Friday, May 27, 2016

Hardy Boys #107 Gull Island, #108 Fear on Wheels, and #109 Prime-Time Crime

In Hardy Boys #107, Panic on Gull Island, Iola has disappeared while vacationing on an island off the gulf coast of Florida.  The Hardys and Chet travel to the island to find Iola, where they discover that no one on the island is willing to help.  The boys suspect that Iola has fallen victim to a sinister plot.

This book has the feel of the higher-numbered original books.  What stood out is the usage of the word "goon" to describe the villains and the word "quipped" when one boy makes a remark in jest.  And of course, the boys and Fenton are on two separate cases that turn out to be the same case, and this does not happen as often in the Hardy Boys Digest books as it does in the original series.

I expected this book to be quite good since the title mentions a place with an interesting name, Gull Island.  I tend to like books set in picturesque locations.  Unfortunately, the book disappointed me, and I liked it less than many other Hardy Boys Digest books that I have read recently.

I enjoyed around two-thirds of the book.  The book began to bore me around 40 to 50 pages from the end.  I began skimming and finally quit reading the book by 20 pages from the end.  The culprits are obvious from the beginning.  It is also obvious from the start that the two cases are connected.  I didn't need to know the ending details since there was never much suspense.

While I enjoyed the first part of the book, I doubt I will ever want to read this book again.

In Hardy Boys #108, Fear on Wheels, Frank and Joe are hired to find out who is sabotaging a monster truck show.

This is the typical boring sabotage book.  There are too many characters who all blend together.  The text gives the reader no reason to care.  If one of the Hardys had actually been participating in the monster truck show, I would have had a reason to care.  They are merely observers who go around and question people who are of little interest to the reader. 

This book is so boring!  Everything about the book bored me.  I began skimming the book by page 40.  I quit halfway through.  I did turn to the end to see the villain's name, but I didn't care.

I did not like this book at all.

In Hardy Boys #109, The Prime-Time Crime, Frank is a contestant in a local teen quiz show that airs on WBPT.  The show's host disappears.  The boys investigation is difficult, because two other teen quiz show contestants decide that they are better detectives and can solve the case before the boys.

This book is better than the previous book because the Hardys are involved in the plot.  They are in danger.

The two other teens who decide to work on the case are rather annoying.  At the same time, this plot twist is interesting, since Frank and Joe do not usually have to deal with others making their work difficult. 

I enjoyed this book.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Hardy Boys #104 Tricks of the Trade, #105 Smoke Screen Mystery, and #106 Video Villains

In Hardy Boys #104, Tricks of the Trade, Frank and Joe attend a magic seminar in New York hosted by Lorenzo the Magnificent.  Valuable jewelry disappears during each magic act, and the boys suspect Lorenzo's assistant of being the culprit.

On page 120 after a theft, everyone is to be searched.  One person leaves to call the police, and that person is not searched.  The boys ought to know that everyone is a suspect, yet that person is overlooked.  I wasn't surprised when this person turns out to be one of the villains, although I was quite surprised by the identity of the other villain.

The book has a premise that appears to be just like other books with magicians and magic acts which involve thefts that occur during performances.  At first I thought I would not find this book interesting, but the fresh take on an old story idea makes the book quite engaging.

I greatly enjoyed this book.

In Hardy Boys #105, The Smoke Screen Mystery, Frank and Joe become volunteer firefighters.  Every fire is attributed to faulty wiring, but the boys soon realize that an arsonist is loose.

On page 37, the boys are searching the scene of one of the fires as it gets dark outside.  Frank comments that the boys need to hurry since the light is diminishing.  The boy's van is outside, and it is stocked with everything the boys could possibly need in an investigation.  And the boys are searching in the late evening without flashlights because...?

As I read this book, I realized that there is a gender bias among children's books.  Nancy Drew would never work as a volunteer firefighter.  The Hardys are able to do more exciting activities since they are boys.

I greatly enjoyed this book.

In Hardy Boys #106, Attack of the Video Villains, Joe is a lead contestant in Videomundo's Hack Attack competition in New York.  But soon, the boys find themselves in the middle of danger and intrigue.  Chet purchases a Hack Attack cartridge, and gangsters keep trying to steal it.  The men will stop at nothing, and the boys must discover what is so special about the cartridge.

On page 42, the reader learns that ROM is "ready-only-memory."  No, ROM is actually "read-only memory."  "Ready-only-memory" makes no sense!

On page 100, a Videomundo representative has no idea what a backdoor to the game is.  This is a huge red flag, since the book had already explained that the video magazines give backdoors in each issue.  There's no way the rep wouldn't know, so I knew that this person was one of the villains from that passage.

I greatly enjoyed this book.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Hardy Boys #101 Money Hunt, #102 Terminal Shock, and #103 Million-Dollar Nightmare

In Hardy Boys #101, The Money Hunt, Frank and Joe travel to Maine to help their father's friend who owns a hunting lodge.  Accidents have occurred at the lodge, and guests have seen a ghost!  Years ago, bank robbers hid their loot somewhere near the lodge, and the boys wonder if there is a connection.

I really like the setting in the woods of Maine.

I enjoyed this book, although it partially lost me towards the end, since it went into some length explanations of exactly what the villains did.  When the boys are imprisoned on the helicopter, the two villains immediately begin discussing at great length their entire story from start to finish.  Later after the villains are captured, we get the boring play-by-play on who-did-what.

In Hardy Boys #102, Terminal Shock, Frank has been visiting bulletin boards online, while Joe knows nothing about computers and is uninterested.  Frank's friend Jim, who runs a bulletin board, suddenly is taken ill.  He has been poisoned.  Frank and Joe must find the culprit—and the antidote—before Jim dies!

The old computer jargon is fun and interesting.  I tend to enjoy books like this one, because they make the computers sound so fascinating and mysterious.

Joe acts very stupid about computers.  He knows absolutely nothing!  At the time this book was first published in 1990, I was Frank's age.  Joe is just one year younger than I was at that time.  Teenagers did know about computers!  I recall having a computer in my elementary school classroom in 1983.  It's ridiculous that Joe is so oblivious to them.  I get the idea that the adult writing the book knew nothing about computers and was self-educating himself or herself while writing the book.  After all, I know less about current technology than today's teenagers.  That's the way it always is.  The adults know less than the youth.

It's odd that Joe is the one depicted to hate computers.  It would have been more logical to have Chet take that role and tag along with the boys on the case.  It's strange for Joe to act so clueless and complain about computers for the entire book.

I enjoyed this book.

In Hardy Boys #103, The Million-Dollar Nightmare, Frank and Joe are traveling in San Francisco.  While walking down the street, they just happen to see a wanted criminal who was featured on a recent television show.  The criminal is wanted for stealing a valuable horse several years before.  The boys are certain that the brief sighting will give them the insight they need to crack a case that has puzzled authorities for years.

This book didn't interest me, for the reason that I didn't care.  Since I didn't like the book, I read it very quickly to get it over with quickly.  The book might be okay, but I did not care for it.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Hardy Boys #98 Spark of Suspicion, #99 Dungeon of Doom, and #100 Island Treasure

In Hardy Boys #98, Spark of Suspicion, someone is threatening to sabotage the Founder's Day fireworks display.  Frank and Joe use their jobs at the television station, WBPT, to investigate the fireworks company, where they suspect that the saboteur works.

One employee of the fireworks company goes out of his way to cooperate with Frank and Joe.  He makes copies of some of the private files of the company and gives the boys information that incriminates certain employees.  I was suspicious of him from the beginning because he is too helpful.

On page 122, Frank and Joe finally figure it out.  They realize that the culprit is the one person who was feeding them misleading information.  Right, guys. You should have been suspicious of that person much sooner.

The action ends on the penultimate page with no time for boring questions and answers.  That's good, because I don't get bored when that happens.

Even though the villain is quite predictable, I enjoyed this book.

In Hardy Boys #99, Dungeon of Doom, Frank and Joe sit in on a meeting of the Greater Bayport Area Wizards and Warriors Club.  The members learn that another member has been threatened, so Frank and Joe go with them to an abandoned mine that the group uses for its role-playing games.

The entrance to the mine is blasted shut soon after the group enters the mine.  They are trapped and find themselves in a dangerous role-playing game that their enemy has set up for them.  There appears to be no exit from the mine, and deadly traps have been placed everywhere.

The book is good, and I enjoyed it.  However, I do feel that the story could have been written better.  The events in the mine are told in a perfunctory fashion that leaves them less thrilling than they could have been. 

In Hardy Boys #100, The Secret of the Island Treasure, Frank and Joe revisit the scene of their very first case.  Hurd Applegate's mansion is being turned into condominiums.  The boys find a secret workroom in the tower, and in the workroom, they find a map that shows the location of a treasure on a nearby island. 

I had trouble figuring out how a workroom could be hidden in the tower.  Applegate knew about the workroom but could never find it.  Wouldn't someone have noticed that the inside of the tower is smaller than the outside of the tower?  Couldn't they have used that information to figure out the location of the hidden workroom?

On page 63, the boys are in a pit that they have dug on the island.  Water begins coming into the pit.  Frank wonders where the water is coming from.  Let's think about this.  The boys are on an island in the ocean.  Where do you think the source of the water is?  Joe notices that the water is salty, and the boys are further puzzled.  They wonder why saltwater would seep into a pit on the island!  And these boys are famous detectives?

The ending of this book does not drag.  There is more than one villain, and they are not working together, so the reader is left guessing.

This is a very good book. 

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Hardy Boys #95 Danger on the Air, #96 Wipeout, and #97 Cast of Criminals

In Hardy Boys #95, Danger on the Air, Frank and Joe are invited to appear on a talk show at a Bayport television station.  The boys learn that someone calling himself the Masked Marauder has been threatening the television station, warning that the station will go off the air unless his demands are met.  Frank and Joe wonder if the threats are connected to a company that is trying to purchase the station.

This is an exciting book.  I greatly enjoyed it.

In Hardy Boys #96, Wipeout, Frank and Joe travel to France to find out who is sabotaging the Almanarre Cup windsurfing competition.  Champion Doug Newman keeps having accidents that could remove him from the competition.  Meanwhile, Doug's girlfriend runs a nearby inn, which has been hit by acts of sabotage.

I had recently read Hardy Boys #168, The Castle Conundrum, which is also set in France.  One specific event in both books is basically the same.  In both books, a heavy object is caused to fall.  Something is placed under the object to make it uneven, then ice is used to balance it.  When the ice melts, the object falls.

Furthermore, both books have more than one culprit, and the culprits have different motives, so the reader cannot guess what is happening and who is responsible.

I enjoyed this book.

In Hardy Boys #97, Cast of Criminals, Callie is starring in a play at Bayport's Grand Theater.  Callie plans to wear a tiara in the play, but the tiara vanishes.  The boys learn that the tiara is valuable.  Meanwhile, dangerous accidents plague the production, and it appears that someone is sabotaging the play.

Chet is a star in the play, but he is awful.  Nothing he does is right, and of course he gets fired.  I can't understand why he was cast.  He is so awful in his delivery that it makes no sense.  It's good comic relief, but it isn't logical.

I like how Callie and Iola are actively involved in the mystery for the duration of the book.  The mystery centers around Callie, who is being threatened.  I always enjoy series books more when members of both genders are actively involved in the plot.

The book has more than one culprit, each after something different.  This book has lots of humor.

The story is brilliant.  This book is excellent, and I loved it.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Hardy Boys #92 Shadow Killers, #93 Serpent's Tooth Mystery, and #94 Breakdown in Axelblade

In Hardy Boys #92, The Shadow Killers, every city that is hosting a competition in the karate tournament circuit has had an armory robbed.  Frank and Joe believe that ninjas are involved!

This book never really had my interest.  In the beginning, the boys discuss how difficult a certain opponent will be and how he plays dirty.  The reader hasn't met this person yet, so the discussion is boring.  It's always better for an author to show the reader than explain to the reader.  I didn't care.

The text spends a lot of time with information that isn't that interesting.

The book is okay but nothing special.  I did not care for it.

In Hardy Boys #93, The Serpent's Tooth Mystery, Phil Cohen is working at the zoo in the snake exhibit.  When valuable snakes are stolen, Phil becomes the primary suspect.  Frank and Joe must clear him of the charges.

When the story involves danger to someone important to the protagonists, the story is much more interesting.  It's very important that the Hardys find out who is responsible for the theft so that Phil can be cleared.

This book is pretty exciting, and I read it quickly.  I was a little bored at the end, like I often am when the obligatory question-and-answer session occurs.  Aside from that part, this is an excellent book.

In Hardy Boys #94, Breakdown in Axelblade, Frank and Joe drive to Wyoming to go on a camping trip in a national park.  The boys' van breaks down in Axelblade, which is close to their destination.  Oddly, everyone in town is hostile to the boys.  They are threatened and warned away.  When the boys go camping as planned, they are harassed and abducted.  Soon, the boys discover the deadly secret behind the townspeople's hostility.

This book is interesting from the very start.  The residents of this town are quite hostile.  The boys finally find one ally, but otherwise, everyone seems to hate them.  Their van is set on fire.  The boys are beat up.  They are even framed for a crime they did not commit.

This is an excellent book with no boring parts.  I loved it.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

An Update on Listings at eBay and Etsy

A week ago, I removed all of my items from my Bonanza booth and moved them to eBay and Etsy.

Jennifer's Series Books on Etsy

Jennifer's Series Books on eBay

My Bonanza sales were awful.  It was frustrating, since I knew that books that stayed on Bonanza for months would have sold quickly on eBay.  A total of 56 books were moved from Bonanza to eBay one week ago.  I did not lower any prices when I moved the books to eBay, and in a few cases, I raised the prices.  11 of those 56 books have already sold on eBay, which proves that Bonanza was a waste of effort.

eBay is the very best place to buy and sell vintage books.  It always has been, and it always will be.  I have never quit buying on eBay.  In early 2009 when I moved my listings to Bonanza, I continued to purchase lots of books on eBay.  I never left.  My items for sale left, not me.

I have now been back on eBay as a seller for nearly three years.  Yes, the fees can be high, but the items actually sell and without a lot of effort.  That's really important. 

I wrote of eBay's horrible changes in 2008 and 2009.  eBay has now undone nearly all of the changes that were awful for sellers.  It's not a horrible place.  Even better, eBay just recently announced that they are simplifying their listing form to make it easier to list.  It's about time!  From what was mentioned, I believe that eBay will be changing to a listing form that mimics Etsy and Bonanza.  Good.

I also moved 63 books to Etsy.  It's not surprising that none of them have sold in the last week.  It's the same story as Bonanza.  However, I can already tell that I have more traffic on Etsy than I did on Bonanza.  I have a better chance of success on Etsy since it actually has traffic.  I also know that since I have had no sales and since I have no feedback that it might take awhile to get sales. 

I figured out how to allow money order transactions on Etsy, so I changed that setting a few days ago.  If you are a buyer who likes to pay via money order, I can still accommodate you on Etsy just as I did on Bonanza.  On my payment options page, Etsy gives me a warning about how money order transactions have no seller protection.  I get why they give buyers that kind of warning, but warning the seller makes no sense.  I won't mail the item until I receive the money order, so I am not going to be defrauded. 

This weekend I added 20 books to my Etsy shop.  I selected some very hard to find books, since I already can tell that I have Google exposure for my Etsy listings.  I am using the same approach as I did with Bonanza.  I offer books on Etsy that I do not offer on eBay, which means that buyers have to check both sites to see what I have.

My summer vacation starts on the afternoon of May 25.  At that time, I will get caught up on many projects.  I will more thoroughly get caught up with listing books on both eBay and Etsy.  And I will tear through the rest of the Hardy Boys Digests, the Hardy Boys Undercover Brothers, and the Hardy Boys Adventures.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Hardy Boys #89 Sky Blue Frame, #90 Danger on the Diamond, and #91 Shield of Fear

In Hardy Boys #89, The Sky Blue Frame, Mark Maxwell, owner of the Sky Blue Inn, hires Frank and Joe to stage a fake crime at the inn for a mystery weekend, which he has advertised for his guests.  Soon after the boys arrive several crimes are committed... or are the crimes fake?

On page 55, one guest does not socialize during dinner and instead reads a book.  Frank comments, "He's either very rude or a nut about mysteries."  How about he likes to read? 

This book is very interesting.  The reader is kept guessing as to what is really going on.  This story is better than Hardy Boys #154, The Caribbean Cruise Caper, which I had recently read.  The Caribbean Cruise Caper has the same premise, but in that book, everyone knows that the Hardys are staging a mystery.  In this book, none of the guests know that the Hardy Boys are at the inn to plant clues, which makes the story much better and more suspenseful.  Also, other items get stolen, and the reader begins wondering whether someone else is there to set up a fake mystery or whether real crimes are being committed.

This is an excellent story from beginning to end.

In Hardy Boys #90, Danger on the Diamond, Frank and Joe participate in a baseball camp run by a famous former baseball player.  Accidents begin to occur, and it soon becomes apparent that someone is sabotaging the baseball camp.

This story is nonstop action.  Around halfway through, it began to get to me and became annoying.  Once the exact details of the reason for the sabotage are revealed, the book becomes more interesting.

I overall greatly enjoyed the book.

In Hardy Boys #91, Shield of Fear, Frank and Joe are asked to go undercover as police cadets at the police academy in Philadelphia.  The police commissioner's grandson is getting into trouble at the academy, and the commissioner thinks that someone is setting him up.

At first, I greatly enjoyed the story.  As I read further, more characters are introduced, and I began having trouble remembering them.  Whenever that happens, I end up not enjoying the story as much.

I ended not enjoying the second half of the book very much and skimmed the book some towards the end.