Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Sweet Dreams #51 Magic Moments and #52 Love Notes

Sweet Dreams #51 Magic Moments, Debra Spector, 1984

As an amateur magician, Nicki knows a lot about sudden appearances.  So naturally she's delighted when handsome Perry Ingram walks into her life.  He's one of the best young magicians in the state and everything she wants a boy to be.

When Nicki's alone with Perry, she believes romance is in the cards.  But lately Perry has been appearing more frequently with Lana, his gorgeous assistant.  Nicki's afraid that her magic isn't enough to keep Perry from breaking her heart—and disappearing forever.

The book opens well and caught my attention.  By halfway through, I no longer cared and quit reading.

Sweet Dreams #52 Love Notes, Joanna Campbell, 1984

There's nothing Kirsten wants more than to be a concert pianist—unless it's Peter, the talented violinist she's met at the Greenacres Summer Music Program.  It's almost too good to be true when they're assigned a duet and must rehearse together every evening.

Though proud and distant, Peter also has a soft, sensitive side that comes out around Kirsten.  A dream romance is blossoming until Peter airs his views on girls and their careers.  Instantly the summer turns sour.  Will Peter ever admit he's wrong?

This book did not interest me.

Saturday, March 28, 2020

Sweet Dreams #49 Too Much to Lose and #50 Lights, Camera, Love

Sweet Dreams #49 Too Much to Lose, Suzanne Rand, 1983

When Suzy's boyfriend drops her for another girl, the hurt and anger are almost more than she can stand.  She vows never to get tied down to one boy again—it's just not worth the pain of breaking up.

But Suzy's resolve to play the field breaks down when she meets Mike Kelly.  They're irresistibly drawn to each other, but Mike wants Suzy all to himself.  If she says yes, it means leaving herself wide open for the agony of rejection again.  If she says no, she might lose him forever.  What can Suzy do?

This book did not interest me.  I read a few chapters, then I quit.

Sweet Dreams #50 Lights, Camera, Love, Gailanne Maravel, 1983

Holly's life as a soap opera star has cut her off from a lot of the things most teenagers take for granted—parties, friends, and dates.  Sometimes she worries that she's giving up her own life to play Lindsey on the popular daytime series, "Hartley Square."

Lindsey's got it made, while Holly's always struggling to keep up with her busy schedule and still find time for Tim.  He means more to her than any boy she has ever met, but there are hardly enough hours in her day to see him.  With no script to guide her, Holly must decide if she can have stardom, popularity—and a romance.

This is a misleading summary.  The book is not about finding time for Tim.  Holly is trying to fit in with the kids at her new school.  She acts out her soap opera personality in order to impress them.  Later, Holly learns that her new friends have some significant character flaws.  Holly has to get her act together in order to avoid losing Tim.

See?  I like the actual version much better than the fake summary.  The story is better than it sounds.

This is a very good book.

Monday, March 23, 2020

Sweet Dreams #47 Te Amo Means I Love You and #48 Dial L for Love

Sweet Dreams #47 Te Amo Means I Love You, Deborah Kent, 1983

When Lena lived in Chicago's inner city, she felt comfortable in her Mexican neighborhood.  She had friends who cared for her, fond memories, and a deep sense of belonging.

But now her family has moved to an affluent suburb, and Lena's suddenly aware how different she is from the teenagers in Wyndham Glen.  She's worried that she won't ever fit in—until she meets Eric Lansing.

Eric is tall, blond, and comes from Wyndham Glen's old stock.  But the difference in their background doesn't seem to matter to him.  In fact, he's intrigued by Lena's past.

Will a romance with Eric make things any easier for Lena?


This book is just overall good, but at the same time, I found it rather interesting.

I sensed an insincerity in Eric from the beginning of the story, but it wasn't that obvious.  As I continued reading, I was certain that something was off.  I wondered if Eric was telling the truth about his plans and if he was telling the truth about his parents' finances and their fighting. 

Lena does gradually sense that something is amiss, but it takes her longer than it does the reader.  At least Lena isn't an idiot like some of these girls.  She does gradually see the clues and reason out what is going on with Eric.

As I read the book, I was fascinated by Eric.  I knew he wasn't being upfront, but I couldn't pinpoint the problem.  One aspect of the plot that I thought was a lie turned out to be true.  Regarding the other part, Eric had a hidden but not really malicious motivation.  As a reader, trying to figure Eric out was like an interesting mystery.  I don't think that a mystery was the intent of the author, but it was like one to me.

This is a very good book.

Sweet Dreams #48 Dial L for Love, Marian Woodruff, 1983

Mattie Winston's got what most girls at Port Kearney High only dream about: Hank Butterfield, the best-looking, greatest ice hockey player at school.  Mattie ought to be happy, but there' something about Hank that makes her nervous—he's so reserved at school.  But at night he turns into a real Romeo—on the telephone!

Mattie must discover the real Hank before she continues dating him—and getting those romantic phone calls.

Nancy Drew is mentioned on page 2.  "Golden Girl" is mentioned on page 4.  I am certain that "Golden Girl" is not a reference to Judy Bolton, but it would have fit with the previous Nancy Drew reference.

I gave this book around 25 pages, and then I quit.

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Sweet Dreams #45 Dream Prom and #46 On Thin Ice

Sweet Dreams #45 Dream Prom, Margaret Burman, 1983

When Molly Knight reads her birthday card from Duncan Grover at her Sweet Sixteen party, she knows that he's the boy for her.  But then Duncan's best friend, Matt, asks her to Landon High's senior prom—the kind of formal dress-up prom she's always dreamed of going to.  What should Molly do?  If she turns down Matt, she might not get to go to the prom at all.  And even though she likes Duncan more than any other boy in the word, she knows that the dark cloud of his past could cause problems for them both.

Will Molly's prom dream ever come true?

Let's see if you can follow my recap of this book better than I can.  Each time I have proofread the below recap, I have gotten confused.  Three characters have names that start with the letter "M."

Here goes...

The characters are a bunch of dysfunctional losers.  Molly likes Duncan, but Matt asks her to the prom.  Maria, Molly's best friend, is very upset that Molly might turn Matt down.  The reason that Maria is upset is because Maria likes Matt.  It seems like she would want Molly to turn Matt down so that Matt could go with her.

Duncan is failing English and refuses help from anyone.  Duncan won't be able to go to the prom if he fails.  He continues to refuse help even after Molly confronts him.

Molly finally tells Matt that she can't go to the prom with him.  By this point, Matt has decided that he likes Maria.  However, Matt refuses to accept Molly's decision, because a promise is sacred.  Matt insists that he will go to the prom with Molly even though he likes Maria. 

*$%(&#*!!!

I read some of the book, then I skimmed it.  These people are idiots.

Sweet Dreams #46 On Thin Ice, Jocelyn Saal, 1983

For sixteen years, Ellen has played second fiddle to her beautiful, talented sister, Paula, the skating star.  But Ellen has her own interests and goals, so Paula's glory has never bothered her—until now.  And it's all because of Gene.

Gene is Paula's ice-skating partner, an Olympic champion, and part of the glamorous world that Ellen has only observed.  Ellen dreams of Gene's attention, but he and Paula are a prize-winning team.  Everyone says they skate as if they were made for each other.  Can Ellen hope to win Gene's love, or will she continue to watch him from the sidelines?

I did not make any notes about this book.  As I recall, I only read some of it and then quit.

Monday, March 16, 2020

Update on My Activities

I am trying to psych myself up for listing books on eBay.   I am having trouble doing so, due to my fear of contracting COVID-19.  I am afraid of going into my post office or anywhere, for that matter.  I was happy that my post office smelled of Lysol on Saturday morning, but I remain concerned.  My fear is not good for my mental health, although my caution is better than being cavalier about it like all the people who packed Walt Disney World on its last night open.

I tend to be a worrier.  My school district said on Friday, as we released for spring break, that it intended to have school on Monday, March 23.  My thought was, Sure you are.  I wasn't going to worry about it.  By yesterday, I had a niggling concern about it, which increased today.  I can't help it; that's just how I am.  I had no intention of going back on March 23 and had even left the stack of worksheets and sub directions on my desk.  The plan was to start using my personal leave, if necessary.  But I didn't want to let my students down.  They need someone to actually explain the problems to them.

Fortunately, the Oklahoma State Department of Education voted today to cancel all public schools in Oklahoma through April 6.  Whew.  That, at least, made sure that every district will close, which would not otherwise have been the case.  Best of all, we are not allowed to grade papers.  That made me laugh.  I left my few papers at the school with no intention of grading them before school resumes.

I personally think that the school year is over.  I don't see how we can go back before the end of the year, which is supposed to be on May 22.  It's odd to think that I could actually, for all practical purposes, already be on summer break.  I'm not going to enjoy this extra time, since I'm so worried about all the people of the world.  It weighs on me.

I have such great students this year.  I'm mourning a bit, since I believe the year is pretty much over.  I figure that at some point, probably in June, we will go back to wrap things up.  This is so sad.

I also wonder about my salary.  I do have money in savings, so I will be okay, regardless.  Also, I understand that the federal government is apparently going to see that workers do not take losses.  Therefore, I am not concerned about the money.  I am merely curious.  Will the district continue to pay me even though I have served only 75% of my contract?  These are interesting times.

I have felt, since January, that this is the most significant world event of my lifetime.  I never expected to live through anything like this.  Everything about this event is surreal, and the United States has not quite reached the really bad part.

Enough of that.

I read Christopher Pike's Spooksville series a few years ago.  I really enjoyed those books.  I love everything Christopher Pike, for that matter.  I am such a Pike fan girl.  Squeee!

Anyway, a television series based on Spooksville aired from 2013 to 2014 and was cancelled after one season.  I decided, since I am now on extended quarantine, that it was high time that I watch the shows.

I purchased the entire season of 22 episodes on YouTube for $24.99.  The series can also be purchased on Amazon and other places, probably at $24.99.

I have so far watched three episodes and am on the fourth.  Honestly, the books are better.  Isn't that almost always the case?  The one exception is Twilight, where the films are better.  In fact, having read the books makes the films really good, since I understand Bella quite well.  But I digress.

The problem with the Spooksville television series is that Christopher Pike's humor is not present.  That is an epic fail.  I love Pike.  He is so funny.  Take away his voice, and the story falls flat.  Ugh.

I will keep watching, however.  The shows might get better.  They are interesting enough to watch, even though nowhere near as good as the books.

I also started reading the Harry Potter series again the other day.  I have read most of the set more than once.  I have read the first book several times.  I have stayed away from Harry Potter ever since I read the seventh book for the first time due to a distaste that I developed as a result of the hype and some comments made by J. K. Rowling.  I found an old blog post from 2013 where I explained my grievances.
I read the first four Harry Potter books at about the time that the fourth book was published and volumes five through seven during the following several years as each of those titles were published.  I dearly loved the first four Harry Potter books, but I was somewhat soured on the series due to some dissatisfaction with the final three books.

Part of the problem was the extreme hype surrounding the series.  I hated trying to enjoy something while news reporters who likely had no interest in the series prattled on about various plot details.  It was so annoying.

I recall joining a Yahoo! Group and reading all of the speculation surrounding one of the characters.  I was then greatly annoyed by a Rowling interview in which she effectively shot down the speculation by making a statement about not understanding how people could be drawing certain conclusions.  That effectively ruined it for me.  Sometimes authors need to keep their mouths shut.

The funny thing is... Rowling's comments from that interview were purposefully misleading.  Again, authors need to keep their mouths shut and let their books do the talking.  She ruined it for me.

Furthermore, Rowling's books became wordier and wordier with each new book, and it became apparent that little editing had been done for the last three books.  The fifth book was particularly awful in that at least one-third of the text could have been removed, thus making the book far less boring.  The epilogue at the end of the seventh book was stupid and should not have been included.  It would have been far better to have had more falling action than to have included that nonsense.

Someday I might read the Harry Potter series again, but it is going to be a long time before I consider doing so.  I have too many bad memories of not enjoying parts of the last three books.  If the books had been carefully edited, that would never have been a problem.  It's a shame, really.
So here I am.  It has been nearly 13 years since I read the seventh and final book in the set for the first and only time.  I can carry a grudge for a long time.  It is only due to COVID-19 that I am reading Harry Potter again.  Otherwise, it might have been another 13 years.

Upon this reading, I did not enjoy the first book very much.  Overall, I found it boring.  The plot moves too slowly.  I have started the second book and am liking it very much.  That's a good sign.  I probably can read through the entire set, although I expect that I will have to skim a lot in books 4 through 7.  I wish that the publisher had actually edited those books and reduced the length somewhat.  Remember:  Less is more.

Sunday, March 15, 2020

Sweet Dreams #43 Tender Loving Care and #44 Long Distance Love

Sweet Dreams #43 Tender Loving Care, Anne Park 1983

Juliet resents Neil from the moment she sees him.  He's just another runaway her social worker mother has taken in.  But there's not much Juliet can do.  First he moves into their spare room, then he enrolls at Juliet's high school!

At first, Juliet's determined to keep Neil out of her life.  But the harder she tries to stay angry with him, the more she finds herself attracted to him.  Then Neil asks her for a date and she accepts... but she's scared.  Is it safe to love him?  Or will he run away again, just when Juliet has opened up her heart?

Admittedly, I skimmed small amounts of the book, so I might have missed something.  Nevertheless, I don't recall Juliet being concerned about Neil leaving.  I was concerned, but she doesn't seem to be.  Juliet just resents her mother for paying more attention to Neil than to her, which is why Juliet is reluctant to get close to him.  These summaries often twist things around.

I did not enjoy the way some scenes with Neil are done.  That aside, the book is overall very good.

Sweet Dreams #44, Long Distance Love, Jesse DuKore, 1983

Will absence make the heart grow fonder... or will it be a case of "Out of sight, out of mind"?  Pamela Gray worries that her boyfriend Bobby will forget all about her when she leaves for her new boarding school, hundreds of miles from home.  On the one hand, she's happy and excited at the thought of all the new experiences awaiting her at school.  On the other, she's afraid that Bobby's love won't withstand a long separation.

As for Pam herself, she's sure that no one else could possibly take Bobby's place in her heart—at least, no one she's met so far...

The summary does correctly reveal that Pam will be the problem in the relationship.  I don't like Pam's flippant behavior towards Bobby in this book, and I don't like Pam at all.

I read part of the book, then skimmed the rest.  I do not like this book.

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Book Prices, Increasing My Handling Time, and COVID-19

This post is only slightly on-topic for this blog, but I think important.  I also hope not to be ridiculed by the overwhelming number of people who continue to think that the unfolding global pandemic is a joke, something that will never affect them, or just a bunch of hype.  In fact, just close out of this post now if you think this is nothing.  You'll save both of us some time and aggravation.

I purchased this book over the weekend in a local store.


I paid more than $10 for it.  I specifically mention $10 because of a recent post on Facebook where someone saw a bunch of hardcover Three Investigators books in a store priced at $10 each.  They felt that the books are not worth that much.  I disagree.  Most all hardcover Three Investigators books, unless in very bad shape, sell for well above $10 each online.

The above book is not a book that I need.  I felt that the store's price, while not low, was at an amount where I could easily sell the book for more than what I paid.

....................................................

For some time, I have considered dropping my top-rated seller status, because eBay's requirements are a bit much.  I must ship the next business day.  This is a problem because eBay goes by the Pacific time zone.  eBay doesn't care where I live.  I am in the Central time zone, so I must ship all items which are paid by 12:00 AM Pacific time, but that is 2:00 AM my time.  This means that I am actually having to ship the same day for items purchased between midnight and 2:00 AM my time.  At least Etsy has the cutoff time at midnight for my time zone, as it should.  Etsy is also less stringent and will not penalize me if I do not mail the package the next day.  eBay's requirements are stressful.

Then along comes COVID-19 (Coronavirus Disease 2019).  I have been following this event carefully since late January.  I am using Reddit for my information, backed by other sources.  The reason I ended up on Reddit was that the media were ignoring the story back in January.  Oh, they mentioned it here and there, but what little I heard told me that this was something that could escalate into something truly awful.  Reddit was the only place where I could actually find information that was not heavily censored.  In case you aren't aware, in January and in early February, social media sites were censoring coverage of the virus.

Reddit gave me the information I sought.  While true that Reddit is full of fear-mongering and some misinformation, it has a wealth of factual information, much of which cannot be found easily elsewhere.  All stories are aggregated into the Reddit subs by its users.  The result is amazing coverage of COVID-19.  I cannot emphasize enough how much information is shared in the subs on Reddit each day.  Even now, with greatly increased media coverage, I still would not know as much as I do if I were not reading the subs on Reddit.  I am distressed that most people just know a fraction of what I know about the situation.  That's why most people think the pandemic is a joke.

Coronavirus subs have been formed for different parts of the world, regions of the United States, and for each of the 50 states.  Here are the Coronavirus subs that I visit the most.

This sub is the most strictly moderated due to the very large membership.  It has been sanctioned by Reddit as the place to go for COVID-19 information.
https://www.reddit.com/r/Coronavirus/

This next sub has an unfortunate name, but it is equivalent to the above sub.  The moderation is just a little looser.
https://www.reddit.com/r/China_Flu/

This sub focuses more on the scientific aspect of the disease.
https://www.reddit.com/r/COVID19/

This sub is for the United States.
https://www.reddit.com/r/CoronavirusUS/

At the current stage of this event, Redditors are very angry at the governments of most nations, which are not doing enough to stop the spread of the virus.  Some governments are doing nothing.

My obsession with this topic is not healthy, but I cannot tear myself away from it.  I actually have not read any books in about a month.  All of my reading is on Reddit.  The information changes hourly.  I have seen videos of and read about events that I never could have imagined happening in my lifetime.  The American media, while now covering the virus, are not mentioning most aspects of this pandemic.

I have read so many apocalyptic disaster novels that I see where this situation could go very wrong and be disastrous.  No, this is not the zombie apocalypse, and society probably will not collapse.  However, hospitals will almost certainly experience a surge in patients and will not have enough beds.  People will likely die due to lack of care.  This could get very bad.  Hopefully, this will not be an utter disaster, but we do need to plan ahead and consider what we will do should certain events transpire.

No doubt some of you are scoffing and thinking, "But this is just a cold."  Common colds affect me horribly.  It was just a cold that I had last May that caused me to be very ill and have close to 100% voice loss for most of two months.  Colds mess me up badly. 

More of you are probably thinking, "But this is just the flu."  No doubt this virus is like the flu, although it appears to be more lethal than the regular flu.  Even if I am wrong about that, common colds affect me horribly.  I haven't had the flu in close to 20 years, and my thyroid worked somewhat better back then.  What would any kind of flu do to me?

And last, there is the argument that the seasonal flu has killed far more people than COVID-19.  It certainly has.  The difference is that the flu has completely infiltrated our population and has been around forever.  Of course the flu has killed more people! 

Using the high-end numbers from the CDC, influenza has killed up to 61,000 people in the United States each year out of up to 45,000,000 cases per year.  This is a 0.1% death rate.

So far, COVID-19 has a worldwide death rate of 3.4%.  This probably won't hold, but let's go with it for the United States.  This means that if 45,000,000 are infected with COVID-19 in the United States, then 1,530,000 people will die.  That's far more than 61,000 people dying of influenza.

We certainly do not know how this will play out, but the numbers I just gave should explain why many of us are very worried. 

This event is quite unfortunately progressing exactly as I have expected since late January.  I want to be wrong, but everything is happening just as my fellow Redditors predicted.  We watched the outbreaks unfold in South Korea, Italy, and Iran.  We saw exactly how the numbers changed at first in those three countries.  The pace was slow as first, then a bit faster, and then it exploded.  We are in the second stage in the United States right now.  The pace is picking up.  I believe that spring break is the dividing point between normal and abnormal in most of the United States.  Many people leave the country for spring break.  What will they bring back with them?

I have been thinking through contingency plans for various scenarios.  I drop packages off at the post office up to six days per week.  I must limit my potential exposure to the virus when I can.  Therefore, I have changed my handling time on both eBay and Etsy to two business days.  I will only drop packages off on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays.  If the situation should get bad enough in central Oklahoma, then I will quit selling online so that I don't have to go to the post office at all.

Etsy will not penalize me for two-day handling, but two-day handling violates eBay's top-rated seller standards.  I will lose my top-rated seller status within two months.  This mainly means that I will not get a 10% discount on fees.  The discount really isn't that much, and eBay can keep it.

I am concerned that I work in a school.  Schools are incubators for all viruses.  This is not good.  If the schools are not closed once the outbreak worsens, then I might start using my sick leave to avoid the virus.

I keep thinking at random moments that maybe I have spent too much time on Reddit.  Maybe the Redditors are all wrong.  Maybe this will just go away.  Maybe we will look back on early 2020 and think of what fools we were.

But maybe we are right.  It never hurts to be prepared, even if the worst does not come to pass.  I wish the best for all of you.

Saturday, March 7, 2020

Sweet Dreams #41 The Truth about Me and Bobby V. and #42 The Perfect Match

Sweet Dreams #41 The Truth about Me and Bobby V., Janetta Johns, 1983

Candy's finally in the right crowd.  But there's a problem—she's the only one without a boyfriend.  So she invents one, to stay popular with her new friends.

But Candy's lie backfires when the gang wants her to bring her beau to a dance.  Where can she borrow a boy for the evening?  Does she dare ask Jonathan, her handsome volleyball coach, to help her out?  What about her brother's wild friend, Flip?  Candy has to come up with a plan—quickly.

This book is about an African American girl who has to adjust to a new school.  Her best friend is Bobby V.—a girl— from her old school.  Candy's new friends mistakenly believe that Bobby V. is her boyfriend, and Candy doesn't correct them.

Candy gets more than she bargains for when she manipulates her brother's friend, Flip, into pretending to be her boyfriend.  Flip is a jerk, and he decides that he likes Candy.  He tries to keep the relationship going, much to Candy's horror.

On page 115, Flip declares that he made a "jackass" out of a police officer.  Use of "jackass" or even "ass" is quite unusual for modern books, because for some reason, both words are considered more significant cuss words than they once were.  Both words are seen as more significant cuss words than "damn" or "hell," which also don't tend to show up in these books.  In the old series books of 100 years ago, "ass" and "jackass" do show up at times.

This is an excellent book.

Sweet Dreams #42  The Perfect Match, Marian Woodruff, 1983

Alexis Randall's the new matchmaker in the school.  In fact, her computer matchmaking service guarantees a dream date.  Alexis even feeds her own name into the computer.  And soon she's in love.  Tom is everything she has ever wanted in a boyfriend.

But when kids start complaining, and her own romance goes sour, Alexis begins to have doubts.  Maybe there's more to love than a perfect match.

No, just no.  I read the beginning of the book, then I quit.  I'm not interested in matchmaking.  The story also didn't seem that interesting to me.