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Saturday, February 25, 2017

“La La Land” Oscar Review

by Doward Wilson

La La Land brings us the story of an aspiring jazz musician, Sebastian (Ryan Gosling) and an aspiring actress, Mia (Emma Stone) who repeatedly meet and eventually fall in love in Los Angeles. The film received 14 Academy Award nominations including Best Film, Best Director, Best Actor (Gosling), Best Actress (Stone), and two nominations for Best Original Song (Audition) and (City of Stars).

The story is spread out over a year's time. The initial meetings between our musician and actress are both disasters but give us some good laughs. Their first encounter ends in minor road rage; their next meeting finds Mia trying to complement Sebastian over his impromptu jazz set as he is being fired for not sticking to the owner's playlist of Christmas music.


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A few months later, Mia finds Sebastian playing in a 1980s cover band, and they end up walking to their cars together and discovering more about each other. Mia takes him on a tour of the movie lot that she works at and explains her passion for acting, and he in turn takes her to a jazz club and shows her why he wants to open his own club. Later they make a date to see “Rebel Without A Cause,” and the romance heats up to the point they move in together.



Image source: Lionsgate

Still working towards their dreams, Sebastian takes a job as a keyboardist in a friend's jazz band and ends up being on the road touring, then back to the recording studio and then back on the road again. Mia in the meantime has mounted a one woman show and performs it to an almost empty house. The career bombs that they are both following put enough friction into the relationship, that Mia leaves LA to return to her parents home. Before she can settle in, Sebastian is at the door to tell her she has an audition for someone who saw and liked her one woman show. Mia aces the audition and is off to film for several months in Paris, effectively ending the relationship.

The film wraps up with a look at where Mia and Sebastian are five years in the future.

There are many fantastic well done dance and musical numbers which are also visually stunning. The romance is nicely balanced with some comedy and drama. All in all, this was an enjoyable outing combining music, dancing, comedy, and drama into an entertaining experience.


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




Doward Wilson is a retired and avid cozy, paranormal, and adventure reader who can’t say no to most books. He recently moved from Independence, Missouri to Gladbrook, Iowa. Located in Central Iowa, Gladbrook (population 900+) is small town, rural farming at its best.

Disclosure: This post contains links to an affiliate program, for which we receive a few cents if you make purchases.




Thursday, February 23, 2017

“Death of a Dapper Snowman” A Stormy Day Mystery series By Angela Pepper

by Kathleen Costa

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

Stormy Day has returned home to Misty Falls, Oregon, excited about her new house and a new business, Glorious Gifts, but leery about town gossip and seeing old friends. She is also keeping an eye on her dad, Finnegan Day, retired police officer, who after an injury, now has a live-in girlfriend/caregiver, Pam Bochenek. She is not one of Stormy’s favorite people, as she barges into the shop shouting complaints about dusty shelves and demands that Stormy drop everything to find her cat. Stormy grits her teeth and sets off in the wintery snow to finding the cat sitting on the porch of her dad’s house. Almost succeeding to capture the Russian Blue ball of mischief, she ends up chasing it into the neighbor’s yard. Sitting on top of a somewhat disheveled snowman, bribes of tasty treats serve to coerce the cat into the pet carrier, and dislodge the snowman’s head. In an attempt to straighten the lopsided head, it falls, and uncovers the body of grumpy Murray Michaels. This isn’t good…


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Stormy has more than once helped her father with some ‘snooping,’ so she does have the skill set, and she’s not shy about asking questions. She starts as a witness telling all she remembers to Officer Tony ‘Baloney’ Milano, childhood friend, but decides when her father is thought to be a ‘person of interest,’ she needs to actively pursue her own investigation. Her covert interrogations start with many of the local businesses discovering shoplifters and snoops, then old friends with gossip, and finally there is the wayward mail, possible distant relatives, and so many town secrets. Although the investigation puts Stormy on everyone’s radar, she does find her new tenant, the hunky lawyer, a very interesting sight. But could the killer have her in their sights, too?



Image source: Angela Pepper

This is the first book of the Stormy Day Mystery series and a great way to introduce some delightful characters and an entertaining mystery. Stormy, not thrilled with her parents’ humor in naming her and her sister (Sunny), is an independent and strong character whose reputation of exacting justice against school bullies has everyone whispering about her return home. Her sidekick Jeffery Blue, a Russian Blue cat, is fun offering that helpful ear and encouraging ‘meow’ for her to sort through her feelings about being back home and whether romance is a possibility, along with going over all of the various suspects and scenarios. It is an easy read with some twists that make you question whether you figured out the motive and the killer. The writing is entertaining, but I thought the final solution was a bit too simplistic. However, I am interested in continuing to read the series currently with four books.

Death of a Dapper Snowman earns 4/5 Sinister Snowmen!

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Death of a Dapper Snowman is currently free on kindle for a limited amount of time.

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




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 a 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 her retirement revitalizing hobbies along with exploring writing, reading for pleasure, and spending 24/7 with her husband.

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.




Friday, February 17, 2017

Robert B. Parker’s "The Devil Wins" By Reed Farrel Coleman

by Gloria Feit

From the publisher: In the wake of a huge nor’easter, three bodies are discovered in the rubble of an abandoned factory building in an industrial part of Paradise known as the Swap. One body, a man’s, wrapped in a blue tarp, is only hours old. But within feet of that body are the skeletal remains of two teenage girls - - soon discovered to be the bodies of girls who went missing during a Fourth of July celebration twenty-five years earlier. Not only does that crime predate Jesse Stone’s arrival in Paradise, but the dead girls were close friends of Jesse’s right hand, Officer Molly Crane. And things grow even more complicated when the mother of one of the dead girls returns to Paradise to bury her daughter and is promptly murdered. It’s up to Police Chief Jesse Stone to pull away the veil of the past to see how all the murders are connected.


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Jesse has been the Chief of Police in Paradise, Massachusetts for over a decade, having left his days as an LA homicide detective behind him. (His drinking at that time of his life being the predominant cause.) But he had found a home in Paradise, in more than the literal sense. His colleagues, among them Molly, Captain Healy (head of the State homicide bureau), and Fire Dept. Chief Robbie Wilson, are wonderfully brought to life by the author (who picked up this series after the passing of Jesse’s creator, Robert B. Parker, and done complete justice to him, and the series). Molly has four kids and a husband, and has recently been promoted to detective, replacing his good friend, Luther “Suitcase”\ Simpson, usually referred to as Suit, after he was seriously wounded in an incident where he took a bullet for Jesse, literally.

The reappearance of ghosts from 25 years ago makes it clear to Jesse that “the past was unrelenting and no grave was deep enough to keep it buried forever . . . those two girls found down there needed a voice, and he meant to give it to them.” And three murders certainly present a challenge to him, not helped by more bodies that soon turn up. Jesse’s private life is looking up, however – he had been divorced for many years from his [cheating] wife when he meets the new ME, Tamara Elkin, who had come to Paradise from the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner of NYC, in what she describes as “a long story” left for another time.



Image source: Putnam

The title derives from some philosophizing about fate and the devil being unseen factors driving what we do, and what is done to us, one character saying to Jesse, speaking of the devil [no pun intended], “Most of the time he loses, but sometimes the devil wins.”

The author wraps it up with a couple of unexpected twists that I for one did not see coming, and doesn’t let up on the suspense as to the identity of the remaining ‘bad guys’ until very late in the book, in very satisfying manner. (Parenthetically, I loved his reminiscences of Ozzie Smith, the great shortstop, called “the Wizard of Oz,” a poster of whom hangs in his house.)

A fast read that lives up to the previous novels of the Messrs. Parker and Coleman, and one that is recommended.

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



Ted & Gloria Feit live in Long Beach, New York, a few miles outside of New York City. For 26 years, Gloria was the manager of a medium-sized litigation firm in lower Manhattan. Her husband, Ted, is an attorney & former stock analyst, publicist & writer/editor for, over the years, several daily, weekly and monthly publications. Having always been avid mystery readers & since they're now retired, they're able to indulge their passion. Their reviews appear online as well as in three print publications in the UK & US.

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.




Friday, February 10, 2017

“Scheduled to Death” A Maggie McDonald Mystery By Mary Feliz

by Cynthia Chow

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

As a Certified Professional Organizer, Maggie McDonald considers organizing to be her superpower. Her compulsive need to be agreeable and help out whenever possible is challenging her struggling new business, and that never becomes more apparent than with her newest Orchard View client. Linc Sinclair is a genius Stanford professor up for a Nobel Prize, but his hoarder-like tendencies make clearing out his Victorian home before a realtor’s showcase a massive challenge. It becomes even more insurmountable when Maggie and her best friend Tess discover the body of Linc’s fiancĂ© electrocuted to death in his bathtub. Maggie had become close friends with school librarian Sarah Palmer, so when the Acting Detective—“Detective Awful”—immediately focuses on the absent-minded professor as his suspect, it’s impossible for Maggie to remain on the sidelines.


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A training accident and broken leg has friendly Detective Jason Mueller unfortunately sitting out the investigation while the clichĂ© of an obnoxious, donut-swilling cop refuses to look further than his own target. This means that Maggie feels she has no choice but to investigate and discover who had reason to want either Sarah or Linc out of the picture. The Professor’s neighboring community garden is run by the Orchard View Plotters Garden Club, and their president is not shy about her opinions on the land use and more than a little protective about her volunteers. Tensions are running high as well among the academia, with some residents wanting to cut out librarians from the schools and competitive researchers at Stanford University making the laboratories equally fraught.



Image source: Lyrical Underground

Each chapter begins with suggestions from the Notebook of Maggie’s Organizing Services, and these range from practical advice on organizing socks to more philosophical tips on talking to teenagers. Maggie’s skills at compartmentalizing and scheduling aid in her investigation, as does her ability to cope with rather difficult personalities. What Maggie does struggle with is her continual need to solve everyone else’s problems, often at a cost to herself. Balancing her life as a businesswoman, wife, and mother of two adolescent boys is never easy, but her humor, good friends, and supportive family are often enough to see her through. Several complex plots are examined, with the solutions being completely unexpected but sadly plausible. A relatable heroine who gains confidence in both her skills as a mother, professional organizer, and an investigator is extremely enjoyable to follow, ensuring that readers will look forward to more of Maggie’s organizing adventures.

To enter to win a copy of Scheduled to Death, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “scheduled,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen February 18, 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.




Thursday, February 2, 2017

“Snowed in with Murder” An Otter Lake Mystery By Auralee Wallace

by Cynthia Chow

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

After a romantic Christmas holiday in Chicago with boyfriend Sheriff Grady Forrester ended in disaster, Erica Bloom returned to Otter Lake, New Hampshire, determined to repair both her relationship and her life. Those plans are stopped in their tracks when Erica arrives at her mother’s nature retreat and spiritual facility to discover not an empty lodge prepared for a romantic interlude, but a room full of irritated guests. Apparently Earth, Moon, and Stars is the filming site of “Rich Bitches,” a reality show spinoff of “The Real MILF Diaries.” The show is as classy as it sounds, and the twist is that mega-millionaire Rayner Boatright has gathered his family together to tell them that no one will be leaving until he discovers which one of them has been attempting to murder him. Drop mike.


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Having fled Otter Lake and her reputation as “Boobsie Bloom,” Erica initially assumes that this is yet another prank by her best friend, Otter Lake’s sole security officer Freddie Ng. Sabotage, a power outage, and a dead body or two pretty much ensure that the insanity is real and that Erica Doom is living up to her new nickname. Stranded at the lodge as a result of a superstorm and the police coping with its fallout, Erica is really wishing that she had followed through on Freddie’s Agatha Christie recommended reading list. For as their ranks dwindle and family members turn against one another, Erica finds herself trapped with possible murderers while protecting the one person designated as the next probable victim.



Image source: St. Martins

This third in the Otter Lake Mystery series never slows down in delivering both laughs and suspenseful twists. Erica may view herself as the lone voice of reason, yet she somehow continues to find herself in the midst of chaos that she often instigates. Her unique upbringing by a free-spirited mother—one who refuses to disclose the identity of Erica’s father—has left Erica skittish about uttering the words that Grady so desperately needs. Considering that her usual allies seem to be mostly M.I.A., Erica is fortunate to have parkour-obsessed Freddie and Deputy Rhonda Cooke to uncharacteristically ground her with their rational observations. This continues to be an outstandingly fun series that often gives its most absurd and eccentric characters genuinely moving moments. Whether or not Erica finally decides just where to make her home, readers are sure to delight in her entertaining friends and even more unpredictable adventures

To enter to win a copy of Snowed in with Murder, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “snowed,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen February 11, 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.