Saturday, October 16, 2010

Make Me an Offer by Jessica Dee Rohm

  • Paperback: 330 pages
  • Publisher: CreateSpace (July 21, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1453650318
  • ISBN-13: 978-1453650318

Rohm's real estate background really comes across in this novel about two strong, successful but entirely different women.  Alyson Strong owns Marry Well, a glossy magazine designed to teach women how to marry and keep a rich man. She is beautiful, strong, ruthless and married to wealthy developer Walter Strong.  Unfortunately her private life isn't as perfect as she has a habit of entering into numerous extra-marital affairs.  Camilla Madison is employed by Alyson as the writer of a decorating column.  After moving to New York from Palm Beach and using her knowledge of real estate learned from her father, she is on a quest for financial independence.

After having a baby and coming home from the hospital to find an empty closet and a note from her husband saying he had left her for someone else, Camilla retreats into herself, unable to return to work.  Taken in by her friend Rose, Camilla slowly comes out of her depression and contacts Alyson with a business proposition that involves real estate. Alyson gives her approval and advises Camilla to speak to Alyson's wealthy developer husband.  This takes Camilla into the most beautiful and expensive apartments in New York, along the way meeting some wonderful and not so wonderful people.  We also get a peek into some amazing apartments, from the macabre to sleek and modern to art deco.  From Rohm's descriptions you could picture how the other half lives.

Following Camilla from frightened teen-ager to successful entrepreneur was interesting, fun and exciting.  Women will relate to her because she represents what many women are experiencing today.  Juggling motherhood, work and friends and doing it well, despite some bumps in the road.  The book is witty and well-written, keeping your interest throughout.

I would love to see this as a movie.  Perhaps Demi Moore as Alyson and Sandra Bullock as Camilla. I'd go see it.

American on Purpose: The Improbable Adventures of an Unlikely Patriot by Craig Ferguson

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: It Books; 1 edition (May 11, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061998494
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061998492

I just love Craig Ferguson...the accent, the crazy antics, the naughty little boy quality.  I DVR The Late, Late Show every night so I don't have to stay up half the night to see him.  American on Purpose is his brutally honest memoir.

Ferguson begins his story during his adolescent years in school in Glasgow, Scotland, describing a system that practiced physical punishment more than education.  He takes us on a journey through his life that is funny, sad and inspiring, from Glasgow to late night TV in the USA.  It shows us what can happen if you follow your dreams, never giving up no matter what happens along the way.

What comes across right from the beginning, is that he is not typical of show business personalities.  There is no arrogance or sense of entitlement, no ego.  He is down to earth and completely honest about who he is.  He graphically describes his addiction, sometimes in rather humorous ways.  He wrote of his decision to commit suicide but forgot to do it when someone offered him a sherry.  His writings about his marriages do not ridicule or place all the blame on his wives.  He takes responsibility for his part in the failures of his first two marriages and it is apparent he learned from those mistakes.

His pride in becoming an American citizen is one of the most appealing things about him.  His decision to move to America was made early in his life when, as a teen, he traveled to New York to visit relatives.  What happened along the way is well worth the read.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Sugar Tower by Jessica Dee Rohm

Jessica Dee Rohm

Jessica Dee Rohm was born in New York City and graduated from high school as valedictorian at 16.  She went on to Barnard College on a scholarship, following her dream of becoming a journalist.  She loves writing and began her career with The New York Times in the financial news section.  She is the founder of Jessica Dee Communications, a marketing and communications company that had grown to be the sixteenth largest independent PR firm in the USA when she sold it to Chiat/Day.  She was only 30 years old.  Her second business venture was Foreign Management Company, a real estate consulting and brokerage firm catering to foreign investors.

Her personal and professional successes and affiliations are numerous.  She has published numerous feature articles in magazines including regular columns for both Restaurant Hospitality and The Cornell Quarterly.  In addition, she has published many newspaper articles in The New York Times, Hartford Courant, Real Estate Weekly, the Hersham Acorn newspaper chain, and others.  She has been the subject of several feature stories and profiles, and has been featured in two books--The Confidence Factor by Judith Briles and Whiz Kids by Marilyn Machlowitz.

In addition to being one of the most successful female entrepreneurs in the country, she is married and the mother of one son and two daughters.  You will recognize daughter Elisabeth as Assistant District Attorney Serena Southerlyn on Law & Order, and more recently as Lauren Gilmore on Heroes.
Rohm now devotes her time doing what she loves...writing.

Jessica, daughter Elisabeth, Granddaughter Easton and Daisy

Paperback: 312 pages

Sugar Tower introduces us to Marchesa Jesus Piazza (no relation to Mike), a reporter of real estate news for a major New York newspaper.  Marchesa, or "Mach", is passionate about her career and her Jack Russell terrier, Kitty.  Kitty is modeled after  Rohm's own Jack Russell Daisy, the little cutie in the pictures above.  Mach is 42, and doing a lot of thinking about the state of her husband, no children, and she still hasn't received the Pulitzer she so desires.  She is also concerned about the future of the newspaper industry and how it will affect her future.  

One evening while watching Larry King interview wealthy real estate developer Barry Sugarman, Mach was taken back a year to the day Anabel Trainor Sugarman, Barry's beautiful trophy wife, was found murdered in the pool at Sugar Tower.  Sugar Tower is the recently completed Manhattan condominium built by Barry.  Mach had reported on the murder but the investigation went nowhere and Anabel slipped out of the news.  Mach realized that if she could get permission from her boss to investigate the case and report on it, she could finally get out of real estate news and on to something more interesting, and possibly revive the industry along the way.  

Mach teams with NYPD detective Emilio Urquia and the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, re-interviewing witnesses and the other residents of Sugar Tower, inadvertently discovering well-guarded secrets about the employees and wealthy occupants.  

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book.  The characters are well-developed and, although most of them were introduced early in the story, are described in a way that avoids confusion.  The storyline is timely in that it revolves around the collapse of the real estate market.  The manner in which Anabel was murdered is unique and quite clever.  It is clear that Rohm extensively researched the functions of the Medical Examiner's Office and her knowledge of the real estate and financial worlds is apparent.  There were no slow-moving sections in the story, even from the very beginning.  I was hooked right away. 

I'm looking forward to reading Rohm's other novels, The Secret Life of Sandrina M. and Make Me An Offer.

Sugar Tower was a quarter-finalist for the 2010 Amazon Breakthrough Novel of the Year Award.

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