Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Nancy Drew #170 No Strings Attached, #171 Grand Opera, and #172 Riding Club Crime

In Nancy Drew #170, No Strings Attached, Nancy, Bess, and George visit Paris, France.  The girls stay with Mimi Loiseau, who runs a puppet theater and museum out of her home.  Soon after the girls arrive, a fire is set in Mimi's home, and later, a puppet is stolen.

Inexplicably, Nancy and her friends are 17 in this book.  George has chestnut hair, when her hair is usually described as brown.  Not only are the descriptions off, but the writing is very sloppy in this book.

On page 21, the fire examiner calls Mimi to tell her the fire was arson and not to touch anything before they come back to investigate.  Why didn't they investigate before?

On page 64, Mimi and the girls use a folk legend in order to find the missing puppet, Esmeralda.  And it works!  This is just bizarre.

On page 85, Nancy makes shrewd observation.  "I have a hunch that most professional burglars don't steal puppets."  She does have a point.

Page 97 has an incorrect shift in tense in the second paragraph.  Someone didn't proofread this book very well.

The writing throughout the book is odd and unclear.  At times, I was not certain what the author meant.  Like on page 90, Nancy says, "Please, someone be here," as she rummages through her backpack while she is locked inside a book bin.  Huh?  Finally, Nancy finds her phone and tries to make a call.  She must have been hoping someone would be on the other end of the line.  I thought that they were in her bag.

I overall enjoyed this book, and I'm not sure how or why, since the book is not well-written and not that good.

In Nancy Drew #171, Intrigue at the Grand Opera, Nancy, Bess, and George work as extras for the American Grand Opera during its performances in River Heights.  Two famous actresses despise each other, and tensions run high.  Dangerous accidents occur on the set, and Nancy must find out who is sabotaging the opera.

I would not be surprised if this book was written by the same person who wrote the previous book.  The writing is strange and unclear in this book as well.

Nancy's age is not mentioned in this book.  I think she might be 18 since the book mentions a boy who was in her class who is taking a year off before playing football in college.  That makes it sound like they are 18. 

On page 12, a male stage manager is considered sexist in Nancy's opinion, after he accuses a female stage hand of being careless after an accident. I see nothing sexist, except that a woman is being accused.  She is standing right where the sandbag fell, so I can see why she would be accused.  I don't see the problem, yet we get a bunch of Nancy's thoughts about all of the sexist men she has encountered in past cases.  Alrighty then.

On page 64, Nancy throws her pizza crust back in the pizza box even though three-fourths of the pizza is left.  She plans to offer the pizza to Bess.  With her pizza crust in the box.

I could mention many other things that are strange in this book, but I'm going to stop there.  Suffice it to say that this book reads like a rough draft.

The book begins to get really interesting around page 105.  Up to that point, the book is mediocre.

In Nancy Drew #172, The Riding Club Crime, Nancy, Bess, and George go undercover as counselors at the Green Spring Pony Club so that they can discover who is sabotaging the pony club.

The girls are definitely back to age 18 in this book, because on page 9, they regret that they cannot enroll in the pony camp.  The pony camp has an age limit of 17. On page 15, the book gives Nancy's age as 18.

The beginning of the book has far too lengthy of an explanation of the various horse competitions in which the pony club is to compete.  Boring!

This book also lacks in editing.  Page 30 has "bighouse" as one word.  Oops.

This book is nothing special.  Really, it just rehashes several old plots from previous books.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Nancy Drew #167 Mystery by Moonlight, #168 Bike Tour Mystery, and #169 Mistletoe Mystery

In Nancy Drew #167, Mystery by Moonlight, Nancy and Ned join Bess and George as they house sit at a lakeside cottage in Pennsylvania for friends who are away on vacation.  Bess is convinced that the cottage is haunted.  The young people hear screams at night, and see prowlers in the area.  Mysterious sounds come from above the ceiling during the night, but the cottage has no attic.

This book has several good suspects.  I correctly guessed one of them very early in the book, because it was so painfully obvious. 

This is a very good book, and I thoroughly enjoyed it from start to finish.

In Nancy Drew #168, The Bike Tour Mystery, Nancy, Bess, and George participate in a bike tour in Ireland.  Someone seems to be trying to hurt two girls from Australia, and Nancy tries to investigate while the girls rebuff her.

On page 83, George tells Nancy that she wrote down a license plate number and that she put the paper in her shoe because she doesn't have any pockets.  But then she must have used a pen or pencil to write the number down.  Where does she keep that?  On a chain around her neck?

Like all of the Nancy Drew Digest books, this book is written in the past tense.  Strangely, this book uses "today" and "tonight" and not as part of a spoken conversation.

From page 110:
Today's route lay along the wide lake called Lough Corrib.  Terry had dropped off lunch boxes at a grassy area picnic area on the seashore.
It doesn't sound right to me.  I feel that it should begin with "That day's route lay..."

I love the setting.  Ireland is described so vividly and in a way that is very interesting to the reader.  A tiny bit of history is thrown in, enough to be interesting, but not so much as to be boring.

This book is outstanding.

In Nancy Drew #169, The Mistletoe Mystery, Bess works for a company that is decorating Albemarle's department store for Christmas.  Merchandise is mysteriously disappearing from Albemarle's, and Bess's friend, Ali Marie, is fired.  Nancy gets herself hired by the decorating company so that she can work undercover at the store while George finds ways to hang out in the store all day long.

Bess has been skilled with computers since #144, The E-Mail Mystery.  On page 64, Bess has reached a new level.  We learn that Bess is "a skilled computer hacker."  Now she can hack into computers?  Wow!

This is a wonderful, suspenseful book.  The story is somewhat similar to the second Connie Blair book and one Nancy Drew Digest book, #84, The Joker's Revenge.  Fortunately, the mystery is resolved in a different fashion.  For a while, I thought that the resolution would be similar, because suspicion was cast on a certain person for no reason.  I was happy to see that this mystery is indeed different from the other two books.

This book is very good.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Grosset and Dunlap Series Book Advertising Sign

Earlier this week I happened upon an eBay listing for a Grosset and Dunlap advertising sign.  I briefly debated about whether to take the Buy It Now.  The starting bid was $49.99, and the Buy It Now was $99.99.  The shipping cost was $11.55.  I considered whether anyone else would care and whether deactivating the Buy It Now would be the better move since prices are generally quite low right now.  My luck would be that a like-minded person would come along and be willing to pay a high price, so I grabbed the Buy It Now.  Items like this survived in very low quantity, so I felt like my decision was the right one.  Chances were that someone else would have understood the scarcity of this item and would have wanted it as much as I did. 


I have been eagerly waiting for the sign to arrive all week.  It finally arrived today.  I was so excited when I saw the package!

I was so excited that I had to photograph the package right before I opened it!  Normally, I only photograph packages when I expect to have a problem, but this time, I wanted to document my excitement!  I could tell that the sign was packaged well, so I knew it had arrived undamaged.

I knew that I had made the right decision in purchasing the sign as soon as I picked up the package, seeing how large the package was and feeling how heavy it was.  I saw the frame in the auction picture, but I did not expect or care whether I received the frame.  I knew as soon as I felt the weight of the package that I had received the frame as well and that it was heavy.

After I extracted my purchase from the package, I then removed the sign from the frame, simply because I wanted to examine it closer.  That's just a requirement whenever a purchase like this is made.

The sign is in two pieces, and the split is very clean and straight, so it is possible that the sign has always been in two pieces.  The sign is on heavy cardboard.  I didn't think to measure it while I had it out of the frame, but the cardboard is probably around 1/8 inch thick.

I had to spend awhile cleaning adhesive off of the glass from the frame.  The seller placed tape on the glass to keep it from breaking during shipment, and a bunch of adhesive stuck to the glass when I removed the tape.  That took some effort to remove.  Finally, I got the sign back in the frame.  Even that part took effort because this is a frame that screws together.

I was able to get the two halves of the sign lined up better.

Since the Peggy Lane series was published from 1962 through 1965, this sign must be from that time period.  Notice that the sign has the books priced at $1.25, so I feel like the sign is most likely from around 1962 or 1963.

Also of interest is which series are featured on the sign.  Nancy Drew, the Bobbsey Twins, the Hardy Boys, and Tom Swift were all Stratemeyer Syndicate series.  Fury and Peggy Lane were Grosset and Dunlap series.  The series books written by independent authors, such as the Judy Bolton, Vicki Barr, Cherry Ames, and Rick Brant series, were not mentioned on the sign.  Those series were all in print at the time this sign was used.  Of course, another Stratemeyer Syndicate series, the Dana Girls, was also not mentioned on the sign.

I am extremely pleased with this purchase and believe it was worth the price paid.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Nancy Drew #164 Mother Wolf, #165 Crime Lab, and #166 Creative Crime

In Nancy Drew #164, The Mystery of the Mother Wolf, Nancy, Bess, and George visit Wyoming.  They stay at on a ranch owned by a friend of Nancy's Aunt Eloise.  Soon after their arrival, the girls learn that the ranch is involved in a controversy, since part of it is to be used as a wolf sanctuary, and some of their neighbors are unhappy.  Rainbow, the pet wolf, and her pups vanish, and Nancy suspects that the culprit opposes the sanctuary.

Nancy fails to follow up on one piece of evidence that she found.  A certain person had written a letter about being opposed to the captivity of wolves.  Nothing was ever mentioned later, and it's like it didn't matter.  Usually, when something doesn't matter, it's not in the book in the first place.

Nancy is quite rude in this book.  On page 110, she brazenly asks if Paul owns a stun gun.  She seems to be fishing for a reaction.

This book starts out very slow, and by page 40, I was getting rather bored.  It's great for the story to teach us about wolves, but we are given way too much information.  I figured that the wolf would be stolen, but that does not happen until page 46. 

The lengthy expository information paid off, because I did care about the missing wolves.  So often, these books don't give us any reason to care about a missing person or animal, but this book did.  However, the expository information should have been shortened by around 10 pages.  If that had been done, then I might have stated that this book is outstanding.  Since I was bored for part of the story, I'll just leave it at very good.

In Nancy Drew #165, The Crime Lab Case, Nancy helps set up a Crime Lab camp for high school students.  The purpose of the camp is to provide a crime scene with blood and hair samples and have the students use forensics to solve the case.  Bess, George, and Ned also volunteer at the camp.

Life imitates fiction when the leader of the camp, Charles Parris, is poisoned and nearly dies.  Nancy is left in charge of the camp in his absence, and she must solve the real life mystery before others get hurt.

This is a very good book.  The plot is quite creative, and I was captivated from start to finish.

In Nancy Drew #166, The Case of the Creative Crime, Nancy and Bess work undercover at an art school run by a friend of Carson Drew.  Someone is sabotaging River Arts, and that person is using potentially deadly force to get a point across. 

This book starts out good from the very beginning.  I love the setting.

The series seems to be trying for more continuity.  #163 used Ned's fraternity house, Omega Chi Epsilon, and that fraternity goes all the way back to the early Nancy Drew books.  It had not been mentioned in ages.

The art school in this book is set right on the Muskoka River, which is a river from the early Nancy Drew books.

The book has several strong suspects, and the reader is kept guessing as to what is really going on.

This book is outstanding.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Nancy Drew #161 Lost in Everglades, #162 Lost Song, and #163 Clues Challenge

In Nancy Drew #161, Lost in the Everglades, Nancy, Bess, and George visit the Everglades in Florida.  They learn that Jade Romero, a park volunteer, has been missing for some time, and many people assume that she is dead.

George happens to look very much like Jade.  When Mrs. Fitzgerald sees George for the first time on pages 9 and 10, she screams repeatedly, saying nothing.  The entire scene is stupid.  It would have been more logical, and easier on the reader, for her to be astonished that Jade is alive instead of screaming and screaming.

Jade's boyfriend acts like Jade is dead with no possibility of being alive.  When someone disappears with no specific information about their disappearance known, there is always a chance. I thought that his behavior sent up a very obvious red flag.

The way Nancy nabs the villains is illogical.  All three are getting on a boat, so what does she do?  She crawls to the boat and jumps on it with them, right in front of them.  A struggle ensues, and of course it all works out.  However, the scene is not realistic.

I don't think I liked this book years ago, and I didn't like it this time, either.  I think it's another case of not really caring about the missing person, who was missing before the story began.  Besides that, much about the book is very strange.

In Nancy Drew #162, The Case of the Lost Song, Nancy, Bess, George, and Ned attend the Old Can Be Gold Show in Chicago.  George brings an old reel-to-reel tape recorder that has a tape inside.  After listening to the tape, the appraiser believes that it is of a rare jam session by a very famous singer.  Soon after the discovery, the recorder, along with the tape, are stolen!

I found it a bit annoying how offended Lisa becomes when Nancy suspects her coworkers.  Lisa knows that someone connected with the show must be responsible, and I can understand why she doesn't like Nancy investigating her friends.  However, I feel that her reaction is a bit much.

I really enjoyed this mystery.

In Nancy Drew #163, The Clues Challenge, Nancy and George visit Emerson University.  The girls plan to compete in the Clues Challenge on the same team as Ned and his fraternity, Omega Chi Epsilon.  A series of clues have been hidden by the sponsor of the Clues Challenge, and the teams compete to see who can find all the clues and claim the prize first.  Somebody sabotages the competition, causing some participants to become injured.

Initially, way too many characters are introduced in this story.  After a while, I was able to keep the main ones straight.

Page 43 has a mistake.  Nancy says that they need to get Randy to the infirmary, but C.J. was the person injured.

This is a very good book.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

My Summer Series Book Reading List

I am quite far ahead in my reading as compared to my published Nancy Drew reviews.  My goal was to be done with the Nancy Drew Girl Detective and Diaries series by the end of May, perhaps sooner.  I am now on track to be finished with the Girl Detective series by the end of the first week in May.  The Diaries series won't take long, so I expect to be finished with both by the middle of May.

I am so looking forward to reading something other than Nancy Drew.  Don't get me wrong.  I have greatly enjoyed reading the books, but I am also tiring of them.  There are way too many Nancy Drew books!  They go on and on.

I have a list of what I want to read (and do) after I finish the Nancy Drew books.  My list keeps getting longer and longer.  I have been denying myself all books other than Nancy Drew since late January.  This is my list.

1.  The new Nancy Drew game, The Shattered Medallion

Pre-orders start in just a few days.  Yay!

2.  The Valerie Drew stories

This was a recent discovery, and I am looking forward to reading the stories.  Valerie Drew was based on Nancy Drew and possibly also Judy Bolton.  Valerie is described as "plucky," and she has a dog who is even smarter than Judy's Blackberry.

3.  The Silence of the Library by Miranda James

This book was written by a series book collector and has references to series books.  I've heard that this book is very good.

4.  Brandon Mull's new book, Sky Raiders

I really enjoy Brandon Mull's books.  If you like Harry Potter, then consider trying Brandon Mull.  He does not get the attention that he deserves.

5.  Several new releases including Backs Against the Wall by Tracey Ward, Love at Last by Christine Kersey, and Enders by Lissa Price

These books are each the next installment in young adult series that I have read.  I have made certain to avoid them, because once I read them, I will be reading others, which will distract me from other books for at least a month.  Young adult books are kind of like a drug to me, and I can hardly tear myself away from them.  I will never get through the Nancy Drew books if I dare let myself read any of these books.

6.  The Three Investigators series

I have read the first two books and enjoyed them.  I want to read the entire series.

7.  The original text Hardy Boys books

I read these books around 20 years ago.  It's about time that I revisit them.

8.  Probably a bunch of other stuff that I've forgotten to mention  

I have so much to read and so little time!

I will hopefully be busy going down this list well before my last Nancy Drew reviews get published, so my plan is to intersperse reviews of other books among my Nancy Drew reviews once I reach that point.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Nancy Drew #158 Curse of the Black Cat, #159 Fiery Chamber, and #160 Crystal Dove

In Nancy Drew #158, Curse of the Black Cat, Nancy and George go undercover as interns at the Waverly Academy, a private school for girls.  A number of girls have received notes from the Black Cat, cursing them.  Nancy tries to find out who is responsible for the notes.

I enjoyed this book up until around halfway through it, then I began to lose patience.  I felt that too many characters had been introduced, and even worse, too many of them were suspects.  It got to the point where it felt like everyone was a suspect.

I began to enjoy the book again towards the end.

In Nancy Drew #159, The Secret of the Fiery Chamber, Nancy, Bess, and George take pottery classes at an arts festival.  Soon after their arrival, an old friend, Theresa Kim, tells Nancy that someone is producing fake pottery and selling it as valuable antique pottery.  Nancy agrees to investigate.

This book is not very memorable and is just somewhat interesting.  As I read the book, I had the same feeling as I had while reading the stretch of books from around #105 to #115, which was the highest concentration of sabotage books.  I felt like I was reading one of those books, and I wanted something more interesting to happen.  This book seems lacking.

On page 111, Nancy is eavesdropping and is shocked by something she hears.  She blurts out a reaction and pounds on the wall, and the suspects hear her.  I thought that Nancy had better control over her emotions than that.

Theresa is the one who asks Nancy for help, and she is clearly worried.  I am amazed that Nancy quickly decides that Theresa is the primary suspect.  Nancy idiotically assumes that since Theresa has the skill to make fake pottery that she must be the guilty person.  Nancy doesn't consider that Theresa asked her to help find the perpetrator.

I also lost patience in this book as more and more characters were introduced. 

The Secret of the Fiery Chamber is mediocre.

In Nancy Drew #160, The Clue on the Crystal Dove, Nancy, Bess, and George travel to New York City to attend to the opening of the Van Hoogstraten museum.  Nancy begins to investigate after a crystal dove is stolen from the museum.

This story is just average, but it flows well.  Even though I was not overly interested, the book managed to hold my attention.  The character list is not long, and this helps.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Nancy Drew #155 Tornado Alley, #156 Secret in the Stars, and #157 Music Festival Mystery

In Nancy Drew #155, The Mystery in Tornado Alley, Nancy travels to Oklahoma with her father, Hannah, Bess, and George to check out a property Hannah has inherited.  Nancy finds a green duffel bag in a tree after a tornado passes through.  She wonders whose bag it is. 

Nancy meets up with this random guy, Derek, at the tornado lab.  Derek is weird, but Nancy considers him her new best friend.  And he has a car!  Nancy gets him to take her places.  Bess and George both think something is wrong with Derek, but Nancy makes excuses for him.  Derek is Nancy's new BFF, and she doesn't care how bad he treats her!  Nancy clings to Derek as she tries to find the owner of the green duffel bag.

Yeah.  This book is a mess.  This book falls into the category of a book that is so bad that it is almost good.  I enjoyed it in a perverse fashion.

On page 2, Nancy is disappointed that the trip is to be by RV instead of by plane, since she likes to fly.  Really, Nancy?

I am about to spoil the plot, but this book is so awful that I hardly think it matters.  Besides, the villain is that obvious.  But if you really care, then skip down to the next image where the next review begins. 
The culprit is Derek.  He's so obviously the villain from the very beginning, and we see warning signs every few pages, like on pages 50, 52, 57, 79, 84, 89, and 107.  Even Bess and George say that Derek is strange or flaky.  Derek must have mental problems, but Nancy trusts him completely and gives him tons of information.

About that duffel bag... the bag contains ransom notes.  Nancy goes to the police, who are not interested, because no one has been kidnapped.  However, Nancy is certain that someone soon will be, so she becomes best friends with Derek so that he can help her.  Way to go, girl!  Have the villain help you!

The climax of this book is terribly illogical, unbelievable, and irresponsible, since it portrays an F5 tornado as easily survivable.  Derek, nut case that he is, drives into the center of an F5 tornado with Nancy in the car with him.  The car is pulled into the air, and Derek is knocked unconscious.  Nancy is thrown around inside the car while the car tumbles through the air.  Somehow, Nancy is not knocked out.  She has the presence of mind to consider what to do.  She decides that she would be better off outside the car where the debris can hit her.  She somehow opens the car door against 300 mph winds, and then the tornado sets her on the ground.  Nancy is uninjured.

Of course, Nancy's friends just happen to drive up at that exact moment.  Nancy sees where Derek's car hit the ground.  She decides that he must be dead, and the young people drive off without checking.  I mean, if Nancy lived through the tornado, then why couldn't Derek have lived?  Of course, he didn't live, but the scene caps off a story that is bizarre from start to finish.  The Mystery in Tornado Alley rivals The Flying Saucer Mystery in overall weirdness.

In Nancy Drew #156, The Secret in the Stars, popular radio astronomy host, Bob "Dr. Stars" Stellar, comes to River Heights.  Nancy, Bess, and George arrive at his stargazing event in the state park to discover nobody there but his abandoned van.  Later, Dr. Stars arrives, and the girls become acquainted with him.

Meanwhile, a celebrity, Will Ryder, is in River Heights to be married.  The paparazzi are stalking him, and Nancy gradually realizes that the strange events surrounding Dr. Stars are connected to the paparazzi.

I feel that Nancy is a bit dense not to realize the identity of one of the two culprits.  This is a pretty good book, but the obviousness of the villain takes away from it a bit.  I sense that the books are beginning to deteriorate as we begin the countdown towards the end of the Nancy Drew Digest series and the beginning of the Nancy Drew Girl Detective series.

In Nancy Drew #157, The Music Festival Mystery, Nancy, Bess, and George attend a music festival at Emerson College with Ned.  The music festival is put on by the school's club of international students.  The club is riddled with controversy, with two students running for club president locked in a bitter feud. 

The book introduces too many characters too fast.  I was bored by page 25 and began skimming the book.  By page 50, I gave up.  I skipped to the end to see the identity of the villain.  I recognized the name as one of the dozen or so names that were introduced in the beginning, but I couldn't remember anything about that person.  I don't think I missed out on much by not reading this book.