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Kings River Lite:

KRL is a California Magazine with Local Focus and Global Appeal.
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Friday, September 25, 2015

Two Women Against the Wind: A Tierra del Fuego Cycling Adventure

by Réanne Hemingway-Douglass

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

The first time I laid eyes on Tierra del Fuego was after surviving a sailing catastrophe that almost sent my husband and me to the bottom of the Great Southern Ocean. At that time, February 1975, we were attempting to circumnavigate the globe. A week before we were due to reach Cape Horn, we entered the southerly latitudes known as the Furious Fifties when we encountered a monstrous wave that “pitch-poled” [upended 360°] our forty-two foot sailboat, causing major damage. Six long and arduous weeks later, we finally reached the safety of Punta Arenas, the most southerly city in Chile. Punta Arenas lies across the Strait of Magellan from Tierra del Fuego, and while we were awaiting boat repairs, I had the opportunity to explore parts of this remote and beautiful region.



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I decided then that I would return someday, and when I did so in 1984, it was not as a sailor sharing my husband's dream, but as a cyclist challenging myself to accomplish what no woman had done before: cycling the tortuous road from Porvenir, Chile, in the north of Tierra del Fuego, to Ushuaia, Argentina, three hundred miles to the south. My friend Katherine Wells joined me on this adventure. We were both middle-aged women by that time. I was even a grandmother!

Thirty years later, as I began writing this memoir, I reflected on what I'd learned from my numerous adventures sailing the world's oceans and cycling one of its most remote regions. The mishaps and dangers I experienced taught me that my strongest instinct is the will to survive – that with my life depending on it, I could push myself far beyond what I believed possible. Although I hadn't planned to spend the rest of my life pottering around in a garden, I decided life was too precious not to undertake challenges of my own choosing, from which I derive the satisfaction of pushing myself to my own self-defined limits.



Image source: Cave Art Press

I wrote Two Women against the Wind: a Tierra del Fuego Cycling Adventure not just to tell my story, but to inspire other women to achieve their dreams and aspirations, even if it means leaving their comfort zone. Not everyone may choose to cycle Tierra del Fuego, but for me it was a personal triumph that will always remain part of who I am.


To enter to win a copy of Two Women against the Wind: a Tierra del Fuego Cycling Adventure, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “Women,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen October 3, 2015. If entering via email please include your mailing address.




Réanne Hemingway-Douglass holds a BA degree in French from Pomona College. She attended Claremont Graduate University and the University of Grenoble in France. Sailor, writer, cyclist and language teacher, Réanne's articles have appeared in numerous outdoor magazines. Her best-selling book, Cape Horn: One Man's Dream, One Woman's Nightmare, has been published in French and Italian and is being translated into Spanish. Her newly published memoir, Two Women Against the Wind: A Tierra del Fuego Cycling Adventure, tells the story of this adventurous expedition.



Friday, September 18, 2015

Tipping the Valet: A Workplace Mystery By K.K. Beck

by Cynthia Chow

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

All Tyler Benson wanted was time to study and complete his engineering education at the University of Washington. Unfortunately, the extremely ill-advised financial decisions of his father force Tyler to work for Elite Valet, parking cars and hustling for tips. A new assignment at the hot new Ristorante Alba should be a primo opportunity to earn some much-needed extra cash, but instead it becomes a black comedy of errors and unfortunate timing. A drive-by shooting, and then a body traced back to Alba, lead police back to Alba and Tyler’s inadvertent fingerprints.


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While Tyler quickly attempts to explain away his involvement, his fellow valets are enmeshed in their own schemes with even more dangerous accomplices. The Russian mafia may be borderline incompetent, but they are quite adept at murder. Their trail of bodies leads right back to Alba, and, more specifically, to Tyler. He finds an unlikely ally in Flavia Torcelli, a young woman who only wants to study marine biology but has been drafted by her family into helping her brother manage Alba. This young couple must now outmaneuver the family’s expectations, suspicious detectives, and lethal European mobsters.



Image source: Perseverance Press

I’ve been a fan of K.K. Beck since the early 90s, when I discovered her Iris Cooper and Jane da Silva mystery series. Fans of her other suspenseful mystery novels will be delighted to know that the author is still continuing to create entertaining characters who spout very sharp and witty dialogue. Tyler’s family has become very accustomed to their wealthy lifestyle, and they never developed his grandfather’s work ethic. As a result, they continue a delusional lifestyle of consumerism and get-rich-quick schemes. Watching the beleaguered but very admirable Tyler attempt to follow a moral path while the rest of the world seems intent on sabotaging him is hilarious fun. A part of the Workplace Mystery series that highlights different occupations and characters, this new entry only enforces Beck’s record as an author of stellar mystery fiction.

To enter to win a copy of Tipping the Valet, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “Tipping,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen September 26, 2015. If entering via email please include your mailing address.

Use this link to purchase this book and a portion goes to help support KRL & it supports an indie bookstore:




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).



Friday, September 11, 2015

Off and Running By Philip Reed

by Terrance Mc Arthur

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

“We’re off and running!”

In Philip Reed’s rollicking mystery thriller, Off and Running, that was the catchphrase of Walt Stuckey, a Gleasonesque TV star whose variety show left the air in 1973 for unknown reasons. In 1999, struggling writer Jack Dillon, desperate to prove to his wife that he isn’t a loser, is hired to write Walt’s “autobiography.” The two Jersey-born men bond and the work goes well, until a stroke takes Walt from garrulous raconteur to near-catatonia. As Walt’s son raises more and more roadblocks to the book’s publication and Walt’s recovery, Jack—and Walt’s favorite nurse—come up with a plan: kidnap Walt, cure him, and finish writing the book. It seems like a good idea at the time, but it gets complicated by a convenient ransom note, a curious lawman, a seriously-crazy-ex-con-tracker/hitman, and possibilities of romance.


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It’s hopelessly complex, but delightfully crazy, as it veers from Southern California, up the coast, then across the Sierras (with a pit stop in Fresno), to Owens Valley, and down to Death Valley. People follow people who are following people; Walt’s speech bounces from nothing but “No” to wisecracks; the son lives in dreams of fame and control that are unrealistic; and every plan Jack makes gets several layers of “it’s not going to be that easy” slapped on it by a universe that doesn’t believe in the easy way. Over it all hangs the one mystery question that Jack is trying to pull out of Walt’s stroke-blocked brain: Why was a wildly-popular TV show taken off the air with no explanation?



Image source: Brash Books

The characters have their charms that keep the reader turning pages. Jack may be luckless, but he never gives up, even when his big break could kill him. Walt would be fun to talk to, and great to listen to as he spins his show-biz anecdotes. The nurse has done all she can to make Walt’s final years happy. The hitman has his own flawed code. The lawmen sense a flim when they are flammed. The son’s conviction that the world owes him more drives every psychotic action he takes.

Off and Running isn’t a political thriller, although politics comes into play. It isn’t a techno-thriller, although there is a lot of Y2K fear. It isn’t a police procedural, although the police and FBI do follow their procedures. What it is, is fun.

To enter to win a copy of Off and Running, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “Running,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen September 19, 2015. If entering via email please include your mailing address.

Use this link to purchase this book and a portion goes to help support KRL & it supports an indie bookstore:



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, September 4, 2015

Nightfall: A Chase Dagger Mystery By Lee Driver

by Cynthia Chow

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

When a man is murdered in an apparent hit-and-run, the fact that he carried no identification is the least unusual aspect about the death. Not only was he wielding a weapon ideal for assassination, but hidden in his shoe was the business card of private detective Chase Dagger. In the past few years, Dagger has had his number of extraordinary experiences, so even when the body of this John Doe is stolen from the morgue, he barely raises an eyebrow.


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Much more alarming are recent murder cases across the nation that have Cedar Point Police sergeant Jerry “Padre” Martinez concerned. Seven women have been murdered, all named Sara, and all bearing a distinct resemblance to Dagger’s assistant, Sara Morningsky. She and Dagger have only recently become more than co-workers, and he is protective of the young woman. A shapeshifter who can transform into a wolf as well as a hawk, Sara is far from the shy, eighteen-year-old woman he first met when she was an injured wolf. Now the couple, along with a paranoid schizophrenic conspiracy theorist, must once again battle a lethal curse they had thought was defeated.

When the author first began this series in 1999, she was at the forefront of novelists blending mysteries with fantasy. In the latest installments, Driver has added an element of science fiction, as drones, cloning, and nanotechnology all come into play to explain Dagger’s mysterious origin. His ex-fiancée Sheila Monroe continues to plague his existence, but now her attentions elsewhere may attract an even greater threat.



Image source: Full Moon Publishing

New readers may be challenged by the considerable mythology of this series, but the author does an admirable job at smoothly reintroducing her characters and summarizing previous events, showcasing a fascinating blend of mystery, myth, and science fiction. Perhaps the real highlight, though, is how the author also manages to balance humor with a pervading threat of menace, ensuring a read that is as fun as it is suspenseful.

To enter to win a copy of Nightfall: A Chase Dagger Mystery in your choice of hardcover, trade paperback, or ebook, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “Nightfall,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen September 12, 2015. If entering via email please include your mailing address.

Use this link to purchase this book and a portion goes to help support KRL & it supports an indie bookstore:



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).