 16th century France. We visit Carcassonne and Toulouse and although the book opens and closes in the 1800’s Africa a majority of the story takes place in 1560’s France.  

As with most of her books, the author has woven a rich tapestry of a plot intertwining mystery, suspense, heartbreak and romance. Carefully crafted vignettes follow the lives of well written intriguing characters whose paths cross when battles erupt between the Catholics and the Huguenots/Protestants and we witness first-hand the barbarity of religious wars.   

Nineteen-year-old Minou Joubert and her family are caught up in it all and their lives will never be the same. One day while working at their bookstore Minou receives a mysterious letter with an unusual seal, it contains four words, “She knows you live” and launches into an intriguing mystery full of religious conflict, adventure, missing artefacts and a murder. Although Catholic their family believes in religious freedom and their store caters to all religions which makes them a target. One day her path crosses with a fugitive and major player in the Huguenots cause, Piet Reydon and their lives take an interesting turn. Minou’s widowed father Bernard is also harbouring terrible secrets which he sets out to make right sending Minou and her brother to live with their aunt in Toulouse while the youngest, very ill sister is left in the care of a trusted neighbour.  While in Toulouse things reach a heartbreaking boiling point, which will keep you turning the pages.  

A perfect read for historical fiction lovers, The Burning Chambers is brilliant, captivating and so rich in detail I can’t wait to read more from Ms Mosse.  

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#NetGalley #Review of The Book of Unwinding (Witches of New Orleans #2) by J.D. Horn #UrbanFantasy #Gothic

Review

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The Book of Unwinding

(Witches of New Orleans #2)

by J.D. Horn

Release date: June 26th, 2018

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I received a complimentary ARC copy of The Book of Unwinding (Witches of New Orleans #2) by J.D. Horn from NetGalley and 47North in order to read and give an honest review.

After reading and reviewing The King of Bones and Ashes (Witches of New Orleans), the first in the series from Author J.D. Horn, I  find although I didn’t quite enjoy it as much as the first, I still found it to be a fantastic entry in the series.

As I mentioned in my review of book one, J.D. Horn has graced us with such strong, unique and multifaceted characters which you easily connect with, and this book was no exception. I love his ability to depict strong, flawed and resilient characters, especially the way his female characters come across. In this book, as with the last, there are quite a few characters and I appreciated the character list included at the beginning for a handy reference.  Those who survived the last book are present and we also see the return of a certain feisty feline.

The story opens months after the massacre that occurs in The King of Bones and Ashes. Magic is still dwindling and the hunt is on for the Book of Unwinding. We learn of Alice’s time on Dreaming Road and Daniel’s battle to get her back. Natalie is learning more about her abilities and coming into her own. A serial killer is revealed when the author reveals the gruesome details of  “The Dollhouse”. Fleur holds a dinner party where a secret Manon has been hiding from Lisette is revealed and we get front row seats for the fallout that ensues. We also follow Evangeline as she struggles to cope with what she has become as well as meet a few new characters who will play an important role in the future books I am sure.  My only issue in this book is some events seem to be drawn out and often it felt like too much was going on…it often lacked breathing room.

Sacred texts, warring witches, feisty felines, bitchy birds and hidden realms are again rampant in this entry and frankly, I loved it! I can’t wait to see where some of the continuing plots lead us. I recommend reading book one before this one, in my opinion, it wouldn’t make a great standalone.  I recommend this to anyone looking for something that is unique and engrossing. I’m looking forward to reading the next in this series.

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#NetGalley #Review of Body in the Ballroom (An Alice Roosevelt Mystery #2) by @RJKoreto via @crookedlanebks #Mystery

Review

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The Body in the Ballroom

(An Alice Roosevelt Mystery #2)

by R.J. Koreto

Release date: June 22nd, 2018

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I received a complimentary ARC copy of The Body in the Ballroom
(An Alice Roosevelt Mystery #2) by R.J. Koreto from NetGalley and Crooked Lane Books in order to read and give an honest review.

Having read and reviewed Mr Koreto’s first book in the series, Alice and the Assassin, I have to say he has outdone himself, this book is fantastic!

Alice Roosevelt, the daughter of President Roosevelt, after being banished to Washington due to her exploits in “Alice and the Assassin”, has returned to NewYork with Joe St.Clair, her re-assigned secret service agent in tow. While attending a debutante ball a murder occurs forcing Alice and St.Clair to plunge headfirst into the start of an intriguing, thrilling plot that will keep you guessing. Mr Koreto has done an amazing job at combining history, fiction, intrigue and humour in his work as well as tackling some relevant (then and now) issues such as racism, misogyny and antisemitism with tact and class.

Although at first, I was sure I knew who did it, I was left second guessing with all of Mr Koreto’s cleverly placed red herrings. I also love the development that has taken place in Alice. At eighteen years old now, still young in many ways, she is coming into her own with her intelligence, fearlessness and pride. Still precocious in so many ways, there is a softer side, a genuineness, blooming that endears you to her.  Agent St. Clair is also showing development and you have to appreciate him for his patience…and oh what patience he has. This time around there was also a nice secondary cast of characters, although some made appearances in his last book, this book I felt more of a camaraderie between them.

I have always been a fan of authors such as Agatha Christie and Arthur Conan Doyle, in my opinion, R.J. Koreto is joining them.  This book would be great as a stand-alone, but I do recommend reading the first as it is also a fantastic read, both I feel are suitable for most ages.  A fun, brilliant read that will keep you turning pages!

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#NetGalley #Review of The Relic Hunters by David Leadbeater #Thriller #Archaeological

Review

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The Relic Hunters

(The Relic Hunters Series)

by David Leadbeater

Release date: June 21st, 2018

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I received a complimentary ARC copy of The Relic Hunters by David Leadbeater from NetGalley in order to read and give an honest review.

Fast-paced, this book is non-stop action…

I’m new to this author and it’s a bit outside the genres I normally read but being an armchair archaeologist as well as a history student the description caught my eye.  Honestly, the archaeological component, action, and mystery were fantastic, very reminiscent of the Davinci Code. However, I had a few issues with it that I will address later which knocks my rating down to about a 3.5 stars.

This story starts with our protagonist Guy Bodie, relic hunter and master thief being set-up and languishing in a Mexican prison. While his elite team of thieves tries to mastermind a breakout he is rescued by the CIA. In return for breaking him out, lead agent, Heidi Moneymaker needs him and his team to help track an important relic which would lead them to the remains of the infamous Statue of Zeus, one of the seven wonders of the world.   Bodie faces betrayal at the hands of an old mentor but presses on with his team to follow clues leading them to the relic.  The hunt takes them around the world, Istanbul, Bavaria, London and Greece all the while facing assassins from a centuries-old order still in existence who will stop at nothing to keep the relic hidden. It was full of intrigue, fast-paced non-stop action, very detailed fight scenes which really did keep me reading to the end.  My issues don’t come from the story as much as the characters interactions. Much of the dialogue felt very YA to me, bordering on being bantering you’d hear on a schoolyard. Immature nicknames (aka Frizz-bomb), unnecessary bullying of the geek on the team and the constant allusion that anyone over 40 is old and decrepit (really????). Despite the great story, these issues were a turn off for me I’m afraid. Now reading is very subjective and although I didn’t enjoy those particular points, some readers may find it refreshing.

All in all, despite my issues mentioned above, it was entertaining to some degree and if you’re out for a quick and easy-to-read thriller this might be for you.

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#Review of A Little History of Archaeology (Little Histories) by Brian Fagan #NetGalley #Archaeology

 

Review

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A Little History of Archaeology

(Little Histories)

by Brian Fagan

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I received a complimentary ARC copy of A Little History of Archaeology by Brian Fagan from NetGalley and Yale University Press in order to read and give an honest review.

I have been a fan of Brian Fagan for a long time. His books are always enjoyable, packed with information and written in a way that is entertaining yet educational. In A Little History of Archaeology, Dr. Fagan does it again.

In A Little History of Archaeology, he walks us through history, showing us the humble beginnings and evolution of archaeology. His style is that of a person who loves his subject matter and he takes a subject which to some may seem complex and tedious and breaths life into it.

Dr. Fagan takes us along a journey traveling through time and visiting the far reaches of the earth. We begin with Napoleon’s scientists aka “donkeys” in Egypt before “archaeology” had really begun. The “donkeys” who were a collection of experts in agriculture, art, engineering, and botany although methods somewhat crude were one of the first to explore with curiosity.  We meet the likes of Darwin, Clark, Kenyon, and Kelso, all of whom have paved the way to the advent of archaeology.

We get introductions to carbon dating, travel far a wide and learn so much along the way. Whether you are an armchair archaeologist or in the field, there is something in A Little History of Archaeology for everyone.

#WATWB, Art, Chronic Illness

Giving Artists with Disabilities a Place to Thrive! #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 Shilpa Garg, Inderpreet Kaur Uppal, Peter Nena, Andrea Michaels and Damyanti Biswas.
To learn more about #WATWB or to join us click here!


Although, due to health and personal reasons I had been taking a brief hiatus from #WATWB this video passed through my feeds and I just had to share.

As many are aware I am a huge advocate for art as therapy. Art can help us make sense of our lives and ourselves, can uplift us on the darkest of days, can be healing and transformative but most importantly it can give us a voice. At Creative Growth Art Center a non-profit in Oakland, California it does just that. Since opening their doors in 1974 the centre has worked with hundreds of artists with developmental, mental and physical disabilities providing them with tools, space, inspiration and support to thrive as artists. Serving approximately 162 artists a week they cater to a multiple of mediums from painting and drawing to wordworking and fashion. Although many of the clients are non-verbal, here, art is the common language.

Today, artists represented by Creative Growth have been invited to the Venice Biennale, have had their works acquired by MoMA, and remain are making a wonderful name for themselves among collectors around the world.

To learn more about the centre and their programs click here: http://www.creativegrowth.org/category/news/

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#BookReview of #Outbreak (A Nightshades Novel #3) by @MelissaFOlson #UrbanFantasy #NetGalley

Review

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Outbreak

(A Nightshades Novel #3)

by Melissa F. Olson

Release date: June 5th, 2018

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I received a complimentary ARC copy of Outbreak (Nightshades #3) by Melissa F. Olson from NetGalley and Macmillan/Tor in order to read and give an honest review.

Fast-paced, this book chills and thrills…

Being a fan of Melissa Olson and in particular this series, I enjoyed this latest entry in the Nightshades series.

Dealing with the aftermath of the events of Switchback, Hector is on the loose and both Alex and Lindy’s reputations and lives are in jeopardy. The BPI looking to imprison Lindy, both Alex and Lindy go into hiding while trying to find a way to put an end to Hector’s freedom. Hector’s ego drives him as he seeks to hunt down Lindy trying to gain adoration, respect and ultimately become ruler of the shades.

As always Olson’s plotting keeps you on the edge of your seat but she also does a fantastic job of creating multifaceted characters, strong, fierce, intelligent yet with a touch of humour and compassion.

In this book, we learn a bit more about the dynamic between Lindy and her brother Hector as their pasts come back to haunt them.

Fast-paced, this book chills and thrills culminating in a perfect ending. The end introduces new possibilities for Lindy and Alex and I can’t wait to see where Olson takes us next.

 

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Attention All Book Lovers: May is #MilitaryAppreciationMonth in the US via @CSWCLynn

CSWCLLC logo by Grindhouse Media

Call Sign Wrecking Crew, LLC is made up of former US military as such we tend to honor Active, Reserve, Retired, and Veteran military. In the US on Memorial Day, we have paid tribute to those that “gave all” in a ceremony or two. We have also made it an annual thing to reduce the price of our books. This year, Call Sign: Wrecking Crew Storm Warning, the first book in the series will be available via Amazon Kindle to all for free from 25 May 2018 through 29 May 2018. The Kindle version is also available via Kindle Unlimited, meaning if you are a member of this program you can get it virtually free at any time.

CSWCSW via Amazon

Here is the US link:

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B004INHK2G

Here is the Global link:myBook.to/CSWCSW

By all means feel free to download the complete three book series.

 

Authors Supporting Authors

Lynn Hallbrooks

Recently, Lynn Hallbrooks connected with the author/owner of the Diabolic Shrimp website – https://diabolicshrimp.com/ – and along with the Call Sign: Wrecking Crew series, she included her non-fiction work, Helpful Household Hints for the Harried Human. Because Diabolic Shrimp is about sharing authors’ work with readers, they have a waiting list for books being displayed in the footer of each page. It so happens that her book will be featured in one of the slots. Because of this, the upcoming two year anniversary, and the multitude of graduations, she will be lowering the price of the book from now through the whole month of June. Whether you are an author or reader, check out Diabolic Shrimp’s sign up here: https://diabolicshrimp.com/avid4/

Cover for Helpful Household Hints

If you would rather go directly to Amazon Kindle or Kindle Unlimited, here is the US link:

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01H68UEW2

Here is the Global link: myBook.to/HHH4HH

Latest Release

In case you missed it on social media, there is a new book in the Call Sign Wrecking Crew, LLC line-up. It is a collection of quotations compiled by Lynn Hallbrooks and written by Israel O. Okundaye. The title is The Heartbeat of African Rhythm and is available for various eReaders (i.e., Nook, Kindle, and Kobo) through Books2Read here:

The Heartbeat of African Rhythm via Amazon

https://www.books2read.com/u/b5MdGA

Appreciation

If you want to learn more about Call Sign Wrecking Crew, LLC you can always visit their website:

https://cswcllc.weebly.com/

Let it be known that the founders of Call Sign Wrecking Crew, LLC appreciate Belinda Witzenhausen sharing about our work and the work of other authors. We hope that as you read the various books that you have seen on her website, that you will take a moment or two to reach out to the authors with some positively written feedback.

Books

#NetGalley #Review of The Plastic Magician by Charlie N. Holmberg (@CNHolmberg )#UrbanFantasy

 

Review

The Plastic Magician

(The Paper Magician Series #4)

by Charlie N. Holmberg

Release date: May 15th, 2018

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I received a complimentary ARC copy of  The Plastic Magician (The Paper Magician #4 Spin-Off) by Charlie N. Holmberg from NetGalley and 47th North

New to the world of Charlie N. Holmberg I have to say I was pleasantly surprised by The Plastic Magician. This book although a spin-off of the popular YA Paper Magician Series (which I have yet to read) this book definitely works as a stand-alone.

The Plastic Magician treats us to twenty-year-old Polymaker (Plastic Magician) Alvie Brechenmacher’s adventures apprenticing abroad.  Down to earth, intelligent and highly enthusiastic, Alvie leaves her German-American family in the states to apprentice for the world-renowned inventor and Polymaker, Magician Praff in London England.

Enroute she meets a rather rude gentleman who causes her to get off at the wrong train station and this is where her adventure begins. Along her journey, Alvie meets wonderful friends, a kind-hearted love interest and a mentor who respects and believes in her.  Magician Praff and Alvie work on a life-changing invention to not only help a friend but to present at a world-famous convention(contest) for Magicians.  Magician Praff has already won the elite contest and it helped establish him as one of the best Polymakers in the world.  When word gets out to rivals that they are presenting a groundbreaking device that will help many people,  their work and lives are put in peril.

Holmberg does a fantastic job crafting this fantastical cozy mystery. She creates a unique, fun magic system and her characters are interesting, quirky and downright loveable. Although the mystery is fairly predictable, I really didn’t mind because I liked the sweet story that unfolded along the way.  There is a bit of adventure, a bit of romance and a great story that keeps you interested in Alvie’s journey.  

All in all a fantastic, fun read that I would highly recommend for young and old alike.

Books

#BookReview of Owl and the Tiger Thieves (The Adventures of Owl #4) by Kristi Charish (@kristicharish) via #NetGalley #Urban Fantasy

 

Review

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 Owl and the Tiger Thieves

(The Adventures of Owl #4)

by Kristi Charish

Release date: May 8th, 2018

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I received a complimentary ARC copy of  Owl and the Tiger Thieves (The Adventures of Owl #4) by Kristi Charish from NetGalley and Simon & Schuster Canada in order to read and give an honest review.

4.5 Stars…multifaceted characters, fantastic worldbuilding, action-packed plot with twists and turns… 

Being a fan of Kristi Charish’s The Adventure of Owl series, I can say this fourth instalment doesn’t disappoint. The Owl series is best described as Indiana Jane but with a paranormal/urban fantasy twist.

Owl aka Alix Hiboux our illustrious anti-hero, antiquities thief, and ex-archaeologist begins a new mission, to rescue her possessed boyfriend Rynn after the events of the last book. The only way Owl can accomplish this is to collect medallions to enlist the assistance of the Tiger Thieves. She also gets the unwelcome assistance of Rynn’s cousin and antagonist through the series, Artemis. In previous books, I loathed Artemis but oddly enough found myself actually…liking him? Charish has done a fantastic job helping her characters evolve, even Artemis which I really didn’t see happening.

This book opens with Owl’s self-imposed imprisonment in St. Albinus of Angers, an ancient pirate jail, then sends her on a quest to Venice where we meet an undead DaVinci. In Venice, she not only picks up a medallion, but an ancient weapon built by DaVinci thought to steal supernatural power.  We then travel to deserts and jungles while trying to find the other medallions.  Along the journey, she is being hunted by a new enemy, one who she loves, Rynn. A possessed Rynn is out for blood, Alix’s, and will stop at nothing to get it.

This instalment is true to form and everything we expect from Kristi Charish, multifaceted characters, fantastic worldbuilding, action-packed plot with twists and turns which leaves us with an unexpected twist at the end.

Urban fantasy and archaeology, two of my favourite things in one series and Owl & the Tiger Thieves is a fantastic entry that I would definitely recommend!