Tuesday, December 16, 2014

German Three Investigators Hollywood Horrors, Web Phantom, and Pirate's Curse

In Hollywood Horrors, the boys witness someone falling from the Hollywood sign up in the Hollywood hills.  The boys find a talisman that contains a message.  The message was written by Casey Wye, an actress who is now deceased.  The boys feel certain that the message is important and holds a clue to an important secret.

This book did not keep my interest very well, and I was rather bored.  I think this has more to do with my reaction to the story rather than how good the story actually is.

For instance, the book opens with the boys sneaking up to the Hollywood sign, solely because Peter made a bet with another boy on whether he would write his initials on the sign.  That type of behavior is not fitting for the Three Investigators, so the book lost me on the first page.  I did not enjoy it very much.

In Web Phantom, Miss Bennett, the librarian, has disappeared!  The boys fear that she has been the victim of foul play as they search for clues to her whereabouts.

I haven't been noticing the expletives in recent books, and apparently, these later books have fewer or no expletives.

We learn that the library has 4,000 books.  This seems small to me, probably because I own more than 4,000 books.

This book grabbed my attention from the first page.  It reminds me of the original Three Investigators books written by M. V. Carey.  Unfortunately, the book began to lose me halfway through, and from that point, I found it a bit boring.  Later, the book got interesting again.

This book is overall good.

In The Pirate's Curse, the boys' rival, Althena, is in trouble and leaves them her cell phone as a clue.  The boys follow a series of clues found in the photos on the phone and discover that Althena was searching for a pirate's treasure that is reputedly hidden on an island.

This passage from page 40 pays homage to Alfred Hitchcock without ever mentioning his name.
Bob parked his vehicle directly in front of the bungalow with the sign Elivira Zuckerman.  It was up one step and then through a glass door.  The reception room was not occupied.  Justus walked up to a large door and knocked.

"Come in!"

Curious, [the Three Investigators] stepped into the office.  Elvira Zuckerman sat majestically behind a gigantic desk. She stood to greet them. "Mr. Shaw contacted you about us," said Justus. "This is Bob Andrews, here is Mr. Shaw's son, Peter, and I am Justus Jonas."

While Mrs. Zuckerman came over to them, Justus winked at Peter and Bob: a picture of a famous film director hung on the wall. Mrs. Zuckerman caught the look. "An important predecessor and an important role-model. This room was once his office." Justus nodded, smiling.
This book is very good.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

New Books Listed on Bonanza

I listed 71 series books books this weekend on Bonanza.

Jennifer's Series Books on Bonanza

Change the sort to "newest" to see what was just listed.

I listed Rick Brant picture covers, Brains Benton, Nancy Drew tweed books without jackets, Hardy Boys tweed books without jackets, Dana Girls picture covers, Nancy Drew tweed books with jackets, and a few Nancy Drew picture covers.

Don't forget that I also have series books on eBay.

Jennifer's Series Books on eBay

This gets me mostly caught up with books that I needed to list on Bonanza.  I'll work on listings for eBay sometime in the next two weeks.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Rick Brant #8 Caves of Fear and #9 Stairway to Danger

In Rick Brant #8, The Caves of Fear, Chahda sends a coded telegram to Spindrift Island.  After decoding the message, the boys discover that Chahda is in danger and that he needs their help.  Rick, Scotty, and Zircon travel to Hong Kong to follow the clues that Chahda provided.

While science plays a role as always, I did not find it distracting.  This book has no lengthy descriptions of scientific concepts.

I found this story to be very engaging, especially once the group arrives in Hong Kong.  I read this book much faster than I did the previous book.  The books I enjoy the most are ones that provide adventure without including an overabundance of tedious detail.  This book fit both conditions, so I enjoyed it greatly. 

In Rick Brant #9, Stairway to Danger, the scientists from Spindrift Island are building a robotic bulldozer for the government.  Meanwhile, Jerry and Barby's vehicle is struck by a hit-and-run driver.  Rick and Scotty are determined to find the culprit and soon believe that the culprit is hiding in an amusement park next to the building where the Spindrift scientists are working on the robot.

After Jerry and Barby are struck by the hit-and-run driver, the state police can't help much because they are looking for an escaped convict.  I drew the immediate conclusion that the escaped convict was the hit-and-run driver.  Who else would it be?  Series books are so predictable.

I find the cover art to be lacking.  The author's name is obscured by the background colors.  The villain looks so strange wearing what appears to be a beret.  Rick's pose disturbs me.  His left leg doesn't look right to me.  Last, the Tractosaur, or robotic bulldozer, looks like a funky flying saucer hovering over the ground. 

The climax of the book, which is the scene depicted on the cover, is hilarious.  You could also say that the cover art is unintentionally hilarious.

This book had some lengthy scientific descriptions that were boring to me.  I skimmed through those passages.  Other than those scattered parts, I found the story to be very engaging, and I read the book rather quickly.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

German Three Investigators Pharoah's Message, Black Madonna, and Soccer Mania

In The Pharaoh's Message, Rubbish George has disappeared.  Peter finds a strange message in George's shack.  The message gives clues to a hidden treasure.  The boys travel to Egypt in pursuit of the treasure.

On page 36, a cell phone is locked in a safe at the hotel because Justus does not like cell phones.  I'm not surprised, since the boys tend not to use cell phones in these books.  It's like the authors wanted the books to be similar to the older ones when the boys didn't have phones.

On page 38, a picture reminds Peter "of a good friend."  The man in the picture has a "large, half-bald head, cheeks that drooped..."  Although not mentioned by name, Alfred Hitchcock follows the boys on their adventures in spirit.

This book is very suspenseful and fast-paced.  Although I grew a bit bored towards the end, I still consider the book quite good.

In Black Madonna, the boys are witnesses to an attack on a dealer in a flea market.  As the victim loses consciousness, he asks that the boys find the black Madonna. 

On page 7, the book states that Uncle Titus manages a used car business, but on page 10, the boys are selling junk in a junk stand.  The statement about the used car business had to have been a mistake in the translation.

I enjoyed this book.

In Soccer Mania, Peter trains for a local soccer team.  Meanwhile, a boy asks the Three Investigators to help his grandparents, who are being threatened.  No connection appears to exist between soccer and the threats to the grandparents, but we soon learn that the threats have everything to do with soccer.

Soccer is very popular around the world, so I understand why so many of the books feature soccer.  However, I am getting tired of all of these soccer stories.

I find the cover art disturbing.  The picture is of a soccer ball with insects on it, but to me, it looks like a skull with insects crawling inside and out. 

I overall enjoyed this book, although the parts about soccer bored me.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Rick Brant #6 Phantom Shark and #7 Smuggler's Reef

In Rick Brant #6, The Phantom Shark, Rick, Scotty, and Barby travel on a South Sea voyage with friends of the Brants.  The purpose of the voyage is to survey the ocean in order to find new fishing grounds.  The young people soon learn about the Phantom Shark, a man notorious for hunting pearls and killing anyone who gets in his way.  Rick and Scotty have reason to believe that they have come in contact with the Phantom Shark and that the mysterious stranger is responsible for damage to their boat.

This story has very little to do with science and is instead a mystery and adventure story.  I really enjoyed having Barby come along on the trip and feel that she added another dimension to the story.  This book is the type of adventure story that I really enjoy.  During the entire book, I felt suspense leading up to the ultimate confrontation between Rick and his friends and the Phantom Shark.  For that reason, I read the book pretty quickly, eager to see what would happen next.  I greatly enjoyed this book, and this is my favorite Rick Brant book so far.

In Rick Brant #7, Smugglers' Reef, Rick and Scotty help Jerry as he tracks a story for the newspaper.  Captain Tyler ran his ship aground at Smugglers' Reef, and he claims that he was drunk.  Rick is certain that Tyler is afraid of something and is taking the blame on purpose.  Rick and Scotty believe that Tyler found out about a smuggling operation, so they set out to get proof of their suspicions.

I like the opening line of the book.  " 'Adventure,' Rick Brant said, 'is kind of hard to define, because what may be adventure to one person may be commonplace to another.' "  It's the same with books.  I find that I often respond completely differently to books than how other people did.

On page 4, an electronic mind reader is mentioned.  This caught my eye since one of the later titles in the series is The Electronic Mind Reader.

This book also has very little science in it.

The plot of this book is slow.  By halfway through this book, I felt like the text had really begun to drag and that I was reading a story that seemed like it was 400 pages long rather than slightly more than 200.  The book basically consists of a very detailed investigation into the smuggling, and I felt like the story took too long to develop and way too much detail was given.

Since I was not overwhelmingly thrilled with this book, I sought out reviews online out of curiosity.  I noticed that one person stated that many have compared this book to Ken Holt.  Perhaps that is it.  The comparison was most likely made because Rick and Scotty are acting like reporters, which matches up with Ken and Sandy's roles in the Ken Holt books.  I instead thought about the excessive detail of this book and how it reminds me of Ken Holt, and that detail is what bothered me about the Ken Holt books.

As I continued to read, I grew more and more tired of the book.  It's not that the story was bad; it's that it went on and on so very slowly.  It was realistic how difficult it was for Rick and Scotty to get proof of the smuggling, but it didn't make for a very engaging book.

The plot was weak.  Rick and Scotty were sure that the Kelsos were smuggling, but they had no tangible evidence to support that belief.  I'd hate for someone to decide I'm guilty of a crime just because they see me getting something out of my car at 12 AM.  That's a lot like what happened in this book.

It took me longer to get through this book than it should have.  I couldn't read much at a time because it kept going on and on.  Finally, I finished it.  While the book is overall good and has some really good moments, the story is tiresome. 

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Rick Brant Website Section and Related Thoughts

I was not planning to add a Rick Brant section to my website.  However, I decided to do it for two reasons.  First, I decided that I could do it with considerably less effort than it took to add the Three Investigators section this summer.  Rick Brant is a shorter series with fewer formats.  Second, I did it because many secondary series like Rick Brant are neglected on the internet.  There used to be an excellent Rick Brant site, but that site is now defunct.  The only way to view it is through the Internet Wayback Machine.  If you don't know how to find it, then you'll never see it. 

Rick Brant Science-Adventure Series

I do have a link to the defunct Rick Brant site down at the bottom of the page.  The section is complete as of right now except for some possible editing of my comments about the series on the main page of the section.  Additionally, I will be rewriting the summary of #24 from what was provided by the publisher.  I am currently reading #23, so I will get to the #24 summary sometime this week.

I created this section rather fast.  I already had the scans of the books, and I just needed to create the section.  I copied another section and changed the text for Rick Brant.  I created the entire section probably the fastest I have ever done, in just a couple of days.  The summaries were the hardest part, since I had to write them so that they were the length I needed to match the images. 

I do proofread by reading the text myself several times over.  Often, website owners get criticized by readers when typos slip through, and sometimes readers assume that everyone relies on a spell checker.  Not so.  While the HTML editor does underline possible typos in red, it won't let me know when I have typed a wrong word that is correctly spelled.  Those errors can only be spotted by reading the text over and over.  Many of them can slip by through repeated readings since the mind automatically reads the word as what was intended.

For instance, I finally noticed that I had typed "certainly" when I meant to type "certainty."  At a glance, the word looked like what I meant, but I finally spotted the one incorrect letter.  Elsewhere, I had typed "fisherman" instead of "fishermen" and kept reading it as "fishermen."  Finally, I realized that I needed to change one letter.  If I hadn't made that change, someone might have thought that I didn't know the difference between singular and plural.

I proofread the same way for this blog.  The blog editor does mark misspelled words, but it doesn't know when I have typed the wrong word spelled correctly.  Most of these posts get read six or more times by me before they get published.

Don't get too excited expecting for me to add more sections to my website.  I might, since I have now added two this year, but then again, I might not.  I can't promise anything, but if I do add another section, it will be done impulsively and fast.  I do feel more inclined to do so than I did this summer.  I really had to force myself to create the Three Investigators section, and it was grueling.  I had motivational issues, especially because I hadn't added a section in five years.  Doing Rick Brant was a breeze by comparison, but I'll just have to see how I feel after I start reading my next new series.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

German Three Investigators Evil Games and Ghost Train

In Evil Games, Justus awakens locked inside a room with a young man he has never seen before.  Meanwhile, Peter wakes up in a room separate from Justus.  A woman is locked up with Peter.  Nobody can remember what happened. 

Bob returns from a trip and discovers that both Justus and Peter are missing.  Justus' aunt and uncle are frantic with worry.  Bob's friend, Jelena, helps him investigate.

This book contains mild expletives.

I wasn't sure about this book at the very beginning.  Justus and Peter are prisoners in separate locked rooms, and each of them is locked up with someone they don't know.  The opening scene reads like a dream.  I was skeptical about the book, because I dislike extended dream sequences.  I want to know what is really happening and consider dreams a waste of time.  As I continued to read, I gradually realized that the boys really were prisoners.

Bob's friend, Jelena, uses a wheelchair.  On pages 62 and 63, she creates a distraction so that Bob can escape from an apartment.
"And I'm here to collect signatures.  It certainly hasn't escaped you that the elevator in your building is in catastrophic condition.  For someone in a wheelchair it is next to impossible to enter without help from strangers.  The Society for the Elimination of Life-Impeding Injustices for the Physically Impaired Citizens of West Hollywood, abbreviated S.E.L.I.I.P.I.C.W.H., of which I am the chairman and only current member, has taken on the task of combatting [sic] these scandalous conditions.  You can become a member at no cost and in turn receive the society's quarterly newsletter.  However, a small donation would also assist the society.  The Elimination of Life-Impeding Injustices for the Physically Impaired Citizens of West Hollywood impacts everyone, you too."
On page 75, another book in the German Three Investigators series is mentioned, and this is one of the books that was translated into English.  After that book was mentioned, I began to realize part of what was going on in this book.  The tie-in is great.

Once I determined that Justus and Peter's imprisonment was real, I found this book to be fascinating and read it in less than one day.  The story is very suspenseful, and the book is outstanding.

In The Mystery of the Ghost Train, Justus, Peter, and Bob travel on an old train to the Harrowville Railroad Museum.  The museum has been plagued with problems and is closing.  The owner has offered to give Titus Jones first pick at purchasing the museum's items.  Uncle Titus is unable to make the trip, so the boys go in his place.

The boys' train ride is plagued with problems, and they discover firsthand that the train tunnel through the mountains is haunted.  The boys suspect that someone has forced the museum to close, and they plan to investigate.

This book contains mild expletives.

A boy who works as a conductor on the train is named Fred Jenkins.  This amused me, since I couldn't help thinking of Fred Jenkins from the Nancy Drew book, The Phantom of Pine Hill.

The boys use different colors of chalk in this book just like in the original series.

This book is very engaging.  Finding the treasure is important, because quite a few people need help.

This book is comparable to the original Three Investigators books, and is just like those books in atmosphere and story.  This book is outstanding.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Rick Brant #4 100 Fathoms Under and #5 Whispering Box Mystery

In Rick Brant #4, 100 Fathoms Under, the Brants, Scotty, and the scientists travel to Hawaii on an expedition to explore a temple that is at the bottom of the ocean.  They will use their creation, the Submobile, for the exploration.  Rick quickly becomes suspicious of the captain of the ship, Turk, who alternates between friendly and sullen.  A strange Japanese man is found to be lurking near the ship, and Rick worries about sabotage.

This book has several derogatory terms including Jap, Nip, gooks, and yellow ape.  This isn't surprising since the book was published right after World War II.  The book also contains some very crude threats, including one where a man threatens to cut out another man's tongue.

Some of the banter between Chahda and Scotty gets on my nerves.  This is the sort of thing that occurs in boys' series that is not much to my liking.

I was temporarily bored a number of times during the descriptions of the Submobile and its parts as they worked on it.  I had to skim some of it.  I also found my mind wandering at times while I was reading the first half of the book.  The book doesn't get to the point until halfway through, when the Submobile is finally taken down underwater to the temple.  From that point on, the book is quite interesting.

The first half of the book is overall good although I was bored at times, and the second half is very good.

In Rick Brant #5, The Whispering Box Mystery, Rick is peeved because Hartson Brant and the scientists won't let him know about their current project.  Finally, Rick and Scotty are told a little bit about a whispering box used by villains to help them gain access to classified information.  The boys are sent to Washington, D.C. to help create a device to counter the effect of the whispering box . 

This book reads like a spy novel with lots of action and intrigue.  The reader is kept guessing at to what the villains' true motive is.  The book flows well and is interesting. I did find a few chase scenes to be a little long for my taste.  Towards the last few chapters, I grew tired of the story and was eager to finish.  That aside, I enjoyed this book.