Saturday, February 28, 2015

Power Boys #3 The Mystery of the Burning Ocean

Mr. Power and the boys are in the Bahamas enjoying a vacation.  Jack and Chip help an injured man on the beach, and a short time later find the guest house owner tied up in her office.  Mrs. Wilson does not want the police told; she is certain that she will lose business if anyone hears about the trouble.  Jack and Chip are intrigued and glad when Mr. Power has to leave on an assignment.

Whew!  Those lucky boys.  They manage to get rid of dad so easily at the start of each book.

So that you won't be kept in suspense, the title of this book is about... nothing.  There is no "burning ocean."  The book is named for a single paragraph in the book that has nothing to do with the plot. 

In Chapter 4, the boys actually have a coherent discussion that lasts for several pages without them yelling at each other or taking great offense over nothing.  Perhaps the boys have taken some medication for their mood disorders.  Maybe there is hope for them.

On page 75, "Chip looked at Jack.  It was plain he didn't again want to say something of which his older brother would disapprove.  He was leaving it up to Jack to answer."  Wow, I'm speechless.  Since when does Chip care what Jack thinks?  This is so normal and so refreshing. 

Throughout most of the book, the fighting between Jack and Chip is greatly toned down.  Either this book has a different author, or the author was told to tone it down.  Towards the end of the book, the boys seem to argue more, but the arguing isn't nearly as annoying or significant as the arguing in the first two books.

I don't know what happened, but this book actually has a decent story and is an improvement over the first two books.  The book could have been written better and does have flaws, but in spite of that, the story is enjoyable.  I will continue to the fourth book. 

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Ken Holt #9 Galloping Horse and #10 Green Flame

In Ken Holt #9, The Mystery of the Galloping Horse, Richard Holt is in grave danger.  In just four days, Holt will testify before a grand jury.  In the meantime, Holt is concerned about his safety as well as Ken and Sandy's.  Holt fears that his enemies will target Ken as the easiest way of preventing him from testifying.  Ken and Sandy join an archaeological dig as a means of staying in hiding.  At the dig, the boys find a mystery.  The sounds of a galloping horse are heard at night, and residents think it is a ghost.  The boys investigate.

The boys have to fight a grass fire that threatens their camp.  They are losing the battle when coincidentally it begins to rain.  I swear that every single time a fire gets out of control in a series book that it promptly begins raining.

The plot of this book is quite contrived.  Ken and Sandy go into hiding from the men who are threatening Mr. Holt.  They find a mystery where someone is messing with their camp.  Here we have two completely events, right?  No!  The same group of men is responsible for the threats and for the problems at the excavation.  How ironic that Ken and Sandy escape from the criminals to the very place where the criminals go.

I greatly enjoyed the first half of the book.  I then felt that the book had begun to drag with it taking forever to get to the point.  I regained interest shortly before the boys were captured, then I lost interest again. 

I am still trying to articulate exactly why I enjoy parts of these books greatly but then have trouble with other parts of the books.  The Ken Holt books do spend large amounts of text with the boys trying to figure something out, making a decision, doing more figuring, and going back and forth like that.  I think that's part of what gets to me.  Also, the plots often seem to plod along slowly in their great detail.

These books are very detailed and feel much more lengthy than other series books.  I compared the text of this book to a Nancy Drew book, and the lines of text are closer together, so each page has more text than other series books.

As with the other Ken Holt books, this is a good book, but much of it doesn't appeal to me.

In Ken Holt #10, The Mystery of the Green Flame, Ken and Sandy travel to Mexico.  Soon after their arrival in Mexico, a man approaches them and uses a lighter with a green flame.  The man then realizes that Ken and Sandy are not the people he is seeking.  This event plunges the boys into their latest mystery as they help to locate the headquarters of a group of criminals.

Finally, I get to one of the books that is set in Mexico.  I like series books set in Mexico, and this book is no exception.

On page 3, Ken suggests that Sandy doesn't know what enchiladas, tacos, and tortillas are.  I always find it interesting how these old series books treat Mexican food as something with which Americans are not that familiar.  That's hardly the case now, since we all know what tacos are. 

Sandy creates a radio transmitter towards the end of this book, and the description of the process strongly reminded me of the science in the Rick Brant books.  In fact, I felt like Ken and Sandy had morphed into Rick and Scotty during that scene.

I greatly enjoyed this book.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Power Boys #2 The Mystery of the Flying Skeleton

Jack, Chip, and their father are heading to Key West so that Mr. Power can photograph the International Conference.  As the group prepares to board a plane, it blows up!  Mr. Power decides that the delegates were being targeted and that Key West is too dangerous for the boys.  He rents the boys a motel room and has them stay behind.  Quickly, the boys find a mystery.

Since Indians were featured so prominently in the first book, I expected one to jump out of the hangar on page one of this book.  Alas, no Indians appeared.

Both this book and the previous one get rid of dear old dad by having him go somewhere on business so that the boys can sleuth on their own.  At least the boys sort of sleuth; they fight more than anything else.  On pages 34 and 35, the boys overhear the suspected villains in the adjacent motel room and then hear them leave the room.  Any other pair of series sleuths would have managed to pursue the villains or at minimum have had a coherent discussion about what had transpired.  But these geniuses?
The boys remained motionless for a long moment.  Chip was the first to snap into action.  He switched on an overhead light.  Jack lunged for the switch and switched off the light.

"Are you crazy?" Jack demanded.  "You want them to know that we think they are—"

"I want to get my clothes on," his brother snapped.  "Let go!  We're wasting time.  We'll lose their trail.  Let go—"

They wrestled in the darkness—Jack holding on, Chip trying to break free.  Blaze halted the wrestling match by barking.  Both Jack and Chip turned to quiet him.

"What a good job you did," Chip snapped at Jack.  "Great!  We had a chance to follow them—"
I have about decided that both boys have a mood disorder, perhaps several of them.  They have some serious problems.  The boys don't even get along well with other people.  They meet a boy named Matt, and pretty soon, Chip is telling him off for something he plans to do, something that should be none of Chip's concern. 

This story is disjointed with seemingly random events.  Of course, every random event is somehow part of the mystery, although the reader is never quite sure exactly what the mystery is.  Somehow the randomness fits together with a rough end result.  I enjoyed this story less than the first book but still enough that I will continue to the third book.  I have read far worse books, and I am interested enough in these two screwed-up boys to want to see what happens to them.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Ken Holt #7 Iron Box and #8 Phantom Car

In Ken Holt #7, The Mystery of the Iron Box, Richard Holt has purchased Mom Allen an iron box for Christmas.  Someone broke into Mr. Holt's apartment and later into the Allen home.  Ken is certain that someone wants the iron box, and as a result, he is the subject of much ridicule from the Allen family.  Ken doggedly pursues a series of clues, determined to discover who wants the iron box, and why.

On page 77, a statement is made about it being odd to wear dark glasses in the winter.  I have never thought it odd, since the sun is still bright in the winter.  Some people might consider it strange to wear dark glasses on a cloudy day, but I wouldn't think anything of it, since some people's eyes are very sensitive to light.

Ken and Sandy spend 46 pages trying to get free from being captured.  It then takes them an additional 20 pages to be rescued.  I ended up skimming a lot of it, since I have read the book before.  I found that I did not care this time.  The scenes in Ken Holt books where Ken and Sandy are captives and their escapes are described in painstaking detail are my least favorite parts of the books.

While I overall enjoyed this book, the last half of the book was not that interesting to me.

In Ken Holt #8, The Clue of the Phantom Car, Ralph Conner runs off the road on a rural hill, and as a result, he and his brother, Mort, are forced to sell their company since their insurance company has dropped them.  Ralph and Mort have had too many accidents in the last six months, which is unusual for them.  Ken suspects that someone has sabotaged the Conners in order to force them to sell their business.  Unfortunately, Ken is unable to find any evidence, but he and Sandy refuse to let the matter die.

I greatly enjoyed this story.  It's interesting how some books don't appeal to me while others do.  The book takes place entirely in and near Brentwood, and that is part of the appeal.  I found this book to be thoroughly engaging from start to finish. 

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Power Boys #1 The Mystery of the Haunted Skyscraper

In the Power Boys #1, The Haunted Skyscraper, Mr. Power and his two teenage sons, Jack and Chip, arrive at their sublet apartment.  As soon as they arrive, a boy asks for their help with a mystery, thinking that Mr. Power is the private detective who owns the apartment.  Once the boy leaves, Mrs. Marsh arrives, wanting help with the poltergeists in her apartment.  Mr. Power has to travel to California to photograph a fire, leaving the boys alone in the apartment.  They decide to work on both mysteries.

This book is full of great lines.  On pages 27 and 28, the boys are threatened by a man whose face looks like a "grotesque mask."  Chip decides that the man must be the poltergeist.  Jack asks him why he would be involved in something like that, and Chip replies, "With a face like his, does he need a motive?" 

On page 32, Jack wants to be cautious before the boys get themselves in trouble.  Chip parries with "Why wait?  A mess is a mess no matter when you get into it."

We are told on page 38 that teenagers who have problems with aggression can often act out their aggression in the form of poltergeist activity.  This is presented as fact.  Somehow, I don't think that kind of statement would have made it into a Grosset and Dunlap book.

The cover art of this book makes the boys seem very young.  Jack is 17, and I'm guessing that Chip isn't much younger.  The cover shows two boys who look to be middle school age or younger.  The cover shows the red-haired boy as smaller, yet Jack has red hair and is the one who is older and taller.  The cover art does depict the boys accurately by how mature they act in the stories.  The boys come across as bratty and immature.

The boys quarrel constantly.  It's really a bit odd and unnecessary.  Here's an example from page 163.
"We still don't know," Chip said, "how we're going to get by that watchman."

"He can't be everyplace at once," Jack said irritably.  "I thought I told you that."

"He seemed like a lively character, that's all I know."
They talk like that to each other during the entire book, almost never getting along.

On page 67, the boys are amazed to see Indians on the construction job.  Oh, wow.  Seeing an Indian must be even more bizarre than seeing a horde of Centrovians in River Heights.  Boys, there are Indians in North America.  Get a grip.  They won't hurt you.

Later, Chip again expresses amazement about the Indians, and Jack informs him that Indians are suited for construction work.  The Indians get mentioned yet again, and this time we learn that the Indians are the only ones who will work at the top of the skyscraper because they are not afraid of heights.  While true that Indians traditionally worked on skyscrapers, the part about them not being afraid is a myth.

This is a quick and easy book to read, simplistic and nothing special.  I wish that the story had greater detail.  Near the end of the book, the boys were on the top of the skyscraper after dark in a thunderstorm.  It was not until after I finished the book that I realized how truly scary that situation could have been.  It was a little scary, but the author wrote the scene in a non-descriptive straightforward fashion that expressed little feeling.  Even though the book could have been written better, I found it interesting and enjoyed it enough to continue to the second book in the series.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Ken Holt #5 Coiled Cobra and #6 Hangman's Inn

In Ken Holt #5, The Clue of the Coiled Cobra, Ken and Sandy give a ride to a man who appears to be down on his luck.  Later, the boys learn that the man is a convicted bank robber and that an insurance company is searching for the missing money.

On page 57, the boys plan to search for a thirteen-year-old Hudson automobile.  Ken remarks, "After all, how many cars like that do you think there could be in one town?"  Sandy replies, "With our luck, we'll probably discover that Brentwood is currently playing host to an international convention of thirteen-year-old-Hudson owners."  This is a shrewd observation about how series books usually play out.  This book also has a character named Fenton, which could be a nod to Fenton Hardy of the Hardy Boys books.

I recall that this book was not a great favorite over four years ago, and I enjoyed it less this time.  Once again, it's hard for me to pinpoint exactly what it is that I don't like.  I think it has to do with the great detail in the story and the large amount of time spent making deductions.  It's great detective work, but it doesn't do much for me.  I don't care for this story.

In Ken Holt #6, The Secret of Hangman's Inn, Ken and Sandy search for Joe, who does cleaning work at the newspaper.  Joe didn't clean the office the night before, so Ken and the Allens think Joe is in trouble.  They tell the police chief, who doesn't take them seriously.  Since he refuses to investigate, the boys must uncover the clues on their own.

On page 77, Sandy comments that the boys are "so conspicuous in that red car."  I'm glad Sandy finally has realized this.  How can the villains not notice the boys following them?

I enjoyed this book better than The Clue of the Coiled Cobra, but some parts of it dragged for me, particularly towards the later part of the story.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Brains Benton Books by Charles Morgan, III

A number of new Brains Benton stories have been written by Charles Morgan, III.  The books are available for purchase from  I decided to purchase five books that are available in hardcover with dust jacket.  These books have nice cover art.  The illustrations kind of remind me of the older Boxcar Children picture cover books.

The first of Morgan's books, The Case of the Carrier Pigeon, was partially written when Morgan was young and was finished many years later.  The sixth Brains Benton book, The Case of the Painted Dragon, concludes as Brains and Jimmy find a carrier pigeon that has been shot.  The Case of the Carrier Pigeon continues the story of the wounded pigeon, and the pigeon leads Brains and Jimmy to attempt a rescue of a young man who is being held captive by a dangerous gang.

This is a very good book.

In The Case of the Lost Loot, the Bentons and Carsons have forbidden Brains and Jimmy from spending time together in the Bentons' garage after what happened to the boys in their previous case.  Brains finds another place for the boys to meet, and this inadvertently involves them in another mystery.  The book has a plot and a subplot.  I was not surprised one bit when the two plots ended up joining near the end.

The Case of the Lost Loot is outstanding.  It has everything a series book enthusiast could want in a book.  The boys go scuba diving and exploring in two different caves.  They have adventures during thunderstorms.  The story is delightful and engaging. 

In The Case of the Stolen Jewelry, Brains and Jimmy are plunged into another mystery when Jimmy finds stolen jewelry stashed in a bottle.  The boys tangle with a dangerous gang as they search for the ones responsible for stealing the jewelry.

This book also has lots of great adventure.  The boys are confronted by gang members at the bottom of an old quarry and face a desperate situation as they try to escape.  They stake out the headquarters of the gang by watching from the nearby woods.  Stinky and Stony, two boys from the original series, try to form their own detective agency in this book.  I love how characters from the original books are woven into these books.

This book introduces a great character, Nick the beatnik.  Nick is a "cool cat" who is always asking "what's buzzin, cuzzin." I love Nick.  He is the type of character that adds so much to a series book.

The Case of the Stolen Jewelry is also outstanding.

In The Case of the Final Message, Brains and Jimmy follow a series of clues left by a friend's deceased father.  The clues lead the boys to Washington, D.C., where they witness the inauguration of President Kennedy.

On page 91, I love the reference to mimeograph paper.  Jimmy loves to smell the fresh copies and so did I in elementary school.  Ah, there was nothing like the smell of mimeographed copies!

The mystery in this book takes on a greater significance since the boys are tracking down a father's final message to his family.

This book is outstanding.

In The Case of the Disappearing Magician, a magician has been accused of a bank heist.  It's interesting that this is the third story about a magician accused of theft that I have read in the past month.  I also found it interesting that the bank heist was planned to coincide with the July 4 fireworks so that nobody would hear the dynamite.  This reminded me of one of the Ken Holt books, but not the title with the magician.

Nick the beatnik returns in this book, and as before, he is hilarious.

This book is excellent.

These are amazingly good books and are as good as the original six Brains Benton books.  The books do have some typos in them, which is typical of self-published works.  It's hard enough to get the typos out of a single blog post, so getting all of the errors out of an entire book would be most difficult.  Any typos are of no concern.  I'll take an outstanding self-published book with a few typos any day over what is coming out of a certain publishing company with respect to its major series book properties.

These are extremely good books.  I think that they may even be better than some of the original six Brains Benton books.  They are that good.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Ken Holt #3 Black Thumb Mystery and #4 Marked Claw

In Ken Holt #3, The Black Thumb Mystery, Frank Brown has just been convicted of assisting in a bank robbery.  Mr. Brown is a good friend of the Allen family, and unfortunately, a key piece of evidence was supplied by Ken and Sandy when they testified about something one of the crooks told Mr. Brown.  Sandy feels horrible, so Ken and Sandy try to find a way to clear Mr. Brown.

As when I read this book four years ago, I had some trouble getting into it.  We aren't given a reason to care about Mr. Brown and his plight.  Sure, we know that he is a friend of the Allens, but Ken reflects to himself about how he doesn't feel as bad as they do, since he hasn't lived in Brentwood for long.  That's how I felt since I didn't know anything about Mr. Brown.  The bank robbery occurred before the opening of the book, and the guilty verdict came in at the beginning of the book.  I always have more trouble with books when important parts of the plot occur before the beginning of the book.

Once I got several chapters into the book, I was fine.  The mystery plays out in a similar fashion to The Riddle of the Stone Elephant and is enjoyable.

When I read these books, I always wonder about how Ken and Sandy can drive a red convertible and successfully trail other vehicles without being noticed.  At one point in this book, Ken and Sandy stay back 100 feet from the other vehicle so that they won't be noticed.  The road is rural.

The psychological game that Ken and Sandy play with Horn towards the end of the book is fascinating.

Once I got into the story, the book was great all the way through until the end.  The end did not drag, and all of it was engaging.

In Ken Holt #4, The Clue of the Marked Claw, Ken and Sandy visit Ted Bateson, one of Ken's friends from his old school.  Soon after their arrival, the boys learn that someone is robbing  the Batesons' lobster traps.  The Batesons are quite certain that they know who the culprit is, but without proof, they can do nothing.  Ken and Sandy decide to spend their vacation time working on the case.

I found that I enjoyed most of this book more than I did the first time I read it.  I began to remember some details soon into the book and was certain that I remembered the identity of one of the culprits.  That piqued my interest.  Unfortunately, I did grow tired of the story towards the end and skimmed parts of the last three to four chapters.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Nancy Drew Diaries #8 The Magician's Secret

In Nancy Drew Diaries #8, The Magician's Secret, Carson Drew's client, John Smallwood, has been accused of stealing $3.5 million in jewels from a River Heights jewelry store.  A locked box was found in Smallwood's hotel room, and the authorities believe that it might contain the jewels.  The box is being held as evidence at the courthouse.  Meanwhile, magician Drake Lonestar performs an illusion that makes the courthouse disappear during a magic act.  Sometime during the performance, the locked box is stolen.  Lonestar is accused of taking it.

The basic plot premise immediately reminded me of Ken Holt #12, The Mystery of the Vanishing Magician, since I recently read it.  In the Ken Holt book, a magician has been charged with the theft of jewels from a jewelry store.  The similarity ends there. 

On page 109, we learn that Nancy forgot to charge her phone, so she has to dim the screen and adjust other settings.  This has absolutely nothing to do with the story, so I assume that the publisher still wants Nancy to be a little forgetful.

On page 122, the locked box is opened.  Nancy is disappointed about the contents.  Bess reminds her, "There's always a false bottom.  Don't you pay attention to your own mysteries, Nancy?"  Okay, that was a fun line.

A female character is named Gritty.  Really?

I'm going to mention something that could be a little bit of a spoiler about a minor part of the plot.  It does not reveal anything about the solution to the mystery.  The misguided person who came up the story probably thought it was important, but in my opinion, it has no impact on the story.  Skip the next paragraph if you think you might care.

Lonestar, who is extremely famous, has two young women who are his assistants.  They are Lonestar's nieces, except Bess and George make the huge discovery that they are really his daughters.  Bess and George verified this information via the internet, yet this is supposedly a big secret.  How can it be a secret if it is on the internet?  Lonestar says that the deception was made to throw off the paparazzi.  Um, if the truth about the daughters of a famous person is on the internet, I don't think anyone is being fooled.  This is illogical.

This book reminds me a bit much of the Girl Detective books, kind of like how #1 and #2 in the Diaries series are too much like Girl Detective.  This book is not as much like Girl Detective as those two books are, but it seems off as compared to #3 through #7.  Simon and Schuster missed the mark with this one.

As I read the book, I couldn't help thinking of what kind of mess this would have been as a Girl Detective trilogy.  Oh, the horror!

This is not one of the better Nancy Drew Diaries books.  I am unsure whether I like it more or less than #1 and #2, but I definitely like it less than #3 through #7.  Wait, I believe I do like it less than #1 and #2.  It's not very interesting.

At the end of the book is a preview of the next book, The Clue at Black Creek Farm.  The preview consists of a lengthy discussion about what organic vegetables are and why they are desirable.  I understand that series books have been expected to educate young people ever since Grosset and Dunlap introduced the travelogue in the 1960s, but this is ridiculous.  We are now reading about the benefits of organic vegetables.  What kind of book is this?

The preview ends with an abrupt argument, which is no more interesting than the discussion about organic vegetables.  Is this really what children want to read?  I sure hope Nancy gets to sleuth around in some dark and creepy places on Black Creek Farm.  I fear that she will spend most of the book in the grocery store deciding which organic vegetable is healthier.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Ken Holt #1 Skeleton Island and #2 Stone Elephant

I decided to read the Ken Holt books again.  I never wrote reviews of the books before because I didn't have a lot to say.  I also didn't like the books nearly as much as others do, which made me feel bad.  I had planned to put up a website section for the series and did just barely start on one around 4 1/2 years ago.  I think I enjoyed the books, but I think I felt disappointed or was not overly enthusiastic.  Or maybe it was the beginning of my motivational issues causing me to lose interest in building sections for the website.  Whatever happened, I only barely started a Ken Holt section and have had no desire to complete it.  The unfinished Ken Holt section is where I broke off on creating sections for my website, and I never added anything to the site until I added the Three Investigators section last summer. 

I am curious to see how I respond to the Ken Holt books as compared to Rick Brant.  As I read Rick Brant, I thought that I liked Rick Brant more than Ken Holt.  I expect that opinion to hold true.  Let's see what happens as I begin this journey.

In Ken Holt #1, The Secret of Skeleton Island, Ken leaves school to catch a train so that he can meet his father, Richard Holt, who is a famous reporter.  Two men use a ruse to get Ken to travel with them in their car, and Ken is taken hostage!  When Ken escapes, he seeks refuge in the office of the Brentwood Advance.  This twist of fate brings Ken the friendship of Sandy Allen and his family.

In this book, Ken and Sandy trail the crooks, but during that time, they get captured.  Several other times they nearly get captured or have skirmishes with the crooks, and for 100 pages of the book, Ken and Sandy play this constant game of cat-and-mouse with the villains.  It's very suspenseful and well written, but it's too much for me.  More specifically, it's the very great detail that is given during every single scene that gets to me.  That's my problem with this book, and I can't describe it much better than that.  Since I had read this book before, I skimmed some parts of the text on this reading.

I found that once the boys finally get inside the hotel that I became more interested again.  The long stretch of 100 pages when the boys trail the crooks from  New York City to Skeleton Island is the part that was trying for me.

In Ken Holt #2, The Riddle of the Stone Elephant, Ken and Sandy travel to Colorado to do preliminary work on a story that Richard Holt will cover.  The boys research an old land dispute, and they quickly realize that someone doesn't want them to complete their research.  Exactly what information is someone trying to keep hidden?

This book is much more to my liking.  The investigation flows quite well and is very interesting.

I did find the story just a tad bit convoluted.  I got confused a few times about all of the characters and had to pause to think about who was who.

Just like when I read this book over four years ago, I had trouble visualizing the placement of the rocks that form the needle and the elephant.  The cover art didn't help me, either.  The problem is that the cover art doesn't show all the details.

Speaking of the cover art, the man along the right edge is wearing a hat, but the color of the hat is almost identical to the rock, so he doesn't appear to be wearing a hat.

While this book flows quite well and is quite enjoyable, I grew tired of it towards the end.  The last few chapters drag out a bit, and I grew impatient for the book to end.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Brains Benton #5 Waltzing Mouse and #6 Painted Dragon

In Brains Benton #5, The Case of the Waltzing Mouse, Brains and Jimmy travel to the lake for a two-week vacation.  Before their departure, the boys make the acquaintance of a professor who owns a menagerie of animals.  He ends up at the lake as well, and soon the boys learn that someone is after the professor's money!  The boys do their best to help the professor.

Like with volume 4, I found Brains unnecessarily condescending towards Jimmy in this book.  He makes snide remarks about how unobservant or unintelligent Jimmy is.  Brains has always had an air of superiority, but it was either near the level of what we see in Jupiter Jones or just slightly more than Jupiter's for the first three books.  In both volumes 4 and 5, Brains is insufferable.

In Brains Benton #6, The Case of the Painted Dragon, Brains and Jimmy become friends with a Japanese boy named Mikko who begins attending their school.  Several men follow Mikko around town, and the boys become concerned.  They learn that these men are after a valuable pearl necklace that Mikko's Japanese relatives badly need.  Brains and Jimmy follow slim clues in hopes of finding the necklace.

This book is the same size as the other books and has about the same number of pages.  However, the text is noticeably smaller, which makes the story a good bit longer than the other books.

Jimmy makes so many mistakes in this book.  Towards the end of the story, Jimmy thoughtlessly blabs everything about the case to a man who is one of the criminals.  Jimmy, Jimmy... what are we to do with you?  Jimmy has five cases under his belt, and he acts this stupid?  Jimmy has been depicted as a bit flighty throughout all of the series, but this went too far, in my opinion.  If this were the first book, I could have seen it.  In the sixth story, I found it hard to believe.  I also found it very hard to believe that Brains didn't become furious and unforgiving of Jimmy's stupidity.  He forgave Jimmy way too quickly, when for lesser offenses, he was brutal to Jimmy.

I enjoyed both of these books.

The Three Investigators series features three detectives:  Jupiter Jones, Pete Crenshaw, and Bob Andrews.  The Brains Benton series features two detectives:  Brains Benton and Jimmy Carson.  When Robert Arthur created the Three Investigators, he turned Brains Benton into Jupiter Jones and Jimmy Carson into Pete Crenshaw.  Arthur then created a third investigator, Bob Andrews, who was modeled after Robert Arthur himself.  So the Three Investigators were basically updated versions of Brains Benton and Jimmy Carson with Robert Arthur written into the story as the third detective.  It makes perfect sense.

Jupiter Jones is a softer version of Brains Benton.  Jupiter is arrogant, but Brains Benton is arrogant to a fault.  Pete Crenshaw is a more competent version of Jimmy Carson.  Both Pete and Jimmy scare easily, but Jimmy scares even more easily.  Pete and Jimmy both make stupid decisions, but Jimmy's mistakes are far worse.  Brains is the person who records the cases in the Brains Benton series, and that role was given to Bob Andrews.

If you enjoy reading the Three Investigators series, make sure you try the Brains Benton books.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Items for Sale + Reading Update

I have two extra issues of Schoolgirls' Weekly that I placed on eBay yesterday.  I used an auction for each, just in case more than one person is interested.  You can find them in this category of my eBay store.

I also listed some new books on eBay yesterday in order to avoid losing out on most of my remaining January free listings.

Jennifer's Series Books on eBay

I haven't listed any new books on Bonanza, but I have most of a set of Rick Brant books available in addition to many other nice books different from what I have listed on eBay.

Jennifer's Series Books on Bonanza

I finished reading one of the Brains Benton books by Charles Morgan last night.  The book was The Case of the Lost Loot.  As with most self-published books, it does have some errors in the text, but the story is so excellent that I didn't mind at all.  There are probably a few mistakes per chapter.  There are not a huge number of mistakes, but they always stand out when I read books.  The book is outstanding and is a worthy addition to the Brains Benton series.

When I finished the book, I reflected that I had just read a story that is better than anything Simon and Schuster has published for Nancy Drew ever since they took over the publication of Nancy Drew.  Yes, I'm saying that this Brains Benton book is better than all of the Nancy Drew Digest, Girl Detective, and Diaries books.  It's also better than some of the original 56 books as well.

The reason I compared the book to Nancy Drew is because I read the eighth Nancy Drew Diaries book, The Magician's Secret, a few days ago.  It's sad how far Nancy Drew has fallen.  The new Nancy Drew books lack that spark that makes a book special.  The Case of the Lost Loot has that spark.  There were several scenes during The Case of the Lost Loot when I was utterly delighted by a passage.

Many of the best books available today are being published by independent authors.  The publishing companies have their own agendas, and people who are able to write creatively and not have to answer to an editor are able to create wonderful books. 

The Brains Benton books by Charles Morgan are available on

I read 21 books in January, so I'm on track to read almost as many books as I did last year.  I am going to read three more books by Charles Morgan this week.  After that, I will choose from the books seen in the following photo.

Most of the books were purchased with the intent to try them to see whether I should pursue additional books by those authors.  The last three on the right were purchased because they are by the authors of Rick Brant and Ken Holt, and I definitely plan to read them.

I also want to read the fourth book in Neal Shusterman's Unwind Dystology, but I'm not sure whether I will do that this month or wait awhile.

Cherry Ames and Biff Brewster are still on my list of series that I want to read soon.  I also want to read the Hardy Boys books again, but I don't think I will choose those in the next few months.

I know that some of you want me to review certain series or books, and I'm sure some of you want me to get back to girls' series.  I have been asked several times in the last year if I will review the Nancy Drew Files.  That's way too big of a commitment right now, and I don't have the motivation for it.  I have read them before, and I found the set difficult to get through because of too much repetition.  I'm going to have to be finished with absolutely all other books I want to read in the near future before I read those again.  I'd like to review them someday, but I don't have the stamina for them at this time.

I have to want to read a book.  If I'm not in the mood, it's not going to happen.  I'm not sure how many of the books in the above photo that I will try this month, because to be honest, I'm not sure I'm in the mood for some of them.  Hopefully, I will have the motivation to try several of them.