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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 late Autumn 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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Meet Dasia Taylor ~ 17 Year-old Inventor Helping Others #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. #WATWB was started in  2017, this month marks our forty-fifth 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.

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


When 17 year old Dasia Taylor decided on a science project, her heartfelt mission was to help others in developing countries and that she did. Her cost-effective invention of infection detecting sutures will help surgery patients in Africa detect infections before they become serious. Her invention garnered Dasia a top spot place with 40 other finalists in the national Regeneron Science Talent Search. 


Each of us can make a positive difference if we commit ourselves to do so.” ~Dr. Cornel West

 

To learn more about Dasia Taylor, check out this article from Smithsonian Magazine website at: This High Schooler Invented Color-Changing Sutures to Detect Infection

“There is no greater reward than working from your heart, and making a difference in the world.” ~Carlos Santana

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#NetGalley #Book #Review The Unkindness of Ravens (A Greer Hogan Mystery #1) by M. E. Hilliard #Mystery #Library

Review

The Unkindness of Ravens

A Greer Hogan Mystery #1

by M. E. Hilliard

Release date: April 13th, 2021

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

4.5 rounded up


I received a complimentary ARC copy of The Unkindness of Ravens, A Greer Hogan Mystery #1
by M. E. Hilliard from NetGalley and Crooked Lane Books in order to read and give an honest review.

 …a clever suspenseful mystery that is intriguing and highly entertaining…

Atmospheric and suspenseful, The Unkindness of Ravens is a brilliant debut from author M.E. Hillard.  

Librarian Greer Hogan is a lifelong fan of mysteries, beginning with the likes of Trixie Belden and Nancy Drew. After the murder of her husband Greer goes from Corporate New York Executive to small town Raven Hill Librarian looking for a fresh start. Her fresh start comes to an abrupt end when she stumbles across the body of her best friend Joanna Goodhue in the library’s hidden stairwell. Although initially she becomes a suspect, the police declare Joanna’s death an accident. Greer’s memories of her husband’s murder combined with her intuition tell her there is much more to the story, and channeling her literary heroes, Greer puts her researching skills to effective use, determined to find justice for her friend. When she begins asking too many questions, she catches the attention of the killer putting herself in their path. 

I loved everything about the book, the literary references, a strong female protagonist, and a creepy Gothic mansion turned Raven Hill Library, which with its secret passages and creepy portraits becomes a character in itself.  

Reminiscent of Agatha Christie, M.E. Hilliard has crafted a clever suspenseful mystery that is intriguing and highly entertaining. The plot although a little slow to develop was filled with twists and suspenseful turns, I could not put it down. A must read for those who enjoy mysteries. I loved it and would highly recommend it. 

#WATWB

Focusing on the Ninety Percent: A Story of Success #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. #WATWB was started in March 2017, this month marks our forty-fourth 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 five co-hosts, this month’s co-hosts are Sylvia McGrath, Roshan Radhakrishnan Shilpa Garg, Eric Lahti, and Belinda Witzenhausen.

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


When facing a disability or illness it is easy to ask, “Why me” but Blake Leeper counters with “Why not me?” With resilience, determination and hard work Blake has shown that focusing on what you can do rather than cannot do is the secret to success.  

In 1989, Blake Leeper was born missing both legs below the knees due to a congenital birth defect and has worn prosthetics since he was nine months old. Throughout his childhood, Blake participated in various sports, including baseball, and running with highs and lows but with determination, hard work and believing in himself has led to him winning medals and breaking recordsBlake credits his outstanding positive attitude to his family making him realize that he may be ten percent disabled but he is ninety percent abled”. 

 

“One who conquers the sea today is ready to conquer the ocean tomorrow.”~Matshona Dhliwayo

To learn more about Blake Leeper, check out his website at: https://www.leeper.run/


“Start by doing what’s necessary; then do what’s possible; and suddenly you’re doing the impossible.”~ Francis of Assisi

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#NetGalley #BookReview The Art of Dying (Raven, Fisher, and Simpson #2) by Ambrose Parry #Historical #Victorian #Mystery

Review
The Art of Dying
Raven, Fisher, and Simpson #2
by Ambrose Parry

Release date: March 2nd, 2021
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I received a complimentary ARC copy of The Art of Dying (Raven, Fisher, and Simpson #2) by Ambrose Parry from NetGalley and publisher, Canongate/Black Thorn in order to read and give an honest review.

“… a well-written novel, rich in historical details, it contains a brilliant mix of fact with fiction making it an engaging read… ”

Will Raven has spent the past couple of years in Europe training to become an obstetrician. When a violent attack in Germany causes him to kill a man he decides to return to Edinburgh. Will returns under the employ as an assistant to Dr. James Young Simpson, known for his groundbreaking expertise on anesthetizing surgical patients. Upon the return not much has changed except Sarah Fisher, the former housemaid and Will’s former love is no longer a servant but now the married assistant to Dr. Simpson. Will after leaving Sarah, as she was considered unsuitable to be a Dr’s wife, is weighed down by his regrets. Sarah has done well for herself, married to Dr Bates she has become well respected at her job, defying the confines that women were faced with during Victorian times.

When several patients from one family die questions arise as to what may have been the culprit. With Dr. Simpson’s reputation is in question Will and Sarah become obsessed with clearing his name. When it appears that they might have discovered a new disease Will excitedly pursues his theory one that could be the making of his career. With Sarah’s assistance he begins to delve into the origins of the disease, but the clues begin to lead them into another direction…the evidence suggests that the deaths were not natural at all but the work of an elusive serial killer. Faced with constant misdirection, regret and plagued with enemies from his past Will has his work cut out for him.

Although, I did not read the previous book in the series, “The Way of All Flesh” in my opinion “The Art of Dying” was perfect as a stand-alone. The authors give just enough background to pivotal moments from the previous book in a way that does not overwhelm or seem unnecessary.

Fast paced and intelligent, I thoroughly enjoyed The Art of Dying. Written by husband-and-wife team Chris Brookmyre and Dr Marisa Haetzman under the pen name of Ambrose Perry, this is a well-written novel, rich in historical details, it contains a brilliant mix of fact with fiction making it an engaging read that will keep you flipping pages.

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#NetGalley #Book #Review of After Alice Fell by Kim Taylor Blakemore #Gothic #Historical #Suspense

Review

After Alice Fell

A Novel

by Kim Taylor Blakemore

Release date: March 1st, 2021

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 I received a complimentary ARC copy of After Alice Fell, A Novel by Kim Taylor Blakemore from NetGalley and Lake Union Publishing in order to read and give an honest review. 

“…exquisitely written, atmospheric and rife with edge of your seat suspense that kept me captivated… ” 

Author, Kim Taylor Blakemore gives us a beautifully written, suspenseful, American gothic tale brimming with family drama, secrets and lies. Set in 1865, Post Civil War New Hampshire, former army nurse and newly widowed Marion Abbott is forced to move in with her newly remarried brother, Lionel and his second wife, Cathy into their old family home filled with memories. Cathy who was best friends with Lionel’s first wife Lydia is trying to establish herself as matriarch of her new family and tries hard to create a home for Marion. 

While Marion was working during the war Lionel in her absence was forced to put their mute and disturbed sister Alice in the Brawders House Asylum after he catches Alice hanging his son out of the top floor window by his ankles. When Lionel and Marion are summoned to the Asylum on scorching summer day, they learn that a despondent Alice has jumped to her death from the roof.  

Upon preparing for Alice’s funeral Marion cannot bear the condition her sister’s body is in; bruises and evidence of restraints do not sit right with Marion. Reeling from guilt and haunted by memories, Marion struggles to believe that her sister committed suicide. Marion’s thoughts are justified when she is contacted by a witness to the incident who paints a vastly different picture that the one her family had been given. 

Marion is convinced more than ever that Alice’s death was not of her own doing. Driven by sisterly love and overwhelming regret Marion is determined to get to the bottom of what happened even if it puts her in danger of a similar fate.  

I have been a fan of Kim Taylor Blakemore since I read and reviewed her novel the “The Companion” and true to form she has not disappointed with “After Alice Fell”.  Both books have been exquisitely written, atmospheric and rife with edge of your seat suspense that kept me captivated to the very last page. 

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Seventy Year Old Man Rows 3000 miles for a good cause! #WATWB #AlzheimersResearch

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 Eric Lahti, Roshan Radhakrishnan, Shilpa Garg, Susan Scott and Sylvia McGrath.

“Age in just a number. It carries no weight. The real weight is in impacts. The truth is that you can do it at any age. Get up and be willing to leave a mark.”~Israelmore Ayivor

At 70 years old Frank Rothwell took on the challenge of rowing 3,000 miles across the Atlantic as part of the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge (TWAC), in support of Alzheimer’s Research UK. Alzheimer’s’ research is an important cause to him after he lost his brother-in-law Roger to Alzheimer’s at 62 years old. Alzheimer’s has touched my family as it has many others around the world and it’s people like Frank who give our family hope. Frank is not a stranger to challenging himself, in 2017 he spent five weeks on a deserted island for “The Island with Bear Gryllis.” Frank took his sense of adventure to new levels and for a fantastic cause ~ three thousand miles in fifty-six days Frank raised £1 MILLION for Alzheimer Research!

Frank whose motto is “…you’re never too old!” has become my new hero! 

Read an interesting article on Frank from People Magazine ~ https://people.com/human-interest/70-year-old-man-raises-more-than-1-million-for-charity-with-solo-row-across-atlantic-ocean/

Frank’s Website ~ https://frankrothwell-atlanticchallenge.com/https://frankrothwell-atlanticchallenge.com/

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A #YoungWriter’s Guide to Covid Fatigue

Check out this article “A Young Writer’s Guide to Covid Fatigue” over at http://www.IgniteYourCreativity.net

IgniteYourCreativity.Net

Writing

As some of us are heading into our second and third lockdowns due to COVID-19 we can feel tired and overwhelmed not knowing when we will see an end in sight. If we don’t have a way to channel our frustrations, they can make us and those around us feel miserable. Writing can often offer a great outlet for these feelings. Here are some ideas for writing projects that might help:

Keep a Journal!
I am a big fan of journaling; it can help to just purge on the page. It can help find solutions to problems, establish ideas or just be a safe place to get your feelings out. Journals can also be a great way to see how far you’ve come down the road helping you find things to be grateful for or even track your progress in a certain endeavor. Gratitude journals are also great ways to…

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Three #Inpirational Stories of #Resilience #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, 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 Sylvia McGrath, Simon Falk, Shilpa Garg, Mary Giese , and myself,  Belinda Witzenhausen

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


“I can be changed by what happens to me. But I refuse to be reduced by it.” ~Maya Angelou 

With many of us facing physical challenges and trying to coming to terms with our “new normal” the past year has made us even more uncertain of what the future holds. Often negative life-changing events can overwhelm us, making us feel hopeless and insecure. These stories help demonstrate that if we dig deep, perhaps, we can find that those challenges uncover something life affirming in us. These 3 stories about the resilience of the human spirit go to show that the only thing holding you back is our attitude.  Living outside our limits is about recognizing our limitless potential no matter what our physical  limitations maybe.  Check out  the stories from  Amy Purdy, Paralympic bronze medalist,  Travis Mills, veteran & quadruple amputee and Janine Shepard, pilot and  flight instructor. They have all faced life-changing tragedies but instead of giving in, they discovered that with a positive attitude, human potential is limitless. 

“She stood in the storm and when the wind did not blow her way, she adjusted her sails.” ~ Elizabeth Edwards 

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.