Saturday, March 29, 2014

Nancy Drew #143 Mystery on Maui, #144 E-Mail Mystery, and #145 Missing Horse Mystery

In Nancy Drew #143, Mystery on Maui, Nancy, Bess, and George vacation in Hawaii.  A surfing contest is to be held nearby, and two of the top surfers have withdrawn—one because of food poisoning and the other because of a broken leg.  Someone tries to steal the surfboard of the top remaining participant, Josh Brightman, and Nancy suspects foul play.  Someone is trying to take out the top competitors!

On page 3, Bess is mentioned as having a "trim figure."  I thought she was supposed to be slightly overweight.  Strange.

I felt like this book was prepping the reader for the next book, The E-Mail Mystery.  "E-mail" is mentioned on page 3, on page 20, and in the final paragraph of the final page of the book, page 147.

I enjoyed Mystery on Maui.

In Nancy Drew #144, The E-Mail Mystery, Carson Drew's clients are suddenly deciding to settle out of court.  Mr. Drew suspects that someone in his office might be working with other attorneys to get the cases closed fast.  Nancy agrees to work in his office so that she can examine the computer files.

I cannot stand that this book capitalizes "E-mail" all the way through the book.  The two most accepted methods of spelling are "email" and "e-mail."  The capitalized version is not common. 

The book opens with a mention of Nancy beginning her "summer vacation."  Come again?  This implies that Nancy is in school, yet as far as we know, she is no longer in high school and is not in college.  Perhaps she graduated a few days before?  If so, she has been mighty busy since her graduation while solving 143 mysteries.

We learn on page 10 that Bess is a computer whiz.  This is new, since Bess was not a computer whiz before this book.  She does continue to be quite knowledgeable about computers in the books that come after this one.

The description of email in this book is archaic even by 1998 standards, which is when this book was published.  In 1997, a year before this book was published, I was using Netscape Navigator to browse the internet and Netscape Messenger to send emails using email addresses.  I had dial-up internet, so each time I wanted on the internet, my modem dialed a phone number. Once the modem connected, I didn't have to use phone numbers.  I used eBay heavily in 1997, and I was on mailing lists.  We used emails, not phone numbers to connect with other people.  In this book, the emails are sent to phone numbers rather than to email addresses.

Nancy also has trouble finding sent messages, because the law office does not use a mailbox like probably everyone else was doing in 1998.  Of course if Mr. Drew's office had used a mailbox, then Nancy would have been able to see the sent emails easily.  But then there wouldn't have been much of a mystery.  Perhaps that's why the book sticks to an archaic method.

It got a bit old that every single time Nancy was in a restaurant discussing the case with either Bess or Carson Drew that one or more of the suspects appeared nearby without Nancy knowing it.  She talks freely and then is shocked that they might have overhead the entire conversation. In other books, Nancy always notices when suspects get near.  She is oblivious in this book and chats oh-so-freely out in public.

Nancy asks this question at the bottom of page 74.  "Do you know if the Internet's all connected?  When you go on the World Wide Web or use Lexis-Nexis or just send E-mail—are they separate or are they all linked together?"

Gee, Nancy, they must be connected somehow or the email wouldn't get out of one computer and into another.  This foreshadows the brilliant Nancy Drew we meet in the first Nancy Drew Diaries book.  You know, the Nancy Drew who as an 18-year-old in 2013 has no idea that someone can search the internet with her name to get information about her.

On page 112, Nancy decides "to do something I haven't done since third grade."  She lists out clues inside a notebook.  Um, Nancy, you did that in a recent book, and you were definitely past the third grade. 

The earlier books after Simon and Schuster took over the writing of the series were quite consistent.  I didn't notice all of these types of contradictions.  Now, the writing of the series is getting sloppy with continuity errors.

I enjoyed The E-Mail Mystery more than I expected, although I don't consider it to be the very best Nancy Drew mystery.

In Nancy Drew #145, The Missing Horse Mystery, Nancy, Bess, and Ned attend the Midwest Grand Prix Dressage Championships.  The girls plan to bunk with a friend, Lee Anne Suna, who is competing in the competition.  A valuable horse disappears, and Nancy decides to investigate.

The book has a mistake at the top of page 100 where it says "Gilly was killed."  She was knocked out and in the hospital, not dead. 

I enjoyed The Missing Horse Mystery.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Nancy Drew #140 Door-to-Door Deception, #141 Wild Cat Crime, and #142 Capital Intrigue

In Nancy Drew #140, The Door-to Door Deception, Nancy and Bess have agreed to volunteer for an after-school program after George insists that they join her.  One of the volunteers resents the presence of the girls from the nicer part of town, and one of the children appears to be playing pranks on others.  Soon, the girls learn about a string of home burglaries, and members of the after-school program are suspected.  Nancy also wonders whether another after-school program could be to blame for some of the problems.

Mr. Drew makes a very strange comment on page 34.  He says, "This string of burglaries is the sort of crime that's best handled by the police."  Of course Nancy has never solved that sort of thing herself, right?  After all, she's only on mystery case #140 at this point.  Mr. Drew acts like Nancy has no experience, which is very odd.  This type of comment makes it obvious that the books were written by a number of different people, and some of them knew very little about Nancy Drew.

I thought about this book as compared to #115 The Suspect in the Smoke, which also deals with a recreation center and sabotage.  This book is much more interesting.  This book has more characterization, and two people, one of the volunteers and one child, at the center are very resentful and interested in causing trouble. 

The Door-to-Door Deception is a good example of how one shouldn't judge a book by its cover.  I don't particularly care for the cover art.  I expected not to like the book and was pleasantly surprised.  I greatly enjoyed this book.

In Nancy Drew #141, The Wild Cat Crime, Nancy and George work as summer interns at a local television station.  Their supervisor is reporter Christy Kelley, who mostly ignores the girls and seems to be jealous of Nancy.

The girls suggest that Christy cover the story of the birth of the four cougar cubs at the zoo.  The story explodes when all four cubs are stolen!  The director of the zoo asks Nancy to investigate.  Christy launches her own investigation as well.  Soon, someone frames Nancy with the theft, and she must now prove her innocence.

I really enjoyed this one.  I couldn't remember the culprit, and the book kept me guessing.  I thought I had guessed the culprit, but I was wrong.  The solution surprised me.

In Nancy Drew #142, The Case of Capital Intrigue, George works as an intern as a photographer's assistant at the White House, and she has invited Nancy to visit her.  A priceless gold statue gifted to the United States from San Valente suddenly disappears, and Nancy must discover the culprit's identity before the theft creates an international incident.

I did not want to read this book because I did not like the setting.  A book set at the White House makes the setting too real and makes me think of current world events.  I don't want books to remind me of that sort of thing. 

I wanted to skip the book.  Instead, I read the book as fast as I could, skimming some parts, and finished it in less than one day.  The story seemed okay, but I still didn't care for it.  I could not overcome my aversion to the setting.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Nancy Drew #137 Black Rose, #138 Lost Gold, and #139 Candlelight Inn

In Nancy Drew #137, In Search of the Black Rose, Nancy, Bess, and George travel to England with Carson Drew to Oxford University.  While at a dinner, an arrow is shot into the room, landing on the table in front of Nancy.  The arrow carries a mysterious message about needing to find a black rose in order to right a wrong.  Nancy sets off in search of the black rose.

This book is better than The Riddle of the Ruby Gazelle in that I did not find the book boring.  Unfortunately, I also did not find it to be very interesting.  I had no idea what the point of the search for the black rose was.  Nancy also didn't know why.  She only knew that someone shot an arrow with a message on it about a black rose.  The message could have been a hoax.  I knew that the message wasn't a hoax simply because an entire Nancy Drew book would not have Nancy going on a false quest.  But I was given no reason to care at all, and it was not until the black rose was found that we learned the importance of it.  I almost didn't care even after I knew why the black rose was important.

This book also has a few too many characters.  The more characters present in a Nancy Drew book, the less I like it.

On page 40, Nancy says, "You don't usually need an elevator in a two-story building."  What about people in wheelchairs?  What's really strange is that Miss Innes is in a wheelchair, so I find it odd that Nancy thinks the elevator is strange.

On page 77, the police officer wonders how Miss Innes gets into her second-story room.  They notice a ramp to the second story, then they make note of the elevator.  Nancy points out that the elevator would be convenient for Miss Innes, so she might use it.  Obviously...

Near the end of the book, Nancy wants to meet with Tony in his room.  She approaches Tony's room, but she sees Mr. Sunderwirth.  She runs off and phones Tony, who arranges a meeting a long way off from his room for no apparent reason.  At the meeting place, Tony gets pushed off a balcony, is rescued, and then Nancy and he go to his room.  How completely stupid.  I get the idea that this scene and the inane discussions about the elevator were used to fill up pages to get the book long enough to publish.

I found In Search of the Black Rose to be a bit mediocre. 

In Nancy Drew #138, The Legend of the Lost Gold, Nancy, Bess, and George vacation at the Opa Tourist Lodge in Big Sur, California.  Soon after they arrive, their cottage is vandalized.  The owner, Didi Koulakis, believes that a nearby resort is responsible for the sabotage.  Nancy agrees to investigate.

While this book is yet another book centered around sabotage, I was actually quite relieved.  I wanted to read a straightforward story about sabotage after not liking #135 at all and finding #137 to be not very interesting.  There are worse things than sabotage, like very boring books.  Yay for sabotage!

The plot of The Legend of the Lost Gold is very similar to that of #107, The Legend of Miner's Creek.  What is different about this story is that someone dies, which seldom happens in the regular Nancy Drew series.

I greatly enjoyed The Legend of the Lost Gold.

In Nancy Drew #139, The Secret of Candlelight Inn, Marisa Henares and her boyfriend, Devon, work to get the Candlelight Inn ready for the Guiding Eyes foundation to occupy it.  Marisa's grandmother willed the inn to Guiding Eyes, while Marisa inherited the furniture.  Meanwhile, Marisa's friend, Eric, is accused of passing counterfeit $20 bills at a mall.  Nancy agrees to help Eric.  The trail leads to Candlelight Inn and an old case of counterfeit bills from 25 years ago.

I liked having the story center around counterfeiting.  We haven't had a Nancy Drew story dealing with counterfeiters in a very long time.  Unless I have completely forgotten something, I believe that this is only the second book in the main Nancy Drew series to deal with counterfeiters since #6 The Secret of Red Gate Farm was published in 1931.

As I read this book, I was sure I remembered the culprit, but then I gradually realized towards the end that I was wrong.  I was quite surprised at the culprit's identity.  A great mystery book keeps the reader guessing!

This is a thoroughly engaging book, and I highly recommend it.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Looking Ahead to the Next Two Months

This last week was spring break.  I had two goals: to get caught up on listing books for sale and to read as many Nancy Drew Digest books as I could.  I was hoping to get finished with the Digest books by today.  I succeeded, since I read #175 yesterday.  I have now written all reviews up through #175, even though the last few need to be proofread at least one more time.  Most of them have already been scheduled to be published, staggered every two or three days.

In addition to the reviews, I have also written a summary post about the Nancy Drew Digest series.

I have already begun reading the Nancy Drew Girl Detective series.  I knew that I would get to the Girl Detective books by the end of March, so earlier this year I stepped up my efforts in acquiring the last titles needed.

I quit buying the Girl Detective books new at around #10 because most books I was seeing had defects.  I had to quit buying from Amazon because of the defects, then I couldn't find nice copies in local stores.  If I was going to have to pay $5 or more per book, I wanted a perfect copy.  I began purchasing the books used as I found them.

I was down to around five titles at the beginning of the year.  I stepped up my efforts and reduced that number to just two by earlier this month.  I decided to go online for the last two to make certain that I have them in time.  The books were still going to cost at least $3 each as used copies including postage, and the sellers had no condition description.  I decided it would be safer to purchase the last two books new from Amazon.  I did so yesterday, and I should have the books within the next seven to ten days.

My goal is to read the entire Nancy Drew Girl Detective series and the Nancy Drew Diaries series by the end of May at the latest, preferably sooner if possible.  The only way I can get through the books fast is to avoid reading anything else.  When I allow myself to read something else, I end up getting sidetracked for one or more months.  I will never get these books read if I allow myself to read other books.  I have already denied myself at least three new releases since January that I very much want to read. 

When I finish the Diaries series, I will read the new releases.  I know what will happen:  I will most likely be reading contemporary books until around July.  Once I get past that, my plan is to read the entire Three Investigators series from start to finish followed by possibly the original text Hardy Boys books.  Whether I write reviews of those books remains to be seen, but hopefully I will.

In the next two months, you will most likely not see a lot of content in this blog other than the many reviews of the Nancy Drew series.  April and May are the two most hectic and emotionally draining months for me.  I am very glad that I have so many reviews written, because this blog will have continuous new content for a number of weeks.

I will probably not be listing many books for sale in the next two months.  I'm sure I will list some, but likely not very many.  As always, if you purchase books from me, they will be mailed by the end of the next business day regardless of how busy I am.  I may not get around to leaving positive feedback for a number of weeks, but the books will be mailed fast.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Nancy Drew #134 Forgotten Cave, #135 Ruby Gazelle, and #136 Wedding Day Mystery

In Nancy Drew #134, The Secret of the Forgotten Cave, Nancy, Bess, and George visit George's aunt, Elizabeth Porter, in Connecticut.  A dangerous curve in the highway has caused a fatal accident, and many residents want to widen the road to make it safer for drivers.  Widening the road will destroy the habitat for an endangered species of bats, and Mrs. Porter is fighting the road-widening project for that reason.  She is facing a losing battle unless she can find the cave in which the bats roost.

This book is very similar to the older Nancy Drew books in overall feel.  The story keeps the reader guessing.  One suspect is exonerated in a rather unique fashion, leaving the reader wondering what is really going on.

The Secret of the Forgotten Cave is outstanding.

In Nancy Drew #135, The Riddle of the Ruby Gazelle, Nancy, Bess, and George stay in Brooklyn to help Zoe Krieger raise money for a park.  A band named the Raving Lunatics is the main attraction at a fundraiser, and an auction of memorabilia will also be held.  The band's lead singer is kidnapped, a theater group opposes something or other, and I really didn't care about any of it.

This book is boring.  The story is uninteresting.  Too many characters are introduced too rapidly.  For example, the entire Raving Lunatics band is introduced in one short paragraph, and we are supposed to remember them with no characterization.  I couldn't keep anyone straight and had no reason to care about any of them. 

The writing is disjointed with too many New York landmarks thrown out constantly.  The title of the book mentions a ruby gazelle, but over half the book is centered around the missing rock star.  The story finally comes around to the ruby gazelle towards the end.

I skimmed large portions of this book because I was so bored.  Around three-fourths of the way into the story, it finally became interesting.  I am glad that I read the last part.  Aside from the ending, the book is terribly boring and not worth reading.

In Nancy Drew #136, The Wedding Day Mystery, Nancy, Bess, and George help a wedding company stage four weddings in one weekend at Heights House in River Heights.  Before long, Nancy discovers that someone is sabotaging the weddings!

This book begins so much better than The Riddle of the Ruby Gazelle.  After suffering from intense boredom through the previous book, I was tremendously relieved to read an engaging story.  The book's storyline is straightforward and interesting.  Soon into the story we have a secret passage, which is always great!

On page 74, Nancy wonders if she is "dealing with a bunch of unrelated culprits committing a bunch of unrelated crimes."  That would be funny!

On page 117, Daphne points out the spelling errors in a warning message, then remarks, "I used to be a freelance copy editor, too."  What, you have to be a freelance copy editor to notice spelling errors?

The Wedding Day Mystery is an excellent book.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Nancy Drew #131 Hidden Inheritance, #132 Fox Hunt, and #133 Crystal Palace

In Nancy Drew #131, The Hidden Inheritance, Nancy, Bess, and George travel to Indiana to inventory an estate for Carson Drew.  The girls become friends with Sassy Lane Brandon, a performer at the Bear Hollow Bluegrass Festival.  When Sassy's house burns down and her prized violin is stolen, Nancy investigates.

On page 37, Nancy asks Mrs. Brandon how she is doing.
Mrs. Brandon seemed startled by the question, and she stammered out an answer.  "Well... I'm... I... all right, I guess," she said, putting down the knife.

"Are you sure? Nancy asked, lowering her voice.  "I don't mean to pry, but is anything wrong?"
Nancy, exactly how stupid are you?  The woman's house just burned down and her husband is suspected of arson, and you're asking her if anything is wrong?  Give the woman some support instead of asking her stupid questions that put her on the spot.

Part of the plot reminds me strongly of The Clue in the Diary.  The Brandons' house burns down, and Mr. Brandon acts strange.  Later, the girls are driving by when they see someone poking around in the rubble.  Nancy and George end up chasing him, but he gets away.  Later, they suspect that Mr. Brandon was the person they chased.  Next, Mr. Brandon disappears.  This all makes me think of Felix Raybolt and his actions in The Clue in the Diary.  The girls also have a close call on an old bridge, and The Clue in the Diary has a similar scene.

These books that bear some similarity to the original Nancy Drew books seem better than the other books.  It's probably because they have more of the qualities that we love in Nancy Drew.

#121 The Fortune-Teller's Secret, and this book both mention brown recluse spiders.  And both books are throwbacks to the original Nancy Drew books.  Could they have the same author?

The Hidden Inheritance is an outstanding book, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

In Nancy Drew #132, The Fox Hunt Mystery, Nancy and George visit their friend, Laura Passano, in Maryland.  Laura's mother runs the Mill River Hunt, in which the riders enjoy fox hunting.  Mrs. Passano wants to change the group to a drag hunt, where the riders chase a fox's scent instead of hunting a live fox.  Controversy erupts when others oppose the plan.

Meanwhile, a rival hunt has been started, and someone begins sabotaging the Mill River Hunt, endangering the lives of its riders.  Nancy must find the culprit before it is too late.

This book bears some similarity to #109 The Mystery of the Masked Rider and #118 Trouble at Lake Tahoe and is the same type of sabotage book.  Since I did not just read those two books, I greatly enjoyed this book.  The key is for the sabotage books to be spaced apart in the series and not occur in sequential order.

In Nancy Drew #133, The Mystery at the Crystal Palace, Nancy, Bess, and George travel to Minneapolis to help Alison MacDonald.  Alison inherited the Crystal Palace, a huge ice skating rink, but she is short on funds to run it.  Alison was to inherit a large sum of money as well, but the location of the money is unknown.  Alison's problems worsen when someone begins sabotaging the Crystal Palace!

This book introduced too many people early in the book.  Amanda and Alison are similar names, which kept confusing me.  I hate it when authors do that.  They also both have dark hair.  It was not until halfway through the book that I was mostly able to keep Amanda and Alison straight.

I had trouble getting into the story because I couldn't keep Amanda and Alison straight, and the cast of characters also confused me.  Once I was past halfway into the book, I was able to enjoy the story.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

My Approach in Collecting Hardy Boys Books

My Nancy Drew collection consists of around 2,000 books.  Early on, I decided that not only did I want all cover art and text variations, but that I needed the first printing of each cover art and text variation.  Additionally, I determined that I wanted the library editions and international editions as well.  

It's easy to be obsessed with first printings of Nancy Drew books since we have a price guide that details all first printings.  People tend to be more interested in collecting first printings and variants when a detailed price guide exists.

I have managed to acquire most first printing Judy Bolton books.  Clarke's Guide to the Judy Bolton series helped greatly.

This is an out-of-print guide that is about impossible to find.  It gives the first printing points for all Judy Bolton books.  It has a few minor errors but is overall very accurate.

I have also managed to acquire most first printing Beverly Gray books.  The Beverly Gray series is a favorite of mine, so I have greatly desired to obtain all of the first printing books.  Beverly Gray went through fewer printings than Nancy Drew and Judy Bolton, which makes it easier to discern whether a book is the first printing.

So, I have been most obsessed with Nancy Drew followed by Beverly Gray and Judy Bolton.  Both the Nancy Drew and Judy Bolton series have guides, which helped.  I would also like to have all of the Dana Girls first printings, but a guide does not exist.  The Dana Girls books went through quite a few printings, which makes it harder to tell whether a book is the first printing.  This means that I have not tried as hard to acquire first printings as I did for the other series. 

[Note from July 11, 2023:  A Dana Girls guide has been published.]

My interest in the boys' series books is lower than in the girls' series.  Mostly, I don't collect them.  I have had a very mismatched set of original text Hardy Boys books since the late 1990s, but I have not cared about putting together a nicer set until the last year or so.  Even then, I want my books to cost less than $20 each, which limits me greatly.

A very detailed price guide to the Hardy Boys series does exist, and I do use it to determine various things about my Hardy Boys books.  Interestingly, I am little interested in acquiring first printings, and I certainly do not want all variations.  Don't get me wrong; I would love to have every first printing Hardy Boys book in dust jacket if they were to all to fall into my hands at no more than $20 each.  But that's not going to happen.

If I do end up with a first printing Hardy Boys book with a decent dust jacket, then I will keep it.  I have bought several large lots of Hardy Boys books in the last year, and I compare each book up against mine, deciding which one to keep.  Since I am not obsessive, I just go by certain general guidelines.

In general, I keep no Hardy Boys books with wartime paper.  The wartime series books will be turning to dust within a few more decades, so I want nothing to do with them.  I have sold a lot of my wartime series books for different series since I know what will happen to them in the not-so-distant future. I have now been collecting series books for nearly 23 years.  The wartime condition books are in significantly worse shape than they were 23 years ago. 

When deciding which Hardy Boys books to keep, I sometimes will keep the earlier Hardy Boys book for a particular title even when in worse shape, but only if something about that earlier book appeals to me.  The biggest deciding factor is the endpapers.  I like the orange endpapers much more than the brown multi endpapers.  I do not have this preference with respect to the different endpapers on the Nancy Drew books, but that is because my goal with the Nancy Drew books is to collect first printings.

Since first printings are not very important in my Hardy Boys set, I look more at aesthetic details like the endpapers.  I will keep a tweed book with orange endpapers over a tweed book with brown multi endpapers even when the dust jacket of the former book is in slightly worse shape.  I really like the orange endpapers.

This is my current set of Hardy Boys books with dust jackets.  Click on each image to see a larger version.

For the Hardy Boys picture cover books, I only want the books that list to Desert Giant, which are either the first picture cover printing or one of the earliest picture cover printings.  Since I only want books that list to Desert Giant, my interest in the picture cover books ends with #41.  I do, however, have #44 in a first printing, at least for now.  I do not want any past that point for sure.

This is my set of Hardy Boys picture cover books.

I recently picked up most of the Wanderer softcover Hardy Boys books at a book sale.

They were cheap and in excellent condition, with most of them first printings.  I couldn't resist.  I do not think that ultimately I will keep them, although I am keeping them for now.  I don't want to make a hasty decision in deciding to get rid of them.  I am also keeping the 1927A-1 copy of The Tower Treasure that I found recently in a local store.  That book is the red book that can be seen on the far left of the first photograph of my Hardy Boys books with dust jackets.

I would like to have a set of white spine Hardy Boys books in dust jackets.  I don't care if they are red books or brown books.  I have paid more than $20 for two books that I now have.  I don't want to pay more than $50 to $75 or so, which means that I won't be building that set very quickly.

This post was written because I was comparing a bulk lot of Hardy Boys book I had just received up against the ones I had.  I kept some jackets in slightly worse shape because of the orange endpapers.  As I realized how different my logic is than how I approach my Nancy Drew set, I wrote up this post.  I hope you found it of interest.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Nancy Drew #128 Royal Tower, #129 Baby-Sitter Burglaries, and #130 Sign of the Falcon

In Nancy Drew #128, The Treasure in the Royal Tower, Nancy, Bess, and George vacation at Wickford Castle, home to the Butter Ridge ski resort in Wisconsin.  Shortly after their arrival, the library is vandalized, and Nancy and George get trapped on an elevator.  Wickford Castle was originally built in France and was moved to Wisconsin piece by piece.  Nancy soon suspects that the castle holds a valuable secret from France, and that somebody is searching for it.

This is one of the books that was made into a Nancy Drew game.

This is an interesting story.  I didn't make any notes about it, but I enjoyed the book from beginning to end.

In Nancy Drew #129, The Baby-Sitter Burglaries, Nancy, Bess, and George try to find out who has been burglarizing homes in River Heights.  Strangely, their friend, Juanita, baby-sat in each of the homes prior to the burglaries, and her boyfriend helped install the security system in each home.  Juanita and her boyfriend are the primary suspects, and the girls hope to find evidence that will exonerate them.

On page 2 with respect to Bess and George, "Nancy felt as if she'd been friends with both of them forever."  Yeah, since 1931 when the three girls visited Shadow Ranch.

On page 16, Officer Brody is back to his usual sarcastic self.

This book starts off with Bess baby-sitting a bunch of extremely wild kids in a house.  The kids grab cereal and dump it on the carpet, and the girls do nothing except begin picking it up as the kids continue to destroy the house.  I cannot stand that scene.  I have a memory of not liking it the last time I read the book.

I did not enjoy The Baby-Sitter Burglaries.

In Nancy Drew #130, The Sign of the Falcon, Carson Drew is missing in New York City.  Nancy, Bess, George, and Aunt Eloise try to find out what happened to him. 

On page 56, Nancy finally wonders if Carson has been kidnapped.  It took her awhile!  I guess she thought he was wandering around the city lost or something.  Of course he was abducted!

This book is very suspenseful and very enjoyable.  The mystery is great and keeps the reader guessing.  All the reader knows is that Carson has been abducted.  The culprit is not obvious.  This book is very good, and the solution to the mystery is very creative.  I loved it!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Nancy Drew #125 Teen Model, #126 Rare Book, and #127 Dangerous Solution

In Nancy Drew #125, The Teen Model Mystery, Nancy and Bess travel to Chicago to visit Cindy Sutherland, who is a model.  The girls knew Cindy back in River Heights.  Cindy disappears just before an important new job, and the girls must find her. Meanwhile, Cindy's photo shoot is sabotaged.

This one was okay.  While I found it interesting, I didn't appreciate that Cindy was missing before we ever met her.  I care more about a missing person when I get to know that person a bit first.

By halfway into the book, the book had captivated me, and I enjoyed the rest of the story.  The solution to the mystery was interesting.

In Nancy Drew #126, The Riddle in the Rare Book, Nancy investigates a series of thefts of valuable antique books.  Meanwhile, Bess becomes infatuated with Richard Munro, a man who writes poetry.  Bess soon becomes an obsessed writer of romantic poetry.

Nancy, Bess, and George are all present during this mystery, and Ned makes a brief appearance.  We don't want readers to forget that Nancy actually does have a boyfriend.

This book has everything and delivers on so many levels.

At the bottom of page 11, Hannah is astonished that some books are worth $2,000.
Hannah's jaw dropped. "Who on earth would pay that money for a book?" she asked, amazed.

"Book collectors," Carson Drew answered.

"Exactly," Nancy said.
Bess writes this wonderful, wacky poetry.  Here is a poem from page 35.
Oh, my dear sweetheart
When we are apart
I want you near
My sweetheart my dear.
So let us start
and eat an apple tart.
Today our love begins.
Priceless and so very Bess.  In fact, Nancy's critique consists of "It's so very... you."

On page 64, a collector describes her collection.
"I collect children's books," Risa said, "from the eighteenth century to the present day.  You can have a look.  Just be careful with the old ones."
Neat!  That means Risa must have some old Nancy Drew books.  Oh, wait... never mind.

This book is wonderful in all ways.  The story is quite creative and has absolutely nothing to do with sabotage.  It is outstanding from start to finish.  I loved it!

In Nancy Drew #127, The Case of the Dangerous Solution, George works at a local pharmacy delivering prescription drugs to patients.  Soon, George and everyone else who works at the pharmacy is under suspicion.  One customer has died and two others have taken ill after receiving their prescriptions.  Nancy suspects sabotage and works to find the culprit as quickly as she can before others become ill.

The death is quite unusual for the main Nancy Drew series.  Deaths are typical in the Nancy Drew Files but not for the regular Nancy Drew stories.  I wonder whether the plot was originally created for the Nancy Drew Files series.

On page 142, Nancy stands on a cardboard box.  It must have been a super heavy duty box, because in my experience, cardboard boxes usually won't hold an adult's weight.

I really enjoyed this book.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Nancy Drew #122 Haunted Mansion, #123 Silver Screen, and #124 Scarlet Hand

In Nancy Drew #122, The Message in the Haunted Mansion, Nancy, Bess, and George travel to San Francisco to help Hannah's friend, Rose Green, renovate an old Victorian mansion. Accidents plague the project, or I suppose we could just call it... sabotage! 

The sabotage is okay, though, because the reader quickly figures out that the culprit is after a hidden treasure.  So this book is more of a hunt for hidden treasure than just a sabotage plot.

I was 99.9% certain that I remembered the identity of the culprit, especially because I have also played the Nancy Drew game based on this book.  I was correct.  I found it interesting that the author made a point of having Nancy not suspect this particular person when she suspected practically everyone else.  That helped make it obvious.

I enjoyed The Message in the Haunted Mansion.

In Nancy Drew #123, The Clue on the Silver Screen, Nancy, Bess, and George attend the Martha's Vineyard Film Festival in Massachusetts.  An important silent film is stolen, and Nancy has a number of suspects, including a famous silent film actress. 

I did not enjoy this book.  I was very aware the entire time that everything about the book is fictitious.  The story deals with silent films and a famous silent film actress, but all of the names are fake.  I was not interested.  I gradually skimmed more and more of the story as I continued to read.

Furthermore, the plot was entirely centered around sabotage, and for the reasons previously stated, the sabotage did not interest me at all.

In Nancy Drew #124, The Secret of the Scarlet Hand, Nancy, Bess, and George travel to Washington, D.C. with Carson Drew.  While at the Beech Hill museum, Nancy learns that a priceless statue of the Mayan Lord Pacal has been stolen.  Some people wish to repatriate the statue to Mexico, and those people are among the suspects.

The book has a cult scene that is rather similar to the one in The Thirteenth Pearl.  Just like in The Thirteenth Pearl, Nancy is imprisoned soon into the gathering.

My initial problem with this book was that the story is set in a museum like in #108 The Secret of the Tibetan Treasure, and an artifact is discovered to have been stolen shortly into the story.  Even though I knew the solution to the mystery would not be the same as in The Secret of the Tibetan Treasure, I felt like I was almost reading the same story at first.  As I progressed into the story, I didn't think so much about the other story, since the plot is quite different.  I really began to enjoy the story around halfway through.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Nancy Drew #120 Floating Crime and #121 Fortune-Teller's Secret

In Nancy Drew #120, The Case of the Floating Crime, Nancy, Bess, and George volunteer on the Heartliner, a hospital ship that is temporarily docked in River Heights.  Acts of sabotage lead Nancy to suspect that someone might be using the ship to smuggle goods across international borders.

I had some trouble getting into this story, but once I did, I enjoyed it.  At the start, the plot appeared to be yet another clear case of sabotage, but in the end, the story came to involve smuggling.

Detective Brody makes another appearance, but he seems to have undertaken a personality change.  He doesn't mind Nancy investigating the ship, and he actually needs her help.  Whoever wrote this book didn't realize that Brody is supposed to be caustic and easily annoyed by everything Nancy does.

We know that Nancy has graduated from high school.  On page 52, she gets out her high school chemistry textbook.  Hmm.  So her school has the students buy the books?  Or did Nancy steal the book?  Strange.

Once I got into the story, I enjoyed this book.

In Nancy Drew #121, The Fortune-Teller's Secret, Nancy's friend, Yasmine, asks her to find out what is wrong with her elderly neighbor, Mrs. Kittredge, who has been acting strange ever since her husband died.  Meanwhile, Nancy's father has a client who was recently swindled.

This book is very similar to the old Grosset and Dunlap Nancy Drew books.  The plot is loosely similar to that of The Ghost of Blackwood Hall.  Near the end of the book, Nancy, Bess, and George are imprisoned in a dark place, and the villain sets a couple of brown recluse spiders loose.  This scene is very similar to a scene from The Secret in the Old Attic.  Whoever came up with the plot to this book was likely very familiar with the old Nancy Drew mysteries.

I found this passage from page 54 to be quite perplexing.
Nancy hung up, then pulled the phone book from a drawer.  She flipped through the pages until she found the name Chandler, but there was no listing for a Craig Chandler.

Putting back the phone book, Nancy climbed down nimbly from the counter.
What?  I pictured Nancy perched up on the counter or perhaps crawling around on it.  She might have been sitting on the edge with her feet hanging down, but the previous page states nothing about her getting on the counter.  I read through the previous page several times. 

On page 83, "a tiger cat with one ear missing was sleeping on the orange shag rug." It's not enough for a tiger cat to be in the room, but the tiger cat has to be missing one ear. 

The similarity in plot and feel to the old Nancy Drew books make this book quite enjoyable.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Nancy Drew #118 Lake Tahoe and #119 Missing Mascot

In Nancy Drew #118, Trouble at Lake Tahoe, Nancy, Bess, and George vacation at Lake Tahoe during a water-skiing championship.  Katie Cobb, an old friend of Nancy's, is one of the leading competitors.  Katie begins having accidents during her events, and Nancy soon suspects sabotage.  Oh, dear.  

I knew that this book would be about sabotage from the very beginning since the word "saboteur" appears on the front cover.

I can also forgive Simon and Schuster for this book's sabotage, since the plot is quite interesting.  This story kept me guessing as to who the culprit was.  Several people were very good suspects. 

I spent some time staring at the cover art for this book, which shows Nancy and Katie on a very small rubber raft.  They are set afloat on it while unconscious.  A one-inch tear was made in the raft by the culprit.  Nancy and Katie are unconscious for some amount of time and then have a lengthy discussion about the culprit's motives.  Finally, Nancy hears the hissing sound.  If the raft is as small as depicted on the cover, there is no way that the girls would have been able to survive without drowning.  I also find it amusing that we can actually see the air escaping from the raft.

In Nancy Drew #119, The Mystery of the Missing Mascot, the River Heights softball team is in the play-offs.  The team has the jitters because the mascot's costume has been stolen along with various artifacts important to River Heights High School.  Nancy and Bess try to find the missing items and the person responsible for the theft.

I find it strange that George is away at a tennis clinic during a mystery that is centered around a sports competition.  The story even mentions how George used to be on the team while in high school.

The early part of this book throws too many names around.  Nancy and Bess discuss their old teachers from River Heights High School as they reminisce.  This is all quite realistic; everyone reminisces about their old teachers.  The problem was that the names meant nothing to me, and I was bored.  I skimmed through those conversations.

On page 49, Nancy remembers her freshman prank.
She had decided to sneak into the basement to the master light controls and shut off the lights in the auditorium during a school assembly.  Fortunately, she hadn't been caught, and no students had been harmed by the brief spell of darkness.
This just seems off.  I find it hard to believe that the Nancy Drew we know at age eighteen would have been pulling such a prank at age fourteen. 

On pages 123 and 124, the students react to a bomb threat after they have been evacuated from the school.  The students become uneasy after they realize that a bomb threat had been called in.  When the students are told that they can go home early, "a halfhearted cheer arose as the kids began to leave the school grounds for the day."  Um, the cheer would have been more like a resounding roar.  Also, I have been in bomb threat situations in school as both a student and a teacher.  Students don't typically get uneasy during bomb threats.  They like missing class, and they would be thrilled to be told to go home early.

This book has a very exciting scene that occurs in River Heights High School after dark.  Nancy and Bess spend the night hoping to get some clues.  Nancy is chased through the school by the culprit.  Scary!

I greatly enjoyed this book once I got past the boring parts from early in the story.