Jack Chaucer sold and signed 26 paperbacks for a bunch of awesome people at The Big E in West Springfield, Mass., on Monday. It’s a great event with a good crowd in the Connecticut Building. Readers of all ages were looking for new books and my pal Jim Fuller made the drive up from CT to buy the whole Nikki trilogy. I actually sold out of the Nikki trilogy plus eight additional books from my other three titles. Thanks to fellow author Karin LeFranc, a veteran of the CAPA booth, for her helpful tips.
“Reading this was fun. It truly grabbed at my heart and made me smile. I was for sure not ready for all the emotions this book put me through. It was great though. It’s beautifully written and has my heart pumping like crazy. I adore how strong Tenn perceives herself, though I can still see flickers of innocence in the way she tries to be strong. She’s more human than what we see nowadays in other books. She’s built to be realistic. I loved the gods in this book. They seem to have an air of sass to them that truly makes them seem much more human. … I adored how the plot progressed and the story made me feel. It was worth the read and I hope to read it again soon.”
— Christina Jackson, Goodreads reviewer from Shawneetown, Illinois
“So glad there are fantasy books like this coming out that remind me of the old ’80s pulp fantasy by CJ Cherryh and Stephen Donaldson — great characters.”
— Jen The Tolkien Gal, Goodreads reviewer from Pretoria, South Africa
“THIS book. Brave. Risqué. Fantasy. REAL. And with our current global social milieu, I couldn’t rate this book more relevant.”
— Jeanine Henning, fantasy author and cover artist from Cape Town, South Africa
“What I love most about this book is the way it started, no unnecessary build-ups, it started with a bang. … The plot is amazing.”
— Deborah Obida, Goodreads reviewer from Abuja, Nigeria
“I’m in favour of actively meddling gods. x-D … I was impressed with the rather active pantheon, and the open and indiscriminate play of “love stories” in the story. Especially the “side-characters” were rather interesting.”
— Auntie Terror, Goodreads reviewer from Frankfurt, Germany
“I was firstly drawn to this beautiful book cover and secondly to the story itself, which kept me hooked until I’d finished. Loved the story.”
— A.D., NetGalley reviewer from the United Kingdom
“The gods had a very old-world vibe. They came in at random points, did what they wanted, when they wanted and left. They made for an interesting side plot. I also thought that there was a very easy-going camaraderie between the main characters. Kind of a huzzah! we’re heading for an adventure! sort of schtick which made for a fun interlude between the plot.”
— Miranda Reads, Goodreads reviewer from USA
“The thing that worked the most for me was the mythology of it. Mammyth and its gods were real, living, breathing things and they were as natural to the story as they could be.”
— Svetlana Svichkar, Goodreads reviewer from the Ukraine
“You are thrown right into the story from the first page. I like that. … It is enjoyable and worth the time reading it.”
— Laila Viking, Goodreads reviewer from Denmark
“This book is all about empowering women. … I enjoyed the mythology of this book, how the gods and goddesses live amongst them.”
— Julie Oakley, Goodreads reviewer from Hobart, Tasmania, Australia
Virgil had warned me to be ready for payback. He already knew the story of me and Lee. I guess Nikki had told him all about it or he read it in the newspapers — how I’d backed out of our plan to shoot up our high school; how I’d told the police everything and served less than a year while my ex-friend got 25.
Lee never got back at me during my first term in the New Hampshire State Prison for Men, but by now, he had built up some real prison currency. He had a better chance of exerting influence and bribing people to tell other people to do his bidding for something in return.
“He’ll find out you’re there,” Virgil told me. “Word travels from maximum to minimum and back again.”
“I know,” I said. “I’ve been there.”
“Yeah, but it’s been a while. Watch your back every second.”
On Day 29 of my 30-day term, Virgil’s crystal fucking ball flashed red.
And I was ready.
I was in the prison library, putting books back where they were supposed to be — the same job I had back when I was here in 2014-15. Lee was a fool for waiting so long because the closer it got to the end of my term, the more I felt it would happen at any moment … and the more I couldn’t wait to wreck whoever tried it.
I don’t know if the guard had been bribed to look the other way or not, but when he walked off for thirty seconds, my adrenaline surged. There were two guys sitting at a table well behind me who I knew and didn’t expect any shit from. I was standing beyond all the aisles of books, stocking the long shelf along the rear wall of the basically square room.
Two other guys I didn’t know very well — both shorter than me but pretty tough-looking — came in and started peeping around, but definitely not for books. My blood boiled and I imagined myself as who I always did before a fight — Shawn Thornton, ex-Boston Bruin and one of the best hockey fighters who ever lived.
I moved my cart toward the rear right corner of the library and played oblivious. I turned the cart the long way so it would block both the rear horizontal aisle and stick into the second-to-last vertical aisle at the same time. The only way they could get me without hurdling the cart was to come down the far right vertical aisle. I’d trapped myself in the corner on purpose and mostly kept my back to them. An exaggerated cleared throat not far away told me they’d found my aisle, my corner.
They both approached my ass single file as silently as they could while I raged inside — head pounding, heart banging through my chest. My left hand white-knuckled a hardcover of “No Easy Day” by Mark Owen; my right fist transformed into a hammer.
“This is from Lee in max,” the first dickhead declared, but before he got the “x” out of his mouth, my left hand had flung the book at his buzzed head, causing him to duck and my right fist followed with a hard punch to his nose, stunning him. The second guy, with the barbed-wire tat creeping up his neck, backed up a step, stunned that I was ready for them. I bull rushed past the first guy and tackled the second. I started whaling on him right there on the floor when the two guys I knew from the table ran over to check out the battle.
“Holy shit, Upton!” the one name Eddie shouted. The other one, Calhoun, just laughed.
“Get the fucking guard!” I yelled. “Or grab …”
Before I could shout another word, the first dickhead stabbed me in the back with something — a razor blade or the end of an X-acto knife maybe — and ripped downward. It fucking KILLED! I struggled to stand up as he put me in a headlock from behind, but I was so pissed off from getting stabbed that I rammed him into the bookshelf and crushed his arm enough to release me. Then I was free to wreck him up against the books. Every move I made hurt my back like a motherfucker, but I kept swinging anyway and wasted the rest of his face to match his broken nose.
That’s when the guard finally showed up. By now, at least Eddie was holding down the second asshole. Calhoun must’ve run off to tell the guard what had happened.
“What the fuck is going on here?” shouted the guard, a new one I didn’t recognize.
I shoved the dazed and bloodied mofo who stabbed me toward the guard’s feet. “These two motherfuckers just ambushed me and I kicked their asses! Now take me to the fucking hospital!”
They all looked at me like I was insane, so I turned around to show them my gashed back — orange prison suit parted by a red sea of blood. The chorus of groans told me how bad it was.
I spun back around on them.
“That’s fucking why!” I shouted, loud enough so Lee could hear it in max.
From “Nikki Blue: Source of Trouble”
Release date: Oct. 9
ARC date: Available now on NetGalley