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Wednesday, October 16, 2013

The Unraveling of Bebe Jones by Roje Augustin (Author Guest Post / Book Review / Contest Giveaway)

In association with Chick Lit Plus Blog Tours, Jersey Girl Book Reviews is pleased to host the virtual book tour event for The Unraveling of Bebe Jones by author Roje Augustin!







Author Guest Post


Firstly, a huge thank you to Kathleen @ Jersey Girl Book Reviews for providing such a wonderful platform for independent authors to promote and share their work! I am so grateful to you for inviting me to guest post about my debut novel, The Unraveling of Bebe Jones, a story I wrote with the specific intention of offering something NEW in contemporary black literature.

The Unraveling of Bebe Jones is a book that’s all about experimenting: For one thing, it’s intended as a kind of television drama series in print, with each book representing a ‘season’. As a television producer and a lover of the TV drama series, (which to me are like novels on the screen) my ultimate goal, my dream, is to have the Bebe Jones series translated to the screen. Why? Because television is an enormously powerful and influential medium and there is no better place in my opinion (besides books of course) to say what you want to say. I suppose The Unraveling of Bebe Jones is my nudge to mainstream media to do something outside the box where African American stories are concerned. A tall order I know, but one must aim high in life!

Remember The Cosby Show? That excellent, groundbreaking, race-neutral sit-com that introduced America to an average middle class family that just happened to be black? Where have more of those shows gone? And why haven’t there been any primetime dramatic versions, where the family at the heart of the series is African American? These are important questions for me because they get to the core of why I do what I do, say what I say, and write what I write.

As a child of the 70s, I grew up on an unsavory TV diet of black characters that dwelled in criminal, marginal, supporting, or second-class shadows. We were slaves, we were pimps, we were hookers, we were thieves, we were dumb and we were poor. Always. Yes there were a few exceptions and yes things are changing in the media today, but not enough. They are mere token changes. And I won’t even get into the curriculums I was required to digest in the public school system!

The point of all of this is that it had a deep impact on my psyche. To have continually watched people of color typecast in negative stereotypes was in many ways a psychologically debilitating experience for me because it became all too easy to internalize a subconscious patina of inferiority and anger. I’m over that now, thank the Lord, but I don’t want the same to happen to my children, and I already see it starting in them.

The Unraveling of Bebe Jones is my answer to this—a story conceived out of a life-long passion to create a popular saga about an African-American family whose struggles stem not from racial issues or stereotypes but from the experiences of trust, betrayal, greed, hatred, love and death that mark us all as human beings. How do lies impact relationships? What chain reactions do they trigger? How are people affected by greed or denial? These are just a few of the themes explored through the Jones clan.

And there’s a soundtrack! Or rather, a short list of titles I enjoyed during the final stages of writing the book. Like most people, I love the use of music in storytelling to create mood. It’s commonplace in film, television and radio, but I thought it would be fun to experiment with books. I chose the songs because the artists unravel stereotypes in their own unique way (for example, Lyric’s Born is a Japanese rapper). Their music set the tone I was after and I wanted to share that with readers. You’ll find the titles listed in various chapters of the novel. You’ll also find links to the music videos on my website: rojeaugustin.com. I encourage all readers to have a listen so as to get the full flavor of my vision for the project.

So, as you can see, I’ve tried to tell a new kind of story, one that hopefully contributes to the enlightenment of the collective narrative, as it were; that broadens the scope of popular culture by shattering racial stereotypes and improving the way people of color are viewed through the media and ultimately through life. Because when all is said and done, there is nothing truer than the Story.

The second book in the series is well under way, with all the characters returning for another season of relationships and jealousies, triumphs and disappointments, joys and tragedies. Plus, there’s a companion children’s book to the series called A Family, which is the children’s book that my fictional character Bebe Jones and her daughter Jasmine Jones have written in the novel. If you’re curious about how it all fits together, please visit my website, rojeaugustin.com, for more information.

The Unraveling of Bebe Jones is available in paperback and hardcover on Amazon, Createspace, and Lulu.com, as well as on Kindle and other e-platforms like iBook and Nook, or it can be ordered from select retail bookstores. For more information about the series, the characters, and me, please visit www.rojeaugustin.com. Also, feel free to connect with me on Facebook/rojesbook, or follow me on Twitter @rojeaugustin.

Again, many thanks, much love, and happy reading!
Rojé



About The Author




Rojé Augustin (pronounced ro-jhay) has more than fifteen years experience in television production. Born and raised in New York, Rojé began her career at the New York Daily News, where she wrote for the lifestyle publication BET Weekend Magazine. She then moved to television, first at CBS New Productions where she cut her teeth on hour-long documentaries, then to 20/20 with Barbara Walters and John Stossel, Primetime with Diane Sawyer, and Good Morning America Weekend Edition as a writer and producer for ABC. She has also produced for The Tyra Banks Show and E! In the summer of 2006, Rojé moved with her husband and two daughters to London where she began work on her debut novel The Unraveling of Bebe Jones. Rojé also established Breaknight Films shortly after her move to Sydney in 2009 to develop and produce television series. Rojé has lived and studied in both Paris and London and she is an honors graduate of Columbia University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Literature & Writing.


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Book Review



The Unraveling of Bebe Jones by Roje Augustin
Book 1: The Bebe Jones Series
Publisher: Breaknight Books
Publication Date: February 22, 2013
Format: Paperback - 278 pages / Kindle - 414 KB / Nook - 503 KB
ISBN: 0987373412
ASIN: B00AKLHSPO
Genre: Contemporary African American Literature


BUY THE BOOK: The Unraveling of Bebe Jones


Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book from the author / publisher in exchange for my honest review and participation in a virtual book tour event hosted by Chick Lit Plus Blog Tours.


Book Description:

When Desiree Washington ventures into the darkly glittering world of legendary singer Bebe Jones, she gets more than just a job. She gets a family in crisis, a diva meltdown, and a head full of stitches…

The Unraveling of Bebe Jones revolves around the rich and famous Jones family and the people who work for them as they cope through an array of personal dramas. The story begins at the height of the Global Financial Crisis, when 23-year-old Desiree Washington lands a job with her idol, legendary R&B singer Bebe Jones. Desiree quickly discovers that the outwardly perfect Bebe is in fact a troubled and lonely diva reeling from a career in decline and a marriage in tatters, and that behind all the money, glamor and fame, there are skeletons in the family closet. Throughout all of this Desiree seeks support from her best friend Sean Minton, an aspiring music producer who hails from the insulated world of New York’s black elite burdened with secrets of his own. Rounding out the cast are Bebe's husband, Magnus Chadwick, a British hedge fund manager who cares more about money than family; her disgruntled household staff—all with strange ties to Bebe; and her children, brave casualties of their mother's nightmare.

Book Excerpt:


Prologue

Beau Reve, Bergen County, NJ.

Winter 2009

Bebe picked at the frayed edge of her sleeve while she sat in Dr. Novak’s office waiting for him to fill her prescription. It was 9:15, only the start of their monthly appointment and already she was waiting for the prescription. She would have to go through the motions first; everything leading up to the prescription was always a kind of performance, a dance of formalities and chitchat that revolved around the same three questions: How are we feeling today? How’s the family? Still having the nightmares?

Dr. Novak sat at his desk scanning through the notes of their last visit. Bebe glanced around the room for the umpteenth time, at the psychiatry degrees on his wall, the grinning family portraits, the monstrous antique desk at which he sat, the leopard carpet beneath their feet, the Chippendale sofa against the wall, scattered with a few dead cushions; all things she had observed many times over the last eighteen months. There was a new item on his desk she noticed, a clay sculpture of a drawstring pouch that held about a dozen marbles, and which had engraved on the front: I can help you find your marbles. She didn’t find it funny. Outside the doctor’s window a few leafless branches speared into view. It was a clear blue winter’s day.

“So, how’s the family?” Dr. Novak began. “Kids okay?”

“Yeah, the kids are good,” Bebe answered politely. She knew from experience that the slightest hint of impatience only fueled more questions. “Jedda and Jordan are going back to their old school soon, which will be good for them. They didn’t enjoy London much, as you know—”

“They're still in elementary, is that right?”

“Yeah, and Jasmine just finished college; she's in L.A., doing her acting thing.” 

“And the hubby, how are things going there?”

“Magnus?” Bebe took a breath, gave a small rueful laugh. “Magnus is...well, Magnus is in Tokyo, and I’m here, that's how things are going.” She shrugged, wanting the conversation to end. She wanted the pills so she could go home and get into bed. 

Dr. Novak leaned back in his chair half-smiling, half-frowning. “And how are we feeling today?”

Ugh, what a fucking tedious cliché, Bebe thought. We? Really? She wanted to say, well, you are earning $360 for what amounts to six minutes of rhetoric and I’m drowning, that’s how we are fucking feeling today. “Fine,” she answered, plucking the bit of untidy wool from her sleeve. The sleeve, she suddenly realized, that was on the designer sweater she'd bought three weeks ago for an obscene amount of money and which should not be coming undone. “I feel like I’m on the up actually, slowly. These visits help. A lot.”

“I’m glad to hear that,” Dr. Novak said. There followed one of his awkward silences. Awkward for Bebe at least. Dr. Novak didn’t seem to notice. He would either nod at her agreeably, or stare pensively into her eyes. She could never figure out if he did this out of a loss for words or because he was employing some technique of psychiatry to draw her out. She always fell for it.

“Yeah, well, you know,” she sighed, “It helps to talk things through. It does. And I’ve been taking your advice; doing the inventories, talking to Eunice, so, yeah, slowly.” Stop nodding and say something! “But lately I've been feeling like, I don’t know, I've been feeling like I’m a little, well, there's this new artist out. A young girl, Coco. And everybody's like comparing her to me, kissing her ass, and I'm frankly fucking over it.” She laughed nervously, aware that her jealously was bubbling to the surface.

“It’s upsetting you,” Dr. Novak said.

“Hell yeah it’s upsetting me, because I'm me, I've worked too hard to be me. Just feels like it's so easy for people to push you aside. They're with you one minute, then the next some skinny turkey comes along and everybody's like kissing her butt. Why, because she's young? And how long she been out anyway, few months? What does she know about it?”

Dr. Novak was on to the pensive staring now. Bebe looked away. She felt wistful all of a sudden, more than she would have expected. She didn't want to cry. She began to rub her eyebrows, as if her sanity depended upon it. The pills, she needed the pills. “I'm tired, Greg,” she said finally, “I'm just really tired.”

“Still having the nightmares?”

Oh yes, the nightmares. Officially, she was receiving treatment for acute anxiety disorder, brought on by recurrent nightmares of a crazed fan who’d stalked her last year and had broken into her West Village apartment to place a series of doctored photographs of the two of them around her bedroom, as if they were a couple.

“Yeah,” she paused a moment. “But I had a different dream last night. Not a nightmare, not really. But it was weird. I dreamed that I was at a school at some girl’s birthday party and she was trying to blow out the candles on her cake, but instead of the candles it was me that was being blown away, like I was ashes or something, and I could feel it, too, like a million tiny matches all over my skin. And the girl kept saying ‘you’re welcome, you’re welcome’ to me, but I don’t know what I thanked her for, and all the while flash bulbs are going off everywhere. Gave me the creeps. I woke up from it a little shaken to be honest. Is it anxiety?”

“Could be, could be,” Dr. Novak said, nodding contemplatively. He was looking at her but seemed to be thinking of something else. Then he began to write in his notepad. “We can talk more about it if you like,” he said.

“Well, I don’t really know what to make of it, just I guess the part of me slowly turning to ashes was weird, you know? But it didn’t really scare me, just shocked the hell out of me. Like, wow, that was something. Does that make sense?”

“Yes, it does.”

“Anyway, that’s it, nothing special.” She laughed slightly, wanting to shrug it off, even though it stayed with her, crept into her like a chill.

“How are your headaches going?” Dr. Novak asked, still taking notes.

“Not every day, last time was maybe a couple months ago, longer maybe.”

 “Well let’s continue with the course then, shall we?” He looked at his watch then started to scribble in his prescription pad. Finally, Bebe thought.

“It seems to be helping, yes?” Dr. Novak added as he signed off.

“It is.”

“Especially now that you’re about to go on tour, right?” he chuckled. “Have I got that right, you are going on tour soon?”

“Yeah, later this year.”

“My wife and the girls would love some tickets if you could work something out.” He handed Bebe three slips of paper, one at a time. “Here’s for the Lambutal, the Zomat, and the Noxy.”

Bebe thanked him as she folded the scripts and tucked them into her purse.

Dr. Novak said, “Okay, then, we’ll see you in four weeks.” He got up and walked her to the door. As usual, Bebe left feeling grateful that the doctor was only a ten-minute drive from home. She knew that he worked at a hospital in the city, but on the side, he fed off the cream of Beau Reve’s gated community.

Outside in his driveway, she felt the sting of a sub-zero day. She hurried over to Henry, who was swiftly at attention, opening wide the car door while the engine growled softly, ready to slip her away.


My Book Review:

In her debut novel The Unraveling of Bebe Jones, author Roje Augustin weaves an intriguing tale that takes the reader into the behind the scenes world of the rich and famous. The story follows the unraveling world of R&B diva Bebe Jones.

When twenty-three year old struggling writer Desiree Washington is hired by her idol, R&B superstar Bebe Jones to tutor her children, Desiree isn't prepared for the reality of the singer's world. Filled with personal dramas, secrets, dysfunctional family relationships, career crises, and heartbreak, the reality of Bebe's world unraveling and spiraling out of control is eye-opening, as we all like to believe that the rich and famous live a glamorous and privileged lifestyle. Desiree gets to see the behind the scenes life of her idol, and comes to realize that Bebe's public diva persona is a clever mask that hides the reality of a vulnerable, insecure, unhappy and lonely woman.

The Unraveling of Bebe Jones is a fascinating story that takes the reader on a dramatic and emotional roller coaster ride. You can't help but get drawn into Bebe's world and feel for her as it starts to crumble, the author provides the reader with a realistic inside look into a famous person's personal life, and shatters the fantasized illusion of the glamorous lifestyle of the rich and famous. While Bebe's struggling career and personal life is the main focus, I loved that the author interweaves the personal stories of Desiree and Sean into the storyline, each has their own skeleton in the closet and buried secrets that make the story even more intriguing. But alas ... the author leaves the readers wanting more with a cliffhanger ending, but rest assured,
the Jones family saga will continue in the next installment in the Bebe Jones series.

In The Unraveling of Bebe Jones, Author Roje Augustin uses her professional experience in the entertainment industry to weave an entertaining tale that captivates the reader's attention. She draws them in with a behind the curtain real world portrait of the lifestyle of the rich and famous, and reveals the dramatic trials and tribulations that the public never gets to see.


RATING: 4 STARS ****




Virtual Book Tour Contest Giveaway

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Contest Dates: Sept 30 - Oct 21




Everyone who leaves a comment on The Unraveling of Bebe Jones by Roje Augustin ~ Virtual Book Tour Page: Chick Lit Plus Blog Tours will be entered to win a $20 Amazon gift card! Anyone who purchases their copy of The Unraveling of Bebe Jones before October 21 and sends their receipt to Samantha@ChickLitPlus.com, will get five bonus entries.




Virtual Book Tour Schedule



Tour Schedule:

September 30 – Keep Calm and Blog On – Review 
October 2 – Everything Books and Authors – Excerpt
October 3 – A Novel Review – Review 
October 4 – A Blue Million Books – Guest Post, Q&A & Excerpt 
October 9 – Chick Lit Plus – Review
October 10 – Author & Readers Book Corner – Review
October 11 – Author & Readers Book Corner - Guest Post
October 11 – Storm Goddess Book Reviews – Review, Q&A & Excerpt
October 14 – Into the Land of Books – Q&A & Excerpt
October 16 – Jersey Girl Book Reviews – Review, Guest Post & Excerpt
October 17 – Me, Bookshelf and I – Review & Excerpt
October 18 - Every Free Chance Book Reviews - Review & Excerpt
October 21- Literary Chanteuse – Review



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