Welcome to Kings River Life's sister site;
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.

Friday, April 18, 2014

The Finisher by David Baldacci

by Terrance McArthur

It used to be that you could trust writers. If somebody wrote romances, their next book would have a handsome, brooding hero and a stunning young woman in a torrid tale of lust. Horror writers could be depended on to do their best to scare the daylights out of you and give you sleepless nights. Then—things changed.

Anne Rice abandoned her vampires and witches to explore the life of Jesus of Nazareth. John Grisham came out with the Theodore Bloom: Kid Lawyer series for children. In this world of follow-the-bouncing-author, the readers can’t be sure of what they’re getting when they pick up their favorite author’s latest book.

A number of these crossover writers have discovered the children’s and Young Adult fields. Case in point: The Finisher, by David Baldacci.


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


Instead of the expected gritty political thriller, Baldacci has delivered a dystopian fantasy for the YA crowd.

Vega Jane is a finisher, decorating nice things in the Stacks factory of Wormwood. She has never been outside of Wormwood—nobody has, because the town is surrounded by the Quag, a forest filled with monsters…and worse things. Nobody enters the Quag…until Vega Jane sees the other finisher, her mentor, go into the forest…being chased.



Image source: Scholastic

Not only has Quentin Herms gone where no one would go, he has left the girl clues to puzzle out, clues that lead her to magical objects, help her discover powers within her, and put her into conflict with the rulers of Wormwood.

Baldacci has filled his world with familiar YA plot devices: a world built on lies (The City of Ember, Matched), enchanted help (pick a Harry Potter book), and a sibling lured away by dangerous adversaries (A Wrinkle in Time, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe). Nevertheless, he manages to place a unique twist on familiar ideas.

There are also elements that surprise and delight. A faithful friend who is despised by others turns out to have a good reason for his disability, rooted in the deceptions of Wormwood.

Baldacci peppers his prose with word substitutions (a day is a light, a man is a male, a second is a sliver, a school is a Learning) and made-up creatures (Jabbits, anyone?). Maybe future editions will include a lexicon, like the Ape-English dictionary at the back of Tarzan of the Apes.

Vega Jane is one of those protagonists that overcome obstacles that have never been overcome until she comes along. Put her in a no-rules fighting tournament against men and boys bigger and stronger than she is, and you know what will happen, but you probably won’t know how.

The Finisher
is the first book of a series, so don’t expect all the answers or an ending. The Finisher is a beginning.

Terrance V. Mc Arthur is a Community Librarian for the WoW! (WithOut Walls) Division of the Fresno County Public Library, roaming the Valley to meet the public's information needs.

Friday, April 11, 2014

The Ninth Floor By Liz Schulte

by Sandra Murphy

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

Back in 1984, the ninth floor of St. Michael’s Hospital was closed, not just to patients but to staff, administrators and even the janitor. Talk about it and faster than Donald Trump can say it, you’re fired! Number 9 doesn’t even register on the elevators.

Ryan Sterling is in town to visit her seriously ill aunt, a patient at St. Michael’s. Once there, it’s like the ninth floor is calling to her. Strange presents arrive on her doorstep. She begins to hear voices and swears that the doors on the ninth floor move in an effort to let her in. Why is she in the stairwell? Because she and her aunt’s doctor need a bit of private time and that’s the one place they can be sure they won’t run into anyone else.

The Sterling family is just plain weird. At an early age, Ryan was sent to boarding school, something that’s made her feel unwanted and unloved. She can’t wait for her aunt to get better so she can get out of town and back to her own life.


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


She’s got a curious mind though and asks a nurse or two about the ninth floor. What’s the deal anyway? There’s talk of building a new wing because the hospital needs the space but there’s a whole floor–the former maternity ward–just sitting there, empty. Ryan’s saddened to hear one of the nurses took a fall and died shortly after their talk. She’s beyond shocked when the second nurse dies as well. It seems that talking about the ninth floor isn’t just grounds for dismissal but a death sentence.



Image source: Liz Schulte

This is not just a mystery but also a darn good thriller/suspense story. I did guess who was behind all the weirdness, but not until late in the book so it didn’t spoil the story for me. There was still plenty to figure out besides the identity. You’ve got to figure out if the hospital is haunted or just the people who work there.

This book will keep you up at night for sure but more because you can’t put it down than because you’re too scared to sleep. Schulte has written over a dozen books, not all suspense, so you’ve got a lot of reading to do!

To enter to win a copy of Ninth Floor, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “Ninth”, or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen April 19, 2014. U.S. residents only.

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 Bananas Foster.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Auditory Viewpoint By Lillian R. Melendez

by Sandra Murphy

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

Gloria Rank has been blind since birth. She’s known no other way so has less problem with it than her sister thinks she should. Even though Gloria’s the oldest, Anna is the protector.

In her job as part of a radio talk show team, Gloria meets Benjamin, an expert on identity theft. When Anna’s personal information is hacked, Gloria turns to Benjamin for help. That might have been the end of it, if not for the dead body found at Anna’s door. Soon the sisters are on the run and trying not to leave a trail of electronic breadcrumbs for the killer to follow.


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


After a while, it’s hard to know just who to trust–even Benjamin and the FBI agents assigned to the case. More deaths follow, seemingly unrelated to the sisters, but who knows for sure? Gloria has always relied on her other senses to make up for her lack of sight. She’s able to calm Anna enough to teach her the same skills so that they can find the killer/hackers themselves.

In the meantime, there’s a warehouse full of people, determined to hack as many credit card accounts as possible, using fake web sites and cold calls. They work on new ways to stay one step ahead of security measures.



Image source: Black Rose Writing

Everything comes together on Thanksgiving Day, at the Macy’s parade. New York City is a big place. Will it be possible to find eight hackers in the crowd, stop the theft and find the killer? Only time will tell.

There’s a lot of information about identity theft, how it’s done in a crowd and how the hackers use the information. Personal issues are woven into the corruption as well. The plot does stretch believability but not to the breaking point. My only problem is the language is stiff, which slows the pace for me, even in the chase scenes. This has the potential to be a series.

To enter to win a copy of Auditory Viewpoint, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “Viewpoint”, or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen April 12, 2014. U.S. residents only.

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 Bananas Foster.