Saturday, April 30, 2016

Purchasing More Books to Read

I continue to have a strong desire to build sets of series books that I have not yet read, so I am constantly looking ahead to what I plan to read in the coming months.

In the fall, I purchased the complete set of the Girls of Canby Hall books.

My plan was to read them immediately after finishing the original 58 Hardy Boys books, but I decided instead to read the Hardy Boys Digest series.  Soon after I began reading the Hardy Boys Digests, I decided that I wanted to compare and contrast Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys as both series have evolved over the years.  This means that I decided that I will read the Hardy Boys Undercover Brothers series and then the Hardy Boys Adventures series immediately after I finish reading the Hardy Boys Digest series.

I had already purchased nine of the Hardy Boys Adventures in hardcover editions in December when I saw a wholesale lot of remaindered books on eBay.

I just purchased the two most recent Hardy Boys Adventures books from Amazon, so now I have the complete set of what has been published so far.

I held off for the last couple of months hoping to get a set of Undercover Brothers cheap, but books never do show up when I need them. 

I decided in early April to set a goal to read 300 books this year.  At that point, I was on track to read 282 books.  I sped up my pace, and I am now on track to read slightly more than 300 books.  This means that I am progressing rather quickly through the Hardy Boys Digests, and I need to build the Undercover Brothers set in advance of needing them.  I project that I will be finished with the Hardy Boys Digests before the end of June, and that isn't so far off.

This is what I have so far, purchased from three different sellers.

Since time is beginning to draw short, I went to and purchased every title I could find that I had not already acquired.  There were two titles, #19 Foul Play and #20 Feeding Frenzy, that were not available on Thriftbooks.  Obviously I could purchase both books individually elsewhere.  However, Foul Play presented a dilemma, since unfortunately a Hardy Boys Casefiles book is also titled Foul Play.  I would have no way to guarantee that I would get the Undercover Brothers book instead of the Casefiles book, especially since most sellers who have one available are the volume sellers who pay no attention to detail.  I then realized that I could solve the problem by purchasing Foul Play new from Amazon.

Problem solved.  I have not made the purchase yet, primarily because I am too cheap to purchase Amazon Prime or to pay for shipping from Amazon, so I group items together and always get free shipping.

I will order the last two Undercover Brothers with the Nancy Drew Diaries book that is set to be released on May 10 and with another Ted Wilford book that I need.  And of course Amazon will wait until around May 15 to ship the order to punish me for getting free shipping, but that's okay.  I don't need the books for a couple of months.

In case you didn't know, the Ted Wilford series is being reprinted.  So far, Wildside Press has released five of them, and all 15 will be reprinted.  The books are being reprinted with permission of the Norvin Pallas family.

I have also purchased two short series which I will probably read sometime between now and the end of June during my reading of the Hardy Boys Digest series.  If a series is short, it will not break my momentum of reading the Hardy Boys.

First, I purchased the entire Winn and Lonny series.

Second, I  purchased the Morgan Bay mystery series, which were published as school readers.

I have also begun purchasing the Sweet Dreams books as I find them.

Ah, the 1980s.  The complete set of Sweet Dreams set consists of over 200 books, so I don't have very many of them.

This is my plan on what I intend to read and in what order.

Hardy Boys Digest series along with Wynn and Lonny/Morgan Bay
Hardy Boys Undercover Brothers series
Nancy Drew Diaries #11 and #12
Hardy Boys Adventure series
Girls of Canby Hall series
The Sweet Dreams books (This one is not definite.)

As of right now I am not intending to read the Hardy Boys Casefiles set this year, although I do own the complete set.  I could always change my mind and decide to read them.

This will take me through September or October and a total of around 250 of the 300 books I intend to read this year.  I can do it.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Hardy Boys #74 Tic-Tac-Terror, #75 Trapped at Sea, and #76 Game Plan for Disaster

In Hardy Boys #74, Tic-Tac-Terror, Frank and Joe search for a missing man who disappeared on the way back from South America.  Soon, the boys learn that the man's disappearance is tied to a missing emerald and a dangerous spy organization that threatens national security.

I find it doubtful that the government would trust teen boys to help them crack a spy ring.  That's one of the reasons why I never enjoy stories dealing with the government and spies as much as I do others.  In every series, this kind of story always involves top government agents sharing classified information with teenage sleuths.  It's always hard to believe.

I did end up enjoying this book even though the subject is not the kind of book that I prefer.

In Hardy Boys #75, Trapped at Sea, Frank and Joe work undercover with Chet to discover who is stealing shipments of uranium.

The Hardys and Chet suffer from "Nancy Drew Syndrome" in this book.  "Nancy Drew Syndrome" is when a teenage sleuth already is an expert at whatever obscure activity is required of them in the current story.

In this case, all three boys are experts at driving large cargo trucks.  They need to get jobs as truck drivers for a company in order to further their investigation.  Naturally, they already know how to drive trucks even though they don't have licenses.  The boys go in the next day, take the written and driving tests, pass, and are shortly behind the wheels of the trucks.  How amazing!

I enjoyed this story.

In Hardy Boys #76, Game Plan for Disaster, Ace Harrington is set to play for the college football championship.  Frank and Joe are hired to protect Ace, who has suddenly become accident-prone.  It appears that someone is trying to injure him so that he cannot play in the upcoming game.

On page 17, Frank and Joe get settled in their dorm room.
It was comfortable, with two beds, a large window overlooking the campus, and walls lined with books.

"The fellow who lives here must be some reader," Joe said.  "Or do you think he's just showing off?" 
It's odd that Joe would think that the resident is just showing off.  How about the more obvious answer, which is that the resident reads and studies a lot?  While some people might try to impress others with how smart they are by possessing lots of books, I doubt a college student would fill a cramped dorm room with books just to impress others.

The boys see Ace Harrington get out of a vehicle that has gamblers in it.  It's rather obvious what the gamblers want, since I have read this same plot in multiple other series books.  The gamblers want Ace to lose the championship game.

This plot is another type story that is not the kind that I greatly enjoy.  I overall enjoyed this story, but I was glad to get it finished and hope to get to another story that will be more to my liking.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Hardy Boys #71 Track of the Zombie, #72 Voodoo Plot, and #73 Billion Dollar Ransom

In Hardy Boys #71, Track of the Zombie, Frank and Joe look for an arsonist in Vermont.  The trouble is that the arsonist appears to be a zombie!

Part of the story is set at the circus.  The next paragraph contains a spoiler, so don't read the next paragraph if you don't want to know.

Spoiler coming... In series books, the ringmaster is always one of the villains, even when he seems innocent.  I expected the ringmaster to be one of the villains, and I was right!  This is always what happens. However, the ringmaster is not the only villain.

I greatly enjoyed this book.

In Hardy Boys #72, The Voodoo Plot, Peter Walker is worried about his grandfather, who has been threatened by a voodoo gang in New Orleans.  Meanwhile, Fenton Hardy works on a case involving a series of gallery robberies.  The clues lead to a crazy rattlesnake enthusiast in Georgia and later to New Orleans where the two cases converge.  Don't they always?

Frank and Joe are hired to prevent a gallery from being robbed.  The boys check to see that just one alley leads to the back of the store and assume that the thieves will use a vehicle.  Therefore, both boys stay in the front to watch and even spend their time studying.  I was not surprised when someone on foot robs the gallery.  How dumb for both boys to stay in the front!

This book is full of ominous handwritten messages.  One message is fake, and that one causes the boys to be stranded in the swamp all night.  Later, two different people friendly with the boys leave messages that are a bit strange and in my opinion seem fake.  I was shocked that in these cases that the messages are actually real! 

The criminals use strange methods to get information to each other.  One of them sings a song in a club and changes the words to give a specific location.  Why not send a handwritten message?  That's what everyone else does in this story.

I greatly enjoyed this book.

In Hardy Boys #73, The Billion Dollar Ransom, Fenton Hardy has a top-secret case that he keeps from the boys.  Meanwhile, the boys are hired to keep watch over a contest for magicians and over the Bayport Opera House, both of which are being sabotaged.  Naturally, all three cases are connected!

There were parts that I only mildly enjoyed because the story reads like a typical sabotage book set in a theater where one magician is sabotaging the contest.  I have read variations of that same story quite a few times in the Nancy Drew series.

The next paragraph contains a hint to a major spoiler, so skip it if you don't want to guess part of the plot.

Later in the story when the true plot is revealed, I found it hard to believe that the Secret Service would allow the possibility of a kidnapping to occur. 

While hard to believe, this is a very suspenseful book, and I enjoyed it.  I would have enjoyed the story more if I had found it easier to believe.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Hardy Boys #68 Submarine Caper, #69 Four-Headed Dragon, and #70 Infinity Clue

In Hardy Boys #68, The Submarine Caper, Frank and Joe briefly look into who has stolen the plans to Alfred Wagner's submarine, but then they spend nearly the entire book looking for missing paintings.  Since the book has little to do with a submarine, I suppose that's why the book's title was changed to Deadly Chase in the Minstrel edition.

This book has too many characters, so many that it ranks up there with The Greek Symbol Mystery.  If I had known how many characters were going to be in this book, I would have counted them.  This Hardy Boys book is just like the typical Nancy Drew Wanderer book with too convoluted of a plot. 

On page 118, Rita goes to fix dinner right after the police leave.  The police had been called because she had been found bound and gagged.  I couldn't believe that the Hardys let her fix them dinner right after she had been assaulted!  They should have gotten some take-out food and brought back dinner.

On page 102, Frank suggests that the gang who stole the paintings could also be involved in the submarine mystery.  Frank exclaims, "Don't ask me how come he features in both mysteries!"  Well, why not?  It's like this in every book.

The sad thing is that I don't know if the mysteries were actually connected.  I began skimming the book around 50 pages before the end, and then I quit.  I couldn't take it anymore.  The book has too many characters, and I couldn't keep up with all of them.  I was bored and didn't care.

I did not enjoy this book.

In Hardy Boys #69, The Four-Headed Dragon, Sam Radley is found in the woods in a daze.  He cannot communicate and is hospitalized.  Frank and Joe try to find who attacked Sam.  Meanwhile, Fenton Hardy is on the trail of a dangerous criminal who plans to blow up the entire Alaska pipeline.

Since the book opens with Sam Radley injured, the book immediately caught my attention.  The story held my attention all the way through.  While I greatly enjoyed the first half of the book, the second half is outstanding. 

The last half of the book features a hurricane, and the boys are trapped in a spooky mansion in the middle of the woods during the hurricane and at night.  The mansion is also said to be haunted.  You can't get better than that.

This is an excellent book, which more than makes up for the lackluster previous book.

In Hardy Boys #70, The Infinity Clue, Frank and Joe receive a mysterious message from their father, telling them to speak to someone in Washington, D.C.  Their attempt at following their father's orders causes them to be accused of stealing a valuable diamond from the Smithsonian.  As the boys work to prove their innocence, they uncover a plot to sabotage nuclear power plants.

A minor earthquake that has a magnitude of between 2 and 3 occurs at the beginning of the book.  The earthquake topples telephone poles and knocks out the electricity.  Cars crash when the drivers become startled by the shaking.

20 years ago, I might have believed all of this.  We now have earthquakes between magnitude 2 and 3 rather often in Oklahoma, and we barely notice them.  The local earthquakes of magnitude 4 have only caused a few cracks in walls.  Our power poles don't fall over, and people in cars don't crash.

On page 45, Chet is left in the museum overnight with no food.  That's cruel!

The story is good from the beginning, but I enjoyed it more and more the further I read.  I greatly enjoyed this book.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Hardy Boys #65 Stone Idol, #66 Vanishing Thieves, and #67 Outlaw's Silver

In Hardy Boys #65, The Stone Idol, Frank and Joe are hired to find a stone idol from Easter Island that disappeared during its journey to New York.  Fenton has the boys take a break from their case to help him in Antarctica, and then the boys continue working on their case.

In the beginning of the story, we learn that the boys' previous case was a New York embezzlement case.  It was not!

This case is similar to The Mummy Case in which a valuable artifact goes missing during shipment.  How original to immediately reuse a plot idea!  I guess at least it isn't sabotage. 

The story about the missing idol in Chile is okay but not very compelling.  Partway through the book, Fenton pulls the boys away from their case to help him in Antarctica.  At first I was annoyed, since I do not like a story switching from one case to an unrelated one halfway through.  The mysteries really are unrelated, which is bizarre for a Hardy Boys book.  However, I found that I greatly enjoyed the interlude in Antarctica.  It was thrilling and quite interesting and the best part of the entire book.  Unfortunately, the boys go back to Chile to continue their boring original case.

At times, this book has too much travelogue or explanatory information.

Except for the part in Antarctica, this book is tedious, and I did not enjoy the main mystery very much.  The short part in Antarctica is very good.

In Hardy Boys #66, The Vanishing Thieves, Chert's cousin Vern asks Frank and Joe to help him find a priceless coin that was stolen in California.  Meanwhile, Fenton asks the boys to help him with an auto theft ring that is operating around Bayport.

And of course, the auto thieves in Bayport also stole the coin in California.  How else would it happen?

On page 50, Frank decides to behave recklessly, which is a flaw in the continuity.  Usually Joe is the reckless one.

When Frank and Joe fly to California with Chet and Vern, it's very strange for the blonde woman, who is involved in the case, and another man unknown to her, who is also involved in the case, to both be on the same row in the plane as the four boys.  It's just too convenient.

This book is full of crazy coincidences. 

On page 120, three boys go for help while only one stays behind to watch their prisoners.  I'm sure you can guess what happens!  The prisoners get away!

At one point I got tired of the boys getting captured and then escaping over and over again.  It reminded me of the original text of The Disappearing Floor when the boys keep going back to the cave and getting caught or nearly caught. 

The ending is funny.  I greatly enjoyed this book.

In Hardy Boys #67, The Outlaw's Silver, Frank, Joe, and their friends search for a missing treasure in the Pine Barrens of New Jersey.

On page 44, a dealer in old maps displays maps from the 1700s in the front window of his store.  The boys reflect that the maps are probably moved frequently to prevent damage from the sun.  Any amount of time in the sun will damage the maps.  I just shake my head over this example of sheer idiocy.

I feel like the book has a few too many characters that are not memorable.  I found I had trouble remembering some of them from my previous reading whenever I resumed reading from where I left off.  Characters should be memorable enough not to be forgotten in just a few hours.

I enjoyed this book, but I would have enjoyed it more with fewer characters.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Hardy Boys #62 Apeman's Secret, #63 Mummy Case, and #64 Smugglers Cove

In Hardy Boys #62, The Apeman's Secret, Frank and Joe help their father search for a missing girl who has joined a local cult.  Meanwhile, someone disguised as the Apeman is terrorizing local gatherings.

Apeman is a comic book character made into a hit television series.  By the description, it's obvious that the Apeman is the fictional equivalent of the Incredible Hulk.  The television network name in this book is FBS, and Hulk ran on CBS.  I tend not to like books quite as much when they copy reality but change the names.

On page 66, Frank receives a fake phone call while investigating at a gym.  I couldn't believe he fell for it.  As soon as Frank was called to the phone, I knew it was fake.  Nobody knew they were there!  The phone call had to have been faked by someone who was at the gym!

Even worse, on page 85, Joe declares that the phone call was not fake.  Joe thinks the phone call was real because Frank answered a phone that had an active line.  Frank has to explain to Joe that the person who faked the call could have had a friend call the gym. 

Chet's new hobby is drawing comic books.  He very quickly gets his comic purchased for publication.  I was incredulous until I decided that this was probably part of the mystery and that Chet was being used.  It fit along with something that had happened during the story.  At the end of the story, I realized that Chet's comic really is being published (!) when Chet becomes crestfallen that they are making the comic funny and not the way he intended.  It's not logical for a beginner to get published immediately.

While I enjoyed this story, I would rather have read a book about a different topic.

In Hardy Boys #63, The Mummy Case, Frank and Joe are hired to guard a mummy during its journey to Egypt via ship.

I enjoyed this book at the start, but I lost interest more and more the further I read.  I liked the museum part.  I partially liked the part where the boys stop the revolution, even though that was kind of random in the middle of the story.  The ship part was okay at first but not after the revolution interlude.  I did not like the part in Egypt and was bored.  I began skimming towards the end.

This book is below average.

In Hardy Boys #64, Mystery of Smugglers Cove, the Hardys are accused of stealing a valuable painting.  They must find the culprits and the painting in order to prove their innocence.  The case takes them to Florida, where they go undercover to flush out some smugglers—and hopefully, the stolen painting.

This is a thoroughly enjoyable mystery.  I was interested from the first page, and the book maintained my interest.  The book does not have too many characters.  It was easy to keep track of everyone.

I was kept in suspense wondering about the identity of the Chief.  I thought I knew, and I was eager to see if I was correct.  I was.

This is an excellent book.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Hardy Boys #59 Werewolf, #60 Samurai Sword, and #61 Pentagon Spy

In Hardy Boys #59, Night of the Werewolf, Frank and Joe investigate werewolf sightings in a small town.  The Tabor family has a history of werewolves, and John Tabor is now suspected of being the current werewolf.

Pop Carter of Wild World is mentioned on page 118.  Pop and Wild World appeared in #58 The Sting of the Scorpion.  Both of these books were written by the same author.

This is an excellent book.

 In Hardy Boys #60, Mystery of the Samurai Sword, Fenton Hardy has been hired to protect Japanese businessman Takashi Satoya during his stay in the United States.  Before the Hardys finish escorting Mr. Satoya to his hotel, he disappears!  Frank and Joe soon suspect that Satoya's disappearance has something to do with a valuable samurai sword which has been stolen.

Part of the setting is at the Bayport Chilton Hotel.  This annoyed me since I'm sure "Chilton" means "Hilton."  I hate fake names in books that refer to real places.  I would rather the hotel have been called simply the Bayport Hotel.  It would have been less distracting than a fake name.

The book has a few too many characters.  The story overall held my interest, but I felt like it began to drag a little.  I wasn't overly interested in the solution.  In the early part of the book I was quite interested, since Satoya's mysterious disappearance was intriguing.  I partially lost interest in the middle of the story but regained interest once Satoya reappeared.

I enjoyed this story.

In Hardy Boys #61, The Pentagon Spy, Fenton Hardy looks for a spy while Frank and Joe look for the thieves who are stealing valuable weather vanes.  This is the usual premise of two cases that appear to be completely unrelated, but are of course the same case.

I greatly enjoyed the early part of the story with the weather vanes.  I did not enjoy the part at the Pentagon.  After the story moved back away from the Pentagon, I began enjoying it again.  The book has an unexpected plot twist towards the end which is interesting.

I enjoyed this book.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Hardy Boys Original Series Summary

I first read the Hardy Boys series over 20 years ago.  I had gone to a garage sale and found a set of picture cover books listing to Desert Giant on the back cover.  I read those books plus some higher-numbered books, including possibly The Secret Agent on Flight 101.

While I enjoyed many of the original text stories, I was overall not impressed with the series.  I recall that I did not like the boys' sometimes rowdy behavior.  I did not like Aunt Gertrude.  I did not like whichever higher-numbered books that I read.  I was left with the impression that I did not like the Hardy Boys series or boys' series books.

I avoided boys' books for around 18 years, aside from a few short boys' series books written by Nancy Drew authors. 

As I have already reported, I gradually acquired some sets of boys' books and read them.  I ended up becoming a fan of boys' series.  Finally, I ran out of new boys' series to try, and it was finally time to try the Hardy Boys series again.  That was my plan all along.

Long ago I sold that set of picture covers that I read years ago, but in the last five years, I gradually built up a set again so that I could try them again.  I had all original text books on hand, and I thought that my opinion might improve after having read so many boys' series in the last couple of years.

I found that I enjoyed the original text stories more than I expected, although I still struggled with quite a few of them.  At that time, I had no desire to read any revised text books.  If I had tried to read the original text followed by the revised text for each title, I would have never made it through the set.

By the time I reached #40, I decided to read up to #58.  By the time I reached #50, I decided to go back and read only the revised text books that were significantly rewritten or completely changed.

Now that I have finished reading the original 58 Hardy Boys books, I can report that my opinion of the Hardy Boys series has improved.  I do like a number of the boys' independent series better, but the Hardy Boys series is better than I once thought.

Early in my reading, I found the coincidences to be a bit bothersome.  I reflected that the independent series are better in that aspect.  Partway through my reading, I was often annoyed about how in every single book the boys and their father seemingly work on separate cases that always turn out to be the same case.  Later in my reading, I ignored that aspect since that is simply the premise of the entire series.

I do not like the treatment of the police in the early books, just like I did not like that aspect before.  The series quickly moves past that phase, so it's not important.

I now like Aunt Gertrude.  I'm not sure why she bothered me so much. I can't say that I liked her very much in her first one or two appearances in the original text, but after those early books, she didn't bother me this time.

The Hardys are not nearly as rowdy as what I recalled.  As best I can figure, I remembered the automat scene from What Happened at Midnight and the conflicts with the Bayport police from the early books so vividly that I had a bad opinion of the boys' behavior in all of the books.  The boys do not behave in that fashion to the degree that I recalled.

I made a list of how much I enjoyed the original text and revised text books.  I did this to try to understand why I feel the way I do about the original text books as compared to the later books. 

    1. The Tower Treasure - OT decent
    2. The House on the Cliff - OT very good
    3. The Secret of the Old Mill -  OT very good; RT good
    4. The Missing Chums - OT very good; RT very good
    5. Hunting for Hidden Gold - OT very good; RT good
    6. The Shore Road Mystery - OT very good; RT very good
    7. The Secret of the Caves - OT good; RT very good
    8. The Mystery of Cabin Island - OT excellent
    9. The Great Airport Mystery - OT excellent; RT good
   10. What Happened at Midnight - OT fair; RT fair
   11. While the Clock Ticked - OT bad
   12. Footprints under the Window - OT bad; RT bad
   13. The Mark on the Door - OT very good; RT very good
   14. The Hidden Harbor Mystery - OT very good; RT excellent
   15. The Sinister Signpost - OT good; RT good
   16. A Figure in Hiding - OT good; RT fair
   17. The Secret Warning - OT bad; RT very good
   18. The Twisted Claw - OT bad
   19. The Disappearing Floor - OT fair; RT good
   20. Mystery of the Flying Express - OT very good; RT very good
   21. The Clue of the Broken Blade - OT very good; RT fair
   22. The Flickering Torch Mystery - OT excellent; RT very good
   23. The Melted Coins - OT very good; RT very good
   24. The Short-Wave Mystery - OT overall very good
   25. The Secret Panel - OT overall very good
   26. The Phantom Freighter - OT good
   27. The Secret of Skull Mountain - OT bad
   28. The Sign of the Crooked Arrow - OT very good
   29. The Secret of the Lost Tunnel - OT very good
   30. The Wailing Siren Mystery - OT excellent
   31. The Secret of Wildcat Swamp - OT good
   32. The Crisscross Shadow - OT good
   33. The Yellow Feather Mystery - OT excellent
   34. The Hooded Hawk Mystery - OT fair
   35. The Clue in the Embers - OT bad
   36. The Secret of Pirates' Hill - OT fair
   37. The Ghost at Skeleton Rock - OT fair
   38. The Mystery at Devil's Paw - OT very good
   39. The Mystery of the Chinese Junk - good
   40. Mystery of the Desert Giant - very good
   41. The Clue of the Screeching Owl -  excellent
   42. The Viking Symbol Mystery - bad
   43. The Mystery of the Aztec Warrior - good
   44. The Haunted Fort - overall good
   45. The Mystery of the Spiral Bridge - excellent
   46. The Secret Agent on Flight 101 - good
   47. Mystery of the Whale Tattoo - good
   48. The Arctic Patrol Mystery - good
   49. The Bombay Boomerang - very good
   50. Danger on Vampire Trail - very good
   51. The Masked Monkey - excellent
   52. The Shattered Helmet - very good
   53. The Clue of the Hissing Serpent - fair
   54. The Mysterious Caravan - very good
   55. The Witchmaster's Key - excellent
   56. The Jungle Pyramid - good
   57. The Firebird Rocket - very good
   58. The Sting of the Scorpion - very good

It didn't help much, since I don't have any obvious conclusions to make.  However, I will report my general feelings about the different parts of the series, even though I can't back up my feelings with data.  I struggled with some books and greatly enjoyed some books from all time periods.  I know for sure that I consider volumes 2 through 9 to be a strong group of books and a pleasure to read.  That group of books is the strongest in the series.

I struggled with many of the original text books from volume 10 through volume 19.  I really wanted to quit while reading volumes 10 through 12, since I was going through a difficult time and the books were not helping me escape.  I also did not like volumes 15 through 19 very much.  Getting through volumes 10 through 19 was not easy.  While I consider a number of the books to be very weak or annoying, my distaste for volumes 10 through 19 may have much more to do with my mental state at the time I read the books.  I read those books in November, which was a dark time for me.  I will probably never read those books again, since they will forever be a part of November 2015.

I also struggled with some of the higher-numbered original text books, but not as much as I did volumes 10 through 19.

Strangely, I do feel that I generally struggled less with the higher-numbered books with 20 chapters, even though those books have weaker stories.  Therefore, my impression is that my overall experience with the higher-numbered books is more positive, even though the stories tend not to be as good.

Again, I do believe this has a lot to do with me and how my life has been since I began reading the Hardy Boys set.  I have been under a huge amount of stress since November, and it has caused me not to feel well much of the time.  For that reason, I need books that are easy and effortless to read.  The books with 20 chapters are easier to read.  That's why I seem to have a more positive view of those books, although they aren't typically as good as as the earlier books.

And that's why other readers should never suggest that someone not read certain books.  I was told not to read the books with 20 chapters.  I did, and I enjoyed them.

I also want to add that I am a girls' series enthusiast.  Even though I have now read many boys' series, I am still a girls' series enthusiast.  Not only that, I am female.  So my perspective on the Hardy Boys series is different than that of the core group of fans, who are male. 

In conclusion, I enjoyed my reading of the Hardy Boys set, at least mostly, and enough that I decided to try a few of the Hardy Boys Digest books.  I sampled a few and liked them enough that I decided to read through that set as well.  I was a bit dismayed by my decision, since reading Hardy Boys #59 through #190 is a big commitment, and reading all of them will take five to six months.

I should also mention that I seem to be enjoying the Hardy Boys Digest books more than the majority of the books in the original 58.  That surely is shocking to most of you, but the Digests are easy and exciting.  The Hardy Boys Digests are exactly what I need at this point in my life.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Hardy Boys Revised Text #23 Melted Coins and #24 Short-Wave Mystery

In the revised text of Hardy Boys #23, The Melted Coins, Frank and Joe believe that Chet has been swindled by a fake college and travel to Zoar College to check on the school.  The boys also investigate the theft of an important Seneca Indian relic, the Spoon Mouth mask, which was made from some melted coins.

On page 12, the boys have gone to the top of a high-rise building that is under construction.  Joe immediately sets off across a beam to speak to a man, and the wind nearly blows him off the beam to his death.  How stupid!  For just a moment, I felt that I was reading the second Power Boys book, which takes place in a similar setting.  Joe's lack of judgment is just like something the Power Boys would do.

The premise is far less stupid than in the original.  However, the part about the melted coins is still a little stupid.  This time, some coins owned by the Indians melted and somehow formed the shape of Spoon Mouth, which became an important good luck charm.  It's implausible.

I really enjoyed the setting of this book and greatly enjoyed all of this story.  Since I did not just read the original text, I'm not sure which story I enjoyed more.  They are both very good.

In the revised text of Hardy Boys #24, The Short-Wave Mystery, Frank and Joe investigate the theft of a a bunch of stuffed animals from an auction.  Meanwhile, the boys hear mysterious sounds over the short-wave radio, and Chet has become interested in taxidermy.

One of the flaws in the original text is that the street urchins go to school, but the Hardy Boys stay at home all day listening to the radio for messages.  The revised text makes a point of mentioning school for the Hardys several times as well as having them work on homework.  In this book, they don't stay at home all day until the street urchins arrive.

I decided not to read the second half of the book.  The story is too similar to the original text, and I did not find the part I read to be that interesting.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Hardy Boys Revised Text #21 Broken Blade and #22 Flickering Torch Mystery

In the revised text of Hardy Boys #21, The Clue of the Broken Blade, Frank and Joe's fencing instructor, Ettore Russo, tells them about a broken sword blade that is missing.  Etched on the sword blade is a will that leaves a fortune in part to Russo.  A cousin claims the fortune, so Russo needs to find the broken blade.

The boys end up traveling across the country to follow a slim clue that somehow leads them to the location where the sword can be found.  Along the way, the boys end up on a movie set, where they find their parents working, when their parents are supposed to be on vacation in another state.  It's also a bit hard to believe that the boys are able to step in for a fencing master in a scene in the movie.

This book bored me from the first page.  Gradually, I began to find the book somewhat more interesting and was overall interested once I reached halfway through the book.  Overall, I did not enjoy the book very much.  I like the original text better.

In the revised text of Hardy Boys #22, The Flickering Torch Mystery, Frank and Joe investigate two mysterious plane crashes in which the pilots were killed.  The boys soon believe that the pilots may have unwittingly smuggled diamonds or radioactive isotopes into the area.  The case leads the boys to the Flickering Torch club, where they play in a combo.

Groovy, man.  This book brings the boys into the hip 1960s.  They play guitar in a combo at a club, and in one scene, they have groupies fawning over them.  That is, the text doesn't use the word "fawning," but I figure that's what was going on.

I was skeptical at the beginning of the book, but I ended up greatly enjoying the story.  I do like the original text better, but this is also a very good book.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Sock Monkeys and Series Books

I am not currently attending very many estate sales, since I only go if I see something in the preview pictures that looks quite promising or if the sales are in my immediate area.  Three estate sales were in my immediate area today, and I knew that one of them had a sock monkey.  My mother collects sock monkeys.

I first went to the sale with the sock monkey.  I entered the house and scouted out the room with the dolls and picked up the sock monkey.  Next, I leisurely went back through all the rooms to see if I could find anything else.  Unexpectedly, the sale also had the first book in the Dale of the Mounted series.  The Dale of the Mounted book was in the living room in a small stack of books that the estate sale company considered special items.  Normally the books that they showcase like that are generic old books of little interest to me. 

The Dale of the Mounted series is obscure, and I acquired three of them around six weeks ago.  I had tried reading one, but it was a bit dry with many technical details.  Nevertheless, what I read was still interesting, but I really wanted to read the first book instead to get a better idea of the series, so I quit reading.

I was thrilled to find the first book.  I will have to read it sometime soon to find out whether it is worth pursuing the rest of the series.  Below are the three books that I purchased six weeks ago.

The four books shown in this post are the only ones published with this cover art, which I really like.  The rest of the series is published with different art that I don't like as much, so I'm less motivated to find them. 

After this first sale, I went to the two other sales in my immediate area.  At the third, I found another sock monkey.

At this point, I decided that I was having a lucky day.  Later after some errands, I was driving near the thrift store, which I seldom check due to a lack of interesting merchandise.  With the way things were going, I figured that the store probably had a sock monkey and some series books.  So I decided to go in, even though it was likely going to be a waste of time.  I went in and found a sock monkey in with the dolls.  This one is a recent mass-produced sock monkey, but it was only $0.99. 

I went to the book section to discover two bins full of books.  I don't search the bins unless I see something that looks promising.  I shifted some books and found a Happy Hollisters book.  Ah.  Now I had to search through both bins just in case.  I found some books that I didn't end up purchasing, but the next photo shows the ones that I did get.

I ended up with seven Happy Hollisters, one Nancy Drew, two Dana Girls, and one Canby Hall.  The price stickers were in the color of this week's special where items are 50% off.  Otherwise, I wouldn't have purchased the Happy Hollisters books.  Even at half off, I may not break even since Happy Hollisters books sell very low, but at least I rescued them from a possible bad end in a dumpster.

Finally, I also purchased this Hardy Boys book today.  Notice the back cover error where the white print is all missing.

Altogether, it was a good day.

Friday, April 8, 2016

Hardy Boys Revised Text #19 Disappearing Floor and #20 Flying Express

In the revised text of Hardy Boys #19, The Disappearing Floor, Frank and Joe are on the search for jewel thieves.  Soon, their search leads them to an old mansion in the woods that is said to be haunted.  The boys suspect that the criminals are hiding out in the mansion.  Later, they learn that an old professor is also staying at the mansion while perfecting his invention.

The science fiction aspects of the original text were mostly removed in this version and what remains is more believable. 

Clams Dagget is mentioned on page 105.  He originally appeared in The Mystery of the Chinese Junk, which was published four years before this revised text.  Both stories were written by James Lawrence.

The chase scene through the mansion was not annoying to me like the one in the original text.

The question and answer session at the end bored me, so I skimmed that part.  Otherwise, I enjoyed this story.  Since I did not like the second half of the original text, I probably enjoyed this version overall more.

In the revised text of Hardy Boys #20, Mystery of the Flying Express, the Hardys are asked to investigate who is trying to sabotage the Flying Express, a hydrofoil that will carry passengers in the waters near Bayport.  Meanwhile, Chet's new hobby is the zodiac, and he predicts the future of everyone he meets.  Coincidentally, the primary villain is also obsessed with the zodiac and uses it to decide how to proceed.

The book continually refers to the villains as "aqualantes."  Is this a real word? 

I greatly enjoyed most of this story, but I felt it got stupid towards the end.  One minor event in the book has to do with license plates found in a boathouse.  The plates have nothing to do with the mystery, but it is revealed at the end that the plates once belonged to Aunt Gertrude and somehow ended up in a boathouse to which the boys were taken as prisoners.  This is a ridiculously stupid and improbable coincidence.

I do not know which version of the text I enjoyed more.  I like both versions.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Hardy Boys Revised Text #15 Sinister Signpost, #16 Figure in Hiding, and #17 Secret Warning

In the revised text of Hardy Boys #15, The Sinister Signpost, the Hardys investigate who is sabotaging Mr. Alden's special racing cars.  A signpost placed temporarily along the roadside is used to flash a light at the vehicles, crazing the windshield and causing a wreck.  Meanwhile, Aunt Gertrude has inherited a stable of race horses and is not happy about it.

Frank and Joe suspect Mr. Alden's son, Roger, of being the culprit responsible for sabotaging the racing cars.  Roger is quite rude to the Hardys, but I feel that they are way too rude in return and that they make the situation much worse.  I don't feel that they need to be quite as rude as they are, and I find it a bit disgraceful.

On page 95, the boys learn that the stolen racehorse might be in Maryland.  Joe exclaims, "That's a coincidence.  Aunt Gertrude's stable is located there."  It's not a coincidence; it's by design.  Joe should know that.

I enjoyed this story.  Some parts are a little weird, and the ending is way too coincidental.  Chet and then the troopers show up at the perfect moment, so the criminals get captured.  Even though this story has flaws, I like it better than the original text.

In the revised text of Hardy Boys #16, A Figure in Hiding, the boys investigate just as many random events as in the original text.  In both stories, the title of the book has nothing to do with anything.  The phrase is included in the text several times in a lame attempt to make the title mean something.

I don't think this story is an improvement over the original.  The story is too complicated with too many characters and too much going on.  Too much information is thrown at the reader and very little of it is compelling.

I would have liked more time spent at the health resort, since that part of the story interested me.  If that part had been expanded quite a bit with the Hardys investigating undercover, this book could have been outstanding.  I love undercover work of that type.  Instead, the revised text is just as mediocre as the original text.

In the revised text of Hardy Boys #17, The Secret Warning, the Hardys search for a missing golden Pharaoh's head.  Their search takes them to Whalebone Island, where the ship sank that was carrying the golden head. 

The author throws in a sly reference to Syndicate author Andrew Svenson by naming a ship Svenson.

This story is a huge improvement over the original text, which bored me from start to finish.  I love the setting around Whalebone Island and the boys' explorations.  I greatly enjoyed this story.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Hardy Boys Revised Text #13 Mark on the Door and #14 Hidden Harbor

The revised text of Hardy Boys #13, The Mark on the Door, parallels the original text pretty closely, even though almost the entire story was rewritten.  The boys seek Elmer Tremmer and the villains who are holding him captive in Mexico, just like in the original text.

One of the oddities of the original text is that the Hardys' guide is a Yaqui Indian who wants to be called "Yaqui."  The revised text corrects that problem by changing that character into a Mexican boy who is named Tico.  

I greatly enjoyed the revised text.  I probably enjoyed the original text slightly more, but both versions are very good.

In the revised text of Hardy Boys #14, The Hidden Harbor Mystery, Frank and Joe investigate a feud between two relatives, which is expanded from the smaller part it played in the original text.  In the revised text, the feud and the hunt for treasure is the main story. The feud is fleshed out much better in this story.

This book has some of the same great atmosphere as The Clue of the Screeching Owl, and it was written by the same author.

I really enjoyed the original text, but mainly because I enjoy crazy stories when I find them interesting.  This version of the story is actually better than the original text.  This is an excellent book and is my favorite revised text story so far.