Monday, April 25, 2016

Book Review of A Fool & His Monet by Sandra Orchard

A Fool & His Monet is my first book by Sandra Orchard and my first mystery to review.

It was a fun story with quirky characters following a trail of missing art and leading to so much more!

Serena Jones has a passion for uncovering lost and stolen art—one that’s only surpassed by her zeal to uncover the truth about the art thief who murdered her grandfather. She’s joined the FBI Art Crime Team with the secret hope that one of her cases will lead to his killer. Now, despite her mother’s pleas to do something safer—like get married and give her grandkids—Serena’s learning how to go undercover to catch thieves and black market traders.
When a local museum discovers an irreplaceable Monet missing, Jones goes into action. The clues point in different directions and her boss orders her to cease investigating her most promising suspect. But determined to solve the case, and perhaps discover another clue in her grandfather’s case, she pushes ahead, regardless of the danger.
With spunk, humor, and plenty of heart-stopping moments, Sandra Orchard gives readers an exciting string of cases to crack, and a character they’ll love to watch solve them.

Sandra Orchard tells her lovely tale in first person POV. That is a personal preference and some people don't like it. I do. I like reading it and I like writing it. However I had some troubles with that in this book. I enjoyed the perspective of Serena - getting in her head - for a while. Unfortunately, as the story progressed I wished I had someone else's perspective of Serena to counter balance my confusion.

The personality of this plucky FBI agent, sometimes felt over the top. I had a hard time believing she was a legitimate FBI agent. She's a rookie, that much is for sure, but knowing her thoughts and seeing her actions I questioned a lot about her abilities. That made it hard for me to invest in her as the main character.

Even still, the story was fun and fresh. I loved the title and book cover. Book #2 Another Day, Another Dali coming out in October looks equally exciting with its bright red cover.

Overall, I liked the concept of the the story and characters better than I enjoyed reading the book. I found myself putting it down after a chapter and leaving it for some time. This made the "chase" of it drag down to a crawl. However, this won't stop me from reading book 2 and giving this author another go.

One of the enticing aspects of the story is the romance. The author has written Serena to be a beautiful woman who seems to have men falling down around her feet. However, Serena seems dull to the fact. There are two would-be suitors that occupy the pages with her. Number one, Nate, is the Super of her apartment building with a love for tea, movies and a very loose definition of "her" apartment. Bachelor #2 is her hard working, by the book, field training agent, Tanner. Both have fantastic qualities and both are competing to be one whose advances she recognizes first.

Along with the fun of chasing criminals and dodging advances Serena has to keep up with her family. What a fun and odd bunch. If you've read any other reviews of this book I'm sure you've heard mention of Aunt Martha. A lively character that for me, kept the plot moving more than the art crime suspects. Delightful bunch! Worth reading just for the antics they bring to the page.

In recap, I would still recommend this book to others, especially if they like mysteries. I plan to read book 2 and see if Serena can win my heart more, as well as find out if #TeamNate or #TeamTanner will win.  BTW, the author has set up a reader/fan page to vote for your favorite guy to win Serena's heart.

Check out Baker Publishing for an excerpt to read as well as a reader's group guide.

Thanks for reading! Feel free to comment about this book or any other Sandra Orchard or mystery author you'd like to share.

"Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc."

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Movie review AND GIVEAWAY - Wildflower

I have a treat for you today. A review of an awesome movie And a chance to win your own copy. Right here!

Another fantastic faith based film has hit the market today! It is a thriller with a powerful story of resiliency and the power of truth. This movie offers a message of hope for victims of trauma and for anyone who ever felt alone in their pain. Wildflower shows we are never alone. God's purpose and plan are always at work. 

Creatively gifted, college student Chloe Moray finds solace from a difficult childhood in her extraordinary art. But when an alarming dream begins to recur nightly, Chloe starts to believe that it might be a suppressed memory and that she may have witnessed a terrible crime as a little girl. Her search for peace takes her on a journey that forces Chloe to confront her past traumas and leads her to cross paths with Josh, a young man dealing with his own painful loss. Together they find in each other someone they can trust as they seek to unlock a cold-case mystery from years before. But with the authorities blocking the way, Chloe's new-found hope is challenged in this powerful story of faith, triumph and healing.

If you've ever struggled in the aftermath of a difficult situation; if you've ever wondered if someone (anyone) will listen to you; if you've ever wished there was a safe place you could go, WILDFLOWER is a powerful reminder that hope can be found even in your darkest moments.

I recommend this movie to others. It has a strong cast, a gripping story line, clean plot and a sprinkling of faith. Obviously due to the thrilling nature of the movie, it is not recommended for young kids. However I definitely think teens and adults alike will enjoy it. The Dove Foundation gave it 5 doves out of five!

The movie tackles some tough issues such as childhood trauma and its after math effects on a life, and even touches on the stigmas of mental illnesses. The characters are portrayed well rounded and bringing life to roles that could easily have become annoying and overly stereotyped. However I truly enjoyed them - especially the two main characters Josh (played by Cody Longo) and Chloe (played by Nathalia Ramos). A quick note on the "thriller" part - I did not find the movie scary at all. It is suspenseful with the young woman experiencing frightening images and unexplained events. And the trauma from her childhood is dealt with very lightly. I would have no concern showing my teens. It is rated PG-13, very appropriately. Wildflower trailer available here.

I found, for my liking, the faith part quite light. Some may appreciate this though. There is definitely the appearance that faith is playing a big role in the lives of the characters but it is not heavy-handed or drenching the dialogue. Josh is struggling with his faith, angry at God, when he meets Chloe who has no interest in God - a God who lets bad things happen without a care. Both characters are struggling with the same basic core question of if God can be trusted. At the end as pieces of their lives are starting to come back together Chloe asks a still doubtful Josh, is faith really a part of the healing? And he nods. I won't share anymore as it may become a spoiler.

Overall a very well made movie, a good lesson and story, clean plot and dialogue and the music is great too! Just a little back stage fun fact for you- the music composer and directors are some very familiar guys from the band Building 429! So enjoy!

The DVD and the VOD release today! Go check it out.

Also, here is a Christian Cinema interview with Cody Longo, playing Josh in the movie, talking about his own journey with this faith-based movie. Another movie review for Cody from 2013 is Not Today.

I have a brand new copy of the this movie to give away. In order to get your hands on it, please leave a message in the comment section. Tell me a good clean movie you've seen lately, in theaters or on DVD and why you liked it. Be sure to leave your contact email in a safe format, such as movielover(at)internetspace(dot)com.

The draw will be made by random selection on April 20th, 2016. This giveaway is open to those who reside in Canada and the United States. The dvd is a gift from the makers of the movie and from Icon Media Group. This blog is not directly responsible.

I received the original DVD from Icon media Group in exchange for my honest review. The opinions expressed in this blog are mine and I am not required to review it positively. The free giveaway copy has been supplied by the same company. Thank you.