Posted By Susan Bernhardt

A great way to start one's quest, during this month of giving thanks, is the miracle of gratitude. I am truly blessed, with a loving family and extended family and great friends. For years I kept a gratitude journal, writing down most nights five things I was grateful for that day. The simple act of counting my blessings shifted my perception to such an extent that it changed how I saw the world. It heightened my sense of well-being. The more I practiced gratitude, the more I found I had to be grateful for and the more present I became. Wouldn't it be a great idea to think about who you are grateful for and then tell them? It's a simple thing to do and this expression of gratitude would bless both you and the receiver. There isn't a day that goes by that I don't tell someone that I love them or that I value them as a friend. 

"Happiness is like a kiss. You must share it to enjoy it." --Bernard Meltzer. 

There are many Hollywood movies with spirited melodrama about the dysfunctional family at Thanksgiving, but relationships, family and friends, are the heart of happiness. I have found it's important to forgive and forget. And it makes sense that if you show love and kindness and happiness to the world, it will flow back into your life. 

It's important to be optimistic. My husband keeps me on the straight and narrow in regards to this. If I stray no matter how slightly, he'll remind me to be positive. (Which can get very annoying...lol.) Research has found that the physical act of smiling and laughing released endorphins into the body that increased one's sense of well-being. It doesn't do any good to dwell on negative things, which if you do, gives those things endless power.

Those on a religious and spiritual path are more likely to say they are very happy. A strong spiritual faith has helped me to connect to what is real, what is now, and what has been given to me. Prayer helps me to see the happiness that already exists in my center.

Happy Thanksgiving!

 
Posted By Susan Bernhardt

Walking by the booths at the pumpkin festival, Andrea and her friends chatted about the Halloween party that evening. As they passed a grey haired gypsy-looking woman selling jewelry, a necklace caught Andrea's eye.

Andrea stopped in her tracks. "Look at that ornate Celtic necklace, the one the old witch is selling. It'd be perfect for my costume."

"Quiet, she'll hear you," Marla said.

"She's petting a black cat for goodness sakes. What else would you call her?" Kerry laughed.

They walked over to the old woman's velvet draped table. Racks of jewelry stood between lit candles at each end. The old woman looked up and intently watched the girls. She wore a pashmina wrap around her shoulders. Her weather-beaten, creased face contorted, revealing a toothless smile. "Would you like one of my necklaces?"

Andrea picked up the alluring pewter necklace and put it on. Then she said, "Oh look, Marla, over there, those batik dresses." She started walking away.

"Young lady, young lady," the old woman cackled, "You forgot to pay for the necklace. Twenty dollars, please."

"Andrea, get back here," Marla called out.

"For this old piece of junk. I thought you were giving them away." She looked over at Kerry and smirked. "You asked if I would like one." Andrea threw the necklace down on the table.

The old woman looked hard at Andrea. Reaching under the table, she brought out a glass case that contained a stunning, crystal necklace. "This necklace shines like the stars in the sky. It has much magic and brings its owner, everything they deserve."

Andrea picked up the necklace. It was beautiful and had a great sparkle. She put it on. How much?"

"For you, five dollars."

Andrea nudged Kerry and they took off running into the crowds, laughing.

Marla pulled a five dollar bill out of her purse and plunked it down. "Sorry." She ran to catch up with her friends. "You swiped it," she said. "I can't believe you, Andrea."

Kerry and Andrea rolled their eyes. "Oh, grow up," Andrea said. She and Kerry continued talking about who would be at the party. Marla lagged behind. They came up to a caramel apple stand. Andrea grabbed one as she walked by.

That evening Andrea stood at the mirror admiring her new crystal necklace. The moonlight shown through her bedroom window, making it sparkle. She remembered what the old woman had said about the necklace being magical. She deserved to have it.

At the party, Andrea started flirting with Kerry's boyfriend. When Kerry went into the kitchen to get a drink, Andrea and Todd decided to take it upstairs to an empty bedroom. Suddenly Andrea started screaming, a bloodcurdling scream. She felt a tightness constrict her neck. Her screams stopped abruptly. Todd glanced down and saw the crystals of the necklace glowing, reflecting moonlight around the room, burning his eyes. He got up, made it to the door, and stumbled downstairs blinded. "Call 9-1-1!"

When the police arrived the crystal necklace lay loose around Andrea's red swollen neck. Todd was taken into custody on suspicion of murder. Still unable to see, he was led away.

A few weeks after Andrea's funeral, Kerry came over to visit with Andrea's mom. They were both having a hard time with the death. They went up to Andrea's room and sat for a while trying to find some level of solace. When the phone rang and Andrea's mom left to answer it, Kerry spotted the crystal necklace lying on the dresser and slipped it into her purse.

A week later Kerry was found strangled in a park. She had been returning home, on a moonlit evening, from a friend's home. Her body was taken to the morgue, her clothing and personal articles sent to lockup in the police station for evidence.

A young police officer checking in the articles in the evidence log, saw the beautiful, dazzling necklace. He looked around and quickly put it in his pocket. His first anniversary was coming up in about a month. It would make a lovely gift for his wife.

 
Posted By Susan Bernhardt

A Manhattan Murder Mystery was released today!!! I am incredibly thrilled and excited! Time to celebrate!

Please spread the word! Thank you so much! Then read the mystery and lose yourself in Irina's world.

Blurb:

Irina Curtius, a retired ballet dancer living on the Upper West Side in Manhattan, runs a ballet studio for young children. Recently, she has been watching her younger and otherwise healthy neighbor, Stephen Kramer, become ill over time. When Stephen travels for business, his health always seems to improve dramatically after he has been away, but only temporarily. Within days of returning home, his health begins to deteriorate again. On top of that, Stephen has added stress due to problems he is having with his wife and his irate live-in sister-in-law. Sadly, Stephen's last bout with his mysterious illness has proven to be fatal. Unsatisfied with the official explanation and in order to deliver justice for her friend and neighbor, Irina sets out to uncover the truth and prove that Stephen was indeed murdered.

It won't be easy, though. A former lover from Irina's college days at NYU has suddenly reinserted himself into her life, wanting to pick up where they left off. Additionally, a strange newcomer arrives in Irina's neighborhood and he now seems to be shadowing Irina, appearing everywhere she goes. The story that unfolds, interwoven in the everyday lives of Irina and her social circle, highlights the unpredictability of life, the best and worst of humanity, and the powerful bonds that drive people together (and apart).

Links:

A Manhattan Murder Mystery: An Irina Curtius Mystery - http://amzn.to/2cPlxqq

Other mysteries by Susan Bernhardt

The Ginseng Conspiracy (A Kay Driscoll Mystery Book 1) - http://amzn.to/1oPTsiw 

Murder Under the Tree (A Kay Driscoll Mystery Book 2) - http://amzn.to/1tC5krR 

Murder by Fireworks (A Kay Driscoll Mystery Book 3) - http://amzn.to/1MBKRd4 

 
Posted By Susan Bernhardt

The Brothers' Keepers Blurb.

Most of us are familiar with Jesus’ parents, Mary and Joseph, and Jesus’ purported spouse, Mary Magdalene. But what about Jesus’ siblings? What role did they play in early Christianity? 

Contemporary Jesuit and renowned religious historian Nicholas Branson is about to find out...and the answer will shake the foundations of the Judeo-Christian world. 

It all starts with the murder of a United States Senator in a confessional, and the discovery of a strange religious document among his possessions. At the urging of his FBI friend, Branson joins the investigation. His effort to uncover the truth behind the murder draws him into the search for an eight-hundred-year-old treasure and into a web of ecclesiastical and political intrigue. 

Accompanied by a beautiful, sharp-tongued research librarian, Jessica Jones, Branson follows a trail of clues, from the peaks of the awe inspiring French Pyrenees to the caves of war-torn Afghanistan. Along the way, shadowy powerful forces trail the pair, determined to keep safe a secret buried for centuries. 

My husband and I have looked forward to Matthew Peters' new thriller since reading Conversations Among Ruins. We both loved The Brothers' Keepers. Here are our reviews.

Matthew Peters has opened a Pandora's box in this riveting, action-packed novel. Nicholas Branson is an intriguing protagonist with a deep knowledge of church history. His quest for the truth about Christianity, and about himself, keep the reader engaged. The ending may be unsettling to some and to others a motivation for more reflection and reading. Either way, I think this well crafted story of power struggle, conspiracy, and deceit leaves the reader hoping for further adventures of Nicholas Branson.

And the second review:

I just finished reading Matthew Peters' intriguing The Brothers' Keepers. This exciting novel captivated me from the first chapter, where a murder of a senator occurred in a confessional, to the surprise ending which I loved.

The story-lines with layers of complexity and lots of twists and turns, involve Jesuit and religious scholar, Nicholas Branson and librarian, Jessica Jones' quest for clues to finding a religious icon, to the corruption of both the Presidency of the United States and the church leaders in the Vatican. Between the ruthless gangs, the politicians and church officials, the body count keeps piling up.

The Brothers' Keepers is well-researched in both geography and church history. Expertly told by author, Matthew Peters, this action-packed thriller is fast paced, has rich dialogue with well-drawn, compelling characters, and is thought-provoking. I can't wait for the next Nicholas Branson thriller.

Amazon Link: The Brothers' Keepers - http://amzn.to/2b098hL

 
Posted By Susan Bernhardt

What an exciting day it is! Today THE GINSENG CONSPIRACY (A Kay Driscoll Mystery Book 1) has been released in Paperback! And just in time for autumn!

I am incredibly grateful to my readers and for the many, wonderful reviews I have received for this mystery and all of the novels in the Kay Driscoll Mystery Series. Thank you so very much! :)

“The Ginseng Conspiracy was so exciting that I found myself stopping several times until I could handle what was coming next. But, of course, looking forward to it.”

“Excellent mystery. Best I've read in a long time. It was hard to put down, and I didn't want it to end. So many twists and turns, left my hands sweating at times. Go Kay, Go!!”

“Character development is amazing--I now know the three main characters personally. The setting descriptions are so good, it makes you feel as if you are actually there.”

“There are enough twists and turns to keep Kay and the reader guessing the whole time. There is plenty of suspense and tension and I could not turn the pages fast enough. There are a few times where my jaw dropped open while reading and I did not want to turn the page because I was worried about what was about to happen. I think the ending is much more realistic than many other cozies I have read.” 

“The characters are fresh and come off the page. What I like best is how the author layers the tension... building it and building it, until you're flipping the pages as fast as you can.”

 

 

 
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