Thursday, May 29, 2014

International Shipping Rates from Top-Rated Plus Sellers

The biggest drawback to selling internationally is the high cost of shipping.  The United States Postal Service no longer offers surface mail for international packages, so international buyers are forced to pay for either first class or priority mail, both of which are quite expensive.  Most people who ask me for a quote on international shipping costs decide not to make a purchase.

On eBay, top-rated plus sellers are given commercial shipping rates, so the cost of printing shipping labels for domestic and international first class and priority mail is less than the retail rate.  Unfortunately, eBay charges international buyers the retail rate even when the seller qualifies for the reduced rate and uses eBay's shipping interface to create shipping labels.  This frustrates me to no end.

Even worse, I don't know of a postage table that lists the rates that eBay top-rated plus sellers are charged.  This means I have to guess when buyers ask for an international shipping quote.  Other times, the buyer goes ahead and pays what eBay charges, and I send a refund for the extra.  I've had a few international buyers question what I end up charging, thinking the rate is too low.

I found the commercial shipping rates for first class international packages on the USPS website.  The published rates are not the eBay rates, since eBay apparently negotiated a lower price.  However, I made a screen cap of the commercial rates, since they are closer to what I will be charged than the retail rates.  I then found a few international shipments from eBay and checked what I was charged.  I went through the initial step of creating another shipping label for those transactions at various weights, making note of each amount that I would have been charged.  I put those rates on the commercial rate table next to the published rates.  This gives me a point of reference for what the international shipping will cost on eBay.

Below, please find the rates table with the eBay rates added by me.  By seeing the difference between the eBay rate and the commercial rate, we can make educated guesses on what eBay would likely charge for the other amounts.  If you purchase books from me on eBay, then this will give you an idea of what the actual cost to mail the books will be.  A single book goes at the 16-ounce rate.


The prices are noticeably lower than the retail prices.  Next, please find the commercial plus table next to the table of the retail rates.  Remember that you can always click on an image to see a larger version.


eBay charges international buyers the rates seen on the left, while top-rated plus sellers get the reduced rates that I placed in the table on the right.  It can be quite a difference, which is why I have had to send refunds to international buyers who pay when they complete a Buy It Now.

I realized that I could reduce the need for a refund for single-book orders by charging a flat rate postage cost for international orders.  I would also need to consider that I have the shipping set as free to U.S. buyers.  For most books, the shipping really is free to U.S. buyers because I have not raised the price to cover the shipping.  Even though the shipping is free, I feel that international buyers also deserve a reduced rate, so I try to reduce the international postage at least a little bit so that they benefit as well.

Factoring in the free shipping discount, I can offer shipping to Canada for $5.25 for lighter books and for $8.44 for heavier books.  I can offer shipping to all other countries for $10.10 for lighter books and for $14.99 for heavier books.  I have used the bulk editor to make those changes.  This should eliminate the need to refund extra postage charged for single-book orders.  For multiple book orders, buyers should complete the Buy It Now for each listing and then wait until I send a combined shipping invoice.  

I do not get the commercial rate for my Bonanza transactions, so keep in mind that international buyers will be charged the retail rate when purchases are made on Bonanza.  This means that if you are an international buyer, then you will get a better deal when you purchase from me on eBay.

Jennifer's Series Books on eBay
Jennifer's Series Books on Bonanza

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Summer 2014 Blog Posts

Due to my increased reading output from this year, I have a large number of blog posts already written.  I have reviews of all of the Nancy Drew Girl Detective books as well as the Nancy Drew Diaries books.  I have also started reading the Three Investigators books and am reading the Valerie Drew short stories at the same time.

I was uncomfortable during the spring months when the Nancy Drew Digest reviews were the only posts being published.  Many of you enjoyed those reviews and were undoubtedly very pleased to have them.  My discomfort came from wondering how many regular readers of this blog were not interested in those reviews and hoping that those people weren't losing interest.

I have a number of people who follow this blog solely for the eBay-related posts or information about scarce series books and values, and I have not published any of those in a long time.  I have been remiss with respect to those topics.

I prefer to alternate what I publish so that the different groups of people who follow this blog get regular posts that they like.  Since I am now reading the Three Investigators books, those reviews will begin to be published soon and will be mixed in with the already-written Girl Detective reviews so that new posts will have more of a variety.

I am also catching up with writing about other assorted topics.  Early this year, I got the flu, which messed me up for around five weeks.  After that, my job consumed me as we prepared for the End of Instruction tests.  My mind gets cluttered during the spring months each year, and all I could do was plug away at reading the Nancy Drew books as I worked on finishing out the school year.

My mind has miraculously become uncluttered since Friday when the school year ended, so I have gotten caught up on writing about some assorted topics that should have been written in the last couple of months.  Here is a list of what I have already written for the blog and in the likely order of publication.

International Shipping Rates from Top-Rated Plus Sellers

Nancy Drew Girl Detective #18 Pit of Vipers, #19 Orchid Thief, and #20 Getting Burned

May 2014 Book Finds

Nancy Drew #21 Close Encounters, #22 Dressed to Steal, and #23 Troubled Waters

The Three Investigators #1 Terror Castle and #2 Stuttering Parrot

Nancy Drew Girl Detective #24 Murder on the Set, #25 Trails of Treachery, and #26 Fishing for Clues

The Three Investigators #3 Whispering Mummy and #4 Green Ghost

Series Book Questions Spring 2014

Nancy Drew Girl Detective #27 Intruder, #28 Mardi Gras Masquerade, and #29 Stolen Bones

The Three Investigators #5 Vanishing Treasure and #6 Skeleton Island (in progress)

Recent eBay Purchases Spring 2014

Nancy Drew Girl Detective #30-32: The Perfect Mystery Trilogy

Nancy Drew Girl Detective #33-35: The Identity Mystery Trilogy

Nancy Drew Girl Detective #36-38: The Model Mystery Trilogy

Nancy Drew Girl Detective #39-41: The Eco Mystery Trilogy

Nancy Drew Girl Detective #42-44: Sabotage Mystery Trilogy

Nancy Drew Girl Detective #45-47: Malibu Mayhem Trilogy

Nancy Drew Girl Detective Ghost Stories and Super Mystery Books

Thoughts on the Nancy Drew Girl Detective Series

Revisiting Nancy Drew Diaries #1 and #2

Nancy Drew Diaries #3 Midnight Rider and #4 Once Upon a Thriller

Nancy Drew Diaries #5 Willow Woods and #6 Mystic Lake

If I stick with publishing every three days, these posts will take us up to the end of July.  I expect the later posts to be pushed back into August since more Three Investigators posts will be written and mixed in.  Additionally, I plan to review the Valerie Drew stories and will mix those reviews in as well.  You will probably get to read the first Valerie Drew review within the next two weeks.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Nancy Drew Girl Detective #15 Framed, #16 Dangerous Plays, and #17 En Garde

In Nancy Drew #15, Framed, Prince Carlo from Italy has arrived in River Heights. Prince Carlo has been arrested for stealing a priceless painting and bringing it into the United States. Prince Carlo claims that the painting is a present for Mrs. Mahoney and that he is fulfilling the wishes of a relative. Nancy sets out to find out the truth so that she can clear Prince Carlo's name.

One chapter is titled "The Secret in the Old Attic."

I did not care about Prince Carlo or the mystery at all. I found this book to be boring from start to finish.

In Nancy Drew Girl Detective #16, Dangerous Plays, Carson, Nancy, and Bess have plans for a London vacation.  Before they depart, Ned's professor, Dr. Burnham, asks Nancy to check on his house in London.  He cannot get in contact with his servant, and he is worried about her. 

In London, Nancy discovers that Dr. Burnham's lock has been changed and that the furniture has been removed from his living room.  She contacts the police and calls the professor to let him know.  When Nancy goes back to the hotel, she discovers that her father has been abducted!  Although improbable, Nancy suspects that all of the events are connected.

This mystery intrigued me.  The problems at Dr. Burnham's home and the abduction of Carson Drew do not appear to be connected, yet they must be.  The suspect is not obvious early in the story, although I did begin to realize the truth partway through the book.  Even then, I was still surprised at the reveal.

This book is outstanding.

In Nancy Drew Girl Detective #17, En Garde, George takes fencing lessons from Bela Kovacs' fencing school.  At a fencing contest, Bela Kovacs and his archenemy, Paul Mourbiers, get into a nasty fight when one of Mourbiers' students gets injured while fighting Kovacs' student.  Nancy soon realizes that someone is sabotaging either one or both fencing schools.

This book reminds me of various parts of the Nancy Drew Digest books #96 The Case of the Photo Finish, #110 The Nutcracker Ballet Mystery,  and #147 The Case of the Captured Queen.  The ending was wrapped up way too nicely like in #102 The Secret in the Dark.  This book is like a composite of a number of Nancy Drew books.

I greatly enjoyed this mystery for most of the book, and then somewhat less so as I realized that the conclusion was going to be like The Case of the Captured Queen.  Since I have read that book before, I correctly guessed the culprit and was absolutely certain I was correct even though I had not read this book before.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Nancy Drew Game: The Shattered Medallion

In the latest Her Interactive Nancy Drew game, The Shattered Medallion, Nancy and George compete in a reality show in New Zealand.  The reality show is being run by Sonny Joon, a mysterious character whose comics and notes have made appearances in quite a few Nancy Drew games.  Sonny Joon is the cover picture of the game, and this is the first time players have met him.

As with most other recent Nancy Drew games, The Shattered Medallion is not based on any Nancy Drew book.  This game is different from the other games because it is an adventure rather than a mystery.  The game has a very scripted feel to it, although this is logical since the game follows the stages of a reality show.

I enjoyed playing this game just like I have all the others, although the game is not particularly special or outstanding.  Meeting Sonny Joon is pretty neat, however.  In fact, the main point of the game is getting to know Sonny Joon and discovering why he always draws pictures of aliens.  While the game lacks suspense, it flows nicely.  All of the puzzles are meaningful to the story.  Since Nancy is competing as a reality show contestant, she has to complete tasks as part of the competition.

Since the game lacks the mystery and suspense of most of the other games, it falls into the lower half of the games as to how much I enjoyed it.  Three other games that I finished with similar feelings are #8 The Haunted Carousel, #22 Trail of the Twister, and  #26 Tomb of the Lost Queen.

It's hard to gauge how the average person feels about the game.  I have seen both positive and negative reviews.  The people who post on Interactive's message boards are very devoted Her Interactive fans.  Many of them absolutely hate or strongly dislike this game.  They don't like the direction that the games have taken and don't like how Nancy is portrayed.  This is very interesting to me.

Nancy Drew book collectors and fans fall into two groups: those who like only the original 56 books and those who like the later books as well as the original 56.  The fans who like only the original 56 books usually greatly dislike all of the later books.

Now the same is happening with fans of the Nancy Drew games.  Some people who played the early Nancy Drew games are unhappy that the new games are not exactly like those games.  They played the "original" Nancy Drew games and don't like the newer Nancy Drew games nearly as much. 

I see this as evidence of Her Interactive's success.  The company has now been around long enough and released enough games that they have longtime fans who recall the early games with fondness, just like longtime Nancy Drew readers do with the books.

Look at this impressive list of games going back to 1998.

 1.  Secrets Can Kill, 1998
 2.  Stay Tuned for Danger, 1999
 3.  Message in a Haunted Mansion, 2000
 4.  Treasure in the Royal Tower, 2001
 5.  The Final Scene, 2001
 6.  Secret of the Scarlet Hand, 2002
 7.  Ghost Dogs of Moon Lake, 2002
 8.  The Haunted Carousel, 2003
 9.  Danger on Deception Island, 2003
10.  The Secret of Shadow Ranch, 2004
11.  Curse of Blackmoor Manor, 2004
12.  Secret of the Old Clock, 2005
13.  Last Train to Blue Moon Canyon, 2005
14.  Danger By Design, 2006
15.  The Creature of Kapu Cave, 2006
16.  The White Wolf of Icicle Creek, 2007
17.  Legend of the Crystal Skull, 2007
18.  The Phantom of Venice, 2008
19.  The Haunting of Castle Malloy, 2008
20.  Ransom of the Seven Ships, 2009
21.  Warnings at Waverly Academy, 2009
22.  Trail of the Twister, 2010
23.  Shadow at the Water's Edge,  2010
24.  The Captive Curse, 2011
25.  Alibi in Ashes, 2011
26.  Tomb of the Lost Queen,  2012
27.  The Deadly Device, 2012
28.  Ghost of Thornton Hall, 2013
29.  The Silent Spy, 2013
30.  The Shattered Medallion, 2014

I have been purchasing the games since December 2000, when I purchased the first three games in an order from Amazon.  I was hooked as soon as I began playing the very first game.  I have bought every game from #4 through #30 as soon as it was released.

I am a Nancy Drew game fan who sees The Shattered Medallion as not that much different than any of the others, with the exception of it being an adventure instead of a mystery.  I continue to greatly anticipate playing the Nancy Drew games twice a year, and I continue to enjoy them.  I do enjoy some games more than others, but I still like all of them.  I look forward to the next game as soon as I finish one.

I have mentioned before that I consider Her Interactive to be the strongest licensee of Nancy Drew.  In recent years, Her Interactive has done more than anyone else in keeping Nancy Drew relevant and interesting to today's young people.  I hope that Her Interactive continues creating new Nancy Drew games for many years to come.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Nancy Drew Girl Detective #13 Trade Wind Danger and #14 Bad Times, Big Crimes

In Nancy Drew Girl Detective #13, Trade Wind Danger, Nancy, Bess, and George travel to San Francisco for a vacation.  Soon after they arrive, a creepy older couple, Ed and Harriet, begin stalking them.  After Ed and Harriet's behavior scares the girls, they admit that they have a friend named Mildred, a writer, who has disappeared.  Ed and Harriet are mystery book publishers, and Mildred is one of their writers.  Ed and Harriet tell Nancy that Mildred went missing in Hawaii.  Ed and Harriet insist that the girls go to Hawaii to investigate and pay for their airfare to Hawaii.

Run, Nancy, run! 

That was my reaction as the initial events unfolded.  An older couple named Ed and Harriet following Nancy around?  This all refers back to the Stratemeyer Syndicate and is supposed to be cute and everything, but I found it extremely creepy and unsettling.  If we consider this series as Nancy Drew in an alternate reality, it's like Ed and Harriet have arrived from another world to mess with her.  In fact, the book almost comes out and states exactly that. On pages 20 and 21, Nancy reflects, "I'd had enough of Ed and Harriet to last me the rest of my vacation.  I was beginning to feel as if they were behind the scenes of a strange dream I was having, like puppet masters."  Creepy indeed.

Nancy has an incredible encounter with a shark on page 98 that is not believable.

This book seems like a bad Nancy Drew Digest book rewritten for the Girl Detective series.  I was bored by the last one-third of the book and just wanted it to end.  It was not suspenseful, and I did not care.  When the book was not outright creepy, it was mediocre.  It could have been so much more, but it missed the mark.

In Nancy Drew Girl Detective #14, Bad Times, Big Crimes, Nancy, Ned, Bess, and George attend a lecture at town hall about gangsters during the Great Depression.  Nancy can hardly stay awake, since she has been awake for 30 straight hours while solving a mystery.  Suddenly, Nancy notices that Ned is wearing a three-piece suit and a bowler hat.  The lecture is no longer about gangsters but about the hard times that the town is having.  Nancy observes that everyone is dressed strangely, so she runs outside, finds a paper, and sees that the year is 1930.  Nancy has traveled back in time!

I am certain that whether you have read this book or not that by the brief introduction that I just gave that you know exactly what really happened.  I knew as I was reading the book that Nancy had to have fallen asleep while at the meeting about gangsters.  So, I'm not spoiling anything by saying that it was a dream.  In fact, the book makes much more sense than if you consider it time travel.

My initial problem after Nancy arrived in 1930 was that the language was mostly modern with a few old-fashioned words thrown in.  This didn't make sense if Nancy was really in 1930.  Also, Nancy dials a seven-digit phone number in 1930 and reflects that it is the same as her current (modern) phone number.  That's not possible, since phone numbers did not have seven digits in 1930.  But it makes perfect sense if the story has been dreamed up by modern Nancy who wouldn't know any better.  She also wouldn't dream up completely authentic vintage language for the other people in the story.

Once I accepted that Nancy was dreaming everything and that it made perfect sense in that context, I greatly enjoyed the story.  The end of the book has a statement that makes it seem like Nancy's adventures in 1930 were not in a dream.  I have to disregard that, because if I believe it, then I have to consider the book poorly written with many details wrong about 1930.

I enjoyed this book once I got past my initial discomfort about Nancy's experiences in 1930.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Nancy Drew Girl Detective #11 Riverboat Ruse and #12 Stop the Clock

In Nancy Drew Girl Detective #11, Riverboat Ruse, Nancy, Bess, George, and Ned attend a mystery dinner on a riverboat.  During the dinner, Mrs. Mahoney's valuable heirloom necklace is stolen!  Ned helps search for the necklace, and in a twist, he becomes the primary suspect.  Nancy must prove his innocence.

This book makes reference to Nancy Drew's 75th anniversary by mentioning the 75th Midsummer Muskoka River Festival on page 1.

Soon after I began reading, I noticed certain references that appear to point back to the original 56 Nancy Drew books.  The riverboat is named the Magnolia Belle, and a sunken ship is the Lucinda Lu.  Put the names together and change them up slightly, and you get the Lucy Belle, a sunken ship from The Phantom of Pine Hill.

A bit later, I began to notice words like "tapping" and "jinxed," so I started looking for words that match parts of titles from the Grosset and Dunlap books.  It began to be a game.  I have to believe that at least some of these words were placed in this book on purpose, although others are likely just coincidence.  All of these words appear at least once in this book, and some of them appear over and over again all through the book.

locket
staircases
steps
map
stage
leaning
boat
shadow
show
wooden
island
jinxed
tapping
phantom
black
old
box
missing
mysterious
clue
window
sky
hall 
bridge
jewel
broken
quest
strange
key
wall
trunk
ring
bound
hidden
fire

Curiously, some of these words are used with each other or appear pretty close together, like the author was on a roll, seeing how many could get placed in the text.  And it all comes out naturally.  "Missing locket" is one example.  In particular, I noticed that "show" and "boat" are used repeatedly throughout the book.  The two words aren't next to each other, but they are all through the book.  Whenever I see the title of this book, Riverboat Ruse, I think of The Haunted Showboat.  Using those two words had to have been purposeful.

Riverboat Ruse is a wonderful, intriguing book.

In Nancy Drew #12, Stop the Clock, the Mahoney Library's clock is stolen just as the library is preparing for its 75 anniversary celebration.  The librarian, Mrs. Corning, is desperate to find the clock, because she believes that Helen is only planning to come home to see the clock.  Meanwhile, Nancy is on the committee that is planning the event, and someone is trying to make Nancy look bad!

The working title of this book was something like "The Secret of the Library Clock."  I wish they hadn't changed it.

Nancy Drew's 75th anniversary is referenced by the 75th anniversary of the Mahoney Library.

We learn on page 14 that awhile back, Helen Corning wanted to a be a movie star, so Nancy suggested that she move to California.  So she did.  The original series had Helen get married, so I thought that this was a fun alternative way to get rid of Helen.

It's kind of refreshing to see Ned studying for his college classes and telling Nancy that he can't leave at that moment.  Nancy suggests that she help him study later, so Ned agrees to go with her.  Nancy does follow through with her promise later.  I enjoyed this nice bit of realism.

This book takes several characters from The Secret of the Old Clock and gives them new names.  Carrie and Merrie Smalley are quite obviously the Topham sisters in this alternate reality Nancy Drew series.  On page 82, Merrie breaks a vase in a department store and blames the clerk.  Nancy comes to the rescue, making the Smalley sisters very angry.  Sound familiar?

The Smalley sisters hate Nancy because she found a later will that stripped them of their inheritance.  Nancy also interacts with Janice and Lizzie Romer, who are obviously the Horner sisters. 

The Girl Detective series is like Nancy Drew in a parallel universe, and if read in that fashion, everything makes sense, including the changed names.  This is the way Nancy Drew might have been, if she had been more like Trixie Belden and set in modern times.  This is the only way to read these stories.  The fans who have gotten upset over these books were likely reading them as an extension or continuation to the original Nancy Drew series.  This series is not connected to those books at all.  For this Nancy Drew, everything recorded in Nancy Drew #1 through #175 has never happened.   

After I read each Girl Detective book, I go back to the old reviews in the Nancy Drew Sleuths group from back when the books were first released.  I want to see how fans reacted as they read each book.  I really enjoyed this one, but it upset some people greatly.  One of the main reasons was the change in names for the characters that came from The Secret of the Old Clock.  Again, the key is to see this series as an alternative reality to the Nancy Drew we know.  Even better, you could read the stories as parodies, even though they weren't intended in that fashion.

As I read these books, I make a few notes so that I can flesh them out later when take the time to write the review.  I make a very brief statement as to how much I enjoyed the book.  The moment I finished this book, I wrote, "Fun, fun book.  It was very good!"  That, to me, says it all.  I loved this story and had a lot of fun reading it!

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Nancy Drew Girl Detective #8 Scarlet Macaw, #9 Secret of the Spa, and #10 Uncivil Acts

In Nancy Drew Girl Detective #8, The Scarlet Macaw Mystery, Nancy, Bess, and George travel with a local research group to Costa Rica.  The group plans to research monkeys at a jungle resort.  Upon their arrival, they are shocked to discover that the resort is rundown and almost deserted.  The man in charge of the resort acts strange.  Nancy knows that something is up.

This book feels more like a Girl Detective book.  Mr. Safer is mentioned.  Nancy's forgetfulness is back.  She makes mistakes, dressing in a shirt that is turned inside-out and backwards. At the same time, the storyline is like a typical Nancy Drew Digest book.

I really enjoyed this one.

In Nancy Drew Girl Detective #9, Secret of the Spa, Nancy, Bess, and George get free passes to an exclusive new spa in River Heights.  Strangely, George does not want to go and is very irritable.  The trip to the spa turns out to be all but relaxing.  Deirdre Shannon is at the spa, being her usual obnoxious self.  A television crew is there to film the grand opening.  And someone is sabotaging the spa!
 
All Girl Detective books from 2005 have some type of reference to Nancy Drew's history or to Nancy Drew's 75 anniversary.  In this book, George's grandmother turns 75.

Almost the entire story occurs during a single visit to the spa.  During that single visit, the entire mystery unfolds and is resolved.  This is kind of neat. 

This is a very good book, and I probably enjoyed it the most of the Girl Detective books that I have read so far.

In Nancy Drew Girl Detective, #10, Uncivil Acts, River Heights is planning a Civil War reenactment.  Everyone is researching their family history to learn whether their ancestors fought as Union or Confederate in the Civil War.  Nancy is quite upset to learn that her family fought for the Confederacy.

As plans continue for the reenactment, accidents happen, indicating that someone is sabotaging the event.  The mishaps grow more and more dangerous, and Nancy must find the culprit before it is too late. 

This book gives a nod to Nancy Drew's 75th anniversary by mentioning the 75th anniversary of the historical society on page 7.

A better title for this book would have been The Battle of River Heights.  Everyone is on edge, and Nancy has a fight with one of her friends to due her deciding to side with the Confederacy.

I greatly enjoyed this book.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Nancy Drew Girl Detective #5 Lights, Camera..., #6 Action!, and #7 Stolen Relic

In Nancy Drew Girl Detective #5, Lights, Camera..., a television movie is being filmed near River Heights.  The movie tells the story of the Great River Heist by the Rackham Gang, a heist which gave River Heights its name.  Someone is out to sabotage the film, and if the sabotage continues, then production may have to stop.  Nancy is asked to investigate.

This story has too much sabotage.  The book is overall interesting, but one event of sabotage after another continues to happen, chapter after chapter.  It's the same thing over and over again.

I dislike the title of the book, as well as the title of the following book.

In Nancy Drew Girl Detective #6, Action!, Nancy has agreed to play a role in a film being made in River Heights.  Unfortunately, Nancy has a severe case of stage fright and is convinced that she is awful, even though everyone else says that she is perfect.  Nancy also has a minor mystery to solve, and quite unexpectedly, she solves the mystery of the Great River Heist.

I was beginning to get bored by page 24.  Nancy is extremely worried about screwing up her part in the movie.  Nancy was not nearly this worried in the previous book, so the worry seems quite unnatural.  About all that develops in the first 24 pages is worry and more worry by Nancy Drew.  There is no sign of a mystery.  In fact, this story doesn't have much of a mystery at all.  In the end, Nancy solves the Great River Heist, but that happens only by accident. 

In Nancy Drew Girl Detective #7, The Stolen Relic, Nancy, Bess, George, and Ned travel to Utah on a vacation.  Soon after their arrival, a tour guide mysteriously disappears. 

This book reads exactly like a Nancy Drew Digest book that was changed to first-person.  It doesn't have the same feel as the first six books.  I strongly suspect that this story was a Nancy Drew Digest book that was never published.

First, Nancy is not a klutz in this book.  It's like she's back to the old Nancy Drew of the Digest series.  Furthermore, the word "fudged" appears on page 105.  This word shows up in the higher-numbered Nancy Drew Digest books, and I had not spotted it in a Girl Detective book until reading this book.  Finally, not a single one of the new River Heights Girl Detective characters are mentioned in this book.

The question and answer session with the villain was too long and detailed for my taste.  By then, I wanted the book to be over and felt like closing it and continuing to the next one.  I forced myself to finish, but I truly didn't care any longer.

This book comes across as an average higher-numbered Nancy Drew Digest book.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Nancy Drew Girl Detective #2 Race Against Time, #3 False Notes, and #4 High Risk

In Nancy Drew Girl Detective #2, A Race Against Time, Nancy, Bess, George, and Ned participate in a charity bike race.  Nancy's archenemy, Deirdre Shannon, is also racing.  Soon after the race begins, Nancy's team is sabotaged by Deirdre's team.  Nancy then drops out of the race after she learns that the money raised has been stolen. 

A location called Rocky Edge is mentioned a number of times.  It's just a place near the river, but it should be noted that this name is the same name as the estate in Nancy Drew #19, The Quest of the Missing Map.  Many of the Girl Detective books make references back to the original Nancy Drew Mystery Stories, so I doubt this is just a coincidence.

This book is very suspenseful, and I enjoyed it.

In Nancy Drew Girl Detective #3, False Notes, Nancy gets this crazy idea that Leslie Simmons, daughter of mayoral candidate Heather Simmons, is missing.  She notices that Leslie's parents are acting strange, and Leslie's mother is running for mayor.  Nancy assumes that Mrs. Simmons' opponent has abducted Leslie.  Nancy devotes all of her time to hunting for Leslie.

This book is strange because Nancy comes up with this wild theory that involves a possible abduction.  She has no evidence whatsoever, but off she goes.  We already know that Nancy will end up correct, but Nancy appears to be pursuing a nonexistent mystery for nearly the entire book.

While I enjoyed the book, my enjoyment would have been enhanced if Nancy had a more solid mystery to solve.  She seemed to be chasing around after nothing most of the time.

In Nancy Drew Girl Detective #4, High Risk, Nancy tries to save the home of Evaline Waters.  Ms. Waters' home is to be torn down to make way for a factory, because she can't prove ownership.  Evidence of the true ownership can be found in local historical documents, but someone has stolen the documents!

A subplot has Ned taking flying lessons, although he appears to be reluctant.  Nancy is so enthused by Ned's lessons that she also takes flying lessons and soon has more practice than Ned.  This causes Nancy to feel bad, worried that Ned will be angry with her.

I enjoyed this story.

While I don't have many comments about these three books, they fit in well with #1 Without a Trace and set up a nice continuity that I greatly enjoy.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Nancy Drew Girl Detective #1 Without a Trace

After the Nancy Drew Digest series concluded with #175 Werewolf in a Winter Wonderland, Nancy Drew was relaunched in a new series, Nancy Drew Girl Detective.  The Girl Detective series switched the voice from third-person narration to first-person narration, a first for Nancy Drew.

The Girl Detective series is not a continuation of the original Nancy Drew series, but rather, a new modernized Nancy Drew.  I see Nancy Drew Girl Detective as Nancy Drew in a parallel universe.  The books are a lot of fun so long as they are considered to be set in a parallel universe.  To me, that is the key to enjoying the books.

In the Girl Detective series, Nancy Drew is absent-minded and often forgets to fill her car up with gas.  She doesn't care whether her hair is brushed, and she often puts on mismatched clothing.

Nancy's best friends, Bess and George, still have their same basic qualities, except now George is the one who is a computer genius.  George is still a tomboy, and Bess still loves clothes and flirts with every boy.  Bess is now good at fixing things, such as car engines.

Ned is still Nancy's boyfriend, and he loves to read.  He isn't that interested in mysteries, but he fully supports Nancy when she has a mystery to solve.  Ned's father publishes the River Heights Bugle.

Nancy has a new rival, Deirdre Shannon.  Deirdre was in Nancy's class in school, and Deirdre's father is a prominent attorney.  Deirdre plays dirty tricks on Nancy and her friends all the time.  It seems that Deirdre must have met Lettie Briggs of the Dana Girls series at some point in the past.  She knows all of Lettie's moves.

The series sets up River Heights as a small town near Chicago.  The town's history is fascinating, and the history comes into play in the stories.  The town has its share of town characters, and they play roles in the mysteries.  Among them are Harold Safer, a cheese shop owner; Charlie Adams, a tow truck driver; Mrs. Mahoney, a wealthy widow; Luther Eldridge, an expert on River Heights history; and Evaline Waters, a retired librarian.  These characters appear in multiple books, and their presence sets up a nice continuity.

In Nancy Drew Girl Detective  #1, Without a Trace, Nancy investigates the theft of a FabergĂ© egg while she tries to find out who trampled Mr. Safer's zucchini plants.

I found it quite jarring reading the opening chapters of this book after reading so many Nancy Drew books in third-person.  After around 30 to 40 pages, the book completely captivated me.  I can tell that they spent a lot of time working to make this an engaging book with lots of humor.  The book is rich in description.  River Heights really comes alive.

Back when this book was first published, I felt like I was the only Nancy Drew fan who did not think the zucchini subplot was stupid.  The zucchini subplot didn't bother me years ago, and it doesn't bother me now.  Nancy and her friends even poke fun at the zucchini case, and to me, the zucchini subplot is mainly present for comic relief.  What's wrong with that?

Also, the zucchini subplot is not that different from the sort of mystery that Trixie Belden would solve.  The Trixie Belden books have great descriptions of everyday life, and Trixie finds mystery even where there is not much of a mystery.  I am thinking of the game preserve mystery in Trixie Belden and the Mystery Off Glen Road.  That book is wonderful.

Sure, the plot is different for a Nancy Drew book, but it's a welcome change.  I found it hard to slog through most of the last six Nancy Drew Digest books, and after I got into the first person dialogue, I enjoyed the changes brought by this book.  This book is rich in characterization and description of everyday life, just like the Trixie Belden books.

 This is not the Nancy Drew of #1-56 or even of #57-175.  This is a new Nancy Drew.