Monday, September 29, 2014

The Three Investigators #35 Kidnapped Whale and #36 Missing Mermaid

In the Three Investigators #35, The Mystery of the Kidnapped Whale, the Three Investigators save a beached baby whale by digging a hole on the beach for the whale, lining it with canvas, and filling it with water.  The boys return later before the tide comes back in and discover that someone has taken the whale!

Near the end of the introduction, Hector Sebastian states, "I hope you'll enjoy [the story] and that you won't find it difficult to read."  Almost anything would be better than that last horrible book!

This book was written by Marcus Breresford under the pseudonym, Marc Brandel.  I assume that Breresford was given some Three Investigators books written by Robert Arthur when he was hired for this one.  He clearly modeled the book after those books, which resulted in this book having the feel of the early books in the series. 

On page 9 after Pete and Bob have dug the hole, Pete remarks that he hopes Jupe does his part when they heave the whale into the hole.  "Jupe didn't bother to answer him.  It seemed to him he had already done more than his share.  The whole plan had been his idea."  Priceless!

This story is more sinister than most of the books.  The villain's threats are dangerous, and the boys know they are in great danger.

This is a very good book.

In the Three Investigators #36, The Mystery of the Missing Mermaid, the Three Investigators spend time in Venice, California so that Bob can interview people for a school project about areas that are undergoing change.  The boys spend a lot of time around Mermaid Court, which is owned by Mr. Burton.  A young boy, Todd, disappears with his dog.  The Three Investigators take the case.

While the cover art shows what appears to be a real mermaid, the story does not have one.  The mermaid is simply a statue, and the cover art does not depict a scene in the book.  The cover art is pure fantasy.

This story has a more gritty feel to it.  A dog is killed, which is not an event typical for a series book.  A boy is missing, and one can't help but wonder about the boy's fate, since the dog is dead.  Normally in these books, the reader has no doubt that the missing person will be found alive, but the events in this book keep the reader in suspense.

During the entire story, the reader gets the idea that the boys are in a bad part of town around rather bad people.

The book mentions specific streets in Venice, California, and I looked at Venice on a map and was easily able to find the area.  The plot is centered around the Ocean Front Walk with some events on Speedway, Pacific Avenue, and Main Street.  I would have to read the entire book again to see whether a specific cross street was mentioned, so I am unable to narrow down the location any closer than along Ocean Front Walk on this portion of a map of Venice.

I was amazed that I was able to narrow down the area as close as this.

This book is very engaging, and I greatly enjoyed it.  The fact that I spent a good amount of time gazing at both a map and satellite image of Venice after I finished the book should make it apparent that the book fascinated me.

This book is outstanding.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Cataloging My Collection

This summer I decided to catalog my collection.  I cataloged 4,485 books, which are most of my series books.  I did not do all of my books.  I wasn't concerned about getting everything cataloged.  I hadn't kept up my written records well for around 10 years, and I wanted to get a database that was more current.  I also wanted to get photographic documentation of my most important books and have the prices I paid for all of my books in an online database in case of loss.  It's not helpful when one's records are in the same place as one's books.  In the event of a loss, both the books and the records would disappear.

Here are the series for which I own the most books.

Nancy Drew - 2,368
Trixie Belden - 281
Judy Bolton - 221
Dana Girls - 199
Three Investigators - 135
Hardy Boys - 111

I discovered that at least two books are missing, and I cannot account for what happened to them.  The first one is my copy of the first Girl Scouts book by Edith Lavell, The Girl Scouts at Miss Allen's School.

I suspect that I might have sold the book accidentally around four or five years ago when I had other Girl Scouts books that were extras, but I really don't know.

Even more puzzling is the disappearance of my hardcover book for Nancy Drew #130, The Sign of the Falcon.  I have in my written records that I have this book, but I cannot find it.  I would not have accidentally sold it.  This is a mystery.

Both missing books should have been on shelves on the same wall and would have been within five feet of each other.  Perhaps their disappearances are connected, but I can find no trace of either book and have no idea where they would be.  I have looked under and behind all bookcases.

I used LibraryThing to catalog my books.  Words cannot express exactly how little I relished the task of cataloging my collection.  I had put the process off for years, then one day in early July, I decided to force myself.  And force myself I did.  It was tiresome photographing thousands of books.  It was brutal trying to interpret my rather disorganized and incomplete records.  In some cases, I was never able to figure out what I paid for a book.

I found the process of entering the data on LibraryThing quite cumbersome at first until I figured out how I could enter the data very quickly.  I have a CueCat, which scans the barcodes.  Since I have a massive quantity of Nancy Drew books that do not have barcodes, I spent one hour compiling barcodes for Nancy Drew #1-56.  I did this by searching the internet for each Nancy Drew title followed by "UPC."  This brought up a page which has a barcode.  I took a screen capture of the barcode and created documents that I printed.  Here is a sample of a part of one of my pages.

I took the CueCat and scanned the printed barcode pages, thus speeding up the creation of my entries for my Nancy Drew books.  For other series, I had to manually search from within LibraryThing for entries, which was slower.  

By the time I had entered a few hundred books, I quit editing titles.  I decided to go with whatever showed up.  After all, I know what each book is, and the title doesn't have to be perfect.  While I'd love everything to be perfect, I wanted to get the data entered as fast as I could since I did not want to do it at all.  Remember, I had to force myself to do the cataloging during the entire process from start to finish. 

While leaving the title alone, I did add a photo of my book to each listing and entered the price paid and date acquired.

I found that I could enter the data directly from the following screen on LibraryThing, which sped up the entry of data greatly.

The above page can be changed to show what you want it to show.  Double-clicking in each box allows for the information to be edited.  As I stated, I did not edit most titles.  I usually did not edit the author's name unless I noticed something that I cared to take the time to fix.  I did try to edit all the dates to reflect the actual age of each book.

After quite a bit of debate with myself where I changed my mind several times, I decided to keep my books in a private library.  This is because I have had aggressive collectors use high pressure to try to get me to sell certain books to them.  Having all books in my collection cataloged publicly makes me very nervous.  I never thought that the small percent of my books mentioned here and on my website would cause problems.

I try to be very careful about how much information I make public online.  Sometimes I worry that I have shared too much in this blog or on Facebook.  Sometimes I have gone back and edited posts, removing some information.

The trend nowadays is for everyone to share everything with everyone else.  That works fine for many people, but I am much more cautious.  My Facebook account is nearly stripped of all personal information.  I use Facebook only to interact with other collectors in the groups and do not use it for anything of a personal nature.  Facebook asks me every few weeks where I went to high school and college, and I refuse to answer.  I'm so sorry, Facebook, but you don't need that information.

I know that many people refuse to use Facebook because they don't wish to share their information.  You can be like me and not share much of anything. 

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

The Three Investigators #33 Purple Pirate and #34 Wandering Cave Man

In the Three Investigators #33, The Mystery of the Purple Pirate, an advertisement offers to pay anybody who can tell Major Karnes about local pirates.  The Three Investigators respond to the ad and are dismayed when Karnes barely listens to what they have to say, and even worse, he doesn't pay them!  Jupiter is convinced that Karnes is up to something, so the boys eavesdrop.  Soon they learn that Karnes is only interested in the Purple Pirate Lair and the man who runs the attraction.

The plot of this book is a bit convoluted.  While I overall enjoyed this book, I could have done without the excessively long description of the pirate attraction.  It went on and on!  The book also should have had slightly fewer villains.

This book is good but borderline mediocre.  It is also rather confusing.

In the Three Investigators #34, The Mystery of the Wandering Cave Man, bones of a hominid are found in a cave.  Before the bones can be properly recovered, the owner of the land confiscates them and launches a tourist attraction!  Later, the bones are stolen!

Early in the story, I was quite bored while the boys watch an excruciatingly long television interview with two men bickering about the bones.  They discuss the bones for what seems like an eternity.  I was so bored! 

Not until page 71 did I feel like perhaps the story was finally getting started. 

On page 77, the boys question why the bones would have been stolen because the bones "aren't valuable in themselves, like gold or jewelry."   The bones are said to be at least 10,000 years old and maybe older.  Why wouldn't somebody steal them?

The final chapter of the book is titled "Mr. Sebastian Is Impressed."  This just proves that Mr. Sebastian is an idiot.  I wasn't impressed!  This book is so boring!  I skimmed so many parts of the book.  I skimmed the last chapter.  I couldn't take anymore of it.

This book is my least favorite of the first 34 books in the Three Investigators series.  I like it less than #30, 31, and 33, and I didn't like those very much.  Reading this book was almost painful at moments.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

A Mobile Map Application for Book and Antique Hunting

I like to use a map application on my iPad when I'm out hunting for books.  Most often, I use the app if I am visiting a series of estate sales.  Occasionally, I might be traveling somewhere and wish to enter the locations of a number of book and antique stores into the app.

The old Google maps worked fine for entering a series of locations in that it stored the locations in its recent history, so they could be recalled by checking the list.  The new Google maps does not work the same way, so I no longer like it. 

Apple maps works in the fashion that the old Google maps did; however, it would be nice to be able to see all of the locations pinned on the map at the same time.  That functionality does not exist with either Apple or Google maps.  I want to be able to see all of my planned stops at the same time on the screen just like if I had sticky notes placed on a paper map like I used to do 20 years ago.

This summer I tried the Click2Map app.  Click2Map is offered in both a free and pay version.  I chose the free version.  In the free version, users can enter and store up to 150 locations, and every single location is displayed on the map at the same time.

Users sign up for an account on the Click2Map website.  The pinned locations are stored on the website, and the app syncs with the website whenever it is opened.

The app does exactly what I wanted, and I have found it very helpful in my book hunting.  The app does use up a lot of data, more so than other maps applications.  It constantly syncs with the server, which is what uses the data.  I did encounter a few glitches, such as the app closing abruptly.  Even though the app has some glitches and uses a lot of data, the benefits far outweigh the problems.  It's the only free app I was able to find after extensive searching that allowed me to display multiple locations on the map at the same time.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

The Three Investigators #31 Scar-Faced Beggar and #32 Blazing Cliffs

In the Three Investigators #31, The Mystery of the Scar-Faced Beggar, Bob witnesses a bank robbery and suspects that a scar-faced beggar who was nearby helped provide a distraction.  The beggar drops a wallet that belongs to someone named Hector Sebastian.  At first the Three Investigators think Sebastian is the beggar, but they later learn that the wallet was lost by Sebastian and likely picked up by the beggar.

This book caught my attention better than the last book but mainly because it introduces Hector Sebastian, the fictitious famous writer who takes the place of Alfred Hitchcock.  While I enjoyed learning about Hector Sebastian, I found the overall story not to be particularly interesting. The book is quite uneven. I alternatively enjoyed and didn't enjoy parts all through the book.  Sections dragged for me, and I was bored.  Then, I would get interested again, followed by more boredom.

This book is an example of what happens when a story is built around a gimmick.  This was the first book published after Alfred Hitchcock's death, and the publisher wished to write him out of the series while introducing the new character, Hector Sebastian.  The lost wallet provided the means for the boys to be introduced to Sebastian, and a mystery was written around the missing wallet.

I knew that I had experienced a similar story recently that was written around a gimmick.  I mentally reviewed what I have read during recent months, and I finally realized that I was thinking of the Nancy Drew game, The Shattered Medallion.  The mystery was weak in that game, because the game was built around the gimmick of Sonny Joon's first real-life appearance in a Nancy Drew game.  This book turned out the same way, although I enjoyed the Nancy Drew game far more than I did this book.

I skimmed some parts of this book, because I wanted it to be over.  This book is mediocre. 

In the Three Investigators #32, The Mystery of the Blazing Cliffs, Charles Barron and his wife make some purchases at the Jones Salvage Yard for their ranch.  Mr. Barron has made his ranch self-sufficient, because he believes that the world's economic system will soon collapse, resulting in chaos.  He believes that currency will be worthless and that people must buy gold.  Mrs. Barron believes that a superior alien race will be coming to take the chosen people away right as a catastrophic event occurs.

The Three Investigators help deliver Mr. Barron's purchases to his ranch, and shortly after they arrive, the military closes off all roads.  Nobody is allowed to leave, and a UFO is spotted in the nearby hills.  Apparently, Mr. and Mrs. Barron's predictions have come true!  The Three Investigators suspect a hoax and set out to prove it.

This book starts off good and flows quite well from start to finish.  The book starts in the Jones Salvage Yard, just like all Three Investigators books should.  The investigation begins as a result of junk that the boys help deliver to a ranch.  The book grabbed my attention immediately, just as a book should, and kept my attention throughout the story.

I don't think much of series books with UFOs, but this book is an exception.  I was skeptical about this book at first, and I was most pleasantly surprised.

Mr. Barron believes that the world will come to an end, so he has stockpiled his ranch with weapons and fuel.  He is totally self-sufficient.  This part is very plausible today, since many people are currently doing this.

Mr. Barron is hilarious.  All through the book, he delivers quite a few spectacular one-liners that made me laugh.  This book is extremely funny and engaging.

This book is absolutely outstanding.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Buyer Questions from Summer 2014

With the Hardy Boys books: when you say, 1930 DJ, does that mean it is a new book with a copy of an old dust jacket? Otherwise, I would think you would show pictures of the book under the jacket, and the inside of the front. It does take a lot of describing to allow a buyer to know exactly what they are getting. 

This question was asked about an eBay listing.  I have observed over the years that my practice of placing the copyright date in the title of many of my listings apparently upsets quite a few people.  I have always thought that the copyright date is the easiest way to tell if a book has the original text.  For instance, any Nancy Drew book with a copyright date of 1956 or before is an original text book with 25 chapters.  Silly me, because I have discovered that I am apparently the only person who thinks that the copyright date is helpful.  Everyone else likes to check the list of chapter titles to see how many chapters are present.  Some buyers ask every single seller how many chapters a book has instead of using the copyright date or visual clues.

That aside, my original assumption was that the person who wrote the above question was confused, as many buyers are.  However, I was puzzled that the buyer stated that I needed to provide a photograph of the book under the jacket.  I found a Hardy Boys listing that had "1930 DJ" in the title, figuring that was the one that prompted the question.

Hardy Boys #9 Great Airport Mystery 1930 DJ

How very odd...  I do show a picture of the book underneath the jacket, just like I do on almost every single listing of a book that has a jacket.  Ignoring that, I decided to respond to the question with the assumption that the buyer was confused while explaining the bit about the copyright date.  I tried to convey as much information as I could as briefly as I could.  I responded as follows.
I typically do photograph the books as well as the jackets. If you can let me know which listings are giving you trouble, I'll clarify. I give the last title listed on the jacket in the listings. For my listing, "Hardy Boys #9 Great Airport Mystery 1930 DJ," I state in the description that the jacket lists to Chinese Junk. Chinese Junk was published in 1960. Since Airport Mystery has Chinese Junk as the last title, then that means that Airport Mystery was printed in 1960 which is the year that Chinese Junk, the last title listed, was first published.
The reason that "1930" was placed in the title was so that buyers know immediately that the book has the original text from 1930 rather than the revised text from the 1960s. Most people prefer the original text books and seek them. I give the copyright date in the title so that buyers know that the book has the older copyright date, which of course is not the year the book was printed. In the rare case that I have a first printing, I give that information, but you can safely assume that my books are not first printings unless I say that they are.

You asked if the book is new. I do not sell new Hardy Boys books, and I do not sell jacket copies. All of my Hardy Boys books currently for sale are vintage from the late 1940s to the late 1960s. All Hardy Boys with jackets are no newer than 1961, which is when they stopped printing the books with jackets. All jackets are original jackets from whenever the book was printed.

I have some reviews and guides on eBay. If you click on my user ID and scroll to the bottom of the resulting page, you will see them. I don't have a Hardy Boys guide, but the information in the Nancy Drew guide will also help with determining the age of Hardy Boys books.

I hope this helps. I tried to give you extra information without going into too much detail. As it is, my response got a bit lengthy. Let me know if you need any additional information. Thanks for asking!
Of course I never received a response nor did the buyer make a purchase.  On a hunch, I checked the buyer's feedback, recent selling history, and recent buying history.  This buyer is not a seller and does not purchase books, at least on the ID used to contact me.  This person is either someone who is thinking of buying Hardy Boys books and doesn't know where to begin, or this person sells on another ID and is trying to enlighten me as to the proper way to do business, since I am just that incorrigible.

I lean towards the latter.

Around four years ago, another seller sent me an extremely long message taking me to task for using the copyright date in the title and for not using the Farah's guide "print run" number.  Let's just say that I disagree with some statements that seller has made in her listings, but I would never contact her about them.  We all need to do our own thing and quit worrying about everyone else.  

One seller on eBay touches up worn spots on books with marker, then says that the books don't have wear.  That seller also implies that library discards are not library discards and has some other shady practices.  That seller gets away with his behavior.  Instead, people worry about me.

Do you offer combined shipping discounts?

I get this question at least once a month.  I have had to offer free shipping on eBay ever since I had a buyer leave a low DSR for the shipping charge.  I realize that it seems awful to purchase three books at $9.99 each with shipping included in each price and receive no shipping discount.  However, I know how I have priced the books.  Most books that are for sale on eBay at $9.99 with free shipping would have been priced at $9.99 plus $3.95 for the first book if I had charged for shipping.  Therefore, the buyer has already saved $3.95 for the first book and $0.60 for each additional book.  I shouldn't have to discount more than that.

Sometimes I do partially add in the cost of shipping so as not to take too much of a loss.  Those items are typically the ones priced at $11.99, $17.99, $21.99, and so on.  Even on those items, I am still paying part of the shipping myself, so no further discount should be needed.

It is expensive for me when only one book is purchased, and that book is a cheap book.  I have some tweed Hardy Boys books priced at $6.99 with free shipping.  My shipping cost is $3.95, which only leaves me $3.04.  The eBay and PayPal fees get taken out of that amount.  Last, factor in what the book cost me, and I get nothing.  I always take a loss on the cheap books except when a buyer purchases several at once, thereby allowing me to send several in one package.  The combined purchases help me, not the buyer.  That's why I don't offer a discount on top of the discount that the buyer received in the first place.

As in the previous case, the buyer who asked this question did not make a purchase.

Friday, September 12, 2014

The Three Investigators #29 Sinister Scarecrow and #30 Shark Reef

In the Three Investigators #29, The Mystery of the Sinister Scarecrow, the boys stumble upon a mystery when the salvage yard truck breaks down on a lonely country road.  Jupiter walks off to find a telephone, and a man attacks him, mistaking him for a scarecrow!  The boys learn that the surrounding area is haunted by a scarecrow that attacks people.

I thought of #25 The Mystery of the Dancing Devil when I read this book.  I thought the dancing devil was stupid in that book.  This book features someone dressed as a scarecrow who threatens people with a scythe.  This time I did not think someone in a costume was stupid.  The scarecrow is scary!  Just look at the front cover of the book. 

I enjoyed trying to figure out the identity of the villain.

I correctly guessed part of the solution before I was too far into the story.  A nearby museum has priceless artwork, and... let's just say that one crime was obvious to me.  I did not guess the other part, however, so the complete solution to the mystery still surprised me.

I greatly enjoyed this book.

In the Three Investigators #30, The Secret of Shark Reef, environmentalists try to prevent a petroleum company from beginning operations from Shark Reef #1, an oil-drilling platform off the coast of California.  Bob's father is interviewing people from both sides for his newspaper, and the Three Investigators have come with him.

All of the books in this series have grabbed my interest quickly.  This book is the first one that didn't grab me.  I was a bit bored for most of the book.  The most interesting part of the story was the explanation about what the diver had been searching for.  This would have been a more engaging book if that person had hired the boys at the beginning and for the boys to have worked out the solution along with him.  The book was uninteresting the way it was written.  It's like this book was a rough draft that ended up getting published.

This is not a horrible book; it could have been much worse.  It is certainly the worst out of the first 30 books in the series.  The first 29 books are all very good or outstanding.  The Secret of Shark Reef is mediocre.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Book Finds June 2014

Here are some June book finds. 

I am keeping the four Trixie Random House books.  #10 and #12 complete my set, although #10 will need to be upgraded since it is covered with clear contact paper.  #13 and #14 are upgrades to two that I found recently.

Trixie Belden Cobbett's Island from the 1970s is in better condition than mine.  Those books tend to have cracked and split hinges, and this one does not.  I selected it from among the Trixie Belden books for sale at that store because of the superior condition.

I will keep the Nancy Drew Tolling Bell with dust jacket because it is nicer than mine.

Two of the Nancy Drew book club edition PCs are upgrades:  #20 and #26.  The book club PCs from #20 and up are very hard to upgrade.

The Nancy Drew #37 PC with Carolyn Keene appearing twice on the spine is a lot better than mine, so I am keeping it.

The Three Investigators #10 paperback is one I need.

I am keeping the Rick Brant books (except for the duplicates) for now just in case.  I plan to force myself to read all of #1 to make certain I don't want to keep the Rick Brant books since this is the closest I've been to having a complete set all at once.

I also purchased these books in June.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

The Three Investigators #27 Magic Circle and #28 Deadly Double

In the Three Investigators #27, The Mystery of the Magic Circle, the boys work in the mail room of Amigos Press.  The publishing company has a series of tragic setbacks when its offices burn, and the manuscript of famous actress Madeline Bainbridge is stolen.  Meanwhile, all of Bainbridge's films were just sold to a business next door to the publishing company, and the films vanish at about the time of the fire!  The boys are convinced that the events are connected.

It's now summer again, specifically August 1.

I reflected as I read this book how interesting I found the story, which centers around a retired actress and her past associates.  The feeling I had is so different from how I felt while reading Nancy Drew #123, The Clue on the Silver Screen, which I couldn't stand.  Perhaps the use of the Alfred Hitchcock name and the setting of the series near Hollywood helped.  Perhaps the fact that Bainbridge is a recluse and not attending public functions helped make the story more plausible.  For whatever reason, this book is more believable to me.

This is a very engaging book.  It is outstanding.

In the Three Investigators #28, The Mystery of the Deadly Double, Jupiter is kidnapped!  Bob and Pete struggle to find him with few clues.  Later, Jupiter gets free, but the villains still think Jupiter is the boy they want.  The Three Investigators learn that Jupiter looks just like Ian Carew, the son of an African leader.  Political opponents are trying to abduct Ian in order to hold him as leverage.  The boys must try to keep Jupiter safe while they try to find Ian.

On page 46, mention is made of the emergency signals "which Jupiter had built for their work many years ago."  The boys are still not old enough to drive, and this statement makes it sound like the boys have been solving cases for many years.  It is a mistake in the text, since the boys have not aged since the first book in the series.

I also greatly enjoyed this book.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Nancy Drew Diaries #5 Willow Woods and #6 Mystic Lake

In Nancy Drew Diaries #5, Sabotage at Willow Woods, George's cousin, Carrie Kim, is running for city council in the nearby community of Boylestown.  Nancy, Bess, and George all help Carrie with her campaign.  Carrie receives threatening notes, and an environmental group protests Carrie's proposal to build a new football field for Boylestown High School.

On page 4, we learn that George is a nonathlete, which I find extremely strange.  George has always been athletic.  In the Girl Detective series, George became obsessed with technology, but she still seemed to be athletic.  She took fencing lessons and participated in a grueling marathon.

In this book, George is not athletic and is very opposed to how more money is spent on sports instead of on academics.  On the one hand, the change is logical, since George is a technology geek.  On the other hand, it promotes the stereotype that anyone interested in computers cannot be interested in sports.

On page 5, Bess is described as girly and a mechanic.  This jibes with the Girl Detective series.  Mentioning that Bess is a mechanic seems strange simply because these books have given no indication of that ability.  It's just mentioned in passing.  There is evidence that Bess is girly.

On page 7, we learn that Bess is a field hockey champ. Why not George?  Why make George a nonathlete and make Bess have so many abilities?  Does this series hate George?

The book seems to imply that the girls are still in high school.  Page 20 states, "Luckily, RHHS had a teachers' conference the next day, which left me free to begin my snooping."

On page 33, Nancy is called "Fancy Nancy."  Please, no, not again!  They do mention the picture book series, which is interesting.  Fortunately, this page is the only place where "Fancy Nancy" is mentioned.

On page 154, Nancy is once again the person who picks locks with a credit card.  The Girl Detective series gave that ability to Bess, since Nancy was hopeless at everything except solving mysteries.

I greatly enjoyed Sabotage at Willow Woods.

In Nancy Drew Diaries #6, Secret at Mystic Lake, Nancy, Bess, and George join a bike tour around Mystic Lake.  Soon after the trip begins, their supplies are sabotaged, and later, one person disappears from the tour.

This is a very exciting mystery.  I read the book very quickly, and it flows quite well.  One part of the book is a bit scary.  This mystery is outstanding.

The Nancy Drew Diaries books mostly deal with sabotage, but the plots are quite varied.  While all of the plots are similar to past Nancy Drew books, every single one of them has a twist that makes the story very different from previous versions. 

The series starts off on shaky ground, since the first two books were obviously originally intended to be part of a Girl Detective trilogy.  Those books are the only two that have any mention of Nancy being clumsy.  The real beginning of this series is volume three.

Interestingly, this series does not come out and state the exact premise.  That may have been done on purpose so that we can draw our own conclusions, which reminds me of the style of Nancy Drew up to #56.  In those books, Nancy just is, no explanation necessary.  Even though the style is similar to those books, the premise does not match them.  The premise seems to be a mixture of the Nancy Drew Digest books and the Nancy Drew Girl Detective books.  I'm not sure that even by volume 6 that the series has settled on an exact premise.

I have figured out that Nancy, Bess, and George might still be in high school, as inferred from one line of one book.  Bess is described as girly in nearly all of the books, so that must be true.  George does still like technology.  In one book, she is said not to be an athlete.  In all six books, George is a very disagreeable person.

The books retain Ned's characterization from the Girl Detective series.  Ned's father still publishes the River Heights Bugle, and Ned still works for him.

When I finished Secret at Mystic Lake, I was quite lost.  I had been reading Nancy Drew for months, and I was suddenly finished.  I posted this update on Facebook just a few minutes after finishing #7.
I have renewed faith in Simon and Schuster!  Nancy Drew Diaries #1 and #2 are a bit odd and have problems.  #3 has a stretch of around 70 boring pages but is otherwise good.  #4 and #5 are very good.   #6 is outstanding!  Good job, Simon and Schuster!  I give you my seal of approval!
20 minutes later, I posted this update.
What am I going to do?   I just finished my four-month-long marathon of reading Nancy Drew books.  I know I will have to start my summer reading list, but I'm feeling a bit lost at the moment.  I enjoyed Nancy Drew Diaries #6 a bit too much, and it's hard to accept that #7 won't be published for months!
This means that I really did enjoy reading the books in the Digest, Girl Detective, and Diaries series.

With six books published, the Nancy Drew Diaries series is a composite of the Nancy Drew Digest and Girl Detective series but with the style of Nancy Drew #1-56.

Monday, September 1, 2014

The Three Investigators #25 Dancing Devil and #26 Headless Horse

In the Three Investigators #25, The Mystery of the Dancing Devil, Pete's young neighbor, Winnie, asks the Three Investigators to find her missing doll.  Her request sends the boys on a quest to find a black case that is being sought by a thief.  Each time the boys get close to a solution, a horrifying Dancing Devil jumps out at them and makes threatening statements.

The boys are on spring vacation.

This book overall struck me as a bit silly.  Over and over, someone dressed as the Dancing Devil jumps out at the boys and scares them.  I was reminded of the silly plot devices in some of the higher-numbered Nancy Drew books, such as The Mystery of the 99 Steps when the villains left Nancy warning notes constantly, which actually helped her solve the case.

I enjoyed this book except for the Dancing Devil scenes.

In the Three Investigators #26, The Mystery of the Headless Horse, Diego Alvarez and his brother, Pico, are in imminent danger of losing their ranch, which has been in their family for generations.  Skinny Norris' father has bought the neighboring ranch and is pressuring Pico Alvarez into selling.  The Alvarez's mortgage comes due, and money is needed immediately.  The Three Investigators hope to locate a valuable sword that would supply the enough money to save the ranch.

This book starts with the boys leaving school for the day.

My book is the first printing and has two mistakes that I noticed.  Page 43, line 11 has an extraneous line by Skinny Norris which should not be there.  On page 123, Sebasti├ín is misspelled as Sebastien

Page 52 mentions "the gloomy bust of Alfred Hitchcock on the filing cabinet."  This is an interesting reference to the original cover art of #2 The Mystery of the Stuttering Parrot

This book has long stretches where Jupiter and Diego investigate one lead while Bob and Pete investigate another.  The Three Investigators make good use of their time by examining two paths at the same time. 

This book is outstanding from start to finish.