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Kings River Lite:

KRL is a California Magazine with Local Focus and Global Appeal.
Kings River Lite regularly offers a "bonus" review or article, beyond the full issues that go up weekly over at KingsRiverLife.com.

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Tuesday, July 26, 2016

The Secret Life of Pets: Movie Review

by Sheryl Wall

Special coupon for Dinuba Platinum Theatre at the end of this review.

The Secret Life of Pets is an animated film all about our pets. We are given an interpretation of what pets do when owners are at work. Max (Louis C.K.) is a small Jack Russell terrier who invites his friends over when his owner is away. He invites his friends which includes dogs, a cat, and a bird. However, Max's world is turned upside down when his owner, Katie (Ellie Kemper), brings home a shaggy Newfoundland stray she adopted from the pound named Duke (Eric Stonestreet).


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Max wants Duke gone and tries to get him kicked out by blaming him for the mess Max makes in the apartment. He is sure, with Duke being the new dog, that Katie would blame him for the mess and take him back to the pound. Their constant arguing with each other ends up getting both of them lost in New York City and picked up by animal control. They soon start to realize that the only way home is if they put aside their argument and work together.

On their path they end up meeting a white rabbit (Kevin Hart), abandoned by his magician owner and cult leader of ‘The Flushed Pets,’ and his stray friends who are out to seek revenge on humans for abandoning them. The rabbit doesn't look kindly on pets. They find themselves running away from the rabbit crew while trying to find their way home. Duke and Max find friendship along their path to home.



Image source: Illumination Entertainment/Universal Pictures

The Secret Life of Pets
is a cute film that can be enjoyed by all ages, even the youngest movie goers. My one year-old daughter loved the variety of animals on the screen. My favorite part was in the beginning where they showed what each pet did once their owner left for work. It made me imagine what my pets do when I am away from the house. If you have kids and want something to do on the hot days of the summer, go see The Secret Life of Pets. It is definitely a fun movie for the whole family.

The Secret Life of Pets is currently playing at Dinuba Platinum Theatres 6. Showtimes can be found on their website. Platinum Theaters Dinuba 6 now proudly presents digital quality films in 2-D and 3-D with 5.1 Dolby digital surround sound to maximize your movie experience.

Print this coupon and enjoy a special discount for Kings River Life readers only!


Sheryl Wall is an ongoing contributor to our
Pet Perspective section, providing pet care advice from years of personal experience.




Saturday, July 23, 2016

Honolulu Hottie: A McKenna Mystery By Terry Ambrose

by Cynthia Chow

Details on how to win a copy of this book at the end of the review.

At the age of 64, Wilson McKenna never expected to find himself as giddy as a teenager and starting a brand new romantic relationship. Having nearly gotten both himself and Benni Kapono killed in a previous investigation, McKenna has promised his love, who is also his best friend’s little sister, to never again get involved in crime fighting. So how is it that not even two weeks have passed before McKenna risks sabotaging their relationship by agreeing to help get his friend Meyer Herschel out of trouble?

It seems that Meyer has managed to get himself arrested for the murder of Victor Dursseau, the employer of the financial manager who stole all of Meyer’s money. The manager disappeared, while a parking ticket and Meyer’s own gun places him at the crime scene. An investigation accusing Meyer of defrauding the Veteran’s Administration of benefits only worsens the situation, so McKenna is more than anxious to offload the case.


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Hope seems to arrive in the form of “Last Chance” Chance Logan, a failed actor who bounced out of Hollywood and landed on McKenna’s doorstep. Having enrolled in the very dubious Phillip Marlowe Online Detective Agency with the goal of becoming a private investigator to the point of buying a red Ferrari like his fictional detecting idol. Chance would seem to be the ideal patsy to take on Meyer’s case. It’s too bad that Meyer succeeds in guilting McKenna into continuing as Chance’s mentor, and soon they are alternating between being bored on stakeouts to going undercover and threatening an unethical doctor.



Image source: Terry Ambrose

Terry Ambrose perfectly captures the Oahu setting from the pidgin dialect to the distinctly local characters. The exchanges between sarcastic McKenna and the naively optimistic Chance are a delight, the latter of whom becomes both deeper and more sympathetic as the novel progresses. McKenna’s emotionally juvenile relationship with Benni is as refreshing as it is sweet, and despite his declarations to put detecting behind him, readers will look forward to the next of his capable and dedicated endeavors in our gorgeous Hawaiian Islands.

To enter to win an e-book of Honolulu Hottie, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “hottie,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen July 30, 2016. U.S. residents only. If entering via email please included your mailing address.

You can use this link to purchase the book:



Cynthia Chow is the branch manager of Kaneohe Public Library on the island of Oahu. She balances a librarian lifestyle of cardigans and hair buns with a passion for motorcycle riding and regrettable tattoos (sorry, Mom).



Monday, July 18, 2016

The Legend of Tarzan: Movie Review

by Lorie Lewis Ham

Special coupon for Dinuba Platinum Theatre at the end of this review.

Tarzan, also known as John Clayton III (Alexander SkarsgÄrd), now lives in England with his wife Jane. He has become an aristocrat and is living a life quite different from the one he lived in Africa, and seems to have no desire to go back.

In the meantime, Africa is being ravaged by King Leopold II of Belgium. Leon Rom (Christoph Waltz), an envoy of King Leopold, is after some diamonds that would help the financially strapped King hire mercenaries to completely ravage the Congo. An old enemy of Tarzan's stands between Rom and what he wants, but says that he will give Rom the diamonds in exchange for him delivering Tarzan to him. So Rom lures Tarzan back to the Congo with plans to capture him. Jane (Margot Robbie) insists on going with him, as does George Washington Williams (Samuel L. Jackson), a representative of the US, who wants to find proof that the people of the Congo are being enslaved.


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When they return to Africa, Tarzan is reminded of his life there and all of those he loved, both human and animal. He is also reminded of the danger and the pain, which causes him to resist allowing himself to feel at home there. But not Jane, she feels she is truly home again. Jane becomes a pawn in Rom's evil plan and Tarzan will do anything to get her back, and Williams will do anything to get proof to take back to his government of the way the people there are being killed and enslaved.

This was a beautiful movie--not only visually with all of the beauty of the jungle and the lifelikeness of the animals--but also in story. The deep love Tarzan has not only for Jane but for his human and animal friends in Africa is moving. I love the fact that the animals are portrayed almost as humans in their emotions and intelligence. The story also sheds light on a very real and horrible part of history, with the white man brutally taking what they want at the sacrifice of the people, animals, and land of the Congo.



Image source: Darkhorse Entertainment

Alexander is absolutely wonderful as Tarzan--he makes you feel the emotions that this character goes through in this story and he brings what could be an over the top type character to life in a very real and believable way. His chemistry with Margo is perfect, and I really enjoyed her very strong portrayal of Jane. Samuel L Jackson not only made a great sidekick for Tarzan as Williams, but also added a bit of comic relief here and there. His story is also very moving, with him having just been through the civil war and wanting to maintain the same kind of freedom he fought for, for the people of Africa.

If you want to see a movie that will move you, provide some great action, a history lesson, and be a beautiful example of love, don't miss The Legend of Tarzan! It will also make you think--which is something I love in a movie. And I have to admit all of the scenes where Alexander has his shirt off are a wonderful added bonus!

Legend of Tarzan is currently playing at Dinuba Platinum Theatres 6. Showtimes can be found on their website. Platinum Theaters Dinuba 6 now proudly presents digital quality films in 2-D and 3-D with 5.1 Dolby digital surround sound to maximize your movie experience.

Print this coupon and enjoy a special discount for Kings River Life readers only!



Lorie Lewis Ham is KRL's editor-in-chief/publisher. She has published in many venues through the years and has 5 published mystery novels. You can learn more about Lorie's writing on her blog Mysteryrat's Closet.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Heart of Stone: Ellie Stone Mystery By James Ziskin

by Sandra Murphy

Details on how to win a copy of this book at the end of the review.

Ellie Stone is a newspaper reporter, a job she’s well-suited for since she has a need to know that can’t be ignored. She’s on vacation, visiting with older relatives, at her childhood vacation home. Her cabin is separate from theirs but still doesn’t allow for much privacy.

Childhood friends are also visiting nearby, and she takes advantage of their invitation to join them for an evening of music and talk. She’s able to reconnect with Isaac who is now a math teacher with a magnetic personality that he uses to talk her into spending the night at his cabin.

An early morning trek through the woods is a little nerve-wracking since there’s an escaped convict on the loose. There have been sightings all over the country and into Mexico, but it seems more likely, he’d be near the lake—where she is.


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Ellie has a good camera and likes to take photos which comes to the attention of the chief of police, a fat, drunken, and smelly man. Since he doesn’t have a camera, doesn’t know how to work one, he asks Ellie to come photograph two bodies at the base of a cliff. It seems the two tried to dive into the lake and met the rocky shore rather than the water.

Ellie’s reporter instincts kick in and she wonders why the man was dressed only in his underwear. The other victim, a teenager, was in his camp clothes. The police chief doesn’t seem overly concerned about looking further and is willing to call both deaths an accident.

When it’s discovered that the man had been one of the group of friends that they hadn’t seen in years, it’s a shock to all—or so it seems. As Ellie looks for answers, the questions keep piling up until she is sure the deaths were anything but accidental.

The book is set in 1961. Ellie seems like such a modern woman, it’s hard to remember this was a time when women were just starting to hold some jobs—like news reporter, rather than writing for the society page.



Image source: Seventh Street Books

As Ellie looks into the deaths, she also faces grief for the deaths in her own family, her attraction for Isaac even in moments when he’s not likable, and her need to know what happened. The mystery is a good one as the lives of all concerned are a tangled mess mixed with lies and deceit which gives more than one person a good motive to kill.

This is the fourth in the Ellie Stone Mystery series with Styx & Stone, No Stone Unturned, and Stone Cold Dead coming first. The last sentence of the book hints that book five could be very interesting for Ellie, a great ending without being a cliffhanger.

To enter to win a copy of Heart of Stone, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “stone,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen July 23, 2016. U.S. residents only. If entering via email please include your mailing address.



Sandra Murphy lives in the shadow of the arch, in the land of blues, booze and shoes—St Louis, Missouri. While writing magazine articles to support her mystery book habit, she secretly polishes two mystery books of her own, hoping, someday, they will see the light of Barnes and Noble. You can also find several of Sandra’s short stories on UnTreed Reads including her newest, "Arthur", included in the anthology titled, Flash and Bang, available now.




Wednesday, July 13, 2016

The BFG: Movie Review

by Sheryl Wall

Special coupon for Dinuba Platinum Theatre at the end of this review.

BFG is based on the novel written by Roald Dahl in 1982. It starts out with a10 year old girl named Sophie at the orphanage. She has insomnia and is up in the middle of the night when everyone else is sleeping and is looking out the window when she spots a giant hand. Unfortunately, because she has seen the giant he kidnaps her for fear she will tell everyone and cause everyone to come after him to kill the big giant.


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Sophie is afraid that she will be eaten for dinner. But after spending some time in the giant's home she realizes he is a friendly giant and they become friends. She names him BFG (Big Friendly Giant). She learns that in the past there was a little boy who also became friends with BFG but because of the not so friendly giants the boy is no more.

BFG is a dream catcher and on their journey to catch dreams Sophie drops her blanket. All the other giants are not friendly and want to have her for dinner and they wreck the friendly giant's home in search of her. Sophie and BFG must find a way to defeat the mean and angry giants before it is too late.



Image source: Disney

BFG is a fantasy like no other. It is slow in some parts, but overall it's very entertaining and takes unexpected turns. I really liked the scene when BFG and Sophie are catching dreams at this large tree by the water. The dreams remind me of many rainbow colored fireflies. It's just a peaceful yet beautiful scene. The graphics are amazing and it's really cool how BFG uses his cape to hide in the shadows in the human world whenever he spots someone coming down the road or out of their house. The mean giants I found to be the typical portrayal of big and scary giants and was a bit too unreal. Overall BFG is a delightful movie that is fun for all ages.

BFG is currently playing at Dinuba Platinum Theatres 6. Showtimes can be found on their website. Platinum Theaters Dinuba 6 now proudly presents digital quality films in 2-D and 3-D with 5.1 Dolby digital surround sound to maximize your movie experience.

Print this coupon and enjoy a special discount for Kings River Life readers only!


Sheryl Wall is an ongoing contributor to our
Pet Perspective section, providing pet care advice from years of personal experience.




Friday, July 8, 2016

The Blessed Event: A Professor Molly Mystery By Frankie Bow

by Cynthia Chow

Details on how to win a copy of this book at the end of the review.

For Mahina State University professor Molly Barda summer vacation is anything but a vacation. Not only does she have to submit final grades for her business classes, she also must complete the research that she never has time to complete during school year. Molly may have finally achieved tenure, but that only means that the university has to put some effort into firing her. She’s not getting much peace at home either, as the recently married bride also inherited her husband’s nephew Davison, whom she first met when he attempted to cheat his way through her class.


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Donnie Gonsalves raised Davison as his own son, but he is the only relative that Molly has ever met. In fact, she knows nothing about her husband’s family, so it’s a surprise not only when she meets his Uncle Brian, but also receives a call from Donnie’s sister Gloria. It’s been years since she visited the Hawaiian Islands, but there are reasons for her long absence. Molly, accustomed to her privacy, finds that she has suddenly gone from having no in-laws to being inundated with them. This helps to explain why she embraces the “opportunity” she forgotten she had volunteered for, conducting Diversity Training for the sexist Mahina Police Department.



Image source: Hawaiian Heritage Press

While the absurdly complex and taxing family dynamics exasperate Molly and provide comic scenarios, it is the university politics that prove to be even more entertaining. The delusional attempts by students to negotiate during “grade-grubbing season” are a delight, as are scenes of Molly sneaking into her school office and outmaneuvering her incompetent interim department chair. Molly is less successful at coping with her own state of “elderly primigravida,” as her stepson seems to be entering fatherhood despite his inability to master the mathematics of pregnancy. Although Molly seems to be too complacent in these early stages of her marriage, the real reward in the Molly Barda mystery series is seeing her finally take charge and assert her business and investigative intelligence. The tropical setting and unique Hawaiian culture enhance this extremely funny mystery that combines academic politics with hilarious family complications.

To enter to win either an e-book or print copy (winner's choice) of The Blessed Event, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “blessed,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen July 16, 2016. U.S. residents only. If entering via email please include your mailing address.

You can use this link to purchase the book:



Cynthia Chow is the branch manager of Kaneohe Public Library on the island of Oahu. She balances a librarian lifestyle of cardigans and hair buns with a passion for motorcycle riding and regrettable tattoos (sorry, Mom).



Monday, July 4, 2016

Independence Day: Resurgence

by Lorie Lewis Ham

Special coupon for Dinuba Platinum Theatre at the end of this review.

Twenty years ago Independence Day hit the big screen, helping to make Will Smith into the star he is today. Independence Day: Resurgence is the sequel set 20 years later in a world where we all live together in peace and everything seems right with the world. They are about to have a world wide celebration of the day they defeated the aliens.


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Unfortunately, everything falls apart when that same alien species returns with the goal again of destroying Earth, and despite thinking that the world is prepared for them this time, they are not. Several original cast members return for this sequel--Jeff Goldblum, Bill Pullman, Judd Hirsch, Brent Spiner, and a few others, however Will Smith is sadly not among them. I think this "might" have been a slightly better movie if he had been. But we do have many new cast members. Jessie T. Usher plays Will Smith's character's son Dylan Hillar, and he does a good job--I look forward to seeing him in more movies--but he just can't take the place of someone with such a big presence as Will Smith. I very much enjoyed Liam Hemsworth's Hans Solo rebel with a heart type character, Jake Morrison. But honestly the problem here wasn't them, it was the script.



Image source: Twentieth Century Fox

The script had several plot holes, and really didn't give the new characters the opportunity to develop very much at all. However, it was a lot of fun to watch Jeff Goldblum, Bill Pullman, Judd Hirsch, and Brent Spiner reprise their original roles--they were the heart of this movie--that and all the action and special effects. One of the most interesting plot points showed how Americans can get themselves in a bind because they often tend to have the old West mentality of shoot first, ask questions later. That one move ends up costing lives and destruction that may have been avoided.

Negatives aside, this was a fun movie loaded with action, some laughs, and awesome actors, even if they weren't given a lot to work with. If you are looking for a fun movie to go see over the holiday this is a good choice--just try not to analyze it too much!

Independence Day: Resurgence is currently playing at Dinuba Platinum Theatres 6. Showtimes can be found on their website. Platinum Theaters Dinuba 6 now proudly presents digital quality films in 2-D and 3-D with 5.1 Dolby digital surround sound to maximize your movie experience.

Print this coupon and enjoy a special discount for Kings River Life readers only!



Lorie Lewis Ham is KRL's editor-in-chief/publisher. She has published in many venues through the years and has 5 published mystery novels. You can learn more about Lorie's writing on her blog Mysteryrat's Closet.