Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Books Purchased in 2015

I completed a number of sets of books this year, and I also read most of them before the end of the year.  As always, click on each image to see a larger version.

Complete Set of Troy Nesbit/Franklin Folsom Books

Complete Set of Tom Quest Books

Complete Set of the Mill Creek Irregulars Series
Complete Set of Sandy Steele Books

Complete Set of Brad Forrest Books

Complete Set of the Secret Circle Mysteries

Partial Set of the Ted Wilford Series

Complete Set of the Bret King Series

Complete Set of the Girls of Canby Hall Series

I already owned the complete set of Biff Brewster books, but this year I upgraded all of my bare tweed books to books with dust jackets.

Complete Set of the Biff Brewster Series

I read the Rick Brant series late last year and loved them so much that I wanted to own original copies of all 24 books.  I upgraded my reprint of #23 to the original edition and purchased the original edition of #22.  I also saw a Buy It Now for #24 that was priced at the lowest anybody would probably ever be willing to ask for it.  #24 was high, certainly, but it was at the lowest one would be priced and far less than what the seller asked for his second copy after I purchased mine.  The second copy was priced at about double the price I paid and also sold quickly.

Rick Brant #22, 23, and 24

If you have always been a girls' series fan like me and don't think you would ever like Rick Brant, please try at least one book to make sure.  I never thought I would like Rick Brant and had sold all the copies I had found over the years.  I found almost a complete set in the summer of 2014 and tried the first book.  I was surprised about how much I enjoyed it.  Never assume you won't like a series without making sure first.

The following two photos show four different library editions I purchased that fall into the "scarce and unusual" category, ones that seldom come up for sale.

Nancy Drew and Dana Girls Library Editions

Nancy Drew and Dana Girls Library Editions

I found a copy of Tom Swift #33 locally.  This is the second one I have ever found.  The first one was in 1998.

Tom Swift #33

Just last week I found the Hardy Boys Twisted Claw picture cover with the Nancy Drew list on the back cover.  I also found one back in around 1999.

Hardy Boys Twisted Claw with Nancy Drew Titles

It is interesting to find two different scarce books within a few months of each other, and the last time I found a copy of either book was during the late 1990s.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Hardy Boys #8 Cabin Island and #9 Great Airport Mystery

In the original text of Hardy Boys #8, The Mystery of Cabin Island, the Hardy boys rent a cabin on Cabin Island.  They plan to spend the Christmas holidays in the cabin.  During their stay, prowlers show up on the island, and some of the boys' supplies are stolen.  Soon, the boys suspect that something valuable is hidden on the island.

This story has some coincidence but not the crazy unbelievable type.  The events are mainly cause and effect, which makes for a better story.

This book is good all the way through and is an excellent read.

In the original text of Hardy Boys #9, The Great Airport Mystery, the Hardy boys are nearly run off the road by Giles Ducroy, a drunk mail pilot.  Ducroy blames the boys for the mishap, and Ducroy later frames them for the theft of valuable mail.

I have never liked the scene where Ducroy nearly crashes into the Hardy boys' vehicle.  The plane flies up behind the boys, gaining on them as it attempts to land.  Frank speeds up to try to keep ahead of the plane, which is a losing proposition.  I have always felt that Frank should have run off the road into the ditch instead of trying to keep ahead of the plane.  

In The Secret of the Caves, Toddham Todd uses what is referred to as an unusual expression, "by jing."  If "by jing" is so unusual, then why does a farmer use it on page 18 of The Great Airport Mystery?

On page 38, the boys have graduated from high school and plan a picnic with their class.  They reflect that the picnic will be "their last opportunity of being all together."  That's what they think.  In a strange twist of fate, the boys get put right back in high school in the next book, and that's where they stay.

On age 121 we learn that Mr. Hardy "was not at all rich."  Gosh, the Hardys sure act like they have plenty of money.

On page 128, Frank remarks that it "was certainly mighty white" for the men to put up bail for them. I've always known of that expression and its meaning, but I decided to look it up.  Interestingly, many people nowadays think "mighty white" is not racist and is a sarcastic expression, apparently due to its usage in a movie from a few decades ago.  There is absolutely no doubt that in this book that Frank is not being sarcastic and is praising the men by saying that they are "mighty white" for doing the good deed.

This is an excellent and exciting story.

I can't remember exactly what I thought of each particular Hardy Boys book 20 years ago, but I feel like I am enjoying them more this time than I did back then.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Collecting Library Editions

I have avidly collected library editions since 2001.  The genesis of my library edition collection came from my desire to own hardcover bindings of Nancy Drew #57 and up.  My first goal was to acquire Nancy Drew #57 through #78 in the hardcover edition with dust jacket.  While seeking those books, I began noticing all the library bindings that were up for sale.  I began acquiring hardcover library bindings of #79 and up when I could find them.  This quickly led to an interest in all library editions for all series, and I now own approximately 1,000 library editions, which is around 20% of my entire collection.

You might wonder how I have acquired so many of them.  I am good at spotting them in photos, and I have different search techniques that I use as well.  Most importantly, I am willing to purchase any lot, large or small, to get any interesting library binding that I spot in the lot.  I do sometimes purchase large lots of 50 books or more just to get that one special library binding.  That's the key to collecting library editions.

The downside is that I have ended up with large quantities of extra books that have to be sold.  Unfortunately, library bindings come up for sale in lots with regular edition books that are library discards and in awful shape.  Those books have to be sold in bulk at low prices, since there is no other way to get people to take them.  This means that over the years I have had to offer many large bulk lots of books that are in generally poor condition in order to get rid of the large number of extras. 

[Note from October 1, 2022:  The statements in the above paragraph are no longer true.  Library editions have come into favor, and I have no trouble selling them.]

I thought you might find it interesting to see examples of the kinds of lots that a library edition collector has to purchase.  Sometimes I have been lucky and found large lots of library bindings all together where I can easily acquire a bunch of them.  More often, just a few are mixed in with other books.  I took some screen captures of some recent eBay lots.  The first two are not lots that I purchased, but they give an idea of the kinds of lots I have purchased over the years just to get just a few books.


These next ones are lots that I purchased.  The first photo is of a lot that I purchased to get the yellow Tolling Bell that is second from the left in the middle row.

I purchased this next lot to get the blue Brass Bound Trunk that is on the far right side of the photo.  I already had several of them, but this was a different color.

The next photo is of a lot that I almost did not purchase.  I located what I thought were seven library bindings of the Minstrel books plus a book that I thought was an omnibus edition containing three Aladdin books.  Most of the books were softcover.  I did not need any of the Minstrel library bindings, so I did not plan to bid.  On the last day of the auction, I looked again and realized that the book on the bottom row that is second from the right is not an omnibus edition.  It is instead a hardcover version of Nancy Drew #172.  I did not own any hardcover Nancy Drew book higher than #154.  This was a find, and I did win the auction.


I also purchased this next lot, which was an excellent lot since only three books were softcover.  The rest were hardcover library bindings.  I ended up keeping half of the books from the lot.  Of the half that I kept, I needed around half of those and the rest were upgrades.

As you can see from the lots that I recently purchased, I ended up with lots of extras that had to be sold.  That's how I have collected library editions.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Hardy Boys #6 Shore Road Mystery and #7 Secret of the Caves

In the original text of Hardy Boys #6, The Shore Road Mystery, vehicles are disappearing all along Shore Road.  Road blocks never turn up any of the stolen vehicles, so Frank and Joe conclude that the vehicles must be hidden somewhere along Shore Road.

The boys get trapped behind a cave-in while inside a tunnel/cave just like what happened in the previous story.

I didn't find the beginning of the story to be especially interesting, but I soon gained interest.  Once I was quite interested, I greatly enjoyed the story.

In the original text of Hardy Boys #7, The Secret of the Caves, Fenton Hardy is asked to find Toddham Todd.  Meanwhile, one of the Shore Road thieves breaks out of jail, and the Hardy Boys decide to go on an outing to some coastal caves. 

On page 14, the Hardy boys reflect on the strange coincidence of them rescuing a woman who was on her way to see their father.  This isn't strange at all.  It's the usual bizarre coincidence that typically happens to the Hardy boys.

I didn't care about Toddham Todd when I read this book before, and I don't care about him now.

It's a nice bit of continuity to have one of the Shore Road thieves appear in this book.

I find it very strange on page 145 for the boys to flag down a motorist to ask him to take their prisoner into town.  How do they know they can trust the motorist?  How do they know the motorist will want to do it?  Of course, the person who stops is a victim of the auto thieves and is thrilled to bring one to justice, so it all works out.

Later in the story when the boys need to get a sick man to Bayport, another Bayport resident conveniently appears at exactly the right moment and is willing to take the sick man to Bayport.

I enjoyed this book even though I didn't care about Toddham Todd.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Hardy Boys #4 Missing Chums and #5 Hunting for Hidden Gold

In the original text of Hardy Boys #4, The Missing Chums, Fenton Hardy leaves for Chicago on a dangerous case.  Meanwhile, Chet and Biff depart on a boat trip during a vicious storm.  The Hardy boys and their friends expect Chet and Biff to return during the storm, but they fail to do so.  After investigating, the Hardys detemine that Chet and Biff have vanished!  A search is a launched along the coast.

Laura Hardy is worried about her husband on page 22.  Fenton tells her that he will be careful, then he adds, "He or any of the men in his gang would shoot me on sight."  Fenton also says, "If I don't get him, he'll probably get me."  Um, Fenton, you're not helping the situation any.  Everything you say is just giving your wife reason to worry.

There is one scene with horseplay, and as usual, I didn't care for it.  Aside from that, I found this book to be quite engaging and thrilling.  I thoroughly enjoyed it.

In the original text of Hardy Boys #5, Hunting for Hidden Gold, Frank, Joe, and their friends get caught in a blizzard.  While seeking shelter near a cliff, a cabin slides off of the cliff and down onto the frozen lake right in front of them.  The cabin's sole occupant, Jadbury Wilson, is an old prospector who tells the boys about how he was cheated out of his gold years ago.

Later, Fenton Hardy calls the boys out to Montana, where he is trying to find some gold for Bart Dawson.  Soon, the boys realize that this gold is the same gold that Jadbury Wilson lost.  What are the chances?

The glaring weak spot in this story is the unbelievable coincidence of the boys meeting a man who is connected to Fenton Hardy's case.  Add in the ridiculousness of the cabin sliding off the cliff, and the result is a story based on sheer absurdity.  I recall thinking this story to be absurd 20 years ago.

The outlaws have hidden the gold in a mine, so they know the location of the mine.  Apparently, they are waiting for some time to pass before they remove the gold.  I don't get why they don't just go for it.  Of course, this is to give the Hardys a chance to find it and have a confrontation with the outlaws.  Why else?

In spite of the utter absurdity of the story, I greatly enjoyed this book.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

The Dynamics of Facebook Groups

We have some great series book groups on Facebook.  Here are the more active ones.

Collecting Vintage Children's Series Books
Nancy Drew Fans 
Judy Bolton Fans
Trixie Belden

In each group, members who are series book enthusiasts are responsible for nearly 100% of the discussion.  However, each group also contains many members who are not at all interested in series books.  In fact, I believe that over half of the members of the Collecting Vintage Children's Series Books group are not series book collectors at all and have little interest in them.  Some members join because of a relative's interest, while others join all groups that focus on anything of a nostalgic nature.

Many members are also online sellers hoping to use the groups to promote their items for sale, although this practice is discouraged.  The members who are series book enthusiasts are interested in purchasing books from others.  However, many comments have been made where those members have made clear that they want cheap books sold by other series book enthusiasts.  Many members will not consider books sold by someone who is seen as a commercial online seller, which means that there is no point in all of these online sellers joining the groups.  Of course, the sellers don't realize that.

I am the administrator of the Collecting Vintage Children's Series Books group, and I have tried to word the group's information section in such a way as to strongly discourage the online sellers from joining the group.  It's clear that the members don't want them there.  Unfortunately, some still join and immediately post a link to either their online store, which generally has very few series books, or a link to one item for sale that is a little overpriced or of very low interest to the average member of the group.

Online sellers also join the group to ask for information about books they plan to sell.  They seldom state that they are sellers, but collectors do not typically join the group and ask for appraisals.  I have also tried to discourage sellers from joining to ask for appraisals, since the burden of response falls on just a few of us, and we would rather explore our interest in series books than appraise books that hold little interest to us.  When someone asks for an appraisal, one of us will state that the book is outside of the group's focus.  Often, the person who asked for the appraisal gets offended, because the expectation is that we should be willing to do their research for them.

Most all general discussion in the group is polite with no insults.  Occasionally, a member makes an inappropriate remark.  This most often happens between a few series book collectors who have disliked each other for over 20 years.  When the rude remark is not by one of those collectors, it is almost always by a member who does not like series books who is only in the group for some other reason.  These other members do not understand the group's dynamics.

In one case, a member who does not collect series books thought that someone was doing something for less than honorable reasons.  This member did not understand the thinking of the other members and the true enthusiasm of the collectors and should have stayed out of the discussion.

Another time, a member was a bit negative in some comments made about some books another member photographed, pretty much saying that the books shown in the photo weren't as good as older editions.  I thought that was quite insulting to respond to someone who is proud of their books by telling them that older editions are better than theirs.  Some other members reacted in a defensive manner, and after a few more comments, the person who made the negative comments mentioned not liking books at all and only being in the group because of a family member's interest.  This is another example of a person not understanding the group's dynamics.  That person also should have stayed out of the discussion. 

In another case, a member outright insulted another member after disagreeing with a statement made.  That person had never participated in discussions before that day and immediately became rude.  She then, within just an hour or so of the rude statement, made a post where she was trying to sell books.  I believe that she read the group's policies that state that only "participating members" could offer books, so she commented on a discussion in order to "participate."  She participated all right, but she executed it poorly.  It's very strange to get rude and then try to sell the same people some books.  Not only that, she never took a photo of the books or gave any information about the books or how much she wanted for them.  This brings me to my next observation.

Many people join the group and make a post about some extra books they have.  The statement goes like this:  "I have some Nancy Drew books.  Is anyone interested?"  Immediately, multiple group members post comments saying that they are interested.  Several members ask for details and ask for a price.  The person who posted the message, oddly, usually never follows through with any additional information.  If they do follow up, they say that they don't know how much the books are worth or will name a steep price.  Others will promise to get pictures and prices but never do.

I do not understand why someone gets in a Facebook group to say that they have some books available but then fails to follow through.  They are sending out feelers to see what kind of response they get, but they could just as easily post the books for sale on eBay in an auction or put them on Craigslist.  I do not see the point of asking in the group and then not following through.  All it does is disappoint the group's members.  I recall one instance where one of the members posted another comment several days later trying to get the person to post the promised photos and information.  There was no response.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Hardy Boys #2 House on the Cliff and #3 Secret of the Old Mill

In the original text of Hardy Boys #2, The House on the Cliff, a smuggling ring is suspected of operating in Barmet Bay.  Frank and Joe become suspicious of an abandoned house on a cliff, where they hear strange shrieks.  Later, some men begin living in the house, and the men act suspicious.  The case takes a serious turn when Fenton Hardy disappears.

I remembered The Tower Treasure as I began reading it, but as I began The House on the Cliff, I had no memory of it. Finally, the name Snackley seemed familiar.  I am sure that I read most all of the original text Hardy Boys books, but I have forgotten most details.  As a result, it is like I'm reading the books for the first time even though I have read them before.

Tony Prito's English has greatly improved since volume one.  It's strange how that happens.

The ending chase scene was a bit too lengthy for my taste.  Aside from that, I greatly enjoyed this book.

In the original text of Hardy Boys #3, The Secret of the Old Mill, a counterfeiting ring is distributing bad money around Bayport.  The Hardy Boys decide to investigate after they are cheated by a glib stranger.  The boys soon suspect that the men running an old mill are up to no good, and they keep an eye on them.

The scene where the boys pull the prank on Con Riley is a little annoying.  It also doesn't make much sense.  The alarm clock continues to ring as Riley hurries here and there, and it seems to take forever for it to quit ringing.  I've never had an alarm clock ring for that long.

On page 153, we learn that the Hardy family owned a $900 rug.  Wow!  That rug would be valued at $12307.50 in 2015 money.  The Hardys are quite well off, which we already know by the fact that the family can purchase motorcycles and a boat for the boys.  Besides, the boys keep raking in large rewards for each case they solve.

I always wonder about how the Hardy Boys can earn thousands of dollars for solving cases, but Nancy Drew is only allowed to get souvenirs of each case.  I know it is a gender issue.  But still, the idea is a bit annoying to this modern reader.

I greatly enjoyed this book.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Hunting for Books Online

Most collectors say that they prefer to find books in person rather than search for them online.  Fifteen years ago, I felt the same way.  Now, my feelings have changed.  I enjoy looking for books in person, but only when I find something.  Otherwise, I find it very unsatisfying.  In fact, I dislike going to antique shops and seeing the same books that have been there for years, with nothing new for me to find.  I end up leaving the store feeling very depressed.  You read that right; antique shops now depress me.  So for that reason, I don't go to antique shops very often anymore.  I do still check out some of the local book stores, but I even find those stores often to be depressing.

I find it much more fun to look for books online.  I've spent a lot of time in the last year building very difficult sets of books to acquire in short periods of time by looking for them online.  It's like a scavenger hunt.

I first run searches on eBay. For the most of the scarce books, I usually won't find any on eBay.  I next check AbeBooks.com and Amazon.com. I can usually find a copy that meets my specifications on one of those two sites.  But sometimes I won't find one at all.  The next step is to go to Google to search, then to any other site that comes to mind like Bonanza, Etsy, and Ecrater.

I built a set of Bret King books this summer.  I was not able to find a copy of The Mystery at Blizzard Mesa in dust jacket.  I had to settle on a tweed copy in very rough shape.  Recently, I began reading the books and realized by the time I reached The Mystery at Blizzard Mesa that I liked this series so much that I really needed to upgrade that book.  I tried again to find a book in dust jacket, but I still couldn't locate one.

Not satisfied, I ran additional searches.  I had this idea that a copy had to be online somewhere.  Through Google, I found a short listing that mentioned a dust jacket, but the copy was on a foreign site that pulls listings from American sites.  This told me that a copy was somewhere on one of the main sites I search, but for some reason, I wasn't finding it.

I went back to AbeBooks.com, and this time, I ran a search under the author's name, Dan Scott, along with the title of the book.  And there it was.  I had been using the series name, Bret King, in my searches.  Since the seller had not mentioned Bret King in the listing, that copy was left out of my search results.  I ordered the book. 

I find it very satisfying to finally find a book like this online in a search after fruitlessly searching previously.  I get a rush. That is similar to winning a hotly contested auction,  It's a lot more fun than going into an antique shop and being depressed because nothing is there. It's like a great treasure hunt online.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Hardy Boys #1 The Tower Treasure

I read the Hardy Boys books around 20 years ago.  I read through most of the original text books and read at least a few revised text books.  I don't remember the specifics except that I didn't care for the few revised text books I read.  I also struggled with some of the original text books, although I don't know which ones.  I do recall that I didn't like the scenes in which the boys horse around.

I was left with the general impression that I didn't like boys' series nearly as much as girls' series.  In the last 1 1/2 years, I have read many boys' series for the first time and found that I liked them far more than I expected.  My opinion has shifted to where I now realize that I do like boys' series, at least ones like Rick Brant and the Three Investigators.  I still have the lingering opinion that I don't care much for the type that is like the Hardy Boys.  I suspect that my opinion will improve when I read the Hardy Boys this time since I have read so many boys' series.  I expect still not to like the scenes in which the boys horse around.  Let's get started and see what happens.

In the original text of Hardy Boys #1, The Tower Treasure, Frank and Joe Hardy want to be detectives like their father, Fenton Hardy, more than anything.  The boys quickly find two opportunities to prove themselves.  First, Chet Morton's car is stolen.  Next, valuable jewels and securities are stolen from Mr. Applegate.  The father of the Hardys' friend, Perry Robinson, is accused of the theft, so the boys do what they can to find the culprit.

The poking fun at the police is a bit much for me.  I recall that Leslie McFarlane really liked putting that sort of thing in the Hardy Boys books, but it does not appeal to me.  I find it a bit concerning that Bayport's law enforcement is completely incompetent.  

In the beginning of the book, Frank and Joe ride through the countryside on their motorcycles carrying on a normal conversation.  Wouldn't it be hard to talk while speeding along on motorcycles?

The boys deliver papers for their father just like Nancy Drew does in the first volume of her series.  Nancy Drew, of course, was published three years after this series began.

The scene where Chet has fun with the hay wagon driver does not appeal to me.  This is the type of scene that I recall from the Hardy Boys series that caused me not to like the series as much as girls' series that I had read.  Since I felt this way about the Hardy Boys, I concluded that I did not like boys' series.  I did not realize that series like Rick Brant and Ken Holt do not have scenes like this.

The scene in which the boys questioned the farmers who simply wouldn't answer their questions was annoying to me as well.

However, I did greatly enjoy the "bomb under the fruit stand" scene, although the boys sure risked getting themselves into a lot of trouble.

I am generally not interested in reading the revised text versions of the stories, and I own very few of them.  I did skim the revised text of this book, because I wanted to see whether anything I didn't like was removed from the revised text.  In the revised text, the boys quickly conclude that the wrecked car is the one that nearly ran them off the road.  It takes the boys forever to draw that conclusion in the original text, so the revised text is better in that aspect.

The hay wagon scene was removed from the revised text, which in my opinion is a plus.  The scene in which the boys question the farmers was not removed.

The stereotypes were toned down in the revised text.

The boys take a more active role in the detecting in the revised text.  In the original text, Fenton Hardy does much of the investigating himself, which is just plain bizarre.  It works in that the original text is the very first book in the series but is strange since this is the Hardy Boys series.

While I overall enjoyed the first book, it is weak and will likely be one of my least favorites.  I recall not liking it very much when I read it 20 years ago. I think I would have liked the overall story better if I had read the revised text, since it corrected some of the problems that annoyed me.  Even though I might have liked the revised text better, the original text is written better and is much more descriptive.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Nancy Drew Clue in the Diary First and Rick Brant Lot Comments

Back in 2014, some first printing Nancy Drew books sold on eBay, detailed in this post.  One of the books was the first printing of The Clue in the Diary with dust jacket.  The purchaser paid $997.56 for the book and put it back up for sale at $3,999.99.  I stated in my blog post, "I'm not sure that I have ever seen the first printing of The Clue in the Diary sell for above $2,500, so I am skeptical as to whether the seller can get that much."

I kept track of the seller's attempts to sell the book, since I did not think the book could be sold for more than $2,500.  It took over a year, but the seller was finally about to sell the book at $1,499.99.  I'm glad that the seller did not take a loss on the book, but with eBay and PayPal fees, it was a very close call.

Back in early February, I bought the complete set of Rick Brant books in the Grosset and Dunlap picture cover edition.  I wrote the following on Facebook on February 7, the day I received the books.
I was the person who won the auction for the expensive complete set of Rick Brant books on eBay nearly one week ago.  I enjoyed the Rick Brant books enough that I would very much like to have copies of the final books.  Now I have #1-23 in the original Grosset and Dunlap edition.  I don't have #24.  I hope to sell all the extras for enough to take my cost for #22 and #23 down to what I consider a reasonable level (albeit not cheap, obviously).

This was a risky transaction, and I am relieved to have the books on hand.  The seller has some negatives, and that was a concern.  I cringed when I saw the box today.  Notice that you can actually see the books through the tape across the middle of the box.  The books were not wrapped, so that tape could have ended up against the books if the package had been damaged.  I also cringed when I opened the box.  Looking at the picture of the box after I opened it, the book at the top left is #23 and the book at the far right is #22.  The books were in there a bit tight. The books are all fine. **Big sigh of relief.**
This is the photo I took of the outside of the box where the books can be seen in the gap between the flaps.

That worried me.  The next photo is what I saw when I opened up the box.  #23 is at the top left and #22 at the far right.  Those are the two valuable books, and of course, they were placed in positions that put them in greater danger of being damaged.  Somehow it always happens that way.

Here are the books after they were removed from the package.  All books arrived undamaged.

I paid $835.05 for this set of books, and that is quite a bit more than I wanted to pay.  I raised my bid amount near the end after I decided that I would be foolish not to go for it.  The goal was to get Danger Below! and The Deadly Dutchman at less than what I would expect to pay by purchasing each individually.  I planned to sell all the extras.  After the extras were sold, then my remaining cost would be what those two books ultimately cost me.

At around the time I bought this set, the original edition of The Deadly Dutchman sold for $305.00.  A reprint of Danger Below! sold for $200.00.  The original edition of Danger Below! is worth more than the reprint.  More recently, two near complete sets of Rick Brant books sold for far less than what I paid for my set, but each set contained just one of the two scarce books.

Of course, if I had bid on either of those two lots, they would have closed at higher prices, possibly much higher.  One can never know for sure what would have happened.  But then, I wouldn't have ended up with both scarce books.

So, how did I do on my lot?  I have now sold all of the extras except for one.  #22 and #23 ended up costing me a total of $369.00, or $184.50 each.  My goal was to pay less than $250.00 per book and hopefully less than $200.00 per book.  I succeeded.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Bret King #7 Comanche Caves, #8 Wolf Creek, and #9 Bandit Gulch

In Bret King #7, The Mystery of the Comanche Caves, Bret and his friends travel to Texas to help Andy's uncle track down some smugglers.

On page 48, Bret and the Rimrockers come across a young boy who is running away from home with his father in hot pursuit.  On page 51, just moments after meeting the Rimrockers, the boy's father agrees to let his son leave for two weeks and travel with the Rimrockers.  This is not logical.

Vic masters judo in one page.  This is also not logical.

Bret is given an amulet by a Chinese tourist.  Later, the amulet is seen by a Chinese man, who provides Bret with a clue because of the amulet.  How convenient.

I skimmed a lot of the text towards the end of the book.

The book is decent but nothing special.

In Bret King #8, The Phantom of Wolf Creek, Bret and the Rimrockers travel to Colorado to help the Conrads figure out who is pitting them against a neighboring rancher.

Church is mentioned on page eight, which, as I previously mentioned, is something that I tend to notice and find interesting. 

I feel like all the boys do in this book is follow tracks here and there, pretty much just like the last book.  In fact, at one point, I recalled an event from the last book and thought that it was in this book.  Later, I realized that I had confused the two stories, which shows how similar they are.

I enjoyed this book, although parts were not that interesting.

In Bret King #9, The Mystery of Bandit Gulch, Tovar is holding a festival that includes reenacting a train's journey into town.  The train's journey is put into jeopardy when the owner of a parcel of land refuses to let the train use the tracks across the property.  Soon, it becomes apparent that someone is after a treasure.

I greatly enjoyed this story.

I wonder if I am the only person who has ever been able to successfully completely ignore Benny's annoying expression, "well, gee my wheeze."  After the early books, the expression did not annoy me in the slightest.  In fact, I almost liked it at times, oddly enough, and in some of the later books, the expression does not appear often.  I found that I kind of missed seeing the expression in those books.

I overall greatly enjoyed this series.  I was bored at some points and had to skim some parts, but overall, the books are very good.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Phyllis Whitney Vanishing Scarecrow and Scowling Boy

In The Vanishing Scarecrow, Joan and her mother go to live on Rainbow Island, where Uncle Agate built an amusement park.  If Joan's mother can manage the park for three years, they will inherit the island.

Something is lacking in this book.  The story idea is interesting, and the setting should have been interesting.  The book didn't grab me, and finally, I began skimming it.  Considering how the story works out, I wish I had found the story more interesting.  It could have been outstanding and had great potential, but everything about it is flat and boring.

The book even has a plot twist, but I cared so little that even the plot twist didn't affect me at all.

In Mystery of the Scowling Boy, Jan and her brother spend the Christmas holiday in Pennsylvania with their grandparents in the mountains near the ski resorts.  Jan soon learns that Alanna Steven, her favorite actress, is staying in a house just below them on the mountain.  Jan's dream is to become an actress, so she yearns to become acquainted with Alana.

Jan soon learns that some mystery surrounds Alana and her son.  Their house is gloomy, and the others staying with them are unfriendly and suspicious of Jan and her brother.

I didn't like how Jo refused to defend herself while facing accusations.  My biggest problem in books is when characters hide things from each other.  I lost patience with Jo when she refused to tell what really happened.  Sure, they wouldn't have believed her, but she didn't even try.

Once the adults knew the truth, I began to greatly enjoy the story.  The last part of the book is excellent.

The last two Phyllis Whitney books that I read were Secret of Haunted Mesa and Secret of the Stone Face.  I did not write reviews of those books when I read them due to lack of motivation, which as I have explained before sometimes happens to me.  Since I am placing this post into the queue to be published around two months after I read the books, I am not interested in writing up reviews.  I recall that I did overall greatly enjoy both books. 

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Bret King #5 Blizzard Mesa and #6 Fort Pioneer

In Bret King #5, The Mystery at Blizzard Mesa, New Mexico is having an unusually hard winter.  The Navajo are snowed in, and Bret volunteers to help with the airlift of hay and supplies to the Navajo reservation.  Meanwhile, Ace's uncle has been framed for the theft of valuable jewelry, and the boys seek clues to exonerate him.

On page 74, Bret tells a Navajo, "I don't think anything is crazy that good people sincerely believe in."  I like that quote, and it's too bad that most people don't have that kind of respect for what others believe.

This book has a lot of sabotage, which has become typical of the Bret King books.  However, the sabotage is written well and is consistently quite interesting.

This is an excellent book.  I greatly enjoyed it.

In Bret King #6, The Secret of Fort Pioneer, a movie is being filmed at Fort Pioneer and in the vicinity.  The set is being sabotaged, and one of the actors openly threatens Bret and his friends.

This book is a sabotage book that reminds me rather strongly of the modern Nancy Drew books.  It is quite similar to Nancy Drew Diaries #10, A Script for Danger.  That's not a compliment.  However, while weak, the book is much better than the Nancy Drew Diaries book.

The scenes transition way too fast from one to the next throughout this story.  In fact, the book reads like a Nancy Drew revised text book that was poorly revised.  Sadly, this choppy text is the original and only text.

A lot of the events in this book are a bit stupid.

One of the villains is so extremely obvious, since he openly threatens Bret and his friends over and over again throughout the book.  Of course, he works in the movie, just like the villain in another book I could mention.

I noted that church is mentioned in this book on page 80 and 150.  Church had not been previously mentioned in the Bret King series.  I tend to notice this since mentioning church became a staple of Grosset and Dunlap books in the middle part of the 1960s, and it's interesting that church was not mentioned in this series until the sixth title.

This book is okay but not that great.  I had to skim parts of it.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Phyllis Whitney Crimson Ghost and Missing Footprint

In The Mystery of the Crimson Ghost, Janey wants a horse of her own more than anything.  Her parents cannot afford to buy her a horse, and her father gets annoyed each time Janey talks about her desire.  Janey's family is spending the summer on a lake in New Jersey, and Mrs. Burley, who lives across the lake, owns a beautiful horse.  Janey hopes to get a chance to ride the horse, but Janey's aunt was responsible for injuring the horse.

I wasn't very interested in the book at the very beginning, but gradually, I became thoroughly engaged.

The part about Aunt Viv injuring the horse bothered me.  It seemed that Aunt Viv felt that Mrs. Burley should have already gotten over it, since Viv paid the vet bills and did everything she could.  I was thinking about how I would feel if I had a horse that I considered valuable, if a neighbor had ridden the horse without my permission, and if that neighbor had caused the horse to be injured where it would never completely recover.  I'd still be upset even after the vet bills had been paid.

Aside from my discomfiture about Aunt Viv's attitude about the horse, I greatly enjoyed this story.

In Secret of the Missing Footprint, Marcie's parents have decided to travel in Europe—without Marcie!  Marcie is forced to stay with Uncle Evan and his wife, and she feels that they don't want her.  Marcie is full of resentment, and soon, she is drawn to Timothy, a resentful boy who lives next door.

Marcie is mesmerized by Timothy.  Both of them have been abandoned by their parents, so she can relate to him.  He is troubled, and Marcie allows herself to get pulled into Timothy's scheme, which is to hurt their families.  Too late, Marcie realizes that Timothy's scheme is wrong, and she suffers the consequences.

This is an excellent book.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Bret King #3 Range Rodeo and #4 Rawhide Gap

In Bret King #3, The Range Rodeo Mystery, the Tovar Range Rodeo is to be revived.  Both Rimrock Ranch and nearby Carrington Ranch have proposed prime locations for the rodeo.  Soon, the Rimrock crew realizes that Carrington will stop at nothing to win the competition for the rodeo site.

Basically, this story is about sabotage like so many modern Nancy Drew books.  Since I had just read the tenth Nancy Drew Diaries book, this stood out.  In contrast, these older series books that feature sabotage do that type of plot so well, making the story very interesting.  It's how the modern books should do it, but instead, they make it bland and uninteresting.

On page 46, a large group of visitors go back to the ranch for cake and refreshments.  I've often wondered how the mothers in these series deal with all these unexpected visitors arriving to consume large amounts of food.  It's not like they know ahead of time that all these people will arrive, yet somehow, they always have cakes and other desserts available.

The rodeo occurs in most of two chapters.  I skimmed a lot of those chapters, since I wasn't interested in the detailed descriptions of each event.

Benny's songs annoy me.  In fact, the songs annoy me while Benny's pet expression "gee my wheeze" no longer does.  I am now able to ignore "gee my wheeze" like it's regular conversation.

Jinx is a strong character in these books.  She is sixteen and makes decisions on her own, decisions that drive parts of the plot forward.  I like seeing a strong girl in a boys' series.  In fact, for both boys' and girls' series, I prefer seeing a mixture of both genders helping to drive the plot forward.

I greatly enjoyed this book.

In Bret King #4, The Mystery of Rawhide Gap, the boys plan to stay in the old ghost town of Rawhide Gap to help Jack Dullion look for proof that his great-great-great uncle did not commit a stagecoach robbery.  While in the ghost town, the boys become aware of a plot against a nearby government site and suspect that some of the tourists might be connected to the plot.

I smiled when sabotage was mentioned on page 10.  In these old books, the story is so creative that the sabotage is usually very interesting.

I love the strong girls in this series.  On page 121, the girls' tent has collapsed, and they try to set it back up without asking the boys to help them.

"Gee my wheeze" now reads like any other text to me.  It's like when George uses "hypers" in the Nancy Drew books.  I now do not find "gee my wheeze" to be even slightly annoying. 

This is an excellent book.  I read it quickly and enjoyed every bit of it.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Phyllis Whitney Angry Idol and Goblin Glen

In Mystery of the Angry Idol, Jan Pendleton stays with her grandmother and great-grandmother in Mystic, Connecticut.  Jan finds both Neil, who lives next door, and Patrick, who lives in Jan's grandmother's house, to be very annoying.

Jan becomes acquainted with her great-grandmother, Miss Althea, and learns about Miss Althea's jade collection.  One piece, called "Old Fang-Tooth," is ugly and hated by Miss Althea.  She can't get rid of it since her father gave it to her.  A mystery surrounds Old Fang-Tooth, and Jan decides that she will be the one to solve it.

I found this book kind of annoying.  I enjoyed the overall story, but several characters got on my nerves.  I had to skim parts of the book.

In Secret of Goblin Glen, Trina is spending the summer with friends of her parents in a town in New Hampshire.  Trina's Great-uncle Will Horst robbed a bank many years ago, and the stolen money has never been found.  Trina soon learns that she is unwelcome, so she decides to try to make amends by finding the stolen money.

This is an excellent story.  I found it very interesting from the very beginning, and the book held my attention all the way through.  I did not skim this book.  I read it very quickly, and the faster I read a book, the more I like it.

The book has a plot twist that occurs partway through the story, which makes it all the more interesting.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Bret King #1 Ghost Canyon and #2 Hermit's Peak

Sometime years ago, I owned the first two titles in the Bret King series and tried reading some of the first book.  I was completely turned off by Benny's catch phrase, "Well, gee my wheeze."  This expression is uttered by Benny over and over again and is quite annoying.  The expression is first used on page three and was enough to scare me off.  I sold those two books.  After all, I did not like boys' series at that time.  This summer, I decided that I would try the series again and would purchase and read all nine titles, regardless of what I thought of Benny's pet expression.

In Bret King #1, The Mystery of Ghost Canyon, cattle are being rustled from Rimrock Ranch.  The boys also learn about a string of bank robberies.  Meanwhile, two scientists rent Benny Ortega's home, then proceed to warn everyone away.  Bret and his friends know the men are up to something.  The boys work to find the rustlers as they investigate the strange behavior of the two men.

While Benny's catch phrase was annoying, I simply ignored it as best I could each time it appeared, so I was not bothered much.

I found it a little hard to keep all the boys straight in my head, since they were all introduced very quickly and were present together in many scenes.  This took away slightly from my enjoyment of the story, but it wasn't that big of a problem.

As is typical in series books, the book has two seemingly unconnected mysteries, the rustled cattle and bank robberies.  It comes as no surprise when the mysteries turn out to be intertwined.

This book reminds me a lot of the Nancy Drew books of the 1960s.  In particular, the book contains plot devices that are similar to those books.  For instance, the culprits in this Bret King book use bull ornaments to identify themselves to each other.  As one culprit says on page 179, "That was another of -----'s trick ideas—carrying those fool bulls as a gang identification.  I warned him they would get us in trouble."  Indeed.  I was reminded of the Nancy Drew book, The Scarlet Slipper Mystery, when the villains use a passport number as identification.  These gangs in series books are not that large, so they hardly need to use some stupid means to identify themselves to each other.

While I enjoyed the first half of the book, it is nothing special.  The second half of the book is more interesting, and I was pleased with my reading experience when I finished the book.

In Bret King #2, The Secret of Hermit's Peak, one of Rusty's colts is killed by a mountain lion.  The boys search for the cat up near Hermit's Peak and are warned away by 'Ol Whiskers, the hermit.  'Ol Whiskers has a cache of gold hidden near the peak, and he is determined to protect it at all cost.  Meanwhile, several criminals have begun threatening 'Ol Whiskers to reveal the secret of his gold.

I like that both of Bret's younger siblings, sixteen-year-old Jinx and twelve-year-old Rusty, go along on some of the hunts.  Jinx can drive and does drive the boys around at times, and it's nice for a girl to take on a leadership role in a boy's series.

I feel like these books almost have too many primary characters.  While logical to have a group of seven or more people assisting, it's too much for a reader to appreciate.  It's like when Beverly Gray is accompanied by the Lucky Circle on an excursion.  Too many characters are present in the scene. 

I greatly enjoyed the main part of the story, but I got bored towards the end.  By that point, I felt like the boys kept going up and down the mountain over and over without much happening.  Since I was bored, I skimmed some of the text towards the end of the story.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Phyllis Whitney Hidden Hand and Emerald Star

In Mystery of the Hidden Hand, Gale Tyler stays in Greece with her mother and brother.  A mysterious figure dressed in a black cloak runs through their hotel.  Meanwhile, Gale finds a strange package in a closet, and soon learns that a mystery is connected to a nearby house in which distant relatives live.

This book is a travelogue.  I'm not interested in all the great detail about Greece.  I found most all of the information boring, because there is way too much of it.  "Less is more" is applicable.

I also have an aversion to books set in Greece because of The Greek Symbol Mystery.  I really hate that book.

The tone of this book reminds me of Golden Horn.  Too much is kept from the reader, and it is annoying. 

I was quite dissatisfied and bored with this book until page 111 when Gale learns the truth about the tiles, except at that point secrets about the hand and the significance of it are then kept from the reader.  I was dissatisfied again, but gradually, I gained interest in the story.  I intermittently skimmed the text, as I wasn't interested in all of the descriptions of Greece.

It look me longer that it should have to read this book.  The book did not interest me greatly, and I take longer in finishing books when I don't find them as compelling.

This is an overall good story, but it was somewhat lacking.  After reading this and the previous book, I was not very interested in continuing to read the Phyllis Whitney books.  I wanted to quit.

In Secret of the Emerald Star, Robin Ward and her family have moved to Catalpa Court on Staten Island.  Robin becomes friends with Stella, a blind girl who lives next door.  Stella's grandmother doesn't understand blindness and treats Stella like she is helpless.  Stella's grandmother is also prejudiced against people of Jewish faith.

This story is slow to get started, and I was partially bored.  I was concerned that I was not going to be interested in this book just like with the previous two books.  Finally, on page 53, discussions about prejudice and labels begin, which are very interesting and insightful.  Whitney mentions how a blind girl shouldn't be labeled as a blind girl and how she is a girl like all other girls.

This is an excellent book.  I greatly enjoyed it.