Tuesday, November 25, 2014

German Three Investigators Curse of the Cell Phone and Mysterious Testament

In The Curse of the Cell Phone, several children disappear, leaving behind their cell phones.  The phones are not ordinary cell phones; each phone has a ringtone that is a witch's cackle and has special features, including one where the user gets shocked.  When one boy is found locked in a cage, he swears that a witch attacked him.  The Three Investigators are certain that some connection exists between the strange events and the cell phone company.

This book features a transgender character.  I do mean someone who is truly transgender and not as part of a deception.  It's not a significant part of the story, and I only mention it because it isn't typical of a series book.

The book may possibly have had an expletive, but if so, I didn't make note of it.

I enjoyed this story.

In Mysterious Testament, the boys learn that the art thief, Hugenay, has died when they receive a letter sent after Hugenay's death.  In the letter, Hugenay informs the boys that he hid several paintings worth millions of dollars.  Since Hugenay had no heirs, he decided to give the Three Investigators a chance to find the paintings.  Hugenay's letter contains a riddle.  Meanwhile, Justus takes an immediate liking to a girl named Brittany, but he soon learns that Brittany has a serious problem.

This book has a bit of a twist, because Justus decides to do something illegal in order to help someone else.  As in, Justus decides to do something very illegal. I would be spoiling the story if I were to be more specific, but suffice it to say that this book is a bit unusual.

This book contains no expletives.

Hitchcock is mentioned on page 10. 

In this book, the boys solve a puzzle just like they do in the early books by Robert Arthur.

Even though this book is abridged, it is very good.  It's quick to read, but very well written.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Deciding What to Read Next

When I finished reading the Three Investigators German books in late September, I had to decide what to read next.  I spent approximately four months reading through the original series, the Crimebusters books, and the German books.  I was not at a loss as to what to read next, unlike when I finished reading through all of the Nancy Drew books.  I knew exactly what I would read next.

I first tackled some young adult novels,  I read the conclusion to Tracey Ward's two zombie apocalypse series, and then I read the follow-up book to Christine Kersey's Parallel Trilogy.  Finally, I read The Infinite Sea by Rick Yancey, which I did not enjoy as much as I should have.  Parts of the plot of this series parallel some current world events a bit too much.  

After I finished The Infinite Sea, I still had two other young adult dystopian series that I needed to revisit so that I could read the recently released titles.  I always skim or reread the previous books in a series to refresh my memory before purchasing the new book.  I tried reading one book again and was not interested at all.  This was a book that I really enjoyed last year and had been looking forward to the conclusion, but I found that I didn't care at all.  I thought about trying another book that I read last year, but the idea of reading it was too unappealing.  I finally decided that now is not the time to read any additional young adult dystopian novels.  I don't have it in me.

I normally love these books, but I'm having trouble enjoying them right now.  The problem is that current world events are quite unsettling, and reading about the destruction of the world in a dystopian novel is not that enjoyable to me right now.  Furthermore, I have been under a bit of stress since the middle of summer.  Right now, I need to read books that serve as a complete escape from current events, which means that I need to stick to vintage series books.  Reading the Three Investigators series was a necessary escape, and I need something like that again.

As I've stated, I don't like boys' series books that much.  However, with very little thought, I knew exactly what I wanted to read.  I wanted to read some books that I hadn't read before, so I decided to read the Rick Brant series.  This decision was actually a bit bizarre since I have never had the slightest desire to read the Rick Brant books.

I had most of Rick Brant #1-21 on hand.  I started #1 and decided after a few chapters that I definitely wanted to move forward with reading Rick Brant regardless of how much I ended up liking the first book.  This was even more bizarre since I don't usually make such a rash decision, especially regarding a boys' series.  Inexplicably, I knew I wanted to read them and would enjoy them, despite how I normally feel about boys' series.

I purchased a few missing volumes to complete my run of #1-21.  Purchasing #22-24 was not a consideration, since I was not willing to pay $350 or more per book.  I quickly found PDF files of #22 and 23 online, so that gave me copies of all stories except for #24.  A few days later I was able to acquire a PDF of #24, so I had all of the books in some format.

After I finish Rick Brant, I will probably choose to read another series that I have never read before.  The top candidates are Biff Brewster and Cherry Ames since I own complete sets of both series.  When I tried reading Biff Brewster before, I only made it through the first book and half of the second book.  Since I am in the middle of reading boys' books, I might be more accepting of Biff Brewster this time.  I am also considering reading Ken Holt again to see how it compares to Rick Brant, and reading the Hardy Boys series again is still something I wish to accomplish in the next year.

Friday, November 21, 2014

German Three Investigators The Haunted Ship and Valley of Horror

In The Haunted Ship, the book opens with Peter and Kelly fighting as they drive after dark on a road near the shore.  Suddenly, a woman jumps out in front of them, insisting that they come down to the beach to see something.  The woman is terrified after seeing a ghost ship.  Peter tells the boys what happened, so they launch an investigation.

On page 15, we learn that the boys get to use the trailer in exchange for doing chores in junkyard.  The trailer is not a secret in these books.

I noticed that the units of measurement are in the British system, where yards is used instead of meters.  One of the previous books used meters.  Yards is more appropriate than meters for a book said to be in American English.

This book contains several expletives including sh**.  The expletives are used quite sparingly.

This book is outstanding and is comparable to many of the books from the original Three Investigators series.

In Valley of Horror, Ms. Sullivan asks the boys for help.  She drove through the Valley of Horror, but she can remember nothing.  All she knows is that she saw an Indian wearing a mask, and then she woke up the next morning.  She has bad dreams with images of events that might have happened to her in the Valley of Horror.  Ms. Sullivan is terrified.  The boys soon learn of other victims, so they decide to drive through the Valley of Horror late at night.

This book contains expletives including sh**, bull****, and s***less.  The expletives are used sparingly.

On pages 121 and 122, someone is described in such a way that I believe we are supposed to think of Alfred Hitchcock.

This book is outstanding and is also very much like an original Three Investigators book.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

The Dilemma of Free Shipping

I mentioned recently how some buyers ask for a shipping discount for multiple items purchased even when shipping is stated as free.  I explained that I have only partially included the shipping in my prices, so buyers have already received a discount on the first item even though they don't know it.  This means that I lose when only one item is purchased.  When two or three items are purchased together, I break even.

I changed to free shipping when I had a buyer leave a low DSR on shipping cost, since she didn't like that the shipping cost was higher than the price of the cheap book.  I couldn't risk additional low DSRs in cases like that.

It was suggested on my recent post that I consider charging a small shipping fee, like $2.00, on each item instead of having free shipping.  That is a good idea.  I have thought about it, but there is still a drawback.

eBay gives my items a boost in the Best Match search due to the free shipping.  When I changed my items over to free shipping, I noticed that my sales immediately increased.  While the increase in sales could be just a coincidence, I tend to think that a link exists.  I don't want to lose that boost in Best Match.

I next thought about having a shipping charge on just some items, which would be the low-priced items where I always take the greatest loss.  That would work, but it can cause a problem.  The last time I had a mixture of items with and without free shipping, I had buyers purchase a mixture of both types.  That meant that I felt compelled to refund at least most of the $3.95 charge for the item that didn't have free shipping.  I try to avoid having to refund overages, especially since eBay and PayPal track how many refunds sellers send, regardless of the reason.

I decided to stick with free shipping on all items on eBay for now.  Sometime soon, I might try charging for shipping again on all items just to see what happens, but I don't feel like messing with it at this point in time.

Remember that I offer books on both eBay and Bonanza.  I do have different books for sale on each site, and lately, I have made it a point to put certain special books on Bonanza instead of on eBay.

Jennifer's Series Books on eBay

Jennifer's Series Books on Bonanza

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Monday, November 17, 2014

German Three Investigators Soccer Gangsters and Hidden Fouls

In the German Three Investigators series, the Three Investigators are known as "Die drei ???".  "Die drei ???" are Justus Jonas, Peter Shaw, and Bob Andrews.  The boys retain their personalities from the original American Three Investigators series.  Justus is the brain and is overweight.  Peter is athletic but is easily scared.  Bob is good at research.

In Soccer Gangsters, Justus' cousin James arrives in Rocky Beach.  James plans to play soccer at a local school.  The boys become aware of a possible conspiracy involving soccer and have reason to believe that James' school is involved.

This is one of the German books that was first condensed and then translated into English.  The end result is awful, so awful that I have great doubt as to whether the original unabridged German version is that good.

On page 11, James agrees to be called "Jimboy" by the Jonas family because that's what they called him when they saw him many years before.  James doesn't go by "Jimboy" and is now grown, but he is immediately fine with his new name.  This is bizarre.

In this book, Bob's girlfriend is Elizabeth, and Peter's girlfriend is Kelly.  Both girls are from the Crimebusters series.  Justus' girlfriend is Lys de Kirk, who is an actress.  I infer that Lys is Qute from the last Crimebusters book. At least Lys is a better name than Qute.

On page 17, Justus decides that he can afford to eat cherry pie "since he had slimmed down lately because of his girlfriend, Lys, and all the exercise he'd been getting."  Is it just me, or...?

The transitions were quite awkward because too much text was removed when the book was condensed.  For instance, on page 21 Justus is talking to Bob in the trailer, and then almost immediately, Peter and Bob ride into the salvage yard on their bicycles.  I was confused because I thought Bob was already there.  Apparently he left and time passed, and that part of the text was removed.

We learn that Justus plans to become a lawyer.  This fits.

This book is not good, and I did not like it.

In Hidden Fouls, a German soccer team has come to Rocky Beach to play.  Peter plays on the Rocky Beach team, and the two teams compete.  Someone is sabotaging the German team, pitting the coaches and players against each other. 

The author mentions Robert Arthur on page 57, Alfred Hitchcock on page 88, and William Arden on page 111.  Nice!

With just a little polishing, this story would be as good as one of the original Three Investigators books.  There are a few typos and word usage problems.  A few sentences here and there make no sense.  Since the purpose of the book is to teach English and expand vocabulary, some words chosen to use are very awkward.  Take this quote from page 55:  "Most importantly: paws off of private property!"  That's the kind of awkward I mean.  "Paws off" is in bold print, so it is one of the vocabulary terms.

I enjoyed this book.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

The German Three Investigators Series

The 43 original Three Investigators books and the 11 Crimebusters books, as well as the unpublished manuscripts for Crimebusters #12 and #13, were translated into German and published in Germany.  Additionally, over 100 new Three Investigators stories have been written and published in Germany.  23 of those books have been translated from German into English and published as school books for German students to help them learn English.

Here is a list of the translated stories in the order they fit into the German chronology.  There are many German books that fit in between these books, so these stories are just a small sample of what has been published in the German language.  For those of us who cannot read German, they give us an opportunity to read some of the German stories. The titles marked in green are the abridged softcover books.  The rest of the books are hardcover.

Soccer Gangsters, 1995, by B. J. Henkel-Waidhofer, translated by Patricia Wolf
Hidden Fouls, 1998, by Ben Nevis, translated by Melissa Morrow    
The Haunted Ship, 2000, by André Marx, translated by C. Vivien Arnold
Valley of Horror, 2001, by Ben Nevis, translated by C. Vivien Arnold 
The Curse of the Cell Phone, 2001, by André Minninger, translated by Andreas Zantop
Mysterious Testament, 2002, by André Marx, translated by Anneli Jefferson
Poisoned E-mail, 2002, by Ben Nevis, translated by Andreas Zantop 
Dangerous Quiz Show, 2003, by Marco Sonnleitner, translated by Patricia Wolf  
Canyon of Demons, 2003, by Marco Sonnleitner, translated by Verena Bremer  
Evil Games, 2005, by André Marx, transalted by Chris Huber
The Mystery of the Ghost Train, 2005, by Astrid Vollenbruch, translated by C. Vivien Arnold 
Soccer Mania, 2005, by Marco Sonnleitner, translated by Andreas Zantop 
The Pharaoh's Message, 2006, Ben Nevis, translated by Chris Huber et al
Black Madonna, 2006, by Astrid Vollenbruch, translated by Marion Charles    
Hollywood Horrors, 2006, by Astrid Vollenbruch, translated by Chris Huber et al.    
Web Phantom, 2006, by Astrid Vollenbruch, translated by Chris Huber et al.    
The Pirate's Curse, 2007, by Ben Nevis, translated by Melissa Morrow    
Ghost Village, 2007, by André Marx, translated by Chris Huber et al.
Soccer Trap, 2008, by Marco Sonnleitner, translated by Chris Huber et al.
Vampire City, 2008, by Marco Sonnleitner, translated by Marion Charles    
Arctic Adventure, 2008, by Kari Erlhoff, translated by Anneli Jefferson  
Bite of the Beast, 2009, by Kari Erlhoff, translated by Brian Melican   
Master of Death, 2010, by Kari Erlhoff, translated by John Dalbey

The books can be purchased from the Advanced Book Exchange website, Amazon's UK site, and Amazon's German site.  Ordering from Amazon's German site is similar to the US site, which helps with the process.  The button used to get to one's account is in the same place on the screen, and a buyer can use one's existing email and password.  While making my way through checkout, I ran some portions of text through an online translator to make certain that I did not make a mistake.

At the time that I purchased the books, I was able to get the best prices from the Advanced Book Exchange for a few of the books.  Amazon's German site was slightly less expensive than Amazon's UK site due to the currency exchange rates at the time that I made my orders.  That may or may not be the case now.

Running a search by the English title and the author's name is helpful.  Searching for "Die drei ???" on Amazon's UK and German sites will yield multiple results at once.  On the UK site, the results can then be sorted into English versions only.

The books will end up costing between $10 and $20 each.

I will be publishing reviews of the German books.  Many of the books have expletives, which are used sparingly.  I will make note of whether the expletives are mild or not-so-mild, in case anyone is interested in purchasing the books for a child.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Selling Books to Raise Funds Quickly

Recently, a collectible Nancy Drew item was put up for sale on eBay at an exorbitant price.  The item is probably worth around $25 to $35 and was priced at $1,500.  The seller stated that money was being raised to pay for medical bills.  Unfortunately, the item will likely not sell for an amount that will help unless the seller gets very lucky.

This started me thinking about what items I might sell if I were ever in a position to need to raise funds quickly.  The fastest approach would be to sell my most valuable books, but those are not books I wish to sell since I would never find replacements.  I feel that the best approach is instead to sell lots of books that are not of great value that could always be replaced without an incredible amount of trouble.  Ideally, these books should be ones that are not of great importance to me that I don't think about very often.  And of course the books would need to be sold at current market value so that they would sell quickly.

At least half of my collection is double-shelved behind other books.  The books that are of less importance are the ones I cannot see that are hidden behind the books that I can see.  I do not see the hidden books more than once or twice per year, so I could let go of many of them very easily.  All of the books seen in the following photos are some of the books that are shelved behind others.




I don't care much for the white spine Dana Girls books, so I would sell them if necessary.  I could sell my Whitman books with jackets and my Kay Tracey picture cover books.  I do have a habit of selling books as I tire of them, and some of these books are ones that I have considered selling, which means I would have no trouble selling them if I needed to raise funds.

I could also sell the rest of my Melody Lane books.  I don't like them very much.  I have already sold my assorted Lilian Garis books, because I doubt I will ever read the stories.  I don't keep collectible books that I will never read.  I only keep the ones that I have read or believe that I will read someday. 

I don't like the Nancy Drew Diary that much.


I only have the white one because it was in with some other books that I purchased on eBay.  I have never cared about it and have considered selling it several times.

I have a lot of duplicates of the Nancy Drew books with internals.  Some of those could go.

I don't care much for autographed items, and I am probably one of the few collectors who feels that way.  I have already sold some autographed items.

I am currently selling some Mildred Wirt Benson documents that I purchased 5 1/2 years ago.  This is not to raise money.  I purchased the documents for the information contained within, and a PDF copy of each document is all that I need.  It is true that Benson owned and handled the documents, but that sort of thing doesn't matter much to me.  I regard the documents the same way that I regard autographed items, and I have begun selling what items I own that fall into that category.  They are great items, but it is best if they go to those who care more than I do.

The auctions can be found on eBay and close on November 16.

What items would you sell if you needed the money?   

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

The Three Investigators Crimebusters #9 Foul Play, #10 Long Shot, and #11 Fatal Error

In the Three Investigators Crimebusters #9, Foul Play, accidents plague the set of a local musical.  George Brandon asks the boys to discover who is sending him threats and trying to harm him.

This book grabbed me immediately.  I notice that I seem to like the Crimebusters books better when Bob is not present.  He's useless.  All he does in this series is hang out with girls and work for the talent agency.  He is also a bit obnoxious.  Bob's characterization bothers me a great deal.  I was able to accept Nancy Drew as clumsy in the Girl Detective series, perhaps because I found the situations to be amusing.  Bob's antics don't amuse me.  They just seem so wrong.

This book is outstanding.

In the Three Investigators Crimebusters #10, Long Shot, Pete is approached by the coach of a local college, who tries to recruit him to play basketball.  Later, Pete is offered a large sum of money to come play for the school.  The Three Investigators work to discover exactly who is behind the scheme.

I greatly enjoyed this book.

In the Three Investigators #11, Fatal Error, a computer virus has stricken most of the computers in Rocky Beach.  The boys track the virus to a computer programmer and then to a special-effects studio.  They learn that the company was the target of the virus and that they have been ordered to pay a large sum of money in order to get the effects of the virus reversed.

Jupiter appears to have found a girlfriend in this book, but why does she have to have a name like Qute den Zorn?

I enjoyed this book.

I overall enjoyed the Three Investigators Crimebusters series and would have greatly enjoyed the series if some major changes had not been made.  The books were made to be too boyish with names of karate moves and automobiles sprinkled generously throughout the texts.  Boring!  Bob's character was destroyed.  I have no problem with the boys having girlfriends, but Bob was given lots of girlfriends and an endless charm that, quite frankly, was highly obnoxious.

I also did not appreciate that Jupiter was made to be afraid of girls.  It would have been more logical for Bob to have retained his original characterization and for him to have been afraid of girls.  Jupiter has always been self-confident and portrayed as an excellent actor, so I find his inability to behave normally around girls to be difficult to stomach.

When I wrote my summary of the Nancy Drew Girl Detective series, I mentioned that a publisher should not change a premise.  I was able to accept the changed premise of the Girl Detective series because I found it amusing.  I did not find the changed premise of the Three Investigators Crimebusters series to be amusing.  While I was able to enjoy the books, I also found them sorely lacking.