Thursday, March 31, 2016

Hardy Boys Revised Text #10 What Happened at Midnight and #12 Footprints Under the Window

In the revised text of Hardy Boys #10, What Happened at Midnight, Frank and Joe are tasked with keeping a secret invention safe.  The beginning of the story is quite different from the original text, but soon, the plot converges with the original text and parallels it closely through most of the story.

I feel like the revised text is too much like the original text.  Some parts are better, like the aftermath of Joe's abduction.  Other parts bored me.  Just like with the original text, I enjoyed the first half of the story much more than the second half, when I began to skim.

I enjoyed both texts about equally, which is not very much.

In the revised text of Hardy Boys #12, Footprints Under the Window, Frank and Joe seek clues to a plot involving the smuggling of refugees from an island near the coast of South America.

I dreaded beginning this revised text, because the original text version is my least favorite Hardy Boys book of all of the books I have read so far.  I cannot stand it.  

Parts of this book are similar to the original, which is not good at all.  Fortunately, the revised text has no "Chinamen," but it still deals with foreigners from South America.  They aren't swarming into Bayport like the Centrovians of River Heights and the "Chinamen" of the original text, so at least the situation is less absurd.

I enjoyed the book less and less the more I read.  The plot is too convoluted, like with so many of the higher-numbered books.  I commented in another review that the revised text books are better than the higher-numbered books.  That is not the case with this book.  It is about the same as the higher-numbered books.

While I enjoyed the revised text more than I did the original text, that is not saying much.  I do not like either version.  I intend never to read either one ever again. 

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Hardy Boys Revised Text #7 Secret of the Caves and #9 Great Airport Mystery

In the revised text of Hardy Boys #7, The Secret of the Caves, the boys are asked to search for Morgan Todd, who is missing.  Fenton Hardy's case involves preventing sabotage to a Coastal Radar Station.  The boys travel to Honeycomb Caves where their adventures strongly parallel those of the original text.

I like the subplot with the missing relative, Morgan Todd, much better than its counterpart with Toddham Todd from the original text.

The end of the book is interesting with no long question and answer session.  Yay!  I thoroughly enjoyed this book.  I enjoyed it at least as much as the original text, and I'm sure I enjoyed some parts of it more than the original text. 

In the revised text of Hardy Boys #9, The Great Airport Mystery, Frank and Joe are hired by a mining shipment company to investigate stolen shipments containing platinum.  During the investigation, the boys hear the voice of an airline pilot who is supposed to be dead, and they wonder whether he is alive or whether they are hearing his ghost.

On page 140, Chet jokes about starting a "ghost-to-ghost network."  I couldn't help thinking of the "Ghost-to-Ghost Hookup" in the Three Investigators series.  

The original text has a lot of problems, including racist language, the stupid scene where Frank tries to keep his car ahead of a plane trying to land, and the boys' false graduation from high school that was rescinded in the next book.  All of that was removed, which is good.

While I enjoyed the revised text, I think I enjoyed the original text more.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Hardy Boys Revised Text #4 Missing Chums, #5 Hidden Gold, and #6 Shore Road

The revised text of Hardy Boys #4, The Missing Chums, follows the overall story of the original text, but almost all of the book has been rewritten.

Early in the story, the boys go to purchase ice cream for the party.  The ice cream is purchased on page 22 and is placed in the carrier of Joe's motorcycle.  The boys then witness a robbery.  They chase the criminals, find out their boat has been stolen, speak to the police, and do all sorts of stuff.  I kept thinking about the ice cream, which was finally put away on page 37 with no mention of it having melted. 

I greatly enjoyed this story.

The revised text of Hardy Boys #5, Hunting for Hidden Gold, follows the same story as the original but is mostly rewritten.  It is improved, and I liked it better.  The search for the gold is more logical.  Stupid events like the cabin sliding off a cliff and landing intact don't happen in this story.  The outlaws' behavior makes more sense.  The story of Dawson is good and is much better than the original text version.  This story is an improvement.

The revised text of Hardy Boys #6, The Shore Road Mystery, is also similar to the original text but has been greatly changed.  The Dodds are accused of stealing the vehicles just like in the original text, but their role in the story is fleshed out better.

A subplot involving a relative to the Dodds and a search for a treasure is added to the story.  I did not feel that the subplot added anything and found it quite uninteresting.  I would rather that part have been left out.

There is a scene in which Chet is to deliver a cake for Aunt Gertrude.  He has been dieting and is greatly tempted by the cake.  He begins removing the frosting from around the edges.  I found during this part of the story that I was so fixated on the cake and what was happening to it that I ignored the mystery.  The same distraction happened to me in a similar scene with Jupiter in the Three Investigators book, The Mystery of the Two-Toed Pigeon.

I greatly enjoyed much of this story, but I believe that I enjoyed the original text more.  I skimmed the revised text book towards the end.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Hardy Boys #58 Sting of the Scorpion and #3 Old Mill Revised Text

In Hardy Boys #58, The Sting of the Scorpion, Fenton Hardy investigates a group of terrorists.  Frank and Joe witness attacks on a dirigible and a wild animal park.  They soon believe that someone is sabotaging the wild animal park to force the owner to sell. 

References to The Mystery of the Chinese Junk and The Secret of Wildcat Swamp are worked into the text of this story.

I greatly enjoyed this book.  I read it very quickly. 

I was originally only going to read the Hardy Boys series up through #45.  I then decided that I was enjoying them enough to proceed to #58.  Once I reached around #50, I decided that I would read the revised text books that were significantly or completely rewritten. 

In some cases, I may not be able to state for certain which version of the text I prefer, since the reading of the original and revised versions of the text are separated by several months and many books.

The revised text of Hardy Boys #3, The Secret of the Old Mill, follows the overall same story as the original text.  I like how the boys interact with Ken, the boy from the mill, in a number of scenes. 

The main thought I had as I read this revised text was that it is better than most of the higher-numbered Hardy Boys books.  The higher-numbered stories have too many villains and tend to have overly complicated plots.  These early books, even in the revised versions, are much simpler and more interesting.

The revised text flows quite well, and I enjoyed most of the story.  I began getting tired of the story once the boys enter the mill near the end.  The conclusion contains too many questions and answers, which always tend to bore me.  I skimmed a lot of the last part of the story.

Since I don't recall skimming any of the original text, I probably liked it better.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Hardy Boys #56 Jungle Pyramid and #57 Firebird Rocket

In Hardy Boys #56, The Jungle Pyramid, a million dollars' worth of gold has been stolen from the Wakefield Mint.  Fenton asks his sons to help him track down the culprits.

I did not like how the boys go to Europe for a brief interlude which is actually pointless to the plot.  I like books better when the characters travel less. Some travelogue information is included, which also detracts from the story.

The title of this book has almost nothing to do with the story.  Near the end, the boys do find a lost pyramid in the jungle.  They actually find the pyramid way too easily, when apparently others had been fruitlessly searching for the pyramid for decades. So we are expected to believe that in the days of airplanes and helicopters that no one had been able to spot this pyramid, but the Hardy boys find it immediately without even trying.  Right.

The book wore on me towards the end, although it was good overall.

In Hardy Boys #57, The Firebird Rocket, a famous rocket scientist has disappeared.  His disappearance has endangered the launch of the Firebird Rocket, a top-secret project.

The boys behave quite stupidly at times.  For instance, they find Jenson but then sit around and discuss the case in great detail with Jenson, giving the criminals time to catch up with them.

On page 154, I was quite puzzled that the boys and Jenson are sent away from the rocket site to keep them safe.  The rocket site is more secure than a cheap motel.  Of course, since this makes no sense, it's a huge red flag as to what is really going on.  It's a flaw in the plot since the illogical nature of this event gives the reader insight into the mystery.

I overall greatly enjoyed this book.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Hardy Boys #54 Mysterious Caravan and #55 Witchmaster's Key

In Hardy Boys #54, The Mysterious Caravan, Joe finds an ancient death mask while the boys vacation in Jamaica.  Some unscrupulous treasure hunters learn about the death mask and pursue the boys back to Bayport.  Meanwhile, Fenton Hardy works on a case involving stolen airline tickets.

I am pretty forgiving of the racial stereotypes in the old series books from the early part of the 20th century, since authors didn't know better back then and everyone was racist.  I find stereotypes to be much more disturbing when they appear in books written after 1970.

On page 10, William has a "broad white smile," and on page 154, he has a "white-toothed smile."  Wouldn't "broad smile" have sufficed? 

Joe is chased by the treasure hunters as he tries to get to the police station in Jamaica.  Once he gets into a taxi, he goes to the airport with the death mask.  I couldn't understand why Joe didn't take the taxi to the police station, since that is where he was going.  Instead, he leaves Jamaica with the death mask, and I guess he somehow makes it through customs with the contraband. 

I enjoyed this book from the very beginning.  It really makes a difference when the number of characters and different possible scenarios are kept to a lower number.

A decent explanation is given at the end for the convergence of the two mysteries.  Yes, for once, a Hardy Boys book has two mysteries.  They do converge, but at least a reason is given.

I greatly enjoyed most of the book, and it flows a lot better than the previous book.  I still feel that the story has a few too many characters and is a little confusing.  The book lost me some in the last few chapters, but other than that, I found the book to be very good. 

In Hardy Boys #55, The Witchmaster's Key, Frank and Joe arrive in England to investigate the theft of all the contents of a museum about witchcraft. Wow.  I guess the thieves didn't want to miss out on anything.

I like how the dentist's name is Vincent Burelli.  This book was written by Vincent Buranelli.

On page 55, it is mentioned what a "strange coincidence" it is for two men to have the same name.  No, not really.  Those of us with common names are rather used to that. 

Is it bad that I kept reading Griffinmoor as Gryffindor?

On page 137, the boys buy some toothbrushes and some clothes.  I guess they don't need to shave anymore like they did in The Arctic Patrol Mystery.

This is an excellent book.  None of it drags, and the ending was written well.  I enjoyed all of it.  This book is outstanding like The Mystery of the Spiral Bridge and The Clue of the Screeching Owl.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

eBay's Largest Collection Part 2

eBay's Largest Collection Part 1

Finally, the first two packages arrived on Monday, February 29, but alas, they contained just Nancy Drew books.  Unsurprisingly, they were not packed well.  Both of the following photos show exactly what I saw when I opened the packages.

All books in the first package were fine.  Several books were damaged in the second package, one of them badly.  The second package looked like it had been rolled around and tossed around.  The seams were split and retaped, which worried me since I didn't know whether any books were missing.  I needed to receive all of the packages from the transaction before I would know if any books were lost.

Since I hadn't received any Hardy Boys Digest books yet, I had to purchase even more of them in local stores.  I received the tracking numbers for the reshipment of the six packages that had been returned to the seller, and those packages were finally on the way.

Three of the six packages arrived on Monday, March 7.  Most of the Hardy Boys Digest books were in these three packages.  Yay!  At this point, my stress level went down greatly.  Here are those three packages, and in each case, what I have pictured is exactly what I saw when I opened the box.

The next two packages arrived on Tuesday, March 8.  The contents completed the set of Hardy Boys Digests, so I had now received the books that were most important to me.

One package remained.  I needed it before I would know whether any books had gone missing and before I could figure out how to divide up my total cost between all of the books.  That package was delayed until Friday, March 11 when it finally arrived.

The shipping label had been torn, which had caused the delay.

I later realized that I was very fortunate, because if the label had been ripped off completely, I would have never received that box.  The seller didn't put a packing slip inside, so the shipping label was the only identifier for the package.

This is what I received altogether for a grand total of 684 books.

Nancy Drew #1-90, 92-175, Sleuth Book, Ghost Stories
Hardy Boys #1-190, Detective Handbook, Ghost Stories
Nancy Drew On Campus #1-25
ND/HB Supermysteries #1-36
2 Hardy Boys/Tom Swift Ultra Thrillers
Hardy Boys Casefiles #1-127
Nancy Drew Files #1-124
ND/HB Super Sleuths 1 and 2

The box that contained the lower-numbered Nancy Drew Digests was the box that had split seams which had been taped, so I believe that Nancy Drew #91 fell out of that box during shipment.  I am very fortunate that I lost only one book out of the entire lot.  One book is of little concern, especially since I received all of the books that were important.  Here are pictures of the books put in order by number.

The seller told me that these books were an inheritance, so this was someone's complete set of modern Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys books.  The Nancy Drew hardcover set is primarily books with double oval endpapers from the 1980s, but the Hardy Boys set is from the early to middle 1970s.  Some of the Hardy Boys books have the first revised text, and Twisted Claw has the Nancy Drew list on the back cover.

Except for some of the early Wanderer Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys books, all of the softcover books are first printings.  Nearly all of the softcover books are in excellent condition with almost no wear.  I assume that the collector purchased every single softcover book new when released, which is why all are first printings. 

It took exactly four weeks from the day I won the auction for me to receive all of the books.  The experience was stressful, but I felt confident that the seller had been honest, which helped me through my long wait.

Even though stressful, the purchase was definitely worth it.

The purchase netted me the complete set of Hardy Boys Digests plus the complete set of Hardy Boys Casefiles, should I decide to read them.

I had sold my sets of Super Mystery books and On Campus books years ago when I decided not to read them.  I am keeping the sets from this purchase for now just in case.

I had purchased a set of flashlight edition Hardy Boys books so that I could read the revised text books in January.  It was another case of needing books fast, and the flashlight edition books fulfilled that purchase.  I swapped out 25 flashlight editions with the matte picture covers from this lot.

I upgraded nearly my entire set of Nancy Drew Files books, since nearly every single book from this lot was in better shape than the copies in my set.  I estimate that around 110 Files were upgraded.  I also upgraded around 30 of the Nancy Drew Digests. 

I would never have considered purchasing this lot if not for the complete set of Hardy Boys Digests that were included.  The set of Hardy Boys Casefiles made the lot even more desirable.  I knew that I would keep the Super Mystery books and On Campus books just in case, but I did not expect to keep any other books from the lot.  This turned out much better than expected, since I will be keeping around approximately 485 out of the 684 books.  That's pretty impressive.  This was a very successful and satisfying purchase.

Friday, March 18, 2016

eBay's Largest Collection

At the beginning of February, I purchased a couple of Hardy Boys Digest books locally to try them to see if I wanted to continue reading the Hardy Boys series past #58.  I decided that I did, so I had to figure out how to quickly build a complete set of Hardy Boys Digests so that I could continue reading.  I had very little time.

I had to do it quickly because if I decided to begin reading my complete set of Girls of Canby Hall, which was what I intended to read after I finished Hardy Boys #1-58, then I knew that I would never read the Hardy Boys Digests.  I know myself well enough to know that despite my best intentions, I will never get back to a series after I move on to another series.

I began looking around online for sets, of which there were none.  There had been a complete set of Hardy Boys Digests on eBay in January and at an excellent price, but that set had sold.  I didn't want the books in January.  If I had only known...

I saw some small lots.  However, there would be lots of duplicates, and some lots weren't that reasonable.  I could as a last resort use, where most likely all titles would be available at $3.59 each.  If I did that, the books would end up costing me over $400 total to complete the set.  Ouch.  But I could get the set done fast.

And then I saw it.

An eBay seller listed "Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys Novels (ebay's largest collection)" on February 5 at a starting bid of $800 and a Buy It Now of $2,500.  This was the mother of all Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys lots.  It was huge.  The seller's description was as follows.
Nancy Drew Volumes 1-175

Nancy Drew Case Files Volumes 1-124

Nancy Drew on Campus Volumes 1-25

The Hardy Boys Volumes 1-190

The Hardy Boys Case Files 1-122

Nancy Drew and hardy Boys Volumes 1-76

Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys Ghost Files  2 volumes

Hardy boys and Tom Swift 2 volumes
I detected an obvious typo in the 76 Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys books, since there are just 36 volumes in the set.  I also noticed that the Casefiles last number didn't match the last number in that series, but otherwise, the numbers offered matched up with complete sets of everything.  All I cared about was the line that read "The Hardy Boys Volumes 1-190."  OMG.  Every single Digest in addition to the complete set of hardcover books.

The seller provided these pictures showing just some of the books offered.

But should I bid?  I wasn't concerned about anyone taking the Buy It Now, which was way too high.  Additionally, the opening bid of $800 would scare most people off.  I waited and watched, thinking about the lot every single day.  I kept checking and no bids.  I was also concerned about the risk, so I kept thinking about it the entire seven days.  Oh, I wanted the books, but what if I didn't get all of them?  What if I didn't get the Hardy Boys Digests?

$800 was not too high of a price for what was offered altogether, and I also knew that I would get my money back if the books were not received.  But most importantly, I wanted the books, and I didn't want this to be a failed transaction.  Should I bid?

I wanted to ask the seller to photograph more of the books to raise my confidence, but I took a calculated risk and did not ask.  If the seller would have added more photos, that would have given more confidence to other prospective bidders.  I was hoping for no competition.  That is, if I decided to bid.

Of course all along, I knew that I would bid.  I did, and I won the auction at the opening bid of $800.  I was still worried, because large lots are almost never packaged well.  This is just the reality of large lots, and this was by far the largest lot I had ever purchased. 

Four days after I won the auction, the seller put tracking numbers up.  I then got worried a few days later when one package showed as delivered in Oregon, which is where the seller is located.  I asked about the packages.  I learned that the seller had been called away and that someone else had shipped the books.  Something went wrong, and most of the packages had been returned.

I have not given the specific details, but I feel confident that what I was told was true, even though frustrating for me.  I am good at reading sellers and have always been correct about whether they were telling me the truth or telling me a lie.  I felt that the seller was being honest and would get the books delivered, even though I was gradually getting more and more stressed.  By the way, huge bulk lots are always stressful. Something always goes wrong. That's why I was indecisive about bidding.  I knew that I was setting myself up for a lot of worry.

It was apparent that two packages were coming and that the others had been returned to the seller.  I had run out of Hardy Boys Digest books, so I went around to several local stores to buy more Hardy Boys Digests so that I could keep reading.

—continued in "eBay's Largest Collection Part 2"

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Hardy Boys #52 Shattered Helmet and #53 Hissing Serpent

In Hardy Boys #52, The Shattered Helmet, the Hardys help their friend, Evan Pandropolos, search for a missing artifact, an ancient Greek helmet.  The case takes the boys on a search for an old film star.  All the while, they boys are pursued by ruthless men who want the helmet.

This book has too many villains, and I was getting confused towards the end of the story.  A flaw in many of the higher-numbered books is that the authors chose to make the stories too complicated with too many characters.  They forgot that "less is more."  A less confusing story is always more enjoyable.

Despite my confusion, I overall greatly enjoyed this book. 

Hardy Boys #53, The Clue of the Hissing Serpent, is one big mess.  A man tries to hire Sam Radley to bug the home of a chess champion.  Fenton determines that the man may be associated with Eco Incorporated or Associated Jewelers, whatever they are.  And why do we care?

Furthermore, Chet has taken up hot air ballooning, and his instructor is weird.  Later, we learn that the instructor has the Ruby King in his possession, whatever that is.  Someone is trying to steal it!  Meanwhile, Mr. Hardy works to track down swindlers operating as a firm selling suits from Hong Kong.  What the heck?!

As the book opens, one piece of random information after another is thrown at the reader.  It's confusing and reminds me strongly of the Nancy Drew Wanderer books.  I can't stand most of the Nancy Drew Wanderer books due to the convoluted and highly confusing plots.  Argh!

I did gradually find this book interesting once the author quit throwing out random information.  However, this is not a very good book.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Input Needed for Farah's Guide to Nancy Drew

David Farah is asking for corrections for one final edition of his Nancy Drew guide.  Here I will mention some lingering concerns about certain printings.

The first issue is the first printing of The Clue in the Crossword Cipher.  Please read this post and its comments for more information.  According to the guide, the first printing lists to Pine Hill on the back cover and has no interior list.  The existence of that printing is not in question.  The problem is that multiple copies listing to Pine Hill on the back cover and with an interior list page to 99 Steps have surfaced.  I'm pretty sure that at least four different people own first printings both with and without the interior list page.

The problem is that Farah has not been able to determine which one came first or whether both versions can be considered the first printing.  Anyone who owns a Crossword Cipher book that lists to Pine Hill on the back cover, either with or without the interior list, should check the book for any kind of markings that could indicate the exact age of the book.  These markings would include inscriptions with dates. 

Another issue is the first revised text printing of Mystery of the Brass-Bound Trunk.  According to the guide, the first revised text lists to Sky Phantom on the back cover.  The problem is that none of us can find one.  In the comments to this post, someone claimed to own two of them and acted like it was common.  However, that person did not provide photographic proof and was posting under a screen name.

If anyone does own a revised text Brass-Bound Trunk that lists to Sky Phantom, please contact David Farah with photographs of the book.  Otherwise, that printing will be removed from the next guide.  Farah has not seen any examples of the first revised text with Sky Phantom on the back cover, so the current belief is that it does not exist.  Unless he can get proper documentation of the existence of the revised text of Brass-Bound Trunk listing to Sky Phantom, the printing with the Cookbook ad on the back cover, 1977A-59, will be considered the first revised text.

I remembered that I do not own the first printing of the third cover art to Hidden Staircase, 1966A-97.  The book seen at the left lists to Pine Hill on the back cover and to 99 Steps on the inside, which makes it the second printing of the third cover art, 1966B-98, according to the guide.  The first printing of the third cover art lists to Pine Hill on the back cover and inside the book. 

I recall that I have been asked about the first printing of the third cover art to Hidden Staircase and now know of several advanced collectors who do not own one.  So my question is... Does anyone own the third cover art to Hidden Staircase that lists to Pine Hill on the back cover and inside the book?  And if you do not own one, I'd also like you to confirm, since that gives us an idea of the scarcity of the book.  If it exists, that's wonderful, and I'll keep searching for it.  But if it doesn't, then Farah needs to know.

I would also like to verify that the printing indicated to be the first revised text of Shadow Ranch exists.  The first revised text is 1965B-82.  The first revised text book has the second cover art and lists to Fire Dragon on the back cover and to Pine Hill on the inside.  The book seen to the right is the second printing of the revised text and has the second cover art.  It lists to Pine Hill on the back cover and inside.  Notice it has black and white multi I endpapers, which is indicative of the revised text.

Does anyone own the second cover art Shadow Ranch with the revised text that lists to Fire Dragon on the back cover and to Pine Hill on the inside?  Either way, let me know so that I will have an idea of scarcity and a verification of existence.

I thought of two more variants listed in the guide that I do not own, and I want to verify their existence.  The first is the original text of Haunted Bridge matched with the cover art seen at the left.  I have never seen one with the original text.  Do any of you own the original text paired with the cover art seen at the left?  This printing has since been confirmed to exist.

The second variant is the revised text of Leaning Chimney matched with the cover art seen at the right.  I have never seen one.  Do any of you own the revised text paired with the cover art seen at the right?  This printing has since been confirmed to exist.

I am going to be telling Farah about the following two books that have the back cover printed entirely in black ink.

Whispering Statue is 1977A-66, and Mirror Bay is 1977B-9.  I have sold extras of both books, but I haven't kept track.  For verification purposes, please let me know if you own either variant.  Also let me know if you own any picture cover books other than these two with the back cover printed entirely in black ink.  Both of these books list to Parchment.  Do yours?  Also, do any of you own either Whispering Statue or Mirror Bay that match the above printings that have the back cover normal with the red and black ink?  I have never paid attention, and now I wonder if the entire print run has all black ink or whether this variant is a subset of the print run.

Please respond either here or on my Facebook page.