Thursday, February 14, 2019

Judy Bolton #19 Secret of the Musical Tree

In Judy Bolton #19, The Secret of the Musical Tree, Judy and Peter try to visit Roxy at her home in Cleveland, but the maid answers the door, claiming that Roxy is away.  Later, Judy is mistaken for Roxy in a department store, and Judy learns some information that leads her to believe that Roxy is in trouble.  Judy calls Roxy's home and speaks to her, but Roxy is vague and mysterious.  Judy is certain that Roxy is in trouble and must find a way to help her.

The plot of this book is apparently similar to Dorothy Dixon and the Double Cousin.  I have never read the Dorothy Dixon book.  I intended to years ago, but I couldn't stand the writing style of the books.  They did not appeal to me.  I cannot confirm this myself, but a review on Goodreads gives enough information that it is apparent that the plots are indeed similar.

On page 89, Judy requests that Mrs. Bolton drop everything and come to her house to take care of Roberta while she leaves for Cleveland.  "Oh, Dad can take care of himself.  I hate to ask you to drop everything and come, but you'll be coming for Christmas anyway.  In case I'm delayed, you can fix the tree and put the packages around it just the way you always used to at home."

This seems rather presumptuous.  Doesn't Mrs. Bolton have some Christmas preparations of her own?  Not only that, but Judy just expects Mrs. Bolton to set up Judy's Christmas decorations and presents for her.  Wow.

This is an excellent book.

Monday, February 11, 2019

Judy Bolton #17 The Rainbow Riddle and #18 The Living Portrait

In Judy Bolton #17, The Rainbow Riddle, Judy and Peter are married in a double wedding in which Arthur and Lorraine are also married.  Roberta arrives unexpectedly just before the wedding and seems quite afraid that Judy and Peter will be injured.  Roberta disappears with one of the wedding presents, and shortly thereafter, an explosion is heard.  This is passed off as nothing, and Peter acts mysterious.

I can't stand it when Peter keeps rather important details from Judy.  This book isn't even a mystery, and it bored me.  The book is a favorite among many Judy Bolton fans, and those people likely enjoy sentimental books much more than I do.  I want a good mystery and care nothing about sentiment.

I skimmed much of this book.  This is really just a wedding and honeymoon story.  The Rainbow Riddle is now my least favorite book in the series. I do not like it.

In Judy Bolton #18, The Living Portrait, Roberta now lives with Judy and Peter.  She acts as if the portrait in the living room is real and that it talks to her.  She calls the woman her teacher, and Judy doesn't understand what Roberta means.  Prowlers roam around the property at night, and it soon becomes apparent that they want the portrait.  What is special about the portrait?

Why does the portrait, as seen on the cover, look like Judy?  The girl is not supposed to look just like Judy.

This book is interesting at first but then it drags in the middle and towards the end.  Way too much time is spent looking for Blackberry, and I became bored.

Once again, Peter keeps details from Judy, and of course, the case is his instead of hers.  This is supposed to be the Judy Bolton series—not the Peter Dobbs FBI series.

On this reading, I found this story to be a bit slow and uninteresting.  It is still overall good.

Thursday, February 7, 2019

Judy Bolton #15 Mark on the Mirror and #16 Secret of the Barred Window

In Judy Bolton #15, The Mark on the Mirror, the girls throw a wedding shower for Judy and Lorraine.  A mirror for Judy is brought to the shower by a masked messenger, and Lorraine is convinced that Arthur gave the present to Judy.

Judy must prove that Lorraine is wrong, and she is certain that the mysterious gift is tied to the mirror that had previously fallen from the wall in the Bolton home.  Who broke it?  And what was the meaning of the mysterious mark on the mirror?

The cover art has always bothered me.  I have never felt that the shape of the back of Judy's hair quite matches what is seen in the mirror.  Blackberry is also messed up.  Blackberry's reflection looks fine, but there's something wrong with the position of Blackberry, his leg, and Judy's hand as they appear before the mirror.  His leg seems to be turned around backwards.  Yikes.

This is a very good book.

In Judy Bolton #16, The Secret of the Barred Window, Judy goes to New York City to purchase her wedding dress.  She stays with Pauline Faulkner.  At Pauline's request, Judy travels with her to Connecticut to search for a missing author.  The girls are unable to find the author, but even worse, Judy loses her wedding dress.

Judy learns that Lorraine is upset once again, and this time, the double wedding may be called off.  Judy must find her dress and the missing author as she tries to find some way to patch up the mess with Lorraine.

Roberta is introduced on page 50.  Roberta will be an important part of the series up through volume 21.

This book is rather depressing.  On my previous readings through the series, I always considered #8 The Voice in the Suitcase to be the most depressing book in the series.  It didn't really bother me this time, though.  Now, I consider this book to be a real downer.  Judy has lost her dress, Lorraine is calling off the wedding, and a strange house has a barred window and muddy tracks on a bed.  Yuck!

This is an overall very good story, but it is depressing.

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Nancy Drew Diaries #17 Famous Mistakes

In Nancy Drew Diaries #17, Famous Mistakes, Ned is set to interview controversial comedian Brady Owens for his podcast.  When Nancy and Ned arrive at Brady's hotel room, they find the door ajar.  The room has been torn apart!

Brady recently suggested that a woman who interrupted him during a show be mugged outside by other audience members.  Ever since, protesters have been after him and might be the ones who trashed the hotel room.  The director of the River Heights Arts Complex wants to call off that night's show due to safety concerns.  Nancy has just hours to solve this mystery.

This book is an interesting contrast to some of the other books in the series, particularly the poorly executed The Haunting on Heliotrope Lane.  In Heliotrope Lane, Nancy is so frightened that she shakes in fear throughout the book.  The Nancy Drew Diaries stories have mainly consisted of boring sabotage plots while the Hardy Boys Adventures books have had the more creative plots.  The Hardy Boys have been depicted as great at solving mysteries while Nancy Drew has not been able to solve mysteries on her own and has had trouble motivating herself.

This book corrects all of the problems.  First and foremost, the plot of this book is not sabotage.  The story appears to be sabotage and is treated as such for most of the book.  However, the book has a plot twist towards the end.  I'll leave it at that.

On page 2, Ned's hands are shaking because he is nervous.  On page 14, Ned admits that he is "freaked out."  In these books, Nancy is usually the one who shakes and is freaked out.  I found it rather interesting that Ned, a male, is the one who is shaking and freaking.  Hmm.

Page 35 contains these interesting remarks by Nancy and Ned.
"I'm sure," I said.  "Preventing sabotage is kind of my specialty."

"There is a lot of sabotage in River Heights," Ned said.
OMG.  I had already noted Ned's fear, which I found rather interesting.  After I read the comments about sabotage, I knew that the person who wrote this particular book must be aware of comments made by fans.  This person might have read this blog or could have read comments on Facebook.  Regardless, they know.  This is good.  Now, if we could only have this person write the rest of the books.

On page 47, Nancy speaks to Bess and George on the phone.
"Yeah, he's okay, but we're on a case."

"What?!"  Bess and George said in unison.  Even though I wasn't with them, I knew they were both leaning into the phone excitedly.  I may have the reputation for being a detective, but my friends have helped me on almost every case; they like solving mysteries about as much as I do.
I'll say it again:  Let's keep this author writing the books.  Please.

Technology is used a lot in this book, and it is used properly, not as some kind of joke against Nancy like in several previous titles.

The text contains no mention of pee or restrooms, which has been a problem in previous titles.  The story has no smirking or disparaging remarks made about Nancy and her sleuthing skills.  Nancy is not forgetful.

I have no complaints.  None.

The story is very modern with a modern theme, but that's actually great.  Readers of the vintage Nancy Drew books probably would not enjoy this kind of story, but the story is not aimed at them.  This story is for modern readers, and it succeeds.  If Simon and Schuster will continue with this person as the writer and with similar stories, then Nancy Drew will continue to be a viable franchise.

Sunday, February 3, 2019

The Girl with the Silver Eyes and Haunted Summer

In The Girl with the Silver Eyes by Willo Davis Roberts, Katie Welker is different.  Her eyes are silver, and she can make objects move just by thinking about them.  Some people think Katie might be a witch, and none of the children like her.  Katie feels very alone until she learns that her mother worked for a pharmaceutical company while pregnant.  Mrs. Welker used a drug that was later discontinued for safety reasons.  Katie also learns that three other workers were pregnant at the same time.  Katie wonders if these other children are like her, and she tries to find them.

This was one of my favorite books when young.  I read it multiple times.  I decided to read it again recently to see if it would hold up, and it does.  I still find the story to be excellent.  Now that I am much older, I do see some flaws in the plot that were not apparent to me when I was young.  Katie finds the other children too easily, and the ending of the book is a bit rushed.  However, the story is still great and is quite engaging.

In Haunted Summer by Hope Dahle Jordan, Rilla Marston hits something while driving the florist's delivery truck on a foggy night.  Rilla is horrified to see that she has run over a boy on a bicycle.  She takes him to the hospital, then she panics and flees.  Later, Rilla learns that the authorities are looking for a boy—Rilla has short hair, so the nurse must have thought she was a boy.  Rilla is safe; no one is looking for her.  However, Rilla is consumed by guilt when she learns that the boy was seriously injured.  How can Rilla go on with her life when she knows what she did?

Rilla's full name is Marilla Marston.  I love her name.

This is an excellent story.

Friday, February 1, 2019

Hidden Clues #5 The Dana Girls Revisions

Collectors frequently ask about whether the Dana Girls books were ever revised.

If you are not very familiar with Dana Girls formats, please take a moment to view my Dana Girls formats page.  The image seen to the right has been captured from my main Dana Girls page.

First, the only Dana Girls books that might possibly have revised texts are the white spine picture cover books from 1972-1979 (see link to formats page for photos).  If the Dana Girls book is not a white spine picture cover, then it does not have a revised text.

Let's get more specific.

Dana Girls #1-16 were never revised down from 25 chapters, so each book only has the original text in all printings.  These sixteen books all still had the original text in the beige spine picture cover format, and all of them went out of print and never made it to the white spine format.

#18 and up only had 20 chapters in the first place, so those titles were not revised.  However, a few titles that made it to the white spine picture cover version had very slight revisions like just a sentence or a paragraph in the beginning of the book.  The order of the titles changed in the white spine format, and this caused them to have to correct minor inconsistencies like when the Danas returned from various travels.  Changing a sentence or a paragraph corrected the continuity problems.

#17 The Ghost in the Gallery is the only volume that actually was revised down from 25 chapters to 20 chapters.  The revised version appears in the white spine format.

You don't have to worry about making sure you have the original text for #1-16 in the original set, since all of those books have the original text.

#18 through #30 in the first set and their corresponding volumes in the second set are practically identical except for the very slight changes mentioned above.  It does not matter which version of the book is purchased, unless the fan is a format collector.

Since The Ghost in the Gallery is the only book that was truly revised, it is the only book where it matters which version of the text is purchased.

In closing, I find that many people who are currently collecting have forgotten how to use Internet searches to find the many series book websites and information pages.  Please consider utilizing the Internet to seek information.  Type any phrase or question that you have into Google.  You will be surprised at what is out there.

Offhand and without trying hard, I can think of at least seven advanced collectors (people with large collections who have collected for 20 or more years) who have extensive websites that cover just about anything and everything you would ever want to know about series books.  Please find and visit those sites so that we feel motivated to continue to pay the monthly hosting fees.  Having an informational site is pointless when active collectors do not use it.  Thanks.

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Judy Bolton #14 The Clue in the Patchwork Quilt

In Judy Bolton #14, The Clue in the Patchwork Quilt, Judy's grandparents, Mr. and Mrs. Smeed, have passed away, and Judy is going through their belongings.  She discovers that Mrs. Smeed's will is missing, and that a criminal known as Blackie may have taken it.

Meanwhile, Judy finds an old telegram that had apparently had never been seen by her grandparents.  The telegram announces the birth of a baby that must be Judy's cousin.  Judy hopes that she can find this unknown cousin, but soon, she learns that this cousin knows Blackie.

On page 7, Margaret Sutton makes a sly reference to Nancy Drew.
"I'm not very eager to solve the mystery of a missing will," Judy told him.  "In books they're always hidden in old clocks and secret drawers and I'm sure Grandma wouldn't do anything as foolish as that."
On pages 41 and 42, the text mentions the radio that Judy and Horace had given their grandparents for Christmas.  Beverly Hatfield incorporated that gift into the plot of The Mystery on Judy Lane.  Since I had just read that book, reading the mention of the radio really emphasized what an excellent job Beverly Hatfield did with Judy Lane.

Sometimes it seems like Honey Dobbs could have been the inspiration for Honey Wheeler of the Trixie Belden series.  From page 87:
Honey let out a little scream of laughter.

"She's trying to say that if she has a cousin and if the cousin looks like her and if the pocketbook was intended for the cousin and if she's at the lecture and if we can find out what lecture it is and if—"

"Honey, for goodness sake, stop before you have us all crazy," commanded Peter.  "The more ifs you put in, the more complicated this sounds when it may really be a simple matter of Judy's uncle by marriage trying to get possession of the will for his daughter."
I felt like I was slipping into a Trixie Belden book as I read the passage.  The dialogue matches the speech pattern of both Honey Wheeler and Trixie Belden when they think faster than they can talk.  Jim Frayne would have been the one commanding her to stop.  It's perfect.  I mean, it's perfectly perfect.

This is an excellent book.

Sunday, January 27, 2019

Judy Bolton #13 The Name on the Bracelet and The Mystery on Judy Lane

In Judy Bolton #13, The Name on the Bracelet, a telegram arrives announcing the birth of Judy Irene Meredith, Judy's namesake and the daughter of Dale and Irene Meredith.  Judy is asked to come to Tower House to be Judy Irene's nursemaid until one can be hired.

After the baby is brought home, Judy is horrified to discover that the bracelet on Judy Irene's wrist belongs to another baby.  The babies were switched!  Judy and Dale frantically begin searching for the other baby while Dale is determined to keep the truth from Irene.  Judy realizes that their lives will be destroyed by the secret, so she vows to find the baby.

This book is rather melodramatic, and I rather wanted to slap Dale at times.  However, the story is excellent and quite compelling.

In November 2018, one final Judy Bolton book, The Mystery on Judy Lane, was published with the permission of Margaret Sutton's family.  This book fits seamlessly between volumes 13 and 14 of the original series by Margaret Sutton.  The book was written by Beverly Hatfield.

In The Mystery on Judy Lane, Judy assists Peter in his law office during the holiday season.  Peter is once again assisting the Piper family—this time with a will.  Meanwhile, Judy shops for Christmas presents, and as she shops, she notices a strange woman spying on her.  Who is this woman, and does she have something to do with the Piper family?

The subplot in which Judy searches for Christmas presents is delightful.  I especially enjoyed getting to know Judy's grandparents, Mr. and Mrs. Smeed, who really come alive in this book.  I love Judy's gift to her grandparents.  It is quite special.  I was also a little sad knowing that the Smeeds would not live much longer.

In the beginning of the story, I found the references to earlier mysteries to be a bit distracting and seemingly overdone.  The references to past mysteries continue throughout the book, but I found them interesting rather than distracting as I continued reading.

Some time later, after I had read further into the original series, I realized that the writing style and references to past mysteries more closely match Margaret Sutton's style for the later Judy Bolton titles, like #25 and up.  That was my problem, since I had just read #13 and had not reached the later books yet.  Margaret Sutton's style shifted somewhat over the 35 years that she wrote the series.

I am in awe that Beverly Hatfield was able to so closely match Margaret Sutton's writing style.

The book strikes the right tone and meshes quite well with the original series.  This is an excellent addition to the Judy Bolton series that is just as good as the original books.