Monday, November 12, 2018

Golden Boys #7 River Allagash and #8 Haunted Camp

In the Golden Boys #7, The Golden Boys Along the River Allagash, Rex Dale's father has had a large sum of money stolen from him, enough to ruin him.  The money appears to have been stolen by a man named Stebbins, and Stebbins is believed to have gone to a certain lake.  Rex, Bob, Jack, and Kernertok hike to that lake hoping to find Stebbins and recover the money.

Someone tries to scare the boys by making strange tracks that appear to be from a large creature.  They also make strange sounds that are meant to scare the boys.  In most series books, at least one of the characters will become frightened and act like everything is real.  In this story, all of the boys calmly state from the beginning that somebody is just trying to scare them.  They never consider there to be a real creature, unlike what would happen in most books.  I found this to be a refreshing change, and having no one scared did not decrease my enjoyment of the story.

This is an exciting book and is interesting from start to finish.  The story is excellent.

In the Golden Boys #8, The Golden Boys at the Haunted Camp, Mr. Stokes owns a camp at Chesuncook Lake in Maine.  He requests that Bob and Jack stay at the camp to solve a mystery for him.  The camp has a reputation of being haunted.  Mr. Stokes hires Bob and Jack to pose as boarders as they search for the secret behind the haunting.

I like how the boys know that ghosts aren't real and never pretend that they might be.  They simply work on finding out who is responsible for the mysterious events.

Certain characters are under suspicion during the story, and the plot involving them was left unresolved, which I found strange.

This book is very good to excellent.

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Golden Boys #5 River Drive and #6 Rescued by Radio

In the Golden Boys #5, The Golden Boys on the River Drive, Bob and Jack Golden spend their vacation at their father's lumber camp in the Maine Woods.  The men are preparing for the river drive, and the boys assist.  A rival camp attempts to sabotage Mr. Golden's lumber contract by causing log jams as the logs float down the river.  Bob and Jack work on the river drive for a time but later leave to search for a missing friend.

I notice that many of the books published by A. L. Burt have subplots within the stories.  The subplots often have nothing to do with the rest of the story.  I am pretty sure that the subplots were inserted into the stories in order to lengthen them.  As mentioned in this post, A. L. Burt wanted the stories to be a certain length and was less concerned about the quality.

Even though the story meanders a bit, it is excellent.

In the Golden Boys #6, The Golden Boys Rescued by Radio, Bob and Jack invent a set of short wave radios that they can use to communicate over a distance of many miles.  Meanwhile, Jim Carson, a revenue officer, asks the boys for them to help him find a group of men who are smuggling liquor across the border from Canada.  Bob and Jack get to work on the case, finding the men to be elusive.  Strangest of all, the men stay in a cabin that can vanish in minutes, reappearing somewhere else.

I love the part about the vanishing and reappearing cabin.  I wish the title of the book had mentioned the vanishing cabin.

This a very good to excellent book.

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Golden Boys #3 Maine Woods and #4 Lumber Jacks

In the Golden Boys #3, The Golden Boys in the Maine Woods, Bob and Jack find a coded message.  They decipher the note and discover that it is a clue to a treasure that might have been hidden in a cave in a nearby mountain.  The boys obtain the assistance of their Indian friend, Kernertok, and his dog, Sicum.

Early in the summer I read the first two Golden Boys books and had to pause until this book arrived.  I had already started Augusta Seaman's books and had to read several more of them while waiting for this book.  Once this book arrived, I tried reading it and was uninterested.  I skimmed through the book and found it utterly uninteresting.  I went back to reading Augusta Seaman.

Once I finished with Seaman's books, I decided to resume reading this series, but couldn't remember where I left off.  I ended up trying this book again and was still bored.  I skipped it and read #4, 5, and 6.  I enjoyed all of those books.  Hmm.  I then tried this book again.

I was able to read a good bit more of it than on the previous two attempts, since I had just read three books in the series.  However, I still did not enjoy it.  Deciphering the code is a bit too intensive and boring for me.  Much of the story consists of the boys hiking near and on the mountain.  I still find most of it boring.  I do not like this book.

In the Golden Boys #4, The Golden Boys with the Lumber Jacks, Bob and Jack visit their father's lumber camp.  Problems plague the camp.  The first one is that the deed to the property is missing, and a rival company claims to have the true deed to the land.  Additionally, the camp is said to be haunted, but the boys suspect that the rival company is responsible.  Bob and Jack work on clearing up the problems as they search for the deed.

This book is very good.

Saturday, November 3, 2018

Pricing of Digital Books Compared to Reading Copies from High-Volume Sellers

High-volume booksellers are often criticized.  The criticism usually comes from format collectors, buyers who want a specific edition, and buyers who expect the book to meet certain condition expectations.  I caution buyers who have specific expectations never to purchase from the high-volume sellers.  You will usually be disappointed.

On the other hand, the high-volume sellers are perfect for buyers who just want cheap reading copies where condition does not matter.  For modern books, I prefer digital copies.  Unfortunately, digital copies are very expensive and cost a lot more than cheap used copies.  From around 2010 through 2014, I preferred to purchase digital copies of all modern books.  I now tend to go with cheap reading copies.  I will use my most recent purchase as an example.

I already owned a copy of The Giver by Lois Lowry.  I decided that I wanted to purchase the remaining three titles in the set.  If I were to go with digital copies, the entire set of four purchased in one file would cost $32.96.  I could also just purchase the three titles needed at $7.99 each for a total of $23.97.  I didn't want to pay that much, especially since I sometimes do not enjoy books as much as I think I will.

I instead found paper copies of the three books I needed at $3.59, $3.59, and $3.60 from three different high-volume sellers.  All three books had the generic description about how the book might or might not have writing inside and might or might not be a library discard.  Whatever.  I have reasonable expectations and know that the books will probably be a bit rough around the edges.  Sometimes the books show up looking great, and sometimes they look pretty awful.  So long as the book can be read and is not missing pages, I will be satisfied.

Over the course of one week, I gradually received my three books.  Gathering Blue was used by a girl named Jailene for school, and she took a lot of notes.

Admittedly, I would prefer not to have Jailene's name written on the outside vertical edge and for the book not to contain a bunch of her notes.  However, the book can be read just fine.  The majority of the pages are unmarked.

Messenger arrived in average used condition.  Son turned out to be a first printing hardcover with dust jacket, and this was more than what the listing promised.

Sometimes the books arrive in pretty rough shape, and other times, the books arrive in nice condition.  The key is not to expect much and to view the purchase as if one were buying a commodity.  These books are just a commodity to me and nothing more.  They will all read just fine.

My buying habits have shifted solely due to how expensive the digital books are.  I now purchase fewer digital books than I once did.  The only digital books I still purchase are ones that I think my dad might enjoy, since we can both read the book from the same account.  That cuts the price in half since two people will read the book, and he much prefers reading the digital books.

I found it interesting to learn that as my own digital book buying habits shifted that the same was happening to other buyers for various reasons.

Ebook sales continue to fall as younger generations drive appetite for print

EBook Sales Figures in Decline? Not So!

The second article linked above mentions the price of the digital books.  The article states that sales of digital books by major publishing houses are falling.  The digital books priced at under $5 are doing much better, and those digital books tend to be offered by independent authors and small publishing companies.  The problem is that major publishing houses price their digital books too high.  If the Lois Lowry digital books been priced at no more than $4.99 each, I very likely would have purchased the digital books rather than have ordered paper copies.  

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Golden Boys #1 New Electric Cell and #2 Fortress

The Golden Boys series was written by L. P. Wyman and was published by A. L. Burt.  The series consists of 10 books.

  1.  The Golden Boys and Their New Electric Cell, 1923
  2.  The Golden Boys at the Fortress, 1923
  3.  The Golden Boys in the Maine Woods, 1923
  4.  The Golden Boys with the Lumber Jacks, 1923
  5.  The Golden Boys on the River Drive, 1923
  6.  The Golden Boys Rescued by Radio, 1923
  7.  The Golden Boys Along the River Allagash, 1923
  8.  The Golden Boys at the Haunted Camp, 1924
  9.  The Golden Boys Save the Chamberlain Dam, 1927
10.  The Golden Boys on the Trail, 1927

In The Golden Boys and Their New Electric Cell, Bob and Jack Golden have invented an electric cell that they plan to use to power their boat in an upcoming race.  Their rivals, Fred and Will Jenkins, steal the electric cell, and the Golden Boys must get it back.

On page 23, Bob is at the Jenkins' home to retrieve the electric cell.  The Jenkins' dog attacks, and Bob kills it by throwing a rock at its head.  On page 62, Bob is trying to escape, and he kills another dog by stabbing it with a knife.  Both incidents rather surprised me, since series book characters do not typically kill other people's dogs.

I greatly enjoyed this book and found it pretty interesting.

In The Golden Boys at the Fortress, Bob and Jack Golden begin attending military school.  Unfortunately, Fred and Will Jenkins also have enrolled in the school.  Soon after the boys' arrival, Bob makes an enemy out of a bully, John Hill, who proceeds to cause him lots of trouble.

On page 151, the boys wonder how to spend their afternoon.  Bob remarks, "There's a tribe of Indians who live on an island in the river here, and we might go over and take a look at them."  I guess the Indians were sort of a curiosity and were viewed as a source of entertainment.

Three months after I read this book, I read through L. P. Wyman's Hunniwell Boys series.  As I read that series, I realized that Wyman had a strong negative opinion about indigenous people.  He felt that they were stupid and incapable of being civilized.  It greatly impacted my enjoyment of that series. 

In the Golden Boys series, Wyman's bias mainly comes to the surface in how he depicts the French Canadians.  On the other hand, some of the French Canadians are depicted in a positive fashion.  For that reason, I was never bothered by any of the negative statements, since the negative statements are balanced by positive statements.

I enjoyed this book.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

The Ski Trail Mystery and Storm Over Garnet by Virginia McDonnell

When I finished reading the final Kim Aldrich book, I wanted to read more of them.  I love suspenseful books like the Kim Aldrich books.  I looked over the list of books written by Virginia McDonnell, hoping that she might have written at least one other book that could be similar to the Kim Aldrich books.  Most of McDonnell's books are nurse stories, which do not interest me at all.

McDonnell wrote a book titled The Ski Trail Mystery, which was published in 1966.  The book didn't appear to be about nursing and sounded like a good mystery, so I purchased it.  I am so glad that I did.

In The Ski Trail Mystery, Chris Murphy is in the Ski Patrol at High Tor.  Chris hopes to be promoted to the leader of the Ski Scouts during the following year, but he must prove himself by doing something distinctive.  Chris' cousin, Suki, is visiting, and she and Chris spot a wolf on a nearby trail.  The young people learn that there is a bounty on wolves captured in their area.  Chris vows to get the reward.  Chris and Suki follow the wolf and discover a trail of red jewels.  The jewels could be rubies or garnets.  A garnet mine run by Chris' father is nearby, and the mine is no longer producing fine garnets.  The red jewels might be a clue to what is happening.

I do not care to reveal many spoilers, and a lot happens that I do not mention.  This book is also deeply suspenseful like the Kim Aldrich books.  The book does not involve murder or grim events like the Kim Aldrich books, but it does have a similar tone.  This is an excellent book.

I found one more book by Virginia McDonnell that I decided to read.

In Storm Over Garnet, Kaki Morrison is feels threatened by the opening of Star Mountain Lodge.  Garnet has been the gathering place for local skiers each day after school, but after the nearby lodge opens, most people go there.  Garnet may soon be forced to close, but Kaki believes that if she wins a ski competition that she might be able to help save Garnet.

This book classifies loosely as young adult and is a coming-of-age story.  The book is not highly suspenseful like the other books that I chose to read by Virginia McDonnell, but it is still very good.

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Kim Aldrich #3 The Deep Six and #4 The Long Shot

In Kim Aldrich #3, The Deep Six, Kim witnesses the theft of a Cadillac from the street outside her apartment.  She and a reporter, Colin Ryan, speak to the owner of the vehicle, learning that he left his briefcase inside the vehicle.  The briefcase contained the only copy of the newest will of his wealthy client.

Hours later, the client is killed in automobile accident, and his wife is near death in the hospital.  The couple's daughter is disabled, and the new will makes arrangements for her.  The old will makes no provisions for the girl, so Kim and Colin work on finding the stolen car so that the girl will not be sent to an institution by her other relatives.  It soon becomes apparent that the vehicle was stolen for the will and that certain people will stop at nothing to keep the new will from coming to light.

The child is said to be "severely retarded" according to the author.  At the end of the book, the reader learns that the little girl just needs glasses, which is why she always had what was perceived to be a dumb look on her face and never responded to anything.  This makes no sense.  Even if she couldn't see, she should have been able to respond to sound.

The fatal accident that kills the girl's father was caused by a heavy oil slick on the highway.  The next day, Kim and Andy nearly get into a fatal crash from the same oil slick.  I find it strange that nobody had cleaned up the excessive oil.

This is another outstanding book.

In Kim Aldrich #4, The Long Shot, wealthy Mr. Van Alstyne plans to send his daughter, Robin, to summer camp, but he is afraid that she will be kidnapped and held for ransom.  Kim is hired to be a counselor at the summer camp, and her sole duty is to keep Robin safe.  Unfortunately, Robin doesn't want to be kept safe and constantly causes trouble and runs away from camp.  Soon, the worst happens, and Robin is abducted.  Kim and her new friend, Kevin Clark, who is a counselor for a boys' camp, search for Robin.

On pages 159 and 160, Kim thinks of a girl who was buried alive in Florida.  I assumed that this was a real story, but it would have been before my time.  A quick Internet search revealed the horrifying ordeal of Barbara Mackle, who was buried alive in a fiberglass box.

This book takes a lot longer to get deeply suspenseful, and at first, I expected it not to be as good as the other three stories.  Around halfway through the story, the book hits the same level of suspense as the previous three books in the series, and at times, it is even more suspenseful.  The later part of the story reminds me of the tone of modern young adult horror novels.

After I finished the last book, I was disappointed that I had reached the end of the series.  As of that time, I had read 224 books this year, and the Kim Aldrich books were in the top 10 best books read this year along with three of the Roy Stover books, and a few of the books by Capwell Wyckoff.  In the top 10 best out of 224 books is a rather high ranking.

All four books in this series are outstanding.  I highly recommend them.

Friday, October 26, 2018

Kim Aldrich #1 Miscalculated Risk and #2 Silent Partner

The Kim Aldrich series was written by Virginia "Jinny" McDonnell and was published by Whitman.  The series consists of four books.

1.  Miscalculated Risk, 1972
2.  Silent Partner, 1972
3.  The Deep Six, 1972
4.  The Long Shot, 1974

Kim Aldrich is an insurance investigator.  She is out of high school, but her age is not given.  I assume that Kim is somewhere between 18 and 20 years of age.

These books read very much like the more exciting boys' series books.  One could also say that they are skewed towards young adult.  These are not your typical Whitman children's books.  The stories are deeply suspenseful and involve murder.  In each book, Kim is accompanied by an attractive young man.  Kim's companion is different in each book by necessity, since Kim is attracted to the young man but cannot completely trust him.

In Kim Aldrich #1, Miscalculated Risk, the Madden family is suing the city of Neadham.  Their son, Pete, slipped on rocks on the beach and was crippled.  The family contends that the city had no warning signs about the slippery rocks, while the city claims that they did.

Kim becomes acquainted with the Maddens' attorney, Andy Hill, and she helps him investigate.  Kim and Andy quickly learn that someone is trying to keep them from discovering the truth and that this person will resort to murder to keep the facts hidden forever.

At one point in the story, it is revealed that Pete was adopted.  Kim acts like the adoption could have some huge bearing on the case, like any shenanigans would have something to do with him being adopted.  It is really odd.

This is a rather excellent story.  The entire book is deeply suspenseful.  Kim is quite obviously in grave danger, and someone is murdered.  This a great mystery.

In Kim Aldrich #2, Silent Partner, Kim is on a ski vacation in the Austrian Alps.  While on a ski lift, she becomes friendly with Jim Whitcomb and a young boy named Roby.  Both Jim and Roby fascinate Kim.  Sometimes they are friendly, and other times they seem to ignore her like they are unaware of her presence.

Kim witnesses an attack on a skier where his ski poles are stolen.  The melee results in two deaths, and Jim will not let Kim tell the authorities what she witnessed.  Later, Roby disappears, and Jim gradually confides in Kim what he knows about the mysterious events in the Austrian alps.  As Jim and Kim search for Roby, they must also keep away from some very dangerous men.

Kim does really dangerous things in these books, very much like what the Hardy Boys do in the Hardy Boys Digest books.  On page 199, Kim climbs up to the top floor of a building via the balconies.  Nancy Drew was never allowed to do activities like that.

These books are quite suspenseful and are extremely good mysteries.

Both of these books are outstanding.