Sunday, June 25, 2017

Christopher Pike Sati and Season of Passage

In Sati, Michael Winters picks up a female hitchhiker in the middle of the desert.  The hitchhiker's name is Sati, and Sati believes she is God.  Sati ends up staying with Michael, and she immediately captivates everyone who comes in contact with her.  Sati holds meetings, and soon she has a large number of followers.  But is Sati really God?

I did not enjoy this book very much when I read it around 25 years ago.  I don't care for it any more now than I did then.  The story is okay but not that great.  The problem is that the book is not horror but instead has a large amount of spiritual mumbo-jumbo.  Pike tends to lose me when he goes into his lengthy spiritual discussions.

In The Season of Passage, Lauren Wagner leaves on a mission for Mars.  The purpose of the mission is to discover what happened to the Russian mission that disappeared on Mars two years before.

When I read this book in 1995, I didn't notice anything off, but now, the story is dated.  The book is set in 2004, and the failed Russian mission was in 2002.  Everything mentioned in this book seemed logical by 1995 standards when I read the book in 1995.  Some events that occurred between 1995 and 2004 cause parts of this book to be impossible to take seriously.

For instance, the mission takes off in the space shuttle Columbia.  In 1995, one would have thought that Columbia would have still been in use in 2004, but as we know now, Columbia disintegrated during re-entry on February 1, 2003.  In retrospect, it would have been better for Pike to have used a fictional name, but who could have predicted that disaster?

The Mars part of the story is very creepy, suspenseful, and horrifying.  This is a true horror story.

I feel like one aspect of the ending was not wrapped up.  A character named Kathy has a sister who apparently came in contact with someone who has the Mars infection.  I guess she didn't get infected, but it's a gaping plot hole.

Another aspect that is tied in with Kathy's sister is also glossed over.  The infected person was said to be not interested in spreading the virus, so they didn't worry about finding and killing that person.  Um, okay...

This book has way too much expository information in the opening chapters.  That part of the book should have been shorter, and the ending part of the story should have been less rushed.  It's not logical to go after one infected person with great fervor and then just to assume that the other person will quietly go off and die without infecting anyone.  They shouldn't be unconcerned about the other person.

I figure that the entire human race becomes extinct shortly after the "happily ever after" conclusion of the story, since that other infected person is running amok somewhere.

This is an overall excellent story, but it is way too long.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Christopher Pike The Star Group and Execution of Innocence

In The Star Group, Daniel has always liked Gale, and he finally asks her out just before graduation. Gale also likes Daniel, and the two get along well.  Later, Daniel uses a string with a magnet tied to the end to contact a spiritual being known as Mentor.  Mentor tells Daniel to get his friends together and meet in a certain location so that they can achieve their greater purpose.

Sounds like a good idea to obey a strange spirit voice!  Of course, the plan does not go well at all, and people end up dying.

This book reminds me somewhat of Christopher Pike's Final Friends trilogy.

There are some things that come out towards the end of the book that are absolutely hilarious.

I enjoyed this book.

In Execution of Innocence, Mary and her boyfriend, Charlie, get into a fight because Mary went to a dance with another boy, Dick.  When Dick gets killed, both Mary and Charlie are suspects.  The only problem is that Charlie is missing.  The police question Mary and her friend, Hannah, and can tell that the girls are holding something back.

This book is set up the same way as Gimme a Kiss with the police interrogation alternating with past events leading up to the murder.  My knowledge of Gimme a Kiss also helped me very quickly guess the identity of the culprit.

This book has nothing supernatural in it and is like an early Pike book.

I enjoyed this book.

Interestingly, Pike does not like either of these books.  He wrote in a comment on Facebook, "With Star Group I could have done so much more with the idea if I'd had time.  It was my fault I did not start on the book until a month before the due date.  With Execution of Innocence, I feel I could have developed it more, been more clever.   A week after it was put into galleys I remember I came up with an idea that could have made it so much better. But that idea is long gone. Now, I am onto other things as they say..."

Certainly neither book is perfect and neither is Pike's best work, but I did enjoy both of them.  When I read Christopher Pike books, I want to enjoy a fun, crazy horror story. Both of these books deliver just that.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

The Wallace Boys Series

The Wallace Boys series was written by Duncan Watt.  This is a series that is practically unknown in the United States, and it's not surprising why.  Only some books in this series have been published in print editions, and the rest of the books are only available in electronic editions.  The few print editions are quite scarce, and it's highly unlikely that anyone in the United States would ever run across one of these books.

This series was recommended by another collector as a series that is similar to Rick Brant.  Since I enjoyed the Rick Brant books, I decided to give these books a try.

 1.  Skulduggery in the South Atlantic, 1995
 2.  The Sands of the Skeleton Coast, 1993
 3.  Trouble in Tristan, 1991
 4.  The Legacy of Lobengula, 1996
 5.  Killers against Kariba, 1992
 6.  Kidnapped in the Kafue, 1991
 7.  Crash in the Caprivi, 1993
 8.  Mischief in 'The Mousetrap', 2010
 9.  Hostage in the Highlands, 1995
10.  Assignment in the Alps, 2010
11.  Traitors in the Tyrol, 2010
12.  The Monks of Montafon, 2010
13.  Rebels across the Red Sea, 2000
14.  Rebels across the Red Sea II: Nemesis of the Nefud, 2000
15.  Rebels across the Red Sea II: The Terrorists of Tibesti, 2001
16.  South from the Seychelles, 2010
17.  The Treasure of the Tiger, 1994
18.  The Sultan of the Sulu Sea, 1997
19.  Missing in the Mekong, 2000
20.  The Pagodas of Pahang, 1996

The copyrights are all over the place because the author wrote books later that fit into the original chronology.  This list is the correct order in which to read the books.

All 20 books can be found in inexpensive electronic editions on various sites.  I was able to purchase 19 of the 20 books in the Kindle format on Amazon.  I had to go to another site to purchase the remaining book.

The books contain a large amount of historical information about the areas in which the books are set.  This information is sometimes very interesting, and at other times, it is way too lengthy.

This series is very similar to the Biff Brewster, Sandy Steele, and Brad Forrest series. If you are a fan of any of those series or are a fan of Rick Brant, then you need to give this series a try.

Since I found it hard at first to find information about this series when I began reading the books, I decided to create a page on the Wallace Boys series for my website.  I created the page since most people in the United States have never heard of it. Even though some of the books drag at times, the series is overall too good to be ignored.

The Wallace Boys Series

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Spooksville #22 The Creepy Creature, #23 Phone Fear, and #24 The Witch's Gift

In Spooksville #22, The Creepy Creature, Cindy and Bryce are hiking in the woods when a big blob attacks Bryce, and then eats him. The blob then disappears.  Cindy tells the others that Bryce is dead, but later, Bryce reappears.

Bryce is acting very strange, but the others cannot figure out what is wrong.  The children's quest to find out what is wrong with Bryce takes them to another world where they learn of a battle between two enemy forces. The children return home, thinking that all is well, but they soon learn that an unwelcome presence has returned with them.

This is another very creative story.

This is a very good book.

In Spooksville #23, Phone Fear, the residents of Spooksville are receiving creepy phone calls from someone with a mechanical voice.  The caller, known as Neernitt, makes demands, and if the recipient does not comply, they are attacked immediately.

Later, the children realize what Neernitt really is, and that he is truly everywhere all at once. The children end up held hostage in Watch's house, forced to follow Neernitt's orders. Can they escape?

This book ties in with the previous title in the series and also has a highly creative plot. This is an excellent story.

In Spooksville #24, The Witch's Gift, Ann Templeton is leaving Spooksville forever. Before she leaves, she allows each child to make a wish, which will be granted the next morning.  The only stipulation is that each child cannot reveal their wish to any of the others. By the events that occur, children are able to guess each other's wishes, even though none of them have been actually revealed.  The wishes don't make them as happy as they expect, and the wishes have unforeseen consequences.

This is the final book in the series.  Pike made Bum the mayor again at the end of the story, so he had to have known that this would be the last title.  My only regret is that we never learned why Watch doesn't have a last name and why he lives alone.

Spooksville is a good series, and I enjoyed it.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Christopher Pike The Visitor and The Starlight Crystal

In The Visitor, Mary's boyfriend, Jerry, is dead because of a stupid decision that Mary and Jerry made.  At a party, Mary and some friends hold a seance hoping to contact Jerry's spirit.  A spirit answers, and the responses sound sinister. Later, an alien spaceship hovers in the sky over Mary's house.  Mary then gets the chance to bring Jerry back to life.

If this book had been written in Pike's typical style, I might have enjoyed it.  Instead, Pike adopted R. L. Stine's style for this book and used short, choppy sentences all through the book.

The book is formatted in an odd fashion with lots of very short chapters, probably in an effort to take up space.  Additionally, the book consists of very long seance scenes with short answers that also serve to take up space.

The ending of the book is annoying and goes in a circle.  It has no conclusion.  The epilogue is an earlier part of the book repeated almost verbatim but from a different point of view.  Pike used every shortcut imaginable to fill lots of pages with content that is not interesting.

I feel like Pike wrote this book very fast in order to meet a deadline, but get this:  Pike actually likes The Visitor.  In Christopher Pike's Tales of Terror #2, Pike states, "Virtually none of my readers enjoyed The Visitor, but it is on my top-five list."  At least Pike likes it.

I would never read this book again.  I love crazy Pike plots, but I can't stand this one.

In The Starlight Crystal, Paige Christian will be traveling on a spaceship that will circle the solar system at near light speed.  Each day on the spaceship will be like 10 years on Earth.  Paige will be gone for 200 years, yet she will age only slightly.

Right before Paige is to depart, she falls in love with Tem.  Tem won't be on the spaceship, so he will be long dead by the time she returns to Earth. Even worse, something goes wrong during the journey, and Paige ends up billions of years in the future.

The Starlight Crystal is fast-paced with no lengthy descriptions.

I read this book quickly due to the high suspense. The story has lots of time travel, with Paige looping back through time.  The story doesn't really make sense.  I gave up trying to understand, but in spite of that, the book is good.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Spooksville #19 Night of the Vampire, #20 The Dangerous Quest, and #21 The Living Dead

In Spooksville #19, Night of the Vampire, Ted, a student from school, stumbles onto the tennis court as Adam and his friends play tennis.  Ted passes out and appears to have lost a lot of blood.  Ted has neck wounds, and Watch suspects that Ted has been bitten by a vampire.

Watch's suspicions is correct, and the children learn that the people of Spooksville are rapidly being turned into vampires.  Can the children find a way to destroy the vampires?

I enjoyed this book.

The high-numbered Spooksville books are extremely hard to find.  The first two books shown in this post are from the United Kingdom.  I had to order them from the UK due to the scarcity of the books.

In Spooksville #20, The Dangerous Quest, a mysterious stranger shows up in Spooksville and uses a spell to infect Watch with a deadly disease.  Watch will die, unless the children can reverse the spell.  Sally, Adam, and Watch use the Secret Path to follow the stranger.  In the end, the children discover that someone must die, regardless of what they do.

The ending of this book ties in with a previous title in the series.  These books towards the end of this series are very creative.

This is an excellent story.

In Spooksville #21, The Living Dead, skeletons rise from their graves in the town cemetery.  The skeletons are after Watch, because they feel that Watch has cheated death.  The children will be required to time travel in order to try to outsmart the Grim Reaper.  Can they do it?

This book ties in with two previous books in the series.  All of the stories that tie in with other books are stronger, since they have more meaning.

This is a very good book.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Nancy Drew Book Club Editions with a Possible Anomaly

I purchased a bulk lot of Nancy Drew books which arrived today.  The books are a mixture of early picture cover books with some book club edition picture covers.  This is what I received, which have not been placed in order.

The books are generally in nice shape, although some are in rough condition.  The books smell like new books.  They smell quite nice, so they must have been kept somewhere that prevented the books from taking on an old book smell.  This is quite unusual for books that are 45 to 55 years old.

I love purchasing bulk lots, because this is how I have acquired most of my printing anomalies.  As I pull the books from the box, I always check each book for anything that appears different.  One copy of Blackwood Hall has the Tandy art matched with the revised text.  I already have one, but this one is much nicer.  I will have to keep both my copy and the new one, since my copy is an earlier printing even though in worse shape.

The lot also contains a Ski Jump PC where the red on the front cover doesn't look right, similar to the one pictured in this post.  I will have to compare the two books to see how different they are.

The lot contains quite a few of the Nancy Drew book club edition picture cover books. Most of them are in pretty nice shape.  I will have to make certain that none of them are better than my copies.  I still have just a few that need to be upgraded.

As I looked at the book club editions, I suddenly realized that four of them have ink on the top edge.  This is quite strange.

My first thought was that some text blocks for the regular edition were bound in the book club edition bindings.  However, all four state "Book Club Edition" on the title page, so that doesn't explain it.

My next thought, which is the most likely explanation, is that the original owner colored the top page edges with marker.  I set out to prove that this is the case, since it just about has to be the explanation.

I found my Nancy Drew book where I know that someone colored the top page edges with marker.  That book has smudges all through the book near the top edge that were caused from the marker application.

The above book is the book from this post.  By the way, the seller of the above book always uses marker on the books she sells.  I wish she didn't do that.

Back to today's book club editions.  The four books show no sign of smudging like the above book.  I then looked at the top edge of each fore edge to see how much ink has bled down.  They have a small amount.  I decided to compare them to other early picture cover books in my possession that did not come from this lot.  In the below picture, the four book club editions with ink on the top edge are the four books at the left.  The remaining six books are regular editions that are early picture cover books. Hollow Oak was placed on top to force the camera to focus.

Some of the six books to the right actually have slightly more ink bleeding down than the four book club editions do.

My results are inconclusive, but I found no evidence to indicate that the owner used marker on those four books.  On the other hand, I have to assume that marker was carefully applied even though the top edges look identical to the regular editions with ink on them.  However, if marker was applied, the person who did it managed to match the color exactly.

Here is one last photo, showing the four book club editions to the left and four regular editions to the right.  If the ones on the left were colored on top by hand by someone, they did an awful good job of making the books look like they came from the bindery that way.

Have any of you ever found Nancy Drew book club edition picture cover books that have ink on the top edge?

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Christopher Pike The Midnight Club and The Lost Mind

In The Midnight Club, Rotterham is a hospice for teenagers who have fatal illnesses.  A small group of teens in the hospice form the Midnight Club. They meet nightly and tell each other scary and crazy stories.  The teens experience love and loss as each one awaits the end.

The cover art and synopsis of this book are completely misleading.  The cover art shows extremely attractive, healthy teens, but in the story, the teens are near death and look quite sick.  The synopsis makes the book sound like a horror novel, but it is not that at all.  This is a thoughtful novel about teens who are facing death and must come to terms with it.  The story is also quite depressing.  After all, every character will die.

In Christopher Pike's Tales of Terror #2, Pike remarks, "I still don't understand why my publishers put scary covers on my books.  Once I would like to see a beautiful painting under my name."

That would have been more appropriate for this particular book, but it probably would have sold fewer copies.

From page 106:
"Mary had been really popular at school, but lost it.  The year before she was a cheerleader and had every guy in school asking her out.  But at the end of the year she was at a party and got real drunk.  Driving home in her father's huge semi, she smashed into a car holding six guys from the football team—including the quarterback—and wasted them all."

"Wait a second," Ilonka said.  "Her father loaned her his semi to go to a party?"

"Exactly," Spence said.  "He knew about his daughter's drinking.  He figured if she crashed into something in his semi she wouldn't get hurt. And she didn't get a scratch, although she did destroy the heart of the football team.
Even though the story is in very bad taste, I had to laugh at the absurdity of Mary driving a semi to a party.

For me, this is a below average Christopher Pike book, mainly because it depressed me.

In The Lost Mind, Jenny wakes up in the woods next to a dead girl.  She can't remember anything and has no idea who killed the girl. Jenny worries that she might have done it. Jenny finds a car nearby and in it her driver's license. She still can't remember anything, but at least she is able to find her way home.

The body in the woods turns out to be Jenny's best friend, and Jenny is the prime suspect for her murder.  Jenny still can't remember anything, but she must find a way to defend herself against a charge of murder for which she hopes she is not guilty.

This is a pretty good book.