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.

Jennifer"

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.

"I'll—"

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.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Girls of Canby Hall #23 But She's So Cute and #24 Princess Who?

In Girls of Canby Hall #23, But She's So Cute, Penny Vanderark is completely helpless.  Toby catches on that Penny is pretending to be helpless, so she doesn't trust her.  Meanwhile, Jane decides to go on a date with Cary instead of spending the evening with Andy and Toby at an event that is very important to them.

On page 27, the reader learns that "[m]ost of the girls at Canby Hall wore very little makeup."  An entire school full of teenage girls, and most of them wore little makeup?  Are you kidding me?  If so, Canby Hall is a very strange place.

I did not make a note as to exactly what I thought of this book, but I believe that I did not like it very much.  With all long series, the stories generally get weaker towards the end.

In Girls of Canby Hall #24, Princess Who?, Princess Allegra of Montavia comes to Canby Hall for a visit so that she can decide whether to return as a student next year.  Allegra falls in love with Randy, much to Toby's distress.  Allegra devises a plot so that she can briefly lose her bodyguards and spend time alone with Randy.  When Allegra disappears for real, her schemes might have backfired.

Princess Allegra might have sounded like an okay name in the 1980s, but now, Allegra is an allergy medication.

This is another weak book that I did not enjoy very much.

Most of the cover art in this series is inaccurate, not depicting scenes that actually happen.  When the cover art does depict an actual scene, the scene is depicted wrong.  The two books pictured in this post serve as good examples.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Facebook Series Book Discussion Groups

Some new series book groups have been created on Facebook.

We have a new group for buying and selling vintage series books.  I hope to offer some books for sale in this group in a few days.

Sleuthing for Vintage Children's Series Books

We have a group for modern children's series books.

Modern Children's Series Books

We have a group for vintage teen and young adult books.

Vintage Teen Books

We also have some excellent well-established groups for series book enthusiasts.

Collecting Vintage Children's Series Books

Nancy Drew Book Fans

Trixie Belden

Judy Bolton Fans

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

River Heights #13 A Mind of Her Own and #14 Love and Games

In River Heights #13, A Mind of Her Own, DeeDee Smith's father wants her to attend his alma mater, Kingston University.  But DeeDee really wants to attend the journalism school at Westmoor University in River Heights.  Can she get her father to understand?

Brittany is being blackmailed by nerdy Martin Ives.  Martin resents the way Brittany treated him in the past, so he threatens to tell everyone what she did to Nikki and Tim unless she pretends to be his girlfriend.  Brittany has no choice but to play along.

Brittany's predicament is fun.  She doesn't tell Chip about Martin and tries to keep them apart from each other.  I also really enjoyed DeeDee's story.  Lacey continuing to keep her relationship with Tom from Rick is yet another fun subplot.

In the final scene, Lacey and Rick make remarks that reveal that Robin lied to both of them, probably so that Lacey and Tom's relationship would be revealed.  Oddly, neither picks up on it, and Robin is never confronted by Lacey.

This is a very good book.

In River Heights #14, Love and Games, Kyle Kirkwood's computer program will match dates for the upcoming dance.  Samantha is concerned that Kyle will be matched with a certain girl, so she devises a way to change the results.

Emily Van Patten learns that her father is dating the new drama teacher, Roxy Muldoon, so she writes a mean-spirited play about Ms. Muldoon that will be read in class.

Both of Samatha's and Emily's plots have unintended consequences.

This is another solid entry in the series.  I enjoy the later books in the series much more than the early ones.  The cast of characters is established, and something interesting is always happening.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Girls of Canby Hall #22 Troublemaker and Super Edition The Almost Summer Carnival

In Girls of Canby Hall #22, Troublemaker, Toby is depressed, so Jane and Andy decide to throw her a Winter Blahs party to cheer her up.  Gigi Norton can't help causing trouble, so she decides to throw a party where everyone is to come as someone she hates.  When Gigi's party doesn't go the way she intended, she plays dirty tricks on the girls of 407, turning them against each other.

While at the pond and with Gigi and Yolanda hidden nearby, Toby complains about Andy's selfishness for no reason when Andy is not even being selfish.  This scene occurs only so that Gigi and Yolanda can use the information against the girls of 407.  I hate that sort of contrived scene that goes against the girls' personalities.

Laura Lee is a quiet girl who is the focus of the girls' attention in this book, at least when they aren't worrying about Gigi.  By the end of the story, all I could think each time I saw the name was Laura Lee Hope, the pseudonym used as the author's name for the Bobbsey Twins series.

This book does not have reminiscing in it.  I really enjoyed it.

In Girls of Canby Hall super edition, The Almost Summer Carnival, the maintenance crew has gone on strike.  Canby Hall will be closed if their work does not get done.  Jane, Andy, and Toby decide to set up task lists so that all of the girls can get the work done, which includes cooking meals, laundry, and all cleaning duties.  Of course this doesn't go well.

It's strange how the girls do their own laundry in the early books, but suddenly in this book, they have never done their own laundry.

A hailstorm breaks out most of the windows.  The windows are covered with blankets to help keep the rain out.  I have trouble understanding how a blanket would keep the rain out.  It would help for the first few minutes, but the blanket would get wet and moisture would still come in.

Jane is incredibly rude and snobbish in this book.  While Jane has always been a bit snobbish, she is written out of character in this book.  Jane is outright cruel.

This book is better than the other super edition, which I did not like, but not by much.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

River Heights Junior Class Trip and #12 Hard to Handle

In River Heights Super Sizzler, Junior Class Trip, the junior class goes to Washington, D.C., on a field trip.  Nikki wants to get back together with Tim, but she worries that Tim isn't interested. Meanwhile, Nikki keeps confusing another boy with Tim.  The lookalike, Tom Connors, is staying at their hotel and seems to be followed around by bodyguards.  Both Kim and Brittany fall for Tom and scheme to keep him away from the other.

The cover art is dreadful.  Yuck.

I greatly enjoyed this book.  After the terrible Girls of Canby Hall super editions, I was concerned that this book might be boring.  I was delighted to find that this story is quite interesting and does not contain any filler.  The story has some intrigue and danger, which is what one expects in a super edition.

In River Heights #12, Hard to Handle, Rick is finally out of the hospital, and he's returning to school.  Lacey fears that he has fallen for a girl he met in rehab, and unexpectedly, Lacey falls for Rick's brother, Tom.  Lacey isn't brave enough to tell Rick about Tom, so she keeps their relationship a secret.

Nikki and Tim are back together again and plan a skit for the upcoming talent contest.  Brittany is jealous as always and devises a way to ruin the skit.

I like this fun quote from page 40.
Brittany closed her chemistry book with a snap.  She was tired of staring at the periodic table and trying to figure out how she could possibly use it later in life as a nationally famous reporter.
Each book leads into the next book with a hint of future events during the closing chapter.  In this book, we learn that someone plans to blackmail Brittany.  How interesting!

I really enjoyed this book.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Girls of Canby Hall #20 Friends Times Three and #21 Party Time!

In Girls of Canby Hall #20, Friends Times Three, Jane and Toby spend their Christmas vacation in Chicago with Andy's family.  Andy's family owns a restaurant, and they are shorthanded.  Jane and Toby volunteer to help out.  Jane meets Zach, a boy who thinks she is poor.  Jane pretends to be what Zach thinks she is and finds herself in a difficult position.

On page 37, an announcement is made on Jane's flight for all passengers to "extinguish all smoking materials" as the plane approaches the airport for landing.   Times have changed.

I was quite bored by all the descriptions early in the book.  The text has too much explanation on how to be a waitress.  Jane's romance with Zach also annoyed me.  I did not like the first part of the book, but I did greatly enjoy the last one-third of the book.

In Girls of Canby Hall #21, Party Time!, Jane's family is hosting its annual Barretts' Landing party to commemorate when the Barretts arrived in America.  Jane invites Andy, Toby, and Cary to the party.  The friends do not fit in well, and their presence may cause problems at the party.

Way too much text is devoted to describing Alison, who is departing as housemother, and all three girls' personalities.  The lengthy description of information we already know is so extremely boring.  Jane's party is also boring.

On pages 95 through 98, the girls randomly discover a secret passage and explore it.  Oh, yeah!  The girls briefly turn into Nancy Drew.  I'm all on board with that.

I find it hard to believe that the Barretts' stuffy friends loosen up at the party just because of the presence of Jane's friends.  Give me a break.

I enjoyed the book a lot more once the setting returns to Canby Hall and deals with the new housemother.  That should have been the focus of the book and not some stupid boring party.

The book is mostly boring except for the new housemother plot and the totally awesome secret passage.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Many Books Listed on eBay and Etsy

This is an explanation of what I listed on the two sites as well as my reasoning behind it.

I spent much of my spring break listing books on eBay and Etsy.

On eBay, you can get 10% off your order when you purchase two or more books.  As long as you pay for the books in one transaction, then you will get the discount.  Using the shopping cart is the easiest method.

Jennifer's Series Books on eBay

A coupon code can be found on the main page of my Etsy shop.  Use the coupon when checking out to receive 10% off any order of $10 or more.

Jennifer's Series Books on Etsy

I list different books on the two sites.  Some books will never be listed on eBay.  A certain seller on eBay is nasty and hurts his suppliers through feedback.  I don't understand that logic, but some people think if they damage the reputation of all people who sell the same items that they will get more sales.  It's not logical to damage the reputation of one's own suppliers, since those people might then quit selling those good deals that are used to build one's inventory.

Another seller on eBay used to hurt her suppliers through feedback, but she quit long ago when someone left a feedback calling her out on it.  I don't think she initially realized that others could tell.

The first person I mentioned is ruthless and does not care what anyone thinks.  I have three of his IDs blocked, and he will just keep creating them if necessary.  Therefore, I don't sell the books he wants on eBay.

Note:  I do not mind sellers purchasing my books.  I only mind when the seller then tries to hurt me through feedback.  Other than those few people, I welcome purchases from all sellers.

Fortunately, the books that I can't sell on eBay due to the one seller are among the books that do well on Etsy.  I have had good success on Etsy with Nancy Drew books with jackets, Nancy Drew picture covers, Dana Girls books, and Three Investigators books.  The more obscure series do poorly on Etsy.

I list all of my international editions on eBay.  I find that international editions are ignored on Etsy, so I must list all of them on eBay.

I am limited to 250 free listings per month on eBay, which is why I must use Etsy.  I do have to pay $0.20 per listing on Etsy, and each listing is good for four months.  The listing fee is offset by the low final value fees on Etsy, which are much lower than eBay's final value fees.

I listed 62 items on Etsy this week at a total cost of $12.40.  I have already sold eight books, and the amount that I saved in final value fees over what I would have paid on eBay is more than $12.40.  So my listings have already been paid for by the few that have already sold.  The rest of the listings are still good for four months, and more of them will sell.  Etsy is a good place to sell with very reasonable fees so long as the seller lists items that are likely to sell on Etsy.  That's the key.

I listed a large number of French Nancy Drew books, Nancy Drew picture covers, Hardy Boys books with jackets, and other miscellaneous on eBay this week.  Due to my limit of 250 free listings, I also combined some of my stagnant listings into bulk lots. Those bulk lots are scattered through my eBay store, since most of them were converted from existing listings.  I will also be combining additional listings into bulk lots in the next two weeks as more items expire.  This will allow me to begin listing additional books on eBay.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

River Heights #10 Mixed Emotions and #11 Broken Hearts

In River Heights #10, Mixed Emotions, Michael Quinn has a crush on Robin Fisher, and he won't leave her alone!  Robin has no interest in Michael, but her boyfriend, Cal, is becoming jealous.  Nikki is worried because Niles' British girlfriend will be visiting soon.  Karen also has worries, since Ben's old girlfriend, Emily is returning to River Heights.  Will each couple break up?

Brittany decides to drastically cut her hair, which is long.  She's only taking two inches off, but she acts like she is cutting 12 inches off.  Talk about an overreaction!

Michael looks so stupid on the cover.  At first, I didn't like the depiction.  Later, I decided that the cover is perfect, because Michael does act that silly.

I enjoyed this book.

In River Heights #11, Broken Hearts, Niles' girlfriend has arrived, and Nikki is beginning to think she should be back with Tim.  I would agree, since Tim never wanted to break up!

Karen thinks Ben will pick up with Emily where he left off, so Karen decides to become the perfect girlfriend.  She types Ben's papers for him and even fixes him a homemade dinner. Unfortunately, Karen's plan backfires.

On page 44 we learn that Karen's mother thinks that Ben is "the best thing since pocket calculators."  That does sound like something we might have said in the 1980s.

I also enjoyed this book.


Friday, March 17, 2017

20 Years Ago Today

I registered on eBay on March 17, 1997, which was 20 years ago today.  As now, it was spring break, although that day was a Monday.  I wrote in detail about how I was introduced to eBay eight years ago in the post "12 Years Ago Today."  
I had discovered eBay! eBay was called "Auction Web" or "eBay's Auction Web" in those days. I was so amazed that there were actually - gasp! - 50 Nancy Drew books up for sale at a time! And they were collectible ones with dust jackets and any type you could want! I remember how the search results were in random order and you could not order the search results by date or price or anything. And the searches would often take around 2 minutes or longer because eBay was growing fast and could not keep up with the rate that it was gaining new users. People would joke on the message boards that one could hit "search" and then go take out the trash or fix a sandwich and come back to view the results!

While I discovered eBay in around January 1997, it took me two months to get around to registering and bidding. I wasn't used to paying more than $5.00 for a book, so it took that long for me to change my mind about what I was willing to pay.
................................................

I remember that the very first book I bid on was on the afternoon of March 17, 1997, and it was a tweed copy of Larkspur Lane that had a chipped dust jacket. I'm not sure what I bid, but it was around $8-10. Of course I lost, since I was not willing to pay very much.

It was not until April 1997 that I was successfully able to win an auction, actually two of them. During the first four to five years that I bought online, I always made printed copies of the item pages. I'm now glad that I did, because I still have those copies, and they are very interesting.
Go to the above link to see a scan of one of my printed copies of an eBay listing from 1997.

I started collecting series books in the summer of 1991.  From then until early 1997, my books were all purchased locally.  From 1997 on, most of my books were purchased on eBay.  While I don't have any data on how many of my books were purchased on eBay or elsewhere, I have no doubt that the vast majority of the books now in my collection were purchased on eBay.

eBay does not have anywhere near the quality of inventory that it had from 1997 through around 2002 or so.  The decline has been steady since that time and continues to worsen.  However, eBay is still the first place I look for books.  On one browser, eBay's main page is my home page.  On another browser, eBay's advanced search page is my home page.  eBay remains very important to me, although I now must also use other sites to find books that I need.

The beauty of eBay is that anything can be listed at any time.  It doesn't matter if you have checked eBay everyday for two months and found nothing, the most fabulous item imaginable could suddenly be listed, like the one mentioned in my post "Grosset and Dunlap Series Book Advertising Sign."  Amazing items show up unexpectedly. When the items are Buy It Now, the first person who sees the item gets it.  That's why I check eBay all the time and never get discouraged.  I usually make at least one purchase per week on eBay.  I am always able to spot something.

Recently, I wrote a description of how to use eBay properly in a post on Facebook.
You should save searches for all series books that interest you. This is done by first running the desired search. On the results page at the top, you will see a link to follow the search. If you click on that link, you will then see a box that says:  
"Yay! You're now following _____ in your eBay Feed. You will receive email alerts for new listings. 
Don't send me email alerts."  
In most cases, I don't want to receive emails, so I deselect the alerts by clicking on that last sentence. For extremely scarce books that seldom appear, I do receive emails. Since I currently follow 78 searches, I don't wish to receive potentially 78 messages per day about new listings. 
Whether you choose to receive the emails or not, the search results always show up in your eBay feed. I love my eBay feed.  
Go to the main page, www.ebay.com. You will find a tab labeled "following." Click on that tab to see the most recently listed items in your saved searches.  
Even better, saved sellers' listings show up as well. If you like the books offered by certain sellers, then you should follow them. The link to follow a seller can be found on the right side of any of that seller's eBay listings right underneath the seller's user ID.
Very often on Facebook, members ask where they can find vintage Nancy Drew books. They are usually told that eBay has a great selection.  Strangely, the person often responds with a statement like "I don't do eBay."  It's a shame that people aren't willing to try something new.

For some, eBay is overwhelming.  If that is the case, I suggest using the saved searches and eBay feed as described above.  Don't run the searches yourself; go to your eBay feed.  That way, you'll only see the most recently listed items and won't be overwhelmed.  You can just see the new items listed each day and gradually get used to eBay and how it works.  Take it slowly, just like I did in early 1997.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Girls of Canby hall #19 One Boy Too Many and Super Edition Something Old, Something New

In Girls of Canby Hall #19, One Boy Too Many, Jane's boyfriend, Neal, is coming to Canby Hall to visit.  The problem is that Jane has a new boyfriend, Cary, and neither boy knows about the other.  Andy and Toby disapprove of the way that Jane is handling the situation, but Jane does not care.

Cary doesn't have long hair or an earring on the book cover.  He is depicted as the exact opposite of what he is supposed to be.

Andy states that she has never been to Oakley Prep.  That's odd.  Jane and Andy went to a dance at Oakley Prep in the previous book.

I appreciate that Jane's roommates understand that Jane's behavior is disrespectful to both boys. Faith and Shelley seldom had a problem with Dana's fickleness.

I enjoyed this book.

In Girls of Canby Hall Super Edition, Something Old, Something New, the girls' housemother, Alison, is getting married.  For some inexplicable reason, Dana, Faith, and Shelley are the only previous Canby Hall girls invited to the wedding. Furthermore, they and the three new Room 407 girls plan a bridal shower together.  The planning goes poorly because the old 407 girls apparently hate the new 407 girls, and nobody can agree about anything.

This is a pretty bad book.  The original Room 407 girls act awful all through the book.  For instance, Faith tells the waitress to add anchovies to the new girls' pizza.  That doesn't even sound like Faith, and besides, it's a low trick to tamper with someone else's food without their knowledge. Later in the book, all six girls have a childish food fight.  Ugh.

This book is padded with lots of filler.  The original 407 girls just graduated a few books ago, but the reader gets to read pages and pages of reminiscing about everything the girls ever did at Canby Hall.  Spare me.

I did not like this book.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

River Heights #8 The Trouble with Love and #9 Lies and Whispers

In River Heights #8, The Trouble with Love, Lacey blames herself for the accident that put her boyfriend, Rick, in the hospital.  Lacey spends all of her spare time at the hospital, much to the concern of her family and friends.

Karen is thrilled to be dating Ben, but she worries that he is still thinking about his old girlfriend. Meanwhile, Karen's friend, Ellen, seems preoccupied.

I found that Brittany's schemes didn't annoy me in this book.  I am still tired of Nikki pining after Tim. She's the one who broke up with him over absolutely nothing when he didn't want to break up!

I enjoyed wondering about Ellen's story, which will come out in the next book.

In River Heights #9, Lies and Whispers, Brittany cannot stand Chip Worthington, but if she could become his girlfriend, she would be in the top social circle.  Brittany must break up Chip's current relationship.

Ellen's father has been accused of embezzlement, and Ellen must deal with vicious rumors.  Even worse, money disappears from the junior class funds, and Ellen will be blamed if she cannot recover the money.

I enjoyed Ellen's subplot.  The back cover synopsis makes it sound like Nancy Drew helps solve the mystery of the missing money.  Nikki and Ellen speak to her, and she gives some advice.  Nancy has nothing to do with anything since she is leaving on a trip.

Nikki and her friends stake out the student council room by standing by the water fountain near the room.  They apparently do this for hours.  Wouldn't the suspect notice and stay away?  Nancy should have explained that they needed to hide in the closet inside the room instead of standing in plain site in the hallway.

I really enjoyed this book.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Girls of Canby Hall #17 Graduation Day and #18 Making Friends

In Girls of Canby Hall #17, Graduation Day, Dana, Faith, and Shelley will soon be graduating from Canby Hall.  Dana is worried about the poem that she is composing for Arch Day.  Faith is worried that her parents can't afford to send her to college while Shelley worries about Tom's new girlfriend.

Dana, Faith, and Shelley's sophomore and junior years take up the first 16 books of the series. Their entire senior year is crammed into this one book.

On page 97, we learn that Dana's sister, Maggie, is at Canby Hall.  It's odd, since Dana worried about Maggie coming to Canby Hall for an entire book.  Maggie came, but we never got to see any events connected to Dana dealing with Maggie's arrival.  Placing the entire senior year in one book is unsettling to the reader.

I enjoyed this book.

In Girls of Canby Hall #18, Making Friends, three new girls arrive in Room 407.  Jane is a snobbish girl from Boston.  Andy is from Chicago, and she wants to become a ballet dancer.  Toby is from Texas, and she isn't used to being around other people.  The three girls do not get along at first, and they must work to develop their friendship.

The premise of this book is very similar to that of the first book in the series.

On page 88, Jane thinks about how strange Cary looks.  She reflects that "by far the most amazing thing about him was the single silver stud earring he had in one ear."  Really?  Actually, Jane's amazement is logical from her point of view, since Jane is from a straight-laced family.

On page 89, Jane thinks of Cary as "this dreadful person," so I knew that meant that they would end up dating.

I enjoyed this book.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Spring 2017 eBay Seller Update

As long-time readers know, I quit eBay in early 2009 and opened a booth on Bonanza. I sold exclusively on Bonanza from January 2009 through July 2013.  In July 2013, I opened an eBay store since Bonanza sales were on the decline.  My Bonanza sales declined even further once I opened the eBay store.  Some of my Bonanza buyers may have quit purchasing on Bonanza in hopes that I would list the books they wanted on eBay. More likely, the Amazon referral links placed all through Bonanza's search results were continuing to erode away my Bonanza sales.

Regardless, I finally closed my Bonanza booth in May 2016 and opened an Etsy shop. Meanwhile, I continued my eBay store subscription.  eBay has been good to me the last few years, and Etsy has also been good to me during the time I have sold there.

Unfortunately, eBay is now playing around with its store subscribers and top-rated sellers, and I am beginning to feel like I did in late 2008 when I quit eBay.  Do you hear that, eBay?  You are screwing up again.  It's not just me.  eBay store subscribers are complaining all over the Internet right now, and eBay is giving empty responses to the complaints.

eBay is making its top-rated seller program more strict.  Top-rated sellers must currently upload a tracking number that is validated by the carrier with a scan during the seller's handling time for 90% of transactions.  The new policy increases the percent to 95%.  This shouldn't be a problem for me, but it very well could be.

My post office does the acceptance scan for most of my packages, but they always miss doing a few.  They usually miss around 3-4% of them.  This means that I am close to the 95% and could easily lose the top-rated seller status due to postal workers not scanning packages when dropped off.

eBay is also raising fees to store subscribers and to top-rated sellers.  Top-rated sellers get a 20% discount on fees, which is being reduced to 10%.  On top of that, the fees for store subscribers are increasing. Curiously, fees are not increasing for those who don't have eBay stores.  eBay is raising fees only to the customers who also pay a subscription fee.  How nice.

This next part is what bothers me the most, even though it will seem silly to many people.  As a store subscriber, I get 250 free fixed-price listings per month.  I also get 250 free auctions.  The free auctions are useless to me, since the auctions can only be used in the collectibles and fashion categories.  This means that books are excluded from the free auctions, but I only sell books.  So while eBay proudly tells me that my subscription gets me 500 free listings per month, I can only use 250 of them.

I have been okay with that, since eBay has consistently given most all sellers extra listing promotions on a regular basis.  That is, eBay did give all sellers extra promotions until sometime last year.  eBay now excludes many sellers from those promotions, and nobody knows the criteria used.  I have not received a promotion in close to four months.  Some sellers report that they have not received a promotion in over a year.

My conclusion is that eBay does not value my business.

I decided in late 2008 that I would never pay an eBay listing fee again.  I refuse to pay $0.20 per item to list any items above my allotted 250 free items.  If eBay doesn't want to give me extra listings, then I'm not going to pay for them.

Some sellers say that sellers should be willing to pay $0.20 per extra listing and that the extra fee would be covered by raising the price of the item.  This is logical, but I must sell many of my books at or slightly below cost due to the continuing deflation of series book prices.  I cannot see paying $0.20 per month to list a book that might not sell for a year or so.  It can take a couple of years for many books to finally find a buyer.

Since I refuse to pay listing fees on eBay, I must decide how to proceed.  I have to be more careful about what I list on eBay and will have to use bulk lots more often.  Those who follow me closely may notice that I currently have fewer than 150 listings on eBay. I am allowing around 80 items to remain inactive until a few days from now when I have more time to determine which ones to remove and which ones to relist.  At that time, I will also list new items to use up my 250 allotted free listings for the month.

I still have my Etsy shop, in which I can list an item for $0.20 for a duration of four months.  That's $0.05 per month.  Even though I must pay a fee for each Etsy item, the final value fees are much lower on Etsy.  In the end, I save money.  I will most likely end up listing more books on Etsy than I have in recent months.

I have also sold over half the items that I have listed on Etsy in the last year.  I don't have the data for eBay, but I have to relist a large number of eBay items each month. In fact, most of them get relisted month after month.  I am certain that I have sold no more than half of the items I have listed on eBay in the last year.  I may even have sold less than half of them.

Etsy is looking more and more attractive.  I only have to pay $0.05 per item per month with no store subscription fee.  Final value fees are lower, and I probably sell about the same percentage of items with respect to the number of items listed.

The bottom line is that eBay will lose some revenue, albeit quite small, due to it blacklisting my account for free listing promotions.  I will not pay the listing fees, so Etsy will get some of the revenue that eBay has been getting.

The loss of some of my business will not hurt eBay in the slightest.  If many thousands of other sellers should happen to take similar action, then eBay might see a loss in revenue. That is what happened in 2008, and eBay did notice.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Girls of Canby Hall #15 To Tell the Truth and #16 Three of a Kind

In Girls of Canby Hall #15, To Tell the Truth, the girls of Baker Hall take a truth pledge as part of a psychology research experiment.  The girls must tell the truth for 48 hours, no matter what happens.  Troublemaker Pamela is the only girl who doesn't take the oath, and she sets out to make trouble for the girls of Room 407.

Shelley is put in a difficult position when she must drive Ms. Allardyce to the hospital and promises that she will tell no one where Ms. Allardyce is. Shelley is seen returning with the car.  She gets into trouble when nobody can locate Ms. Allardyce, and she refuses to discuss what happened.

I was very interested in seeing how Shelley's problem would be resolved.  This is an excellent book

In Girls of Canby Hall #16, Three of a Kind, Dana falls in love with Mac.  Soon, Dana notices that Mac has a faulty memory and acts different at times.  Later, the girls figure out that Mac has an identical twin brother.  Dana, Faith, and Shelley get even with Mac and his brother by dressing up as identical clowns and fooling the boys at a masquerade party.

The last part of the story deals with the three girls fooling the two boys.  It is dragged out way too long, and I found it silly and boring.

On page  73 through 76, Faith leaves Lester, a three-year-old, alone outside on a tire swing.  The boy is only three, and he could have been hurt.

I enjoyed the first part of the book and did not like the last part.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Always Check Your Amazon Seller's Feedback

Over a year ago, I detailed how I search for books online.  I use eBay, Amazon, and AbeBooks as first choices when trying to build sets of books.  I also check Thriftbooks, Etsy, Ecrater, Bonanza, and Google's shopping search.

In January, I decided that I definitely wanted to read the River Heights series.  I had started the set and needed to acquire three titles quickly in order to read through the set in order.  I had already started the set, and the books must be read in sequential order.

I needed #9 Lies and Whispers, #11 Broken Hearts, and #16 Jealousy Trap.  I found #9 and #16 on Thriftbooks.com and ordered them with some other books.  I found #11 Broken Hearts on both Amazon and AbeBooks.  I went with the Amazon seller since the price was slightly lower.

When I purchase books solely to read, I do not need for them to be perfect.  Of course, I would rather the books arrive in very good or better condition, but I mainly just want to read the book.  I can deal with a book that is not in the best of condition.  Therefore, I often go with the lowest price online.  Typically, this is never a problem, except occasionally I encounter a flaky seller.  However, that sometimes happens even with more expensive listings.

My orders were placed on January 17.  The Thriftbooks order of #9 and #16 along with other books was shipped on January 18 and 19.  The Amazon order page for #11 had already updated to the status "preparing for shipment."  By January 19 or 20, I began to feel like something wasn't right with the Amazon order.  I actually had no real reason to feel disquiet, but I have an excellent intuition that warns me about potential transaction problems.  When my intuition warns me about a transaction, I am usually correct.

I went back to Amazon and looked at the order.  I clicked on the seller's name and then the feedback.  I had a sinking feeling.  I knew that the transaction was doomed, but I couldn't cancel it.

This is what I saw.


The feedback is great, but look at the dates.  The above comments are the seller's most recent feedback comments.  The seller has not received feedback in five years! Granted, most Amazon buyers do not leave feedback.  I do sometimes, but I forget a lot of the time.  Even though most buyers do not leave feedback, the typical Amazon seller with a storefront should have received feedback somewhat more recently than five years ago.

I decided to go ahead and order #11 from another seller.  I found a listing on AbeBooks.  I knew that I was risking getting two copies, but I considered it very important to guarantee that #11 would arrive in time.  I couldn't wait on a flaky Amazon seller, so I ordered the book again from the AbeBooks seller.

Meanwhile, I sent the Amazon seller a message expressing my concern about the order.  I don't recall what I stated, and I did not have a copy of the message sent to me. I waited one week and had not received a response.  By that point, I was at least 90% certain that the Amazon seller's storefront was untended and that the order would never be shipped.  Meanwhile, I received #11 from the AbeBooks seller.

Since one week had passed without response from the Amazon seller, I requested to cancel the order.  This was around January 24 and was another message sent directly to the seller.  The seller did not respond to the second message.  Amazon would not take control of the situation until enough time had passed.  I had to wait it out.

On February 17, Amazon sent an automated message.  "The following order(s) placed on 1/17/2017 with ----- will be canceled if the order is not ship-confirmed by 2/23/2017." I had about one more week to wait.

Finally, on February 23, I received the long-awaited message from Amazon.

"We're writing to inform you that your order from ----- has been canceled because the seller did not confirm shipment of the order within 30 days. Sellers on Amazon must ship products within 30 days of when the order was placed, otherwise the order is automatically canceled. We're sorry for the inconvenience this has caused. In most cases, you pay for items when we ship them to you, so you won't be charged for items that are canceled."

By ordering from the wrong seller, I had this order hanging over me for five weeks plus two days.  If I had looked at the feedback before placing the order, I would not have chosen this particular seller.

To my knowledge, Amazon does not let sellers list books for free.  It's surprising that a seller has an untended storefront on Amazon.  Wouldn't it be logical not to pay Amazon to list items that one has no intention of shipping out?  It could be that the seller has passed away.  Regardless, I will be more careful in the future so that I can avoid a repeat of this situation.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Canby Hall #13 Here Come the Boys and #14 What's a Girl to Do?

In Girls of Canby Hall #13, Here Come the Boys, Canby Hall decides to admit three boys on a trial basis in order to decide whether the school should allow boys to attend.  The three boys stay in Baker House and become close personal friends to Dana, Faith, and Shelley.  The boys apparently have no interest in any other girls at Canby Hall.

The trial run with the boys appears to be successful.  The boys stay at Canby Hall for the duration of Dana, Faith, and Shelley's time at the school.  After all six graduate, the school no longer has any boys.  How very odd but typical of this series.  It's not like anything has to make sense.

I enjoyed this book.

In Girls of Canby Hall #14, What's a Girl to Do?, Dana, Faith, and Shelley volunteer at the hospital as part of a class project.  Faith falls for a young resident doctor, even though he is 10 years older than she is.  Meanwhile, Shelley worries about the tryouts for the spring play while Dana worries that her younger sister, Maggie, might attend Canby Hall next year.

On page 29, Faith says that Pamela "could care less," and on the next page, Pamela herself says that she "couldn't care less."  The incorrect version "could care less" shows up in other books as well.  Apparently not even authors can get it right!  Or at least, the authors for this series couldn't get it right.

I enjoyed this book.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

River Heights #6 Lessons in Love and #7 Cheating Hearts

In River Heights #6, Lessons in Love, Samantha Daley falls for the substitute French teacher, Monsieur LeBlanc.  Sam seriously thinks that she has a chance with him and plots to get her dream to come true.

Karen Jacobs also has problems.  Karen is attracted to Ben Newhouse, whose girlfriend broke up with him.  Ben seems to think of Karen as just a friend, and Karen has no idea how she can change that.

With this book, the series shifts away from focusing only on Nikki and her friends.  In my opinion, the series is better and less stupid from this point on.  The series really hits its stride.

Samatha's attitude about the French teacher is ridiculous.  On page 70, Kim tells Sam that "there are rules against things like that.  He could lose his job, for one thing."  In the next paragraph, Sam wonders why they are saying "such horrible things."  She concludes that they are jealous.

I greatly enjoyed this book.

In River Heights #7, Cheating Hearts, Karen Jacobs has learned about a cheating ring at River Heights High School.  Students have stolen tests and are selling them to other students.  Karen could break the story in the school paper, but Ben tells her that she could ruin lives with the information.  Meanwhile, Nikki falls for Niles Butler, who will only be in town for a few months.  But does Niles like her?

On page 3, Karen overhears Jerry warning a student about the upcoming test for which he has just provided a copy.  Jerry tells the student that "whatever you do, don't ace it.  That would look suspicious."

Indeed.  My cheating students never seem to realize that, which always alerts me.  For instance, a student consistently makes failing grades on tests.  Suddenly, the student scores a 95% and somehow can get the correct answers to all problems by showing no work at all.  Whenever that happens, I give the student his or her very own test the next time, and the grade is then amazingly consistent with the earlier test grades.

I enjoyed this book.