Adam Upton and Thomas "Lee" Harvey are plotting the next big school massacre at their New Hampshire high school. Nicole Janicek, who knew Adam in elementary school, tries to reconnect with the damaged teen at the start of their senior year. She risks her life and reputation to save the lives of her schoolmates, including the ones who question her sanity and taunt her for hanging out with “trailer trash.” But will Nicole’s attempt to befriend the would-be killer disrupt the plot and turn Adam’s life around before the clock strikes 12:14?
HALF OF THE PROCEEDS FROM THIS BOOK WILL BE DONATED TO THE NEWTOWN MEMORIAL FUND. For more information, visit http://newtownmemorialfund.org/
|File size:||216 KB|
|Age Range:||12 Years|
About the Author
I'm John Cullen and I write under the pen name Jack Chaucer. I live in Litchfield, Conn., with my wife and twin toddlers. I'm the author of the new poli-sci-fi thriller "Queens are Wild," which will be published on Smashwords in late July (2012).
Read an Excerpt
CHAPTER 1: LAKES OF THE CLOUDS
Nicole Janicek beamed, her glowing face a lighthouse beacon for the sea of silent, stony summits surrounding her in the late summer twilight. Undistracted by the long, fine strands of light brown and dyed-blue hair whipping around her in the gusty mountain air, the teenager's spritely blue eyes danced from peak to peak as they faded into silhouettes. The moment itself was a fully conceived poem, but Nicole was too consumed by the blackening White Mountains to bend down, reach into her pack and pull out her journal.
Then she heard her best friend's boot steps traversing the rocks to her left.
“The hut is filling up,” Candace Cooper informed her as she approached, “but at least they have a decent bathroom. Wow, it's getting dark fast up here.”
“And cold,” Nicole added. “Hug me already, girl.”
Candace leaped over both of their packs and landed on Nicole's rocky perch. The soon-to-be high school seniors embraced warmly beside alpine flowers and a glassy blue pond one of several tarns on the beautiful broad shoulder of Mount Washington. The Lakes of the Clouds, as they are known, sit at about 5,000 feet between the summits of Mount Monroe (5,200 feet) and Mount Washington, the highest peak in New Hampshire's Presidential Range at 6,288 feet.
“Look,” Nicole said, pointing to the purple northeastern sky. “Venus.”
“Yes, the goddess of love,” Candace said, her long, auburn hair pulled back into a ponytail as the wind buffeted them again. “I saw a few young men in the hut who could help keep us warm tonight and perhaps Venus is our sign.”
Nicole gasped and pulled back from her slightly taller friend in semi-mock outrage.
“Don't even think about chickening out on me now, Candace,” she said.
“They're going to catch us, Nikki. You know the rules no camping above the tree line. They can almost hit us with a stone from the hut,” Candace replied, her green eyes pleading for a wooden roof instead of a nylon tent at such an exposed position. Despite the mercifully clear and hospitable conditions on this 55-degree night, the wind made it feel much colder and the girls weren't used to it after a long, hot summer.
“So what. I came here to sleep under the stars and that's what I'm going to do,” Nicole said, her hands on her hips. “Are you with me or not?”
Candace gazed up and found more planets and stars shining back at her.
“God, they should call this place Lakes of the Cloudless tonight,” she finally said. “If it weren't so damn clear, I wouldn't, but …”
“Good, then let's hunker down and very quietly start setting up the tent … like almost in slow motion,” Nicole said, bending down and reaching for the folded-up tent inside her navy blue pack. “Every minute that it gets darker and they don't see us works in our favor.”
“OK, but I'm blaming it all on you if they catch us or a bear eats us,” Candace quipped.
“I can live with that,” Nicole said. “The bears live in the woods and we're above them here. Besides, some things are worth taking a risk for.”
Dressed in a powder-blue fleece sweat shirt, black wind pants and sand-colored hiking boots with red laces, Nicole took the lead in setting up the green nylon tent and spreading out a foldable cushion inside it for added support. They made camp on a stony patch of ground because they didn't want to risk getting in trouble for trampling the fragile alpine flowers. When Candace joined her friend inside the tent and stretched out her long, athletic body against the cushion, she immediately grimaced.
“Ouch, Nikki, this is most definitely gonna suck,” she said, causing them both to laugh. “I really do hope we get caught now.”
“Stop it,” Nicole protested, punching her friend playfully in the shoulder. “We're roughing it for one night. That's all. It'll make you appreciate every other night when you have all the comforts of home.”
“I swear I'm gonna start howling like a she-wolf until they find us and make us sleep in the hut,” Candace threatened with a grin.
“Uh, no you won't, C.C. I'll tape your mouth shut.”
“Duct tape? You brought duct tape?”
“Of course,” Nicole said, tossing Candace an energy bar from her pack as they now sat Indian style across from one another inside the tent. “I also brought this,” she added, grabbing a small headlamp and strapping the black band around her bi-colored hair so she could see as darkness descended on the ridge. “Cheryl used a headlamp just like it on her trek.”
“You and your Strayed,” Candace said.
“You should finish it,” Nicole advised, referring to Cheryl Strayed's book, “Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail.” “And you know she'd break the rules and make camp right here.”
“I read enough of that book to know Cheryl would walk right over to that hut tonight and hook up with the first guy she met,” Candace said, her mischievous grin returning.
“You make a valid point,” Nicole said, nodding and taking a sip from her water bottle. “She was a real slut back in the day, but I do admire how honest she was about that in the book. I'm …”
A flashlight suddenly shining against the tent made both girls flinch and freeze in place. Then they heard boot steps against a nearby rock.
“Oh shit, Nikki, I told you,” Candace whispered, before smiling and adding, “I'm saved!” as she whimsically thanked a higher power with prayerful hands.
Nicole frowned, stuck her tongue out at Candace and then stuck her head out of the flap of the tent.
“Hello?” she said, squinting toward the flashlight.
“Hi, I'm Will from the hut crew,” a handsome young man in his early 20s said, squatting beside their tent with the flashlight on them.
Candace nudged Nicole aside and stuck her head out of the flap, too, causing Will to shuffle his legs, lose his footing momentarily and nearly fall into the tarn. Clearly, he wasn't expecting to see two teenage girls camping in this spot. Nicole and Candace both managed to stifle their laughter.
“Sorry to disturb you, ladies,” Will said, quickly recovering and remembering why he was there. “But there's no camping permitted above the tree line or anywhere within a quarter mile of Lakes of the Clouds Hut. Do your parents know you're out here?”
“Yes,” Nicole replied, her blue eyes defiant. “We may be young, but we're seasoned hikers. We're practicing to do the whole Appalachian Trail, maybe even the Pacific Crest Trail. We're not starting a fire and we're not trampling the flowers.”
“Still, rules are rules,” Will said. “We have a couple of bunks not filled at the hut, so why don't you join us there. It's not far at all. “
Candace was attracted to the man and saw an opportunity to help her friend get “Strayed” in her way while possibly getting “Strayed” herself in an entirely different way.
“I'll make you a deal, Will,” she said slyly. “I'll join you at the hut if you'll look the other way and let my friend Nikki here live out her dream of sleeping under the stars just this one time. How does that sound?”
The young man smiled and shook his head, but clearly he was entertaining the offer. When all of Candace emerged from the tent and she bent over to pull out her pack, Will just stared and had no words.
“You'd really do that for me?” Nicole asked Candace.
“Gladly,” she replied, pulling her hair out of its ponytail and flipping it around in the wind for full effect.
“No fires, no …,” Will said, finally regaining his voice, only to be cut off by Nicole.
“No trampling the flowers, got it,” she said with a smile. “Thanks, the both of you … I really mean that.”
“I'll be back to check on you early, Nikki, or join us in the hut if you come to your senses. Otherwise, just call me if you need anything … we do have working cell phones up here at least,” Candace said.
“Anything else, Mom?” Nicole asked as they began walking away.
“Yes, don't roll into the pond and drown,” Candace yelled back.
“You be careful, too,” Nicole shot back with a loaded smile that she hoped Candace saw in the glare of her headlamp.
When they were gone and it was certain she had been given the green light to camp under the stars 5,033 feet above sea level, Nicole climbed out of her tent and jumped for joy. She launched all 5-foot-6 of her toward the heavens and tried to grab a piece of the Milky Way as it cascaded above her. Though her boots crashed back onto the rocky ground, she felt her heart leap into space.
Adam Upton roused his younger brother from a daze when he suddenly jerked the wheel to the right and drove the rumbling, red pickup truck into the empty parking lot at Lakeview Regional High School.
“What the hell are you doing?” Brody asked. “School doesn't start until next week.”
Adam brought the truck to a screeching stop facing the large, open practice field on the left side of the sprawling brick school building.
“I'm about to give you your most important assignment for the school year,” said Adam, who at 17 seemed nearly double the size of his 13-year-old brother. “And you're gonna do it when I tell you to do it because that's what freshmen are supposed to do kiss the asses of the upperclassmen.”
“That's total bullshit,” Brody protested.
Adam punched his brother in the left arm and laughed. Brody grabbed his arm in pain and hung his head. He was tired of being ordered around, overpowered and pummeled by his Ultimate Fighting Championship-loving brother.
“Get used to it, son. Life is bullshit,” Adam said with a nasty edge to his husky voice.
“You ain't my father,” Brody said hesitantly, not looking at him and fully expecting another punch at any moment. “And whenever you start calling me 'son' something bad is about to happen.”
Both boys had messy, wavy brown hair and brown eyes, but Adam was 6 feet tall, stocky and stubbly faced. Brody, whose growth spurt hadn't started yet, was only 5-4, fairly thin and didn't even sport peach fuzz on his cheeks yet.
“I'm the closest thing you got to a father, son, and you're gonna pull a prank for me sometime very soon,” Adam said menacingly, his whole face boring into his brother, leaving no room for argument.
“OK, OK … what the hell do you want me to do?” Brody asked, practically whining for mercy.
“You're gonna pull the school fire alarm for me,” Adam said flatly, shifting his weight back toward the steering wheel.
“Why?” Brody asked after pondering the assignment for a moment.
“You'll see,” Adam replied, his eyes now focused on the grassy field in front of the truck. “And if you're smart, you'll hide in the bathroom after you pull it. You really don't want to get caught up in a turkey shoot.”
“What?” Brody asked, utterly confused.
“It's just a hunting expression, son,” Adam said.
Table of Contents1. Lakes of the Clouds
2. 14th & Stardust
3. Bat-shit Crazy
4. Driving Mr. Brody
5. The Police
6. Three Words
7. Calling for Backup
8. Demons and Trail Angels
9. “We're Going to be Friends”
10. Sugar Cubes
11. The Acid Den
12. Inside Information
13. The Punch Heard 'Round Lakeview
14. Talking About Trips
16. The Unexpected Diagnosis
17. Bucket Lists
18. A Date at Chili's
19. A Shot in the Dark
20. The Aftermath
21. The Wounded Poet
22. AC 360
23. Kearsarge North
What People are Saying About This
“Very well-written, deep and emotional. This book moved me very much.” -- Jennifer Ahlin, book blogger from Uppsala, Sweden
“I wasn't sure I was ready to read a book that references Sandy Hook yet, but he pulled it off. Heart-wrenching and amazing!” -- Amy Vandagriff, resource specialist at Foothill High School in Pleasanton, California
“A touching and monumental story. Chaucer's storytelling was truly intoxicating, creating such awesome and fluid characters.” -- Georgina Robinson, “What She Reads” blogger from Leicestershire, England
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I loved this book. It just really moved me.
I received a copy of this book to review and to be honest to start with it didn't really grab me but as I kept reading it definitely improved and I found the story quiet enjoyable. While the concept of Nikki being told in a dream to stop a school shooting was slightly far fetched to me, her actions in befriending Adam and basically trying her best to be a decent, caring teenager were heart-warming and the story had a lot of good advice with out being too pushing with the "be nice to everyone" line. Jack's characters were believable and I could totally interchange them with students at my own school. The issues raised with bullying, cyber-bulling, and the traps of social media were very real. It was a little bit "wordy" in some places but overall easy to read. This book would be great for teenagers to study at school although given the content maybe best for middle to senior school.
Streaks of Blue Review Book Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5. Story Line: 4.5 stars out of 5. While sleeping under the stars Nikki had a dream that warned her about Adam Upton. The "angels" in the dream said that Adam was going to be heading down the wrong path. They wanted her to save Adam from doing something foolish. Nikki realized that she used to be friends with him when they were younger. She decided that she was going to friend him to help stop him from committing mass murder with his friend Thomas James "Lee" Harvey. A lot of events occurred throughout this book. It did touch on what drugs can do to you. I found this book to be awesome. I liked it a lot! The ending left feels for me. I enjoy when books do that. I will be reading the second book in the series. (After I finish the Last Ever After.) Characters: Nikki was a great person through out the book. She showed that she cared for Adam although she didn't have to. She could have just left him alone. She didn't want to give up on him. She did have her moments where I wanted to high five her. She was completely bada**. I was nervous for her at the end. Adam was messed up, but he ended up getting better. I felt really bad for him. He went through so much that he didn't need to. That made him depressed. I could relate to him. He did have his moments where I wanted to punch him in the face though. He really had a big turn around in the end. It was great. I also loved his little brother, Brody. He wasn't as messed up as his brother. He was an innocent 13 year old. I felt bad for him also especially at the end Candace was a great character as well. She was very concerned about Nikki. That's what best friends actually do. They don't tear each other down. They help build each other up. She at least was able to stand up for her friend. I found that part to be amazing! I wish Mr. Richardson was my teacher! I would have loved his lessons! He was also very poetic and interesting. I loved his character! I didn't like Valerie, Melanie, and Thomas. They were just the worst. I hated their attitudes. Especially Valerie. You don't call people trailer trash. You just don't do that. Writing Style: 4.5 stars out of 5. There were a few mistakes, but overall the writing was beautiful. The flow was disrupted a little bit, but not too much.
irst thanks to netgalley for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review [Overall it was a great book. It has a great moral and it was heartwarming but when I was finished I realized I never really connected with any characters. Nikki is a girl that everyone should be a little bit more like, it not easy to stand up and be different, especially in high school but I never connected with her The conversations between characters had a tendency to feel forced, and I often felt like I was disconnecting from the storyline. The end was also patched up rather quickly, but to be honest, I'd rather have it wrapped up a little fast than drag on for too long. I would have wanted a more plausible explanation for these students' actions, maybe more insight into their brains so that one can logically understand why they would resort to such extreme measures. I feel like the book would’ve had lots of potential had it been written without “warned by angels through a dream” angle. Still it was worth reading and the fact that proceeds from this book are being donated to the Sandy Cook memorial fund is a great plus
4.5 out of 5 Stars I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Jack Chaucer took a tough subject, school shootings and wrote a very poignant book. I want to commend Chaucer for taking half the proceeds of the novel and donating it to the Newtown Memorial Fund. The story follows Nicole and her friend Candace as they go on a trip hiking together and spend the night on the trail. Nicole has a very vivid dream, a warning and message that she believes to be true. The story has a hint of paranormal in how she obtains the message, a dream but it's believable and even at times she questions if it's real or not. Nicole befriends Adam, a troubled teen that hangs out with another boy which seems to be even more bad news. I'm grateful the author didn't try and make it a love story with Adam. That wouldn't have felt right and thankfully the story never went there. What the story did bring was realistic emotions and a plot that for most of the book was very true to life. I have to admit, I was a little concerned how the end would wrap things up. Contemporary novels are known to kill off main characters and I was anxiously awaiting to see if the school shooting would end devastatingly as it has for many schools. I found Streaks of Blue to be a very relevant and timely novel. I attended Northern Illinois University. I graduated a few years before the Valentine's day massacre on campus. My best friend was on campus that day, attending NIU. Thankfully she was okay, but the story is relateable which I think makes it feel even more real. School shootings is a tough subject to write about as well as read. I felt that Chaucer did it well and would recommend the novel to sixteen and up due to language, violence and subject matter.
Again, this is one of those books that have left me going meh. I seem to be reading quite a lot of them lately. It’s starting to put me in a reading funk. Anyway, I requested this book for review from NetGalley on the premise that it was inspired by the Sandy Hook tragedy, but what I was hoping to be a deeply moving story, just turned out to be a lot of blah with a tear-jerking scene or two. It’s not all bad though. It focuses a lot on bullying, and delves into the darkest corners of the mind of an outcast. What I liked about the protagonist is that she is a strong character who isn’t validated by what a boy thinks of her. It’s not often in YA novels that you find the female lead to be someone who shows compassion and understanding, and reaches out to one of her peers to not only to save lives, but make a difference in his life as well. Many readers will find this an inspiring read, but the story also promotes the notion that teens won’t be taken seriously when they inform an adult who can deal with their concerns, of their fears. That might just send the wrong message to a younger, impressionable reader. I do, however, feel that the book would’ve had lots of potential had it been written without the implausible forewarning-by-angels angle. Also, I felt the ending was rushed and everything came together too conveniently, and the amount of profanity was way more than I could handle. The dialogue felt forced and once I got to the final chapter I still didn’t care about any of the characters. If you want to read a more realistic book about school shootings and what drives a person to perform such an atrocity, give Jodi Piccoult’s Nineteen Minutes a try. I read it more than two years ago, and I’m still thinking about it. Streaks of Blue, with its unnecessarily long title, just don’t cut it. Read it if you like (it does have an appealing cover), but I don’t highly recommend it.