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Kings River Lite:

KRL is a California Magazine with Local Focus and Global Appeal.
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Friday, June 16, 2017

“A Perfect Manhattan Murder” A Nic & Nigel Mystery By Tracy Kiely

by Cynthia Chow

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

Our favorite couple that proves opposites attract returns to tackle murder on Broadway. Playboy Nigel Martini and his wife, former NYPD homicide detective Nic Martini, are back in New York for the opening of her friend Peggy McGrath’s Broadway play. Nic is thrilled to spend an evening with Peggy and their other schoolmate Harper, but not with her husband Dan, a Vanity Fair theater critic known as the Bastard of Broadway. A new baby, Harper’s immense family wealth, and the lack of a pre-nuptial agreement have Harper tied to the narcissist, which comes to an end when he is found murdered in his luxurious “work” apartment, and she becomes the probable suspect.


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Considering Dan’s reputation, few mourn the loss of yet another critic with writing aspirations of his own. Evidence seems to indicate that he had been using his apartment for more than just writing, but Dan’s cruel wit had done its share of damage within the dramatic realm. Although Nic trusts that Harper could never have actually killed Dan, it doesn’t look good that she has a Manny who resembles a personal trainer more than a hired caretaker. Complicating matters is, that in addition to the play, he was trying to produce. Dan may have been using a ‘tell-all’ more for leverage than writing credits. A producer with an interchangeable number of young ingĂ©nue girlfriends, an out leading man, beleaguered assistant, and grand dame of theatre all enliven both the suspect list and brilliant cast of characters. Not to mention Nic and Nigel’s don’t-tell-him-he’s-a-dog bullmastiff Skippy, who isn’t a suspect but does deserve his own credit.



Image source: Midnight Ink

This continues to be an absolutely delightful series that creates a sense of nostalgia through the bantering dialogue of its charming detectives. Nic displays an exasperation for Nigel’s juvenile antics when she not-so-secretly revels in them, while he in turn plays out his playboy persona to its fullest. Underneath the pretense though, they have an unwavering devotion to one another and complete confidence in the other’s love and capabilities.

Nigel may have come from a socialite family of vast wealth, but he has little respect for superficiality or class structure. He is completely supportive of his wife’s investigations, and while he doesn’t exactly enjoy working, he never hesitates to have her back. The bon mots, witty dialogue, Oscar Wilde-worthy insults, and exploitation of Broadway’s egocentric eccentrics are endlessly entertaining. This very modern mystery somehow feels as though it was written from a bygone era, which is an amazing feat from a very talented author. If you thought you enjoyed Tracy Kiely’s Jane Austen-loving Elizabeth Parker series, you will love this series that is a tribute to the Nick and Nora Charles novels by Dashiell Hammett.

To enter to win a copy of A Perfect Manhattan Murder, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “manhattan,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen June 24, 2017. U.S. residents only. If entering via email please included your mailing address.

You can use these links 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, June 12, 2017

"Wonder Woman" Movie Review

by Sheryl Wall

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

Wonder Woman starring Gal Gadot and directed by Patty Jenkins has finally graced the big screen aiming to tell the origin story of one of DC’s most beloved heroes. In this movie, we follow Diana of Themiscyra, an Amazonian princess, who leaves her secluded home to travel to the world of man on a mission to save it by killing the God of War Ares during one of the most brutal wars to ever happen, World War I.

This film had a lot of pressure to succeed both critically and commercially. Some of that pressure being fair, it’s part of the so far lackluster DCEU film universe, and unfair that it was somehow a litmus test for a female-led female-directed superhero action adventure movie. Well, not only did the movie deliver financially, it is actually a great film, leagues better than anything DC has put out since “The Dark Knight.” In fact, I would go on to say that this is the best superhero movie made. Patty Jenkins and Gal Gadot knocked it out of the park because they understood the fundamental core of the Wonder Woman character and gave us a coherent inspirational hero’s journey.


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From the writing to the action to the acting and directing this movie delivers, primarily because it always stays true to the story it’s trying to tell. There are many things I love about this movie, but I will only highlight a few for the sake of brevity. First, there is finally a DC movie with some humor. Even against the backdrop of World War 1, the movie understands that even during the worst of times levity is needed, and it’s mostly provided by any scene with Gal Gadot and Chris Pine, who plays Steve Trevor, Diana’s connection to the human world. Also, the action scenes are just amazing. The way the Amazons and Diana herself fight is something new and old, and it gives the scenes this extra cool quality because you really haven’t seen this before. Possibly my favorite thing about this movie is that it tells a superhero story where the hero actually gets to be a hero by choice because they feel in this case it is the right thing to do. By that, I mean, most if not all superheroes in recent films are pushed by a villain to either save their own lives or the lives of loved ones. This isn’t necessarily bad, but it gets repetitive. So to see what most and myself included are calling the standout sequence in the film Diana crosses No Man’s Land to save a village was not only inspirational but breathtaking.



Image source: DC

If I had to critique this film at all, and I’m being nit picky, some of the CGI could have been better. But if I’m honest, I don’t actually care because we finally have a good DC movie, and we finally have a Wonder Woman. Ultimately, this movie succeeds because its creators understood the central character and gave her a fantastic narrative to showcase it.

Wonder Woman 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!


Jesus Ibarra is 24 years old; with a love of all media, he's always on the lookout for the best finds.




Friday, June 9, 2017

“Courtyard Corpse” A Cassie Hall Mystery by Sherry Lodge

by Sandra Murphy

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

Cassie Hall works at the Parkstone Manor in Bethesda, Maryland. She’s the daytime concierge and loves her job. She loves her sideline job as fashionista even more. Originally from Colorado, she followed boyfriend Eric, a police detective, to Maryland in hopes that he would propose. It’s been fifteen years, and she’s still waiting.

Once in a while, okay, several times lately, Cassie’s been late for work but only once with deadly consequences. When she got to the front desk, the building’s water was turned off, and even though tenants had been warned, the phone rang off the hook with complaints. A scream from the courtyard propelled Cassie away from the desk and out the door where she found the body of Kip Ace, golf pro and all around good guy—or is he? Eric arrives on the scene, declares it’s murder, and locks the building down for 24 hours.


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Since the courtyard is in the center of the building and no one came in or out during that time, it’s apparent the murderer is one of the residents. Motive seems scarce at first, but gradually Cassie hears Kip wasn’t as good a guy as his image promised. First, he argued with a resident about a business deal and another over a collectible bottle of wine. He pulled out of a charity fundraiser at the last minute. There are rumors of an affair, of a disagreement between Kip and his wife Bunny about living at the Parkstone permanently, and Kip’s car had been damaged in the garage, whether on purpose or not, or by who, no one knows.



Image source: Cozy Cat Press

Cassie’s job is on the line since she should have made her walk to check the courtyard just about the time the murder took place. Management blames her and says when the lockdown is over, so is her job. She has 24 hours to help Eric solve the case, whether he wants her help or not.

The book is a cozy, light read with a peek into the life of the rich and those who work for them. Cassie and Eric make a great couple, the residents are an assortment of kooks and cranks, and the mystery more nerve wracking since there’s no possibility an outsider did the deed. This is the first of four books in the series. Look for “Cloakroom Corpse,” “Clubroom Corpse,” and “Cabana Corpse.”

To enter to win a copy of Courtyard Corpse, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “courtyard,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen June 17, 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:


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.

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.



Tuesday, June 6, 2017

"Priates of the Carribean: Dead Men Tell No Tales" Movie Review

by Sheryl Wall

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

Dead Men Tell No Tales is the fifth Pirates of the Caribbean Movie starring Johnny Depp. The movie starts out with 12-year old Henry Turner diving to the bottom of the sea to tell his dad—who is dead and cursed to be a ghost at the bottom of the ocean in a ship—that he can save him with the Trident of Poseidon, so he will search for it for as long as it takes.


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Nine years later, Henry is a sailor on a ship that sails into the Devil's Triangle where everyone is killed by ghosts but him. He is spared to send a message to Jack Sparrow. The message is that the ghost Captain Salazar is seeking revenge on Jack.

Jack is up to his tricks when he is found inside a bank safe by the town. He and his friends try to rob the bank, but it doesn't end up as expected. Jack ends up needing to be rescued from execution. Henry joins Jack’s friends to rescue him in an elaborate rescue mission that is successful but not quite as you would expect. The story continues with a young girl accused of witchcraft, also rescued from execution, joining Henry and Jack on an adventure to stop Captain Salavar and find the Trident of Poseidon.



Image source: Disney

I usually don't expect much in the fifth in a series of movies, but found that “Dead Men Tell No Tells” was probably one of my favorite Pirates movies. I almost didn't go to see it but saw a preview at Disneyland and knew that it was going to be one I didn't want to miss. It is full of adventure and humor that only can be found in the adventures of Jack Sparrow. Johnny Depp brings the character to life every time.

Dead Men Tell No Tales 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, June 2, 2017

“Cast the First Stone” An Ellie Stone Mystery By James W. Ziskin

by Cynthia Chow

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

As a result of a hotshot reporter’s superstitious wife forbidding him to fly, it is New Holland Republic’s young reporter Ellie Stone who finds herself taking off to Hollywood to cover the story of a local boy hitting it big. High school drama star Tony Eberle has just been signed on to costar in a 1962 summer beach movie alongside the movie star Bobby Renfro, and Ellie will be promoting the hometown hero as a sign of pride for their failing mill town. Tony’s disappearance before their first interview could tank both their careers, making Ellie determined to find him before she loses her story and Tony misses his chance at stardom. The murder of Twistin’ on the Beach’s producer Bertram Wallis again links their paths as it starts a countdown to how long it will take for Ellie to be replaced on her story, and for Tony to be arrested. The studios control Hollywood’s industries and own the police, so his disappearance coinciding with the producer’s death gives them an easy way to close the case.


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Ellie finds herself a stranger in the strange land of Hollywood, not knowing who to trust in this world of superficiality and pretense. Ellie learns that the murdered producer was renowned for his lurid parties, where aspiring actors were given promises of roles in exchange for sex. Ellie is far too familiar with the rampant sexism facing a woman in her male-dominated profession, but here she is confronted with the hypocritical homophobia of the studios and police. While Tony and his girlfriend are on the run and in hiding, Ellie forms a tentative alliance with a rival reporter, a tabloid photographer, and a studio president’s jaded assistant. 1960s Hollywood never seems so vivid, gorgeous, and corrupted.



Image source: Seventh Street

What has become so entertaining about this series has been seeing Ellie mature from a brash, aggressively confident cynic into a far more empathetic, questioning young woman. She still believes in her inherent right to pursue a career alongside men, but Ellie also has moments where she must question her own prejudices. The writing is so well-crafted that even the most bigoted and revolting Hollywood characters have their sympathetic moments. Just as moving are the portrayals of those who are forced to act in their personal lives as much as in front of the camera. Ellie drinks too much, drives too fast, and is hungrier for a story than a relationship, and while this does not make her a proper young lady, it ensures that she is a stellar heroine for any era.

To enter to win a copy of Cast the First Stone, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “cast,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen June 10, 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.