Book Blitz & Excerpt: The Silent Speak + Giveaway

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The Silent Speak
by Val Collins
Publication date: February 23rd 2021
Genres: Adult, Thriller

“There’s a lunatic out there who butchered five innocent people and nobody is looking for him.” 

Aoife Walsh has plenty keeping her busy—finalising her divorce from her manipulative husband, settling into her still-new relationship with Detective Conor Moloney, and trying to win the trust of his teenage son. So for the moment, her fledgeling career as a freelance journalist has been put on hold.

Then comes the horrific news that an entire family has been slaughtered in their own home. Aoife is shocked to discover two of the victims were members of her on-again-off-again book club. Even more disturbing is the revelation that the police believe it was a murder-suicide.

That’s when Aoife receives a tantalising offer. Lisa, the main suspect’s sister, will grant Aoife access to the victims’ extended family for an exclusive news story—if Aoife will help find the real killer. Moved by Lisa’s unwavering belief in her brother’s innocence, Aoife agrees to help.

As she digs into the secrets of her fellow book club members, Aoife discovers potential suspects everywhere: people having affairs, a jealous husband, and a power-hungry business partner who’s clearly hiding something.

Aoife keeps pulling at the threads of the story, untangling more and more deception. Is the killer really dead and buried? Is it someone Aoife already knows? Could the lunatic be closer than Aoife ever imagined?

You won’t be able to put down this twisty thriller from international bestselling author Val Collins.

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The Silent Speak

PROLOGUE:

She read the note again.

Twice in the past three years, similar notes had been splashed all over the newspapers. She knew immediately what it meant, but her brain wouldn’t allow her to process it. For several minutes she just stared at it. Her lips formed words that never came. When her brain caught up, it went straight to denial.

This could not be happening.

Things like this did not happen in ordinary families.

Not in families like hers.

She pulled down the door handle. The door was unlocked. That was a good sign, right? She would go into the house and find everything exactly as it had always been. There just had to be some simple explanation for that note. Yes, she nodded to herself, relieved to have come to a decision. She nudged the door open and put one foot on the wooden floor. The house was eerily quiet. No kids running around. No noise from the kitchen.

‘Now don’t panic,’ she muttered to herself. ‘Everything will be fine. Just go inside.’

She tried to lift her foot, but her brain wouldn’t cooperate. Hands shaking, she pulled out her mobile and dialled 999. She was still frozen in the doorway when the police arrived.

Author Bio:

Val Collins is the author of the award-winning psychological thriller GIRL TARGETED, the international bestseller ONLY LIES REMAIN and her new release THE SILENT SPEAK. All three books feature heroine Aoife Walsh.

A native of Ireland, Val began reading at the age of three and still devours books at the rate of one per week. Her favourite authors range from Philippa Gregory and Sophie Kinsella to Lee Child and Linwood Barclay.

Join Val online at valcollinsbooks.com, and on social media @valcollinsbooks.

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Book Blitz & Excerpt: Skeletons + Giveaway

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Skeletons
by Natalie Rodriguez
Publication date: February 26th 2021
Genres: Contemporary, Thriller, Young Adult

When was the last time you confronted the skeletons in your closest?

Immediately following book one, “Elephant,” Matthew “Matty” Smith awakens from his coma and discovers that his worst nightmare is all true: his grandmother, Jamie, and Derek have gone missing and his mother murdered his father and grandfather years ago.

With the hospital placing him on lockdown, including no visitation rights by his loved ones such as his best friend, Lisa, Matty finds himself deteriorating into a state of the abyss, consumed with the secrets of his family. Convinced that it was the ‘stranger’ who kidnapped his grandmother and friends, no one believes him. The hospital only believes that Matty is slipping into a toxic mental state, repeating the cycle of his family.

Until one day, Lisa helps Matty escape the hospital.

On the run from Dr. Brown, Officer Barry, and the town of La Crosse, Wisconsin, Matty and Lisa set off to find their friends and Lucia and for answers on who the ‘stranger’ is. Once they unmask who the ‘stranger’ is, Matty continues to unravel the deepest secrets of what was supposed to be forever hidden in the Smith family as well as the town.

This story is for those who feel their voice is unheard and for children, teenagers, and adults who never had the chance to heal from their pain.

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skeletons

EXCERPT:

DELICATELY, MATT’S EYES OPENED to a world of white haze. All the objects were silhouettes. That was until, Dr. Brown poked through the gust of blurriness.

“Thank God! You’re up,” he wheezed.

Matt peered around. The sunlight poured into Room 402, inch by inch. He was in the room as usual. The streaks of sunlight hit the edge of the hospital bed before it dazzled on his skin. His skin was cold and so…fair. Slimmer, shades of purple and pink concaved his cheekbones—a shade of baby blue muddled his skin.

“Ah,” Matt groaned, once Dr. Brown flashed a miniature flashlight back and forth at his eyes.

At least the reaction was a good sign—the teenage patient could see.

Then, a nurse closed the curtains. It was back to the darkened and sinister atmosphere that gobbled up Matt.

“I don’t feel too well,” he said, barely audible, as the middle of his bottom lips splintered with red.

Another nurse dabbed a tissue against his mouth. He took control of it, as though he was refusing another medical employee’s touch.

“It’s because you’ve been in a coma for four weeks,” Dr. Brown chimed in with his patient.

“I…What?”

Matt scanned the room until his vision settled upon what should have been Captain Obvious to him. His wrists, ankles, and chest were no longer strapped to the bed. Instead, all three areas of his body were wrapped-up. The white puffy bandages resembled the texture of clouds on a springtime afternoon.

While Matt’s eyes grew lukewarm, he hoisted his noodle size wrists closer to his eyes. “Wha—Wha—What happened?” he asked.

“You had an anxiety attack and went into shock…” It seemed that Dr. Brown dreaded the moment, even though he had scripted out his dialogue for when Matt reawakened, like any good doctor would do.

“Sorry, it’s just…I’m not sure…Matt, I’m not sure just how much you remember at all.”

The outside world. It was breathtaking, as the cotton ball clouds sailed across the sky like ships out to sea.

“What’s the date?” Matt asked moments later.

It appeared that the truth cuffed at Dr. Brown’s heart. “August 5th,” he said.

Matt winced at the impossible and yet, the possible. He broke down into tears and sheltered his face. Just then, his palms met a rigid paper that was on the bottom of his lip. It made sense now—he was out of it, unaware of what was a possibility…and the impossible…

He cried even more.

“Your lip bled on and off. The white bandage cloth was too big.” Slowly, but surely, Dr. Brown reached out for his patient. He slid his fingers atop Matt’s hand and gave it a pat. “Thankfully Lisa brought in a Spiderman bandage. She said you’re a fan of the franchise. I heard there’s going to be another installment…”

Dr. Brown gave a nervous chuckle. Cat scrabbled onto Matt’s tongue, left speechless and almost…numb.

“You know,” Dr. Brown started again, “she comes to visit you almost every day. Usually around lunchtime. She’ll be real happy that you’re awake.”

He did not reply.

“Look, Matt, I know you’re exhausted”—Dr. Brown selected his words cautiously—“I get that. You’ll need more rest. I just hope you can talk to us. Whenever you’re ready.”

The pain took over Matt, as his leg gave a spasm. “I don’t understand how time flies by so…fast…”

Silence.

“Your heart was beating in a peculiar pattern,” Dr. Brown said. “At first, it was pumping at a rapid rate. And then, it was beating…slowly. And then, it went quickly again.”

Off the doc’s studying look, Matt asked, “What?”

“I just can’t get that image out of my head. After Lisa was removed from the room, we discharged the bed straps from your body when you began to lose…You lost a lot of blood.”

Matt’s eyes descended to his wrists; his mind illustrated all the possibilities and what the memory for both Dr. Brown and his colleagues must have appeared like: nurses and doctors rotated and took his pulse, as well as patched up the holes where the blood oozed out.

For some reason, Matt saw it. He imagined that his own blood was a zombie-gut neon green, just like the classic horror films.

But it frightened him, and he shut his eyes to erase the horrific illustration. The image stayed with him anyhow.

“Matt?” Dr. Brown’s voice echoed through Matt’s state of horror.

“Where was I bleeding?” It was mostly rhetorical, as Matt tried to digest the imminent response. “Where was the blood coming from?”

When Matt’s eyes peeled open, they were red with angst. Dr. Brown pointed to the upper half of his patient’s chest.

“The scars,” Dr. Brown answered. “Lisa—she swore you were dead when she saw us trying to stop the blood.” He sniffled and coughed, as though the rest of the alphabet clogged up his throat. “We all saw the scars when the blood eventually…came to a stop.”

Matt glanced away. For a moment, he almost fooled himself while the tears streamed down his face.

Dr. Brown was tentative until, “A worldwide search was put out two weeks ago. Matt…” Compressing his fist with his mouth, he prevented a scream. “Matt…”

Cat got his tongue.

Matt noticed and watched as anxiety and pain consumed his doctor’s shaken body. Before the Spiderman bandage detached from Matt’s cherry rose lips, Dr. Brown ascended to his feet.

“Excuse me,” was all he said before he scampered out of Room 402.

“Dr. Brown?” Matt listened to his doctor’s fancy schmancy shoes swerve across the tile. The fretful voices of nurses and doctors echoed throughout the hallway as they called out for their boss’s attention.

“Doctor…” Even Matt’s voice was lost. “Brown?”

Wherever his doctor fled, Matt saw no other reason but to wait…and wait for him. He sniffled, and with a revelation, he gasped. He remembered…and his eyes returned to the cheese holes in the ceiling. ‘They’re missing…They believe you. You are not or will ever be alone again.’

Author Bio:

Natalie Rodriguez is an award-winning writer, director, and mental health and anti-violence/trauma advocate based in Los Angeles, CA. In 2014, she graduated from California State University, Fullerton with a Bachelor of Arts in Radio-Television-Film. Her first experience in entertainment was an internship at the Conan O’Brien show and Peter Guber’s Mandalay Pictures, where she worked at the offices of producers, Matthew Rhodes (“Cherry,” “Men in Black: International”) and Academy Award-winner, Cathy Schulman (“Sharp Objects,” “Crash”).

Natalie was also a panelist at events, including Google, Hispanicize, and YouTube, where she has shared her story as a writer, filmmaker, and a female working in the entertainment industry. Some of her previous writing work can be found in publications such as the HuffPost Blog, Thrive Global, Anxiety Resource Center, Opposing Views, NowThis News, Zooey Deschanel’s Hello Giggles, The Mighty, and more.

In 2017, she founded her production company, Extraordinary Pictures, focusing on both films, television, digital series, and social issue projects. The company has a list of projects in its roaster, including development on a TV sitcom, “The D,” which placed in top-ten for best comedy screenplays at Stage 32. At the moment, Natalie’s second directorial feature film, “Howard Original,” is in post-production and set for an August 2020 release date on YouTube Premium. The film is based on the award-winning short film about a washed-up screenwriter named Howard, who encounters more than just selling a story, a studio rejection, and writer’s block when his pet cat comes to life.

Natalie’s directorial feature film, “The Extraordinary Ordinary,” which she also wrote, produced, and was the executive producer on, is making its round through the festival circuit. The film deals with young adults, mental health awareness, and the aftermath of trauma. The film won ‘Best Film About Women’s Empowerment’ at the Glendale International Film Festival and scored nominations in Best Director, Best Female Director, and Best Picture. The film also had a sold-out world premiere screening at the Los Angeles Diversity Film Festival (LADFF), winning ‘Best Performance’ by the leading actress, Maddison Bullock. Further details on the project can be found @theextraordfilm, including recent film festival awards and nominations.

Her other screenplays and films have also been featured and placed in the final rounds at HollyShorts Film Festival, NALIP: Latino Lens Film Festival, ShortsTV, Stage 32: Comedy Screenplay, Beverly Hills Film Festival, Culver City Film Festival, Indie Night Film Festival, Hollywood Screenplay Contest, Table Read My Screenplay – Austin Film Festival, and others.

Natalie was most recently an ambassador for Jen Zeano Designs (JZD), a clothing company in association with USA Networks. While she continues to build her creative background, Natalie is always open to collaborating with other artists and advocates. Currently, she awaits the publication of her first young adult novel this April 2020, “Elephant,” a story about four childhood best friends who uncover a family secret. The book was also a finalist at Clare Books’ the Binge-Watching Cure II contest for ‘Best Novel.’.

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Book Blitz & Excerpt: Suffer Little Children + Giveaway

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Suffer Little Children
by Freda Hansburg
Published by: Red Adept Publishing
Publication date: January 26th 2021
Genres: Adult, Psychological Thriller

Robin Perry’s life is finally on track with her dream job and a promising relationship with Ben Martin, even if his two spoiled children, Amber and Jaden, hate her. But things take a downhill turn when Gloria Reyes, an acquaintance of Ben’s, asks her to admit her young son to a cancer study meant for adults and Robin, heartbroken, must turn her down. But Gloria won’t take no for an answer and begins an insidious crusade to force the issue.

Amber Martin hates living with her crazy mother since her parents’ divorce, but she can hardly live with her dad, who’s too busy with “Miss Perfect” these days. When Amber runs into her mother’s friend Gloria, she’s glad to finally meet an adult who seems to be on her side. But as Amber becomes friends with Gloria’s sickly son, Alex, she begins to think Gloria is not as nice as she first thought, and Alex may be in trouble.

As Gloria’s threatening behavior escalates, Robin must protect the children while finding a way to save her career and her relationship with Ben. But Gloria always manages to stay one step ahead. When a secret comes to light, Robin discovers the stakes are even higher than she imagined.

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suffer little children

EXCERPT:

“Morning.” Robin settled into the chair opposite Gloria’s as a waitress approached. “Just coffee, please.”

Gloria set down her cup. “So?”

Getting right down to business then. Robin braced herself. So much the better.

“I’ve kept my part of our bargain,” Gloria announced.

“Bargain?” Robin’s eyebrows shot up.

“I spoke to Vanessa about the therapy. I managed to be quite convincing. You see, she posted a rant on Facebook yesterday after Amber defaced a library book.” Gloria shrugged. “I seized the opportunity.”

A bitter taste filled Robin’s mouth. Trashed library books, trashed kids on social media. She should be happy Gloria took advantage of the situation, but she wished Ben had persuaded Vanessa.

The woman’s dark eyes fixed on her. “Now, what about your part?”

Robin bristled. She’d made no promises. The waitress appeared with her coffee. Robin didn’t intend to stay long enough to drink it.

“I made a few inquiries yesterday,” she told Gloria. “Formally and informally. I found no new information about Pediatric MATCH. It’s still slated to launch sometime next year.” Robin took a breath. There, I said it. “I’m sorry.”

Gloria shook her head. “Not good enough.”

Robin sat upright. “What?”

“That’s not soon enough. My son’s life is at stake.” Gloria’s eyes bored into Robin’s. “You have kids?”

“A son in college.” Robin didn’t like bringing Sean into the conversation.

“Suppose it were him?” Gloria kept her voice low, and Robin had to lean forward to hear. “What would you do to save him?”

The same question Robin had asked herself yesterday. Anything.

“Or one of Ben’s kids,” Gloria continued without waiting for Robin’s reply. “But that would be different, wouldn’t it?” Her lips twisted in a mocking smile. “Convenient, even.”

Robin sat up and pushed aside her coffee. “I have to go. I’m due at the wrap-up session.” Reminding herself that the unnerving woman had a dying child, she added, “Gloria, if I were in your shoes, I’d be as desperate as you are. Medical research doesn’t always follow the timetable we want, but MATCH will move ahead, and when it expands to include children, it will be safer, on more solid ground.” She hoped she sounded as clear as Will had last night, but either way, she would end the discussion. “I promise I’ll keep my ears open and let you know of any developments.” She pushed her chair back from the table.

“You’ll do more than that, Robin. You’re a very responsible person. I’m counting on you.”

Robin stood, her chair rattling. “Goodbye, Gloria.”

“I’ll be eager to hear what you come up with.” Gloria’s smile widened, revealing her white teeth. “I’ll be in touch.”

Author Bio:

Freda Hansburg is a psychologist and author of Tell on You, winner of the 2020 Independent Press Award for Psychological Thriller, the 2019 New York City Big Book Award for Suspense, and Thriller Finalist in the 2019 Next Generation Indie Book Awards. Her mystery thriller, Shrink Rapt, is now available from Micro Publishing Media and her new psychological suspense novel, Suffer Little Children, will be released by Red Adept Publishing on January 26th, 2021. She is currently working on her fourth psychological thriller, Trick or Treat.

Freda is also co-author with Mel Silberman of the self-help books, PeopleSmart: Developing Your Interpersonal Intelligence – a bestseller translated into a dozen languages – and Working PeopleSmart. She has the good fortune to live on beautiful Hilton Head Island. There, she takes refuge from her fevered imagination by sitting on her dock and watching pelicans and dolphins fishing on the intracoastal. Freda is an avid Pickleball player who has spent her entire adult life being mistaken for Carol Burnett.

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