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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.

Be sure to follow the River and enjoy brand new articles throughout the week by following both sites. You can subscribe via the sidebar, like Kings River Life, and/or circle KRL for updates. Don't miss our timely & topical issues every Saturday, and check in here for updates and new articles if KRL Magazine is ever down.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

“Bound” By Benedict Jacka

by Terrance McArthur

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

Bound (adj.): tied, compelled, leap, a border, forced.

Alex Verus is “Bound,” in the eighth book of Benedict Jacka’s British urban fantasy series. He is tied to Anne, the woman he wants to love, but instead, has gotten her into a horrible mess. They are compelled to work for the Dark Mages, while Light Mages keep trying to kill them (OK, some of the Dark Mages want to kill them, too). He makes a mental leap when he realizes that he’s been playing a short game, reacting to what happens to him, while the Dark Side is working from long-view plans. He breaches the border of his scruples when he does battle with an entity who is defending her home. He is forced to work for his evil mentor, or have all his friends killed.

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Alex is a Diviner Mage, able to see the alternate possibilities around him, and he usually wins by maneuvering his foes into a situation where something even more dangerous will remove his present danger, sort of like a fish steering a scuba-hunter into the path of a man-eating shark. Richard, his former Dark Master, assigns him to work for the Dark Mage representative on the Light Mage Council. Alex deals with the horrors and tedium of bureaucracy, which is why the book takes place over a year’s time, instead of the usual week or two, as in previous installments. It has a longer page count, too, but doesn’t feel unnecessarily padded, even with a spate of philosophical and ethical discussions. In fact, a major complaint in user reviews has been that it is too short.



Image source: Ace

Jacka has been twisting fantasy expectations for years with his brain-centered hero, building a magical society in England. Some of the Light Mages are more corrupt and devious than the Dark ones, who are at least honest about their aims. A giant spider weaves anti-magic armor. A masked mage blows away everything in his path. A magical being weaponizes plants. Portals open to other dimensions, customized by the owner. It’s a weird universe, out there.

Bound ends with a cliffhanging twist (don’t all these books?) that promises more trouble for Alex, but isn’t that what we want and expect? Things have to get worse. The stakes have to get higher. Relationships have to get more complicated. That’s why we keep coming back to read more.

To enter to win a copy of Bound, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “bound,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen June 3, 2017. If entering via email please include your mailing address.






Terrance V. Mc Arthur is a Librarian with the Fresno County Public Library, and a published short story author.

Disclosure: This post contains links to an affiliate program, for which we receive a few cents if you make purchases. KRL also receives free copies of most of the books that it reviews, that are provided in exchange for an honest review of the book.

Monday, May 22, 2017

"Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul" Movie Review

by Sheryl Wall

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

The Long Haul is the fourth movie based on the Diary of a Wimpy Kid book series. However, due to the original cast becoming too old to resume their roles a new cast was chosen for this recent movie.


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Greg Heffley was looking forward to a summer with nothing to do, but soon discovers this isn't going to be how he spends his school vacation after all. His parents planned a road trip to go to MeeMaws 90th Birthday party. This is disappointing to Greg until he realizes that they will, be as Greg explains to his friend Rowly, two inches (on a map) from a Gaming Convention where he can meet the famous Mac Digby. Due to a recent embarrassment in a ball pit where a dirty diaper gets stuck on his hand and is posted all over the internet, Greg decides that Mac Digby could make him famous and make everyone forget his diaper incident. There are many mishaps and adventures on the Heffley road trip including a pet pig won at a country fair by the youngest in the family, Manny, and birds invading the car.



Image source: 20th Century Fox

The Long Haul was a fun movie, though it wasn't as engaging and funny as the previous Wimpy Kid movies. However, it’s still a funny movie that stays true to the books. Greg's brother Rodrick was well cast and had some really funny scenes, though the gross scene of him throwing up I could have done without. I like how they used some of the drawings from the book and made them come alive throughout the film.

Overall, this is a fun movie for the whole family to enjoy and perfect timing with summer just around the corner. I hope to see more of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid books made into movies in the future.

The Long Haul 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, May 19, 2017

“The Woodpecker Always Pecks Twice” A Bird Lover’s Mystery By J.R. Ripley

by Cynthia Chow

Details on how to win a copy of this book or the first book in the series, at the end of the review & a link to purchase it.

A bit groggy after once again being awoken by the red-bellied woodpecker named Drummy, Amy Simms can barely believe the scene she glimpses through the rain at the McKutcheon house across Ruby Lake. As the owner of Birds & Bees, an aviary, bee, & nature supplies store, Amy may not be an ornithologist, but she definitely knows the difference between a bird and a falling body. The rest of the town is not so certain though, and when Ruby Lake’s chief of police Jerry Kennedy finds no evidence of a corpse, his mocking doubt even has Amy questioning herself. Determined to find some sort of evidence, Amy leads her monthly bird-watching hike to McKutcheon house and its apparent conversion into a hostel. Amy is stunned to discover what she believes what could be a fresh grave, but before she can return to (literally) uncover more, she finds an even fresher corpse propped up against a tree. Irritable Bessie Hammond has grumbled about her last bird-watching venture, and this time even Jerry has to admit that it is murder.


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The chief of police still behaves as though he was the high school student who once dated Amy and was a student in her mother’s classes, so Amy doesn’t have much confidence that he will be able to solve this latest murder. This leads her to invite herself over to the McKutcheon house, whose owner Grant McKutcheon has filled with youthful Europeans. The relationships of these newcomers pale in comparison to the locals, who are using the McKutcheon’s connection to the legendary widow in the Lake to attract tourists to her annual ghostly appearance.



Image source: Lyrical Press

This third in the Bird Lover’s Mystery series entertains with the impulsive escapades led by the very focused and determined Amy. This allows her very little time to operate Birds & Bees, so it’s fortunate that he she has the help of her mother, Aunt Betty, and much less reliable cousin Riley for daily operations. As the investigation leads in completely unexpected directions, it ensures for a surprising conclusion that few readers will see coming. Amy’s humorous insights provide endless laughter for readers; to put off a possible “we need to talk” breakup session with her boyfriend, Amy determines that all she needs to do is to completely avoid him. Amy’s best friend Kim is dating the latest in her string of short-term boyfriends, so she’s prime for an epic breakup soon. Amy may lead more with her intuition than actual evidence, but she continues to be an undeniable delight who will have readers giggling long after the crime is solved.

To enter to win a copy of The Woodpecker Always Pecks Twice or the first book in the series, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “woodpecker,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen May 27, 2017. U.S. residents only. PLEASE STATE WHICH BOOK YOU WANT. If entering via email please included your mailing address.

You can use this link to purchase the book. If you have adblocker on you may not be able to see the Amazon link:





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).

Disclosure: This post contains links to an affiliate program, for which we receive a few cents if you make purchases. KRL also receives free copies of most of the books that it reviews, that are provided in exchange for an honest review of the book.




Monday, May 15, 2017

"Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2" Video Movie Review


by Jessica Ham

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

This week we have another video review from Jessica Ham, this one for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.


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Image source: Disney



Guardians of the Galaxy 2 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 24 years old and an ongoing contributor. With a love of all things nerdy, she's right at home covering entertainment. You can watch more of her videos on her YouTube Channel: www.youtube.com/user/JessTheGoodWitch.


Friday, May 12, 2017

“Uniformly Dead” A Stitch in Time Mystery By Greta McKennan

by Cynthia Chow

Details on how to win a copy of this book at the end of the review & a link to purchase it.

After her boyfriend cleaned out their joint banking accounts and left her drowning in debt, wedding dress designer Debra Dembrowski was forced to close her wedding shop and find a new way to pay the bills. Operating out of her home, Debra has merged bridal couture with A Stitch in Time, her sewing business focusing on historical wear. It’s a new venture perfect for a designer whose hero was Betsy Ross and whose hometown of Laurel Springs, Pennsylvania is a host to a thriving Civil Reenactor community. Debra’s first fitting for reenactor Colonel Windstrom goes less than smooth though, with him disdainful towards her lack of knowledge and criticizing her every stitch.


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Although the filming of a big-budget Civil War movie should have been a fantastic opportunity for Debra’s business, they have their own unionized crew and wardrobe. At least the visiting set brings to town Debra’s camera-operating brother Pete, whom she hasn’t seen since he left for Hollywood six years ago. It’s apparently been a rough period for Pete, and the time spent away hasn’t lessened his old high school rivalry with Emmett McDowell, a historical book author and the heir to the McDowell estate. So when a valuable McDowell antique doll goes missing from an exhibit at the Tremington Museum, it is Pete who is blamed as a result of comments he made regarding valuables often hidden inside dolls by Southern troops. Clearing her brother of the crime would normally be her first priority if not for yet another crime, that of the murder of the unlikable “Colonel.” The man arrested for that crime happens to be the fiancĂ© of Debra’s client, and the pleading bride implores Debra to save the wedding by freeing the groom. Investigating combative reenactors and Civil War treasures would be difficult enough without having to tangle with Sean McCarthy, a Laurel Springs Daily Chronicle reporter who is extremely proud of both his appeal and his ability to deliver a story.



Image source: Lyrical Press

This debut series follows two different mystery plots while also juggling Debra’s rather confused love life. When Pete goes missing, Debra discovers the dark reasons behind the failed Hollywood career that has followed him to Laurel Springs. As a handsome reenactor and real world accountant engages Debra’s attention, Sean McCarthy repeatedly interrupts with a grinning confidence that is meant to be charming but borders on just being irritating. The surprise MVP of the novel is Debra’s tenant Aileen, the lead singer of Twisted Armpits heavy metal band and whose intelligence and practicality proves key to getting Debra out of trouble. It is Aileen who has the honor of making the perfect twist on a “Princess Bride” line, “Have fun with the murderers!”

To enter to win a copy of Uniformly Dead, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “uniformly,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen May 20, 2017. U.S. residents only. If entering via email please included your mailing address.

You can use this link to purchase the book. If you have adblocker on you may not be able to see the Amazon link:





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).

Disclosure: This post contains links to an affiliate program, for which we receive a few cents if you make purchases. KRL also receives free copies of most of the books that it reviews, that are provided in exchange for an honest review of the book.




Monday, May 8, 2017

"The Circle" Movie Review

by Jessica Ham

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

This week we have another video review from Jessica Ham, this one for The Circle.


➡ switch to KingsRiverLife.com for this week's issue ⬅





Image source: STX



The Circle 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 24 years old and an ongoing contributor. With a love of all things nerdy, she's right at home covering entertainment. You can watch more of her videos on her YouTube Channel: www.youtube.com/user/JessTheGoodWitch.


Friday, May 5, 2017

“A Closed and Common Orbit” by Becky Chambers

by Terrance McArthur

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

Lovelace is no more. Long live Sidra!

The starship Wanderer’s Artificial Intelligence from The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet is now housed in a walking, autonomous, not-exactly-legal kit in A Closed and Common Orbit by Becky Chambers. The Wanderer is left behind, and Sidra and the fix-darned-near-anything engineer Pepper try to find a place for Sidra to fit in to planetary society. She no longer fulfils her prime purpose of running a ship’s systems and protecting its crew, and her limited perspective of only seeing what’s in front of her, instead of being able to access different points of view through cameras in and out of Wanderer, is hard for her to accept.

Sidra’s story alternates chapters with the chronicle of Jane 23, a worker-clone who escapes from the robotic Mothers into a dangerous landscape of trash from a society that throws away anything that stops working perfectly. She wanders until she is protected by Owl, a lonely AI in a discarded star-faring ship. She spends years trying to replace damaged parts in a quest to travel off world, taught about other parts of the galaxy by Owl’s limited information resources.


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The parallel plot lines deal with being accepted and accepting others, what makes a community, and a continued study of gender and species. One of Sidra’s friends is gender fluid, switching physically from male to female and back, with difficult transition periods as changes occur.



Image source: Harper Voyage

Long Way dealt with a duck-out-of-water situation, as an accountant adjusted to dealing with a multi-species crew and new environments and cultures. Common Orbit focuses in on smaller groups: Jane and Owl, Sidra and a trio of friends and protectors. Chambers excels at creating characters and societies that are outliers of our expectations, yet they have familiar cores of loyalty and the search for more. She mashes up Robinson Crusoe’s survival in a strange land with Oliver Twist’s search for a place to belong, and throws in a heist caper for good measure.

Reading The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet might help the reader understand the Sidra/Pepper background in this follow-up novel, but it isn’t necessary. I really enjoyed the first book for its quirkiness, but I may be even more fond of A Closed and Common Orbit and its lonely characters, drawn together as they go in the same circles of development, their own closed and common orbit.

To enter to win a copy of A Closed and Common Orbit, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “orbit,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen May 13, 2017. If entering via email please include your mailing address.






Terrance V. Mc Arthur is a Librarian with the Fresno County Public Library, and a published short story author.

Disclosure: This post contains links to an affiliate program, for which we receive a few cents if you make purchases. KRL also receives free copies of most of the books that it reviews, that are provided in exchange for an honest review of the book.

Monday, May 1, 2017

"13 Reasons Why" Video Review

by Jessica Ham

May is Mental Health Awareness month so be watching for several mental health related articles. To start the month off we have a video review of the Netflix TV series 13 Reasons Why.




Image source: Netflix





Jessica Ham is 24 years old and an ongoing contributor. With a love of all things nerdy, she's right at home covering entertainment. You can watch more of her videos on her YouTube Channel: www.youtube.com/user/JessTheGoodWitch.