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Welcome

Hello, I’m Belinda (McGrath) Witzenhausen and in a nutshell; I am a Writer, Creativity Coach, Artist, Student, Bookworm, History Geek, Armchair Archaeologist, Amateur Photographer, Coffee Connoisseur & Hubby’s Grossly Under-Paid Bass Roadie. 😁

Profile Picture of Belinda Witzenhausen

I have always enjoyed helping others, as well as actively expressing my creativity. Both my education and work history have revolved around social services, counselling, visual arts, art therapy, coaching and channeling my creativity through writing, art, or photography.

Over the years I have been blessed to cross paths with many interesting and creative people who have been such an incredible source of inspiration.

To sum it up, 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 and by challenging them to make their creative dreams a reality. Other passions of mine include anthropology, archaeology, paleography, animal welfare 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 scheduled to be released in 2022/23. I am also a contributing writer for various mainstream websites, main writer/creator of BelindaWitzenhausen.com, WriterzBlox.net, a partner at Professor Owl’s Book Corner, main book 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 Autumn 2022.


© Belinda Witzenhausen, 2009-2022. 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 Death on the Isle (Astrid Swift #2) by M.H. Eccleston #Mystery

Review

Death on the Isle

Astrid Swift #2

by M.H. Eccleston

Release date: July 7th, 2022

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I received a complimentary ARC copy of Death on the Isle (Astrid Swift #2) by M.H. Eccleston from Net Galley and Head of Zeus Publishing in order to read and give an honest review.

…I enjoyed this entry with its new and quirky cast of characters, including a sociopathic antagonist…

After the events of The Trust, book one of the Astrid Swift series recently separated and, on a mission to find oneself in Death on the Isle, art conservator Astrid Swift decides to leave Dorset to take on a freelance gig on the Isle of Wight. Finally getting used to living on the boat Curlew’s Rest bequeathed to her by her favourite uncle, Astrid is seeking out a change. A far cry from the materialistic and entitled person she was when she arrived. Astrid’s hoping for some time to process what has happened and find what she is seeking in life. When she is given the opportunity to work on an estate’s art collection, Astrid eagerly sets sail to start her new assignment.

When she arrives she lucks out finding a slip in the harbor during Cowes Week, one of the biggest sailing events of the season. As she did in book one, it does not take long for Astrid to connect with the locals, become the focus of a stalker and stumble across a dead body….or two. Add in a missing woman connected to Astrid’s new job and this book keeps one guessing until the end.

Having enjoyed the first book in the series I was concerned that she was leaving Dorset and her new friends behind, but I grew to understand Astrid’s motivation for moving on. Although I enjoyed this entry with its new and quirky cast of characters including a sociopathic antagonist, at times it felt a bit muddled with a feeling of uncertainty as the story ends, which I am guessing could continue and add intrigue to the next book in the series. I really enjoy this well-written and quirky series and look forward to reading more of Astrid’s adventures. I highly recommend!

 

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#Netgalley #BookReview The Urban Sketching Handbook Spotlight on Nature (Tips and Techniques for #Drawing and #Painting #Nature on Location) by Virginia Hein & Gail L. Wong #UrbanSketching #NatureSketching

Review

The Urban Sketching Handbook Spotlight on Nature

Tips and Techniques for Drawing and Painting Nature on Location

by Virginia Hein & Gail L. Wong

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I received a complimentary ARC copy of The Urban Sketching Handbook Spotlight on Nature by Virginia Hein & Gail L. Wong from Net Galley and Quarto Publishing Group – Quarry, in order to read and give an honest review.

… If you are interested in learning or brushing up your skills this book is for you…

After taking a hiatus from urban sketching for a long time I recently began delving back into it and was lucky enough to be introduced to the The Urban Sketching Handbook Series a collection of wonderful and comprehensive guides on learning the art of urban sketching. The newest entry into the series The Urban Sketching Handbook Spotlight on Nature, is no exception offering a wonderful way to take your sketches to the next level. The authors perfectly describe the storytelling aspect behind urban sketching and how to incorporate nature into your visual stories in a way that captivates viewers. The book starts by giving readers the basics of composition, proportion, shape and structure then goes on to give detailed instructions on drawing natural elements, color theory, the concept of notan and the tools artists will need to create their masterpieces. The book also offers workshop exercises and challenges to help you put each skill into practice. 

Overall, I love this series for the simple fact they are all no nonsense, well-written and wonderfully illustrated guides that are packed with tools and techniques suitable for both the novice and expert urban sketchers. I read through The Urban Sketching Handbook Spotlight on Nature a few times and played with a few concepts but I look forward to putting some of the tricks I’ve learned into action with some serious sketches on my next trip out. If you are interested in learning or brushing up your skills this book is for you, I highly recommend it!

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#NetGalley #BookReview A Murder of Crows (A Nell Ward Mystery #1) by Sarah Yarwood-Lovett #CozyMystery #Crime#Ecology

A Murder of Crows

(A Nell Ward Mystery #1)

by Sarah Yarwood-Lovett

Release date: July 1st, 2022  

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(3.5 rounded up)


I received a complimentary ARC copy of A Murder of Crows (A Nell Ward Mystery #1) by Sarah Yarwood-Lovett from Net Galley and Embla Books in order to read and give an honest review.  

Intelligent, authentic, and quirky, A Murder of Crows really had some great moments where the story did shine .

While Dr. Nell Ward is doing an ecological survey of an estate by herself; she stumbles across the body of the estate’s owner bludgeoned in a tunnel. Nell inevitably becomes a prime suspect in the investigation and when her past which she has taken extreme care to keep hidden comes to light, the evidence against her piles up. With her friend and colleague Adam as well as a few connections Nell tries to get to the bottom of the murder herself before she is incarcerated or becomes the real murderer’s next victim.

I really wanted to love this book and it had a lot of things I did enjoy but it did not work for me in a few ways. Very much a write-what-you know type of book this debut from author Sarah Yarwood-Lovett, draws from her personal vocation. Yarwood-Lovett created an intelligent likeable protagonist, Dr. Nell Ward who, like the author, is an ecologist. I love learning about ecology and although I did find some of the information interesting at times it seemed a bit too much to the point where it detracted from the mystery at hand, which often caused me to skim over passages.

Intelligent, authentic, and quirky, A Murder of Crows really had some great moments where the story did shine but unfortunately in my opinion it was dulled a great deal by a rambling prose, the overuse of red herrings and the dreaded, often overdone love triangle. I really enjoyed Nell’s character and the interactions between her and Adam but the last third of the book felt a bit over the top for me. Although I was disappointed in parts I feel this has the potential to be a really fun series and I will give this author another shot.

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#NetGalley #BookReview Outside by Ragnar Jonasson #Mystery #CrimeFiction #NordicNoir

Outside

by Ragnar Jonasson

Release date: June 28th, 2022  

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(3.5 rounded up)


I received a complimentary ARC copy of Outside by Ragnar Jonasson from Net Galley and St. Martin’s Press /Minotaur Books in order to read and give an honest review.  

the author takes you on a clever psychological journey.

A reunion of four old friends turns deadly in this entry from one of Nordic Noir’s most popular authors Ragnar Jónasson.  

While on a ptarmigan hunting trip in Iceland’s Eastern Highlands organized by former bad boy turned successful wilderness guide Armann. When Armann, his friends Daniel, Gunnlauger and Helena are caught in a brutal whiteout their lives turn upside down. In order to survive they break into a shelter to ride out the storm but are met with a menacing surprise. Told from four points of view it becomes apparent that there is more to this trip than meets the eye, murder, mayhem, and betrayal keep the reader on the edge of their seat. The cold desolate setting also adds an interesting twist to the emotional state of the characters.  The characters are dynamic, well-written and realistic, however in my opinion not really likeable. Although the author takes you on a clever psychological journey my major disappointment is the build to a very flat, unfinished, unsatisfying ending.  

Although I enjoyed the book for the most part but felt dissatisfied, I probably will read more from Ragnar Jonasson. 

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#NetGalley #BookReview A Botanist’s Guide to Parties and Poisons (A Saffron Everleigh Mystery) by Kate Khavari #Historical #Mystery #CrookedLaneBooks

A Botanist’s Guide to Parties and Poisons

A Saffron Everleigh Mystery#1

Kate Khavari

Release date: June 7th, 2022  

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I received a complimentary ARC copy of A Botanist’s Guide to Parties and Poisons (A Saffron Everleigh Mystery #1) by Kate Khavari from Net Galley and Crooked Lane Books in order to read and give an honest review.  

… atmospheric and filled with thrills, humor, romance and an intriguing plot A Botanist’s Guide to Parties and Poisons is a brilliant historical mystery with a cozy quality to it. …  

Set in 1923, we are introduced to the very spirited Saffron Everleigh, the first female research assistant in the Botany Department of the University College of London. As with most females in a traditionally male field, she endures the usual academic “old boys club” attitude amongst her colleagues. Her late famous botanist father leaves her a huge legacy to live up to. As assistant to her mentor Botanist Dr. Maxwell, Saffron is determined to make her mark and earn the respect of her peers.

While attending a formal dinner to launch an expedition to the Amazon, we are introduced to the quirky cast of characters including the dapper biology researcher Alexander Ashton. Overhearing conversations between various attendees, Saffron learns of scandals that are brewing below the surface of the stodgy academic world. During a toast when Mrs. Henry, the wife of Dr. Henry the expedition leader is poisoned, and Dr. Maxwell is arrested, Saffron and Alexander work together to figure out who was behind the poisoning and why.

Atmospheric and filled with thrills, humor, romance and an intriguing plot, A Botanist’s Guide to Parties and Poisons is a brilliant historical mystery with a cozy quality to it. I love Saffron, a brilliant, quirky, and brave woman, she is definitely a character to admire. Although it tends to drag a bit in the middle it more than makes up for it with a chilling climax. I cannot wait to read more about Saffron’s adventures! I highly recommend it.

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#NetGalley #BookReview The Woman in the Library A Novel by Sulari Gentill #Mystery

Review

The Woman in the Library

A Novel

by

Sulari Gentill

Release date: June 7th, 2022

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I received a complimentary ARC copy of The Woman in the Library by Sulari Gentill from Net Galley and Poisoned Pen Press in order to read and give an honest review.

…A cleverly crafted, interesting, unique, and unexpected whodunit that keeps the reader flipping pages to a surprising and satisfying ending…

A story within a story, this cleverly crafted, intelligent, and unconventional novel features two main plotlines. The main plotline is the inside story written by the protagonist, Australian author Hannah Tigone and in the form of draft chapters shared with a beta reader. Hannah’s novel focuses on a murder in the reading room of the Boston Public Library and a friendship that forms after four strangers bond over hearing the dead woman’s screams. Hannah’s story focuses on twenty-seven-year-old aspiring author Winifred Kincaid a native Australian on a scholarship to the states who is inspired by the events that occurred at the library and her three new friends. As she studies her three friends “Freud Girl,” Marigold Anastas, a twenty-three-year-old psychology student with tattoos and a nose ring, “Heroic Chin” aka Whit Metters Harvard law student and son of a famous lawyer and “Handsome Man” Cain McLeod a well-known best-selling author. As Winifred begins drafting her novel and her friendships begin to blossom, the murder investigation begins to focus on one of her new friends. When another murder connects to one of the four the hunt is on to find the culprit before an innocent person is accused.

The second plotline focuses on one-sided correspondence between “Leo” and Hannah. Leo is thrilled when the author uses his name as a character in her novel. At first the correspondence is no more than constructive criticism from a fan and “beta reader” but evolves into something deranged as the outraged, racist fan disagrees with the direction the author has taken. These letters pepper each chapter and end up connecting to Hannah’s story in ways no one could have foreseen.

A cleverly crafted, interesting, unique, and unexpected whodunit that keeps the reader flipping pages to a surprising and satisfying ending. A read that I highly recommend.

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#NetGalley #BookReview A Fatal Booking (A Booklover’s B&B Mystery #3) by Victoria Gilbert #Cozy #Mystery

A Fatal Booking

A Booklover’s B&B Mystery #3

Victoria Gilbert 

Release date: June 7th, 2022  

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I received a complimentary ARC copy of A Fatal Booking (A Booklover’s B&B Mystery #3) by Victoria Gilbert from NetGalley and Crooked Lane Books in order to read and give an honest review.  

… a fast-paced mystery, replete with an abundance of twists and turns, quirky characters. …  

In this third entry in the Book lover’s B & B mystery series, Charlotte, the owner, and operator of the inherited Chapters B&B in North Carolina is hosting an old friend’s book club retreat featuring fairy tales and classic children’s literature. What should have been a fun time turns tragic when one of the members is murdered. Long held grudges and the questionable business practices of the victim provides an abundance of suspects. True to form Charlotte and her neighbor Ellen, a former spy both decide to offer the police some inside help since the suspects are asked to stay in town, most harboring at Chapters. When Charlotte’s attic is broken into it becomes obvious that there is more to the story, more that connects the history of Chapters throwing Charlotte and her friend into the path of a killer. Gavin makes a reappearance in this entry and the three endure a nail-biting adventure. 

I enjoy the series, each book is better than the previous, however, this entry felt like a finale of sorts which I truly hope is not the case. A Fatal Booking is a fast-paced mystery, replete with an abundance of twists and turns, quirky characters. It is a fantastic and fun cozy mystery read which I definitely recommend.  

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#NetGalley #Book #Review Peril at Pennington Manor (Avery Ayers Antique Mystery series #2) by Tracy Gardner #Cozy #Mystery

Review

Peril at Pennington Manor

Peril at Pennington Manor

Avery Ayers Antique Mystery series #2

by Tracy Gardner

Release date: June 7th, 2022

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I received a complimentary ARC copy of Peril at Pennington Manor (Avery Ayers Antique Mystery series #2) by Tracy Gardner from Net Galley and Crooked Lane Books in order to read and give an honest review.
…Murder, mayhem, antiquities, and quirky characters make up this fast paced and fun cozy…
Author Tracy Gardner does it again with her second entry in Avery Ayers Antique Mystery series. Peril at Pennington Manor was another fast-paced fun cozy mystery filled with family drama, murder, and stolen antiquities. Having read and reviewed the first in the series, Ruby Red Herring, this entry did not disappoint. Protagonist Avery Ayres works at her family’s business, Ayers Antiquities and Artifacts Appraisers. Aunt Midge asked Avery and her father to do an appraisal for her dear friend Duke Nicholas, who is ready to put his estate Pennington Manor up for sale. As he gives Avery and her father, William, a tour of the manor, they discover that some of the artifacts have been replaced by fakes and a rare antique pocket watch has been stolen. When the manor’s housekeeper, Suzanne Vicks, is pushed off the roof and falls to her death. Avery believes the thefts and the murder are connected and former flame and police detective Art Smith joins the appraisal team in an undercover capacity, to keep his eyes open while the team works through the manor room by room. When another murder happens at the manor the hunt is on but not before a blackout makes the situation more perilous, leaving both Avery and Art fighting for their lives. Murder, mayhem, antiquities, and quirky characters make up this fast paced and fun cozy. Tracy Gardener has once again crafted a clever fast-paced mystery that is intriguing, highly entertaining and I can’t wait to read more in this series.
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#NetGalley #BookReview A Rip Through Time by Kelley Armstrong #Mystery #Historical #TimeTravel

A Rip Through Time

by Kelley Armstrong

Release date: May 31st, 2022  

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I received a complimentary ARC copy of A Rip Through Time by Kelley Armstrong from NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press /Minotaur Books in order to read and give an honest review.  

Intriguing, well-written and filled with an incredible cast of captivating characters….

Being a fan of Kelley Armstrong I was thrilled to be given the honour of reading and reviewing the debut of her newest series, A Rip Through Time, and I definitely was not disappointed.  

 In 2019 Canadian police detective, Mallory Atkinson, is in Scotland to be at the beside of her dying grandmother. While going for a jog she hears a woman’s cries coming from an alley and is shocked to see a faint image of a woman with blond hair in a blue dress. While she runs to assist the woman, she is attacked and strangled to the point of unconsciousness, when she awakens, she finds herself in the body of Catriona Mitchell a housemaid in 1869 Edinburgh.  

While recuperating in her employer Mr. Duncan Gray, an undertaker and medical examiner’s home where he resides with his sister Isla and other staff, begins to learn that Catriona is not well liked, has a felonious past and has betrayed everyone she has crossed paths with.  

As Mallory tries to navigate her new life as an amnesic Catriona claiming that she has been given a second chance after her brush with death and desperately tries earning the trust from her boss and co-workers. When Dr. Gray loses his assistant, Catriona begins to impress her boss with her understanding of forensics, especially since the real Catriona was illiterate before her attack. When two more people are murdered and there is another attempt on Catriona’s life, the hunt is on to capture the killer before the body count goes up.  

 Intriguing, well-written and filled with an incredible cast of captivating characters, A Rip Through Time is a page-turning historical mystery with a supernatural touch that I highly recommend. I am looking forward to reading more in this new and exciting series. 

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#NetGalley #BookReview Death by Beach Read (Lighthouse Library Mystery # 9) by Eva Gates #Cozy #Mystery #CrookedLaneBooks

Death by Beach Read 

Lighthouse Library Mystery # 9

Eva Gates 

Release date: June 7th, 2022  

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(4.5 Rounded up)


I received a complimentary ARC copy of Death by Beach Read (Lighthouse Library Mystery # 9) by Eva Gates from NetGalley and Crooked Lane Books in order to read and give an honest review.  

… a fun, intriguing, cozy mystery replete with a cleverly crafted plot, great atmosphere as well as a brilliant and quirky cast of characters…  

A fan of The Lighthouse Library Mysteries, this ninth entry, Death by Beach Read was another wonderful addition to the series.

We open with Lucy and Connor settling into their new home and in the process of planning their wedding, life for them is good although so much work is still to be done. Since their home had stood abandoned for years and with the legend that had surrounded scaring people away, the house had fallen into a neglected state. When Connor is on a business trip and Lucy is woken up in the middle of the night by Charles the cat alerting her to the sound of footsteps in the house, a whirlwind of events begins. From a ghostly legend, family secrets, the return of a troublesome character and a body in their kitchen, Lucy is on the case trying to put the pieces together in order to preserve her sanity…and her life.

This was a fun, intriguing, cozy mystery replete with a cleverly crafted plot, great atmosphere as well as a brilliant and quirky cast of characters. Although I miss Lucy living in the lighthouse, I feel the character is growing along with the changes, making the series feel fresh, in my opinion. My one criticism and not to give spoilers, it felt there were loose ends that were not really addressed which left the reader hanging just a bit. Overall, I love this series and I thoroughly enjoyed Death by Beach Read, I would highly recommend it!