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Friday, June 10, 2016

Murder on a Designer Diet: A Red Carpet Catering Mystery By Shawn Reilly Simmons

by Cynthia Chow

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

As the owner of Red Carpet Catering, Penelope Sutherland was accustomed to dealing with fluctuating schedules, unusual meal requirements, and demanding clients. She’s dealing with all three on their first day catering for an independent movie company filming in Manhattan’s historic hotel, The Crawford. Although she feels more than capable handling whatever culinary crises are thrown at her, Penny is far less comfortable dealing with the celebrity side of her lifestyle. That’s not too surprising, considering that after a night of post-fashion show clubbing Penny once again finds herself in the midst of murder.


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It is in the bathroom at the converted church nightclub Xapa that Penny witnesses a couple getting a little more friendly than appropriate. She’s not sure what to think when she later realizes that the indiscreet parties were model/club promoter Christian and Hannah Devore, the reality show girlfriend of Max Madison. Although it’s always questionable just how real reality television may be, what is certain is that Penny has just discovered Christian’s body in his hotel room and Max nowhere to be found.

Penny’s boyfriend, New Jersey Homicide Detective Joseph Baglioni, has never been particularly thrilled with her attachment to the Madison family, so his administrative suspension due to her investigations proves to be an alarming roadblock in their relationship. It’s fortunate that she has the reluctant assistance of NYPD officer Denise Gomez, who advises Penny through her investigations of the models, Hannah’s accusations, and Max’s own personal life.



Image source: Henery Press

Due to injuries resulting from an attack and her concern for Max, Penny has little time to focus on her catering duties. Instead, the novel highlights her investigations into the questionable modeling agency and her relationship with the Madisons. Film icon and patriarch Randall Madison returns, while Penny’s best friend and client Arlena Madison is power-eating for her own possible film role.

What stands out are the characters who come alive and become more than the usual plot devices. A nosy neighbor proves to be instrumental in providing evidence, but what makes her fascinating is both her attachment to mystery novels and her own detective father’s unsolved murder. While darker in tone than the previous installments, this third in the Red Carpet Catering Mystery series continues to realistically blend together mystery, culinary practices, and compelling insight into the entertainment industry.

This book was published by Henery Press. To learn more about their books check out their website: henerypress.com.

To enter to win a copy of Murder on a Designer Diet, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “designer,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen June 18, 2016. If entering via email please include your mailing address.

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, June 6, 2016

X-Men Apocalypse: Movie Review


by Jessica Ham

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

Check out our video review of X-Men Apocalypse:




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Image source: Twentieth Century Fox

X-Men Apocalypse 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!


Jessica Ham is 23 years old and an ongoing contributor; with dreams of being on Broadway, she's right at home covering Entertainment.

Friday, June 3, 2016

Secret Exposure: A Paula Mitchell, P.I. Mystery By Jan Christensen

by Kathleen Costa

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

Secrets…everyone has them. They might be little indiscretions like kissing your BFFs boyfriend behind the bleachers or major felonies involving misuse of company funds. You often share your secrets with a sister or a best friend or you keep them tightly to yourself hoping no one ever exposes them. Secrets can prove you’re just not ‘so together’ as you claim, or prove you have a darker side best locked away twenty-five to life in the state penitentiary.

Secrets…yes, everyone has them.

Paula Mitchell, a former cop and private investigator for lawyer Geri Smithfield, starts off by wrestling a hand gun away from a distraught husband in a divorce struggle. The husband has been accused of abusing his son. In the aftermath, she discovers he is also their client. As she begins her investigation, Paula finds more questions than answers, a curiously cold background check on their new client and a wife adamant that the accusations of abuse are true. The divorce investigation soon turns into a murder investigation uncovering many suspects and enough secrets to fill a jail cell.


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Simon Langford, a very successful accountant, is embarrassed about his gun-wielding episode, but reluctant to answer anyone’s questions about his wife’s accusations and his ‘hard to uncover’ background. The police, his lawyer and Paula, all come up with very little. With information provided by the police and an interview with his wife, Simon is portrayed as a quiet, controlled man, but his secrets could be problematic. When his wife is found murdered, Simon’s secrets could put him behind bars.

Paula won’t let a few ‘less than forthcoming’ friends and family members or an overprotective love interest stall her investigation of a man she believes innocent. She hounds Simon’s college friends, a brother-in-law, maids, housekeepers, various assistants, and Simon’s parents slowly pealing away at their secrets: a college prank gone awry, questionable philanthropic dealings, sealed ‘juvie’ records, paternity issues, and then, there’s a big, black car she observes following her…but, the questions still remain. Who is capable of child abuse? Who is capable of murder?



Image source: Jan Christensen

I sure won’t keep my delight with Jan Christensen’s third installment in the Paula Mitchell, P.I. Mystery series a secret. I enjoyed it tremendously from the strength and cleverness portrayed by the main character to the different personalities…all with curious secrets I couldn't wait to have uncovered. I also enjoyed the format style written with several 3-5 page chapters making the journey an easy read. The story has a realistic approach as you follow Paula’s investigation: she hits the pavement interviewing suspects gaining a little more information, then back to ask more questions, and if they won’t talk to her, she’ll camp out on their doorstep. I will be reading the previous books to join in on more investigations.

Jan Christensen has earned from me 5/5 Secrets…exposed!

Become a Fan!
Paula Mitchell, P.I. Mystery
Book 1 “Perfect Victim”
Book 2 “A Broken Life”
Book 3 “Secret Exposure”

Check out Jan's website to learn more: www.janchristensen.com

To enter to win a copy of Secret Exposure, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “deception,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen June 11, 2016. U.S. residents only. If entering via email please include your mailing address.

Kathleen Costa is a long-time resident of the Central Valley, and although born in Idaho, she considers herself a “California Girl.” Graduating from CSU-Sacramento, she is 35+ year veteran teacher having taught in grades 1-8 in schools from Sacramento to Los Angeles to Stockton to Lodi. Currently Kathleen is enjoying year 2 of retirement revitalizing hobbies along with exploring writing, reading for pleasure, and spending 24/7 with her husband of 26+ years.




Saturday, May 28, 2016

See Also Deception: A Marjorie Trumaine Mystery By Larry Sweazy

by Sandra Murphy

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

The year is 1964. The country is still trying to recover from President Kennedy’s assassination.

Marjorie Trumaine is first a farmer’s wife. She likes to contribute more than good meals and a clean house, so she took a USDA course in how to index books—you know, the pages at the back of the book that verify facts and tell you all the pages they occur. She’s methodical and precise, so this is a great job for her since it can be done from home, even in North Dakota.

Her husband Hank calls it her book work. It’s a good thing she has a steady stream of jobs because the weather, market prices, and luck have a lot to do with the success of a farm’s crops year to year.

Last year, Hank had some horrible luck. He went out to shoot grouse, the adult size that are in the woods which makes it a fairer hunt, he says. As best anybody can tell, he stepped in a gopher hole, the gun went off, and shot him in the face. When he fell, his neck was broken. Now the formerly husky and active farmer is bedridden, paralyzed from the neck down and blind. Needless to say, Marjorie doesn’t get out much anymore.


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She is good friends with Calla, the local librarian. After all, when you can’t verify a fact on your own, a librarian is your next phone call or visit. Calla refers to Marjorie as a local celebrity and has a special shelf to hold all the books she’s indexed.

The library’s not that big, and Calla prides herself in being able to answer the phone within three rings, no matter where she is in the library. When Marjorie calls and it rings for the fourth time, she has a bad feeling. Hank says she’s worrying for nothing, but she’s not so sure.



Image source: Seventh Street Books

When she calls back later, it’s even worse. The phone is answered by Guy, part of the local law enforcement. He’s not telling anything which is frustrating for Marjorie. The next day’s paper has a tiny paragraph that says, “Local Librarian Found Dead.” That’s all she got to read before a gust of wind grabbed the newspaper out of her hands.

She called on her next door neighbor and his girlfriend Betty to come spend time with Hank so she could go to town to see what happened. She’s floored when Betty says rumor has it Calla committed suicide at the library. Still, Marjorie and one mysterious woman can’t believe it.

At first the book seemed a bit wordy, but Marjorie is isolated, living on the farm, caring for Hank, and quiet is her own preference. As a methodical person, she tends to think things through. The language is often beautiful. North Dakota and the wind that’s ever present are equally characters in the story.

There’s a nice bit of suspense in several places, an ending that leaves you wanting more, and a good puzzle to figure out. I had an inkling of the murderer but not a clue about motive. All in all, this is a satisfying read that makes me want the next book in the series to show up soon.

To enter to win a copy of See Also Deception, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “deception,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen June 4, 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.




Friday, May 20, 2016

Killer Cocktail: A Nick & Nigel Mystery By Tracy Kiely

by Cynthia Chow

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

The discovery of home videos made by the daughter of a famous film producer has placed Nicole and Nigel Martini firmly in the eye of celebrities and celebrity journalists. Danielle Samuels recorded behind-the-scenes activities during the making of her father’s 1996 Oscar-winning movie, and those videos were recovered by Nic and Nigel when they purchased Frank Samuels’s home. That former child-star and promising young actress Melanie Summers overdosed during the making of “A Winter’s Night” only adds to the salacious interest. Nigel’s Movie Magic Company locates and restores films, and he plans to digitalize and re-edit the old footage for a public release. A brutal robbery and break-in at the Martini home curtail those plans, and the tapes seem to be the target of an Oscar-wielding assailant.


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While Nic and Nigel experience the dubious privilege of walking down the red carpet at the Oscars and hobnobbing with the likes of Ellen DeGeneres, Anne Hathaway, and a frenetic James Franco, they have no illusions over Hollywood’s shallowness and dark side. Infuriated by the attack that left Nigel’s employee in the hospital, the former NYPD Homicide detective Nic wields her considerable talents to uncover the numerous secrets, affairs, and abuses that were all captured by the missing film.

Flashbacks to scenes of the 1996 footage slowly expand on the mystery and expose the seedier side of movie production. A former ‘stage mom’ who continues to retain her grasp upon her Oscar-winning daughter, a husband-stealing starlet, a director desperate for a hit, all had their futures tied to Melanie Summers and benefited by her premature death.



Image source: Midnight Ink

Once again, Tracy Kiely creates a snappy, banter-filled mystery that moves along so swiftly that readers will be tempted to finish the novel in one sitting. They should resist, as the pun-heavy and very witty dialogue deserves to be savored slowly in order to truly appreciate its cleverness. The tarnished side of Hollywood is perfectly balanced out by the lively humor and sexy relationship between Nic and Nigel. Nigel’s ne’er-do-well, cavalier attitude hides his obvious love for his more serious wife, and Nic appreciates more than just tolerates his balancing lightness. Readers will love this couple who quote Dorothy Parker, take a bullmastiff named Skippy to the Oscars, and own a frequently intoxicated and continually vulgar parrot. While those can mostly be attributed to Nigel, Nic’s level-headedness and sharp intelligence ensure that all readers will revel in this very modern and sophisticated mystery novel.

To enter to win a copy of Killer Cocktail, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line "cocktail,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen May 28, 2016. If entering via email please include your mailing address.


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).



Thursday, May 12, 2016

Red Flags: A Kate Reilly Mystery By Tammy Kaehler

by Cynthia Chow

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

NASCAR meets Hollywood in the latest engrossing mystery novel featuring professional race car driver Kate Reilly. Her ten-day trip in California for the Grand Prix of Long Beach begins unpleasantly with the murder of her cousin, Billy Reilly-Stinson. Kate isn’t exactly mourning the loss because ever since Kate reunited with the father she never knew, Billy had been an obnoxious thorn in her side. With a history of being involved in and investigating criminal activities within the race circuit, Kate shouldn’t have been too surprised that the president of the Grand Prix Association, as well as the owner of the race itself, would ask Kate to look into the murder.


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Nikki Gray is unlike any Grand Prix owner Kate has ever known. She totes her interchangeable but coordinated tiny dogs around in designer handbags while filming a reality television show. Her very LA-ness hides a cunning intelligence, though, and Nikki wastes no time in manipulating Kate into questioning the many associates who had reason to dislike her arrogant, womanizing, and larcenous cousin.

Kate’s need to continually prove herself is what drives her to achieve, an insecurity born out of the rejection by father and his very wealthy family. Their family having founded the bank that is her newest sponsor ensures that Kate will be unable to avoid hostile confrontations with them, but thankfully she will have the support of her much more affable Beaute sponsor and their association with the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. It is their financial backing that allows Kate to expand her NASCAR experience into the world of IndyCar racing, as well as participate in a charity celebrity-professional race. Coaching an Oscar-winning actress is definitely a new experience for Kate, not to mention meeting the interesting, and very interested, Sexiest Men Alive.



Image source: Poisoned Pen Press

Kaehler’s fourth book in the Kate Reilly Mystery series continues to be a standout with its completely original exploration of a woman competing in the world of professional car racing. The very technical aspects involved in taking turns at over 200 mph are made fascinating and compelling, as are the minutiae involved in the racing association itself. While previous entries have delved into Kate’s role as a woman competing in a man’s profession, here the author expands on her unasked-for responsibility of representing her entire gender in a sport that may never fully accept her.

The novel has fun with Kate’s introduction to Hollywood paparazzi, tabloids, and the obsession with celebrities, but at the core is Kate’s struggles with her family and how she still finds herself feeling rejected and unworthy. The reward for readers will be following Kate as she succeeds not only as a skilled driver, but in realizing that the only approval she needs comes from within. This is a unique mystery series as thrilling as it is intriguing, and readers will delight in the adventures of a resilient, funny, and strongly independent woman.

To enter to win a copy of Red Flags, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “flags,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen May 21, 2016. If entering via email please include your mailing address.

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).



Saturday, May 7, 2016

A Portrait to Die For By Radine Trees Nehring

by Sandra Murphy

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

Carrie and Henry married late in life. Since then, family concerns and crime have taken up far too much of their time as far as Henry is concerned. Carrie sees a need and helps, without thought for herself or her safety, and that’s got Henry worried.

Carrie volunteers at the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. They have a new display coming, and it will bring visitors by the droves. In the upstairs, there’s a reproduction of a portrait of twins—a boy and a girl—both in dresses as was the tradition years ago. Each is holding a small bouquet of daisies. Carrie can’t wait to see the original.


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While at the museum, she’s tapped as one of several volunteers to speak to a reporter about why they volunteer and why at the museum. What starts out as a nice, friendly interview, turns into questions with more bite, making Carrie uncomfortable. The article itself is no better when it spells out that Carrie inherited money when her first husband died, surely not anything readers needed to know. It seems the reporter did the same thing to the other volunteers, too.

Carrie noticed that the poster of the twins differed a bit from the painting. In the painting, the boy held seven daisies. On the poster, it was eight. When she goes back to check, there are eight on the painting too. Now most people would think she just miscounted, but she knows better.

Before she can figure out that puzzle, the reporter who had interviewed her goes missing. It’s not unusual that she would take off in pursuit of a story, but her car is still at her apartment. Was she kidnapped, or did she leave with someone or worse?



Image source: Oak Tree Books

Carrie’s son Rob is friends with the reporter since college. He thinks Carrie should ask a few questions and find out what happened — that is, until Henry explains the danger Carrie had been in the last time she snooped. Henry is against any investigating, and Rob now agrees. Rob’s girlfriend, Catherine, is of a different mind.

Following the path the reporter might have taken, Catherine finds clues of her own and that brings Rob, Henry, and Carrie into the picture. There’s a small bomb, shots fired, two men following them, a third who is unknown, and more. The more they ask questions, the more questions they have.

It looks like no matter what Henry and Carrie decide, murder will find them. It’s a lucky thing for readers because they are a captivating couple, older than most characters, fun to be around, and lead interesting lives. They’ll even share a few recipes with readers.

To enter to win a copy of A Portrait to Die For, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “portrait,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen May 14, 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.