Monday, September 26, 2016

Hardy Boys Adventures #5 Peril at Granite Peak and #6 Battle of Bayport

In Hardy Boys Adventures #5, Peril at Granite Peak, Frank and Joe enjoy their winter break at Granite Peak Ski Lodge.  A series of accidents endangers several people at the resort.  Frank and Joe soon suspect that someone is sabotaging the resort.

This book has a different tone than the first four books.  The author uses a more colloquial approach, and it reminds me of some of the Nancy Drew Diaries books that I don't like as much. The plot is also blatant sabotage, which doesn't help.

On page 15, Chet smirks at Frank and Joe. Bess and George also smirk at Nancy in some of the Diaries books that aren't as good. I don't like it when the protagonists' friends smirk. It's a word that is better used to apply to an enemy, not a friend.

I wouldn't be surprised if the author of the subpar Nancy Drew Diaries books is also the author of this book.  This book is kind of annoying just like those books.  In fact, I refer to that Nancy Drew Diaries author as the "Obnoxious Author," because that person's writing is obnoxious.

On page 25, we learn that Chet has an old yellow roadster named Queen.  Good grief! How long has it been since we've seen Queen?  She last made an appearance in the era of the revised text Hardy Boys books from the original set, which is no later than the 1970s.

Bathroom needs are mentioned on page 66 and 97.  This is important since I plan to compare this series to the Nancy Drew Diaries series.  It is also important as further circumstantial evidence that this book might have been written by Obnoxious Author.

I enjoyed this book, but it's not as good as the first four books in the series.

In Hardy Boys Adventures #6, The Battle of Bayport, Bayport is conducting a Revolutionary War reenactment, with one group playing British redcoats and the other playing American rebels.  During the battle scene, Don Sterling is shot and killed. Someone's musket had a musket ball inside!

This book begins with an excessive amount of description about the reenactment, and it is all boring.  Even the killing of Don Sterling is not written in an interesting fashion.

I love the quote on page 54 about teachers.
You don't ever think much about your teacher's personal lives.  Or even that they have them.  They're supposed to be kind of like scholastic vampires, who just climb into big school lockers after the day ends and only come back out to teach when the bell rings the next morning.
Pretty much.

Bayport High School is a strange school.  A teacher doesn't show up for class, so the principal cancels it.  The students get to wander around the school or go home.

Except for one chapter, I was never very interested.  I was never compelled to keep reading.  The story is good, but something is missing.  I didn't feel much suspense. While the book is overall good, I did not enjoy it very much.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Vintage Teen Horror Series

I am currently reading the Twilight and Dark Forces teen horror series from the 1980s. The experience is going so well that I want to find other older teen horror books to read.  This is where you can help me.

I ran some searches for teen horror books and came upon Scholastic's Point Horror set.  I am definitely going to purchase and read some of those books, since I spotted Richie Tankersley Cusick's name as the author of a number of them.  I recently read Evil on the Bayou by Cusick and greatly enjoyed it.  Evil on the Bayou is one of her first books, and authors typically get better as they write additional books.  I have to try some of her Point Horror books since they came later.

Of course this means that I am also interested in sampling some of the Point Horror books by other authors.  The other author that interests me is Diane Hoh and her Nightmare Hall set.  I want to try at least one of those.  Has anyone ever read books by Diane Hoh?  If so, what did you think of them?

And then there's that other author who shows up in the Point Horror Set:  R. L. Stine.

I read most all of Christopher Pike's teen horror books in the 1980s and 1990s.  Pike is an author I hold in high esteem.  I lived and breathed those books.  I read them over and over again.  Last Act, Spellbound, Gimme a Kiss, and all the rest.  I still remember many of them vividly even though I haven't read them in around 15 years.  I plan to read them again sometime in the next year.

I read exactly one R. L. Stine book during the time that I was reading Christopher Pike. I believe it was Stine's Blind Date, which happens to be the first book in the Point Horror set.  I did not like it very much.  When I read it, all I could think was how it paled in comparison to Christopher Pike.  I never purchased another R. L. Stine book, and they were shelved in abundance in bookstores in those days.  I saw them everywhere but refused to buy them.

I want to make sure that I still would not like R. L. Stine, so I need to purchase at least one to try.  I am quite reluctant since I can't get Blind Date out of my mind.  Have any of you read R. L. Stine's books and do you like them?  How does Blind Date compare to Stine's other books?

As I have looked to see what is available in the Point Horror series, I have spotted other teen horror books.  If you are familiar with any teen horror books from the 1980s and 1990s, let me know what you think of them.  I want to go on another buying spree.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Hardy Boys Adventures #3 Vanishing Game and #4 Into Thin Air

In Hardy Boys Adventures #3, The Vanishing Game, Hector Rodriguez owns Funspot, an amusement park in Bayport.  Funspot is old and dilapidated, but Hector is hoping to increase business with G-Force, a new ride which is the park's premiere attraction.  But on the very first ride, a teenage girl vanishes without a trace, and later, another teenager vanishes on the ride.

The premise of this book is very interesting. Frank and Joe are on the ride when the girl vanishes without a trace.

Joe throws up after riding G-Force.  He even throws up after thinking about a certain situation connected with the ride.  I won't give details since it would spoil the plot.  I find the continual throwing up to be a bit hard to believe.

One of the culprits is extremely obvious.  In fact, this person's name is used in the back cover excerpt.  The nature of the back cover excerpt makes it apparent that the named person is the culprit, so the back cover excerpt basically reveals the culprit.  I don't get why publishers do that.

The story ends with a cliffhanger.  The mystery has been solved, but... now Daisy Rodriguez has disappeared!

This book is very good.

In Hardy Boys Adventures #4, Into Thin Air, Daisy Rodriguez is the latest teenager to vanish off of the G-Force ride.  The problem is that the culprits have already been arrested. Frank and Joe reluctantly conclude that someone else must be responsible.

The first book in the series, Secret of the Red Arrow, centered around a criminal gang headed by someone known as the Red Arrow. The culprit was arrested at the end of the book, but it was apparent that the true mastermind was still free.

I was puzzled when the Red Arrow wasn't mentioned again in the second and third books.  Finally, the Red Arrow is mentioned again briefly in this book, which tells me that we might learn more about the Red Arrow in a future book.  I like having an undercurrent of mystery run through the series.

This book is excellent.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Hardy Boys Adventures #1 Red Arrow and #2 Phantom Heist

In Hardy Boys Adventures #1, Secret of the Red Arrow, Frank and Joe are supposed to be retired from detective work.  Their detective work had begun to cause too many problems, so they had to agree to quit or be sent to reform school.  The boys find themselves pulled into another case after violent pranks occur around Bayport.  The boys soon learn that a criminal mastermind known as the Red Arrow is responsible.  The boys seek clues as they try not to let anyone know about their investigation.

This book reads in a similar fashion to a young adult novel.  The text is smaller than in the Nancy Drew Diaries series.  The smaller text also makes the book seem more like a young adult novel.  The target age for the stories is 8 through 12, the same as the Nancy Drew Diaries.

The story is very suspenseful and has none of the stupidity of the Undercover Brothers series.

This is an excellent book.

In Hardy Boys Adventures #2, Mystery of the Phantom Heist, a group known as the Scaredevils breaks windows and is responsible for other criminal acts around Bayport.  Soon, Frank and Joe suspect that Lindsay Peyton's Sweet Sixteen party may be the next target of the Scaredevils.

On page one, I was a bit worried after seeing the word "sick" used twice, as in calling something "totally sick."  I was afraid that the story was going to degenerate into another Undercover Brothers story.  Fortunately, that does not happen.

While the writing and story are not as good as in the first book, this story is still better than most all books in the Undercover Brothers series.

This is an overall very good book.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Nancy Drew Diaries #12 The Sign in the Smoke

In Nancy Drew Diaries #12, The Sign in the Smoke, Nancy, Bess, and George sign up to be counselors at Camp Cedarbark.  After the girls arrive, they learn that the previous camp, Camp Larksong, closed five years ago after some kind of tragedy.  Another counselor, Bella, insists that a camper drowned and that her ghost haunts Camp Cedarbark.  Nancy and her friends are skeptical, but when several swimmers are held underwater by something, they must consider all possibilities.

On page 70, Bella tells the story of the drowning.  "The rumor is, one of the counselors went nuts.  She was having mental health issues or something, but nobody knew. And she kind of lost it during the middle of the night of the campout."

George then mutters, "I'm pretty sure that's not how mental illness works."  Actually, mental illness can work in any way that it manifests itself.  Each time I read a statement like this, I realize that the author of the book is clueless about mental illness.  I have interacted with severely mentally ill people, and I can assure you that mental illness does not fit a tidy textbook definition.

I find it interesting that cell phones don't get signals in the camp.  One of my complaints about the Nancy Drew Diaries has to do with cell phones, and I was glad that phones are not part of the plot.

On page 115, Nancy hopes that there is not a mystery, since she wants to have time off from solving cases.  This is a character inconsistency, but it's not anywhere near as bad as what was done with Nancy in previous titles.

I knew as I read the book that it would turn out to be a sabotage book.  However, this is the type of sabotage that is not boring.  Sabotage is not mentioned until page 135.

Whenever I read the modern Nancy Drew books, I hear Bess's voice just like she sounds in the Nancy Drew games.  On page 154, George suggests that the dead camper would haunt what actually killed her, rather than someone else.  Bess replies, "Maybe the other thing was really boring.  Like an allergy to bee stings or something. Would you want to waste your afterlife haunting a bee?"  Now imagine that in Nancy Drew game Bess's voice.  Perfect.

There are some things about this story that are less than ideal, but I didn't notice them until after I read this review.  There are a lot of spoilers in the review, so don't read it unless you don't mind being spoiled about the entire plot including the ending.  The reason I totally overlooked the flaws is because I had just slogged my way through the Hardy Boys Undercover Brothers series.  That was some difficult reading which traumatized me.  I didn't realize until after I finished that series exactly how bad my experience had been.  This book, while flawed, is great literature in comparison to those books.

After I finished this book, I decided that if every Nancy Drew Diaries book were like this one, I would be very happy.  I rated the book as excellent.  After I had read the review to which I linked above and had time to think about it, I changed my mind.  I would now rate this book as very good and suspect that my rating would go down if I ever read the book again.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Nancy Drew Diaries #11 The Red Slippers

In Nancy Drew Diaries #11, The Red Slippers, Maggie Rogers returns to River Heights to perform in Sleeping Beauty.  A famous producer will be watching the performance, and Maggie is concerned because someone is trying to sabotage her career.

I struggled with the previous four Nancy Drew Diaries titles because each was read right after extremely good books.  As a result, the flaws were very obvious to me.  This time was different.  I just read a bunch of truly awful books in the Hardy Boys Undercover Brothers series, so I knew that I would like this book even if flawed.

I was incredibly relieved as I began reading this book.  I was finally free of the Hardy Boys Undercover Brothers series, which had gotten on my last nerve.  This story reads like a normal book; the Undercover Brothers books do not read like normal books.

This book is written in a way that makes the reader care about Maggie.  Since the reader cares, the mystery is interesting, even though the mystery is sabotage as usual.

The number of characters is not too many, and I was never confused.  For instance, quite a few dancers perform in the production.  We are told none of their names.  After all, we don't need their names.  Authors of other books have made the mistake of naming too many characters, thereby confusing readers.

I am glad that Bess and George don't "smirk" when Nancy decides to start the investigation.  The girls want to help and are supportive and interested, which is as it should be.

Nothing is mentioned about George and food.  She is a tech genius, but that's fine. George uses the computer, but we are spared from stupid text messages.  Nancy isn't forgetful.

Almost every complaint I had about Nancy Drew Diaries #7 through 10 were fixed for this book.  The only one not fixed is the endless sabotage, but at least the book is written well enough to make up for the sabotage.

I did guess the culprit fairly early in the book, but I wasn't absolutely certain.  The author does a good job of leading the reader to see a few others as possible culprits. In fact, more than one person is responsible for the threats.  One person does a few threats for a certain reason, and then the real culprit does the rest.

This book reads like a Nancy Drew Digest book.  Nancy, Bess, and George's behavior is quite similar to the Digest series, and nothing is wrong with their characterization.

This is a very good book and an improvement over the previous several books.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

The Hardy Boys Undercover Brothers Series Overview

I have been reading through the Hardy Boys books in order to compare them to Nancy Drew.  After I finished the Hardy Boys Digest series, I concluded that I enjoyed that series slightly more than the corresponding Nancy Drew series, although the difference is not enough to be decisive.  I also concluded that the Hardy Boys are allowed more interesting cases in the Hardy Boys Digest series than Nancy Drew in the Nancy Drew Digest series.

The Nancy Drew Girl Detective series corresponds to the Hardy Boys Undercover Brothers series.  I previously published my ratings for the Girl Detective series.  I like the Girl Detective series a lot, probably more than most collectors.  If you are a collector who really likes the Girl Detective series, please let me know because I feel like I am the only one.  Maybe I am the only one...

I struggled with giving a rating to many of the Hardy Boys Undercover Brothers books. Many of the books that I have labeled good are probably somewhere between good and not good.  I went with the higher rating, so these ratings are generous.  Therefore, it should be noted that many of the "good" books are more along the lines of weakly good and some may not be good.

  1. Extreme Danger - very good, sabotage
  2. Running On Fumes - not good, sabotage
  3. Boardwalk Bust - excellent
  4. Thrill Ride - very good, sabotage
  5. Rocky Road - excellent
  6. Burned - not good
  7. Operation: Survival - very good
  8. Top Ten Ways To Die - good, sabotage
  9. Martial Law - not good
 10. Blown Away - good, sabotage
 11. Hurricane Joe - not good
 12. Trouble in Paradise - not good
 13. The Mummy's Curse - good, sabotage
 14. Hazed - excellent
 15. Death And Diamonds - good
 16. Bayport Buccaneers - good, sabotage
 17. Murder At The Mall - very good, sabotage
 18. Pushed - excellent
 19. Foul Play - excellent, sabotage
 20. Feeding Frenzy - good, sabotage
 21. Comic Con Artist - good

 Murder House Trilogy - sabotage
 22. Deprivation House - not good
 23. House Arrest - not good
 24. Murder House - not good

 Double Danger Trilogy
 25. Double Trouble - good
 26. Double Down - good
 27. Double Deception - good

 Galaxy X Trilogy - sabotage
 28. Galaxy X - good
 29. X-Plosion - good
 30. The X-Factor - good

 Killer Mystery Trilogy - sabotage
 31. Killer Mission - good
 32. Private Killer - good
 33. Killer Connections - very good

 Lost Mystery Trilogy
 34. Children of the Lost - excellent
 35. Lost Brother - excellent
 36. Forever Lost - excellent

 Deathstalker Trilogy - sabotage
 37. Movie Menace  - not good
 38. Movie Mission - not good
 39. Movie Mayhem - not good

Out of 21 books (not including the trilogies):

Not good - 5 books or 23.8%
Good - 7 books or 33.3%
Very good - 4 books or 19.1%
Excellent - 5 books or 23.8%

Overall out of 21 books - 42.9% very good or excellent  

Out of 39 books (including the trilogies):

not good - 11 books or 28.2%
good - 15 books or 38.5%
very good - 5 books or 12.8%
excellent - 8 books or 20.5%

Overall out of 39 books: 33.3% very good or excellent

I enjoyed the Hardy Boys Undercover Brothers series noticeably less than I did the Nancy Drew Girl Detective series.  I rated 48.9% of the Girl Detective series as very good or excellent and only 33.3% of the Undercover Brothers series as very good or excellent.  This is a significant difference.  Even more significant, many of the books I labeled as good really aren't that good, so you could say that as much as 66.7% of the series is not that good.

I mentioned in my overview of the Hardy Boys Digest series that it is stronger than the Nancy Drew Digest series because Nancy Drew is constrained by her gender.  The reverse is true for the Undercover Brothers series.  In the Undercover Brothers series, the Hardy Boys are constrained by their gender.  They are only allowed stories with lots and lots of action.  

The Nancy Drew Girl Detective series is largely character-driven.  The Hardy Boys Undercover Brothers series is action-driven.  In fact, most of the series reads like sports sabotage, which is my least favorite plot type.  Even when the Undercover Brothers series is not sports sabotage, the stories are endless action of some type with sabotage thrown in for good measure.

Each book opens in the middle of an action scene as the Hardys wrap up a previous case.  I read these scenes during the early books, but later, I skimmed or skipped all of them. They annoyed me tremendously.  I don't want to read the conclusion of a story not featured in the series.  I want to read the story that is the focus of the current book.

After the action scene introduction, the Hardys receive orders for their next case.  This always occurs by someone bringing the boys a pizza or something else, them acting incredibly dumb like they don't know this is how they get their cases, and then the boys finally figuring it out and watching a DVD about the case.  This was mildly annoying in the early books, but by later in the series, I found these scenes to be highly obnoxious.

The Undercover Brother stories feature an excessive use of gimmicks.  The gimmicks are comic book characters, amusement park rides, or special devices that do crazy things.  All of the gimmicks are described to an excessive degree.  It's important that the reader know every minute detail about every single gimmick.  And I found all of it to be boring!

Apparently many boys really enjoy this type of story; at least, they do if any of the reviews on Amazon can be believed.  Amazon is rife with fake reviews of all products. Since the positive reviews appear to be from children who are probably boys, I suspect that they are real reviews.  However, the series is not good from my point of view as an adult female reader.

I did generally enjoy the early stories in the series.  By the time I reached the trilogies, I could no longer stand the series.  The Lost Mystery trilogy is outstanding, but even during that trilogy I was weary from the rest of the series.  So when I started reading the final trilogy, I just wanted to quit.  I skipped those books and forced myself to read the two super mysteries.

As I tried to read the final trilogy and as I read the two super mysteries, I noticed how tense, stressed, and unhappy I was.  Right after I finished the second super mystery, I started reading the first Super Mystery book.  Since the book features Nancy Drew Girl Detective, whom I like very much, I relaxed and felt much happier.  This drove home the fact that the last part of the Undercover Brothers series tortured me.

Most likely, I will never read these books again.  I will probably sell the set sometime soon.  I read these books so that I would have the full knowledge of the progression of the Hardy Boys series from 1927 to the present so that I could compare the Nancy Drew Diaries series to the Hardy Boys Adventure series.  Reading the Hardy Boys Undercover Brothers series was worthwhile for that reason only.  Otherwise, it was a horrible experience.

Monday, September 12, 2016

The New Hardy Boys Web Series

First imagine these two guys, the infamous Hardy Boys Undercover Brothers.

Notice how stupid they look.  Now imagine the two dorks dressed exactly like this.

This is what happens.

You get the "New Hardy Boys," a parody web series featuring Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys. The web series can be seen on YouTube.

The New Hardy Boys on YouTube

Fair warning, some Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys fans will not like the videos.  These are videos with adult humor and crude language, and both Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys are depicted in a negative fashion.  But for fans who can appreciate a good parody, the web series is brilliant and great fun.

The web series plays off of the public's perception of Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys. Nancy Drew is that annoying person who gets credit for solving all the mysteries. Consider that the titles of all the books featuring the sleuths solving cases together have always been "Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys," not "The Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew."  Nancy Drew has always received more credit.  As for the Hardy Boys, they are inept and hopeless, dressed just like the 1959 cover of The Tower Treasure.  The boys look like perfect little goody-goodies, but their behavior is the opposite.

I particularly love the videos since I recently read the Hardy Boys Undercover Brothers series. I see the videos as depicting the Undercover Brothers come to life and dressed like they are stuck in 1959.  The Undercover Brothers are idiots, just as the Hardy Boys are in this web series.  I love it.

You can also follow the New Hardy Boys on Facebook.