Friday, July 3, 2015

Biff Brewser #10 Tibetan Caravan and #11 British Spy Ring Mystery

In Biff Brewster #10, Mystery of the Tibetan Caravan, Biff searches for his father, who has disappeared in Tibet while searching for a Golden Buddha.

A passage on page five states that Biff's family had joined him in India right after the conclusion of Mystery of the Ambush in India.  However, Biff has been to the Caribbean and to Egypt since he left India, so this is another inconsistency.

The book opens with Biff and Taz watching some Bedouins, hoping to steal their food.  They are in Tibet.  Next, Biff recalls what brought them to that point, so the book goes into a lengthy flashback to previous events.  The flashback lasts until page 114, with Biff and Taz at the Bedouins' campsite.  I dislike it when books do this.  I would rather get the story in chronological order rather than get a prevue during the first chapter of events that occur far later in the story.

I overall enjoyed this book, but it's not a favorite.

In Biff Brewster #11, British Spy Ring Mystery, Biff attends school in England,  He goes on a bicycle trip with his friend, Peter, after the term ends.  The boys purchase a book in an antique book store, and the book turns out to be valuable.  Later, the boys realize that several men are after the book, but they cannot fathom why.

We can infer why the men want the book, based on the title of the story, but it seems so stupid.

Biff is a bit flippant in this book, and he jokes a lot.  I got used to serious Biff, so this doesn't set right with me. 

This book is different from the other books.  It's not in an exotic locale.  Like with the later Cherry Ames books, the story reminds me of the typical Grosset and Dunlap travelogue of the middle 1960s, and most of those books are not very good.  The travelogue aspect is excessive and is way too much for me.

This is a strange book.  Two men are following the boys, and they don't know why.  The book is full of coincidences, which makes it a weak story.  The further I read, the more I skimmed.  I became a bit bored. 

I skimmed the last few chapters.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

The Mill Creek Irregulars Series by August Derleth

I just finished reading the Mill Creek Irregulars series and have added the Mill Creek Irregulars section to my website.  On the main page of the section, I placed some useful links at the bottom, in particular, a link to an excellent article about the series.  When I create a page for my site, I do not wish to copy what has already been published elsewhere.  It is so easy to plagiarize someone else without intending to do so.  The article to which I linked has some excellent quotes from the series, and I chose to use different quotes in my reviews, which will be published later this month. 

I adapted the publisher summaries for the summaries placed on my site.  Publisher summaries are often quite sloppy and inconsistent, and this was certainly the case for the Mill Creek Irregulars.  The summaries generally were in the past tense, but a few were in present tense.  I like for my summaries to be in present tense, so I had to shift the tense of most of the summaries.  I also had to reduce the length of some summaries which were too long.

Most of my comments about the series will be forthcoming in my reviews.  I spent a lot of time studying maps as I read through the books.  I took the screen captures shown here.  I did not wish to put the screen captures in with the reviews, so I created this post in order to place them here.  I wanted to do so in case others find the maps useful while reading the books.

The Mill Creek Irregulars series by August Derleth is set in Sac Prairie, Wisconsin.  Sac Prairie is the slightly fictionalized name of Sauk Prairie, a real location in Wisconsin.  Sauk Prairie is the nickname of the adjacent cities of Sauk City and Prairie Du Sac, Wisconsin.  As always, click on each image to see a larger version.


All of the locations described in the Mill Creek Irregulars series are based on actual locations in Wisconsin.  Readers of the series who are not familiar with Wisconsin will find it quite helpful to view maps of the locations, since they are described in painstaking detail in the series.

Steve and Sim spend lots of time at the harness shop, and the location of the harness shop is shown on the following map.


Steve and Sim explore various locations along the Wisconsin River, including Black Hawk Island.


In The House on the River, the boys explore an old house on the island part of Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin.


The Mill Creek Irregulars is an outstanding series, and I highly recommend it.  While reading the books, I tried to figure out which series is most similar.  The easiest way to convey to others whether a series will appeal to them is to state which series are similar.  I first thought of the first five Trixie Belden books by Julie Campbell; I mention only the first five because that group contains the kind of exploring and adventure that is similar to the Mill Creek Irregulars.  I thought of Charles Dickens novels because of the outstanding characterization and detailed descriptions.  Finally, I settled on the Brains Benton books by Charles Morgan, III, and the Roger Baxter series as most similar to the Mill Creek Irregulars, both of which I consider just as outstanding as the Mill Creek Irregulars.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

How to Find Good Series Books

The question of where to find cheap series books comes up often.  This question has been asked a lot lately on Facebook, as if some enthusiasts think that other collectors have access to large, hidden stashes of cheap books that they can share for low prices or for free.

When someone posts a fabulous find on Facebook, it looks easy.  That person just went out and found those books with no effort, right?  Wrong.  Perhaps on that particular day they did, but what some collectors fail to understand is that the finder may have looked for books and found none on the previous couple dozen attempts.  Nobody posts their failures on Facebook.

Think of all the time spent and gasoline burned on all of the failed attempts.  That means that the cheap books purchased one day really cost a lot more in time and money.  Is it fair to expect that person to give the books away for a low price?   

When I have posted fabulous finds here, some readers assume I have the magic touch.  I've had good luck, but I have had far more bad luck.  Currently, I'm not looking for books very often, because all of my luck has been quite bad for quite a few consecutive attempts.  Remember, nobody posts about their failures.  I certainly don't.

The short answer is that there isn't an easy way to find cheap series books.

The long answer is that fairly cheap finds do exist, but the buyer has to be willing to put forth the necessary time and effort in order to locate those finds.

Book Sale Finder can help collectors find book sales in different regions.  Search the Yellow Pages for book stores and antique shops.  A frequent problem is that stores that are out of business sometimes appear in the yellow pages.  I like to search for the store's name on Facebook to see if it has a Facebook page that has been updated recently.  If so, that tells me quickly that the store is still in business.

While great finds can be found by taking a road trip, the better method is to purchase them online.  In order to get cheap books online, one has to be willing to purchase bulk lots that might include extra books not needed.  The extra books then must be sold.  This is the best way to get cheap books consistently these days.  The cheap bulk lots can usually be found on eBay.  The cheap bulk lots are not available all the time, and a lot of buyers don't understand the secret to finding cheap books on eBay.  The prospective buyer must search eBay every single day without fail, and it might take months and months to finally strike gold.  If the buyer misses one day, that one day might be the day that someone lists a cheap bulk lot at too low of a price, and someone else gets it.

Some of the work can be eliminated by using eBay's saved searches.  If that feature is utilized, then eBay will send an email each morning for the searches that have new results.  The buyer can click on the links to see what has just come up for sale.

eBay isn't the only site where good books can be found.  While the books are often cheaper on eBay, I have also sometimes found cheaper books on other sites.  Anytime I want to build a set of books, I search everywhere online to find the best deals.  I overlook nothing.

Goodwill stores list some of their vintage books online.  

Here are some useful links to search engines that can help buyers locate books.

AddALL
BookFinder
Alibris
Google Shopping

Not all sites pay for inclusion in the search engines.  Amazon and AbeBooks are two notable sites that do not appear in Google's shopping search, for instance.  AbeBooks has a saved searches feature that I have found quite useful.  I have been able to purchase desired books right after they are listed.  AbeBooks sends out the message as soon as a book becomes available.

Amazon
AbeBooks

Both Amazon and AbeBooks are very useful, but the buyer has to be careful.  Avoid all listings that state that the book "comes with dust jacket if issued with one."  This phrase means that the seller doesn't have the book and plans to purchase it from someone else.  The buyer gets whatever the seller decides to purchase.  It's far better for the buyer to find a seller who actually has the book instead of using a seller who does not.

Also avoid all listings that use the word "may," as in the book "may have writing inside," "may have water damage," or "may have tears."  These sellers also don't own the book and plan to purchase a copy from another seller.  Once again, find a seller who actually has the book.

Some sellers on Amazon and AbeBooks do take photographs of their books.  I try to purchase from those sellers, if possible, and always get exactly what I expect.  However, make sure the description is read carefully even when a listing has a photo.  Look at the following screen capture of a deceptive AbeBooks listing.  Click on it to see a larger version.


I highlighted the text that states that the book does not have a dust jacket.  However, a jacket looks to be present from the main picture.  A buyer could easily look at the rather high price of the book, see the picture of the jacket, and assume that the seller is offering a book with dust jacket. 

The picture used in the AbeBooks listing was taken from a listing on Amazon from another seller.  I purchased the book on Amazon from the other seller and at a lower price.  The jacket has distinctive rubbing on the front panel.  I am amused that I own the jacket that this seller shows in a listing currently up for sale.

I often have to purchase from Amazon and AbeBooks without photos, since most sellers do not photograph their books.  When I purchase from listings that do not have photos, I make certain to select listings where the sellers are specific enough that I can be certain that the book meets my requirements and is actually in the seller's possession.  I look for specific statements about the condition of the book and jacket, such as details about rubbing, tears, or chipping. 

There are rival sites to eBay that are also useful for finding books, and the sellers usually photograph the books.  While the selection tends to be poor, sometimes the books are priced better, and sometimes scarce books go unsold on other sites.  When I wanted to find a Ted Wilford book to try, I found one on Etsy with no trouble.  Of course since I purchased the book, it isn't there anymore, but this serves as an example of how books that are absent from eBay might be on another site.

Etsy
Bonanza

Finding good books at reasonable prices is difficult.  The prospective buyer has to persevere and search often, day after day and month after month.  No matter how scarce a book is, it will show up for sale eventually.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Biff Brewster #8 Caribbean Pearls and #9 Egyptian Scarab Mystery

In Biff Brewster #8, Mystery of the Caribbean Pearls, Biff travels to the Netherlands Antilles in the Caribbean at the request of Uncle Charlie.  During Biff's flight, he meets another boy, Derek, who looks just like Biff.  Once the plane lands, Biff is abducted after the villains mistake him for Derek.  The villains are seeking the location of a pearl fishery found by Derek's father.

During this book, the inconsistencies caused by the series having multiple authors become apparent to the reader.  At the beginning of this book, Biff's mother refers to Charles Keene and the difficult situation in China from the second book rather than what just happened to Biff and his uncle in Mystery of the Ambush in India.  On page seven we learn that Biff has only heard from Uncle Charlie once since China, and that was in a letter.  What about Mystery of the Ambush in India?!  Biff just flew on a plane with Charlie!  These inconsistencies were caused by several different authors writing these books simultaneously.  This thirteen book series was published in just five years.

It's so strange that Biff has a double who happens to be the son of the man Uncle Charlie is helping.  It's a bit too convenient.

Biff is an idiot in this book.  He puts forth great effort in getting away from the villains who think he is Derek.  So what does Biff do?  He goes right back to the villains while pretending to be Derek, thinking the villains will have a chat with him and then let him go.  Biff's purpose is to delay the villains.  Of course Biff is imprisoned, and he can't believe that he and his uncle didn't think of the possibility of the villains keeping Biff prisoner.  Um, they were trying to capture Biff while thinking he was Derek.  Why wouldn't they keep Biff when he goes back pretending to be Derek?

Later, Uncle Charlie shows up to rescue Biff.  Biff invites Charlie to join him as a prisoner.  Yes, you just read that right.  Biff enjoys being a prisoner and wants Charlie to join him!  Biff is actually using a ploy to gain the trust of a simpleminded man, but the events are too stupid.

I enjoyed the travelogue information in this book, especially about the 1902 volcanic eruption.  I took a moment to look up the story of the eruption, as I found it quite interesting.

I greatly enjoyed most of this book, despite how stupid parts of the plot are.  If the book had been edited a bit or partially rewritten, it would have been outstanding.

In Biff Brewster #9, Egyptian Scarab Mystery, Biff and his father travel to Egypt, where they search for the lost tomb of Prince Reth.  Biff is given a scarab for luck before he leaves for Egypt.  Strange men follow Biff around and try to thwart the Brewsters' plan.

I don't get why a valuable scarab was given to Biff.  It plays a minor role in the plot, but it isn't that important.  The result is that this book seems to have come from a rough idea that was not fleshed out properly.  The book is rather forgettable, and I had forgotten most of it by the time I finished reading the Biff Brewster series just days later.

A few parts of the book have too much travelogue information in them, although I greatly enjoyed other parts.  This book is mixed, where I liked some parts and didn't like other parts.  Unfortunately, the book has more parts that I do not like.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Nancy Drew Game: Sea of Darkness

The 32nd title in the Nancy Drew game series by Her Interactive, Sea of Darkness, was released in May.

I had trouble getting into Sea of Darkness.  The beginning seemed boring to me.  Nancy arrives in Iceland rather abruptly, and I had no reason to care about Captain Magnus.  He was missing, and Nancy was supposed to find him.

In the early part of the game, I did not enjoy talking to the characters.  I did not like the setting.  I played a little bit of the game, then I continued reading Biff Brewster.  The last few Biff Brewster books were not as enjoyable as the earlier ones, but I was more interested in reading them than in playing this game.  That's not typical for me when I have a new Nancy Drew game.

It was a week after I received the game and had started playing it again that I finally got far enough into the game to find it somewhat interesting.  At this point, I reflected that my lack of interest reminded me of how I felt about Trail of the Twister, which may be my least favorite Nancy Drew game.

The more I played, the more I enjoyed the game.  I did enjoy the second half of the game about as much as the average Nancy Drew game.

I do believe that the main reason for my lack of interest was me and not anything to do with the game.  I was quite stressed around the time I received the game and was not feeling well.  I had mental and physical fatigue, so I was not able to appreciate the game.  That colored my opinion of the game as I began playing it.

However, the very beginning of the game could have been a little more interesting.  It would have helped for the game to have opened with a small scene showing Magnus before he disappeared and showing the ship's arrival at the dock. I felt a total disconnect with Magnus and cared not in the slightest whether Nancy Drew ever found him.

That aside, this game is just like the average Nancy Drew game.  Players can expect another solid Nancy Drew game experience.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Biff Brewster #6 Alaska Ghost Glacier and #7 Ambush in India

In Biff Brewster #6, Alaska Ghost Glacier Mystery, Biff and his father journey to the mine inside the Alaska Ghost Glacier.  A valuable radioactive substance has been discovered at the mine, and Mr. Brewster has been brought in to help.  Enemies of the project seek to prevent the Brewsters from arriving at the mine.  Their plane is sabotaged, and a time bomb has been planted on board.

The action starts quickly in this book with very little expository information.  Biff and Mr. Brewster are in danger from the very beginning and face one threat after another.

The mine is inside the glacier, which makes for a unique setting.  The tunnels in the mine burrow through ice, and coverings have been placed on the sides of the tunnels and on the walls of the rooms inside the mine to insulate them.

On page 75, an old man tells Biff the story of how something "started in '98."  This is the first time I have read an old series book where for just the slightest moment I thought of 1998 and of how 1998 is now far enough ago to be plausible in this context.  Of course in this book, the year referenced is 1898.

On page 78, Biff is "only half listening to the Eskimo's rapid travelogue."  Thank goodness.  The text then gives the reader a very brief mention of the sights, and I greatly appreciated the brevity.  This book depicts Alaska in an interesting fashion that does not get bogged down on lengthy descriptions of historical information. 

This book is unusual in that three people are killed near the end of the story.  Additionally, the book implies that the miner's ghost does linger inside the glacier.  As the book concludes, Biff tells his friend that he now believes the superstition.

This book is outstanding.  The story flows well and is quite suspenseful from start to finish.  The reason I read series books is for books like this one.  It is perfect.

In Mystery of the Ambush in India, Biff arrives in India with his friends, Kamuka and Likake.  Soon, Biff is tasked with safekeeping a priceless ruby, which he must take to the Chonsi Lama.  A new friend, Chandra, helps Biff in his journey.  Later, Biff meets up with Uncle Charlie, Mike, Muscles, and Chuba, who provide additional assistance.

On page 100, Biff chances to meet Mike, who just happens to be looking for Biff because his father just managed to run into Mr. Brewster in India. Consider that India had a population of 462 million in 1962, and these acquaintances just happen to find each other.

On page 105, Biff wishes his uncle, Charlie Keene, were there to fly him to his destination.  Promptly, we learn that Uncle Charlie has been called to India.  How convenient!

Having most of Biff's friends from other countries show up in India is very hard to believe and detracts from the story.  Most of them were invited to come, so that is why they appear, but it is not logical that they would all be able to afford to come.  This also makes for too many characters, and I found that most of them do very little.  Their presence is distracting. 

Two of Biff's friends are used as bait for a tiger, which is just amazing.  The boys somehow agree to be the bait inside a cage while others hope to shoot the tiger when it attacks.  Of course, the tiger does not cooperate, and several people end up in grave danger.

I greatly enjoyed a small part of this book.  Regarding the rest of the book, I enjoyed some parts and found some parts to be a little boring.  The travelogue aspect was too significant for this book, and that took away from my enjoyment.  I also felt that there were a few too many names and people of which to keep track.  Having all of Biff's friends around was a bit confusing.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Final Thoughts on the Cherry Ames Series

I owned a Cherry Ames set for around eight years, intending to get around to reading them.  I had trouble getting motivated, because the books never appealed to me.  I am not overly fond of Vicki Barr; the books are okay but not stories that I greatly enjoyed.  I have always suspected that I would rank Cherry Ames about the same as Vicki Barr. 

On this page, I ranked the different series books that I had read up to that time.  I suspected that Cherry Ames would get ranked a "1" like Vicki Barr.  Now that I have read the series, I can report that I was correct.  I rank Cherry Ames somewhere between Vicki Barr and Melody Lane on my list.  For me personally, this is a below average series.

The Cherry Ames series has many fans but is not my type of series.  The books are not bad, but they are not the kind of books that I greatly enjoy.  The books are too sentimental and get hung up on great detail.  I am not interested in nursing, so the detailed descriptions of nursing practices were not of interest to me.

It didn't help that I didn't like most of the people who are important to Cherry.  I especially didn't like Dr. Joe or Midge.  Midge outright annoyed me.  I didn't even feel much for Cherry's family.  I strongly disliked Cherry's first suitor, Lex.  I also didn't like her second suitor, Wade.  I only slightly liked most of her later suitors.  Cherry's nursing friends were okay, but I didn't like them much, either.

Cherry doubts her abilities in book after book.  It's logical in the first few books, but by volume 10, Cherry's lack of confidence is ridiculous.  This is particularly jarring during the Julie Tatham books.  I suspect that Tatham read the early Cherry Ames books and modeled her books after those.

I found Cherry's constant job-switching to be quite annoying by halfway through the series.  I feel like the series would have been stronger if Cherry had stayed with a few of her jobs for more than one book.  Cherry's nursing jobs all seem very important to her.  If so, why does she abandon them so easily?

I noticed strange changes in the series towards the later books, and I have to question whether Helen Wells really did write all of the later books that were credited to her.  The changes make Cherry Ames seem more like Nancy Drew.

Several higher-numbered books mention Cherry going to church.  There is no reason to mention church anymore than there is reason to mention Cherry going to the bathroom.  Most all series books never mention restroom needs, other than baths or showers.  Even though series book characters don't use the bathroom, they do go to church, at least in some Grosset and Dunlap books of the 1960s.  This is most prominent in the Nancy Drew series, so I was interested to see it appear in some Cherry Ames books.

When church is mentioned, it is usually just a single sentence, and it has nothing to do with the plot of the book.  It's like mentioning church was a requirement of the books at that time, just like with the higher-numbered Nancy Drew books.

By #24, the series fell in line with the other Grosset and Dunlap books of the 1960s.  I have to wonder how much editing was done on the books.  #24 is eerily similar to other Grosset and Dunlap travelogue books of the 1960s.  I would have thought that the book was a product of the Stratemeyer Syndicate if I didn't know better.  #24 uses the word "swarthy" more than once.  I don't recall this word from any earlier Cherry Ames books.  Did an editor place "swarthy" in the book, or did someone other than Helen Wells write the book?

Here's what I thought of the books.

Greatly enjoyed and wouldn't mind reading again:

 8. Visiting Nurse
 9. Cruise Nurse
13. Clinic Nurse
14. Dude Ranch Nurse
15. Rest Home Nurse
17. Boarding School Nurse
22. Rural Nurse

Enjoyed but probably wouldn't read again:

 1. Student Nurse
 2. Senior Nurse
 6. Veterans' Nurse
 7. Private Duty Nurse
12. Mountaineer Nurse
16. Country Doctor's Nurse
18. Department Store Nurse
20. At Hilton Hospital
23. Staff Nurse

Did not enjoy:

 3. Army Nurse
 4. Chief Nurse
 5. Flight Nurse
10. At Spencer
11. Night Supervisor
19. Camp Nurse
21. Island Nurse
24. Companion Nurse
25. Jungle Nurse
26. Mystery in the Doctor's Office
27. Ski Nurse Mystery

I see this series as divided into three parts:  the early Helen Wells books, the Julie Tatham books, and the later Helen Wells books.

Early Helen Wells:  #1-8
Julie Tatham: #9*-16
Later Helen Wells:  #17-27

*#9 was credited to Wells but was written by Tatham.

Let's see if there's any pattern as to which books I liked the best.

Early Helen Wells:  greatly enjoyed one book, enjoyed four books, and disliked three books

Julie Tatham:  greatly enjoyed four books, enjoyed two books, and disliked two books

Later Helen Wells:  greatly enjoyed two books, enjoyed three books, and disliked six books

My opinion is mixed for all parts of the series.  It looks like Julie Tatham has the edge, although I didn't like all of her books.  I definitely dislike the later books in the series the most. 

I am going to sell a good many of the books in my set.  I only bought these books to try, never expecting to like them greatly.  My experience was about what I expected, although I did enjoy some books greatly.  I plan to keep the books I enjoyed greatly plus some of the books I overall enjoyed.  I will sell all of the books that I didn't enjoy.

........................................................

Right after I finished writing the previous part of this post, I began reading Biff Brewster #2.  I had tried reading Biff Brewster just before beginning Cherry Ames and found that I couldn't get interested in reading #1 again.  I decided that since I didn't especially enjoy reading Cherry Ames that trying Biff Brewster again might actually work, as in I might be more receptive to the series than previously.

I noticed a great feeling of relief as I read Biff Brewster #2, and that feeling strengthened as I began reading Biff Brewster #3.  I didn't enjoy every single part of the two books, but I enjoyed them far more than most of the Cherry Ames series.  This made me realize how difficult it was for me to get through all of the Cherry Ames set, more so than I realized as I read the books.

In conclusion, most of the middle part of the Cherry Ames set, which includes some books by both Tatham and Wells, was a pleasure to read.  The last part of the set was a bit torturous, and the first part of the set was also fairly difficult for me to enjoy.  Now that I have moved on to another series, I have decided that I will likely sell most of my Cherry Ames books.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Cherry Ames Doctor's Office and Ski Nurse Mystery

In Cherry Ames #26, The Mystery in the Doctor's Office, Cherry takes a position in a doctor's office.  Soon after Cherry's arrival, she begins to wonder whether the medical secretary, Irene Wick, is up to something.

Here we go again with another book with a lengthy and detailed description of another doctor's office.  I am long past being bored with these books, and I now simply want it to be over.

I wasn't interested in the book until around one-third of the way into the story.  It was obvious from the beginning of the book who the likely culprit would be once Cherry discovered what the mystery was.  However, there was no mystery for the first one-third of the book, so I was quite bored.  Finally, the mystery begins with the suspect as expected, and I enjoyed the story from that point on.

That is... I enjoyed most of the remainder of the story.  The book has a subplot involving some theater people that bored me.  I skimmed everything having to do with the subplot. 

In Cherry Ames #27, Ski Nurse Mystery, Cherry works as a nurse in the mountains of Switzerland.  This book did not interest me at  all.  I skimmed the first half of the book, then I quit reading the book halfway through.  I couldn't finish it.

The plot of this book gets started faster than some of the other books, but it wasn't interesting.  The characters are flat and uninteresting. I didn't care about anything.

We learn on page 19 that Cherry speaks some Italian and French.  When did this happen?  It's like she's morphing into Nancy Drew with all of Nancy's abilities.  However, it is stated that Cherry "struggles" in other languages, so she isn't perfect like Nancy Drew.  Still, it's interesting that the reader only now learns that Cherry can speak other languages.

On page 23, the doctor tells the patient, "It's a good thing you didn't hurt your right hand.  That would be inconvenient."  The patient then informs the doctor that he is left-handed.  This is only mentioned because the man's left-handedness is important to the plot.  However, the passage jumped out at me since I am left-handed.  I found it interesting that the doctor naturally assumes that the patient is right-handed.  This reminded me of how society has always looked down on left-handed people.  It's not so bad now as before, but during the first part of the 20th century, many parents forced left-handed children to use their right hands.  Even during the last ten years, I have had people suggest that I will have a shorter life because I am left-handed and will die from an accident.  The old wives' tales still linger.

I noticed as I read this and other higher-numbered Cherry Ames books that some characters have surnames that match series names published by Grosset and Dunlap.  A character named "Swift" appears on page one of this book.  This character was in the very first book and was one of Cherry's nursing friends.  I recall noticing it but not thinking much of it.  In recent books, character names have included "Drew," "Holt," and "Hardy." Only one such name appears per book, usually mentioned just one time in the book. I might have missed other names, since it was not until a book mentioned the "Drew girls" that I took notice, thinking it strange.