Sunday, June 30, 2013

How Not to Package Books

I purchase many bulk lots of books that are not described well by the sellers and are priced too low.  The books tend to arrive in packages that were not prepared well.  In short, the sellers make mistakes through most steps of the transaction.  Understand that I bring these experiences upon myself due to the types of lots I purchase. 

The packages shown here were not packed well, but the books were not damaged, at least not as far as I could tell.  In each case, my thought was, "These books deserved better."

The photos depict what I saw as soon as I opened each package.  The only packing material contained in any of the packages is what can be seen in the photos, except for possibly a packing slip or piece of paper placed on the top of the books.

The above package is strange, because the seller is a professional who has complained on the eBay message boards about other sellers' slipshod packaging.  The package was only half full of packing peanuts.  While some of the peanuts could possibly have escaped the package since the flaps were not taped down all the way across, I am of the opinion that the package was not filled adequately with peanuts.

This next package contained many early and first picture cover printings of Nancy Drew books.

The above package contained very nice condition Trixie Belden softcover books.  When I picked up the unopened package, I felt the books sliding from one end of the package to the other.  Whenever I receive packages that have books sliding around, I am compelled to turn the package over several times to feel the books shifting around, even though I know damage could occur.  I can't help myself.

These next two packages made me cringe.

It's a bit surprising that the books in the next package were stacked neatly, considering the lack of packaging materials.

This next photo shows nice early Nancy Drew picture covers crammed in tight, but the photo does not show the entire story.

Check out the following photo of the same package.

The Mystery of the 99 Steps and The Ghost of Blackwood Hall did not technically fit in the package, but the seller placed them on top anyway and then placed the lid on top of the box. 

These stories all ended well, but they could have easily ended up resulting in damaged books.  Here are links to two past posts featuring a couple of epic damaged packages.

A Box of Hardy Boys Books

More Package Troubles

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Nancy Drew #51 Mystery of the Glowing Eye

In Nancy Drew #51, Mystery of the Glowing Eye, an unmanned helicopter lands on Nancy's front lawn.  Inside the helicopter is a note from Ned Nickerson:  Beware of Cyclops. This is how Nancy learns that Ned has disappeared without a trace.  Nancy surmises that the mysterious Cyclops is responsible for Ned's disappearance.

Meanwhile, Carson Drew has Nancy help him investigate a mystery involving a glowing eye that appears inside a museum.  The Drews suspect that Cyclops and the glowing eye are somehow connected.

Nancy is dismayed that Carson Drew's new assistant, Marty King, seems determined to solve the glowing eye mystery herself.  Not only is Nancy worried about Ned, she fears that Marty King plans to take her place!

This mystery is unusual in that Nancy's emotions take center stage.  She is heartsick over Ned and concerned that Marty will replace her.  Nancy is jealous! 

On page four, the helicopter "plummeted the last fifty feet.  It hit the grass with a thud and the door flew open."  Later, the helicopter is able to take off on its own, so the helicopter was not damaged by plummeting fifty feet.  Somehow I doubt the helicopter would just land with a thud.

On page 58, Nancy is standing right in front of a file cabinet when it explodes.  The explosion "tore the file cabinet apart" and "knocked Nancy against the opposite wall."  That was some blast!  As usual, Nancy is not even slightly hurt.

On page 76, Nancy draws the eye from Ned's notes on a chalkboard and writes the numbers from his notes around the eye.  She then works on memorizing the numbers.  Conveniently, the chalkboard faces the open window, and Nancy's back is to the window.   Of course, a man shows up and writes down the numbers.

On page 106, Nancy and her friends are returning to investigate an old farmhouse. A barricade consisting of rocks, a warning sign, and a lantern has been placed across the road. The book states, "There was no way to get around the wall at this point because trees grew rather solidly along the road."

Not only that, but the illustration shows that the trees have also grown across the road since the last time Nancy and her friends drove down it.  Amazing!

The idea of a light that paralyzes people for a short time seems a bit far-fetched.  Reading this story as an adult, I have trouble accepting that part of the story.

I remember really enjoying this book as a child.  I was worried about Ned and quite excited when Nancy and Ned were reunited near the end of the story.  The story did not have the same effect on me this time, but I already knew the outcome and am no longer a child.  I enjoyed the book this time, just not as much as when I was young.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Linda Carlton's Perilous Summer with Dust Jacket

This spring, I was able to purchase a complete set of the A. L. Burt editions of the Linda Carlton series.  All of the Burt editions are very hard to find, but most especially Linda Carlton's Perilous Summer and Linda Carlton's Hollywood Flight.  I now have the complete set of Linda Carlton A. L. Burt editions.

People selling series books like to refer to less common books as "rare," or more often, "RARE," as though all capital letters make it more so.  They do this all the time for Nancy Drew books that are somewhat less common printings.  None of those books are remotely close to rare.  Linda Carlton's Perilous Summer in the A. L. Burt dust jacket is rare.   

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Nancy Drew #50 The Double Jinx Mystery

In Nancy Drew #50, The Double Jinx Mystery, Oscar Thurston has hired Carson Drew because he is in danger of losing his farm.  Oscar has a small zoo and owns quite a few exotic birds.  The High Rise Construction Company has requested the city council have Oscar's farm condemned so that they can build apartments on it.  Nancy helps her father with the case.

During Nancy, Bess, and George's first visit to Oscar's farm, a man cuts a hole in one of the cages.  Bess stuffs branches into the hole so that the birds cannot escape.  On page 11, the birds "realiz[ed] that she was a stranger and about to cut off their chance for freedom," so "they made an earsplitting racket."

So these birds are capable of reasoning skills?  And the birds began squawking because they realized that Bess was cutting off their chance for freedom?  Really?  The birds were squawking because people were messing with them.

On page 13, Rausch asks the girls to help him block the hole because these birds are pretty shrewd.  Well, that's not what he says, but what he does say is rather odd.  Rausch comments, "These birds may think I'm here to feed them and fly through his hole before I can get it covered."

Wouldn't the birds fly through the hole because they are birds, can fly, and can see a hole?  Why does there have to be a specific reason?  If the birds thought he was there to feed them, wouldn't they be more likely to stay in the cage to be fed?  Why leave if food is coming?

Nancy decides to stop with Ned to watch a ballet.  Quite conveniently, the director knows the villain.  Even more amazing, the director suddenly asks Nancy and Ned if they have ever danced ballet.  Nancy has, but she has never learned to leap.  So of course the director has one of the men dance with Nancy, where she is able to immediately take long, high leaps in unison with her dance partner.  And she has never leaped before.  Wow.

Both Nancy and Ned become ill with ornithosis.  As is typical, Nancy's case is not as bad as Ned's, and she recovers quickly.  Nothing stops Nancy!

At the bottom of page 122, Nancy tells Kami that the Thurstons need her help.
"You know his wife is superstitious and believes in weird signs and omens and probably can be mesmerized.  If she refuses to cooperate about selling the farm, someone may threaten to put a curse on her.  We mustn't allow this to happen."
They mustn't allow what to happen?  Is Nancy saying that they can't allow someone to threaten Mrs. Thurston?  Or is Nancy saying that they can't allow someone to put a curse on Mrs. Thurston?  I have to laugh, because it almost sounds like Nancy believes in curses.

Page 148 has a gloriously bad illustration that seems to show Nancy and Ned sliding over the edge of a waterfall.  The huge man had pushed them into the water.  "Being excellent swimmers they were able to twist their bodies into perfect dives."  If so, why are Nancy and Ned floating on the water?  They don't even look wet!

On page 166, Bess and George completely talk Mrs. Thurston out of all of her superstitious beliefs, in just a few minutes.  Amazing!

The scene near the end of the book where Nancy leaps with Merv Marvel to the strange occult meeting at the barn is stupid.  It's also ridiculous that Merv confesses everything to Nancy as they leap through the air.

I overall enjoyed The Double Jinx Mystery, even though some aspects of the mystery are quite stupid.  I am much more tolerant of the ridiculous aspects of books like this one that are set in the vicinity of River Heights.  The ones which mix traveling with ridiculous events are much harder for me to enjoy.

Monday, June 17, 2013

The Beyonders Trilogy by Brandon Mull

I love the Fablehaven series by Brandon Mull.  The author has another series, Beyonders, and I read the summary of the first book at least a year ago.
Jason Walker has often wished his life could be a bit less predictable—until a routine day at the zoo ends with Jason suddenly transporting from the hippo tank to a place unlike anything he’s ever seen. In the past, the people of Lyrian welcomed visitors from the Beyond, but attitudes have changed since the wizard emperor Maldor rose to power. The brave resistors who opposed the emperor have been bought off or broken, leaving a realm where fear and suspicion prevail.

In his search for a way home, Jason meets Rachel, who was also mysteriously drawn to Lyrian from our world. With the help of a few scattered rebels, Jason and Rachel become entangled in a quest to piece together the word of power that can destroy the emperor and learn that their best hope to find a way home will be to save this world without heroes.
This summary did not make me want to read the book.  It's hard for me to explain exactly why, but I didn't get a good idea of the content of the story.  I couldn't figure out exactly what this place, Lyrian, was like, so I couldn't tell whether I would like the story.  I also saw no reason why I would care.

I have tried reading the first few chapters of a number of fantasy children's books online in order to try to figure out whether they would appear to me.  So often, I can't get into the books at all, and the summaries, like the one I posted above, do not help me make the decision.

I have learned that even books that have high overall ratings and many five-star ratings do not necessarily appeal to me.  Also, reading the reviews is always dangerous, since I have had the endings of books spoiled that way.  Some people don't know when to leave out certain information.

I took the plunge and decided to read the first Beyonders book, A World without Heroes.  It was hard to get into the book at first, because it was a bit hard to understand what was really going on.  I decided to write my own summary in an attempt to better explain the content of the book.  Here it is.
Strange music coming from nowhere... Jason works at the zoo on a normal day after school but that music continues to play.  Jason traces the music to the hippotamus tank.  He leans forward, losing his balance and falling into the hippo's mouth.  Suddenly, Jason is transported into the middle of a forest while the music plays on.  Jason soon discovers that the source of the music is a raft of suicidal musicians, who are floating down a river towards a waterfall.

It is not until later that Jason learns of a prophecy concerning the magicians.  The musicians had been told by a prophet that by floating over the falls while playing music, they would summon a hero from the Beyond.  That hero would somehow challenge Maldor, whose absolute rule of Lyrian is unquestioned.  Jason has the uncomfortable feeling that he is the hero who was summoned by the musicians.

Jason learns that a girl named Rachel also appeared in this strange new world at about the same time as he did, so her fate is intertwined with his. Jason and Rachel want nothing more than to find a way back home out of this unfamiliar place.  Jason unwittingly learns part of the Word, which is the one way to depose Maldor.  Unfortunately, the information was contained within a book that is linked to Maldor's agents through magic.  Maldor knows of the breach, so Jason and Rachel become outlaws on the run with no choice but to seek the Word in hopes of destroying Maldor and then finding a way home.
A World without Heroes is an excellent book once the reader understands the plot.  The second book in the trilogy, Seeds of Rebellion, is even better, and the final book, Chasing the Prophecy, is absolutely outstanding.  I mentioned recently that many series fall flat towards the end; this one improves with each book and delivers a satisfying conclusion.

The conclusion of Chasing the Prophecy is so well-crafted and so moving that as I read the final page I began crying.  I don't normally cry when reading books.  If you have read the book or ever decide to read it, you'll understand why. And understand that the crying was not devastated crying.  I was simply very moved by what I read, and few books affect readers that strongly.

Brandon Mull has created a fabulous world in Beyonders, and he has created some memorable, unique fantasy races, such as the Amar Kabal, the torivors, and the drinlings.  I am not going to explain what they are, but suffice it to say that they are fascinating.  I recall one reviewer on Amazon who hoped that some of Mull's creations would find their way into works by other authors. 

I highly recommend the Beyonders trilogy to anyone who has enjoyed series like Harry Potter and Fablehaven.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Argentine Nancy Drew Books with Dust Jackets

This spring, I was able to purchase two of the Spanish Nancy Drew books with dust jackets from Argentina.  These books were in print during the 1960s in Argentina.

Both books and jackets are in rough shape, worse than how they appear in the photo, but I purchased them anyway.  These books come up for sale no more than once every few years.

I now have a total of six out of the 10 Argentine Nancy Drew books with dust jackets.

Whistling Bagpipes seems to be the most common.  I have seen it up for sale several times, and it sometimes closes for less than $50.  For the rest of the books, you can expect to pay at least $100 up to $250 each.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Book Sale, eBay Items, and Google Search Problems

In order to try to move some items, I have increased my coupon discount in my Jennifer's Series Books booth.  The coupon can be seen on any item page near the price.  You'll have to go to one of my items to see the discount.  I learned last year never to mention the amount of a temporary discount, because months later, someone expected that discount after reading an old post, even though the sale was long over.


I have listed a large number of books on eBay.  While many prices stayed the same, others were reduced.  Also, around 40 items are new and were not previously listed elsewhere.

Jennifer's Series Books on eBay

eBay offered me a "by invitation only" free listing offer in which I could list up to 40,000 fixed-priced items for free and for up to 30 days.  I chose the 30-day duration on all items and was able to get 204 items listed.

This is the first time I've ever taken advantage of the fixed-price free listing offers by listing a large number of items.  I'm trying to simulate what it would be like to have an eBay store to see whether that is a viable option in the future.  Since these listings will be active for one month, I should be able to get a good idea of what it would be like to have an eBay store.


I am now in another period of reflection with respect to how I sell my books online.  I've done great for 4 1/2 years in my present situation, but I find myself having to re-evaluate whether this will continue to work.  The problem is that my Google exposure has reduced to almost nothing, and this is not due to anything that I can fix on my end. 

This is my Google traffic over the last 4 1/2 years.

What is significant is how bad the Google traffic has been since September 1.  One could be tempted to attribute the drop to the fact that sites had to pay for inclusion in Google's shopping search beginning in September, but the above graph only shows Google's organic search.  This data has nothing to do with the shopping search.

This is out of my control.  My site, this blog, and everything I can control show up well in Google.  I cannot control how well my items show up.  I could leave more and more links everywhere, but something I cannot fix is at play. 

Here's why I know I have a problem.  From May 1 to June 10, I had 281 visits that came through Google.  I am going to spare you the long explanation detailing how the visits break down into who already knew about me and who didn't.  Going by the search terms used, I was able to figure out that no more than 50% of my Google traffic since May 1 can be from people new to me.  The rest of the Google traffic can be attributed to people who already knew about me who used search terms to get at my items quickly.

I decided to compare this to Google visits from three years ago.  In order not to have a huge amount of data to check, I looked only at my Google traffic for February 1, 2010 through March 31, 2010.  I had 874 visits from Google during that time.  Only 101 visits were from people who already knew about me.

Three years ago, 773 out of 874 Google visits brought me new people looking at my items.  Now, only 137 out of 281 Google visits brought me new people, and I am confident that the actual number is lower than that.  Google now hides some data, and remember that I am sparing you a long and boring explanation.


I also decided that I wanted to have a backup of my items, so I uploaded my items to Addoway.

Jennifer's Series Books on Addoway

There is no coupon code, and I doubt that combined shipping is set up correctly.  I placed the link here to gain Google exposure.  It doesn't hurt to have books listed on several venues.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Nancy Drew #49 The Secret of Mirror Bay

In Nancy Drew #49, The Secret of Mirror Bay, Nancy, Bess, and George travel with Nancy's Aunt Eloise to Mirror Bay to stay at the Bide-A-Wee cabin.  No trip is complete without a mystery, and Mirror Bay has plenty of that.  A mysterious woman can be seen walking on the water on misty mornings.  A strange glowing green man haunts the nearby woods.  Ned, Burt, and Dave also join the girls at Mirror Bay.

The girls arrive in Cooperstown amid chaos.  Five large travel buses are parked alongside the curb, with hundreds of people milling around.  The people paid hundreds of dollars to stay at a resort, but they arrived in Cooperstown to discover that their destination does not exist.  Nancy is spotted by the crowd and accused of being the perpetrator.  The girl responsible for the scam just happens to look just like Nancy.

It turns out that the people responsible for the scam just happen to have their hideout on the nearby mountain.  Exactly why would they scam people and have the fake destination be right where their hideout is?  If they had chosen someplace else, they would have never been caught.  Nancy's mysteries would be so much harder to solve if these villains would quit being so stupid.

Of course, one of the villains dresses up as the strange glowing green man to scare people away from the hideout.  Naturally, Nancy investigates near where he appears and discovers the hideout.  Dear me, these villains are stupid.

On page 64, Bess has been abducted, and a man is dragging her down the mountain.  Nancy and the others chase after them, down the mountain.  Once the man is within sight, Aunt Eloise yells at him to stop.  The man immediately drops Bess and runs down the mountain.

Nancy has one of her moments of sheer genius when she "kept wondering why the man had taken that route."  Um, the man ran down the mountain because he was already being chased down the mountain.  Why would he turn around and run at the young people?  I'm not understanding what was so strange about the direction he took. 

On page 88, Nancy finds some bobby pins up in the middle of the woods that were left behind by the mysterious girl.  Nancy decides to leave the bobby pins, because she believes the girl might come back for them and be captured.  I've always thought of bobby pins as very inexpensive.  Would the girl actually go back for them?  Would she know where she left them?  If I were the girl, I'd forget about them.

The villains have this great hideout up on the mountain.  It is an underground cave.  A wooden trap door is built into the ground, and the villains climb down the ladder into the underground cave.  I've always liked the hideout, but this time when I read the book, I couldn't help but think...  What if it rains?

The cave even has a refrigerator which is powered by energy acquired from fireflies that are kept in the cave.  I have some trouble believing that the villains are able to get enough energy from fireflies to power the refrigerator, but my bigger problem is...  What if it rains?

How do the villains keep the water out of the underground cave?  Or does it never rain on this crazy mountain?

The woman who walks on water cannot swim, so she was using stilts, hoping to feel a large metal box underwater.  This is, of course, stupid.  Later, Nancy and her friends find the box for the woman, and of course the contents are unspoiled by water.  Everyone is so lucky in this book that water never causes them any problems.

I have always enjoyed The Secret of Mirror Bay, and this time was no exception.  The mystery has the usual plot devices that make little sense, but ignoring them, it is a very good story.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Harry Potter, the Hunger Games, and the Problem of Too Much Hype

This post was written months ago and was never finished nor published.  In reading over it tonight, I have decided that it is good enough to publish in the form in which I left it.  My thoughts are a bit more scattered than what I normally publish, but I think the content is still worthwhile.

After I finished reading the latest book in the Tapestry series, I began to think about the different modern series that I have read and what I think of them.

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.

A few years ago, I read the Percy Jackson series.  I remember that I was fully satisfied with the ending of that series, which is better than how Rowling ended her series.  Yes, I will keep going back to that. How a series ends is just as important as the journey.  The series does not have to end happily, but the ending has to be satisfying.  Rowling's series did not end in a satisfying fashion.

I read the Nicholas Flamel series.  I dearly loved reading those books, although the ending was not quite as good as it should have been.  The biggest threats to the twins' survival were killed off way too quickly and easily.  And then the book abruptly ended.  I was left somewhat dissatisfied, but I was not nearly as annoyed as when I finished Harry Potter.

I have read the Hunger Games trilogy.  This is another series that suffered from the hype.  The first book is wonderful.  The second book is nearly as good as the first book.  The third and final book is quite confusing at times, and the lack of proper editing really shows, just like with Harry Potter.  When authors create something that gets hyped, editing is sloppy for the later books, thus creating an inferior final product.

Near the end of the third Hunger Games book, a major character is killed.  The author, for some reason, thought it would be best to mention the character only by a vague passage referring back to an event from an earlier book.  It took me quite a few pages to figure out who had died, and then I was surprised and confused.  I felt like I had somehow missed reading a page or two of text.  I went back and read through the event another one or two times and still was confused.  I could tell by reading the reviews that I was not the only one who didn't get it.  Editing, people... sure, the author is a big-shot after a series gets mega-popular, but the books need editing.

When I finished the Hunger Games trilogy, I was left with a similar letdown feeling to what I felt when I finished Harry Potter.  It should not have to be like this.

Fablehaven is a truly magical and special series which should appeal to the same audience as Harry Potter.  The series has a pretty good following, although not anywhere near the level of Harry Potter.  Even so, the series did take a step down with the fourth and fifth books.  The main problem is that both books have endless fighting and action that never seems to end and are very repetitive.  I am reminded of J.K. Rowling's Ministry of Magic fight scene from her fifth Harry Potter book.  Oh, the horror...

Despite the endless fighting, the Fablehaven series has a very satisfying ending, which of course is more than I can say for Harry Potter.

This brings me back to the Tapestry series, which is what got me to thinking about the rest of these books.  The Tapestry series has such a low number of reviews on Amazon that it is apparent that most people have never heard of it.  Tapestry would appeal to the very same people who enjoyed Harry Potter, Percy Jackson, and Fablehaven.

The Tapestry series is not yet finished, so I have no idea whether the series will fall flat as others have done.  What I do know is that each book has been better than the last.  The first book is the weakest of the four books, and the series has gotten better and better with each book.    

Sunday, June 2, 2013

The Delirium Trilogy by Lauren Oliver

Earlier this year, I read the Delirium trilogy by Lauren Oliver.  This trilogy is aimed at young adult readers and consists of Delirium, Pandemonium, and Requiem.  The Delirium books are set in the future United States, in which love has been labeled a disease.  Love has been eradicated by forcing everyone to undergo a procedure as a young adult to cure them of amor deliria nervosa.

The first book tells the story of Lena and Hana in the months before their procedures.  Without getting into a lot of spoilers, Lena falls victim to amor deliria nervosa by falling in love with Alex.  In the second book, Lena becomes part of the rebel movement and grows close to Julian, but just as a result of circumstance.  In the third book, the rebel movement gains power, and Lena is in a love triangle of sorts with Alex and Julian.

The first book is quite slow with lots of what, to me, is filler.  Teenage girls might have a different view.  The second book is much more exciting than the first book, and the third book is similar to the second book.

This trilogy is quite good, but the problem is the ending of the third book.  Some say that the third book closes open-ended, but really, the third book just stops during the climax.  Lots of action is happening, then the author goes into some vague flowery prose about walls and tearing them down.  The book ends with the reader left wondering about just about everything.  It is very unsatisfying.

Most any epic story will have at least a partially open-ended conclusion, since the authors typically do not expound in great detail every event that ever happens to the characters.  But this trilogy does not successfully resolve the conflict.  For me, I just can't see how it could possibly work out.  In fact, I could see everyone getting killed one chapter after the book ends.  I suppose they could live happily ever after.  We really don't know.  The author is supposed to give us some idea of how events will unfold.  That's not my job as the reader.  I am not into writing fan fiction.  I am just a reader.

Most readers have the same opinion.  Here is a screen cap from Amazon.

 Look at the two complaints about the ending of Requiem and the rather large number of people who made similar statements.

I read this book shortly after it was released and found the reviews to be rather interesting as they came in.  A good many people complained about the ending and gave specific reasons why.  It was apparent they had read the book.  Let's just say that after a few too many complaints, a number of five-star reviews would appear, and those reviews were along the lines of "OMG.  This was the best book EVER!!!"  with no specific information given.  I have heard of fake reviews and paid reviews on Amazon, and this book appears to have a number of them.

The Delirium trilogy is excellent, but just be aware that the author apparently wants us to imagine the ending.