Friday, February 28, 2014

Nancy Drew #116 Twin Teddy Bears and #117 Mystery on the Menu

In Nancy Drew #116, The Case of the Twin Teddy Bears, Nancy investigates a theft of antique bears from the Bearly Wonderful shop in River Heights.

We finally return to the River Heights of intrigue and mystery.  This is so much better.  The book starts out in the bear shop, and the text is interesting.  A woman is attacked outside the shop, and the attacker runs off.  The next day, a robbery occurs.  The story flows nicely and is interesting.  Best of all, the mystery has no sabotage! 

As the reader, I actually feel that Nancy and her friends are in danger.  I felt very detached in the preceding several stories.  In one scene, Nancy and her friends skate at the lake.  Nancy is alone when she hears a call for help.  She heads towards the shore, not thinking of where she is skating.  She falls through the ice and has to be rescued.  The call for help was a ruse.  Meanwhile, Bess is attacked!  This is all very exciting.

On page 53, Ned makes his return to the series.  He hasn't been seen since #95 The Silent Suspect.  Bess is the only other friend present in this story.

I greatly enjoyed The Case of the Twin Teddy Bears.

In Nancy Drew #117, Mystery on the Menu, George wins a cooking contest, so she gets to take a free dessert-making class at the Wolfe Culinary Institute in New York.  Nancy and Bess decide to pay their way so that all three girls can take the class together.  Soon after the girls arrive, they discover that someone is trying to harm one of the chefs. 

"Sabotage" is finally mentioned on page 111.  I can forgive Simon and Schuster for the sabotage plot of this book, because it is cleverly disguised.  This book starts out with the plot seeming like attempted murder.  It is not until well into the story that the sabotage of the Wolfe Culinary Institute becomes apparent.

This story is a very good whodunnit.  Evidence points to a number of different people, so it is not obvious who the culprit is until the reveal.  I enjoyed trying to guess the identity of the culprit.  I also enjoyed the mystery because it reminded me of several Nancy Drew games.  Nancy pokes around in a deserted wing of the cooking school and has to sift through many clues.  This mystery is fun.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Nancy Drew #112 through #115 with a Bunch of Sabotage

In Nancy Drew #112, Crime in the Queen's Court, Nancy, Bess, and George volunteer at an Elizabethan festival in River Heights.  Soon though, Nancy finds herself in the middle of a mystery of... sabotage!  Someone is trying to ruin the festival!

This is an enjoyable mystery, but I didn't enjoy it as much as I should have, for two reasons.  I was forced to read one of my very nice condition softcover books, so I couldn't open the book completely.  Concentrating on being careful took away from my enjoyment.  The other reason is that I am growing so tired of sabotage.

Note:  I cannot stand online listings where the seller swears the book has never been read.  Unless the seller is the original owner, the seller cannot possibly know for sure.  My copy of #112 looks like it has never been read, yet I just did.  So there.

In Nancy Drew #113, The Secret Lost at Sea, Nancy and George travel to Connecticut to investigate a case of... sabotage! Could we write about something else?  Like maybe long lost relatives?  Maybe someone could be kidnapped.  Please?  Bring Ned back.  Where is Ned?

Even though this case consists of more sabotage, at least this time the sabotage doesn't involve yet another musical or play.  I skimmed a lot of this book, but I did find it to be a decent read.

In Nancy Drew #114, The Search for the Silver Persian, Nancy searches for a missing silver Persian.  This is another case of the title telling the entire plot.  At least this isn't sabotage.  Unfortunately, I was not interested in the slightest, so I skimmed some of the book, then decided to skip to the next book.  The book just didn't grab me, and I wanted to keep going.

In Nancy Drew #115, The Suspect in the Smoke, Nancy, Bess, and George help raise money for the River Street Recreation Center to be rebuilt after it was destroyed by a fire.  We learn about recycling, fundraising, and... sabotage!  Someone doesn't want the recreation center to be rebuilt!

Ugh.  I sort of read this book, but I mostly skimmed it.  These sabotage books seem kind of forced, bland, and they feel like the same story rehashed over and over again.  Spare me.

I did make one note.  The recreation center was destroyed by a fire caused by papers that caught on fire by being stacked next to a space heater.  I find it strange that Nancy discovers that the heater was unplugged when she investigates weeks after the fire, but the police and fire departments never noticed this fact in the first place.  Why wouldn't they have noticed a detail like that?  It could be that someone unplugged the heater after the fire, but it's odd that Nancy never considers that possibility.

The Nancy Drew books improve again after #115.  The majority of the books from #107 through #115 deal with sabotage.  The stories are not bad, but whoever was responsible for deciding the plots for the Nancy Drew series was lazy during this stretch of books.  These stories should have been spread out more and interspersed with other types of plots.  Series books are by their very nature quite repetitive, and I am fine with that.  However, these books tried my patience, since each book seemed to be a repeat of the previous book with different names and a different setting.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Nancy Drew #109 Masked Rider, #110 Nutcracker Ballet, and #111 Solaire

In Nancy Drew #109, The Mystery of the Masked Rider, Nancy's friend Colleen Healey plans to compete in an important horse show with her prize horse, Nightingale.  After several accidents, Nancy realizes that someone is trying to sabotage Colleen, so Nancy and Bess travel with Colleen to help guard Nightingale.

This book was published in October 1992.  At that time, a Zorro television series was airing on the Family Channel.  This book has a man on the cover who looks like he is wearing a Zorro disguise.  Coincidence?  I doubt it.  Zorro is mentioned by name on page 84, and one of the characters in this book is named Diego.  I am quite confident that this book gives a nod to Zorro.

I didn't make any notes about this book, but I enjoyed it.

In Nancy Drew #110, The Nutcracker Ballet Mystery, Nancy, Bess, and George help Madame Dugrand prepare for the upcoming performance of The Nutcracker Ballet.  I'm sure you can already guess that someone is trying to sabotage the ballet.  Could we think of some other type of plot?

I couldn't help but think of The Scarlet Slipper Mystery as I read this book.  The story is not at all the same, but both books feature ballet studios.

On page 75, we learn that Lawrence keeps mice in his dance locker whenever he plans to feed mice to his pet snake.  He catches a mouse that is running around on the floor, saying that it was his mouse from his locker.  Er, what?  He places the mouse in his pocket.  Yes, a live mouse.  I'm speechless.

Nancy gets all smart and everything on page 124.  Shana's dress has had jagged lines cut through the bodice.  Nancy examines it and states, "It's been cut with very sharp scissors."  How astute! 

I enjoyed The Nutcracker Ballet Mystery, but not as much as I would have, since I am growing tired of one plot after another concerning sabotage.

In Nancy Drew #111, The Secret at Solaire, Nancy, Bess, and George spend a week at Spa Solaire in Arizona.  Each girl is placed on a diet and exercise regimen, and Bess enters enthusiastically into the program.  Soon after the girls arrive, they notice that the staff escorts the guests to their rooms, and guests are not permitted to be out at night.  Mishaps occur in the exercise room and in the vicinity of the resort.  Or to use another word, sabotage!

Bess is depressed because she has to lose six pounds instead of just five.  This reminds me of the Sweet Valley High series where Jessica eyes her very slender figure in the mirror and moans that she has to lose one pound.  **eye roll**

I think of how overweight many teenagers are these days, and this seems so petty.  Bess is always described as plump, yet she is only five pounds overweight.  It would be more logical for her to be 20 pounds overweight, or perhaps even more than that.

At moments when I read these books, I hear the lines in my head just as though the lines are being said by one of the voice actors from the Nancy Drew games.  Usually it's when Nancy says something like, "It's locked!"  This time I heard Bess from the games on page 59.
Bess shut her eyes.  "I didn't see a candy bar, and I don't smell it.  It's a figment of my imagination."
Perfect.  If you're quite familiar with the Nancy Drew games, you'll know what I mean.

I enjoyed The Secret at Solaire.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Series Book Questions Winter 2014

What does "front flap is price-clipped" mean?

"Price-clipped" is when a past seller has cut off the price code that appears in the upper corner of the front flap of a dust jacket.  This was usually done so that the seller could charge a higher price and most likely occurred when the book was up for sale when first printed.

The above image shows two front flaps.  The one on the left has been price-clipped.  The one on the right shows the price code of 7575, which means that the book was to be sold for $0.75.

I decided to print the following question exactly as it was sent to me by the prospective buyer.

Hello, I just would like to know why don't you ship to France ? Because I precisely live in France and I m interested in buying this book ? It is not fair ! thank you for your answer.

I do ship internationally, but some scattered listings show United States only.  This is because I create new listings from old listings.  Really, it's just an oversight, although I know how annoying it must be for international buyers to have to ask.  I told the buyer this right after I got the listing changed over to international availability.  I suspected that the buyer just wanted to vent for whatever reason, and I was not at all surprised that I never heard back.  The buyer did not make a purchase. 

Writing about this reminded me of a question I received years ago from someone who was not interested in my item.  That contact taught me never to mention certain things in listings, because some people troll eBay just so that they can vent at sellers.  For a brief time years ago, I put in my listings that the books would be wrapped in plastic to protect against moisture exposure.  An environmentalist searched eBay for "plastic," found my listing, and sent me a message.  She told me that to save the planet that I should please only use secondhand plastic bags for my items rather than new plastic.

Yeah, I'm really going to take those plastic bags from Walmart that I use for my small waste baskets and begin using them for my books.  Do you know how often people use those things when mailing books to me and how often the bags feel gritty and dirty?  Yuck.  I don't know where they keep them before using them, but it isn't in a clean place.  I'm thinking of how my buyers would feel if I were to begin using grimy bags on the books.

Anyway, I now know never ever to use the word "plastic" in a listing.  When I do mention how I pack, I simply state that I protect against moisture exposure.  That way no one tries to convince me to use some other method.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Nancy Drew #107 Miner's Creek and #108 Tibetan Treasure

In Nancy Drew #107, The Legend of Miner's Creek, Nancy, Bess, and George enjoy a vacation at the ranch of Carson Drew's friend, Charlie Griffin, in the state of Washington.  Soon after their arrival, the girls find themselves in the middle of a mystery.  It seems that someone is after the lost gold mine discovered by Jeremiah Benner and will stop at nothing to find it.

I found that this book didn't keep me interested as much as others despite the western setting that I usually enjoy.  It might be that this book seemed too much like too many other books.  It's another one of the endless stories of someone's property being vandalized because someone is trying to scare them off or find something.  Exciting events were happening far too often, and characterization was lacking.

About halfway through I thought I recalled the villain's identity, so I was much more interested in the story from that point on.

In Nancy Drew #108, The Secret of the Tibetan Treasure, Nelson Stone, curator of the Clinton Park Museum in River Heights, calls Nancy for help because he fears for his life.  While Nancy is at the museum investigating Stone's concerns, a golden Tibetan horse is stolen from the museum.

The beginning of this book is a bit off.  After reading the entire book, I realize why, but I won't get into that since I would spoil the entire plot.  Just about the strangest part of the beginning occurs on page 10 when Nelson Stone unlocks the case that contains the $1 million golden horse, then hands the horse to Nancy so she can feel how heavy it is.  What curator in his right mind would take a $1 million artifact and casually hand it to someone else?  This scene is beyond bizarre.  I understood why it happened later in the story, and let's just say that it's a really big clue to the solution of the mystery.

Nancy pokes around in the museum looking for clues after the horse is predictably stolen.  On page 18, she finds an open window.  She closes it with no thought about fingerprints. 

Westmoor University is mentioned, and I recall that Westmoor is the university in #66 Race Against Time.

On page 29, chocolates are sent to Nelson Stone by someone unknown.  No one thinks anything of it.  Later, Stone gives the chocolates to a dog.  The dog becomes quite ill, so the assumption is that the chocolates were poisoned, although at the same time something is mentioned about chocolates being bad for dogs.  But then the final conclusion is that the chocolates were poisoned.  Of course this is all decided without anyone finding and testing the chocolates.  And I kept thinking, "Chocolates are bad for dogs.  Isn't that the problem?"  Ugh, I want to tear my hair out.  So much about this book is just plain strange.

On page 67, Nancy makes herself a list of clues.  Up to this point, Nancy has always been able to remember everything in her head.  She must be slipping.  

While I overall enjoyed this story, it was more than slightly strange at times, which reduced my enjoyment.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Nancy Drew #104 Jade Tiger, #105 Antique Trunk, and #106 Artful Crime

In Nancy Drew #104, The Mystery of the Jade Tiger, Nancy, Bess, and George visit the San Francisco area as they investigate prowlers at the home of Carson Drew's friend, Terry Kirkland.  Nancy has no leads until she discovers a box missing from the home and notices an Asian teenager loitering in the area.  These clues lead her to a nearby jade gallery, where she learns about the jade tiger.

The Double Horror of Fenley Place is mentioned by name on page five.

On page 25, a dummy is dressed as Nancy with her sweater and a blonde wig.  Nancy is depicted as blonde on the cover of the book.  Most of the books just before this one have described Nancy as "strawberry-blonde."

On page 63, Nancy is pumping the gallery owner for information when the Asian boy walks in.  Nancy shouts at him to stop and then begins chasing him.  Did Nancy really think she would catch up?  She didn't, then she makes the dumb move of going back to the gallery to continue the conversation.  Did she really expect the gallery owner to trust her after behaving in such a bizarre fashion?

While I've read all of these books before, I don't remember them.  I feel like this book could have had a better title and better cover art.  The cover art shows a bland museum display.  The book did not sound at all interesting when I looked at either the cover and title, and I had low expectations.  I was quite surprised at how good the story is.  The Mystery of the Jade Tiger is quite outstanding and above average for these Nancy Drew Digest books.

In Nancy Drew #105, The Clue in the Antique Trunk, Nancy, Bess, and George visit Nancy's former neighbor, Vera Alexander, in Massachusetts.  Vera plans to turn the old Caulder Cutlery factory into a museum, yet someone is sabotaging her efforts.

I was quite surprised that Vera loaned Zach Caulder's diary to Bess.  The diary is decades old and has great historical value to Vera's future museum.  Yet Bess carries it around with her in her purse. I was also shocked that Nancy had no interest in the diary, since it would be likely to contain clues.

I really enjoyed this book.  Not only does Nancy solve the mystery of who is sabotaging the museum, but she also solves the murder of Zach Caulder.

In Nancy Drew #106, The Case of the Artful Crime, Nancy works undercover at the Arizona House, a restaurant in River Heights.  Someone is trying to get the restaurant shut down, and Nancy is determined to find the culprit.

Bess urges Nancy to take the restaurant case, but at first, Nancy refuses.  She has had to postpone a trip to see Ned five times, so she doesn't want a new case.  Um, okay.

Speaking of Ned, the poor boy has been missing from the series since #95 The Silent Suspect.  Nancy has been neglecting him.

On page 67, Shawn remarks that he has to go through the food and toss out what the mice have touched.  I was thinking about this.  The mice could have run across lettuce without necessarily leaving a trace.  So Shawn is going to keep that stuff and use it.  Ew.

I enjoyed this mystery.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Nancy Drew #102 Secret in the Dark and #103 Stranger in the Shadows

In Nancy Drew #102, The Secret in the Dark, Nancy and Bess travel to Seattle to visit Deirdre Thompson at the Sabatini Conservatory of Music.  Dierdre is competing in a violin competition, and someone is trying to sabotage her performance.

I find the title, The Secret in the Dark, to be rather interesting.  Deirdre is blind, so she is in the dark.  At two different points in the story, Nancy is pursued by the villain in an extremely dark place and has to figure out how to maneuver in the dark.  She uses what she has learned from Deirdre in order to maneuver.

The girls discover a man crouching by the skylight to Deirdre's apartment, watching them.  The girls yell at him to go away.  On page 20, Nancy comforts Deirdre by telling her, "We gave them a good scare.  I doubt they'll come back."  Yeah, yelling at an intruder would really frighten him.  I'm sure he'll forget about whatever he wants and will never come back.

In some ways, the end is wrapped up a bit too nicely.  Two people who turn out not to be guilty dislike Deirdre.  They both make a truce with Deirdre on the spur of the moment, and everyone will be best friends forever.  Aw, how sweet.

In Nancy Drew #103, The Stranger in the Shadows, Nancy's friend, Suzanne, expresses concern that the foreign exchange student who is staying with her, Paula de Jagger, is acting strangely.  Paula is open and friendly one moment, and then reticent the next.  Nancy, with the help of Bess, tries to figure out what is wrong with Paula.

Page 27 makes a reference to a past case, The Mystery at Magnolia Mansion, but does not mention it by name.

Officer Brody from A Secret in Time makes an appearance.

On page 56, Nancy phones the family of a potential suspect and poses as a survey taker.  The woman who answers cheerfully agrees to participate in the survey and answers all of Nancy's questions.  I'm not convinced that the typical person would be so willing to answer a survey.  I wouldn't, which is why I don't answer the phone to anyone I don't know.

Nancy and her friends plan to trap the suspect in the mall's parking garage.  Nancy is to leave the store at 8:40 to meet with the villain in the parking lot.  Bess and Suzanne are to wait until 9:00 to go to the parking lot.  I find the time difference to be a bit puzzling.  Why would it take Nancy 20 minutes longer to reach the parking lot?  I knew based on the odd times of the plan that the plan would backfire.

Nancy leaves at 8:40 and is intercepted by the villain who forces her to go to a different level of the parking garage.  Nancy knows she has a problem because on page 140, she "checked her watch.  Eight-forty-five.  They weren't expecting her until nine o'clock."  Right, so why did Nancy need a 20-minute head start?  Stupid thinking.

I enjoyed both of these stories.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Nancy Drew #100 Secret in Time and #101 Missing Millionairess

In Nancy Drew #100, A Secret in Time, Nancy's Crowley clock, her souvenir from her very first case, is on display in an antique show at River Heights High School.  During the show, a valuable antique brooch is stolen, and Nancy later finds the brooch hidden in her clock.  Meanwhile, George has become an ice cream truck driver and sports a new mobile phone.

Nancy's behavior is a bit odd at times.  She is very careful not to touch the brooch so that the police can check for fingerprints.  But later on page 104, Nancy finds a knife stuck through a warning note and into the front wall of her home.  What does Nancy do?  She immediately removes the knife with her bare hand, not thinking of fingerprints.  Since no prints were found on the brooch, most likely the knife also would have no prints, but Nancy should have been more careful with the evidence.

Nancy twice hides information from Carson and Hannah, but the information gets revealed almost immediately, making Nancy look a bit stupid.  Nancy, Bess, and George are almost pushed off of a bridge by another vehicle, and Nancy withholds that information from Carson and Hannah.  When the officers arrive at Nancy's home to begin their surveillance, they end up telling Carson and Hannah what happened.  Later, Nancy doesn't tell them about the knife, and that information also comes out shortly.

Nancy's clock is also strange, because its description does not match the clock from The Secret of the Clock.  Yet, the two clocks are supposed to be the same clock.  Hmm.

Nancy, Bess, and George are placed in a very dangerous situation near the end of the story which would result in certain death.  Strangely, the villain conveniently behaves in a very stupid fashion which causes the police to discover the girls just in time.

While I enjoyed this story, I found the solution to this mystery to be rather unsatisfying.  Much of the fun in reading a mystery is in trying to guess which of the suspects is the villain.  In this story, none of the suspects turns out to be the culprit.  One of them is guilty of unsavory behavior, but he did not steal the brooch.  The villain's name does not appear until page 119, only around ten pages before he is revealed to be the culprit.  I so very much did not care that this random person seemingly thrust into the story is the person who stole the brooch.  I also found Nancy's lengthy question and answer session with the villain to be quite boring.

In Nancy Drew #101, The Mystery of the Missing Millionairess, Nancy poses as a student at Brookfield Academy as she investigates what happened to Veronica Armand.  Veronica is the daughter of a famous actor, and she has disappeared.  The clues point to a jealous rival as well as the director of the school.  While Bess and George appear in this mystery, their input is minimal, and Nancy mostly sleuths by herself.

The book begins with a very lengthy and rather boring description of everything you could possibly want to know about Brookfield Academy.  I was not able to get into the story until the author had exhausted that description.

A certain intersection is described as being just one mile from the school.  Strangely, it takes Nancy ten minutes to drive to that intersection.  What, was Nancy driving only six miles per hour?  This is illogical, unless River Heights and the surrounding area are much more densely populated than they seem.  Perhaps Nancy had to wait at multiple slow traffic lights.  I get the idea, though, that Brookfield Academy is not in a densely populated area.

Nancy's rescue of Veronica is quite thrilling.

The reveal of the villain is quite satisfying, since Nancy interacted with the villain throughout the book.  In stark contrast to A Secret in Time, the end of story explanatory information flows much better in this book.  The villain's motive is very interesting.

This book was fun to read.