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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. 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 2021


© 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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Books

#NetGalley #BookReview of In the Garden of Spite: A Novel of the Black Widow of La Porte by Camilla Bruce #HistoricalFiction #Mystery #TrueCrime

In the Garden of Spite

A Novel of the Black Widow of La Porte

by Camilla Bruce

 

 

Release date: January 19th, 2021

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I received a complimentary ARC copy of In the Garden of Spite:A Novel of the Black Widow of La Porte by Camilla Bruce from NetGalley & Berkley Publishing Group in order to read and give an honest review.

… the author does an excellent job at getting inside the mind of this infamous serial killer…

This will be a challenging book for me to review I’m giving it a 3.5 but rounding it up to 4 stars. Part of me loved this book, but part of me, well…

For the positives, Camilla Bruce does such a fantastic job fictionalizing the story of a real-life serial killer Little Brynhild / Bella Sorenson / Gunnes aka “The Black Widow of La Porte”. Well-written for the most part, the author does an excellent job at getting inside the mind of this infamous serial killer. Bruce’s characters were brilliantly brought to life, perhaps in the case of Bella, a little too well. On the negative side, although I do not shy away from dark books this was even a bit much for me. Warning for those faint of heart, this novel contains graphic violence, murder, dismemberment, sex, arson, child abuse and infanticide. I also found at times it was slow and repetitive which made it a struggle to get into.

The novel follows Little Brynhild/Bella through her young teenage years and into her middle age. We learn about a heartbreaking ordeal she experiences as a young teenager in Norway that leaves wounds that fester driving her to inflict damage onto all those who get close to her. The disconnect she feels towards her family and a rage that she cannot contain, drives Little Brynhild to leave the misery of Norway to join her sister Nellie in America. In America she takes the name Bella Sorenson and is disappointed in her first experience. Bella longs to make a happy and successful life for herself, constantly seeking acceptance from those in her adopted community. Having struggled for respect in Norway she knows what she wants and what she must do to reach the status she desires for her future. Bella is determined to be the perfect self-made, powerful woman and will go to any length, taking matters into her own hands in order to get what she feels she is due.

Being a fairly famous news story, many people who follow true crime are aware of this famous female serial killer, but the author manages to get inside this monster’s head offering the reader a glimpse of what could have driven this woman to such destruction.

It is a well-written engaging fictional interpretation of the workings of this woman’s mind, but it was a little too graphic for my taste, nevertheless an intriguing read.

 

Books

#NetGalley #BookReview of Portrait of Peril (#AVictorianMystery No.5) by Laura Joh Rowland #Historical #Mystery

Portrait of Peril

A Victorian Mystery #5

by Laura Joh Rowland

 

Release date: January 12th, 2021

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I received a complimentary ARC copy of Portrait of Peril, A Victorian Mystery Book No. 5 by Laura Joh Rowland from NetGalley & Crooked Lane Books in order to read and give an honest review.

…an entertaining fun read I would highly recommend…

I love Rowland’s Victorian Mystery series, each are fast-paced, suspenseful whodunits set in Victorian England, and I have been fortunate enough to read and review all of the books in this series. Although I found this book very entertaining, I didn’t enjoy it quite as much as the previous books in this series.  

In this story, we join Crime Scene Photographer Sarah Bain and her new husband Detective Sergeant Thomas Barrett getting ready to start their lives together as a married couple. They face some expected challenges, Sarah and her new Mother in-law are at odds, they are trying to traverse living together for the first time but when Sarah’s mentor is found dead at the church on the day it’s hosting their wedding it might just end their marriage before it begins. The victim Charles Firth helped Sarah when she was just starting out. In the years since he’s become a fairly well-known spirit photographer with a healthy book publishing contract but not without his critics. Firth is known for his portraits of ghosts and spirits of the dearly departed, often swindling the deceased’s loved ones. When a second murder occurs and her dear friend and colleague Mick is arrested for the crime, Sarah, Barrett, and her half-sister Sally, are compelled to find how who the real murderer is and clear his name.  

The usual cast of characters are present…. for the most part. Hugh, Sarah and Mick’s friend and colleague is taking his break-up from Tristan very poorly, becoming self-destructive with bouts of disappearing, leaving everyone to worry in an already challenging time. Sarah and Sally are also trying to clear their fugitive father’s name but not without their nemesis Inspector Reid watching their every move and waiting to pounce.  

Although I found this one a bit slow to start and I really didn’t find Hugh’s story line appealing I really enjoyed the twists, turns which this series is well known forThe book is an entertaining fun read I would highly recommend. It would work as a stand-alone however I really recommend reading the books in order. 

 

 

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#NetGalley #Review The City of Tears by Kate Mosse #HistoricalFiction #Mystery

Book Review

The City of Tears

 (The Burning Chambers #2)

by Kate Mosse

Release date: January 5th, 2021

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I received a complimentary ARC copy of The City of Tears by Kate Mosse from NetGalley and Publishers Group Canada/Pan Macmillan to read and give an honest review.

… brilliant and intricate tapestry of murder, religion, insanity and greed…

The follow up to the first book in the series The Burning Chambers, The City of Tears continues the dramatic saga surrounding the Joubert family. Ten years after The Burning Chambers, Minou and Piet have settled down with their family on their beautiful estate in the south of France. They are busy making plans to attend the royal wedding of Margot and Henri, the Huguenot king of Navarre hoping to establish a peaceful alliance between the Catholics and the Huguenots. Before their journey begins they are faced with an assassination attempt and the death of a beloved family member, however they venture to Paris to bear witness to such an important event in hopes it will end the persecution of the Huguenots.

The wedding happens as planned, lending hope for a peaceful future. While in Paris a mysterious woman reaches out to Piet, rumours come to light, and a violent nemesis from his past has Piet and his family once again in his crosshairs. Before they leave Paris for their arduous journey home, their daughter Marta goes missing as a violent coup known as the St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre breaks out shattering their family forever and forcing them to flee to Amsterdam abandoning all they knew and loved.

I am a fan of Kate Mosse she has a talent for bringing her historical stories to life through vivid description, interesting characters and her interwoven, dynamic plots, this book is no different. I thoroughly enjoyed this book it is a brilliant and intricate tapestry of murder, religion, insanity, and greed; I highly recommend.

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Turning a Negative Into A Positive…Lessons From A Seven-year Old. #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 five co-hosts, this month’s co-hosts are Lizbeth Hartz, Inderpreet Uppal, Shilpa Garg, Damyanti Biswas, and Roshan Radhakrishnan please visit them and share the love!

To learn more information about us or join #WATWB check here!


“Every act of kindness is a piece of love we leave behind.” ~ Paul Williams

With many cities and countries going back into lockdown it’s often difficult to see the positivity that is going on out in the world. Sometimes when you least expect it you see that the biggest gifts often come in the smallest packages…meet Cavanaugh Bell.

Bullying has always existed and many of us have had first hand experience that at times has even left physical and emotional scars. When seven-year-old Cavanaugh Bell went through being bullied he reacted differently, he reacted with love and hope….check out his story below.


Read more here: This 7-year-old is making and delivering care packages to the elderly shut in by the coronavirus

Check out Cavanaugh’s foundation ~ Cool & Dope ~ https://coolanddope.com/

“Be the reason someone believes in the goodness of people.”

~ Karen Salmansohn

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#NetGalley #BookReview of The Organised Writer by Antony Johnston

 

The Organised Writer

How to stay on top of all your projects and never miss a deadline

by Antony Johnston

 

Release date: November 12th, 2020

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I received a complimentary ARC copy of The Organised Writer: How to stay on top of all your projects and never miss a deadline by Antony Johnston from NetGalley Bloomsbury Publishing in order to read and give an honest review.

well-written and informative this book has something for every writer…

I’ve been working freelance in a few fields for years now on top of taking work-related courses and working towards an archaeology degree. My time is limited, and organization is a must in order to get both work and course assignments done. Having worked in professional offices for many years, I have learned a few organization techniques some of which are in The Organised Writer however, Mr. Johnson offers sound advice that can help those new to freelancing establish an organised work routine while also providing new and unique tips to help those who have been freelancing for a while. This is a no- nonsense all-encompassing approach to getting and keeping the working writer organized.  Well-written and informative this book has something for every writer…I highly recommend it!  

Books

#NetGalley #BookReview ~ After All I’ve Done by Mina Hardy #Mystery

Review

 

After All I’ve Done

by Mina Hardy

Release date: November  10th, 2020

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I received a complimentary ARC copy of After All I’ve Done by Mina Hardy from NetGalley and Crooked Lane Books in order to read and give an honest review.

…Mina Hardy has crafted a clever psychological tale that is  intriguing and unexpected…

While driving to the hospital for a severe gallbladder attack, Diana is involved in a major car accident that changes her life.

Although she survives it is not without complications that leave her debilitated. Broken bones, intense pain and absolutely no memory of what has happened in the time leading up to the accident her life has turned upside down. Living with her Husband and a devoted mother-in-law determined to care for her until she gets back on her feet it seems like an uphill battle. Plagued by pain, amnesia, blackouts, and bad recurring dreams Diana attempts to piece together her memories and figure out why her life-long best friend/soul sister Valerie will not talk to her and why she is filled with a sense of dread about what has happened. 

Knowing that she does not love her husband and finding out he is having an affair; she is feeling alone and helpless yet knows something horrible has led them to this point. When in her dreams she is burying something underneath a tree she wonders what she has done and why she cannot remember but knows unlocking the memories will open the door to her healing.  

Mina Hardy has crafted a clever psychological tale that is  intriguing and unexpected. The plot was so intricate and in one word…twisted. I found I just could not put it down and that it kept me reading into the wee hours of the morning. A must read for those who enjoy psychological mysteries. I loved it and would highly recommend it.

#WATWB

Making a Difference at Any Age #WATWB #teens #gifted #activist

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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 Sylvia McGrath, Mary Giese , Shilpa Garg, Sylvia Stein, and myself, Belinda Witzenhausen.

To learn more about #WATWB or to join us click here!


“We must teach our children to dream with their eyes open.” ~ Harry Edwards

Sadly, in our society teens are often mislabeled or their abilities to change the world greatly underestimated. Meet these three teens who are dreaming big, changing the world for the better and giving us hope for the future.

Mexico’s Dafne Almazán, a child prodigy, at 16-years-old is the world’s youngest psychologist and teacher. Dafne’s mission is to ensure other gifted kids get an education that helps them use their gifts and exceed their potential.

At 12-years-old, scientist Gitanjali Rao from the United States’ is using her skills to find solutions to Flint, Michigan’s water crisis.

Perhaps, the best known, Sweden’s 17-year-old Greta Thunberg, climate change activist, has become a household name inspiring young and old alike to fight for the environment and do all they can to prevent climate change. These teens prove that age is just a number.

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#NetGalley #BookReview of The Once and Future Witches Alix E. Harrow #Fantasy #Witches

Review

The Once and Future Witches

by Alix E. Harrow

Release date: October 13th, 2020

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I received a complimentary ARC copy of The Once and Future Witches
by Alix E. Harrow from NetGalley and Redhook Books in order to read and give an honest review.

…a well-written, character driven story that is brilliant…

Set in New Salem in 1893, The Once and Future Witches by Alix E. Harrow follows the journey of the three Eastwood sisters: Beatrice Belladonna, Agnes Amaranth, and James Juniper. Years after their mother dies due to complications after childbirth, the sisters are separated by their monster of a Father but not before their relationship with each other had been damaged.  The sisters before being separated grew up hearing fairytales and stories of magic and witches from their grandmother Mags. After Mags dies an invisible force draws the three sisters together. An angry, bold and bitter Juniper is drawn to New Salem where the eldest sister Beatrice Belladonna, timid librarian and the unwed, strong and pregnant middle sister Agnes Amaranth are pulled to the middle of town where the three end up in the middle of a Suffragette protest. When a magical storm hits, a dark tower briefly appears, the three sisters realize that Mags’s fairytales and stories about witches might have had some truth to them, a truth which becomes their mission in life.  The sisters realize that they are not alone on their mission, uncovering powerful enemies, reforging bonds, and embracing a way of life long forgotten. 
 
I really enjoyed the novel, but it felt quite different from Ms. Harrow’s previous novel The Ten Thousand Doors of January. Although a well-written, character driven story that is brilliant in its way of tackling subject matter such as abuse, sexuality, racism, misogyny etc. with captivating, emotional, and heartbreaking moments (keeps tissues handy) I found some of it was hard to get through, some sections long-winded and cliché although the book still held my interest. An interesting read for those who love character driven, witchy stories with a powerful sense of sisterhood. 
 
 

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#NetGalley #BookReview Deception by Gaslight by Kate Belli (A Gilded Gotham Mystery) #Historical #Mystery

 

Review

Deception by Gaslight

(A Gilded Gotham Mystery)

by 

Kate Belli

Release date: October 6th, 2020

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I received a complimentary ARC copy of Deception by Gaslight (A Gilded Gotham Mystery) by Kate Belli from NetGalley and Crooked Lane Books in order to read and give an honest review.

…the mystery plot itself although slow to build, definitely does not disappoint…

Set in New York in 1888, journalist Genevieve Stewart is desperately looking to make a name for herself at her current paper the Globe. Genevieve relegated to writing about Baby Shows and the minor events of high society, she just can’t seem to get taken seriously as a journalist when an elusive jewel thief dubbed “Robin Hood” starts making an appearance, robbing from the ‘Astor 400’, the cream of the crop of New York society seems to be just the story she has been looking for. 

Although herself on the outskirts of the Astor 400 after her activist Mother creates a stir and a planned marriage to another member ends, she has found herself often ignored and pitied among high society.  Trying to make a name for herself she begins to use her connections to try and get the ‘Robin Hood’ story, the scoop of the century.  While in a seedy area of the city pursuing a lead, she is accosted by ruffians and rescued begrudgingly by a handsome stranger, Danny, only to learn Daniel McCaffrey is part of the Astor 400. Convinced that Daniel is in fact Robin Hood she sets her sites to get to the truth, but instead gets herself in the middle of murder, mayhem, and corruption at the highest levels.

Clever, complex, and very well-written, this book keeps the reader turning the pages. The author creates interesting, dynamic, and real characters who although flawed, are likeable and well developed.  I loved Genevieve’s strong and intelligent personality, as well as the clever banter that occurs between her and Daniel. The mystery plot itself although slow to build, definitely does not disappoint.  With twists and turns, this book keeps you guessing to the very satisfying end although it does leave a cliffhanger in the epilogue. I’m now a fan of Kate Belli and certainly looking forward to reading future books in this series!