Thursday, August 25, 2016

Hardy Boys Undercover Brothers #22-24: The Murder House Trilogy

The Hardy Boys Undercover Brothers Murder House Trilogy consists of the following titles.

#22 Deprivation House
#23 House Arrest
#24 Murder House

In #22 Deprivation House, the contestants to a new reality show, Deprivation House, have received death threats.  Frank and Joe join the cast to uncover who is behind the threats.

Most of the characters are not described well, and some of them have no descriptions at all.  They are introduced too fast, and it's very hard to remember any of them. This greatly took away from my enjoyment of the story.

A film star was murdered in this house.  I already know that this must be important to the entire trilogy even though it is a side note in this book. 

This isn't going to sound nice, but I kept thinking of the author as a hack writer as I read this book.  This book has poor descriptions regarding everything, and the story is not that interesting.

Despite the book's shortcomings, it is a decent book.

In #23 House Arrest, Frank and Joe think they can go home.  The culprit has been caught and is in jail.  But when more threats are made, the boys realize that someone else is sabotaging the show.  This is so shocking!

Actually it isn't.  That's how every single Nancy Drew Girl Detective trilogy plays out.  A culprit is revealed but is not the real culprit.  I knew this series would use the same flawed concept.  Argh!

This book is sabotage, sabotage, and even more sabotage.

Each time a contestant wins a competition, they must choose a privilege to take away from the house.  It's really dumb that Frank takes away the television privilege.  A network movie about the murder that occurred in the house is going to be on television, and the contestants have been looking forward to watching it.  Since stupid Frank takes away television, the boys can't watch the movie and will miss out on clues.  But of course that is what the author wants!

At the end of the book we find the culprit for the warnings and sabotage—at least most of it.  We learn that the culprit isn't responsible for everything.  There's yet another saboteur!

This book is also decent, but it's also kind of boring.

In #24 Murder House, Frank and Joe continue their investigation.

I knew early in the first book that one contestant had to be the daughter of the murdered woman.  The age of the contestants is exactly how old the daughter would now be.  By the end of the first book, I knew that daughter had to be one of two contestants, even though Frank and Joe have no clue that the murder has anything to do with the events in the house.  In the second book, I was almost certain which contestant was the daughter.  This was confirmed at the end of the third book.

This trilogy is unsatisfying because Frank and Joe don't figure out that the daughter is in the house until the last 20 pages of the final book of the trilogy.  Idiots.

This book was written in a bland fashion, and I felt no suspense at all.  I also never cared about any of the characters.  At the end of the final book, I couldn't remember which saboteur did what.  It's very confusing.

This trilogy is not good.

As I reached this point in the Hardy Boys Undercover Brothers series, I began to develop a deep disliking for everything about the series.  That disliking strengthened as I continued to read through the trilogies.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Hardy Boys Undercover Brothers #19 Foul Play, #20 Feeding Frenzy, and #21 Comic Con Artist

In Hardy Boys Undercover Brothers #19 Foul Play, Frank and Joe go undercover as members of Pinnacle College's football team. Pinnacle is to play for the national championship, and it is believed that some of the players are going to throw the game.

On page 37, we learn that Joe played football in school.  In Undercover Brothers #5, Frank and Joe did not play football because Fenton wouldn't let them.

I expected this book to be very boring, since it would be the typical football and gambling conspiracy  story.  It turned out much more interesting than I expected.

Joe plays in the championship game.  The problem is that he is not a student at Pinnacle. Colleges can't have random students from elsewhere playing football, especially in a national championship game.  Nothing is ever mentioned in the book about this being a problem.

This story reads a lot like a Hardy Boys Digest book, so this might have been a Digest book that was revised for this series.

This is an excellent book.

In Hardy Boys Undercover Brothers #20, Feeding Frenzy, a death has occurred in a qualifying round for Football Frank's Super Bowl hot dog eating contest.  Frank and Joe enter the contest as contestants as they investigate the death.

On page 8, we learn Chet is not athletic, that he is a "couch potato."  I guess he has already lost the "two hundred pounds of solid muscle, yo" that he had built up in Murder at the Mall.  What a shame.

The characters are not introduced well in this story, and I didn't care about any of them.  The story is mostly not very interesting until around page 100.

The story gives too much information about hot dog eating contests, like graphic descriptions about how to eat the hot dogs and buns quickly.  There is a medical emergency later in the book that also involves some graphic information I won't repeat.  Ugh.  Boys probably enjoy this information, but I don't.

This book is overall good, except for the gross parts.

In Hardy Boys Undercover Brothers #21, Comic Con Artist, Frank and Joe investigate forgeries of valuable comic book art.

One character makes really nasty statements about how comic books are childish.  I don't like seeing this kind of very negative statement about comic books, since it feeds the stigma against comic books.

On page 101, Frank and Joe interview a professor who has lots of comic book memorabilia in his office.  Joe immediately picks up a statue, which I thought was quite rude.  When the professor grabs the statue from Joe immediately, Joe thinks to himself about how this is "the kind of guy who [doesn't] want you touching his collection." Can you blame him?

I overall enjoyed this book, but I lost interest towards the end.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Hardy Boys Undercover Brothers #16 Bayport Buccaneers, #17 Murder at the Mall, and #18 Pushed

In Hardy Boys #16, Bayport Buccaneers, Frank and Joe participate in a reality show that is set on a pirate ship.  Contestants must complete tasks in order to advance, and valuable prizes will be offered.  A member of the crew died recently, and the boys must find out whether he was murdered.

The book is a retread of Hardy Boys Digest #183 Warehouse Rumble and is similar to #132 Maximum Challenge.  All three books are television show sabotage stories.  For that reason, the book isn't as interesting as it could have been.

The book is overall good, but I got bored towards the end.  I skimmed the last part of the story.

In Hardy Boys Undercover Brothers #17, Murder at the Mall, an environmental group has sent threats to the owner of a local mall. Meanwhile, someone is sabotaging the mall. The mall is losing money, and the owner may decide to sell the mall.  Frank and Joe investigate.

On page 12, we learn that Chet is no longer fat.  He joined a bodybuilding program and has somehow disciplined his eating habits.  Chet now has muscles.  On page 164, Chet pats his stomach and brags, "Two hundred pounds of solid muscle, yo."

Chet is so strong that he is able to hold onto the rear bumper of a car to keep it from moving forward while the accelerator is jammed down.  Say what?!

This is a very good book that keeps the reader guessing.

In Hardy Boys Undercover Brothers #18, Pushed, Frank and Joe go undercover as runaways in New York City.  The boys stay at a shelter for runaways.  A boy who recently stayed at the shelter may have been murdered.

I wasn't surprised about the culprit, since I figured that person had to be the one from the very beginning of the book.  However, I didn't figure out the motive until much later in the book.  I was shocked as I realized how ruthless this person is, committing crimes that go far beyond what Frank and Joe originally thought.

This is an excellent book.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Hardy Boys Undercover Brothers #13 Mummy's Curse, #14 Hazed, and #15 Death and Diamonds

In Hardy Boys Undercover Brothers #13, The Mummy's Curse, a man found a map to a hidden tomb that contains a golden mummy.  The man was killed for the map, but he had given the map to his girlfriend, television star Sam Chilton, who plans to find the mummy.  Frank and Joe join Sam's expedition.

The beginning chapters are stupid.  The explanatory information concerning the mission is much longer than usual and bored me.  I couldn't stand Sam at the beginning of the book.  She is depicted as an extreme airhead.  I came very close to abandoning the book within the first 50 pages.  I forced myself to keep going.  Once the expedition begins, the story is much better.  Oddly, Sam quits being an airhead, which makes no sense at all.

The first part of the book is not good, and the rest of the book is very good.

In Hardy Boys Undercover Brothers #14, Hazed, Frank and Joe go undercover at Eagle River Academy.  A boy named Roy died recently, supposedly of a heart attack, but ATAC believes that he may have died as a result of hazing.  Frank and Joe allow themselves to be hazed in order to pick up clues.

We learn near the end of the story that Roy died from poisoning.  I find it very hard to believe that an autopsy would not have found the poison in Roy's body and that a heart attack would have been blamed.

This is an excellent book.

I realized near of the end of Hazed that the Undercover Brothers books don't have the boring question and answer session at the end.  That was a staple of the original 58.  It was used less often in the Digests, but still too often for my taste, since I almost always find it boring. 

In Hardy Boys Undercover Brothers #15, Death and Diamonds, an auction of valuable diamonds is taking place in Bayport.  Frank and Joe must serve as personal bodyguards to the two supermodels who will be wearing the jewelry.  Meanwhile, they must help thwart underworld characters from stealing the diamonds.

I enjoyed this book.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Finding My Blog Reviews

Many of you are completely unaware of how many series books I have already reviewed in this blog.  I have already done the following.

Adventurous Allens
Biff Brewster
Billie Bradley
Brad Forrest
Brains Benton
Bret King
Cherry Ames
Hardy Boys #1-190
Hardy Boys Undercover Brothers (in progress)
Hardy Boys Adventures (coming soon)
Jenny Dean (coming soon)
Ken Holt
Lance Todd
Linda Carlton
Mill Creek Irregulars
Nancy Drew #1-175
Nancy Drew Girl Detective
Nancy Drew Diaries
Phyllis Whitney
Power Boys
Rick Brant
Roger Baxter
Sandy Steele
Secret Circle Mysteries
Three Investigators
Tom Quest
Troy Nesbit
Wynn and Lonny (coming soon)

I have also partially reviewed many other series.  So, how can you find the reviews? It's quite simple.  Blogger has something called "labels."  For each post, I use one label. My label for my reviews of Nancy Drew #1-56 is "Nancy Drew Reviews."  My label for my Nancy Drew Girl Detective reviews is "Nancy Drew Girl Detective Reviews."

To find the labels, scroll down the right side of any page in the blog.  Click on the label that interests you.  For labels that have many posts, I have also discovered that many of you are unaware of how to find the older posts.  For instance, when the "Nancy Drew Reviews" label is selected, the review for #56 shows at the top of the page, and the last review at the bottom is for #38.  But that's not all of them.

In the lower right underneath the review for #38 is a link titled "Older Posts."

I highlighted the link in the above image.  That link can be selected to find the reviews for Nancy Drew #1-37.

I use labels correctly, unlike many bloggers.  First, let's distinguish between tags, labels, and categories.  In Word Press, blog authors use both tags and categories.  The tags are for search engine optimization.  The categories are used to organize posts so that readers can find them.

In Blogger, which is what I use, we only have labels.  Unfortunately, many Blogger users think labels are for search engine optimization, so they place a bunch of labels on each post, labels that don't help the reader find anything.  Instead, the blog writer should use one label per post.

Rather than use an actual blog, I am going to make up an example.  Let's say that a blog writer has published a review of the revised text of Nancy Drew #18, Mystery of the Moss-Covered Mansion.  An incorrect use of labels would be to use words and phrases like "exploding oranges," "NASA," and "Florida."  Remember, labels are for locating posts.  Nobody will try to find all Nancy Drew posts that mention "exploding oranges," especially since only one post will mention them!

When I was reading the Hardy Boys Digests, I wanted to read reviews of each title.  I found a blog that has some reviews, but that blog publishes infrequently and not in order by title.  This wouldn't have been a problem if the blog used the labels properly. The blog is hosted by Blogger, but the blog owner uses the labels for keyword spamming.  I cannot figure out which books this person has reviewed without scrolling through the entire blog.  I am not going to bother trying to find the reviews.  The blog has lost my views since the labels are no help at all.

The last time I brought up this topic, I was told that I was wrong.  Here are some articles that explain that the labels are to be used to organize content by category, not for search engine optimization or for keyword spamming.

What Exactly Are Blog Labels or Categories?
What are labels and how to use labels in Blogger to sort your content?

There are numerous other articles that say the same thing about the proper use of the labels for blogs.  If you have any kind of blog, I strongly encourage you to change the labels into categories instead of random keywords.  I don't read blogs very often, because most that interest me cannot be navigated.

This blog now has 1,267 posts.  Nobody would be able to find anything if I had random keywords as my labels.  The blog would be a chaotic mess.

My goal is to make it easy for you to find what you want to read.  I took the same approach when I created my website, Series Books for Girls.  I tried to avoid the issues that plague many sites.  Several major series book websites have an unclear hierarchy, and I have to use Google to find where certain information is located.  It shouldn't be that hard.  I tried to create an obvious hierarchy.  As a precaution, I also created a site map so that readers could find every page on the site regardless of whether my hierarchy makes sense to them.  Many sites don't have a site map.

The bottom line is that websites and blogs must make information easy for readers to find.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Hardy Boys Undercover Brothers #10 Blown Away, #11 Hurricane Joe, and #12 Trouble in Paradise

In Hardy Boys Undercover Brothers #10, Blown Away, two high-profile events are taking place at the Billington Resort:  a car auction and a celebrity wedding.  Someone has threatened to blow up the resort.  The man who is getting married and the man running the auction both hate each other, making them primary suspects.  Frank and Joe are tasked with finding the bomb before it detonates.

Several scenes are confusing as to which boy is narrating.  This author had a bad habit of using the pronoun "he" for the brother not narrating, and I kept forgetting which boy was the narrator.

This book is just average.  I overall enjoyed it, but it's not memorable.

In Hardy Boys Undercover Brothers #11, Hurricane Joe, a local weather network has sent out hurricane warnings that turn out to be fake.  During the false hurricane warnings, houses get burglarized. 

This book was published in 2006.  The premise is a great idea, but it would have been more logical for the early part of the 20th century.  I find it really hard to believe that an entire town evacuates when the sky is blue with the sun shining and only one station predicting a hurricane.  In 2006, there was something called the Internet, and it seems that some people would have figured out that the warnings were fake. 

On page 120, we learn that Aunt Trudy's name is actually Gertrude, like we didn't already know.  On page 168, we learn why Trudy doesn't let anyone call her Gertrude.  It's because of Hurricane Gertrude and all the jokes that Trudy (er, Gertrude) received afterwards. 

Frank and Joe tease each other way too much in this book.  It's annoying.

This book is okay, but the story is too hard to believe.  It is a weak story.

In Hardy Boys Undercover Brothers #12, Trouble in Paradise, the son of Don Ricardo, the UN Ambassador from the island of St. John, has disappeared.  Frank and Joe are sent to the Caribbean island to find him.

This story interested me enough that I read it, but it is just okay and not memorable.

Obviously, these books are all lacking.  The Hardy Boys Undercover Brothers series started off in a fashion that was interesting, albeit highly flawed, but at this point, the series begins going downhill fast.  The scary part is that these books are still early in the series.  Ugh.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Hardy Boys Undercover Brothers #7 Operation: Survival, #8 Top Ten Ways to Die, and #9 Martial Law

In Hardy Boys Undercover Brothers #7, Operation: Survival, Frank and Joe investigate a camp for teens who have gotten into trouble with the law.  Two people have died at two different camps, and ATAC suspects that the man in charge of the camps is responsible.  Frank and Joe enter the camp pretending to be teens who have been arrested.

Nancy Drew is mentioned on page 100, which is interesting since the Hardy Boys are never mentioned in the Nancy Drew Girl Detective series.

I had trouble telling the other teen characters apart.  They are introduced way too fast with very little information.

I greatly enjoyed this book.  The story has a twist at the end that I did not expect.

In Hardy Boys Undercover Brothers #8, Top Ten Ways to Die, Frank and Joe investigate who is trying to murder rock star Vee Sharp.  They join the crew of Vee Sharp's music video in order to investigate undercover.

This is yet another rock star sabotage plot.  I usually don't like these very much.  I enjoyed this book more than I usually do this type of plot. 

In Hardy Boys Undercover Brothers #9, Martial Law, Frank and Joe sign on as students at the Rising Phoenix Martial Arts Center.  Two Rising Phoenix students were attacked and nearly killed, and ATAC wants Frank and Joe to find out whether there is a connection between the attacks.

The center only takes boys who are small and wimpy.  Somehow Frank and Joe get in, even though they don't meet the criteria.  Frank and Joe are amazed at how large the students at the center become after being there for a number of months.  Hmm...

On page 86, Frank and Joe find out that the owner has lots of pills in unmarked pill bottles.  Hmm...  I knew immediately that the pills have to be steroids.  Foolish Frank and Joe don't make the connection until later in the book.

This book is okay, but I never found it very interesting.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Hardy Boys Undercover Brothers #4 Thrill Ride, #5 Rocky Road, and #6 Burned

In Hardy Boys Undercover Brothers #4, Thrill Ride, Frank and Joe investigate a death and sabotage at Uncle Bernie's Fun Park.  A woman was recently killed on the roller coaster, and it is suspected that the death was not an accident.

This sabotage plot is interesting.

In each book, Fenton worries about Frank and Joe.  Fenton is the one who got the boys into ATAC, so his worry is not logical.  Fenton acts like a mother hen, and this is disconcerting, since Fenton never behaved like that in any of Hardy Boys #1-190.  I find Fenton's excessive worrying to be obnoxious.  So do Frank and Joe.

I really enjoyed this book.

In Hardy Boys Undercover Brothers #5, Rocky Road, Frank and Joe are sent on several bogus ATAC missions while vandalism occurs back in Bayport.  The boys soon suspect the Bayport ATAC agent of being in league with the vandals.

On page 70, we learn that Frank and Joe have never played football, which is a change from the original series.

Callie and Iola appear in this book, and they don't drive yet.  Chet just got his license.  This means that Chet is probably 16, and the girls are probably 15.

It's odd that Frank isn't nervous around Callie and Iola, since he is petrified around all other girls. It's also odd that Callie is present, and this is her only appearance in the Undercover Brothers series.  For those two reasons, I believe that this book was originally intended to be a Hardy Boys Digest book that was instead used in this series.

This is an excellent book.

In Hardy Boys Undercover Brothers #6, Burned, Frank and Joe must find the mastermind who is bootlegging CDs in Bayport.

This book was published in 2005.  I am pretty sure that by 2005 CDs were already into a steep decline.  For that reason, I had trouble getting into this book.  In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if this book had originally been written as a Digest book and was adapted for this series.  It would have been more logical for this book to have been published several years before it was.  The story parallels one of the Digest books set at Bayport High School, and I have a feeling that the plot was created around that time.

I didn't find this book to be that interesting.  I never cared about the identity of the culprit.  Normally, I do.  This book is weak.