Wednesday, December 31, 2014

German Three Investigators Vampire City, Arctic Adventure, and Bite of the Beast

In Vampire City, Justus, Peter, and Bob go on a camping trip.  They end up in Yonderwood, a town in which most of the houses are locked and empty.  The boys visit the drug store, where they meet Josy, who tells them that most of the residents of the town have moved away.  One by one, people woke up in the morning with bite marks on their necks, their pillows drenched in blood.  The residents fled, believing the town to be inhabited by vampires.  Intrigued, the boys decide to solve the mystery.

The book contains mild expletives.

The plot is creative, and I greatly enjoyed this book.  It is very good.

In Arctic Adventure, the Three Investigators are asked to find out who is sabotaging the Canadian sled race.  Several mushers have dropped out of the competition due to illness and accidents.

Peter asks what "mushers" and "dehydrated" mean.  He must have lost some brain cells.  The questions are apparently asked for the benefit of the German students who are reading the book to learn English, but they make Peter seem like an idiot.

This book introduces too many characters too fast.  I couldn't keep them straight, and to be honest, I didn't try.  This caused me not to enjoy the book very much.

In Bite of the Beast, the Three Investigators look into strange events at a museum.

This book didn't grab me, and I think it was because the mystery was too vague.

In this book, we learn that the Jonas salvage yard has a rival.  Imagine that:  rival junkyards.  The Jonas salvage yard is known as T. Jonas' Secondhand Center.  The rival junkyard is named T. Madsen's Secondhand Center.

The boys have to babysit, which results in this amusing scene from page 77.
"You've used almost half a tube of toothpaste!" Peter looks down at the white ring in the washbasin and the foam over Sammy's mouth.

"We're playing rabies!" says Jamie by way of defence.

"That was Bob's toothpaste, you know: he'll punish you when he finds out.
I was not aware that children play "rabies."  How funny!

This book contains mild expletives.

I enjoyed the part about the rival junkyards, but otherwise, I did not find this book very interesting.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Rick Brant #12 Electronic Mind Reader and #13 Scarlet Lake Mystery

In Rick Brant #12, The Electronic Mind Reader, Steve Ames asks for Spindrift's help with a top secret government project.  Two scientists who were working on the project have been hospitalized with broken minds, and no one knows what happened.  Rick feels that someone has infiltrated the project, even though no evidence of infiltration can be found.  The Brants worry that the scientists on Spindrift Island will be the next victims.

This book grabbed me from the beginning.  The plot advances nicely without any boring parts.  Even the scientific descriptions were brief enough not to be annoying.

It was nice having Barby and her new friend, Jan, take a role in the plot, even though their role was secondary.

I greatly enjoyed this book.

In Rick Brant #13, The Scarlet Lake Mystery, Rick and Scotty go undercover at Scarlet Lake, a top-secret rocket launch site.  A saboteur, known as "The Earthman," has caused several projects to fail at a great loss of money.  Meanwhile, expensive electronic parts disappeared around the time of each accident. 

The boys visit several casinos, although they do not gamble since they are not old enough.  I thought it was interesting to have scenes in casinos.

Some parts of the plot are a bit hard to believe, especially the climax.  The entire time I was reading the climax, I kept asking myself how likely it was that the events would transpire as they did.  I decided that some aspects were narrowly believable, while others were not. 

This is a very good book.  As with many other Rick Brant books, I found the early part of the book to be somewhat less interesting, although I still enjoyed it.  The later part of the book is outstanding.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Readers with Strong Opinions

Some readers and collectors make extremely strong statements about how good or bad certain books are.  Sometimes their statements have a different impact than what they might have expected. 

Recently, someone made an extremely strong statement about a book.  Person A said that they were reading the book.  Person B said that it was awful.  Person A seemed surprised and stated that they were enjoying the book.  Person B said that Person A wouldn't enjoy it for much longer and that they wouldn't be able to finish the book.

Huh?  Why assume that someone will hate a book?  They might end up liking the entire book.  Just because some people do not like a book does not mean that others will not like it.  It's a shame to discourage others from reading a book.

This has also happened to me.  I recall one time when I mentioned I was going to read a series, and someone told me that I wouldn't enjoy the books.  They can't know.  I have to decide.

I try to tread lightly when others ask whether a series is good, since opinions are subjective.  Recently on Facebook, someone asked whether the Penny Nichols books are any good.  I don't like the Penny Nichols books very much, but I didn't want to discourage someone from reading Penny Nichols since all books by Mildred Wirt are worth reading.  I cautiously replied, "The Penny Nichols series is similar to the Penny Parker series. I believe most people like the books about as much as Penny Parker. I didn't like them as much as Penny Parker, but I may be in the minority in that opinion."  I was surprised when a few others agreed with me.

A second situation involves superlatives used to describe a series.  By describing a series in extremely glowing terms, readers might inadvertently set up others for disappointment.  I have had such high expectations for some series that I ended feeling letdown after I read the books.

The third situation involves fans who proclaim their love for their favorite series and in the same breath proclaim that they hate another series.  I have noticed that fans of some series do this more often than others and that they pick on a series that is more popular than their favorite series.  It's how it's mentioned and when it's mentioned that bothers me, not the fact that they don't like another series.

If you've ever noticed this, you'll know what I mean.  It's hurtful to some of us who like both series that are mentioned.  I've always wondered if I was being too sensitive, and perhaps I have been.  Someone contacted me privately and expressed frustration about some of the statements.  I guess I'm not the only one.

Friday, December 26, 2014

German Three Investigators Ghost Village and Soccer Trap

In Ghost Village, a boy named Darren asks the boys to come to Oregon to solve a mystery.  Darren is staying in Ridgelake, Oregon, and he keeps seeing a bright light shine out from the lake at night.  The Three Investigators have problems beginning their investigation, since Darren is quite excitable and has forgotten to give them key details, like how an old town lays flooded underneath the waters of the lake.

The book opens with the boys driving through Oregon wondering when they will reach Ridgelake.  Justus is using an old map from 1956 that is no longer accurate, and the other two are annoyed with him.

This book was written in 2007, and I find it interesting how the boys are not using GPS.  They use a paper map, and even worse, one that is 50 years old.

In these German books, the boys have cell phones, but they tend not to use them.  It's like the authors wanted the books to hearken back to an earlier time.

The search underwater through the submerged village is quite thrilling and harrowing.  That part of the story is quite memorable.

The first half of the book is very good, and the second half is outstanding.

In Soccer Trap, Peter has been hired as an assistant to the U.S. national soccer team.  Soon it becomes apparent that someone is sabotaging the team, after several of the players become injured.  Meanwhile, Justus suspects that their old enemy, Hugenay, may be responsible for a series of art thefts.

Here is yet another soccer story, and once again, it involves sabotage.  One of the acts of sabotage involves a large wasp nest that was placed in a player's closet in the hotel.  I tried to figure out exactly how the saboteur would manage to get the wasp nest in the closet without being stung.  It would be tricky.

This book contains mild expletives.

This book has events that remind me of several of the original Three Investigators books.  The book has a mummy.  Hugenay is mentioned.  Venice Beach is mentioned.  A jackal scares people, and this reminds me of the dancing devil.  Bob once again works for Sax Sendler, when he hasn't in most of the other German books I have read.  The Jonas family has an unwanted house guest who hears voices, which makes me think of Singing Serpent.

I have grown tired of all of the soccer stories, but this one pleasantly surprised me.  Most of the book has little to do with soccer.  Aside from the soccer scenes, this book is outstanding.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Posts That Unintentionally Offend

The most popular blog posts are the ones that mention eBay and various aspects of buying and selling on eBay.  Invariably, those are the posts that offend people.  There is something that happens when prices are mentioned that gets people worked up.  People get offended when anyone suggests that they have priced something too high.  A post this fall offended a seller.

I had no idea that my post had even a slight chance of offending anyone.  In fact, I usually don't even get a negative response to posts that I consider risky.  Whenever I get a negative response, it is unexpected.  I began that post as follows.
Recently, a collectible Nancy Drew item was put up for sale on eBay at an exorbitant price.  The item is probably worth around $25 to $35 and was priced at $1,500.  The seller stated that money was being raised to pay for medical bills.  Unfortunately, the item will likely not sell for an amount that will help unless the seller gets very lucky.
All I was doing was using an overpriced item to lead into what I wished to discuss, which is what books I would select to sell if I had to sell books quickly to raise funds.  I did not link to the eBay listing, since the point of the post had nothing to do with the listing.

Nevertheless, the seller of the listing became deeply offended and let me know how she felt on Facebook.  She thought I was judging her for listing an item high.  She took offense that I made a statement about how she would need to get lucky for the item to sell.  She chided me, telling me that I had better hope I never needed to raise funds to pay bills.  Er... I think that was the point of my post.  It could happen to me, so I was reflecting about how I would approach the situation.

I was glad that after a couple of hours that the seller came back and deleted her comments.  It was turning into an ugly situation, since another collector posted a comment bluntly critical of the seller after she complained about the blog post on Facebook.  This type of stuff doesn't need to be aired publicly.  I didn't need to know what she paid for the item or anything about her personal issues.  The seller also removed her item from eBay at about the time that she deleted her comments from Facebook.

It's never a good idea to respond to perceived criticism.  I learned several years back after some skirmishes in the comments of this blog that I should ignore any comments that have a critical tone.  I simply do not respond to them.  I said what I wanted in the post, and the reader made a response.  That's it.  There is a reason why many blogs do not allow comments.  I like getting comments when they are not negative, so I continue to allow them.

I do have an upcoming post that I think could offend some people.  If that happens and you are the one offended, remember that it's best not to go into a tirade to tell me off.  In fact, you should just ignore me and consider me an idiot.  It's a very effective technique.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Rick Brant #10 Golden Skull and #11 Wailing Octopus

In Rick Brant #10, The Golden Skull, Rick and Scotty journey to the Philippines with Tony Briotti in search of a golden skull.  The priceless artifact is said to be hidden in the mountains of the Philippines.  Soon after their arrival, the boys find themselves in danger, as others wish to find the golden skull.

Like with some of the other books in this series, the story was a little slow getting started.  The story became very interesting around page 80 and continued all the way to the end of the book.

This book is full of information about the Philippines, which I found interesting.  None of it comes across as a history lesson, which is important.  I do not like travelogue books that devote lots of text to education about the country being visited.  This book imparts information in an engaging fashion without coming across as a school lesson.

I greatly enjoyed this book.

In Rick Brant #11, The Wailing Octopus, Rick, Scotty, Tony, and Zircon travel to the Virgin Islands.  For once, the trip is purely for recreation, although Rick and Scotty hope to unearth a shipwreck and find a golden statue.  The boys encounter Steve Ames in Charlotte Amalie.  Steve asks for their help in getting rid of a man who is shadowing him.  That chance encounter puts the boys in grave danger, and multiple attempts are made on their lives.

This book starts fast without the usual extended expository introduction.  Very quickly, the reader realizes that that Rick and Scotty are in grave danger from the villains, and that knowledge keeps the reader in constant suspense.  I felt tense with expectation the entire time I read this book.  The feeling was very similar to how I felt while reading The Phantom Shark.

The Phantom Shark was my favorite Rick Brant book up to that point.  I like this book even more than The Phantom Shark. This book is close to being a perfect book.  It engaging from start to finish.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Responding to Buyer Questions

I was asked this question about two Three Investigators books.

I know in the description it states something about hinges being cracked and spine slanted. I just want to make sure that these are not on the verge of falling apart when being read and that there are no missing pages.

I answered as follows.
I always check books for missing pages and don't place them up for sale. Books with missing pages are discarded. By "cracked," I mean that there is a slight crack in the hinge; as in, it is showing the early signs of separation. The hinges have not yet split, which is when they are completely separated. A slanted spine is when the spine is not square as it was when new; it is at a slant. This happens in books that have been improperly shelved over the years. Poor quality glue was used when the Three Investigators hardcover books were bound, so the hinges quite often crack or split. I can't guarantee that the hinges won't weaken further when the books are read.
I included the last line because I don't know what will happen when the book is read.  I haven't forgotten the softcover Nancy Drew book that was in one piece when I started reading it.  The book began falling apart as I read it and was in two or three pieces by the time I finished.  It was not good.

I also knew that by including the last line that I was guaranteeing that the buyer would not purchase the books.  I would rather the buyer purchase from someone else who is willing to guarantee what will happen when the books are read.

A couple months ago, I had a buyer take me to task for not including information that they felt should have been included.  Sometimes when I sell books, I am more interested in ridding myself of them than in trying to get top dollar.  I wish to get them off my hands with minimal effort, especially when I know that I will have trouble finding a buyer even at a low price.  For some books, going above and beyond does absolutely no good.  In those cases, I do not necessarily include all information that I might otherwise include.

In particular, when the book has a jacket, I might in some cases decide not to photograph the book without the jacket on it.  I realize that this could bother some prospective buyers.  I also realize that I didn't jump on it when the buyer mentioned the lack of a photo of a Ruth Fielding book; the listing only had a picture of the book with the jacket on it.  Instead of adding the photo, I replied that the book was most likely the final format since the dust jacket was the final format.  My mistake.  I was taken to task for not adding the photo, and it was suggested that using "probably" and "likely" along with the lack of a photo did not inspire confidence.  I added the photo after receiving the response, and I should have added the photo when it was first requested.

I had another buyer ask me about a matte picture cover edition of the Nancy Drew book, The Sky Phantom, that lists to Parchment on the back cover.  The buyer wanted to know if the book has the "multi scene endpapers" and if I had pictures of the endpapers and copyright page.  I also opted not to add photos in that case, either.

First of all, I replied that the description stated that the book has "black and white multi endpapers."  I explained that "black and white multi endpapers" mean the "multi scene endpapers."  I also described the endpapers as having many small scenes of black and white cover art pictures so that the buyer would know that I knew what was meant.

Next, I stated that the copyright page means nothing.  All matte printings with black and white multi endpapers have the same copyright page.  I explained how the back cover list dates the book.  Yes, I could have added photos in slightly more time than it took to type the response, but I believe buyers need to learn how to use a description that actually contains useful information so that they can draw conclusions about what is being sold.

I guess I'm being a rebel about the pictures.

I've been under a lot of stress in recent months, and I've unfortunately been catching one virus after another since the middle of September.  For that reason, I have tried not to spend large amounts of time answering buyer questions and putting up additional photos.  I don't have the patience right now.  That's why I didn't add the photo of the Ruth Fielding book when it was first requested.  That's why I didn't add photos of the Nancy Drew book.  One time in the past year, a buyer had me photograph the names written inside all of my Nancy Drew books with jackets so that she could purchase the ones where the names were neatly written or less obvious.  She ended up buying only a couple, so my time didn't really pay off.  I now wouldn't do that, and I wouldn't be worried about losing the sale.

I am trying to answer questions as briefly as I can.  I may have been curt in a few cases, but I try to avoid that even when replying with brevity.  It does little good to spend large amounts of time answering questions in great detail only to have this happen.  So unfortunately, I may not respond as well to questions as I could since I have spent so much time on them in the past and not felt that it helped.

Right now, I'm all about keeping my stress level down, and I apologize in advance if my listings do not meet your quality expectations.  I am not being sarcastic; this is simply how it is.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

German Three Investigators Hollywood Horrors, Web Phantom, and Pirate's Curse

In Hollywood Horrors, the boys witness someone falling from the Hollywood sign up in the Hollywood hills.  The boys find a talisman that contains a message.  The message was written by Casey Wye, an actress who is now deceased.  The boys feel certain that the message is important and holds a clue to an important secret.

This book did not keep my interest very well, and I was rather bored.  I think this has more to do with my reaction to the story rather than how good the story actually is.

For instance, the book opens with the boys sneaking up to the Hollywood sign, solely because Peter made a bet with another boy on whether he would write his initials on the sign.  That type of behavior is not fitting for the Three Investigators, so the book lost me on the first page.  I did not enjoy it very much.

In Web Phantom, Miss Bennett, the librarian, has disappeared!  The boys fear that she has been the victim of foul play as they search for clues to her whereabouts.

I haven't been noticing the expletives in recent books, and apparently, these later books have fewer or no expletives.

We learn that the library has 4,000 books.  This seems small to me, probably because I own more than 4,000 books.

This book grabbed my attention from the first page.  It reminds me of the original Three Investigators books written by M. V. Carey.  Unfortunately, the book began to lose me halfway through, and from that point, I found it a bit boring.  Later, the book got interesting again.

This book is overall good.

In The Pirate's Curse, the boys' rival, Althena, is in trouble and leaves them her cell phone as a clue.  The boys follow a series of clues found in the photos on the phone and discover that Althena was searching for a pirate's treasure that is reputedly hidden on an island.

This passage from page 40 pays homage to Alfred Hitchcock without ever mentioning his name.
Bob parked his vehicle directly in front of the bungalow with the sign Elivira Zuckerman.  It was up one step and then through a glass door.  The reception room was not occupied.  Justus walked up to a large door and knocked.

"Come in!"

Curious, [the Three Investigators] stepped into the office.  Elvira Zuckerman sat majestically behind a gigantic desk. She stood to greet them. "Mr. Shaw contacted you about us," said Justus. "This is Bob Andrews, here is Mr. Shaw's son, Peter, and I am Justus Jonas."

While Mrs. Zuckerman came over to them, Justus winked at Peter and Bob: a picture of a famous film director hung on the wall. Mrs. Zuckerman caught the look. "An important predecessor and an important role-model. This room was once his office." Justus nodded, smiling.
This book is very good.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Rick Brant #8 Caves of Fear and #9 Stairway to Danger

In Rick Brant #8, The Caves of Fear, Chahda sends a coded telegram to Spindrift Island.  After decoding the message, the boys discover that Chahda is in danger and that he needs their help.  Rick, Scotty, and Zircon travel to Hong Kong to follow the clues that Chahda provided.

While science plays a role as always, I did not find it distracting.  This book has no lengthy descriptions of scientific concepts.

I found this story to be very engaging, especially once the group arrives in Hong Kong.  I read this book much faster than I did the previous book.  The books I enjoy the most are ones that provide adventure without including an overabundance of tedious detail.  This book fit both conditions, so I enjoyed it greatly. 

In Rick Brant #9, Stairway to Danger, the scientists from Spindrift Island are building a robotic bulldozer for the government.  Meanwhile, Jerry and Barby's vehicle is struck by a hit-and-run driver.  Rick and Scotty are determined to find the culprit and soon believe that the culprit is hiding in an amusement park next to the building where the Spindrift scientists are working on the robot.

After Jerry and Barby are struck by the hit-and-run driver, the state police can't help much because they are looking for an escaped convict.  I drew the immediate conclusion that the escaped convict was the hit-and-run driver.  Who else would it be?  Series books are so predictable.

I find the cover art to be lacking.  The author's name is obscured by the background colors.  The villain looks so strange wearing what appears to be a beret.  Rick's pose disturbs me.  His left leg doesn't look right to me.  Last, the Tractosaur, or robotic bulldozer, looks like a funky flying saucer hovering over the ground. 

The climax of the book, which is the scene depicted on the cover, is hilarious.  You could also say that the cover art is unintentionally hilarious.

This book had some lengthy scientific descriptions that were boring to me.  I skimmed through those passages.  Other than those scattered parts, I found the story to be very engaging, and I read the book rather quickly.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

German Three Investigators Pharoah's Message, Black Madonna, and Soccer Mania

In The Pharaoh's Message, Rubbish George has disappeared.  Peter finds a strange message in George's shack.  The message gives clues to a hidden treasure.  The boys travel to Egypt in pursuit of the treasure.

On page 36, a cell phone is locked in a safe at the hotel because Justus does not like cell phones.  I'm not surprised, since the boys tend not to use cell phones in these books.  It's like the authors wanted the books to be similar to the older ones when the boys didn't have phones.

On page 38, a picture reminds Peter "of a good friend."  The man in the picture has a "large, half-bald head, cheeks that drooped..."  Although not mentioned by name, Alfred Hitchcock follows the boys on their adventures in spirit.

This book is very suspenseful and fast-paced.  Although I grew a bit bored towards the end, I still consider the book quite good.

In Black Madonna, the boys are witnesses to an attack on a dealer in a flea market.  As the victim loses consciousness, he asks that the boys find the black Madonna. 

On page 7, the book states that Uncle Titus manages a used car business, but on page 10, the boys are selling junk in a junk stand.  The statement about the used car business had to have been a mistake in the translation.

I enjoyed this book.

In Soccer Mania, Peter trains for a local soccer team.  Meanwhile, a boy asks the Three Investigators to help his grandparents, who are being threatened.  No connection appears to exist between soccer and the threats to the grandparents, but we soon learn that the threats have everything to do with soccer.

Soccer is very popular around the world, so I understand why so many of the books feature soccer.  However, I am getting tired of all of these soccer stories.

I find the cover art disturbing.  The picture is of a soccer ball with insects on it, but to me, it looks like a skull with insects crawling inside and out. 

I overall enjoyed this book, although the parts about soccer bored me.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Rick Brant #6 Phantom Shark and #7 Smuggler's Reef

In Rick Brant #6, The Phantom Shark, Rick, Scotty, and Barby travel on a South Sea voyage with friends of the Brants.  The purpose of the voyage is to survey the ocean in order to find new fishing grounds.  The young people soon learn about the Phantom Shark, a man notorious for hunting pearls and killing anyone who gets in his way.  Rick and Scotty have reason to believe that they have come in contact with the Phantom Shark and that the mysterious stranger is responsible for damage to their boat.

This story has very little to do with science and is instead a mystery and adventure story.  I really enjoyed having Barby come along on the trip and feel that she added another dimension to the story.  This book is the type of adventure story that I really enjoy.  During the entire book, I felt suspense leading up to the ultimate confrontation between Rick and his friends and the Phantom Shark.  For that reason, I read the book pretty quickly, eager to see what would happen next.  I greatly enjoyed this book, and this is my favorite Rick Brant book so far.

In Rick Brant #7, Smugglers' Reef, Rick and Scotty help Jerry as he tracks a story for the newspaper.  Captain Tyler ran his ship aground at Smugglers' Reef, and he claims that he was drunk.  Rick is certain that Tyler is afraid of something and is taking the blame on purpose.  Rick and Scotty believe that Tyler found out about a smuggling operation, so they set out to get proof of their suspicions.

I like the opening line of the book.  " 'Adventure,' Rick Brant said, 'is kind of hard to define, because what may be adventure to one person may be commonplace to another.' "  It's the same with books.  I find that I often respond completely differently to books than how other people did.

On page 4, an electronic mind reader is mentioned.  This caught my eye since one of the later titles in the series is The Electronic Mind Reader.

This book also has very little science in it.

The plot of this book is slow.  By halfway through this book, I felt like the text had really begun to drag and that I was reading a story that seemed like it was 400 pages long rather than slightly more than 200.  The book basically consists of a very detailed investigation into the smuggling, and I felt like the story took too long to develop and way too much detail was given.

Since I was not overwhelmingly thrilled with this book, I sought out reviews online out of curiosity.  I noticed that one person stated that many have compared this book to Ken Holt.  Perhaps that is it.  The comparison was most likely made because Rick and Scotty are acting like reporters, which matches up with Ken and Sandy's roles in the Ken Holt books.  I instead thought about the excessive detail of this book and how it reminds me of Ken Holt, and that detail is what bothered me about the Ken Holt books.

As I continued to read, I grew more and more tired of the book.  It's not that the story was bad; it's that it went on and on so very slowly.  It was realistic how difficult it was for Rick and Scotty to get proof of the smuggling, but it didn't make for a very engaging book.

The plot was weak.  Rick and Scotty were sure that the Kelsos were smuggling, but they had no tangible evidence to support that belief.  I'd hate for someone to decide I'm guilty of a crime just because they see me getting something out of my car at 12 AM.  That's a lot like what happened in this book.

It took me longer to get through this book than it should have.  I couldn't read much at a time because it kept going on and on.  Finally, I finished it.  While the book is overall good and has some really good moments, the story is tiresome. 

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Rick Brant Website Section and Related Thoughts

I was not planning to add a Rick Brant section to my website.  However, I decided to do it for two reasons.  First, I decided that I could do it with considerably less effort than it took to add the Three Investigators section this summer.  Rick Brant is a shorter series with fewer formats.  Second, I did it because many secondary series like Rick Brant are neglected on the internet.  There used to be an excellent Rick Brant site, but that site is now defunct.  The only way to view it is through the Internet Wayback Machine.  If you don't know how to find it, then you'll never see it. 

Rick Brant Science-Adventure Series

I do have a link to the defunct Rick Brant site down at the bottom of the page.  The section is complete as of right now except for some possible editing of my comments about the series on the main page of the section.  Additionally, I will be rewriting the summary of #24 from what was provided by the publisher.  I am currently reading #23, so I will get to the #24 summary sometime this week.

I created this section rather fast.  I already had the scans of the books, and I just needed to create the section.  I copied another section and changed the text for Rick Brant.  I created the entire section probably the fastest I have ever done, in just a couple of days.  The summaries were the hardest part, since I had to write them so that they were the length I needed to match the images. 

I do proofread by reading the text myself several times over.  Often, website owners get criticized by readers when typos slip through, and sometimes readers assume that everyone relies on a spell checker.  Not so.  While the HTML editor does underline possible typos in red, it won't let me know when I have typed a wrong word that is correctly spelled.  Those errors can only be spotted by reading the text over and over.  Many of them can slip by through repeated readings since the mind automatically reads the word as what was intended.

For instance, I finally noticed that I had typed "certainly" when I meant to type "certainty."  At a glance, the word looked like what I meant, but I finally spotted the one incorrect letter.  Elsewhere, I had typed "fisherman" instead of "fishermen" and kept reading it as "fishermen."  Finally, I realized that I needed to change one letter.  If I hadn't made that change, someone might have thought that I didn't know the difference between singular and plural.

I proofread the same way for this blog.  The blog editor does mark misspelled words, but it doesn't know when I have typed the wrong word spelled correctly.  Most of these posts get read six or more times by me before they get published.

Don't get too excited expecting for me to add more sections to my website.  I might, since I have now added two this year, but then again, I might not.  I can't promise anything, but if I do add another section, it will be done impulsively and fast.  I do feel more inclined to do so than I did this summer.  I really had to force myself to create the Three Investigators section, and it was grueling.  I had motivational issues, especially because I hadn't added a section in five years.  Doing Rick Brant was a breeze by comparison, but I'll just have to see how I feel after I start reading my next new series.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

German Three Investigators Evil Games and Ghost Train

In Evil Games, Justus awakens locked inside a room with a young man he has never seen before.  Meanwhile, Peter wakes up in a room separate from Justus.  A woman is locked up with Peter.  Nobody can remember what happened. 

Bob returns from a trip and discovers that both Justus and Peter are missing.  Justus' aunt and uncle are frantic with worry.  Bob's friend, Jelena, helps him investigate.

This book contains mild expletives.

I wasn't sure about this book at the very beginning.  Justus and Peter are prisoners in separate locked rooms, and each of them is locked up with someone they don't know.  The opening scene reads like a dream.  I was skeptical about the book, because I dislike extended dream sequences.  I want to know what is really happening and consider dreams a waste of time.  As I continued to read, I gradually realized that the boys really were prisoners.

Bob's friend, Jelena, uses a wheelchair.  On pages 62 and 63, she creates a distraction so that Bob can escape from an apartment.
"And I'm here to collect signatures.  It certainly hasn't escaped you that the elevator in your building is in catastrophic condition.  For someone in a wheelchair it is next to impossible to enter without help from strangers.  The Society for the Elimination of Life-Impeding Injustices for the Physically Impaired Citizens of West Hollywood, abbreviated S.E.L.I.I.P.I.C.W.H., of which I am the chairman and only current member, has taken on the task of combatting [sic] these scandalous conditions.  You can become a member at no cost and in turn receive the society's quarterly newsletter.  However, a small donation would also assist the society.  The Elimination of Life-Impeding Injustices for the Physically Impaired Citizens of West Hollywood impacts everyone, you too."
On page 75, another book in the German Three Investigators series is mentioned, and this is one of the books that was translated into English.  After that book was mentioned, I began to realize part of what was going on in this book.  The tie-in is great.

Once I determined that Justus and Peter's imprisonment was real, I found this book to be fascinating and read it in less than one day.  The story is very suspenseful, and the book is outstanding.

In The Mystery of the Ghost Train, Justus, Peter, and Bob travel on an old train to the Harrowville Railroad Museum.  The museum has been plagued with problems and is closing.  The owner has offered to give Titus Jones first pick at purchasing the museum's items.  Uncle Titus is unable to make the trip, so the boys go in his place.

The boys' train ride is plagued with problems, and they discover firsthand that the train tunnel through the mountains is haunted.  The boys suspect that someone has forced the museum to close, and they plan to investigate.

This book contains mild expletives.

A boy who works as a conductor on the train is named Fred Jenkins.  This amused me, since I couldn't help thinking of Fred Jenkins from the Nancy Drew book, The Phantom of Pine Hill.

The boys use different colors of chalk in this book just like in the original series.

This book is very engaging.  Finding the treasure is important, because quite a few people need help.

This book is comparable to the original Three Investigators books, and is just like those books in atmosphere and story.  This book is outstanding.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Rick Brant #4 100 Fathoms Under and #5 Whispering Box Mystery

In Rick Brant #4, 100 Fathoms Under, the Brants, Scotty, and the scientists travel to Hawaii on an expedition to explore a temple that is at the bottom of the ocean.  They will use their creation, the Submobile, for the exploration.  Rick quickly becomes suspicious of the captain of the ship, Turk, who alternates between friendly and sullen.  A strange Japanese man is found to be lurking near the ship, and Rick worries about sabotage.

This book has several derogatory terms including Jap, Nip, gooks, and yellow ape.  This isn't surprising since the book was published right after World War II.  The book also contains some very crude threats, including one where a man threatens to cut out another man's tongue.

Some of the banter between Chahda and Scotty gets on my nerves.  This is the sort of thing that occurs in boys' series that is not much to my liking.

I was temporarily bored a number of times during the descriptions of the Submobile and its parts as they worked on it.  I had to skim some of it.  I also found my mind wandering at times while I was reading the first half of the book.  The book doesn't get to the point until halfway through, when the Submobile is finally taken down underwater to the temple.  From that point on, the book is quite interesting.

The first half of the book is overall good although I was bored at times, and the second half is very good.

In Rick Brant #5, The Whispering Box Mystery, Rick is peeved because Hartson Brant and the scientists won't let him know about their current project.  Finally, Rick and Scotty are told a little bit about a whispering box used by villains to help them gain access to classified information.  The boys are sent to Washington, D.C. to help create a device to counter the effect of the whispering box . 

This book reads like a spy novel with lots of action and intrigue.  The reader is kept guessing at to what the villains' true motive is.  The book flows well and is interesting. I did find a few chase scenes to be a little long for my taste.  Towards the last few chapters, I grew tired of the story and was eager to finish.  That aside, I enjoyed this book.

Monday, December 1, 2014

German Three Investigators Poisoned E-Mail, Dangerous Quiz Show, and Canyon of Demons

In Poisoned E-Mail, Mrs. Baker was attacked by jellyfish while diving near Rocky Beach.  She is now traumatized, because her computer is infected with a virus that has filled the screen with images of jellyfish.  Both the Three Investigators and Santa Monica detective Dick Perry were called about the case, and Mrs. Baker ultimately gives the case to Perry.  Undaunted, the Three Investigators decide to try to solve the case before Perry.

This book contains expletives.

On page 9, the titles of several Hitchcock movies are mentioned, and on page 76, a man is said to look like he could be Alfred Hitchcock's brother.

In the German books, the ghost-to-ghost hookup is called a "phone avalanche."  In this book, the Three Investigators instead use an "e-mail avalanche."  The boys have adapted to modern times!

It took me a bit longer to get through this book.  The story dragged for me, and I felt like events were not progressing fast enough or in a very interesting fashion.  I began skimming the book during the last 30 or more pages.

In Dangerous Quiz Show, Justus won a contest and will appear as a contestant on a quiz show on television. Upon his arrival, host Nick Nobel behaves like a desperate man.  He pulls Justus aside and tells him that his daughter has been kidnapped.  Justus must answer riddles supplied by the kidnappers while live on the air, or else Clarissa may not ever return home.

Morton makes an appearance.  Morton is the name given to Worthington in the German books.  It is explained that Morton's service with the Rolls Royce was won in a contest for a period of 30 days, which was later extended by a thankful client.  The Three Investigators do not wish to take advantage of the offer, so they only ask for Morton's services occasionally. 

This story has mild expletives.

I enjoyed this story.

In Canyon of Demons, Ewan Donovan's beloved horse is stolen while at a horse show.  The Three Investigators take the case and soon learn that the horse may carry a clue to a hidden treasure.

Native Americans are referred to as "redskins" all through this book.  The story contains mild expletives.

While I enjoyed this story, I suspect that the quality was impacted when the story was condensed for the English translation.  The original German text is probably better.