The Code

Today it is my pleasure to welcome authors Jacqueline Ruby and Marcellus Moses and their novel, The Code.

Author’s description

The story of the two entangled stars is well known.

Albert Collins, entomology professor, becomes a social media sensation; the sensation becomes a giant celebrity; the celebrity becomes the “Manliest Man” alive.

The small time gangster, Memphis Smith, becomes a prisoner; the prisoner becomes the new Tupac Shakur; the new Tupac takes the world by storm.

Their parallel rise to fame and their fateful meeting on the Tonight show all played out in real time before their legions of fans and detractors.

Now, for the first time, their inside story, their secret story, is told by those who were closest to them.

Jacqueline (Jack) Ruby, super agent, reveals the methods that allowed Albert Collins to become the most desired man in the world. She takes us behind the scenes to the bankers, film producers and heiresses that made Albert into the very definition of manhood in the 21st. century.

Marcellus Moses does the same for Memphis Smith. He shows us the arrests and prison fights, the raw racism and brilliant talent that made Memphis Number One With A Bullet.

Jacqueline and Marcellus tell their insider accounts to the award winning novelist, Susan Brown, who weaves it altogether in the thunderous adventure of The Code.

My Review

The Code is based on the slick premise that two fictitious characters are allegedly telling the “true story” of how each of them created a celebrity.

Although I struggled with the initial concept of an unknown professor appearing sexy for no particular reason when seen on film, I squelched my inner cynic and read on. I’m glad I did as there is much I appreciated about this novel. Compelling writing. Exquisite details about of the world of celebrities and those who make them. And most impressive of all, an excellent if unforgiving look at our culture.

One of many great quotes:

“Why do your powerful, rich friends want to know me? They already have everything.”

“They have everything but they never have enough. They’re addicted to novelty and the fulfillment of new dreams. You’re the new flavor.”

I also particularly liked Jessica, Albert’s pretension-adverse wife. She plays a fine foil to his growing immersion in his new life and her drab academic research into André Breton’s novel Nadja makes for an almost eerie comparison to Albert’s growing status as a star. 

There were things I liked less, however. I hoped the story would really be told through the eyes of the agents, at least mostly, but it isn’t even close. Although Albert’s agent Jack is involved from the beginning of his tale, most of the telling is done from Albert’s point of view, often involving his thoughts or scenes Jack knows nothing about.  Memphis, on the other hand, doesn’t even meet his agent Marcellus Moses till the second half of the book, making the premise even more flimsy with him. I suppose the reader is supposed to believe these two agents somehow know everything, including their creation’s inner monologues, but my ability to suspend disbelief wouldn’t stretch that far.

I found the brutality of the prison scenes difficult to read. I didn’t expect them and might have passed on the book altogether if I’d known. While I agree some of it was necessary to the story, I think even those with more of a stomach for such things would probably have appreciated it if the author had dialed it back a bit.

Like other novels with fascinating premises, the story is difficult to conclude and the only real option is for it to end as a tragedy. The author finds an interesting and unexpected way to do this, though, and it is one that ties everything together and states her thesis one more time. It works.

About the Authors

JACQUELINE (JACK) RUBY is the founder and CEO of Jack Ruby and Associates, New York’s premiere talent agency. She is the co-author of The Code, a book based on real life events involving celebrity, greed, adultery, vanity, and violence. From the nation’s mansions and universities to TV shows and Instagram accounts, The Code reveals the inner workings of celebrity culture and moral decay permeating it.

MARCELLUS MOSES is the head of Bad Man Records. Among others, he has built and managed the career of Creep-E and Fat Marcus.

Jacqueline and Marcellus tell their insider accounts to the award winning novelist, Susan Brown, who weaves it altogether in the thunderous adventure of The Code.

Find the Author

CONNECT with JACQUELINE (JACK) RUBY at

Website: https://jackrubyauthor.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jackrubyauthor
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/20241319.Jacqueline_Ruby

Buy the Book

Amazon.com https://amazon.com/dp/0228821444
Amazon.ca https://amazon.ca/dp/0228821444
Kindle https://amazon.com/dp/B087N3753X
Indigo  https://www.chapters.indigo.ca/en-ca/books/the-code/9780228831952-item.html
Barnes & Noble https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-code-jacqueline-ruby/1136925493
Bookshop https://bookshop.org/books/the-code-9780228821458/9780228821441
Book Depository https://www.bookdepository.com/The-Code-Jacqueline-Ruby-Marcellus-Moses/9780228821441
Kobo https://www.kobo.com/ca/en/ebook/the-code-30

Yes, there is a giveaway

The authors will be awarding a $10 Amazon/BN gift card to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

Enter here to win.

This post is part of a tour sponsored by Goddess Fish. Check out all the other tour stops. If you drop by each of these and comment, you will greatly increase your chances of winning.

My Favorite Excerpt

Jack walked behind Albert and put her hands on his shoulders. She started to massage him, kneading the muscles along the top of his back and along the base of his neck.

“Professor,” she said, continuing to work on his shoulders, “Edward has taken all these tweets and YouTube views and Facebook posts and Google searches and analyzed them. Edward, tell us what we know so far.”

Edward tapped the keys on his computer and a large graph appeared.

“Here is the answer to the question ‘who is this man?’ Here’s what people say unprompted. They say simply—just like miraclehoneyful and raviebabe—he’s a man, a real man. He is the man. The remarkable thing about the answer is that it seems to be consistent everywhere. You see all the different segments of the graph: men, women, black, white, gay, straight, Jewish, Christian, atheist. All the same. They agree. Even Democrats and Republicans. The man in the video is the man.” Edward paused.

“But I still have no idea what it means. It’s so vague.”

“What it means is that they read into that figure in the video certain traits and qualities that make up the aspiration of modern manhood,” Jack said.

“And what is modern manhood?”

“Who knows? But they see it in you. They may not know precisely what it is, but they feel you embody it.”

“But I’m not the man. I’m just me, an underachieving, over-mortgaged middle-aged professor, specializing in insects.”

“Ah, but nerds are very sexy right now. Have you ever seen the world’s sexiest math teacher?”

“No. What does that have to do with me?”

Jack looked hard at Albert. Maybe there was a hot nerd angle to be mined. Or maybe not. She would let the great river of social media decide. It was a decision for later.

“Nothing for the moment. But you need to understand that you are much, much more than you think you are,” Jack said, flattering him as she did all her clients.

Thank you!

Thanks for sharing The Code with this blog.

All the World’s Colors: The Queen of the Blue

Review: All the World’s Colors: The Queen of the Blue

James W. George has created a fascinating and complex world sure to delight those who love his style of fantasy. I appreciated his deftness with words and his ability to evoke an emotional response with his characters. Descriptions are succinct yet effective, and the plot scampers along at a good pace.

I enjoy novels with multiple points of view and commend this author for effectively interweaving at least five distinct stories while introducing two would-be heroes to the reader. There is no question James W. George is good at his craft.

Alas, he doesn’t happen to write the sort of fantasy I prefer. For all that I love reading about make-believe worlds and alternate histories, I tire of violence and I lose interest when too many characters treat too many people too horribly too often.

Most of this first book alternates between the toxic masculinity of a perpetually warring race (think Klingons with sex slaves) and the alternative of a matriarchy of disdainful women who abuse their men physically and emotionally. My interest was finally piqued when he introduced the green religious zealots and the orange greedy merchants, as neither of them appeared to regularly beat up their own people. Sadly, it was too far into the novel for either to play much of a role.

I did enjoy the interesting twist he has put into the story of the blue matriarchs, but this is clearly only the first book of the series and nothing is resolved. One would have to read on to find out where his interesting idea leads.

I recommend this book to all those who like their fantasy darker and more violent than I do. I’m sure that’s a sizable group, and if you fall into this camp, I encourage you to check out this well-written series.

For more about this book, and the review tour this review was part of, see All the World’s Colors: The Queen of the Blue.

 

False Light: An Art History Mystery

Today it is my pleasure to welcome author Claudia Riess and her mystery novel, False Light: An Art History Mystery.

Author’s description

Academic sleuths Erika Shawn, art magazine editor, and Harrison Wheatley, a more seasoned art history professor, set out to tackle a brain teaser.  This time the couple—married since their encounter in Stolen Light, first in the series—attempt to crack the long un-deciphered code of art forger Eric Hebborn (1934-1996), which promises to reveal the whereabouts of a number of his brilliant Old Master counterfeits.  (Hebborn, in real life, was a mischievous sort, who had a fascination with letters and a love-hate relationship with art authenticators.  I felt compelled to devise a puzzler on his behalf!)

After publication of his memoir, Drawn to Trouble, published in 1991, he encrypts two copies with clues to the treasure hunt.  On each of the title pages, he pens a tantalizing explanatory letter.  One copy he sends to an art expert; the second, he releases into general circulation.  The catch: both books are needed to decipher the code.

When the books are at last united 25 years later, Erik and Harrison are enlisted to help unearth their hidden messages.  But when several research aides are brutally murdered, the academic challenge leads to far darker mysteries in the clandestine world of art crime.  As the couple navigate this sinister world, both their courage under fire and the stability of their relationship are tested.

My Review

False Light is a fun read, enhanced with a dose of real-life art history and made more interesting by the endearing romance of its two main characters.

The plot contains the requisite amount of clues, twists, and suspense, along with the genre-required action-filled climax, so I suspect most lovers of crime novels will enjoy it. However, I found its real charm to lie in three unexpected joys.

The first comes from Riess’s background. I have, at best, a passing acquaintance and mild interest in art, but I am captivated when an author brings expertise to a story like this. Claudia Riess helps her readers learn about masterpieces, forgeries, and auctions, without ever dumping information. (She got me looking into real-life art forger Eric Hebborn, and I’m always delighted to be introduced to a too-strange-to-be-fiction character.)

Another surprise is the relationship between the two lovers at the heart of this tale. They’ve gotten past the first hurdle of commitment (apparently in the previous novel) and now struggle to figure out how to live with their promises. I found their relationship compelling, and suspenseful in its own right. I appreciate an author who acknowledges falling in love is easy compared to making love work.

What didn’t I like? While the writing is generally okay, the pacing lags on occasion, particularly early on. Some parts required a little too much attention and rereading to follow multiple characters and complicated plot lines. Yet, none of this was enough of a problem to keep me from enjoying the story.

Years back, during a difficult time, I devoured J.D. Robb’s novels about a futuristic detective and her billionaire husband, and I realized there is this wonderful escapism involved in reading about the very wealthy solving crimes. (At least as long as they are nice people, which these characters are.) That brings me to the third pleasant surprise of this novel. Though Riess’s characters are unique to her story, their life of sumptuousness provided me with that same gentle nepenthe while their adventures held my interest.

As this virus has wreaked havoc with life, I’ve found myself eating rum raisin ice cream. That sweet treat is getting me through a lot these days. Why do I mention it here? Because when I finished this book I thought I’m glad I read this. In a world filled with too much frozen broccoli and canned soup — this is a rum raisin ice cream kind of a book. I plan to check out the author’s other flavors.

About the Author

Claudia Riess, a Vassar graduate, has worked in the editorial departments of The New Yorker and Holt, Rinehart, and Winston and has edited several art history monographs.

Find Claudia Riess at
https://www.amazon.com/Claudia-Riess/e/B001KHYQK2
https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3052782.Claudia_Riess
https://twitter.com/ClaudiaRiesshttps://claudiariessbooks.com/
http://www.facebook.com/ClaudiaRiessBooks
https://www.instagram.com/claudiariessbooks/

Buy False Light: An Art History Mystery on Amazon. The book is on sale for only $0.99 during this tour.

Yes, there is a giveaway

Claudia Riess will be awarding a $50 Amazon or BN gift card to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

Enter here to win.

This post is part of a tour sponsored by Goddess Fish. Check out all the other tour stops. If you drop by each of these and comment, you will greatly increase your chances of winning.

GF

My Favorite Excerpt

Owen Grant was ebullient—“ripped with joy,” his beloved wife might have said. He smiled, remembering the flutter of her eyelids that accompanied her minted phrases. Now that she had died and his arthritis no longer permitted him to jog up a sweat, he satisfied his lust for life—which remained, five years after retirement, as vigorous as it had been in his teens—with voracious reading and clay sculpting. Today, however, he satisfied it with the Art and Antiques article that had set his heart racing when he’d come across it this morning while sifting through his mail. He stole another glance at the newsletter on the kitchen table. In the article, a used and rare book shop owner spoke about having acquired a copy of a memoir by Eric Hebborn, the infamous art forger. “It was in a carton I picked up at an estate sale,” the owner had said. “The author’s handwritten note on the title page literally blew my mind!”

Hebborn’s note was displayed in a photograph. Owen had recognized the handwriting at once. Imagine, after decades of searching for this copy of the book—placing ads in all the art magazines, later in their online versions, finally giving up—proof of it had fallen into his life as he was about to venture another sip of his scalding morning coffee.

Now it was 8:30 p.m., and there was nothing more to prepare for. Owen had contacted the shop owner—how young and breathless she had sounded!—and they had made plans to meet. He had invited his longtime friend and colleague, Randall Gray, to collaborate with him. Randall, twenty years his junior and still in the game, was more current in his knowledge of the world of art crime and eager to have a look at the book as well. Owen was on a skittering high, unable to concentrate on his usual avocations. Rather than wear a hole in the carpet pacing in circles, he opted for a walk in Central Park.

He headed for the nearest pedestrian entrance at Fifth Avenue and 72nd Street, two blocks from his luxury apartment building on 74th. There, he chose the rambling path leading to the Lake and Loeb Boathouse. It was a balmy night, on the warm side for mid-April. He might have stepped out in his shirtsleeves, but his conditioned urbanity, always at odds with his truer self, had held sway, and he had worn his suit jacket.

Aside from the couple strolling up ahead and the sound of laughter coming from somewhere south, Owen was alone. There had been an uptick of muggings lately, but his frisson of fear only piqued his excitement for the adventure shimmering on the horizon. As he walked, he silently chatted with his wife, Dotty, as he often did, so that their separation would not be absolute. He commented on the moonless night and looked up, for both of them, at the rarely visible canopy of stars. For a few seconds he was lost with her, until, without warning, he felt a hard object pressed against the back of his skull—the skull that held all memories, like Dotty’s fluttering eyelids and the smell of new clay. He knew what the object was without ever having touched one. He was a man of reason, not a fighter. He flung up his hands. “I have money. Let me get to it.”

There was no response. He reached into his pocket for his wallet—how warm the leather was against his thigh—and his keys jangled of homecomings, and the child in him whimpered please no, before the explosive pop of a champagne cork ended him and Dotty and all the rest of it.