The magic of Goodreads

NikkiBlueOne of my favorite things about Goodreads is when a reader takes the time to post real-time reactions to what’s going on in one of my books as they’re making their way through it.
Here’s a fun example from Katie Sholty, who whipped through “Nikki Blue” earlier this month. Her full review follows her in-progress comments:

03/14 7.0% “This reads like Jasper Fforde.”
03/16 21.0% “RUNAWAY FROM THE CULT THAT’S NOT A CULT BUT IS A CULT. RUNAWAY. NOW. NO CHECK IS WORTH THE CREEP FACTOR.”
03/17 37.0% “Virgil reminds me of televangelist that will swindle you out of everything.”
03/17 50.0% “Nikki has blessedly engaged her journalistic brains … don’t put David in his place… if only briefly.”
03/17 57.0% “Chili’s is now serving awkward reunions.”
03/18 64.0% “I have this sick feeling that it’s going to turn into Waco.”
03/20 87.0% “Madmen and fires go together like peanut butter and jelly.”
03/21 95.0% “WHAT? WHAT? WHAT? WHAT? WHAT? Maybe if I say it five more times, Bill won’t do the thing.”
03/21 97.0% “Nikki: Just let me cry.” I feel like my heart has just been put in a blender and thrown out into a compost pile.

I give Nikki Blue a solid 3.5/5.

I normally do not start a series in the middle, but the premise of a young journalist confronting a race to Mars among cultists had me intrigued. I figured I could fill in the missing pieces of the previous book. However, I didn’t need to because Jack Chaucer does a wonderful job of leaving bread crumbs about Nikki’s past throughout the first portion of the book. There’s enough information to build a picture of Nikki thwarting a school shooting plot. These bits of information were a godsend and not redundant play by play summary.

I freely admit to making mistakes in my early 20’s, which is why I gave Nikki some slack. But I still wanted to throttle her for much of the first part of the book. There are mistakes, and then there are the mistakes that will and can ruin you. Get rich quick schemes fall into the latter. Her reasoning to leave her job after only a few days made me set the book down. I couldn’t justify her actions in my head other than The Bridge offered that nice bonus with little work entailed, which sadly speaks to America’s work ethic.

The POV switch in the second half of the book is a bit jarring. I was cozily nestled into Nikki’s POV, and switch took me a bit get into. Roger’s perspective almost felt needless until the end. In a way, it did help show how the Bridge was changing Nikki, but I also found myself speed reading through his chapters. Steve, Nikki’s short lived coworker, came at Nikki with hard hitting questions. I wish he would have kept coming at her so that she could regain her journalistic senses sooner. Steve, even though he had that crush on her, was a voice of reason… a much needed and welcomed voice.

One of my favorite moments happened towards the end between Nikki and Roger. “This is a burning building for me right now… just so you know.” Even through all their years of dysfunction and non-communication, Nikki still finds a way to reach out and ask him for help, and it is in a way that only Roger could interpret. No matter how old you are, you still need your dad sometimes. It was a much needed respite in a sea of chaos.

Random Questions I Have After Reading:

Adam. How did he get a security job after being in prison for a conspiracy to be involved in a school shooting? Security companies tend to frown upon that.

Can we send Nikki’s mom to Mars by herself? The woman needs a Xanax.

Why would you go to Mars when Doctor Who clearly taught us to avoid it all costs?

All in all, Nikki Blue is an intriguing read. It’s fast paced, and makes you see behind that curtain in how religious/political organizations run, and it’ll make you sick and a little crazy.

Original song ‘My Paul’ from my free novella ‘Freeway and the Vin Numbers’

freewaycover“You robbed from Peter
So I could play my Paul
The sound is sweeter
And stands 90 feet tall

Cool-hand Luke’s
No hot-hand Duke
My loyal brother
Is like no other

Saints and sinners
Paints and thinners
Got me a fresh new look
With something you took

You got me some more
So I could do it with Les
The fuzz ain’t got no clue
’Bout the magic between me and you

You robbed from Peter
So I could play my Paul
The sound is sweeter
And stands 90 feet tall”

Excerpt From: Jack Chaucer. “Freeway and the Vin Numbers.” iBooks. https://itun.es/us/4Pys_.l

5-star love for Nikki Blue in Illinois …

mybooksathickoryHere’s the kind of 5-star review Jack Chaucer loves to read.

Christina Jackson, 20, of Shawneetown, Illinois, posted this on Goodreads on Feb. 7 about “Nikki Blue: Source of Trouble,” the sequel to “Streaks of Blue”:

“This book was a great read. I was overwhelmed with the emotions of the characters. I felt I was a character myself and that I was there experiencing it all. I found it to be enthralling and a very unpredictable sequel. I commend Chaucer and hope to read more by him soon.”

As a side note, Chaucer lived in Freeport, Illinois, from 1991-93. He worked as a sportswriter at the Freeport Journal-Standard newspaper. Good times.

Streaks of Blue readers have now donated $223.98 to the Newtown Memorial Fund

StreaksOfBlue_ebook (1)Another donation was made today. Half of all proceeds from this book go to the Newtown Memorial Fund in a tribute to the 26 victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting three years ago today. Find out more about the fund and how it helps the families here … http://newtownmemorialfund.org

Nice pop in sales since this Nikki Blue review in the Sunday Republican …

NikkiBlueBY ALAN BISBORT
REPUBLICAN-AMERICAN

Nikki Blue: Source of Trouble
By Jack Chaucer (380 pages, $13.99 on Amazon, $11.99 at Hickory Stick Bookshop, $2.99 ebook)

When we last checked in with Nicole “Nikki” Janicek, she had put herself in harm’s way to stop a deranged teenager from carrying out a massacre at her New Hampshire high school. That event — depicted in Jack Chaucer’s previous novel, “Streaks of Blue” — took place four years before “Nikki Blue: Source of Trouble” begins.

The added twist in this sequel is that the action takes place in 2018, when 21-year-old Nikki — recovered physically but not emotionally from the gun wound she received during her act of teen heroism — has moved to Connecticut to make her way in the world with virtually no safety net. That is, she aims to start a career in print journalism. Talk about jumping from the frying pan into the fire!

As the book opens, Nikki is on her first assignment as an intern reporter for “The Brass City Bulletin.” Suffice it to say that things get off to an inauspicious start. Ah, but out of that event, the scoop of the century arrives, hand-delivered to her by a minion from a cult called The Bridge, comprised of disgruntled former Scientologists: Mayor Phil Battaglia is having sex with a prostitute and her young daughter in Bridgeport. Does that sound familiar?

Many other local touches and locations also will sound familiar to anyone who’s lived in the area for more than two weeks. For these alone, “Nikki Blue” is worth reading, largely because they offer Chaucer a chance to make subtle commentary on the scene.
Indeed, Chaucer puts his intimate knowledge of big-city newspaper newsrooms and local settings to good use here — Chaucer is actually John Cullen, the Litchfield County editor for this newspaper. And the characters at the newspaper bear some passing resemblance to staff members. Particularly well drawn is the restless, wisecracking reporter Steve Pearson, who accompanies Nikki on her big scoop to bust the mayor in Bridgeport, and then serves as the voice of conscience for the rest of the novel.

After receiving a surprisingly lucrative offer, Nikki quits her internship at the newspaper to become the director of information (ahem, the public relations flack) for The Bridge Group, which is planning to open a branch here in Waterbury. The irony is not lost on Chaucer: she’s a director of information for a secretive cult that does not issue any information. Not only that, but The Bridge has plans so big that the Earth can’t hold them: it is planning to launch rockets to Mars, with 24 hand-picked colonists (Nikki among them).

While on the surface The Bridge seems creepy and manipulative, the organization’s professed aims are to save humanity from planetary destruction by addressing massive environmental issues head on [–] sort of a combination of Greenpeace and Esalen. They convince a skeptical Nikki that they are not a cult. As one of the leaders tells her, “Religion is more trouble than it’s worth.”

The narrative moves along crisply, incorporating some of the characters from Chaucer’s earlier novel, and introducing some appealing new ones, including Bill Oz, a dueling pianist and middle-aged writer who has lost his mojo … until he meets Nikki. Together, the pair meet the perfect storm of power-mad bosses, family tensions and a hurricane that makes Katrina seem like a shrinking violet.

The cliffhanger ending leaves open the likelihood of, yes, a sequel to the sequel. Nikki is an appealing enough character to pull something like this off.

To contact Chaucer, visit his blog queensarewild.wordpress.com or facebook.com/jackchaucerbooks.