Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Nancy Drew #97 Magnolia Mansion, #98 Horse Island, and #99 Seven Rocks

In Nancy Drew #97, The Mystery at Magnolia Mansion, Nancy and Bess journey to South Carolina to help author Amelia Beaufort at her home, Magnolia Mansion. Frightening, unexplained events occur at the mansion, and Nancy must discover who is trying to scare Amelia, and why.

The Mystery at Magnolia Mansion is believed to be part of the inspiration for the Nancy Drew game, Ghost of Thornton Hall.  The inspiration is more with respect to the setting, and the book and game are completely different.

On page 42, the girls enter Amelia's office where "a modern computer was set up."  As opposed to what?  An obsolete computer?

On page 110, a carriage driver asks Nancy and Bess if they would like a ride.  "A heavy beard and bushy eyebrows masked his face.  Something about his voice sounded familiar to Nancy.  But that was impossible, so Nancy decided she was wrong."  Hello!  The man is wearing an obvious disguise and sounds familiar.  So what does Nancy do?  She gets on the carriage with him and nearly gets killed.  Smart.

I greatly enjoyed The Mystery at Magnolia Mansion.

In Nancy Drew #98, The Haunting of Horse Island, Nancy, Bess, and George stay at Triple Tree Lake in upstate New York.  Soon after their arrival, the girls realize that the owners are worried and that the guests are jittery.  Someone is sabotaging the resort and leaving threatening letters.  Meanwhile, the guests are warned never to journey to Horse Island in the center of the lake, because poachers shoot wildly all over the island all the time.

The bit about the poachers seemed stupid when I read the book.  I kept wondering why they would only poach on the island and not in the woods near the resort.  Later, I realized that the poachers were just an extremely lame excuse given by the villain for why people shouldn't go to the island.

I overall enjoyed the book, but it reminded me too much of dozens of other series books which feature people trying to scare the owners into selling their property.  My favorite part of the book was when Nancy, Bess, and George explored Horse Island and ended up stranded.  If the book had more of that, then I would have found it more interesting.

In Nancy Drew #99, The Secret at Seven Rocks, Nancy, Bess, and George vacation in Colorado.  Dana Walsh runs a wildlife rehabilitation center, and she is waging a campaign to end hunting for sport.  She has been threatened, and someone is causing accidents at her refuge.  Dana's employee acts suspicious, yet he deeply loves animals and can't be guilty.  Meanwhile, a few inmates have escaped from a nearby prison.  Of course there wouldn't be any connection, right?  Wrong!

This book is interesting in that the story has a bit of a twist that sets it apart from other Nancy Drew books.  The story is just like dozens of other series books, but the solution is a bit different.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Reviews of Nancy Drew #93 through #96

In Nancy Drew #93, The Case of the Safecracker's Secret, Mr. Charles, president of Bentley Bank, asks Nancy to investigate who has been tampering with the safe deposit boxes in the bank's vault.

The plot is a bit ridiculous.  Mr. Charles hires three new interns who are teenage girls.  They are working undercover, and no one is to know why they are at the bank or that they already know each other.  Right.  No one would wonder about three teenage girls showing up at the same time.  No one would wonder why they spend so much time together.

This would not be strange if the bank were a large one, but the book's description makes it seem that not very many people are employed by the bank.  If so, then everyone would know that the girls are connected from the very beginning.

On page 52, Nancy realizes that Bess is acting like she knows Nancy, so Bess is giving their undercover status away.  Hello?!  The girls have been talking to each other ever since they arrived at the bank.  Even if the other employees assumed that the girls did not already know each other, they have been talking so much that they have to know each other by this point.  Stupid.

On page 15, "Mr. Charles pointed to a small metal pane next to the vault door, with numbered buttons set up in a grid, like on a push-button phone."  How about just calling it a key pad?  These 1990s Nancy Drew books now seem dated, and I did not notice that when I read them a dozen years ago.  The mention of a push-button phone also seems dated, since nowadays rotary dial phones are very uncommon and obsolete.  Practically all phones in use nowadays are push-button, except possibly for scattered people still using old rotary dial phones in their homes.

This book was not as enjoyable as it could have been, since I remembered from my last reading exactly who one of the villains is and was fairly certain about the other one.  Also, the story about the villains is a bit ridiculous, but I would give away too much of the solution if I were to mention it here.

In Nancy Drew #94, The Picture-Perfect Mystery, someone is out to ruin Lila Cramer, a famous artist.  Lila's daughter, Lee Ann, was tricked into selling all of her mother's paintings for the price of one painting.  The suspects include Lila's rival, artist Jennifer Williams.

I read The Picture-Perfect Mystery very quickly and thoroughly enjoyed reading it.  It helped that I couldn't remember anything about the identify of the villain, which kept the book suspenseful to me.

In Nancy Drew #95, The Silent Suspect, Nancy and Ned travel to San Francisco to help figure out what is wrong with Ned's cousin, Lisa.

This book is very enjoyable and suspenseful.  I couldn't remember the culprit, although I had a good idea about partway through.  Clues pointed towards several different people, which kept me guessing.

In Nancy Drew #96, The Case of the Photo Finish, the International High School Track and Field Games is taking place in River Heights.  Nancy, Bess, and George are each hosting one of the athletes, and of course, their athletes are involved in the mystery.  Cheryl is staying at Nancy's house, while Marta stays at George's house.  Cheryl and Marta are rivals.  Someone keeps trying to hurt Cheryl, and Marta receives threats.  Both girls believe that the other girl is guilty, but Nancy wonders whether someone else is involved.

Marta's trainer is named Helga, and I kept confusing Marta and Helga.  The problem was that both names have two syllables and end with the letter "a."  I would have enjoyed the book more if I had not had to keep flipping back far enough to remind myself which was which.  Aside from the name problem, this book is enjoyable, and most readers will not guess the villain's identity before the end.  I guessed partway through the story, but only because I have read the book before.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Brief Reviews of Nancy Drew #88 through 92

I took a long break from reading the Nancy Drew Digests.  I read #88-92 before taking the break, but I made very few notes.  While I could take the time to write up proper reviews, I will get on with my reviews much faster if I keep #88-92 brief based on what notes I made. 

The title of Nancy Drew #88, The Search for Cindy Austin, pretty much summarizes the plot.  Nancy searches for Cindy Austin.  See?  Nice and easy.  This book takes place in River Heights, which is nice because so many of the books take place in distant locations.

On page 12, Cindy has disappeared.  The Austins have a security detail consisting of three people who are near the family at all times.  One of them asks what Cindy was wearing.  This took me aback, since I thought that his job was to be observant and aware of his surroundings.

I had some trouble getting into the story at the beginning because Cindy is so obnoxious.  Soon, the book had me, and I read through the entire book very quickly.

A scene near the end of the story involving cheerleaders is very amusing.

In Nancy Drew #89, The Case of the Disappearing Deejay, popular deejay Dan Wildman has disappeared while on the air.  Heck, even this book tells the plot in the title.  How nice!

On page 18, Nancy decides to begin checking typewriters in order to find the typewriter upon which the kidnapper's note was typed.  This book was published in 1989, and many people still used typewriters instead of computers.  I know I did.

I enjoyed reading The Case of the Disappearing Deejay.

In Nancy Drew #90, The Puzzle at Pineview School, George helps coach a girls' soccer team that plans to compete in the Canadian Cup.  A pair of brooches that was to be sold to benefit the team goes missing.  The mother of one team member is accused of the theft, while other players taunt her daughter.  Nancy must discover who stole the brooches.

I took no notes about this book, so all I can report is that I enjoyed the story.

In Nancy Drew #91, The Girl Who Couldn't Remember, Nancy, Bess, and George help a girl named Toby who has amnesia and has been accused of theft.  Toby is in danger, and the girls protect her while seeking answers.

I also took no notes about this book.  I do recall that I had trouble getting into the story in the early chapters.  I believe that since this story involves someone with amnesia that I couldn't help thinking of The Swami's Ring, which I dislike.  Once I got past my instinctive dislike because of The Swami's Ring, I was able to enjoy the story.

In Nancy Drew #92, The Ghost of Craven Cove,  Miss Braden, Nancy's third-grade teacher, asks Nancy, Bess, and George to come to Maine to help her niece, Laura.  Laura's father drowned six months before, but his body was never found.  Laura believes that her father is still alive and has supposedly even seen him.

This story starts out a bit strange, as though the author wasn't sure how to get started.  On page 4, Nancy wonders why Miss Braden asked them to come, since her letter did not mention a specific reason.  Nancy thinks that Miss Braden has a mystery, yet she is puzzled.  She thinks that Miss Braden would have no possible way of knowing that Nancy is a detective.  This type of stupidity on Nancy's part is more like the Nancy of the Girl Detective or Diaries series.  Use your brain, Nancy!

Many previous Nancy Drew Digest books have mentioned Nancy Drew's fame.  She has been written up in many newspapers.  Not only that, why on earth would Nancy not consider that Miss Braden might just possibly still be in contact with people from River Heights?  Also, Nancy, teachers do tend to be interested in the exploits of their former students.  Really, girl!

So two pages later, the girls talk to Miss Braden.  Guess what?  She knows about Nancy's detective skills from people back home and from the River Heights newspaper, which she receives.  Stupid, stupid.

Nancy is still in her strange, stupid, helpless frame of mind on page 13.  Laura asks Nancy to help find her father.  Nancy hesitates, saying that there is no evidence of a crime.  When has that stopped Nancy?  Nancy also remarks, "I don't know this area very well."  What?!  Lame!  Nancy, if you don't want to help the poor girl, at least come up with a better excuse.  There are things called maps.  Besides, you've been all over the world.  When has being in a strange place ever stopped you?

Also strange is that Nancy was put in this same position in #73 Enemy Match.  In both books, a girl or young woman believes that her father is still alive.  In both cases, he drowned, and his body was not found.  Nancy has no trouble looking for the father in Enemy Match, but in this book, she is most reluctant.

Once the reader gets past the stupid introductory chapters of this book, the story is quite good.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Recent eBay Auctions of Note

The first two are crazy.

Nancy Drew #1 Old Clock tweed book without dust jacket

The book does not have a dust jacket and is not worth more than $10.  It sold for $29.99 plus $5.63 postage.  The buyer might have been influenced by the seller's statement, "Own a piece of American publishing history."  Sure, but it might have been better to have selected one priced a lot lower.

Nancy Drew #10 Larkspur Lane first printing with no dust jacket

The book is the first printing of Larkspur Lane and sold for $249.99.  The book does not have a dust jacket and is not in very good shape.  I just sold one in much better condition in an auction for less than $60 just a couple of months ago.  I do not believe I have ever sold a first printing of Larkspur Lane without a jacket for more than $100.

With a dust jacket, the first printing of Larkspur Lane is worth at least several hundred dollars in the current market.

Nancy Drew #5 Shadow Ranch with first printing dust jacket

Somebody got a good deal.  The very first printing of The Secret at Shadow Ranch with dust jacket sold for $325 in a Buy It now listing.

Nancy Drew #7 Clue in the Diary first printing with dust jacket

The book closed at  $2,025.10.  The buyer purchased the book to resell.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Why I Don't Want to Sell Certain Books on eBay

Scattered throughout various blog posts and comments made on my Facebook page, I have shared why I don't want to sell certain series books on eBay.  It all has to do with avoiding a specific buyer.

This is someone who sells series books on eBay and uses another ID on eBay to purchase those books.  There are probably at least two dozen people who sell series books on eBay and who also purchase their books on eBay, so it's not like you are going to be able to guess who this is.  Obviously, I am not going to give enough information here for you to figure it out.  Just remember if you sell series books on eBay, look at your buyers' feedback left for others by running the IDs through has all the tools you need to sleuth out the solution to the mystery.

Here is a statement I made in "eBay Store Update, DSRs, and Facebook Promotion" on July 22, 2013.
Last year at this time, all four of my DSRs were taking a nosedive.  I had one repeat buyer, and I used eBay's tool to figure out that he was giving me a four on all four DSRs.  This should not have been a problem, except that he alone was 30% to 40% of my transactions.  Even fours drag a seller's average down quickly.
It was after that buyer pulled down my DSRs just by leaving one four after another that I began to follow him more closely.  I learned his selling ID, which wasn't hard, because I noticed the books I had sold him up for sale by the selling ID.  I ran both IDs through, and I saw the big picture.  That's why I blocked him.

I'm not going to connect all the dots here, because I want to leave the IDs a mystery in order to protect myself.  However, I do have some screen captures to show you.  First, though, I want to avoid confusion.  Let's call my blocked buyer "eBay Seller #1," since I am going to mention some other sellers.

The above image shows the DSRs for eBay Seller #2 from whom my blocked buyer (eBay Seller #1) has purchased.  The blocked buyer is still leaving fours for all DSRs for all sellers who receive positive feedback.  The above seller has bad average DSRs as a result of receiving many feedback ratings from the one buyer who has purchased many lots from this seller, just like what was done to me in 2012.

Some of you are thinking that DSRs of 4.7 and 4.8 are not bad.  They shouldn't be, but eBay sees them as bad.  I have read many reports of sellers getting permanently suspended from selling because one DSR had gone down to 4.6.  While 4.6 is a 92% rating, eBay views it as failing and kicks sellers off.  So a buyer leaving fours for all DSRs and buying dozens of items from a seller can single-handedly get that seller removed from eBay.  That's dangerous.

Now check this out.  The following image shows the negative feedback that my blocked buyer left for eBay Seller #3 above the pertinent information from eBay Seller #3's item description.

Notice that the buyer complained about a shipping delay and a handling fee of $4.  Both points were addressed in the listing, and when the buyer purchased the item, he agreed to the seller's terms.  Yet he left the seller negative feedback.

Even one negative or neutral feedback rating can destroy a seller.  Another seller, eBay Seller #4, is trying to recover from bad feedback.  eBay Seller #4 used to be the top seller of series books on eBay, in my opinion.  This person has always been very popular.  This person has received a few negative and neutral feedback ratings in the last year.  This person used to be a top-rated seller and lost it because of those feedback ratings.  This person's sales have declined significantly.  Whenever a seller receives a bad feedback rating, even one, eBay demotes that seller's items in search, and that seller will be unable to recover until an entire year has passed.  That's huge.  That's harsh.

Going back to eBay Seller #3, I love his response to the negative feedback rating:  "did you READ the auction info?  no, no you didn't.  perhaps you should next time."

I know from past experience that many of the people buying books on eBay in order to resell them do not read descriptions.  They glance at the pictures, make a quick decision as to value, and either make the purchase or place a bid.  That can make them very difficult buyers.  I had a buyer from years ago who I will call eBay Seller #5, who purchased a book in which I stated that the top corner of the front free endpaper had been cut off.  As soon as he received the book, he complained that the front free endpaper was not price-clipped and that the corner was gone.  Right, that's why I said the corner was cut off.  I agreed to accept a return while making a pointed remark about how the description mentioned the flaw, then I added him to my blocked buyer list.

Since the current problematic buyer loves to purchase certain series books, I am trying to rid myself of the types of books that he purchases.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Watching eBay Items

eBay has a feature in which people can watch items.  Some people watch items so that they know if the item sells while others watch items hoping that the prices will be eventually lowered.  Sellers sometimes watch items in order to figure out how to price their own items.

As a seller, I assume that watchers are not very interested in my items.  I pay very little attention to how many watchers I have or whether I have any at all.  Rarely do watchers become buyers.  I have had items with several watchers end without selling and consistently fail to sell despite being relisted multiple times.

Sometimes I am wrong to conclude that the watchers are disinterested.

I tend to get tired of some items not selling and then take drastic measures that end up surprising buyers.  Last week, I decided to begin closing out my stock of Nancy Drew books with dust jackets.  I found all of my Nancy Drew books with dust jackets that had not already been listed and got them listed.

Next, I decided to discount certain Nancy Drew books with jackets.  I wanted to move some out from eBay quickly and wanted to reduce the prices greatly.  Due to the nature of these books and how they would most likely sell to someone I wish to avoid, I did not feel comfortable with leaving them on eBay. 

I ended those listings on eBay and moved the books to Bonanza at much lower prices.  I did notice that one book had two watchers, but I didn't care since watchers tend only to watch and never purchase.  Within a couple of hours after I ended that listing, one of the watchers sent me a question, asking if the book was going to be listed again.  Apparently someone was interested.

I couldn't come out and say exactly what I did due to eBay's policies about luring buyers off eBay.  I couldn't say much of anything at all.  In the end, someone else purchased the book on Bonanza.  The person who was watching the book on eBay missed out.  I realize that some people may watch books because they don't have the funds to purchase the books.  If so, they need to understand that the books might sell to others or the listing might get pulled by the seller.  Watching items is risky since sometimes the items disappear.

I mention all of this just to remind everyone that I have a habit of abruptly removing listings and disposing of books quickly in either individual listings or in bulk lots.  Several times, I have had buyers wonder about books that vanish without warning.

Right now, many of my Judy Bolton listings on both eBay and Bonanza are in danger because I'm sick of them not selling.  I have now stopped myself at least three times from pulling the books together into bulk lots.  I keep stopping myself just in case someone finally buys some of them.  The most recent time I stopped myself was this last weekend.  Perhaps I'll wait just a little longer.

Let's segue into New Year's resolutions.  I don't make them.  I do, however, make goals for myself at various points throughout the year whenever I feel the need, so New Year's resolutions are pointless.  In June, I vowed to reduce my inventory of books so that my shelves would no longer be messy.  I put that plan into action by listing a very large volume of books on eBay where I knew I could move books much faster than on Bonanza.  I have continued to work at that goal ever since.  I have made significant progress, but I have more books that need to leave.

Yes, Judy Bolton extras, I'm looking at you.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Nancy Drew Flying Saucer DJ and Adventure Girls Boxed Set

 ***This is my 1000th post.  Woo-hoo!***

I purchased this Adventure Girls Saalfield boxed set recently.  Normally, I have no use for Saalfield books because they have pulp paper.  I always make an exception when they come in a nice vintage Saalfield box.

This is my fourth Saalfield boxed set.  All four boxes are different in either color or design.

I also upgraded my copy of Nancy Drew #58, The Flying Saucer Mystery, in the Wanderer hardcover edition with dust jacket.  My old book is at the top, and my new book is at the bottom.

Neither book is a library discard.  My old book is the first printing, but the back panel of the jacket has damage.  My new book is the third printing and is in better condition.  While I would rather have a first printing, I also want to have an extremely nice copy.  I had decided previously that condition is more important than the printing, so I will keep my new third printing book.