Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Twilight Darkness #1 Deadly Sleep, #2 The Power, and #3 The Initiation

In Twilight Where Darkness Begins #1, Deadly Sleep, Jaynie has arrived in Scotland to visit her friend Evelyn.  A photograph on the wall of Jaynie's bedroom glows at night, and Jaynie soon realizes that a spirit is involved.

Jaynie spends a lot of time depressed over breaking up with her boyfriend.  This happened before the beginning of the story.  The boyfriend is never part of the plot, so I did not care.  I was bored reading about the boyfriend.

When the photograph on the wall glows and Jaynie's name is called from the picture, the scene does not feel scary.  Jaynie acts like the glowing photo is no big deal.  If she had been scared, I might have been scared.

I never connected with the characters, and I never cared about the story.  I felt that the text was missing that something that makes for a compelling story.  A character dies in this book, and I also did not care.  This book could have been written better and is a poor introductory book for the series.

In Twilight Where Darkness Begins #2, The Power, Meredith finds a small box hanging from her locker.  Inside the box are a lock of hair and a note.  The note proclaims that Meredith is in the sender's power.  Meredith is inclined to believe that she is the victim of a joke when she discovers that she is missing a lock of hair.  In horror, Meredith realizes that someone cut a lock of hair from her head while she was sleeping. Who is stalking her?

This book is scary because of the sinister threat. This is an excellent book.

In Twilight Where Darkness Begins #3, The Initiation, Adam is a new student at Blair Prep. Soon after Adam's arrival, he finds a body in a gym locker.  The incident is reported, but strangely, the police never interview Adam about the body.  Adam soon notices that many of the Blair Prep students are secretive and that some kind of initiation is held at night.  He befriends Loren, a student from a nearby girls' school, and the two begin to investigate the strange events.

This is an excellent story.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Twilight and Dark Forces Teen Horror Series

I learned about two sets of vintage teen horror series from the 1980s that I had never read: Twilight Where Darkness Begins and Dark Forces.  I seem to recall in junior high seeing other students reading the Dark Forces books, but I never read one.  I have no memory of ever seeing the Twilight books.

I looked up the series and was intrigued to discover that both sets of books are from the early 1980s.  I have a particular affinity for books published during the 1980s.  The reading that caused me to collect series books occurred from the summer of 1979 up through 1991.  I began collecting series books in 1991.  Consider that 10 of those 13 years were the 1980s.  That decade and my love for reading are closely intertwined.

I am familiar with the teen horror genre.  I loved reading Christopher Pike's teen horror books from 1988 into the early 1990s, so I suspected that I might like the Twilight books.  I went to and purchased seven of the Twilight books in late May.  I chose the books that I could get at the minimum price of around $4.00 each so that if I didn't like the books, I could get my money back.

I read two of the Twilight books in late August in order to decide whether to complete the set.  I did not like the first book I read, but the second one was excellent.  Since the author of the first book did not write any of the other titles, I concluded that I would most likely enjoy reading the set.

I spent one Saturday evening building the set of Twilight books.  I find it a fun challenge to try to build a complete set of vintage books all at once by purchasing the books individually from different sellers.  Since I want to read the books and want to get the set assembled quickly, I must find every title immediately.  I greatly enjoy the process of finding and purchasing the books.

Since the Twilight series unfortunately has the same name as the very popular modern teen series about Edward and Bella, a search for "Twilight" cannot be used to find these vintage books.  One must search individually by title and author.  I also used "Twilight Dell" and "Twilight Darkness" in some of the searches to see what would show up.

I was able to find all of the Twilight books in individual listings on eBay, Etsy, Amazon, and AbeBooks.  I was able to get some books very inexpensively while I had to pay higher prices for other titles.  For all titles, I went with the very cheapest copy I could find online.

The Twilight set consists of the following books.

 1. Deadly Sleep, Dale Cowan, 1982
 2. The Power, Betsy Haynes, 1982
 3. The Initiation, Robert Brunn, 1982
 4. Fatal Attraction, Imogen Howe, 1982
 5. Blink of the Mind, Dorothy Brenner Francis, 1982
 6. Voices in the Dark, James Haynes, 1982
 7. Play to Live, Charles Veley, 1982
 8. Blood Red Roses, Sarah Armstrong, 1982
 9. Demon Tree, Colin Daniel, 1983
10. The Avenging Spirit, E. Stevenson, 1983
11. Nightmare Lake, Carl Laymon, 1983
12. The Twisted Room, Janet Patton Smith, 1983
13. Vicious Circle, Imogen Howe, 1983
14. Footprints of the Dead, Jay Callahan, 1983
15. Spirits and Spells, Bruce Coville, 1983
16. Drawing the Dead, Neil R. Selden, 1983
17. Storm Child, Susan Netter, 1983
18. Watery Grave, Joseph Trainor, 1983
19. Dance of Death, Lou Kassem, 1984
20. Family Crypt, Joseph Trainor, 1984
21. Evil on the Bayou, Richie Tankersley Cusick, 1984
22. The Haunted Dollhouse, Susan Blake, 1984
23. The Warning, Amanda Byron, 1985. ISBN
24. Amulet of Doom, Bruce Coville, 1985
25. A Deadly Rhyme, Gloria Gonzalez, 1986
26. Scavenger's Hunt, Arthur Bicknell, 1987

Here are my books.

After I purchased all of the Twilight books that evening, I thought about the Dark Forces series.  The cover art is creepier, and I was less interested in trying them.  I decided to go ahead and build a set anyway.  Late that Saturday night, I found all of the Dark Forces books on the same sites that I used to purchase the Twilight books.

The Dark Forces set consists of the following books.

 1.  The Game, Les Logan, 1983
 2.  Magic Show, Laurie Bridges and Paul Alexander, 1983
 3.  The Doll, Rex Sparger, 1983
 4.  Devil Wind, Laurie Bridges and Paul Alexander, 1983
 5.  The Bargain, Rex Sparger, 1983
 6.  Swamp Witch, Laurie Bridges and Paul Alexander, 1983
 7.  Unnatural Talent, Les Logan, 1983
 8.  The Companion, Scott Siegel, 1983
 9.  Eyes of the Tarot, Bruce Coville, 1983
10.  Beat the Devil, Scott Siegel, 1984
11.  Waiting Spirits, Bruce Coville, 1984
12.  The Ashton Horror, Laurie Bridges, 1984
13.  The Curse, Larry Weinberg, 1984
14.  Blood Sport, R. C. Scott, 1984
15.  The Charming, Jane Polcovar, 1984

Here are my books.

Reviews of individual titles in both series will follow.

Free Shipping Compared to Combined Shipping

I grew weary of the number of buyers who would ask me about shipping discounts for my items that had free shipping.  The shipping was stated as free, but they thought my price was marked up to fully cover the cost of shipping, so they wanted me to give a discount for multiple items purchased.  Free shipping doesn't work that way.

Since I tired of answering all the inquiries from buyers who would then not make purchases, I decided to let go of free shipping for most of my eBay items.  That was in the summer.  Now I have very low sales because my items had been promoted in best match search when they had free shipping.  How splendid.  

If charging for shipping and then offering a combined shipping discount is so preferable to many buyers, then how come they don't purchase my items when offered that way?

I decided to go back to free shipping for most items so that my sales will once again increase.  This will no doubt annoy those buyers who do not understand how the concept of free shipping actually works.  The purpose of this post is to explain my pricing in case any of those buyers should ever read this post.  

For most items, I do partially charge shipping on items offered at free shipping.  For an item that I want to price at $9.99, I instead price it at $11.99 with free shipping.  This means I am charging $2.00 shipping for that book.  If a buyer purchases two books at $11.99 and free shipping, then that buyer pays $23.98 total.

For the same items mentioned above, I set the prices at $9.99 plus $3.95 shipping for the first book and $0.60 shipping for each additional book when I charge shipping.  This means that the two $11.99 items if purchased together would then cost $9.99 + $9.99 + $3.95 + $0.60 for a total of $24.53.  So... the buyer gets a shipping discount for the second item purchased, but the total paid is slightly higher than for the same two items offered with free shipping.  The difference is insignificant, but still, the items are slightly cheaper with free shipping.

As the seller, I get less when I offer free shipping, particularly when just one item is purchased.  For $9.99 items with free shipping, I get only $6.04.  Actually, I may get only around $5.00 because some books cost more than $3.95 to ship.  This is why I tend to price items at $11.99 instead of $9.99 when I offer free shipping.

With free shipping, a buyer has to purchase three items in one order for me to break even on shipping.  I don't mind for buyers to purchase just one item, but I wish they understood that when they purchase several items, I do not take the loss that I do on one item purchased.  That's why I can't offer additional discounts.

For some items, I don't change the price when I toggle between free shipping and combined shipping.   Back in the summer when I changed my items to combined shipping, some of them went up in price because I kept the free shipping price and changed the postage from free to $3.95.  Those items ended up costing $3.95 more.

Now I have gone back the other way.  I have changed most of my items on eBay back to free shipping.  For the vast majority, the overall cost is now lower.

In addition to changing my eBay items back to free shipping, I added over 100 books for sale on eBay and Etsy this weekend.  The eBay store has an automatic discount of 10% off for any order of $35 or more.  On Etsy, enter the coupon code BOOKS2016 to receive 10% off of orders of $20 or more.  On Etsy, you must enter the coupon in order to receive the discount.

Jennifer's Series Books on Etsy

Jennifer's Series Books on eBay

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Wynn and Lonny #5 Dead Heat at Le Mans and #6 Midnight Rally

In Wynn and Lonny #5, Dead Heat at Le Mans, Wynn and Lonny become part of a project designed to test synthetic oil for use in the military.  Wynn and Lonny will race two Monzas with the synthetic oil, and if the oil works, then the military will use it.

I found it interesting how the plot centers around the development and testing of synthetic oil, which is used widely nowadays.  These books were on the cutting edge of auto racing.

This book has way too many characters, and I couldn't remember them.  I grew more bored as I read further into the book.  I skimmed the last one-third of the book.

In Wynn and Lonny #6, The Midnight Rally, Wynn and Lonny are hired as stunt drivers for a Hollywood movie.  The movie features a cross-country race.  As the movie is filmed, the boys discover that someone is following the production and creating acts of sabotage.

I enjoyed the book at first, but soon, the plot falls into the same pattern as so many of the later Stratemeyer Syndicate books.  I skimmed around the last half of the book and found I did not care at all about what happened.

I found the information about racing to be interesting during #2, 3, and 4 in the series.  I am not interested in racing at all, but I still found the content engaging.  I had never thought about the kind of adjustments that need to be made to race cars so that they will perform at top speed.  I learn a lot from reading books.

The easiest books to find in the Wynn and Lonny series are #1, 2, and 4.  The best books in the series are #2 and 3.  Fortunately, #2 is inexpensive, so it is the one that should be purchased in order to try out the series.  If you are not particularly interested in racing, then paying high prices for the harder to find books is not a good idea.  If you love racing, then go for it.

Even though the later books were harder for me to read, I enjoyed reading about Wynn and Lonny's racing experiences.  The two young men and their female friends are upstanding, likable young people who work hard and are undaunted by setbacks.  They are excellent role models.

"The Checkered Flag" is an excellent article about the Wynn and Lonny series.  Read it to learn more about the authors and the development of the series.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Jenny Dean #3 Third Eye and #4 Invisible City

In Jenny Dean #3, The Secret of the Third Eye, Padme Lampo has returned from Tibet. He is now a Grand Lama and has mystical powers, including the ability to predict the future and to levitate himself.  Padme Lampo plans to use his powers to help the people of Winter Falls.  Unfortunately, an evil man wishes to use Padme Lampo for his own nefarious purpose.

Page 14:
Dr. Gwen, Winter Falls' leading psychologist and Jenny's mother, exchanged a secret smile with her daughter.  They both knew how splendidly capable Jenny was of not only taking care of herself, but everyone else in sight.
Wow!  I nominate Jenny Dean as the most perfect series book character ever!

I enjoyed this book, but not as much as I did the first two.  The plot is just too weird, and the book has little suspense.  There isn't a mystery.  The reader knows from near the beginning that Padme Lampo has strange powers, and the plot pretty much just consists of Jenny trying to keep him safe.

In Jenny Dean #4, The Secret of the Invisible City, a strange cyclone tears across the Kansas plains.  After the cyclone is gone, Jenny discovers an invisible wall near her aunt and uncle's farm.  Jenny soon is pulled into the mysterious area, where she discovers an invisible city inhabited by aliens who recently arrived from a distant galaxy.  The people most important to Jenny are also pulled into the alien city, and soon, Jenny fears that they will never be able to return home.

On page 26, Jenny's cousin Martha comments that Jenny didn't tell her friends about her strange abduction.  Jenny replies, "They'd worry."  Martha responds, "The way you are, I can see why."  Indeed.  Jenny has a knack for getting into bizarre situations.

This book is the most bizarre in the series.  In fact, each book has been more bizarre than the previous title.  I enjoyed this book more than the third book but less than the first two books.

I enjoyed reading the Jenny Dean Science Fiction Mysteries series.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Wynn and Lonny #3 GT Challenge and #4 Gold Cup Rookies

In Wynn and Lonny #3, GT Challenge, Wynn and Lonny sell their Formula Vee racer so that they can purchase a Datsun 260Z in order to participate in the GT competition.  The boys soon learn that they have purchased a stolen car.  To make matters worse, the boys' sponsor, Jeff Kuralt, has problems of his own. Someone is stealing top-secret parts from Kuralt's factory and using the parts to defraud auto dealers.

Some of the other drivers are male chauvinists who don't like Inky and Nancy-Rae competing with the men.  It's interesting that a series book from the middle 1970s that was aimed at boys depicts girls breaking into a male-dominated field.

There is a lot of information about racing, but it is presented in an interesting fashion without getting bogged down.  As I read this book, I reflected that this series depicts racing in a far more interesting fashion than the Hardy Boys Digest books that center on racing.  This book, and in fact the entire Wynn and Lonny series, is sabotage just like those books, but the books feature sabotage written in a more interesting fashion.

I notice that Wynn and Lonny have friends in high places who help them out when they get in trouble.

This story has a character whose intent is ambiguous.  I couldn't tell if he was on the good side or the bad, and it was quite pleasing when I found out for sure.  I love it when authors work that sort of thing into the plot.

This is a very good book.  It's the best one so far.

In Wynn and Lonny #4, Gold Cup Rookies, Wynn and Lonny sell their Datsun so that they can purchase a Zink Formula Super Vee so that they can race in the Gold Cup series. The boys will test Jeff Kuralt's new device, the Altaguard, in their racer.

I enjoyed this book, although it does have too many characters, which I couldn't keep straight.  A different author wrote this book, and I could the difference.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Jenny Dean #1 Shining Children and #2 Hidden Trap

The Jenny Dean Science Fiction Mysteries series was written by Dale Carlson.  The books were published by Grosset and Dunlap in 1983 and 1984.  The series consists of the following titles.

1.  The Mystery of the Shining Children, 1983
2.  The Mystery of the Hidden Trap, 1983
3.  The Secret of the Third Eye, 1983
4.  The Secret of the Invisible City, 1984

Each book has neat endpapers that feature a map of Winter Falls and the surrounding area.  The map features all the locations used in the four books.  Click on the image to see a larger version.

In #1 The Mystery of the Shining Children, Jenny Dean and Mike Wood notice that their classmates at Winter Falls High School are behaving strangely.  Their complexions are pale and shining.  As Jenny investigates, she discovers that a virus is responsible and soon suspects who the ruthless culprit is.

Jenny is more perfect than Nancy Drew in the opening scene.  The author lets the reader know that Jenny's parents and the police chief come to Jenny for advice concerning just about all of their problems.  And Jenny always knows the answers.

Jenny and Mike pretty much abduct a child from a research hospital, believing that he is in danger.  They take the child to Jenny's Aunt Sally's house, where they are staying.  Oddly, Aunt Sally asks no questions about the extra guest the next morning, apparently accepting it as normal that Jenny and Mike have brought a strange child into her home.

I find it interesting how Jenny's parents question none of Jenny's decisions, no matter how bizarre they are.  The story is interesting, although improbable.  The ending is wrapped up way too fast.

This book is very easy and pleasant to read.  I enjoyed it.

In #2 The Mystery of the Hidden Trap, one at a time, four different people in different towns near Winter Falls are involved in near-fatal accidents.  Each accident was caused by the same boy, at least that is what everyone thinks at first.  Soon Jenny learns that each boy is part of a set of quadruplets that were separated at birth and put up for adoption.  And it gets crazier from there.

Old Mr. Marsh falls into an illegal trap and breaks both of his legs.  The Deans arrive to help him, and Jenny's parents splint his legs. Next, the Deans go outside to investigate.  On page 18, Mrs. Burgess "wanted to serve coffee before they took Mr. Marsh to the hospital for x-rays."  Say what?!  And the Deans proceed to drink coffee while Mr. Marsh lies around with his splinted legs waiting to be taken to the hospital.  Apparently Mr. Marsh doesn't get any coffee.

This book is very suspenseful as Jenny figures out the strange events.  I enjoyed this book even more than I did the first book.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Wynn and Lonny #1 Mexicali 1000 and #2 Road Race of Champions

The Wynn and Lonny Racing Books were published by Grosset and Dunlap during the middle 1970s.  This series is the last series created by the Stratemeyer Syndicate.

Wynn Redford and Lonny Morris are both interested in racing.  The boys are 18 in the first book and 19 in the rest of the books.  Lonny's primary role is mechanic, while Wynn is the driver.  Sometimes Lonny also drives.  Two girls, Nancy-Rae Eubanks and Inky Larsson, are close friends of the boys.  The girls also drive race cars and frequently assist the boys. There is no romance between any of the young people.

In Wynn and Lonny #1, The Mexicali 1000, Wynn and Lonny plan to attend a racing-driver school in California.  Bud Eubanks asks them to find his daughter, Nancy-Rae, who is somewhere in California.  The boys encounter various adventures as they drive cross-country to California.  Once there, they learn that they were swindled.  There is no racing-driver school!  The boys must earn money so that they can rebuild their Beetle Bomb and race in the Mexicali 1000.

On page 140, the young people eat Vienna sausages and crackers during the trip. This interested me, since we ate Vienna sausages and crackers on car trips when I was young.

Wynn and Lonny end up staying in a roach-infested hotel.  They even hear the roaches moving around during the night.  Yuck.

The first half of the book is rough and hard to read.  There is way too much technical information about racing, race cars, and engines.  This is as expected, but it was too much for me.  The second half of the book reads like a regular series book adventure.

I did not enjoy the first half of the book, while I did enjoy the second half.

In Wynn and Lonny #2, Road Race of Champions, Wynn and Lonny build a Formula Vee racer and compete on the Formula Vee circuit.  The boys encounter numerous setbacks as opponents sabotage their racer during the competitions.

Nancy-Rae and Inky are such great characters. The girls go out to investigate on their own after Beetle Bomb is stolen.  They uncover a clue that leads to the recovery of the car.  Way to go, girls!

This book also contains a lot of technical information about racing, but it is not excessive like in the first book.  I didn't mind the information, and I greatly enjoyed this book.