Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Loss of Enthusiasm for Facebook and Online Interaction

I have lost much of my enthusiasm for the Facebook series book groups, for my own Facebook page, and even for this blog.  This is because of people who tease, ask overly inquisitive questions, fail to read carefully, make assumptions, make thinly concealed catty comments, bait others with controversial topics, fail to follow group rules, and so on.  The examples given in this post concern specific situations that have involved me and do not cover all situations that I have witnessed.

Normally, I don't allow this behavior to bother me, but I have been especially busy and tired for most of the last year, which has weakened my emotional strength.   I will regain my enthusiasm at some point, but for now, I have a low tolerance for much of the behavior that I see online.  This has caused me not to post as much specific information on my Facebook page, Jennifer's Series Books, so that I can avoid seeing comments that might bother me.  I also do not find the series book groups on Facebook to be as much fun as they once were, and for the reasons I have already mentioned.

Last year, I was making regular updates about my reading progress on my Facebook page.  I had set a goal to read 300 books.  After several comments that expressed utter disbelief or that asked how on earth it was possible to read that much, I began to feel like I was viewed as abnormal.  I know that nothing is wrong with me, but I can't help how I feel sometimes after reading some of the comments.  So I quit updating my 2016 progress for the most part.  I have only given one update for 2017, which was my total for January.  Since then, I have not revealed how many books I have read, because I no longer enjoy sharing that information.

I have been getting an increasing number of comments about how much room my books must take up, and I'll confess that the tone of some of them has bothered me. Some people apparently think my house is full of books and nothing else, and they crack jokes about how many shelves I must have.  I don't like being teased.

Let's clear something up.  Yes, I have around 6,000 books in my collection.  I probably own an additional 2,000 books.  They are in three rooms, not everywhere.  Series books are small books.  They are not textbooks, and they are not huge.  They don't take up much space.  Many of my books are softcover, which take up even less space. Most of the books are double-shelved.  It's amazing how many books can be placed on one shelf.

Some of you must be under the impression that I keep everything I read forever. Actually, I sell books after I read them if I don't like them enough to want to read them again.  I built a set of Phyllis Whitney books in 2015, since other collectors find her books to be excellent.  I overall enjoyed them, but not enough to want to read any of them ever again.  I put the books up for sale, and most of them are now gone.

I sold my set of Hardy Boys Undercover Brothers books.  They are gone, freeing that shelf space for more recent arrivals.  My Nancy Drew On Campus set is currently up for sale, and I'm sure it will be gone before too long.

I got rid of all of my duplicate Ruth Fielding, Betty Gordon, and Billie Bradley books, keeping just one of each title.  I have sold my Whitman movie star books.  (By the way, some of you may have just read the first sentence in this paragraph and thought that I sold all of my books from those series.  I find most people skim everything online and miss the real meaning.  It's so frustrating, and I wonder why I bother to write anything!)

The pace at which my collection is growing is less than what others assume.  I get rid of lots of books, and I do it all the time.  I shouldn't have to explain this.  That I sell books should make it apparent that I don't keep everything.

Let's cover some assumptions.  I was organizing my books and published a photo. The following photo is not the exact photo, but it was of this portion of my shelves.

Someone assumed that I only collect hardcover books because only hardcover books are in the photo.  Never did I say that the photo was of all of my books, yet someone made that assumption.

Another time, I photographed some of my Nancy Drew Wanderer hardcover editions.

Someone immediately asked if they could purchase some of the books and wanted to know how much they would cost.  They just knew (or so they thought) that I had to be selling some of them since the library stickers are still present on some of them and that there is no way that I would have left the library stickers on books that I am keeping.

Actually, some of the library stickers are underneath the laminate and cannot be removed.  Second, on the day that a book arrives, I may not feel like spending five to ten minutes picking away at a library sticker that is affixed to the book with monster adhesive.  Some library stickers are almost impossible to remove, so I leave them instead of struggling with them.

I have never been in the habit of showcasing books that I plan to sell.  This is because those books are shelved in a disorganized fashion.  I also think it is far more interesting to showcase my collection than showcase a bunch of random books.  But for whatever reason, people will make their assumptions.

Over a year ago I happened to read four different series books in the same month that had the same very specific theme.  It was purely coincidental and rather unlikely that it would ever happen randomly.  I photographed the four books and put the photo on my Facebook page.  Someone immediately commented that I forgot one and mentioned another series book with that theme.  Never did I say that my photo was of every series book with that theme.  I stated that the photo was of books I had read in the last month. I certainly did not forget one of the books I had read in the last month.

I put some books up for sale on Facebook.  I wrote a short statement summarizing what would be seen in photos. Someone apparently barely looked at what I wrote and thought I was selling completely different books.  Let's say that my short statement was "Nancy Drew Picture Covers and Trixie Belden Library Editions."  I was asked to provide photos of the Nancy Drew Library Editions that I had for sale.  I also had a second person shoot off a question at the same time asking about the prices, when I had placed the prices on sticky notes on every book in every photo.

It's a bit disheartening to see how much of what I write is completely misunderstood. Again, I do wonder why I bother.  Facebook has seriously caused me to question my own communication skills.  Each time I get questions or comments like the examples I have given, I have gone back and read what I wrote to try to see if I had caused any of the confusion.

Finally, I grow so weary of rules violations in the Facebook groups. I have stated multiple times that members should never post anything having to do with religion and politics.  I have also stated that altered book covers with religious or political content are never okay.  The reason is simple:  We do not all share the same religious or political beliefs, and those two topics always cause trouble.

So, a political post shows up in one of our Facebook groups at least once every six months.  Most members do not see the posts, since we manage to get each one pulled down within 30 minutes.  The political post is typically a Nancy Drew or Hardy Boys book cover that has been altered by a media organization to include political commentary.  Each time I see one of these posts in a group in which I am a moderator, I feel like I have just been attacked.  I am not kidding.  It causes me great stress when I see one of these posts, because I have to make a decision.

Facebook has become a very nasty place.  The comments on news stories and on personal Facebook walls are horrible, especially concerning politics.  Allowing even the slightest mention of politics to occur in the group opens the door to that nastiness spilling over into the group.  It cannot be permitted.

I become very stressed when I see the post because it always causes trouble regardless of how I react.  Strangely, I am considered at fault when I didn't make the post, but that is how Facebook groups work.  Blame the moderators for everything.

If I were to leave the post, then some people would be angry that I left it.  Leaving the post condones it, and the half of the group that is on the opposite side will be offended. Almost certainly, an unpleasant political discussion will ensue.  Since I can't have that, I have to delete the post, which is what I always do.  The result is that the person who made the post becomes upset because they feel that I should not have deleted their political post, even though the rules have always stated that political posts are forbidden.  Some people have actually left the group after their political post was deleted.

All posts that mention current politicians or that link to videos containing those politicians must be deleted from the groups.  The reason is the same as given above. No matter which side is represented in the post, we can be certain that half of the group's members are on the other side.

I will admit that I have had a few moments in the last year in which I have actually regretted that I ever created any Facebook groups.  If I had known in 2013 what I know now, I might not have ever created a Facebook group.  Running a group is stressful and a great responsibility, which I don't take lightly.  I will protect the group at all cost, even if someone feels wounded that their post disappeared.  It's unfortunate that some series book enthusiasts now dislike me because of my protection of the group.

You can see why I have lost my enthusiasm.

Monday, May 22, 2017

13 More Nancy Drew Digest Hardcover Books Left to Find

In November in my post, "Building a Set of Hardcover Nancy Drew Digest Books," I wrote of my quest to acquire the complete set of Nancy Drew Digest books, #57-175, in hardcover editions.  In November I had acquired 12 more titles to bring the number needed down to just 14 more books.

Today I acquired the lowest-numbered title that I needed, #109 The Mystery of the Masked Rider.  I really appreciate everyone who doesn't check eBay well and lets me get these books when they show up.  There is a reason why I continue to tell people that they should always search eBay everyday.  You never know what might show up.

Now I need just 13 more hardcover Nancy Drew Digest books.

114. The Search for the Silver Persian, 1993
115. The Suspect in the Smoke, 1993
122. The Message in the Haunted Mansion, 1994
123. The Clue on the Silver Screen, 1995
130. The Sign of the Falcon, 1996
145. The Missing Horse Mystery, 1998
148. On the Trail of Trouble, 1999
158. The Curse of the Black Cat, 2001
160. The Clue on the Crystal Dove, 2001
168. The Bike Tour Mystery, 2002
169. The Mistletoe Mystery, 2002
170. No Strings Attached, 2003
175. Werewolf in a Winter Wonderland, 2003

I have been very skeptical of whether I can acquire #175 in a hardcover binding.  The final titles of any series are always harder to find in library bindings.  However, I have recently acquired Hardy Boys #190 in a hardcover library binding, along with some other very high-numbered titles.  #190 was the final Hardy Boys Digest book.

If the final Hardy Boys Digest book exists in hardcover, then I have hope that the final Nancy Drew Digest book also exists in hardcover.

I concluded my November post with the following statement.  "Keeping in mind that this recent transaction is an anomaly, my present acquisition rate of just one or two per year means that I cannot expect my set to be complete for at least another seven years.  I am not sure that I will complete the set, but I am ever hopeful and enjoy the process."

I noted my acquisition rate at "one or two per year."  After that November acquisition, it took six months for me to find the next title that I needed.  More than likely, I will have to wait for around another six months before I find the next one.  

Spooksville #7 The Dark Corner and #8 The Little People

In Spooksville #7, The Dark Corner, Sally tells the others about a boy named Bryce who uses the Secret Path to fight against all of the evil creatures of the world.  Sally finally convinces the others to come to the entrance to the Secret Path where they find Bryce's backpack.  Sally admits that she is worried about Bryce.  Cindy decides to stay behind while the other three enter the Secret Path. Adam, Sally, and Watch find themselves trapped in a horrible place.  Will they ever get home?

The back cover synopsis is completely wrong. It states that Bum told them about a fun place in the Secret Path, so the children enter the path.  Bum has nothing to do with their decision!

This is a very good book.

In Spooksville #8, The Little People, the children go on a picnic in the woods.  Their belongings are stolen by leprechauns. The children find Pan as they search for the leprechauns.  Pan was tricked into gambling away his world to an evil magician and is now stuck on Earth.  The children go with Pan to his world to help him reclaim it.

I enjoyed this book.  However, I enjoy the ones set on Earth with magical creatures more than I do any of the books that are set in other worlds.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Christopher Pike See You Later, Witch, and Whisper of Death

In See You Later, Mark is a successful computer game writer.  He meets Becky, who works at the record store.  He strikes up a friendship with Becky, but Becky has a boyfriend, Ray.  Later, Mark meets Vincent and Kara, who live in a nearby mansion.  While Vincent encourages Mark with his computer games, Kara insists that Mark pursue a relationship with Becky.  Kara deliberately interferes with Becky's relationship to make certain that Mark has a chance with Becky. Why does Kara care so much about whether they get together?

On page 25, we learn that Vincent has an extremely good computer with one megabyte of RAM.  Oh, it's that wonderful technology of the 1990s.  One megabyte.

This is one of those books that did not hold up well for me.  I did not like it as much as I did years ago.  It's still pretty good, however.

In Witch, Julia has the ability to heal others. Julia's mother was a witch.  Her mother warned her never to look into water that has moonlight shining on it.  Unfortunately, Julia accidentally does just that and sees an unpleasant vision of the future, which puts her life in jeopardy.

While I enjoyed this book, I did not like it as much as I once did.

In Whisper of Death, Pepper takes his girlfriend, Roxanne, to a nearby town to have an abortion. During the procedure, the doctor leaves the room and does not return.  Roxanne finally leaves, and she and Pepper are the only people around.

Roxanne and Pepper return to their own town, and the town is empty.  Finally, they find three other teens in town.  The teens realize that they are all connected to a girl who killed herself, and that the girl wrote stories about them.  The teens find the stories and soon realize that the stories are destined to come true.

This book is a lot like current young adult dystopian fiction.  The story is very creepy with the teens being picked off one by one.  I had read this book before, but I couldn't remember anything about it.  My experience ended up being like I was reading the book for the first time.

The book is excellent up until the end, when it quits making sense.  The ending is left open. After I read some reviews and thought about the story some more, I then understood better.  The story does make sense and is actually quite clever.

This is an excellent book.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Spooksville #5 The Cold People and #6 The Witch's Revenge

In Spooksville #5, The Cold People, the four children come across blocks of ice out in the woods in the middle of summer.  Watch decides to thaw one out.  What could possibly  go wrong?  A frozen zombie man comes to life and changes Watch into one of them.  Soon, all of the blocks have been thawed, and Spooksville is overrun by the cold people, who are determined to make everyone just like them.

Spooky!  This story is very similar to a zombie story, even though the cold people are technically not zombies.

On page 97, "Ten minutes after saying goodbye to Adam and Sally, Cindy and Bum began to feel guilty about not doing more to help their friends.  At least Cindy felt guilty. She didn't know if guilt was an emotion Bum allowed himself to experience."

This book is excellent.

In Spooksville #6, The Witch's Revenge, Adam, Watch, Sally, and Cindy decide to visit Ann Templeton in her castle.  Once inside, the four children find necklaces labeled IMMORTALITY, STRENGTH, MATURITY, and BEAUTY.  Each child chooses one necklace and puts it on.  The children find that the necklaces do give them exactly what was promised, but at the same time, they learn that they are now trapped inside the castle. Ann Templeton tells them that this is a test and that they must find their way out on their own.

I greatly enjoyed this story.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Christopher Pike The Remember Me Trilogy

The Remember Me books were published in 1989, 1994, and 1995.  I read Remember Me when it was first published and definitely read it more than once.  I did not recall anything about Remember Me 2 and had no memory of having ever read it.  However, I owned it, so I knew I had read it at least once.  I did not own Remember Me 3, so I never read it.

In Remember Me, Shari Cooper is dead.  Shari tells the reader the story of her death and how she figured out the identity of her killer.

The first half of the book did not hold up well for me.  As I read the book this time, I decided that I would have preferred for the beginning of the book to have been written in a different fashion.  I think that the story would have had greater impact if the reader had not known that Shari was already dead and would have realized that Shari was dead at the same time she realizes it as the story is told.  I mainly felt this way because I had read the book before.

I instinctively knew the killer as I began the story, although I couldn't remember details.  As I read the book, I gradually recalled the motive and other details.

The second half of the book is excellent.

In Remember Me 2: The Return, Jean Rodrigues has a rough life on the wrong side of town.  The future looks grim for Jean, and she doesn't want to continue living.  Meanwhile, a deal is worked out so that Shari Cooper can get a second chance by taking Jean's place in Jean's body.

This book dives deeply into the mystical world, and that part is a bit much.

This is a good book but parts of it are boring.

In Remember Me 3: The Last Story, Shari Cooper continues to live as Jean Rodrigues, but her time is running short.

This book is pretty good, but it does divert from the main plot a number of times in various ways. Some of the diversions are interesting, while others are not.

I partly liked and partly didn't like the ending of the trilogy.  I wish that one scene had ended differently, although I am overall fine with the ending of the story.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Spooksville #3 Haunted Cave and #4 Aliens in the Sky

In Spooksville #3, The Haunted Cave, Watch and Sally tell Adam and Cindy about the Haunted Cave that is located outside Spooksville.  Watch and Sally report that the cave is full of dangerous creatures.  Cindy doesn't believe it, and she insists that they go to the cave to see if anything strange is there.

The children decide that Watch will stay outside the cave while the other three explore. Shortly after Adam, Cindy, and Sally enter the cave, the cave's opening closes, trapping them inside!  The trapped children are forced to explore deep inside the cave in hope of finding a way out.  The cave is full of dangerous creatures.  Meanwhile, Watch tries to get Bum to help him find a way inside the cave.

This book is excellent.

In Spooksville #4, Aliens in the Sky, two flying saucers land by the lake.  Adam and Watch are abducted by the first flying saucer.  Cindy and Sally end up in the second flying saucer. Sally launches a crazy scheme that might just work.  The girls hope to find a way to rescue the boys as both flying saucers race towards an alien planet.

A young alien is able to read minds better than the older aliens, and he states that this is because the younger aliens have less stress.  I found that interesting, and it makes sense.

I did not like this book as much as the others, but it is still good.

Monday, May 8, 2017

One Year on Etsy

It has now been one year since I closed my Bonanza booth and opened my shop on Etsy.  I made that change because my Bonanza booth was no longer getting views.  I tended to have one to three pages viewed per day on Bonanza during my final months there.  The site had died.  Even when I placed links to my booth here, I would get very little response.  There was no point to continuing there, since something was wrong.  I speculated about the possible reasons in this post.

Online selling goes in an endless circle as sites try new policies and then eventually change them back to what they were years before.  I quit using eBay in early 2009 because eBay's policies were hurting my sales.  I had great success on Bonanza (originally Bonanzle) in 2009 through 2011—really smashing success.  My best month ever on Bonanza was November 2011, detailed here.  In 2012, my Bonanza sales began to decline.  I reported a slow month in November 2012, and that was the final month that I reported my Bonanza sales in this blog.  In late 2012, Bonanza pulled out of Google's product search, and soon after, Bonanza placed Amazon affiliate links through its own search results on the Bonanza site.  It's no surprise that sales declined sharply.

In this post, I listed all of my Bonanza fees by month to show the sales decline that occurred on Bonanza during the final years my booth was open.

In 2013, I began selling on eBay again, since eBay had backed out of many of the negative changes that made me leave in 2009.  Just two months ago, I wrote about my growing concerns with some of eBay's latest changes, where they seem to be going back in the wrong direction.  The endless circle continues.

With that background, the purpose of this post is to detail what success I have had on Etsy in the last year.  Etsy helpfully makes it easy for sellers to know how many of their items have sold in the previous year.  eBay hides that information, so I had to go through my feedback left for others and actually count items sold in the last year.  I then had to count the recent items for which I have not left feedback.  I am probably off by a few, since I likely miscounted, but the eBay total should be close enough for this discussion.

I have sold 603 items on eBay and 225 items on Etsy in the last year.  The number of items I had listed on the two sites is also important.  I don't have the exact data, but I can make an educated guess.  I have always had significantly more items listed on eBay.  For most of the year, I had between 250 and 325 items listed on eBay at any given time which averages to roughly 288 items.  On Etsy, my total number of items listed was between 90 and 140, which averages to 115 items.  Neither average is the actual average since I do not have the complete data, but both numbers are good enough to give me an idea of my Etsy success rate as compared to eBay.

My Etsy sales of 225 items is 37.3% of my eBay sales of 603 items.  My average number of Etsy listings of 115 items is 39.9% of my average number of eBay listings of 288 items.  Since the percents are close, I can conclude that I am doing about as well on Etsy as I am on eBay with respect to the number of items up for sale.  I am quite pleased.

I have been very careful about which books I list on Etsy, since I must pay $0.20 to list each item.  I have found that Nancy Drew, the Dana Girls, and the Three Investigators books do the best on Etsy.  I have had poor success with the Hardy Boys and with most other series.

In fact, my care with listing quality items on Etsy is the reason why my Etsy sales are about as good as my eBay sales.  While I have sold more items on eBay and have listed more items on eBay, the average quality per item has been lower.

As long as I list the books that are the most likely to sell on Etsy, I have pretty steady sales.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

The Final Friends Trilogy by Christopher Pike

The Final Friends books were published in 1988 and 1989.

In Final Friends Book 1:  The Party, Mesa High has been combined with Tabb High, so Jessica Hart, Sara Cantrell, and sisters Polly and Alice McCoy are new to Tabb High.  The friends soon become acquainted with Michael Olson, Nick Grutler, Clair Hilrey, Bill Skater, and Bubba.  Alice throws a party so that all of the teens can become better acquainted.  But the party ends in death.

The characters are introduced quite well in this book.  They are introduced slowly and with adequate descriptive information.  I was able to remember each character apart from the others. I always enjoy books better when special care is taken by the author to explore each character fully.

In Final Friends Book 2:  The Dance, Michael is obsessed with finding the killer of his friend.  He also wishes that he could date Jessica, while Jessica wishes the same about him.  Neither is aware of the other's feelings.  Sara continues trying to have a relationship with Russ, and it's just not working out.

Meanwhile, Jessica, Maria, and Claire are all running for homecoming queen.  Jessica and Clair are now sworn enemies, and each girl is determined not to allow the other girl to win. Unfortunately, the homecoming dance ends in horror, just like the party did.

I have purposely not mentioned specifics, since that information spoils the suspense in reading these books.

In Final Friends Book 3:  The Graduation, the senior class graduates from Tabb High.  A party is planned on an ocean cruise the night of graduation day.  Michael knows that the cruise will be the last time everyone is together and the last chance he has of discovering the identity of the killer.

This trilogy is a hybrid of the horror and teen romance genres.  These books are a bit different from Pike's typical teen horror books, but I really like them.

This is an excellent trilogy.  The characters in this trilogy are what makes the trilogy so good.  All of the characters are memorable, and some of them are quite eccentric.  Most all of them are quite likable.  The trilogy is also filled with humor. I love these books.  I know I read them several times years ago.  I never could get enough of them.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Spooksville #1 The Secret Path and #2 The Howling Ghost

The Spooksville series was written by Christopher Pike and was published by Simon and Schuster, presumably to compete with R. L. Stine's Goosebumps series.  The series is mild horror with all books containing supernatural events.  The series ran for 24 volumes.  The first half of the series has been reprinted, but the second half has not. As a result, the second half of the series is hard to find.  The last four to six books are very scarce and can easily cost $20 or more each.

In the back of each book is a biography of Christopher Pike.  I love it.
Little is known about Christopher Pike, although he is supposed to be a strange man.  It is rumored that he was born in New York but grew up in Los Angeles.  He has been seen in Santa Barbara lately, so he probably lives there now.  But no one really knows what he looks like, or how old he is.  It is possible that he is not a real person, but an eccentric creature visiting from another world.  When he is not writing, he sits and stares at the walls of his huge haunted house.  A short, ugly troll wanders around him in the dark and whispers scary stories in his ear.  Christopher Pike is one of this planet's best-selling authors of young adult fiction.
The series is set in Springville, which is a town somewhere on the western coast of the United States.  I assume that Springville is in California, since many of Pike's teen books are set in that state.  The unofficial name of Springville is Spooksville, because many citizens have disappeared and strange creatures roam the town.

Adam, Cindy, Watch, and Sally are the primary characters.  Adam and Cindy both recently moved to the town, and Adam is the leader of the group.  Watch wears four watches and does not seem to have a last name.  Watch wears thick glasses and cannot see well.  Sally is outspoken and rude.  She always bosses the others.  The children frequently go to a homeless man named Bum for assistance.  Bum used to be the mayor before he became homeless, and he knows all about the town's history.

In Spooksville #1, The Secret Path, Bum tells Adam, Watch, and Sally how to find the Secret Path.  The children follow his directions and end up in a dangerous alternative version of Spooksville.  The children struggle to find a way back home.

This book serves mainly as an introduction to the series.  I enjoyed it less than most books in the series, although it is okay.

In Spooksville #2, The Howling Ghost, Cindy and her brother, Neil, have recently arrived in Spooksville.  Cindy and Neil are at the beach near the abandoned lighthouse when it suddenly lights up.  Neil is sucked into the air and vanishes!  When Adam, Watch, and Sally learn about the disappearance, they introduce themselves to Cindy and offer to help her find her brother.  The children soon learn that an angry ghost occupies the lighthouse.  The children decide to explore it in hopes of finding Neil.

After I read this book, I decided to acquire all of the books in the set so that I could read them.  I enjoyed this book.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Christopher Pike Gimme a Kiss, Fall Into Darkness, and Scavenger Hunt

In Gimme a Kiss, Jane Retton decides to get revenge on her classmates.  Someone swiped Jane's diary, full of salacious content, and distributed copies all over the school.  Jane is furious, so she will make them pay by faking her own death.  What a logical reaction!

This book is hilarious.  It is outstanding.  I loved it as much as when I was a teenager.  Jane is awesome, and the humor is awesome.  I love everything about this book.  The story holds up quite well.

I will publish most Pike reviews in order by original publication, but here I deviate again. Gimme a Kiss was published in 1988, and Fall Into Darkness was published in 1990.  Even though the stories are unconnected, the books go together for obvious reasons.

In Fall Into Darkness, Ann Rice is dead, so far as anyone knows, and Sharon McKay is accused of her murder.  Sharon is innocent, but she may end up convicted of Ann's murder.  During Sharon's trial, her attorney reveals that Ann hated Sharon and planned to frame Sharon for her own murder. Could Ann be alive?

The hilarious part of this book is that Pike used his previous book, Gimme a Kiss, as Ann's inspiration for faking her own death.  Apparently Ann read Pike's Gimme a Kiss, where she got the idea.  Pike never mentions the book by name, but the physical description of the book and its plot summary match perfectly.

I enjoyed this book, although I found it much less suspenseful than the first time I read it.  After all, I remembered the ending.

In Scavenger Hunt, a secretive school club has organized a scavenger hunt for the senior class. Carl Timmons is on the same team as Cessy and Davey, who are siblings.  As the scavenger hunt progresses, Carl gradually realizes that something sinister is behind it.

I enjoyed this book years ago, but I did not like it at all this time.  It does not hold up well. This book is stupid and boring.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Hardy Boys Adventures #14, Attack of the Bayport Beast

In Hardy Boys Adventures #14, Attack of the Bayport Beast, Frank and Joe attend a cryptozoology convention in Bayport.  Comic shop owner Benny Williams is obsessed with the legendary Bayport Beast, which supposedly lives in the nearby forest.  He takes Frank, Joe, and their friend, Hector, on an expedition in the forest in search of the beast.  Frank is a skeptic and is shocked when he actually sees something.  The boys return on their own in search of the legendary creature.

I have mixed feelings about this book.  The book is pretty good overall, but it is weaker than some of the Hardy Boys Adventures books.  The book reminds me somewhat of the Nancy Drew Diaries series, which is not good.  I have this suspicion that a certain Nancy Drew Diaries author wrote this book.

This is because Frank and Joe finally start going to the restroom in this book.  They had managed to avoid that up to this point.  As I have previously written, at least one Nancy Drew Diaries author is obsessed about restroom needs.  In this book, either the Hardy Boys or someone else has to answer the "call of nature" on pages 17 and 72. Fortunately, this book is not stupid like some of the Nancy Drew Diaries books.

A strength in this series is how well Frank and Joe are depicted as having completely different personalities.  Frank is such a skeptic of the Bayport Beast while Joe is ready to believe in it.  The difference in personalities has been consistent through the entire set, and I love how distinctive the two boys are.

The culprit is pretty obvious in this story just like in the most recent Nancy Drew Diaries book.  I also guessed the truth about the Bayport Beast partway through the story.

While I like some of the earlier books in the series better, this is still a pretty strong story.  I enjoyed it.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Christopher Pike Last Act and Spellbound

In Last Act, Melanie Martin is new to Care High. She is soon befriended by Susan Trels, who encourages Melanie to try out for the school play. Melanie lands a good role in the play, and she now has friends.  During the play Melanie will fire a gun containing blanks at another person.  On opening night, the unthinkable happens when the other girl dies.  Somehow, the gun had real bullets in it.  Melanie is charged with murder and must find a way to clear herself.

This was the very first Pike book I ever read, and it was always a favorite.  I read it several times. As a result, I remembered the villain quite clearly as I began the book.

During this reading, the beginning part did not interest me.  I thought it was slow.  The play characters and real characters are too many and confusing.

Once the murder happens, the rest of the book is excellent.

Overall this book did not hold up well for me since I remembered the culprit too clearly. It didn't have the mystery that it had for me back in 1988.

In Spellbound, Cindy Jones' boyfriend has been accused of killing his old girlfriend, Karen Holly. Her body was found mutilated in the mountain stream.

On page 112, "The second lunch bell had rung already, and the bulk of the school was busy expanding their minds with knowledge they would probably forget before the day was over."  This is actually true.  Most people forget most of what they learned in school.

I did notice some things this time that never occurred to me when I read this book as a teen.  I guess the passage of years does bring a different perspective.  I never considered it strange that Joni and Alex don't find it odd that Cindy is in the woods with a blind parrot attached to her necklace.  To the other teens, Cindy's behavior should have been considered rather bizarre.  I also never found it strange that Ray had a will, but this time I had to wonder.  Why would a teenager have a will?

Even though I knew the ending, this book was still really suspenseful and held up well. This is still an excellent book.  This is one of those books that stays with you.  It is that creepy and unsettling.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Girls of Canby Hall #31 Here Comes the Bridesmaid, #32 Who's Got a Crush on Andy?, and #33 Six Roommates and a Baby

In Girls of Canby Hall #31, Here Comes the Bridesmaid, Jane, Andy, and Toby have been invited to Princess Allegra's wedding.  Andy will be a bridesmaid.  Unexpectedly, Andy falls in love with a prince, while Jane must keep the groom's brother, Armand, from causing trouble.

I partially enjoyed this book, but overall, I did not like it very much.

In Girls of Canby Hall #32, Who's Got a Crush on Andy?, Andy is depressed over her failed relationship with the prince.  She has decided not to allow herself time to fall in love again, so she is keeping herself busy.  Someone has a crush on Andy and is sending her notes.  Andy seems not to care, but Jane has decided to find out who likes Andy in case this person can make Andy feel better.

Jane and Toby think the notes are sweet, and by the end of the story, Andy feels the same way.  I think the notes are creepy.  The girls assume that the writer is a peer, but how do they know?  He could be a creepy older man chasing after young girls.  The notes make him sound like a stalker. It's not the 1980s, and I'm not a teenager, so I can't see anything good in the notes.

I did not find the first part of the story to be interesting.  Not only is Andy depressed, but Toby mopes around because she doesn't like the tone of her father's letters.  A variant of the subplot with Toby has already been used in a previous book.  Also, Andy was depressed just a few books ago.

I was bored with this story until around halfway through the book.  I enjoyed the last part of the book.

In Girls of Canby Hall #33, Six Roommates and a Baby, former housemother Alison is the proud mother of twin baby girls.  The old 407 girls and the new 407 girls are all godmothers.  After the christening, Alison is injured, and the girls stay to help Alison take care of the babies.  Jane and Shelley are rivals for the same boy, and the two groups of girls have trouble getting along.

Oh no, not again!  Do I have to suffer through another book with all six girls?  The first one was torture.  This is how they ended the series?

Fortunately, the book is much better than I expected.  The girls do get into a few fights, but the scenes are not childish like in Something Old, Something New.

I overall greatly enjoyed this book.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Christopher Pike Chain Letter, Chain Letter 2, and The Tachyon Web

Chain Letter is another early Christopher Pike novel from 1986.

In Chain Letter, Alison receives an anonymous letter signed "Your Caretaker."  The letter requires Alison to perform an unpleasant task.  Once Alison performs the task, she is to give the letter to the next person on the list.  All of the names are of friends who were present when a man was run over in the desert.  The friends buried his body and swore never to tell anyone what happened.  Now somebody knows, and that person is out for revenge.

This story is similar in premise to Lois Duncan's I Know What You Did Last Summer.  This is another book that I never liked as much as Pike's later books.  I had trouble enjoying it this time simply because I remembered the culprit, and that took away from my enjoyment.

The sequel to Chain Letter was not published until 1992, so it is not an early Pike novel. However, I have placed it here since it goes with the original Chain Letter.  The writing style and tone of Chain Letter 2 is different from the first book, since Pike had fully developed his style by 1992.

In Chain Letter 2, the letters begin coming again. But this time, the original Caretaker is dead.  The friends soon discover that the new Caretaker is not messing around.  When a task is not completed, the person is immediately killed.  The new Caretaker is brutal.

The original Chain Letter has no supernatural aspect to the plot.  In this book, the reader learns about the real Caretaker, who is a supernatural creature—a very evil creature.

I enjoyed this book.

The Tachyon Web is the last of what I consider to be Pike's early novels.  The Tachyon Web was originally published in 1986 and was reissued in 1996.  The pictured book is the 1996 edition.

In The Tachyon Web, the solar system is surrounded by the Tachyon Web, which is used to keep spaceships from traveling into deep space.  A group of teenagers uses a spaceship to exploit a weak spot in the Tachyon Web.  The ship makes a hyper jump to the Andromeda Sector.  After the hyper jump, the ship is too close to a supernova and is damaged.  The teens must fly the ship to an alien convoy so that they can obtain the necessary supplies to repair their ship.

This story was hard to get into because the science fiction descriptions in the opening chapters are excessively detailed.  The book also has too many characters who are introduced too quickly.  Once the hyper jump occurs, the story gets very interesting.

The italicized word in this description on page 189 really stands out.
The trimmings were sparse:  a couple of plants, a shelf packed with old-fashioned paper books, a family portrait hanging on one wall.
This book is set centuries in the future, but it was published in 1986.  Paper books were all we had at that time.  The emphasis on paper really struck me, since 31 years later, paper books are on the way out.  It isn't going to take centuries for paper books to disappear.

Even though The Tachyon Web is not that interesting at the start, it is overall an excellent book.  The last half of the book is quite exciting and thrilling.  This is the strongest of Pike's early books.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Girls of Canby Hall #29 A Roommate Returns and #30 Surprise!

In Girls of Canby Hall #29, A Roommate Returns, Shelley comes back to Canby Hall for a visit.  She has landed a role in a Boston play, and she is convinced that this is the beginning of her acting career.  The play flops, and Shelley is out of a job.  Shelley mopes around and acts like her life is over, annoying everyone including the reader.

I did not like this book.  I found everything to be boring.  Shelley is awful.  Everything about the book is awful.  I had to skim a lot of the book in order to get through it.  Series do indeed decline towards the end.

In Girls of Canby Hall #30, Surprise!, Beau shows up unexpectedly at Canby Hall.  Of course Jane hasn't told Cary that she met somebody in Texas, so Beau's appearance threatens Jane's relationship with Cary.  Even worse, Gigi decides to try to steal Cary away from Jane, mainly just to hurt her.

On page 50, we learn that the girls "would cluster around the big-screen TV to watch Sixty Minutes."  I laughed.  It sounds hilarious that the Canby Hall girls eagerly watch a news show.  I actually think they more likely would gather around to watch a sitcom or a soap opera.  I sometimes really wonder about the authors of these books.

On page 54, Toby's face gets very red while she is on the phone, and she reflects that she is "grateful that video phones never caught on." Oh Toby, you have no idea.

On both pages 65 and 101, a character "could care less."  What was wrong with the people who wrote this series?  What was wrong with the editors?  Probably the series did not have editors.

On page 76, Gigi and Yolanda are just like Lettie and Ina from the Dana Girls series.
"Oh, Gigi, that would be too funny."  Gigi looked into Yolanda's admiring face.  Sometimes she was a pain, but she was always loyal, and no matter what scheme Gigi thought up, Yolanda went along with it.  Gigi was pretty lucky to find someone like Yolanda in this school full of drips.
Gigi leaves the room and comes back on page 78.
Gigi came back into her room.  Yolanda was still sitting on Gigi's bed where Gigi had left her.  Just like a faithful puppy, Gigi thought.
Every series book villain needs a toady.

I enjoyed the first half of the book, but the last part dragged for me.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Priority Mail and Priority Mail Express Confusion

Several years back, the United States Postal Service rebranded Express Mail as Priority Mail Express.  The names are too similar, and inexperienced sellers can easily confuse the two services. Inexperienced sellers are the ones most likely to rely on post office supplies for mailing packages, and they are most likely to choose Priority Mail. Those pesky Priority Mail Express supplies are displayed right next to the Priority Mail supplies.  I actually wonder if the USPS wanted the confusion so that they could charge postage due on lots of Priority Mail packages sent accidentally with Priority Mail Express envelopes.

Priority Mail Express is a one-day service.  Postage cost is $25-$35 for the first pound, and the price depends upon whether a flat rate or non-flat rate envelope is used.  It is a very expensive service, and it is a very costly error to get caught accidentally using a Priority Mail Express envelope or box for another class of mail.  This is a Priority Mail Express envelope.

Priority Mail is a two- to three-day service and costs $6.65 and up, depending upon weight and whether a flat rate envelope is used.  This is a Priority Mail envelope.

I had to pick this package up at the post office since it arrived postage due.

The seller was inexperienced, and she probably had no idea that Priority Mail and Priority Mail Express are different services.  She paid $6.65 for a Priority Mail Flat Rate envelope.  She used a non-flat rate Priority Mail Express envelope.  For the envelope the seller used, the postage cost should have been $34.60.  I was charged $27.95, which is the difference between $6.65 and $34.90.

To say that this made me unhappy would be an understatement.

The book was not even quite worth what I originally paid, but it ended up costing $27.95 more on top of the original amount.  This is totally unacceptable.

I have mixed feelings in that I am upset both with the seller and with the postal service.

I did send the seller a message informing her of the problem.

"The package arrived with postage due of $27.95, so I had to pay $27.95 to pick up the package. A Priority Mail Express envelope was used to mail the book, and the postage paid was for regular Priority Mail. Since the Priority Mail Express envelope was used, the post office assessed the postage due at the much higher Priority Mail Express rate.

I attached a photo showing the package and the receipt for the $27.95 payment to the post office. I expect a refund of $27.95 on my order, since this was an unexpected extra charge. Thank you in advance, Jennifer"

The seller did not respond.  I waited two days.

Two days later, I sent this message.

"I sent you a message two days ago informing you that the package arrived postage due of $27.95 due to the misuse of a Priority Mail Express envelope. Please refer to the image sent in that message. Due to the error, I had to pay an additional $27.95.

I should have refused the package, causing it to be returned to you. I decided to pay the postage due since it would save you an additional loss. If I had refused the package, you would have had to pay the $27.95 postage due in order to take possession of the package. You would then have had to pay shipping again to send the package to me a second time.

I understand that this is a really bad situation, but on eBay, the seller is the one who must take responsibility when this type of mistake occurs.


Finally, the seller responded.  "I m gonna take this to the post office and see why this happened and also contact eBay cuz this was purchased with their postage in very very sorry"

I knew from the response that she wasn't going to refund me.  I had already explained the problem, so having the seller put it on eBay and the post office told me all I needed to know.

Unfortunately, buyers have no recourse when packages arrive postage because eBay buyer protection only covers non-receipt of purchases and purchases that are significantly not as described.  Postage due is neither situation.  All a buyer can do is appeal to the seller and hope for the best.

I waited 10 days, just to give the seller a last chance.  I then left her the following neutral feedback.

"Paid postage due $27.95 due to misuse Express mail envelope; no refund given"

I didn't give a negative feedback simply because I feel that the seller made a mistake, albeit a very bad one.  The USPS is also partly to blame because of the confusing names of its services, and I do think they may have caused the confusion on purpose so that they could assess postage due on lots of packages. 

A neutral feedback is enough to get buyers' attention, so at least I have placed a warning in the seller's feedback.  The seller is selling Nancy Drew books on eBay, so make sure you check feedback before bidding or making a purchase.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Christopher Pike Cheerleaders #2 Getting Even, Slumber Party, and Weekend

I was a big fan of Christopher Pike from 1988 until 1995.  I didn't stop liking Pike in 1995; it's just that my active interests changed, so I quit purchasing his books.  I recently decided to read my Pike books again.  If the reading went well, then the plan was to purchase all of Pike's books and read all of them.  I did end up purchasing all of Pike's books, and I am currently reading all of them.

Christopher Pike is the pseudonym used by author Kevin Christopher McFadden. McFadden took the name Christopher Pike from a character in Star Trek.  I love Pike's sense of humor, and I love his absurd plots.

Pike's first books were published in 1985.  One of them was a title in Scholastic's Cheerleaders series.  I have read a few reviews by Pike fans who were disappointed in the book, because they expected the cheerleaders to kill each other.  They wanted blood!  This is not that kind of book.  You can tell by the cover and synopsis that this is a teen romance book, not horror!

In Cheerleaders #2, Getting Even, the school year has just started.  Mary Ellen has just made the cheer squad.  The story follows Mary Ellen and the other cheerleaders as they experience romance, jealousy, and backstabbing.

The book is unlike all of Pike's other books, since Pike had to follow the formula for the Cheerleaders series.  However, little bits of Pike come through at times.

On page 1, Mary Ellen worries about her speech.
"Hi, my name's Mary Ellen and these are my good friends:  Nancy, Angie, Olivia, Walt, and Pres!  We're here to share with you the excitement we have for our fantastic football team!"

In her mind's eye, she could see rows and rows of bored faces.
That sounds like something Pike would write.  He also describes a short girl as looking like a hobbit.

I enjoyed this book.

Slumber Party was Christopher Pike's first teen horror book.  In Slumber Party, a group of friends spends the weekend in a house near a resort. The same group of friends was present when a terrible event happened years before.  That event resulted in a girl's death.

I never cared for Slumber Party years ago, and I still do not like it.  Pike's first teen horror books are weaker than his later ones.  Slumber Party has too many characters who are introduced too quickly with inadequate descriptions.  It's hard to care about characters when one can't keep them straight.  Additionally, I find a lot of the dialogue to be silly and uninteresting.

Weekend was Christopher Pike's second teen horror book.  I also never cared for this book years ago.  I don't like it that much now, but it is a little better than Slumber Party.  Pike had already begun to improve as a writer.

In Weekend, a group of teens vacations in Mexico.  The premise of this story is actually quite similar to Slumber Party in that the teens who vacation together were all present when one of them was poisoned during a previous party.

The main problem with Weekend is that the book begins with an excessive amount of expository information.  It's not very interesting.  The book is boring until around two-thirds through the story. From that point until the end, the story is pretty interesting.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Girls of Canby Hall #27 The Roommate and the Cowboy and #28 Happy Birthday, Jane

In Girls of Canby Hall #27, The Roommate and the Cowboy, Jane and Andy visit Toby at her father's ranch.  Jane is immediately bored and cannot stand the heat.  Meanwhile, the girls accidentally break a lamp, so Andy decides to fix a special meal for Mr. Houston.  Everything seems to go wrong, causing one problem after another.  Meanwhile, Jane falls for Beau, a handsome cowboy.

I like that Jane actually feels guilty about falling for another boy when she has Cary back home. Dana never seemed to feel guilty, and that bothered me.

I greatly enjoyed this book.

In Girls of Canby Hall #28, Happy Birthday, Jane, Jane's parents give her a valuable heirloom pearl necklace for her birthday while Jane's friends plan a sailing trip for her birthday.  Jane decides to wear her necklace on the trip, and she loses it. How can Jane tell her parents what happened?

I knew from the synopsis that something really bad would happen and was able to guess that the pearls would fall off Jane's neck.  As I read the book, I watched for when that might happen. I correctly guessed the event and was not surprised at where the pearls were found at the end of the story.

I like these words of wisdom from the bottom of page 115.
"You remember the old saying, 'A coward dies a thousand deaths, the brave man but once?'  You will find as the years go by that you will suffer more from lack of courage than any other pain."
This is a pretty good book.  I enjoyed it.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

The Nancy Drew On Campus Series

In the Nancy Drew On Campus series, Nancy, Bess, and George are freshmen at Wilder University.  Nancy purposely decides to go to a different school than Ned, because she wants to experience college on her own terms.  Not surprisingly, Nancy and Ned break up shortly into the series.

Nancy, Bess, and George end up in different dorms, so they have little contact with each other. The girls all acquire their own friends plus a large entourage of other acquaintances, far too many for the reader to be able to remember.  The large cast of characters greatly detracts from the series.

Nancy becomes a reporter for the university newspaper.  In each book, she solves a mystery. The mystery is but a side note as most of the text is devoted to the many new acquaintances that each girl has.

The basic premise of the series is good.  Nancy working on a college newspaper and doing investigative reporting is a great idea.  Having more mature stories is good as well.  The problem is that the premise was poorly executed.  The series was written in the most boring fashion possible.  I found the first book to be bland but passable.   By the fourth book, I was thoroughly bored.  I struggled through the fifth and sixth books, and then started the seventh book.

In #7 False Friends, I came upon this passage on pages 12 and 13.
Just then Nancy's hand was grabbed, and she felt herself being whisked off the path and into the cavelike coolness under a giant weeping willow.

"One word from you, and I'll, I'll—"

"You'll do what, Jake Collins," Nancy replied dryly.


Nancy felt a soft, still slightly unfamiliar mouth press against hers.

"Do that," Jake said.

"Ooh," Nancy replied, a sheepish grin tugging at the corners of her mouth.

She raised her ocean blue eyes and let them wander over Jake's boyishly handsome face, settling on his warm lips that seemed frozen in a wry, I-know-something-you-don't grin.

Nancy wanted to pinch herself.  Is this really me?  she wondered.
Huh?  Besides being nauseating, this scene didn't even make sense to me until I had typed it into this post and read it multiple times!  There is just so much wrong with this passage.  Jake's mouth is "slightly unfamiliar"?  I have never read anything that stupid in any young adult book ever.

Jake has a "wry, I-know-something-you-don't grin" in a scene that is supposed to be romantic?  Jake knows that Nancy has just gotten the reporting job she wants, and she doesn't know yet.  "Wry" means that Jake is mocking her.  How is this romantic?  And all the stuttering?  What is that?  Everything about this passage is awful and written totally wrong.  Nancy's heart should have pounded or something.  Come on!

This was where I finally quit reading the set.

If the authors of this series can't do romance and suspense better than that, then the books are not worth reading.  I would rather read the Hardy Boys Undercover Brothers series again, and that was painful.  At least the Undercover Brothers series was overall interesting, even though it was an overall bad experience.  The Nancy Drew On Campus series is dreadfully uninteresting.

I made a few notes about the first few books as I read them, because I thought I could get through this series and do reviews.  I just can't.  The first six books in this series are among the most boring books I have ever read.

I have a theory about this series.  Simon and Schuster wanted to create a Nancy Drew series for young adults where Nancy is a little older with more mature content.  They wanted Nancy and her friends in adult situations that would appeal to the young adult audience.  However, the publisher had to be careful with the Nancy Drew character. Nancy couldn't be put in compromising positions, since Nancy is expected to behave properly.  She shouldn't sleep with her boyfriend, do drugs, or drink alcohol.  In short, she couldn't do anything that would be expected in a more mature story.

Since Nancy couldn't experience adult situations herself, a large cast of characters was created so that they could do drugs, get drunk, and sleep with each other.  Nancy would be kept pure.  Nancy was kept so pure that her romance scenes were written in the most boring fashion possible.  Nancy gets more romance in Nancy Drew #51, The Mystery of the Glowing Eye, which was written in the 1970s for children.

What I think happened is that the authors, editors, or whoever was responsible for this debacle wimped out.  They didn't know how to do anything with Nancy, so they did nothing.  This is strange, since Nancy has some romance in the Nancy Drew Files series, which was in publication at the time of the Nancy Drew On Campus series.  All they had to do was write Nancy the way she was written in the Nancy Drew Files series.  Why didn't they do that?

The result is that the Nancy Drew On Campus series reads like a children's series with an attempt at adult situations with no description or emotions.  The result is terribly bland and boring.

I will be selling my set of books.  I need the shelf space.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Girls of Canby Hall #25 The Ghost of Canby Hall and #26 Help Wanted!

In Girls of Canby Hall #25, The Ghost of Canby Hall, the diary of Julia Canby is on display in the library.  Jane becomes fascinated with the diary, reading it every chance she gets.  Jane is shocked one day when she sees the ghost of Julia Canby.  Soon, other girls are reporting sightings. Is the ghost real or a hoax?

I find it odd that the school allows the girls to handle an antique diary without keeping a close eye on them.

Andy acquires the habit of hiding behind a large potted palm in the hallway to eavesdrop and apparently not one girl ever notices her while walking by.  Exactly how big is this potted palm? It must be huge with lots of fronds.

I was hoping this book would be spooky, but it wasn't.  The book has the same tone as the rest of the books.

I did not like this book.

In Girls of Canby Hall #26, Help Wanted!, Jane, Andy, and Toby stay at Canby Hall for the summer.  They need jobs so that they can pay for their expenses, since the school will not be providing meals.  Jane finds the girls a job where they must clean and repair a large house before the owners return.  Jane is optimistic about the job, but the others fear that it is too much to handle.

Why would anyone hire three high school students to renovate and clean up a vacant house?  They even have to purchase furnishings for the house.

I enjoyed this book as a nice change of pace.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

River Heights #15 Friends and Rivals and #16 The Jealousy Trap

In River Heights #15, Friends and Rivals, River Heights High School will soon have its own television news show.  Brittany has her heart set on being hostess, while Samantha tries out as a joke.  Sam's audition goes better than expected, and soon, Sam and Brittany are the two finalists for the job.

Terry D'Amato feels out of place around her friends who have boyfriends, so Terry makes up a fake boyfriend.  The problem is that Ellen and Karen want to meet him and plan a party.  What will Terry do?

On page 5, Samantha rides the bus.  As she thinks of clubs she can join, "the smelly bus" lumbers towards the school.

This is a good book.

In River Heights #16, The Jealousy Trap, Robin has found a new friend, Katie Foxx, who is a swimmer at a rival school.  Katie claims that she isn't swimming very well, and Robin coaches her instead of practicing for the upcoming meet. Lacey tries to tell Robin what Katie is doing, but Robin won't listen.

Overweight Phyllis Bouchard is asked on dates by both Hal Evans and Wayne Yeats.  Phyllis is flattered, but she doesn't realize that the two boys have made a bet.  The boy who isn't chosen by Phyllis owes the other one $50.

Since this is the last book in the series, the last page does not have a next-book blurb.  Each subplot is wrapped up by the end of the story.  I think if the series would have continued that we might have learned more about Phyllis.  At least her subplot is resolved in this book, although I would have liked to have read more about her.

This is a very good book.

The River Heights series is very good, particularly the second half.  The first few books, especially Nikki's stories, are rather stupid and are a bit like Merivale Mall,which is a very cheesy series.  The last part of the River Heights series imitates the Sweet Valley High series quite well.  Each of the later River Heights books centers around different characters, which makes the stories much more interesting.

Remember, these aren't Nancy Drew books even though Nancy Drew is mentioned on the covers.  Most Nancy Drew fans will not like this series.  This series is for those who enjoy teen romance books like Sweet Valley High.