Sunday, January 31, 2010

A New Feature and a Thank You

Lian suggested that I launch a question and answer feature for this blog. It's a great idea! Readers can submit questions about series books, and I can answer them. This can be done by either asking the question in a comment or by contacting me on Bonanzle.

I decided to go through my old posts and find good questions that I have answered over the last couple of years. I will begin by featuring those questions and answers. If anyone can think of a good question, let me know.

I also want to take a moment to say that all of you are very much appreciated. In particular, I want to thank the 32 people who publicly follow this blog (see right sidebar near the bottom), the six to 12 people who regularly post comments in this blog, and the people who contact me privately through Bonanzle to make comments. You are what motivates me to continue to post new articles to this blog.

I have no way of knowing how many people regularly read this blog. I had a poll up awhile back, but it did not tell me much. All I know is that at least around 40 to 50 people are interested in this blog: my 32 followers plus the small number of others mentioned above. I know that others also read this blog regularly, but I have no way of knowing how many people since they either follow privately or through bookmarks. It could be just a few more people, or it could be dozens of people. Who knows?

If you are someone who reads this blog and you have never commented, I encourage you to do so. Sometimes people who are relatively new to collecting feel like their comments do not matter or feel intimidated. I remember feeling that way myself a long time ago. In fact, people who are relatively new to collecting have a point of view that is fresh and can often see things in a completely different fashion.

For instance, I now know that many people buy the Applewood editions because of convenience. They are confused about which books contain the original text, so they would rather pay a high price and be certain of getting the original text. I learned this information from someone who posted a comment to this blog.

So, please let me know what you think. I love the comments and greatly enjoy reading them. I often respond to them, although not always due to a busy work schedule. Even if I don't make a response, I really enjoy reading them. You are appreciated.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Problematic Buyers and Sellers Part 3

Here are some memorable transactions with buyers. All of these transactions were on eBay and are from at least several years ago. I hope that people who read this do not fail to understand why I remember these particular transactions.
  1. One person who was buying to resell failed to read the description and complained after receiving the book. He stated that he wouldn't be able to sell the book for enough, so he wanted to return it for a refund. I had mentioned a rubbed area on the cover and that the front free endpaper had the corner cut off. His complaints were that the rubbed area was worse than what he expected and that the front free endpaper was not price-clipped; rather, the corner was cut off.

    I pointed out that my description did not mention price-clipping and that I did state that the corner was cut off (I actually mean what I state - shocker!). Since it was true that the flash on the camera disguised the amount of rubbing on the cover, I did agree to refund upon return of the book.

    I did not receive the book back, and the buyer pestered me week after week. I asked how the buyer packed the book and whether delivery confirmation had been placed on the package. He did not use delivery confirmation, had thrown away the box (what...he knew he wanted to return the book probably as soon as he saw it but he threw away the packaging!?), and had used the dreaded bubble mailer. I was disgusted. I eventually issued a refund to make him go away. Since I did not receive the book back, I did not owe him a refund. I only did it because I was stressed over other stuff going on in my life and I wanted the transaction to be over. It is because of this one transaction that I have the following refund policy for my Bonanzle booth, and the second paragraph is the most important part:
    Please ask for approval before returning an item. Buyers are responsible for all postage costs unless the return is due to a mistake that the seller made, in which case the seller will pay for the costs.

    Buyers are required to use the original packaging to guarantee that the items are packed securely. Additionally, buyers must purchase delivery confirmation so that both the buyer and the seller have proof that the return was shipped, and the buyer has proof of when the seller received the return.
    If the buyer cannot use the original packaging with delivery confirmation, then I don't want the books back.

  2. I sold a Trixie Belden deluxe edition to someone for under $5.00. The buyer complained when she received the package. I had stated that there was no writing inside the book, and the buyer was upset because a name was written inside the book two or three times. She freaked out and said she would be leaving negative feedback if I did not issue a partial refund. It was a rude message.

    For the record, it is against eBay policy to threaten a seller with negative feedback. Aside from that, I was offended at the tone and wanted to tell her off. I want buyers to be happy, but threats get my back up. Never threaten a seller, especially when you want something. Always be nice first. This was years ago and a mailed payment. I could have refused a refund and let the buyer give me a negative.

    Instead of telling the buyer off, I responded the same way I would have if the buyer had asked nicely. I offered the buyer half of her money back so that she could keep the book or a full refund upon return of the book. She accepted the partial refund. The reason why the buyer had such a problem with the names is because she wanted clean copies for her niece, which is understandable. I always try to mention when a name is inside a book, but it is easy to forget.

  3. A reseller bought a book from me and then complained because of a name written on the dust jacket. I had not mentioned the writing because I missed noticing it, and the reseller wanted a partial refund because the book was worth less. It should be noted that the jacket was not in that great of shape aside from the name. It should also be noted that the book was a Nancy Drew Cameo edition that sold for around $14.00. I issued a refund of around $7.00. I was annoyed later to see the book sold for around $45.00. The reseller would have been fine even without the refund.

  4. A reseller bought a book from me and complained about a stain on a page in the middle of the book. I was provided a picture as proof. I issued a partial refund. I have always remembered this one because of how this seller usually made books seem better than they were when selling them.
Are you seeing the pattern? The resellers are very fast to complain when a book has a flaw not mentioned in the description. Interestingly enough, some of these people do not hold themselves to the same standards as they hold their sellers. You would be interested to know who some of these people are, and you would understand why I remember these transactions. I am now quite paranoid when some of these people buy from me.

Resellers tend not to read descriptions. Many times, I have had resellers ask me about the last title listed or some other important point when if they would only pause to notice who was selling the book or skim over the description, they would realize that the information is already there.

I want to close by mentioning that I do make mistakes, and probably more of them than I realize. I hope that buyers do let me know when I have made a mistake. I did owe each of the buyers mentioned in this post a refund, so I granted each of them. These instances are not the only times I have ever had to issue refunds, but these are the ones that have stayed in my memory because of some lingering feelings on my part.

Last, I listed these experiences in the order of annoyance. The first one I mentioned is the one that annoyed me by far the most. I still have bitter feelings over that one.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Problematic Buyers and Sellers Part 2

I decided to write this post as an update to the transaction I mentioned in my last post. The seller's invoice was wrong at $26.98 postage. After the seller had no idea how to reduce the charges even after I explained exactly how to reduce the charges, I paid and requested a refund. The seller refunded $13.00, so the total postage amount charged was $13.98.

The books arrived on Thursday in a large bubble-lined envelope. This was unacceptable packaging, but it was even worse because three of the books have dust jackets. Nothing was done to protect the books; they were just stuck in the envelope together. The envelope had a hole ripped in it. The postage paid by the seller was $8.74. Even if the seller overpaid for the envelope, there was still an overcharge of several dollars. The seller did not ship the books priority as stated in the auctions.

As I feared, I was sent a wrong book, which does not surprise me. I knew this was a risky transaction because of the minimal details in the listings and because of the seller's inability to send an invoice with the correct shipping amount. I went for it because it was not a large amount of money.

It is curious. I have had several sellers in the past who did not know how to send a correct invoice. They would send an invoice for one book yet enter a postage amount higher than for one book that might or might not be for all of the books. Just like in this case, the resulting invoice would have all of the books uncombined at a high postage amount. Each of these sellers was incapable of figuring out how to send a proper invoice. More significantly, each of these sellers was incapable of giving a straight answer to a simple question: What exactly was the postage amount that the seller intended to charge? Odd, really...

I don't know why people like this cannot answer a simple question. I give them the benefit of the doubt, but every time this happens I wonder whether they want me to pay the high price and are hoping I won't notice. When the postage is higher than the total for the individual postage amounts added together, you can bet I will notice.

I should also mention that this seller stated that the books were in "excellent condition." No, they are not. The books are not in excellent condition. The photos did not show the flaws in the books.

I am done with this transaction. I will not be contacting the seller about the wrong book. I had such communication problems with just trying not to be grossly overcharged for shipping that I doubt I can get the right book sent to me. It is not worth it. I do not want to go through that again with this seller.

Regarding the seller's DSRs, I don't know what I will give, but they most certainly will not be fives. The seller has communication issues, does not describe items well, and overcharges for shipping. I usually think about it for a week before I go to leave feedback.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Problematic Buyers and Sellers Part 1

My posts concerning problems with buyers and sellers always get quite a few comments. People love discussing the problems they have had on eBay. My post, "A Seller's Intent—Honesty or Deception?" is a good example.

It is true that both buyers and sellers can cause problems in transactions. I have had more problems with sellers, but that is probably because of my habit of buying books that are sold at too low of prices, either because of a low Buy It Now price or because of a seller that provides incomplete information. Sellers that severely undervalue their books or provide incomplete information tend to be problematic sellers throughout all aspects of the transaction. Note that this is a generalization; the last time I made this statement someone with an attitude problem flamed me.

I just had another difficult experience last week with a seller. I bought five books, and shipping was stated to be $4.00 in each auction. If I had tried to pay before receiving a combined invoice, shipping would have been $20.00 total, since eBay does not combine and reduce shipping charges. The seller sent an invoice, and I tried to pay. The shipping was $26.98, higher than the original uncombined shipping.

I knew that the seller only sent an invoice for one book at $10.98, so the rest still showed $4.00. I told the seller this, and she told me that she had sent an invoice with the shipping discount. Okay... I tried again with a similar answer. I explained again what the seller needed to do, and she sent another invoice only for the one book at $10.98. The other books still had $4.00.

I then asked the seller if she knew how to send a PayPal refund. At this point I had serious doubts about whether the seller would even understand. I was also losing patience but remained polite. I explained how to send a refund through PayPal and told the seller that I would pay and then she could refund the extra. She said she'd figure it out and made no other comment.

I sent payment. She left positive feedback. A couple of hours passed and no refund. I sent another message asking for a refund of the extra postage. I didn't even know what the postage was supposed to be. She never told me. She finally sent a refund of $13.00, which made the postage $13.98. It was a little high but much better than $26.98. I think the books are being mailed priority.

I hope the correct books are put in the package. I am also concerned about how the books will be packaged. I am a bit worried about how this one will end due to my difficulty in communicating with the seller.

My next post will continue my thoughts but mention my problems with buyers.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Nancy Drew Web Con Jan. 25-31

Jenn Fisher is hosting a Nancy Drew web con on January 25-31.

Nancy Drew Web Con Information

The web con is being done as a blog with multiple articles posted each day. The registration cost is $20.00, and participants will receive a printed booklet that will be mailed out in February.

There is no deadline to register, but if you want to enjoy the web con as it happens, you will want to register by Monday.

I submitted three articles:

Buying Books on the Internet
Nancy Drew Buying Tips
Today's Nostalgia is Different From Yesterday's

In the first article, I discuss eBay, the Advanced Book Exchange, Google Product search, and Bonanzle. I give tips for using each and explain the advantages and disadvantages of each venue.

In the second article, I give an overview of the information I have presented in my series of blog posts titled "Buyer Confusion on Nancy Drew."

In the third article, I mention which Nancy Drew formats seem to be popular among new collectors and point out how collecting is changing. This last article was in my mind for a while as an idea for a future post to this blog, and I decided to write it for the web con.

Here is a list of other articles that will appear in the web con:

Tour Around the World With Nancy Drew by Lea Fox

Nancy Drew Mystery Stories: Final Volumes 164-175 - An Interview with Patrick Whelan by Vicki Broadhurst

Serious Series Selling and Buying--46 Years of Change by Lee Temares

Drew's Clues to Creative Writing by Penny Warner

Crazy Eights with Michael G. Cornelius - The Phantom of Venice by Carolyn Keene

Nancy Drew's Awkward Age: Reconsidering Gianni Spinelli and The Phantom of Venice by Michael G. Cornelius

The Quest: Digging for Treasure in the Stratemeyer Syndicate Records by Meredith Jaffe

Frank Sofo: An Interview with One of Nancy Drew's Cover Artists by Todd H. Latoski

The Plot Thickens by Nancy Axelrad

Off the Assembly Line: The Fiction Factory of Edward Stratemeyer by Mark Connelly

The McFarlane Formula: "I opted for quality" by Mark Connelly

All About the Hardy Boys - Highlights by Tony Carpentieri

80 Mysterious Years by Janet DeVries

The Importance of Plotting by Mildred Benson, Submitted by Gil O'Gara (Yellowback Library)

Laura Ruby - Nancy Drew Image Series - Videos

Thursday, January 21, 2010

The Linda Carlton Reprints

Those who regularly read this blog know that I do not use the word "rare" lightly. The two highly elusive Linda Carlton books, Linda Carlton's Perilous Summer and Linda Carlton's Hollywood Flight are rare. Do a search on Google and just see how many copies are up for sale. There are none. Beverly Gray at the World's Fair is considered a rare book, yet it is readily available in the original edition, although at rather high prices.

World's Fair is considered rare but is available. The two Linda Carlton books are not available anywhere on the internet at any price. Which would you consider more rare?

The two rare Linda Carlton books, Linda Carlton's Perilous Summer and Linda Carlton's Hollywood Flight, have been reprinted in a limited run of 25 copies apiece, thanks to Jim Towey. I received my books today. The books are hardcover editions with dust jackets.

I have waited for years to read the Linda Carlton books. I will finally do so this year since I now have the complete set. I will continue to seek the final book that I need in the original edition, but at least now I have a reprint.

Jim said that the first print run of 25 copies is going fast. He is trying to decide whether to have additional copies printed. Therefore, if you are interested, you need to let him know. I think that many of the people who will want these books will miss out on the books while they are still available. A lot of collectors rely on eBay and never visit the different collecting groups and websites, so they are unaware of projects such as this one.

With Jim's permission, I am closing this post with his advertisement so that interested parties can inquire about these or other reprints.



Providing help to Series Collectors

Jim Towey, 249 Hartland Rd , W.Granby , CT. 860-653-7447,

Over 50 Quality Hardcover reprints with DJs done – Many Sold Out

Over 2000 Recreated Djs done- All major Boy’s and Girl’s series, $7 each

Over 1000 used series books in stock

Ken Holt Homepage—

Ebay Store—jim.towey –The Adventure Continues

NEW Titles (Now Available)- priority postage included, Limited Quantities

Linda Carlton Series (Rare Titles)

* Linda Carlton’s Perilous Summer , $40

* Linda Carlton ’s Hollywood Flight, $40


Wireless Patrol Series by Lewis Theiss

* Wireless Patrol- Hidden Aerial- reprint, $30

* Wireless Operator with U.S. Coast Guard -reprint ,$30

* Wireless Operator with the Oyster Fleet -reprint ,$35

Currently Available Reprints: ( with DJ)--- Postage included

* EPSTEIN’S- Roger Baxter Series, Stranger at Inlet, Baldhead Mountain

- Tim Penny Series, Jacknife & Change for a Penny--$25 each

* DIZER- Tom Swift and Company ( no DJ) --$35

* LONE RANGER SERIES, Red Butte Trail, Trouble on Santa Fe ,$40

* CHAPMAN- Ralph and the Train Wreckers--$30

- Radio Boys to the Rescue-- $30

* LEO EDWARDS- Poppy Ott- Hidden Dwarf & Monkey’s Paw--$35each

Please call/email to verify availability/reserve copies, please do not send money until reservation confirmed as this 1st reprinting limited to 25 copies. Paypal/check/MO accepted.

Payment by Check or MO payable to:

Jim Towey
249 Hartland Rd.
W. Granby, CT 06090

Saturday, January 16, 2010

A Fire Dragon $1 Box Oddity

Back in early October, I listed an extra copy of the $1 box first PC of Nancy Drew #38 on Bonanzle. I knew that Farah's Guide lists just one printing of the $1 box PC, so I listed my book with the usual mentions of the interior and exterior lists and stated that it was the first printing picture cover with the $1 box.

I am so aware that Farah's Guide has just one printing for #1-6, 37, and 38 with the $1 boxes that I failed to notice that my book did not quite fit. A reader of this blog uses the listings of several sellers, including me, to figure out the specifics of the first printing picture covers in lieu of having a copy of Farah's Guide. Soon after I listed the book, she asked me about my listing. She had noted that I stated that my book listed to Dancing Puppet on the interior list but that she had seen other listings where the first PC listed to Fire Dragon on the interior list.

My first thought was that I had messed up the listing. I checked the listing and noted that I stated that it listed to Dancing Puppet. I then found the book, which did indeed list to Dancing Puppet on the inside. Last, I checked Farah's Guide and verified that the first PC printing of Fire Dragon lists to Fire Dragon on the inside, so I had another anomaly.

I seem to be a magnet for books that do not fit. I placed the listing on reserved status, since I like to hold onto books that are different for a while. I still have the book, and I still have the listing saved in reserve. Here is a screen cap, since only I can see it:

Click on the image to see a larger version that can be read easier.

I looked through Farah's Guide and noted that all of the first printing picture cover books with the $1 box list to Fire Dragon on the inside. The second printing picture covers of those titles have the blackened suggested retail price box and list to Dancing Puppet on the inside. My book has the $1 box and lists to Dancing Puppet, so it seems to be a composite of the $1 box and the blackened retail price box printings.

Does anyone else have a $1 box PC that lists to Dancing Puppet?

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

A Seller's Intent — Honesty or Deception?

Last month, I expressed my aggravation about some of the techniques sellers use to try to convince people to buy their books. One reader stated that a seller's intent is most important. This brings up a interesting point. What I see as a seller's intent is not what another person sees as the seller's intent.

Roughly there are three groups of people who sell books. Keep in mind that I am making a broad generalization here. Some people may fit into more than one group.
  1. The first group consists of the people who have no idea what they are doing. They find a book somewhere, list it, and have no idea what they have. These people often have terrible descriptions and unintentionally mislead their buyers. However, they are the ones who often have the really good stuff that is "fresh from the wild." They are a dying breed, and they are what built eBay.

  2. The second group consists of people who tend to greatly overexaggerate the condition of their books. These are the sellers who have the RARE, STUNNING, and PRISTINE books. Some of these sellers are the ones who tell buyers that relatively common books are rare and that books that have yellowed pages are in "as new" condition.

  3. The third group consists of people who prefer the non-emotional approach. Books are described in a way that generally does not make them sound better than they are. At times, these sellers make the books sound worse than what they really are.
A subset of all three groups consists of the people who use "first edition" to describe their books. "First edition" is a misleading term since many people think "first edition" always means "first printing." Some of these people qualify "first edition" with "first printing" or "later printing." Others use "first edition" to mean "first printing." Others do not.

People who use variations of "first edition" and "first printing" sometimes think that people who use the terms in a different fashion are intentionally deceiving buyers. It is impossible to know when the intent is deception.

People who fit into the second and third groups that I mentioned above tend to think that people from the first group are deceiving their buyers on purpose when those people actually have no idea what they are doing.

People who fit into the third group often think that people in the second group are intentionally misleading buyers. In some cases, the sellers are misleading buyers. In other cases, the sellers are just extremely enthusiastic. As I have already stated, the exaggeration and even enthusiasm can be dangerous since many buyers avoid some of these sellers.

I have a specific example of how intent is interpreted differently by different people. I wish I could give more information, but I must be vague.

A certain seller was mentioned somewhere other than this blog in the last couple of years. One person stated how wonderful the seller is. Someone else reported a bad experience with that same seller. The bad experience involved a situation in which the seller did not describe all of the flaws and refused to accept a return or grant a refund of any of the buyer's money. The seller put the blame on the buyer.

I believed the report of a negative experience . I had bought from this seller, and I had had a not-so-great experience. I was disappointed because the seller did not mention the extent of a significant flaw that was not photographed. So, I believed the second person's comments, especially because of another personal experience with this seller that I do not wish to describe. Additionally, I have noticed deceptive tendencies in this seller's descriptions over the years. I wish I could explain, but I cannot reveal that information. Suffice it to say, I believed the negative comments.

At another point in time, both positive and negative opinions of this specific seller were given by other people. The conclusion is that to some people, this seller has the best of intentions, while to other people, this seller does not.

Does this seller have bad intentions? It depends upon who you ask and what your expectations are. The truth is probably somewhere in between the two opposing views.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Percy Jackson: The Lightning Thief - Part 2

I have read a bunch of the reviews on Many people like the similarities to the Harry Potter books. Some Harry Potter fans like these books while other Harry Potter fans hate them. To each his own, I suppose. This Harry Potter fan loved The Lightning Thief.

The book is rich with Greek mythology. Of course, some people think this is good while others think it is bad. I loved it. My only problem was that I have not studied Greek mythology in so long that I had forgotten most of it. The book does explain most everything, so by the end of the book I remembered the main gods and goddesses pretty well. However, I decided to read the first book a second time before proceeding with the second book. I wanted to make sure I had not missed anything.

For instance, Percy has a dream early in the book about an eagle and a horse fighting. The eagle and horse represent Zeus and Poseidon, which I did not catch the first time I read the book. Since it helps greatly if one remembers the major points in Greek mythology, I decided to list some of the major gods and goddesses here.


Kronos—a Titan who overthrew his father and ruled during the Golden Age, later overthrown by his own sons, Zeus, Poseidon, and Hades

Zeus—king of the gods, god of the sky and thunder, symbols are eagle and thunderbolt

Hera—queen of the gods, goddess of women and marriage, symbols are pomegranate and peacock feather

Poseidon—god of the sea, symbols are trident, fish, dolphin, and bull

Demeter—goddess of agriculture, symbols are torch and wheat

Hestia—goddess of the hearth, symbols are hearth and pig

Aphrodite—goddess of love and beauty, symbols are dolphin, rose, scallop shell, myrtle, dove, sparrow, and swan

Apollo—god of the sun, music, and poetry, symbols are lyre and snake

Ares—god of war, symbols are vulture, burning torch, and spear

Artemis—goddess of the hunt, symbols are bows and arrows

Athena—goddess of wisdom, warfare, and crafts, symbol is owl

Hephaestus—god of fire and the forge, symbols are hammer, anvil, and tongs

Hermes—messenger of the gods, symbols are caduceus, winged sandals, and tortoise

Hades—god of the Underworld

Tartarus—the darkest part of the Underworld, a place of torment


The book has really positive messages in it, particularly for children who have learning disabilities. Percy is dyslexic and has ADHD. On page 7, Percy reflects about Mr. Brunner's high expectations of him.
But Mr. Brunner expected me to be as good as everybody else, despite the fact that I have dyslexia and attention deficit disorder and I had never made above a C- in my life. No—he didn't expect me to be as good; he expected me to be better.
I like that message.

On page 88, Annabeth tells Percy why his dyslexia and ADHD indicate that he is a half-blood.
"Taken together, it's almost a sure sign. The letters float off the page when you read, right? That's because your mind is hardwired for ancient Greek. And the ADHD—you're impulsive, can't sit still in the classroom. That's your battlefield reflexes. In a real fight, they'd keep you alive. As for the attention problems, that's because you see too much, Percy, not too little. Your senses are better than a regular mortal's. Of course the teachers want you medicated. Most of them are monsters. They don't want you seeing them for what they are."
I like how Riordan takes learning disabilities and makes them into something positive. That is just great.

I cannot say enough times that I really enjoyed The Lightning Thief. Not only did it remind me a little bit of Harry Potter, but it also reminded me of the Chronicles of Narnia, which wove many mythical characters into the plot. The Narnia books were childhood favorites of mine, so I cannot help liking Percy Jackson.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Another eBay Problem

Recently, I heard that a bunch of people were invited to be Top-Rated Sellers, and then eBay sent out messages that the invitations were mistakes. Needless to say, a large number of people were furious with eBay.

Back around Thanksgiving, eBay sent out messages stating that they were having a half-price sale on auction fees. A day or so later, eBay sent out another message stating that the message about the sale was in error. Really. These kinds of mistakes seem to be the norm for eBay.

Yesterday, I received a message from eBay that included the phrase "important information" in the title. I sighed, wondering what was coming now. With eBay, I knew it wasn't good. I was afraid that eBay might try to put another alert on my account for no reason or that eBay was going to tell me that I was a very bad seller just because. This is what my message stated.
Earlier today we emailed your eBay Bucks certificate that you earned last period. Unfortunately, due to technical difficulties, your eBay Bucks certificate was not activated in our system and will not work. In order to correct the problem, we will be sending you a replacement certificate in the next 48-72 hours. The certificate will be good for 31 days from the re-issue date. The issue impacted a small number of users and we apologize for this inconvenience.
Um, how do they manage not to activate a small number of certificates? Why do they make so many mistakes? I thought that generating the certificates would have been done by computer like everything nowadays, and how would a few not get activated? Are we sure that it is just a few? Hmm?

The one thing eBay has done right in the last year, in my opinion, is to create the eBay Bucks program so that invited buyers can get 2% back as a reward certificate. It figures that eBay would find a way to mess it up. I have not received my new certificate, and I have an auction that I won that I would like to pay for in part with my certificate. I will wait until tomorrow so that hopefully I will have my new certificate by then. It can be eBay's fault when buyers wait a day or so to pay.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Percy Jackson: The Lightning Thief - Part 1

The Lightning Thief was written by Rick Riordan and was published in 2005. It is the first book in the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series. The book is clearly inspired by the Harry Potter series. I first heard of this series when Jack reviewed it in his blog, and I read the first few chapters of the first book in Borders recently to see whether I should purchase the books. I liked what I read and ordered the set. I recently finished reading the first book, The Lightning Thief.

The premise of the book is that all of the gods and goddesses in Greek mythology are real and interact with humans in modern times. The average person has no idea that the gods and goddesses are real and are responsible for the weather, natural disasters, war, and pretty much everything else that happens in our world.

Percy arrives at Camp Half-Blood to learn that he is the son of one of the Greek gods. He is a demigod, half human and half god. Unfortunately, one of the gods wants to kill Percy because Percy has been blamed for the theft of an important possession. Not only that, but monsters try to kill the demigods whenever they are not at Camp Half-Blood. The demigods can be killed by both mortal and immortal weapons, so they are doubly vulnerable.

Camp Half-Blood sounds like a pretty neat place. Here is a scan of the map of Camp Half-Blood that came in my boxed set.
Camp Half-Blood is a safe haven for the demigods and is where they are trained. It is a place kind of like Hogwarts. Another similarity to the Harry Potter books is that Percy's home with his mother and highly-unpleasant stepfather is also a safe place for Percy where his enemies cannot find him, like the Dursley home is for Harry Potter.

—to be continued

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Twilight - The Movie

Once I finished the books, I decided that I needed to watch the movie, Twilight. I had a feeling that the movie would help me visualize and appreciate the characters better.

Whenever a movie is based on a book, I always like the book better. Movies always leave out so many details. For instance, I have only watched the first Harry Potter movie. I liked the book much better. Since I did not like the movie that much, I have not been interested in watching the other Harry Potter movies.

I really enjoyed watching Twilight but more as a supplement to the book. As a standalone, I'm not sure that I would have enjoyed the movie very much. The important details were mentioned very quickly due to time limitation and hardly gave the mind time to process the information. If I had not already read the book, I probably would have been confused. Since I already knew the premise and story, I fully understood what was happening.

The result is that I loved the movie. For the first time, I found Edward intriguing. Stephenie Meyer was never able to show me why Edward was appealing to Bella. She said it many times, but I never felt it. Since I was never able to see Edward as appealing, I did not enjoy reading about Bella kissing him, etc. It did absolutely nothing for me.

I loved the way the Cullens were introduced in the film and how they entered the cafeteria. They were quickly shown to be different and not of this world. Edward's mannerisms also showed him to be not like other people. I enjoyed watching him and the other Cullens.

I noticed how the movie quickly explained why Bella left Phoenix and moved to Forks at the very beginning, which is a flaw in the book. Stephenie Meyer waited until well into the story to explain why Bella was in Forks, which only made the book confusing.

Another problem I had with the book was Edward's reaction to Bella. On page 23, when Edward smells Bella's blood for the first time, he is "hostile, furious." Those descriptions are wrong. It is not hostility. Edward is struggling to resist drinking Bella's blood. Edward has the perfect reaction in the movie.

He looks like he is trying not to smell something bad. We know that he is actually smelling something good and is trying to avoid it. He looks like he might throw up. This is the perfect reaction. Edward's reaction is not hostility or anger.

I felt like the movie really brought the characters to life, which Stephenie Meyer failed to do in the book. I like both the book and the movie equally for different reasons.