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 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.
I received a complimentary ARC copy of The Secret of Karabakh by Fidan Bagirova from Net Galley, Lume Books in order to read and give an honest review.
… a brilliantly intricate blend of mystery, thriller and historical fiction that takes you on a journey…
Alana Fulton, has it all, the only child of a self-made, jet-setting, wealthy couple, she is a well-respected student finishing her PhD in Archaeology at the illustrious Cambridge University and is in a relationship with a movie star…she is living the Dream. Her reality is shifted when out of the blue she is chased by a strange man, her dorm room is viciously ransacked, and it becomes clear she was the intended target of a terrorist attack at her dorm. During the investigation it becomes clear that both her and her movie star boyfriend are prime suspects in the case. After a mysterious encounter with a hooded figure a note is pressed in her hand that reads…
“You are not who you think you are.
Your future is not what you think it will be.
You are in danger…”
When the accumulated events become surreal, and fractured memories begin to surface, Alana’s dream life begins to become a nightmare. Alana becomes driven to stay alive and protect those she loves while unravelling the mystery of who she really is.
The Secret of Karabakh by Fidan Bagirova is a brilliantly intricate blend of mystery, thriller and historical fiction that takes you on a journey from London, to Cambridge, to Switzerland and finally to Azerbaijan. Rich with detail the author seamlessly blends the challenging history and rich culture of Azerbaijan with the page-turning plot keeps the reader reading into the wee hours of the morning. Filled with multifaceted, authentic characters including a refreshingly portrayed female protagonist who is intelligent, driven, strong and resilient. All in all, this book was a wonderfully original and engaging read, that I highly recommend.
I received a complimentary ARC copy of The Lost Book of Eleanor Dare by Kimberly Brock from Net Galley and Harpers Muse.
…so beautifully written that I was completely drawn in. For me it was a beautiful statement of resilience, in facing trials and tribulations and growing through the process…
The Lost Book of Eleanor Dare by Kimberly Brock is an interictally woven multi-generational tale with, genuinely crafted characters, atmospheric setting, and captivating plots: it is a brilliant and complex tapestry of reality, fiction, love, family, grief, joy, regret, forgiveness, discovery, resilience, and healing.
It is the story of Alice, her daughter Penn, and the women who came before them right down to Roanoke survivor Eleanor Dare. Jumping timelines from WWII Savannah, Georgia with war widow Alice and her daughter Penn to Eleanor Dare in 1590 Roanoke.
After losing her father to a stroke, Alice and Penn go to their ancestorial family estate “Evertell” in Savannah to see about parceling some of the land and selling it to pay for Penn’s education. Although still a working farm and mill run by a long-time employee, they had left Evertell after her mother’s death and the secrets that surrounded it. Coming back Alice fights to forget the past, help her daughter heal and repair the house so it can be sold. The more time they spend in Evertell the more the past comes to the forefront, especially when they find the commonplace book of Eleanor Dare. Penn, a curious teenager, wants to make her mark and learn where she came from despite her mother’s need to forget. Both work on uncovering their truths with the help of each other as well as friends, new and old.
This book is not a fast placed, thrill a minute read but it is a heartfelt, mysterious, and spellbinding tale which unravels keeping the reader engaged right to the very end. It is unlike anything I have read and to be honest hard to describe but it was so beautifully written that I was completely drawn in. For me it was a beautiful statement of resilience, in facing trials and tribulations and growing through the process as well as finding family not through blood, but friendship. Although it touches on Roanoke it doesn’t delve too deeply other than discussing the legacy of the stones.
I believe this is a book you will either love or you won’t, as reading is very subjective; I personally loved this memorable book and highly recommend it.
…Filled with intrigue, red herrings and incredible characters, The Burning Pages is a classic cozy that will keep you guessing in the end...
I am a fan of Paige Shelton, I have read her Dangerous Type, Alaska Wild and this, the Scottish Bookstore Series, and to be honest she has never disappointed me. The Burning Pages, the seventh book in the Scottish Bookshop Mystery is no exception, it is definitely one of my favorites in the series to date.
When Protagonist Delaney Nichols, a bookseller at the Cracked Spine Bookshop, is invited to attend a Burns night dinner held annually in honour of poet Robert Burns. Not a fan herself, Delaney asks her co-worker and Burns fan Hamlet to join her. Hosted at the “Burns House” by a close-knit trio of Burns devotees. Delaney suspects ulterior motives at play when she gets the feeling there is more than meets the eye with her hosts. Hamlet begins to act strange when meeting Neil, one of the members, although according to appearances the two had never met. It soon becomes clear that Delaney had been conned into attending the dinner in a misguided attempt to repair a long-held feud between Malcolm, one of the members. and her boss Edwin. Malcolm has been accusing Edwin of burning down his bookshop for twenty years. Once upon a time Malcolm and Edwin had been best mates, however when an argument between the two had been followed by a deliberately set fire that destroyed Malcolm’s livelihood, the suspicious fire sealed a grudge. Malcolm carried that grudge for years to the point of Edwin needing a restraining order against him. A disgusted Delaney and Hamlet leave the dinner, and later learn that the Burns House had been deliberately burned down and Neil’s body had been found. When the police confirm it was foul play and a witness gives a description of the perpetrator, Hamlet becomes prime suspect, and Delaney is determined to clear his name but in doing so learns more than she bargained for about Hamlet’s past. The further Delaney digs the more she catches the killer’s attention evident in the fact that fires seem to follow Delaney as she follows the clues.
Filled with intrigue, red herrings and incredible characters, The Burning Pages is a classic cozy that will keep you guessing in the end. I loved the inclusion of Wyatt, Delaney’s brother in this installment, he adds the “Big Lug” component to the cast of characters. This was a wonderfully enjoyable installment in the series, and I cannot wait to read more of Delaney’s adventures. I highly recommend.
I received a complimentary ARC copy of The Art of the Decoy (Scandal Mountain Antiques #1) by Trish Esden from NetGalley and Crooked Lane Books in order to read and give an honest review.
…A brilliant series debut! The Art of Decoy is a fun read with a clever, intriguing, suspenseful plot, as well as a cast of quirky interesting and dynamic characters, which made this an entertaining read…
When art and antiquities appraiser Edie Brown returns to her hometown of Scandal Mountain in Northern Vermont to help her uncle with the family business while her mother is imprisoned for art forgery. Her mother’s incarceration further tarnishing the family name after Edie had been caught up in an illegal deal as a juvie. Edie recovered having had her record expunged but not before the damage was done to her and her family’s reputation. She left behind her family, Shane, her old parole officer and old flame opting to leave town and branch out on her own. She went to school and landed a position at the prestigious Christie’s Auction house.
Once back in Scandal Mountain she does not plan to stay too long, just long enough to salvage what is left of the family business. Joining her Uncle Tuck along with an intern appraiser/computer expert Kala they try to get the family’s Antique shop back on its feet. While at an event, Edie is approached by recent divorcee, Nina, with a folk-art waterfowl decoy that belongs to her father-in-law Claude who she and her daughter are currently living with. Edie recognizes the decoy as being a piece of work from a famous Quebec folk artist whose works are displayed in Canadian Museums. Edie sees a huge opportunity to earn some cash when Nina asks her to evaluate her father-in-law’s enormous collection. After a series of suspicious circumstances leads to the collection mysteriously vanishing, it looks like the past will come back to haunt Edie. When Nina points the finger at Edie, she gives her the ultimatum to find the collection in five days or she will go to the police and Edie and her mother could be cellmates. While tracking down the stolen collection Edie gets more than she bargained for, connections to murder, a museum robbery and vengeance put Edie deeper than she expected and under the microscope of the FBI Art Crime Team. As they collect more and more clues Kala uncovers disturbing news on the Darknet that makes Edie doubt all that she knows. A brilliant series debut! The Art of Decoy is a fun read with a clever, intriguing, suspenseful plot, as well as a cast of quirky interesting and dynamic characters, which made this an entertaining read. Another perk is it acts as a great primer into the world of appraising antiquities. Overall, I enjoyed the book, I did feel it dragged a bit in parts, but the author more than makes up for it with a suspenseful and satisfying conclusion. I cannot wait to read more in this series, I highly recommend it.
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 had been 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 hoped to share stories that showed kindness, compassion, hope, overcoming challenges and in general, the impressive resilience of the human spirit. For every dark, negative story out there, we knew there was a positive, heartwarming story that would add some light and lift the human spirit thus the inception of#WATWB in 2017. Our mission was simply to flood the web with positive uplifting stories to inspire, give hope and motivate others.
As I mentioned last month, sadly, this will be our last #WATWB post. It marks our fifth anniversary and our fifty-fifth post which feels like a satisfying place to bid adieu. I can’t say enough how grateful I am to all co-hosts and bloggers who have been here month after month spreading light during some particularly challenging times on both personal and global levels. I want to especially thank Damyanti Biswas for co-founding this adventure with me and Ashlynn Waterstone who month after month gave it her all, promoting positivity by running our FB page and making sure our positive messages reached the masses.
A heartfelt THANK YOU to all who have participated over the years. I feel truly blessed to have read some beautiful uplifting posts and crossed paths with some incredibly talented bloggers on my journey. For me #WATWB changed the way I navigated the world wide web. Instead of being bogged down by the negativity online I was instead inspired, constantly on the lookout for positive stories to share, even during challenging times. It seemed like a small shift, but I would like to think it changed me for the better and I hope it was as positive for all who participated. As all good things must come to an end for our last share, the two co-hosts, this month will be Sylvia McGrath and myself, Belinda Witzenhausen.
“If you change the way you look at things the things you look at change.”. ~ Wayne Dyer
Now onto my post…
I am a hugger, there I admit it, and like most huggers COVID was hard on me, it definitely curtailed my natural tendency to issue hugs on a whim. One thing I kept reminding myself is that Covid would eventually end and hopefully, life would return to normal. Imagine the thought though of never being able to hug your loved ones again. Well, that was the reality Kevin Eubanks lived with when eight years ago a stroke paralyzed one arm rendering it difficult for Kevin to even hug his family. Kevin was heartbroken that due to his limitations he would never be able to hug his grandchildren…but that all changed. When Eubank’s daughter Emily Sisco, occupational therapy assistant and adjunct professor at Arkansas State University, challenged her students to come up with a solution that would assist him, that is exactly what they did. Her students created “The Hugger aka “HugAgain”, a strap that can be used to help raise the arm, in order to give, and get hugs. This story hit home as I had a loved one in a similar situation, sadly they passed but I know that this would have made his life a bit brighter. The video below shows Kevin’s reaction on his first try…(warning keep tissues handy). *sniffles*🤗🤗🤗
In closing, I will continue to share posts that carry with them the spirit that was so beautifully seen in #WATWB and I hope you too will continue to be a light in the darkness! If you post something that you feel would be perfect for #WATWB please feel free to share using the hashtag (#WATWB) post the link on our Facebook Page Wall (@watwbcommunity) or drop us a mention on twitter @WATWB.
✨A huge THANK YOU again! Be well and keep shining…. ✨
“Even a single lamp dispels the deepest darkness. ~”Mahatma Gandhi
…an adventure filled with dangerous drug cartels, creepy cults, Incan legends, a psychotic antagonist, and snakes…. yep, lots and lots of snakes…
In Evanovich’s first book The Recovery Agent in her new Gabriela Rose serieswe get what we expect from the prolific author. As with the author’s Stephanie Plum novels in her new series we get a feisty, fast, fun (bordering on silly at times) adventure story reminiscent of Indiana Jones, Lara Croft, Romancing the Stone and the like.
Gabriela Rose, the protagonist of this new series a recovery agent hired to find missing treasures, for insurance companies and private clients uses her skills to help her hometown rebuild after a storm. A supposed descendent of the famous pirate Blackbeard Gabriela receives a call from her eccentric grandmother asking for help. Her hometown of Scoon, South Carolina, gets hit by a storm all but wiping out the city’s infrastructure and they are in desperate need of $15 million to rebuild. Her grandmother receives a message from Annie, a long dead relative, who claims to know the whereabouts of a journal that was in Blackbeard’s possession detailing the location of a long-lost buried treasure. The journal the key to finding the elusive Treasure of Lima, in particular the Seal of Solomon, was said to have been in the possession of Spanish conquistador Pizarro, who stashed it somewhere in the Incan city of Paititi. There is one catch the journal is buried under the floorboards in a former family house in Barbados, a house she lost in a divorce, a house in possession of her Ex-husband Rafer
Gabriela leaves the comforts of her Soho condo to start her mission. First stop is Barbados to sneak into the house to retrieve the journal only to get caught by none other than her ex-husband, Rafer. Always an opportunist, Rafer pressures Gabriela to partner up with him and share what they find. After they come to a mutual agreement the head off on to an adventure filled with dangerous drug cartels, creepy cults, Incan legends, a psychotic antagonist, and snakes…. yep, lots and lots of snakes.
It is a fast-paced fun read that is for pure entertainment. If you’re looking for literary fiction, this isn’t for you however if you want a few hours of escapism replete with adventure and witty banter, then I recommend giving it a read.
…As a cozy this really has it all, a complex, interesting mystery with thrill, chills and intrigue along the way….…
Being a fan of Gigi Pandian’s Jaya Jones series, I was thrilled to be offered the opportunity to read and review Under Lock & Skeleton Key, the first book of her locked room Secret Staircase Mystery Series.Those of you familiar with the Jaya Jones series will find some homage paid to it in this newest series however it works well as a standalone.
As the book opens, we meet Tempest Raj who has recently fallen from grace as a magician in Las Vegas After a trick goes horribly wrong Tempest barely escapes with her life but loses her reputation and is publicly disgraced. After losing everything Tempest returns to her family’s home in California. Tempest’s childhood home was far from normal, she grew up in a home any kid would love, filled with secret staircases and enchanted gardens. Her family owned the Secret Staircase Construction company which specializes in hidden and unique home designs inspired by magic. Her mother, the company’s creative vision, long gone, her father struggles to keep the company afloat. When Tempest was doing well with her Las Vegas act she had been sending money home to help her family but now she is doing all she can to find a way to help them.
When the body of her stage double is found inside a long-sealed wall in her father’s current project, she feels compelled to get to the bottom of it. When strange things begin to happen to Tempest along with her look-alike’s murder it is becoming clear that Tempest is at the heart of the murder, and she must solve it before she becomes the killer’s next victim.
Under Lock & Skeleton Key by Gigi Pandian is a unique and extremely fun cozy mystery. I love the fact her books feature diverse, multi-faceted characters who all feel well-formed and really add to the story. As a cozy this really has it all, a complex, interesting mystery with thrill, chills and intrigue along the way….featuring some great Indian food (with recipes at the back), everything a reader could ask for. I really enjoyed this book and look forward to the further adventures of Tempest Raj.
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 fifty-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 two co-hosts, this month’s co-hosts are Sylvia McGrath and Belinda Witzenhausen.
Unfortunately, as much as we wish that this could go on forever, we have decided that this will be our penultimate post, with our final one being on March 25th, 2022, on our fifth anniversary and our fifty-fifth post. I am so grateful to Damyanti Biswas for co-founding, Ashlynn Waterstone for running our FB page and all co-hosts and bloggers who have been here month after month spreading light in some very dismal times. I thank everyone who has participated over the years. I feel truly blessed to have read some beautiful uplifting posts and met some incredibly talented bloggers along the way. I hope you found it a positive journal and will continue to share posts that carry with them the spirit that was so beautifully seen in #WATWB. From the bottom of my heart, I thank each and every person who contributed to #WATWB and hope you continue to be a light in the world!✨
You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream. ~ C.S. Lewis
Lately my focus has been on getting older and how images and stereotypes, for the most part, have changed. Now that I have been in my 50’s for a couple of years, I guess I have been trying to navigate life differently than I did years prior and reinvent my life. Face it, priorities change, we are less concerned about what other people think and more in tune with what we want our own lives to mean to us. We have all faced challenges, our plans often went awry, our hearts have been broken, we’ve lost a lot and yet we’ve survived, and gained strength in knowing we have weathered storms before, and we will weather them again need be.
In our years we have also gained so much, be it, confidence, wisdom, and often a clearer BS meter. But most of us are coming to terms with who we are, the good, the bad and the ugly and learning to embrace each part of ourselves. Many of us are now wanting to pursue our passions, turn our dreams into our reality and spend the rest of our time doing what we love. I found inspiration in the following stories that prove you are never too old to reinvent yourself and thought I would share…
Meet Paul Tasner, using his experience and his passion for the environment to become an entrepreneur at 66 and watch “A Woman Over 50: A Life Unleashed” A Ted talk from Connie Schultz, a Pulitzer Prize-winning writer and journalist shares her story and stories about women who are blooming after 50.
It’s never too late. Your writing will only get better as you get older and wiser. If you write something beautiful and important, and the right person somehow discovers it, they will clear room for you on the bookshelves of the world-at any age. At least try. ~ Elizabeth Gilbert
I received a complimentary ARC copy of Long Overdue at the Lakeside Library (Lakeside Library Mystery #2) by Holly Danvers from NetGalley and Crooked Lane Books in order to read and give an honest review.
… overall, a fun cozy mystery featuring a good plot and touch of romance. Having read the first book, I enjoy the way this series is developing…
In the second book in the series, Rain Wilmot has settled into her new life back in Lofty Pines Wisconsin and finally feels at home. In book one she moves there after the death of her husband and reconnects with the friends she grew up with. Back in the swing of things with her best friends, Julia, Nick and Jace by her side, life seems almost perfect. The family’s log cabin library has opened for the winter for the first time and the community couldn’t be happier. Winters in Lofty Pines can be dark, stormy, and dismal so reading materials are at a premium, especially since there are no other libraries in the area. When a patron Wallace Benson comes in for some cookbooks hoping to win the chili cook-off at the annual ice-fishing tournament, Rain comes to his rescue. The next morning tensions flare when Wallace gets to the lake early and steals Rain’s friend Nick’s prized fishing spot. A few hours in when Wallace’s body is found in his shanty, his distraught wife begins calling Nick a murderer. Things deteriorate when a knife believed to be the weapon is found in Nick’s tackle box and he is arrested for the murder. With Julia’s police officer brother Jace removed from the case, Rain and Julia decide to take it upon themselves to prove Nick’s innocence. The two of them begin digging where they shouldn’t and when Rain is driven off the road and another victim barely escapes with their life it is up to Rain and Julie to find the culprit before someone else dies.
Overall, a fun cozy mystery featuring a good plot and touch of romance. Having read the first book, I enjoy the way this series is developing. I love the protagonist Rain but if I was being honest Julia isn’t a character, I have warmed up to yet. Julia is somewhat abrasive, and a tad irritating, for reasons I can’t put my finger on, but hopefully as the series progresses, she’ll develop into someone I can tolerate. If you are looking for a quick fun read set in snowy Wisconsin this is a great read for you.