Monday, August 29, 2016

Hardy Boys Undercover Brothers #28-30: The Galaxy X Trilogy

The very first book in the Nancy Drew Diaries series, Curse of the Arctic Star, has this quote on page 42.
"Yeah," Tobias scowled.  "I wanted to go to Galaxy X.  That's what I call a cool vacation.  Not some stupid boat."
The Hardy Boys Undercover Brothers Galaxy X Trilogy consists of the following titles.

#28 Galaxy X
#29 X-plosion
#30 The X-Factor

In #28 Galaxy X, someone is threatening to sabotage the grand opening of the new theme park, Galaxy X.  Frank and Joe are asked to find the saboteur.

These sabotage plots are so original.  Not!

The end of this book is typical.  The culprit confesses but not to everything.  After the culprit is jailed, more sabotage occurs.  This means we have another saboteur!

In #29 X-plosion, Frank and Joe continue to investigate the sabotage at Galaxy X.

I enjoyed this book more than the first book, since the boys interact with a female skateboard champion who is quite interesting. In fact, she is my favorite part of the book.

This is a very good book.

In #30 The X-Factor, Frank and Joe are still stuck at the amusement park, investigating even more sabotage.


I guessed the probable final culprit fairly early in the first book, due to this person's ability to hot wire the roller coaster.  Over and over during all three books, the boys mention that the culprit has to be quite knowledgeable about electronics.

The boys never mention this one person's obvious knowledge until very close to the end of the third book.  Every trilogy is like this. The culprit is obvious, but the boys have no clue.

The trilogy is overall good, and once again, I am being generous.

The cover art for all of the trilogies is lame. The boys look so uninterested, which is fitting since the plots are boring.  The boys are extremely stupid in the books, and they look appropriately stupid on the covers.  So I could perhaps say that the cover art is excellent, since it captures how awful the series truly is.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Hardy Boys Undercover Brothers #25-27: The Double Danger Trilogy

The Hardy Boys Undercover Brothers Double Danger Trilogy consists of the following titles.

#25 Double Trouble
#26 Double Down
#27 Double Deception

In #25 Double Trouble, superstar Justin Carraway has a stalker.  Frank and Joe go undercover on the set of Justin's latest film as they try to find out who is stalking Justin.

It doesn't help that Justin is a jerk.  I overall enjoyed this book, but I didn't care for the setting.  The story is boring sabotage.

In #26 Double Down, Justin's twin brother Ryan has disappeared.  Justin is unconcerned, but Frank and Joe find it strange that Ryan has gone on a sudden vacation to a tropical island.

Meanwhile, Justin continues to receive threats, and for some odd reason, Justin is acting different.  In fact, he behaves more responsibly and almost exactly like Ryan.  You know, the missing brother.  Hmm.

Of course, stupid Frank and Joe have no clue what is really going on.  This is where the trilogy began losing me.  I cannot stand it when a plot twist is so extremely obvious to the reader, yet the characters have no idea.

On page 97, Frank and Joe learn some information about Justin and Ryan's father. Frank follows a few links online to find out. This information is supposedly unknown to practically everyone, yet Justin is extremely famous.  There is no way that obsessed fans wouldn't have followed the same links and found out.  Besides, TMZ would have already shared the information.

In #27 Double Deception, Ryan continues to be missing, and Justin continues to behave more like Ryan than himself.  Justin also has some curious memory lapses, where he doesn't know things that Justin should know. Frank and Joe are clueless.

The plot twist with the brothers was apparent from early in the second book.  There are so many clues, and very obvious ones are throughout the third book.  Frank and Joe are oblivious.  It is not until page 141 that they figure out what I knew from early in the second book.

While I read this trilogy, I kept picturing Justin as Justin Bieber.  It just seemed like a logical comparison, all things considered.

The trilogy is overall good, but it is also annoying.  I must say that I am being rather generous in these reviews.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Hardy Boys Undercover Brothers #22-24: The Murder House Trilogy

The Hardy Boys Undercover Brothers Murder House Trilogy consists of the following titles.

#22 Deprivation House
#23 House Arrest
#24 Murder House

In #22 Deprivation House, the contestants to a new reality show, Deprivation House, have received death threats.  Frank and Joe join the cast to uncover who is behind the threats.

Most of the characters are not described well, and some of them have no descriptions at all.  They are introduced too fast, and it's very hard to remember any of them. This greatly took away from my enjoyment of the story.

A film star was murdered in this house.  I already know that this must be important to the entire trilogy even though it is a side note in this book. 

This isn't going to sound nice, but I kept thinking of the author as a hack writer as I read this book.  This book has poor descriptions regarding everything, and the story is not that interesting.

Despite the book's shortcomings, it is a decent book.

In #23 House Arrest, Frank and Joe think they can go home.  The culprit has been caught and is in jail.  But when more threats are made, the boys realize that someone else is sabotaging the show.  This is so shocking!

Actually it isn't.  That's how every single Nancy Drew Girl Detective trilogy plays out.  A culprit is revealed but is not the real culprit.  I knew this series would use the same flawed concept.  Argh!

This book is sabotage, sabotage, and even more sabotage.

Each time a contestant wins a competition, they must choose a privilege to take away from the house.  It's really dumb that Frank takes away the television privilege.  A network movie about the murder that occurred in the house is going to be on television, and the contestants have been looking forward to watching it.  Since stupid Frank takes away television, the boys can't watch the movie and will miss out on clues.  But of course that is what the author wants!

At the end of the book we find the culprit for the warnings and sabotage—at least most of it.  We learn that the culprit isn't responsible for everything.  There's yet another saboteur!

This book is also decent, but it's also kind of boring.

In #24 Murder House, Frank and Joe continue their investigation.

I knew early in the first book that one contestant had to be the daughter of the murdered woman.  The age of the contestants is exactly how old the daughter would now be.  By the end of the first book, I knew that daughter had to be one of two contestants, even though Frank and Joe have no clue that the murder has anything to do with the events in the house.  In the second book, I was almost certain which contestant was the daughter.  This was confirmed at the end of the third book.

This trilogy is unsatisfying because Frank and Joe don't figure out that the daughter is in the house until the last 20 pages of the final book of the trilogy.  Idiots.

This book was written in a bland fashion, and I felt no suspense at all.  I also never cared about any of the characters.  At the end of the final book, I couldn't remember which saboteur did what.  It's very confusing.

This trilogy is not good.

As I reached this point in the Hardy Boys Undercover Brothers series, I began to develop a deep disliking for everything about the series.  That disliking strengthened as I continued to read through the trilogies.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Hardy Boys Undercover Brothers #19 Foul Play, #20 Feeding Frenzy, and #21 Comic Con Artist

In Hardy Boys Undercover Brothers #19 Foul Play, Frank and Joe go undercover as members of Pinnacle College's football team. Pinnacle is to play for the national championship, and it is believed that some of the players are going to throw the game.

On page 37, we learn that Joe played football in school.  In Undercover Brothers #5, Frank and Joe did not play football because Fenton wouldn't let them.

I expected this book to be very boring, since it would be the typical football and gambling conspiracy  story.  It turned out much more interesting than I expected.

Joe plays in the championship game.  The problem is that he is not a student at Pinnacle. Colleges can't have random students from elsewhere playing football, especially in a national championship game.  Nothing is ever mentioned in the book about this being a problem.

This story reads a lot like a Hardy Boys Digest book, so this might have been a Digest book that was revised for this series.

This is an excellent book.

In Hardy Boys Undercover Brothers #20, Feeding Frenzy, a death has occurred in a qualifying round for Football Frank's Super Bowl hot dog eating contest.  Frank and Joe enter the contest as contestants as they investigate the death.

On page 8, we learn Chet is not athletic, that he is a "couch potato."  I guess he has already lost the "two hundred pounds of solid muscle, yo" that he had built up in Murder at the Mall.  What a shame.

The characters are not introduced well in this story, and I didn't care about any of them.  The story is mostly not very interesting until around page 100.

The story gives too much information about hot dog eating contests, like graphic descriptions about how to eat the hot dogs and buns quickly.  There is a medical emergency later in the book that also involves some graphic information I won't repeat.  Ugh.  Boys probably enjoy this information, but I don't.

This book is overall good, except for the gross parts.

In Hardy Boys Undercover Brothers #21, Comic Con Artist, Frank and Joe investigate forgeries of valuable comic book art.

One character makes really nasty statements about how comic books are childish.  I don't like seeing this kind of very negative statement about comic books, since it feeds the stigma against comic books.

On page 101, Frank and Joe interview a professor who has lots of comic book memorabilia in his office.  Joe immediately picks up a statue, which I thought was quite rude.  When the professor grabs the statue from Joe immediately, Joe thinks to himself about how this is "the kind of guy who [doesn't] want you touching his collection." Can you blame him?

I overall enjoyed this book, but I lost interest towards the end.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Hardy Boys Undercover Brothers #16 Bayport Buccaneers, #17 Murder at the Mall, and #18 Pushed

In Hardy Boys #16, Bayport Buccaneers, Frank and Joe participate in a reality show that is set on a pirate ship.  Contestants must complete tasks in order to advance, and valuable prizes will be offered.  A member of the crew died recently, and the boys must find out whether he was murdered.

The book is a retread of Hardy Boys Digest #183 Warehouse Rumble and is similar to #132 Maximum Challenge.  All three books are television show sabotage stories.  For that reason, the book isn't as interesting as it could have been.

The book is overall good, but I got bored towards the end.  I skimmed the last part of the story.


In Hardy Boys Undercover Brothers #17, Murder at the Mall, an environmental group has sent threats to the owner of a local mall. Meanwhile, someone is sabotaging the mall. The mall is losing money, and the owner may decide to sell the mall.  Frank and Joe investigate.

On page 12, we learn that Chet is no longer fat.  He joined a bodybuilding program and has somehow disciplined his eating habits.  Chet now has muscles.  On page 164, Chet pats his stomach and brags, "Two hundred pounds of solid muscle, yo."

Chet is so strong that he is able to hold onto the rear bumper of a car to keep it from moving forward while the accelerator is jammed down.  Say what?!

This is a very good book that keeps the reader guessing.

In Hardy Boys Undercover Brothers #18, Pushed, Frank and Joe go undercover as runaways in New York City.  The boys stay at a shelter for runaways.  A boy who recently stayed at the shelter may have been murdered.

I wasn't surprised about the culprit, since I figured that person had to be the one from the very beginning of the book.  However, I didn't figure out the motive until much later in the book.  I was shocked as I realized how ruthless this person is, committing crimes that go far beyond what Frank and Joe originally thought.

This is an excellent book.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Hardy Boys Undercover Brothers #13 Mummy's Curse, #14 Hazed, and #15 Death and Diamonds

In Hardy Boys Undercover Brothers #13, The Mummy's Curse, a man found a map to a hidden tomb that contains a golden mummy.  The man was killed for the map, but he had given the map to his girlfriend, television star Sam Chilton, who plans to find the mummy.  Frank and Joe join Sam's expedition.

The beginning chapters are stupid.  The explanatory information concerning the mission is much longer than usual and bored me.  I couldn't stand Sam at the beginning of the book.  She is depicted as an extreme airhead.  I came very close to abandoning the book within the first 50 pages.  I forced myself to keep going.  Once the expedition begins, the story is much better.  Oddly, Sam quits being an airhead, which makes no sense at all.


The first part of the book is not good, and the rest of the book is very good.

In Hardy Boys Undercover Brothers #14, Hazed, Frank and Joe go undercover at Eagle River Academy.  A boy named Roy died recently, supposedly of a heart attack, but ATAC believes that he may have died as a result of hazing.  Frank and Joe allow themselves to be hazed in order to pick up clues.

We learn near the end of the story that Roy died from poisoning.  I find it very hard to believe that an autopsy would not have found the poison in Roy's body and that a heart attack would have been blamed.

This is an excellent book.

I realized near of the end of Hazed that the Undercover Brothers books don't have the boring question and answer session at the end.  That was a staple of the original 58.  It was used less often in the Digests, but still too often for my taste, since I almost always find it boring. 

In Hardy Boys Undercover Brothers #15, Death and Diamonds, an auction of valuable diamonds is taking place in Bayport.  Frank and Joe must serve as personal bodyguards to the two supermodels who will be wearing the jewelry.  Meanwhile, they must help thwart underworld characters from stealing the diamonds.

I enjoyed this book.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Finding My Blog Reviews

Many of you are completely unaware of how many series books I have already reviewed in this blog.  I have already done the following.

Adventurous Allens
Biff Brewster
Billie Bradley
Brad Forrest
Brains Benton
Bret King
Cherry Ames
Hardy Boys #1-190
Hardy Boys Undercover Brothers (in progress)
Hardy Boys Adventures (coming soon)
Jenny Dean (coming soon)
Ken Holt
Lance Todd
Linda Carlton
Mill Creek Irregulars
Nancy Drew #1-175
Nancy Drew Girl Detective
Nancy Drew Diaries
Phyllis Whitney
Power Boys
Rick Brant
Roger Baxter
Sandy Steele
Secret Circle Mysteries
Three Investigators
Tom Quest
Troy Nesbit
Wynn and Lonny (coming soon)

I have also partially reviewed many other series.  So, how can you find the reviews? It's quite simple.  Blogger has something called "labels."  For each post, I use one label. My label for my reviews of Nancy Drew #1-56 is "Nancy Drew Reviews."  My label for my Nancy Drew Girl Detective reviews is "Nancy Drew Girl Detective Reviews."

To find the labels, scroll down the right side of any page in the blog.  Click on the label that interests you.  For labels that have many posts, I have also discovered that many of you are unaware of how to find the older posts.  For instance, when the "Nancy Drew Reviews" label is selected, the review for #56 shows at the top of the page, and the last review at the bottom is for #38.  But that's not all of them.

In the lower right underneath the review for #38 is a link titled "Older Posts."


I highlighted the link in the above image.  That link can be selected to find the reviews for Nancy Drew #1-37.

I use labels correctly, unlike many bloggers.  First, let's distinguish between tags, labels, and categories.  In Word Press, blog authors use both tags and categories.  The tags are for search engine optimization.  The categories are used to organize posts so that readers can find them.

In Blogger, which is what I use, we only have labels.  Unfortunately, many Blogger users think labels are for search engine optimization, so they place a bunch of labels on each post, labels that don't help the reader find anything.  Instead, the blog writer should use one label per post.

Rather than use an actual blog, I am going to make up an example.  Let's say that a blog writer has published a review of the revised text of Nancy Drew #18, Mystery of the Moss-Covered Mansion.  An incorrect use of labels would be to use words and phrases like "exploding oranges," "NASA," and "Florida."  Remember, labels are for locating posts.  Nobody will try to find all Nancy Drew posts that mention "exploding oranges," especially since only one post will mention them!

When I was reading the Hardy Boys Digests, I wanted to read reviews of each title.  I found a blog that has some reviews, but that blog publishes infrequently and not in order by title.  This wouldn't have been a problem if the blog used the labels properly. The blog is hosted by Blogger, but the blog owner uses the labels for keyword spamming.  I cannot figure out which books this person has reviewed without scrolling through the entire blog.  I am not going to bother trying to find the reviews.  The blog has lost my views since the labels are no help at all.

The last time I brought up this topic, I was told that I was wrong.  Here are some articles that explain that the labels are to be used to organize content by category, not for search engine optimization or for keyword spamming.

What Exactly Are Blog Labels or Categories?
What are labels and how to use labels in Blogger to sort your content?

There are numerous other articles that say the same thing about the proper use of the labels for blogs.  If you have any kind of blog, I strongly encourage you to change the labels into categories instead of random keywords.  I don't read blogs very often, because most that interest me cannot be navigated.

This blog now has 1,267 posts.  Nobody would be able to find anything if I had random keywords as my labels.  The blog would be a chaotic mess.

My goal is to make it easy for you to find what you want to read.  I took the same approach when I created my website, Series Books for Girls.  I tried to avoid the issues that plague many sites.  Several major series book websites have an unclear hierarchy, and I have to use Google to find where certain information is located.  It shouldn't be that hard.  I tried to create an obvious hierarchy.  As a precaution, I also created a site map so that readers could find every page on the site regardless of whether my hierarchy makes sense to them.  Many sites don't have a site map.

The bottom line is that websites and blogs must make information easy for readers to find.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Hardy Boys Undercover Brothers #10 Blown Away, #11 Hurricane Joe, and #12 Trouble in Paradise

In Hardy Boys Undercover Brothers #10, Blown Away, two high-profile events are taking place at the Billington Resort:  a car auction and a celebrity wedding.  Someone has threatened to blow up the resort.  The man who is getting married and the man running the auction both hate each other, making them primary suspects.  Frank and Joe are tasked with finding the bomb before it detonates.

Several scenes are confusing as to which boy is narrating.  This author had a bad habit of using the pronoun "he" for the brother not narrating, and I kept forgetting which boy was the narrator.

This book is just average.  I overall enjoyed it, but it's not memorable.

In Hardy Boys Undercover Brothers #11, Hurricane Joe, a local weather network has sent out hurricane warnings that turn out to be fake.  During the false hurricane warnings, houses get burglarized. 

This book was published in 2006.  The premise is a great idea, but it would have been more logical for the early part of the 20th century.  I find it really hard to believe that an entire town evacuates when the sky is blue with the sun shining and only one station predicting a hurricane.  In 2006, there was something called the Internet, and it seems that some people would have figured out that the warnings were fake. 

On page 120, we learn that Aunt Trudy's name is actually Gertrude, like we didn't already know.  On page 168, we learn why Trudy doesn't let anyone call her Gertrude.  It's because of Hurricane Gertrude and all the jokes that Trudy (er, Gertrude) received afterwards. 

Frank and Joe tease each other way too much in this book.  It's annoying.

This book is okay, but the story is too hard to believe.  It is a weak story.

In Hardy Boys Undercover Brothers #12, Trouble in Paradise, the son of Don Ricardo, the UN Ambassador from the island of St. John, has disappeared.  Frank and Joe are sent to the Caribbean island to find him.

This story interested me enough that I read it, but it is just okay and not memorable.

Obviously, these books are all lacking.  The Hardy Boys Undercover Brothers series started off in a fashion that was interesting, albeit highly flawed, but at this point, the series begins going downhill fast.  The scary part is that these books are still early in the series.  Ugh.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Hardy Boys Undercover Brothers #7 Operation: Survival, #8 Top Ten Ways to Die, and #9 Martial Law

In Hardy Boys Undercover Brothers #7, Operation: Survival, Frank and Joe investigate a camp for teens who have gotten into trouble with the law.  Two people have died at two different camps, and ATAC suspects that the man in charge of the camps is responsible.  Frank and Joe enter the camp pretending to be teens who have been arrested.

Nancy Drew is mentioned on page 100, which is interesting since the Hardy Boys are never mentioned in the Nancy Drew Girl Detective series.

I had trouble telling the other teen characters apart.  They are introduced way too fast with very little information.

I greatly enjoyed this book.  The story has a twist at the end that I did not expect.

In Hardy Boys Undercover Brothers #8, Top Ten Ways to Die, Frank and Joe investigate who is trying to murder rock star Vee Sharp.  They join the crew of Vee Sharp's music video in order to investigate undercover.

This is yet another rock star sabotage plot.  I usually don't like these very much.  I enjoyed this book more than I usually do this type of plot. 

In Hardy Boys Undercover Brothers #9, Martial Law, Frank and Joe sign on as students at the Rising Phoenix Martial Arts Center.  Two Rising Phoenix students were attacked and nearly killed, and ATAC wants Frank and Joe to find out whether there is a connection between the attacks.

The center only takes boys who are small and wimpy.  Somehow Frank and Joe get in, even though they don't meet the criteria.  Frank and Joe are amazed at how large the students at the center become after being there for a number of months.  Hmm...

On page 86, Frank and Joe find out that the owner has lots of pills in unmarked pill bottles.  Hmm...  I knew immediately that the pills have to be steroids.  Foolish Frank and Joe don't make the connection until later in the book.

This book is okay, but I never found it very interesting.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Hardy Boys Undercover Brothers #4 Thrill Ride, #5 Rocky Road, and #6 Burned

In Hardy Boys Undercover Brothers #4, Thrill Ride, Frank and Joe investigate a death and sabotage at Uncle Bernie's Fun Park.  A woman was recently killed on the roller coaster, and it is suspected that the death was not an accident.

This sabotage plot is interesting.

In each book, Fenton worries about Frank and Joe.  Fenton is the one who got the boys into ATAC, so his worry is not logical.  Fenton acts like a mother hen, and this is disconcerting, since Fenton never behaved like that in any of Hardy Boys #1-190.  I find Fenton's excessive worrying to be obnoxious.  So do Frank and Joe.

I really enjoyed this book.

In Hardy Boys Undercover Brothers #5, Rocky Road, Frank and Joe are sent on several bogus ATAC missions while vandalism occurs back in Bayport.  The boys soon suspect the Bayport ATAC agent of being in league with the vandals.

On page 70, we learn that Frank and Joe have never played football, which is a change from the original series.

Callie and Iola appear in this book, and they don't drive yet.  Chet just got his license.  This means that Chet is probably 16, and the girls are probably 15.

It's odd that Frank isn't nervous around Callie and Iola, since he is petrified around all other girls. It's also odd that Callie is present, and this is her only appearance in the Undercover Brothers series.  For those two reasons, I believe that this book was originally intended to be a Hardy Boys Digest book that was instead used in this series.

This is an excellent book.

In Hardy Boys Undercover Brothers #6, Burned, Frank and Joe must find the mastermind who is bootlegging CDs in Bayport.

This book was published in 2005.  I am pretty sure that by 2005 CDs were already into a steep decline.  For that reason, I had trouble getting into this book.  In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if this book had originally been written as a Digest book and was adapted for this series.  It would have been more logical for this book to have been published several years before it was.  The story parallels one of the Digest books set at Bayport High School, and I have a feeling that the plot was created around that time.

I didn't find this book to be that interesting.  I never cared about the identity of the culprit.  Normally, I do.  This book is weak.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Hardy Boys Undercover Brothers #1 Extreme Danger, #2 Running on Fumes, and #3 Boardwalk Bust

The Hardy Boys Undercover Brothers series is a modern interpretation of the Hardy Boys series.  Frank and Joe take turns narrating the story in first person, and they speak in an informal fashion.  Aunt Gertrude is now Aunt Trudy.  Fenton Hardy is a retired police officer who founded the organization ATAC, American Teens Against Crime.  Laura Hardy is a librarian.  Frank and Joe work undercover for ATAC.

Brian Conrad is a bully who does not like Frank and Joe.  Brian's sister Belinda likes Frank, but he is nervous around girls.  Joe loves girls and knows he is very attractive and irresistible.  He can't understand why all the girls like Frank instead.  This is a running gag throughout the series.

Each book begins in the middle of an action scene in which Frank and Joe are wrapping up an ATAC case and are nearly killed.  While these scenes are typically interesting, they annoy me since they have nothing to do with the rest of the book.  I want to get into the story that I am about to read.

In Hardy Boys Undercover Brothers #1 Extreme Danger, ATAC has assigned Frank and Joe to discover who is sabotaging the Big Air Games.

I began reading this book in this series immediately after finishing #190 in the Digest series.  As I experienced with the Nancy Drew Girl Detective series, it was hard at first getting used to the different tone.  I had the same thoughts I had when I began the first Girl Detective book, feeling that the experience was jarring.  This book has lots of humor, and I was thoroughly engaged once I read the first few chapters.

On page 23, an ATAC agent throws a brick through the Hardys' window in order to give them their next mission.  This method of delivery seems a bit dangerous to me.

Even though this story is typical sabotage, the text is written in such an interesting fashion that I really enjoyed the story.

In Hardy Boys Undercover Brothers #2, Running on Fumes, Frank and Joe latest mission is to investigate Arthur Stench's compound, which is located in the California desert.  Stench is suspected of using violence to further his environmentalist cause.

I found the narration shift between Frank and Joe to be distracting in this book.

This book is weak.  The true motive of the wacky environmentalist Stench is surprising, but it is also not logical at all.

In Hardy Boys Undercover Brothers #3, Boardwalk Bust, Frank and Joe investigate a series of jewelry store heists in Ocean Point, New Jersey.

Each Undercover Brothers book gives a suspect profile in each book that adds descriptive information which makes characters easier to remember

The change in narration doesn't bother me much in this book.

Some plot twists are interesting and funny, like jewelry found on the beach.

This is an excellent book, with the following caveat that I hope readers will keep in mind as my reviews are published.  If I report that an Undercover Brothers book is excellent, then it is understood that the book is excellent for those who can appreciate and enjoy the first person narrative and informal tone of the Undercover Brothers series.  I can, so this book is excellent to me.  Some readers will hate all of these books no matter what.

Friday, August 5, 2016

The Hardy Boys Digest Series Overview

The Hardy Boys Digest series consists of #59 through #190 and is a continuation of the original Hardy Boys series, which consists of  #1 through #58.  My interest in reading the books came from my desire to see how they compare to the Nancy Drew Digest series.  In this post about the Nancy Drew Digest series, I wrote what I thought of the Nancy Drew Digest series.  Now I will do the same for the Hardy Boys series.

#59-84

    59. Night of the Werewolf - excellent
    60. Mystery of the Samurai Sword - good
    61. The Pentagon Spy - good
    62. The Apeman's Secret - good
    63. The Mummy Case - not good
    64. Mystery of Smugglers Cove - excellent
    65. The Stone Idol - not good
    66. The Vanishing Thieves - very good
    67. The Outlaw's Silver - good
    68. The Submarine Caper/Deadly Chase - not good
    69. The Four-Headed Dragon - excellent
    70. The Infinity Clue - very good
    71. Track of the Zombie - very good
    72. The Voodoo Plot - very good
    73. The Billion Dollar Ransom - good
    74. Tic-Tac-Terror - good
    75. Trapped at Sea - good
    76. Game Plan for Disaster - good
    77. The Crimson Flame - good
    78. Cave-In - excellent
    79. Sky Sabotage - good
    80. The Roaring River Mystery - not good
    81. The Demon's Den - very good
    82. The Blackwing Puzzle  - not good
    83. The Swamp Monster - good
    84. Revenge of the Desert Phantom - excellent

I already wrote that I was favorably impressed with the Hardy Boys Wanderer books.  In fact, I consider the Hardy Boys Wanderer books to be much better than their Nancy Drew counterparts, #57-78 in the Nancy Drew series.  This is because the Hardy Boys series retained some of the authors of the original 58 for this portion of the series.  The Nancy Drew series changed to completely different authors due to the passing of Harriet Adams, and quality and continuity suffered as a result.

#85-108

From here on I note which books feature sabotage, which is a theme that is used way too much by Simon and Schuster.

    85. The Skyfire Puzzle -  sabotage, excellent
    86. The Mystery of the Silver Star - sabotage, very good
    87. Program for Destruction - sabotage, excellent
    88. Tricky Business - very good
    89. The Sky Blue Frame - excellent
    90. Danger on the Diamond - sabotage, very good
    91. Shield of Fear - not good
    92. The Shadow Killers - not good
    93. The Serpent's Tooth Mystery - excellent
    94. Breakdown in Axeblade - excellent
    95. Danger On The Air - sabotage, excellent
    96. Wipeout - sabotage, good
    97. Cast of Criminals - sabotage, excellent
    98. Spark of Suspicion - sabotage, good
    99. Dungeon of Doom - good
  100. The Secret of the Island Treasure - very good
  101. The Money Hunt - good
  102. Terminal Shock - good
  103. The Million-Dollar Nightmare - not good
  104. Tricks of the Trade - very good
  105. The Smoke Screen Mystery - very good
  106. Attack of the Video Villains - very good
  107. Panic on Gull Island - not good
  108. Fear on Wheels - sabotage, not good

These are the early books created by Simon and Schuster, and they correspond to Nancy Drew #79-101.  Like with Nancy Drew, this is a good group of books.  Some of them are quite creative while others fall into the boring sabotage plot.  I'd say that overall these are about equally good as the corresponding Nancy Drew books.

#109-135

  109. The Prime-Time Crime - good
  110. The Secret of Sigma Seven - not good
  111. Three-Ring Terror - sabotage, not good
  112. The Demolition Mission - sabotage, very good
  113. Radical Moves - sabotage, good
  114. The Case of the Counterfeit Criminals - excellent
  115. Sabotage at Sports City - sabotage, very good
  116. Rock 'n' Roll Renegades - very good
  117. The Baseball Card Conspiracy - not good
  118. Danger in the Fourth Dimension - excellent
  119. Trouble at Coyote Canyon - sabotage, excellent
  120. The Case of the Cosmic Kidnapping - excellent
  121. The Mystery in the Old Mine - very good
  122. Carnival of Crime - sabotage, good
  123. The Robot's Revenge - sabotage, good
  124. Mystery with a Dangerous Beat - sabotage, good
  125. Mystery on Makatunk Island - sabotage, good
  126. Racing to Disaster - sabotage, not good
  127. Reel Thrills - sabotage, good
  128. Day of the Dinosaur - excellent
  129. The Treasure at Dolphin Bay - very good
  130. Sidetracked to Danger - not good
  131. Crusade of the Flaming Sword - sabotage, not good
  132. Maximum Challenge - very good
  133. Crime in the Kennel - very good
  134. Cross-Country Crime - excellent
  135. The Hypersonic Secret - excellent

The Nancy Drew books that correspond to this group are #102-127.  15 of those 26 books use sabotage.  12 of these 27 Hardy Boys books use sabotage, which is slightly less than the Nancy Drew series.  In both series, the sabotage is repetitive and gets old.

#136-150

  136. The Cold Cash Caper - not good
  137. High-Speed Showdown - sabotage, not good
  138. The Alaskan Adventure - excellent
  139. The Search for the Snow Leopard - very good
  140. Slam Dunk Sabotage - sabotage, very good
  141. The Desert Thieves - good
  142. Lost in Gator Swamp - not good
  143. The Giant Rat of Sumatra - sabotage, good
  144. The Secret of Skeleton Reef - excellent
  145. Terror at High Tide - sabotage, not good
  146. The Mark of the Blue Tattoo - good
  147. Trial and Terror - good
  148. The Ice-Cold Case - excellent
  149. The Chase for the Mystery Twister - good
  150. The Crisscross Crime - very good

Just like with the corresponding Nancy Drew books, the series partially moves away from sabotage and has more varied plots, which are more interesting for the most part.  Also in this group, the publisher reused some words from the titles of the original 58 books for the titles of these books.

#151-190

  151. The Rocky Road to Revenge - excellent
  152. Danger in the Extreme - sabotage, not good
  153. Eye on Crime - not good
  154. The Caribbean Cruise Caper - sabotage, good
  155. The Hunt for the Four Brothers - not good
  156. A Will to Survive - very good
  157. The Lure of the Italian Treasure - good
  158. The London Deception - sabotage, very good
  159. Daredevils - sabotage, very good
  160. A Game Called Chaos - excellent
  161. Training for Trouble - sabotage, very good
  162. The End of the Trail - excellent
  163. The Spy that Never Lies - very good
  164. Skin & Bones - very good
  165. Crime in the Cards - very good
  166. Past And Present Danger - excellent
  167. Trouble Times Two - good
  168. The Castle Conundrum - sabotage, excellent
  169. Ghost of a Chance - sabotage, not good
  170. Kickoff to Danger - excellent
  171. The Test Case - excellent
  172. Trouble in Warp Space - sabotage, not good
  173. Speed Times Five - sabotage, very good
  174. Hide-and-Sneak - sabotage, not good
  175. Trick-or-Trouble - sabotage, not good
  176. In Plane Sight - sabotage, very good
  177. The Case of the Psychic's Vision - very good
  178. The Mystery of the Black Rhino - not good
  179. Passport to Danger - sabotage, not good
  180. Typhoon Island - sabotage, very good
  181. Double Jeopardy - sabotage, not good
  182. The Secret of the Soldier's Gold - very good
  183. Warehouse Rumble - sabotage, not good
  184. The Dangerous Transmission - not good
  185. Wreck and Roll - sabotage, not good
  186. Hidden Mountain - excellent
  187. No Way Out - good
  188. Farming Fear - sabotage, very good
  189. One False Step - very good
  190. Motocross Madness - sabotage, not good

Like in the Nancy Drew series, continuity errors appear at times, particularly noticeable with respect to the boys' boat, The Sleuth.  I feel like the inconsistencies are less noticeable in this series than in the Nancy Drew series, although my perception may be flawed since I am more knowledgeable about Nancy Drew and have read those books multiple times.  The final Nancy Drew Digest books have serious continuity problems, like Nancy's age changing back and forth between 17 and 18 and Ned suddenly becoming blond for the only time in the publishing history of Nancy Drew.  I do not notice those kinds of problems in the final Hardy Boys Digest books.

The overuse of sabotage is problematic in both the Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys series.  Simon and Schuster must have a list of sabotage plots that they alternate between.  Here are the main types.

museum sabotage
fundraiser sabotage
sports sabotage
television show/movie sabotage
music group/rock star sabotage
business sabotage

I may have left out a few, but those are the main ones that come to mind.

Thanks to the Hardy Boys series, I now absolutely hate sports sabotage.  Sports sabotage involves excessive detail in describing every stage of a sporting event, which always results in sabotage.  The book then describes a second, third, and fourth event in the competition with the same excessive detail, and each one ends in sabotage.  It is so extremely boring!  I marked most of the sports sabotage books as "not good" in my list.

Since the books were written for boys, I assume that male readers enjoy that kind of book more than I do. I get nothing from excessive description of a sporting event that results in sabotage.  I would almost rather eat dirt than read about that.  Almost.

The question is, did Simon and Schuster do better with the Nancy Drew Digest series or the Hardy Boys Digest series?

Nancy Drew

Out of 119 books:

Not good - 35 books or 29.4%
Good - 32 books or 26.9%
Very good - 38 books or 31.9%
Excellent - 14 books or 11.8%

Overall - 43.7% very good or excellent
        Hardy Boys

        Out of 132 books:

        Not good - 34 books or 25.8%
        Good - 32 books or 24.2%
        Very Good - 36 books or 27.3%
        Excellent - 30 books or 22.7%

        Overall - 50% very good or excellent

It looks like I overall enjoyed the Hardy Boys Digest series more than I did the Nancy Drew Digest series.  It's not enough of a difference, however, to be significant.  More significant is that I rated 30 Hardy Boys books as excellent and only 14 Nancy Drew books as excellent.  It's important to note that Nancy Drew is my very favorite series.

What makes the difference is that the Hardy Boys are allowed more interesting experiences than Nancy Drew.  The Hardy Boys can be volunteer firefighters or police recruits, and Nancy Drew is never allowed to partake in those kinds of activities.  Simon and Schuster's creative staff has allowed Nancy Drew's gender to hold her back.

That aside, the Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys series are about equally good.  Some readers say that the Hardy Boys series is more of an adventure series than a mystery series, which is why they prefer Nancy Drew.  I don't really agree with that assessment.  The Hardy Boys series is a mystery series, but the difference is the amount of action.  The Hardy Boys plots involve physical action as they try to apprehend criminals.  For obvious reasons, Nancy Drew doesn't do that.  The action scenes in the Hardy Boys books, which involve lots of running, punching, and kicking, can last for three to five pages and are boring, at least to me.  I skimmed most of those scenes.

The fight scenes with the culprits always play out in one of two ways.  If the fight scene is in the middle of the book, the culprit gets away.  If the fight scene is at the end of the book, the culprit is apprehended.  See?  There's no reason to read the fight scenes unless you love reading about fighting.

To me, the difference between Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys is mainly that the Hardy Boys get into rough fights with the culprits.  They also get to do more exciting activities, since they are boys. 

I overall greatly enjoyed my reading of the Hardy Boys Digest series.  I had less trouble getting through the Hardy Boys Digest books than I did the original 58.  Yes, I do mean that.  I struggled through parts of the original 58 books.  As strange as it might sound, I overall prefer the Hardy Boys Digest books.  This is should not be a surprise, since all along, my opinions have been different from the majority of Hardy Boys enthusiasts.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Three Months on Etsy and Experimenting with Discounts

I am approaching three months on Etsy.  I have sold 54 books in three months.  That is equal to the number of books I sold on Bonanza in my last five months on that site.  So, my Etsy sales are a little better than my Bonanza sales were at the end.  Of course, my Etsy sales are nowhere near what my Bonanza sales were in 2009 through 2013, but those days are long gone.

I still have quite a few of my original Etsy listings from May 7, which all came from Bonanza.  Those listings have one more month before they expire, and then I will have to relist them.  I lowered the prices of all of those listings a few days ago, hoping to get a few of them to sell.  The prices were lowered by $1 to $3 for the items priced low. Two more expensive items were reduced by $10.

I feel much better about my presence on Etsy than I did about my Bonanza booth from 2014 through early 2016.  I do have better traffic on Etsy.  The traffic is still quite low as compared to eBay, but I do get about three times more traffic each day on Etsy than I did on Bonanza.  The traffic on Etsy is actually more than three times better, since most of my Bonanza traffic was to completed listings.  And those shouldn't count, yet Bonanza keeps them in the daily stats.  At least my Etsy traffic is to listings that are currently available.

I decided that I should finally experiment with coupons once again.  I just created an 10% off coupon on Etsy with a minimum purchase of $20.  I put an announcement on my Etsy shop page with the coupon code, and the code should be entered during checkout.  I do not have an expiration on this offer and will leave it in place so long as I feel it is worthwhile.

Jennifer's Series Books on Etsy

I also have an eBay store.

Jennifer's Series Books on eBay

I decided to experiment with a discount on eBay.  On eBay, the discount is 5% off with a minimum purchase of $35.  My fees are much higher on eBay, and that's why the discount is lower.  The eBay discount expires on August 31, 2016 at 23:59 eBay time. After the end of the month, I will decide whether the discount was worthwhile and whether I wish to create another one.

I find that many buyers on eBay pay for each listing individually when multiple items are purchased.  It's actually better for both of us when buyers pay for items all at once. You can do this in one of two ways.

If you are worried about someone buying an item before you decide which others you wish to purchase, complete the Buy It Now on the first item, but do not follow the link to pay.  You do not have to pay the moment you complete the Buy It Now.  You can then purchase other items in individual Buy It Nows.  Once all items have been purchased, click on one item to pay, and all others will be grouped with it.  You get a postage discount when you pay for all items together.  The rate is $3.95 for the first book and $0.60 for each additional book.

The other method that you might find easier is simply to place all items in your eBay shopping cart.  Once all items are there, you can complete checkout.  eBay will figure the postage at $3.95 for the first book and $0.60 for each additional book.

Buyers who pay individually end up paying $3.95 postage on every single item.  I do refund the extra cost and ship in one package, but it does take more time.  I have to make sure each item does have the same destination address, and I also have to make sure I remember to send the refund.  Therefore, I prefer that all items are paid for in one transaction so that I do not have to check addresses and send a refund.

Now that I have an active discount on eBay with a minimum purchase of $35, buyers have an additional money-saving reason to send just one payment.  You won't get a discount for a $35 purchase if you send multiple payments for different items purchased.  While I will refund the extra postage charged, I'm not going to send a manual discount of the 5% savings to those buyers.  To get the discount, you have to make one payment, thereby fulfilling the requirements of the offer.

In both stores, I sell Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys, Trixie Belden, Rick Brant, Dana Girls, and many other series books.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Hardy Boys #188 Farming Fear, #189 One False Step, and #190 Motocross Madness

In Hardy Boys #188, Farming Fear, Chet and Iola are worried about their grandparents, who live out on the old family farm.  Strange accidents have happened, and someone is trying to force the Mortons to sell the farm.  Frank, Joe, Chet, and Iola spend their winter holidays on the farm in order to help the Mortons.

This book is about sabotage, but it's an interesting sabotage book.  I liked the story being set on the Morton farm.

Since I read this story immediately after reading #186 Hidden Mountain, I couldn't help comparing it to that book.  Hidden Mountain is outstanding, and this book does fall short of that.  However, this book is very good, and I greatly enjoyed it.

In Hardy Boys #189, One False Step, Frank, Joe, and their friends attend Aerocirque in Philadelphia.  In Aerocirque, tightropes are strung between helicopters, and acrobats walk the tightropes as the helicopters fly through the air.  Meanwhile, burglaries of high-rise apartments occur, and the thieves did not enter through the front door.  Frank and Joe soon begin to suspect a connection to Aerocirque.

In the early part of the story, the high-rise burglaries are considered a very puzzling mystery.  The front cover of the book reveals the solution to the mystery.

This book has a very similar premise to #132 Maximum Challenge, but it is a fresh take on the crime.

The last part of the story with Frank, Joe, and the tightrope is not believable at all, and that is my main problem with the story.  The events are as hard and maybe harder to believe than the climax of Nancy Drew #84, The Joker's Revenge.

I enjoyed this book.

In Hardy Boys #190, Motocross Madness, Frank, Joe, and Jamal participate in a motorcycle competition, which is being sabotaged.  What else is new?

On page 26, Aunt Gertrude worries about the boys joining the competition, and Frank comforts her.
"Joe and I have been riding motorcycles for years," he said.  "Our dad rode before us, and our grandparents before him.  I remember reading an account of Hardys riding cycles as long ago as nineteen twenty-seven."  
On page 40, Joe gets reflective.
"Remember that time we rode down Bay Road to that house by the cliffs? ...Sometimes I feel like we've been solving mysteries for the better part of a century."
It's nice that the author inserted these references to the past Hardy Boys books in this final volume of the Hardy Boys series.  Unfortunately, the final Nancy Drew book did not do anything like that.

This story has too much detail explaining the races.  The "sports sabotage" plays out as usual.  The first race begins, and sabotage occurs.  The second race begins, and more sabotage occurs.  It's as boring as always.

I skimmed the second half of the book.  This book is not very interesting, but at least it's not as stupid as the final entry in the Nancy Drew series, Werewolf in a Winter Wonderland.