An Uncollected Death by Meg Wolfe

Publisher: Wolfe Johnson (2014)

Length: 373 Pages

Series: Book 1 The Charlotte Anthony Mysteries

Author’s Page

Set in Indiana, Charlotte Anthony is looking at having to downsize from her lake-side house to a small apartment in nearby Elm Grove. Her daughter is off in Paris continuing her education. She’s recently become unemployed since the magazine she’s edited for has had to close down. Luckily, her friend Helene has a sister who needs an editor for a semi-autobiographical work. Unfortunately, Charlotte finds her new employer Olivia dead on the first day with plenty of questions to be answered.

It took some effort to get into this book. I liked that Charlotte was going through this major shift in her life. She had become comfortable and then her stability is gone and she has to pare down her life. Yet the paring down part was mostly long lists of things in her kitchen or clothes closet. That was so tedious I almost gave up on the book. The story went on and on about minimalist lifestyle and how to achieve it, why it’s good for you, etc. It was really harped on and while I like the idea, I didn’t need a step by step tutorial on how to get there.

I liked Helene and even Olivia, who dies early on but we have bits and pieces of her life through these notebooks she left behind. Charlotte has been tasked with finding all these notebooks in Olivia’s cluttered house and then editing them into a publishable book. There are several long info drops when it comes to most of the characters. It’s like I was reading the authors own detailed description notes. This made for boring reading at times.

I did enjoy the treasure hunt for Olivia’s notebooks. She would fill each one, hide it (because she had a disapproving and controlling husband), and begin a new one, starting with a clue as to where she hid the previous one. So while Charlotte and Helene (and sometimes Helene’s photography friend) hunt for these notebooks, someone else keeps coming in at odd hours and stealing small items. Olivia’s estranged son Donovan is the obvious culprit but there’s more to it (which I liked).

Much of the book is focused on Charlotte as she goes through this midlife crisis. The murder mystery is secondary. I wanted to like Charlotte but at times the story was really angsty and that kept putting me off. I wanted to sympathize with Charlotte, but I also felt that she repeatedly sold herself short. She has skills, connections, and resources. She’s not that bad off yet she felt like her life was falling into the gutter. She went from upper middle class to average middle class. It felt like a great fall to her but for many folks, her final landing place would be a step up. So the angsty stuff made it difficult to connect with Charlotte.

In the end, I wanted more mystery. I would have enjoyed reading more about Olivia’s life as an author in Paris during and after WWII. The romance for Charlotte was sweet but also an extremely slow burn. I did like the cat that adopts her.

What I Liked: Olivia’s hidden journals; Helene’s character; Charlotte’s core character; the final wrap up; Charlotte’s new cat friend.

What I Disliked: Lots of long info drops; the long, long lists of Charlotte’s stuff (just not that interesting); the often angsty bits.

The Second Super by Logan Rutherford

RutherfordTheSecondSuperClaudieWhere I Got It: Won a copy

Narrator: Kirby Heyborne

Publisher: Tantor Audio (2015)

Length: 5 hours 34 mins

Series: Book 1 The First Superhero

Author’s Page

Set in the smallish town of Eben, Indiana, Kane Andrews and his friends volunteer at the local high school in assisting with the refugees – fetching supplies, preparing large cafeteria-style meals, etc. Many large East Coast cities have been evacuated because the world’s first superhuman, Richter, runs amok, tearing down buildings and throwing cars around. But things are about to change for Kane and the small town of Eben.

This book was a mixed bag for me. It held to a pretty basic good versus chaotic evil + coming of age storyline. Kane will become the second superhuman and the only one capable of fighting Richter and ending his rampages. However, we have to go through the process with him and that was rather humdrum. Kane wants to keep his identity as a superhuman hush hush, which is smart of him, and yet his first appearance in public is at the high school without a costume of any kind. Granted, it was an emergency situation and there was no time to plan, but the author carries on as if no one had an inkling that Kane was the young man who saved Macy. So, that was a little hard to believe.

The entire story is told through Kane’s eyes, and he’s a teen just coming into adulthood. He needs time to hang out with his friends and drink beer and maybe go on a date. I was OK with all that, as a starting point. But Kane stays pretty simplistic throughout the tale and after a while, that felt rather strained, especially towards the end.

Then we have the ladies. The story opens up with Leopold wishing to interview old lady Mrs. Andrews in the year 2078 (I think I have that right) about young Kane and how he became the second super. She’s neither here nor there. Then back in the main timeline, we have Kane’s mom who is supportive but also turns into useless tears when crap starts flying. Then there’s Macy who faints! Argh! OK. I know humans faint. But can we please balance out the fainting love interest with some realist female characters? Or maybe a man who faints or needs a good therapist? We do get a hard-nosed female FBI Agent, but she has perhaps 10 lines in the book. Then there’s Macy’s sister (who has maybe 3 lines) and a mystery female towards the end of the book that we know next to nothing about by the end of the tale. So, yeah, we could have used some gender balance since this is set in modern days.

The first fight scene was pretty decent and poor Kane loses. That made sense and also meant that Kane had to use his brains more than his fists. The rest of the fight scenes were only OK because they felt rather repetitive. In between these fight scenes, we learn a little bit about Richter and what probably drove him a little mad. That was a good tidbit to have tossed into the story. Kane eventually gets a costume and the media dub him the Tempest. I tend to associate the word ‘tempest’ with water-based storms like hurricanes. But I don’t recall Kane doing any flashy waterworks in his fights with Richter. So the name didn’t feel like a good fit to me.

As a side note, the story refers to past nuclear testing that was done in Arizona. I did a quick Google search and then dug up an expert in radiation safety and between the two, couldn’t find any past nuclear testing in AZ. However, fall out from above ground testing in nearby Nevada did affect AZ. It’s a small incorrect point in the story but one that stood out to me, being a lifelong resident of the desert Southwest.

The ending was OK. We have a big glorious fight scene and then clean up. The final ending takes us back to where we started with Leopold conducting his interview. The author has definitely set things up for a sequel. There’s plenty of questions left about Kane and the mystery woman at the end of his section of the story. All told, this book was a bit meh for me.

I won a copy of this book from the Lazy Day Library Facebook group (via The Audio Book Reviewer) with no strings attached.

Narration: Kirby Heyborne was a good fit for Kane. He sounds like a polite young man in his late teens. The narrator is able to be a bit more serious and sound a little gruff when needed for other characters. His female voices are believable.

What I Liked: Not all superhumans will start off as superheroes; Kane does volunteer work; the first fight scene was decent; some end-story questions set the reader up for a sequel.

What I Disliked: Why didn’t anyone recognize Kane from the high school event?; the love interest faints which is so cliched; the fight scenes became repetitive; Kane’s superhero name doesn’t quite fit.

What Others Think:

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