Sunday, November 19, 2017

Sweet Valley High Perfect Summer, #22 Too Much in Love, and #23 Say Goodbye

In Sweet Valley High Super Edition, Perfect Summer, Elizabeth, Jessica, and a number of friends depart on a summer bicycling trip along California's coast.  Mr. Collins and Ms. Dalton serve as chaperones.  When wealthy Courtney Thomas joins the group, Liz's boyfriend, Todd, does everything he can to make Courtney feel welcome.  Liz is certain that Courtney is not what she seems, but Todd is oblivious.  Liz and Todd are soon in danger of breaking up.

Jessica has fallen for mysterious Robbie October, but she can't get his attention.  Mr. Collins and Ms. Dalton aren't getting along, and Bruce Patman keeps making snide comments.

This is a good book, and it was always one of my favorites.  On this reading, I still enjoyed the story, but some parts bored me.  I read this book many times as a teen, so I remember the story quite clearly.  I think that is why it bored me at times.

In Sweet Valley High #22, Too Much in Love, DeeDee Gordon has suddenly become insecure.  DeeDee feels like she has to be the perfect girlfriend in order to keep Bill Chase from leaving her.  DeeDee clings to Bill, insisting that he spend every free moment with her.  DeeDee's behavior threatens to drive Bill away.

I don't care for this book.  DeeDee is annoying.

In Sweet Valley High #23, Say Goodbye, Todd Wilkins is moving to Vermont.  He breaks the sad news to Elizabeth.  The unhappy couple mopes around for the entire story, feeling sorry for themselves.

Gah.  I don't like Todd, and I can't stand Liz wandering around, feeling depressed.  It is so boring!  Please, Todd, just hurry up and leave.  I was tempted to skip this book, but I managed to read it.

On the bright side, Todd is leaving! 

This is also another book that I didn't read when young.  I think it worked out great back then when I read the books that had Todd, and then I read books with Liz's second boyfriend, Jeffrey.  I never had to read the sappy stuff where Liz goes around feeling sorry for herself because she loses Todd.  It's just too depressing.  I don't want to read about that!

I do not like this book.

Friday, November 17, 2017

The Expectation of Low Price Regardless of Scarcity

In the Facebook groups, members frequently post about their finds, usually at a certain chain bookstore, and the books were purchased at below value.  In fact, practically the only members who ever state what they paid for their books are the ones who announce that their books cost from $0.10 each up to $1.00 to $2.00 each.  Sometimes a member will photograph a big stack of vintage books and state that the entire stack was just a few dollars.

I ran searches on the names of some of the people who often post about very cheap finds.  Occasionally they state that a book that they purchased was priced higher than they would have liked, but they omit the price on those posts.  Interesting.  These people only mention prices when the books are extremely cheap.

The rest of the members almost never reveal the prices of their books, probably because they paid the actual market value.  Since the only people regularly revealing prices paid are the ones who purchased the books at very low prices, many collectors now have unrealistic expectations about price.  Some buyers think all books priced above a certain amount are too high, regardless of scarcity.  For some buyers, anything above $5 is too high.  For other buyers, anything above $40 or $50 is too high.  It doesn't matter how rare a book is; they expect for the book to be priced low.  They fail to understand that some books will be priced higher, due to supply and demand.

I had a copy of Vicki Barr #15, The Mystery of Flight 908, up for sale at $130.  Someone was looking for a copy, and the link to my book was shared in one of the groups. Someone else immediately said that my price was "crazy."  I did not take offense, because I knew that I had priced my book at the approximate value.  Not only that, mine was by far the cheapest copy available for sale.

The very few others up for sale online were priced at around $500.  I purposely priced mine the lowest.  I'm sure I needed to price mine at no higher than $50 for my price not to have been considered crazy by many series book buyers.  However, if I had priced my book at $50, it would almost certainly have sold immediately to someone who would have placed it back up for sale at $150 or higher.  There was no point in me giving it away at a low price. 

Regardless, I could not price my book at just $50 since I paid more than $50 for it.  Whenever a seller has scarce books up for sale, they most likely paid high prices for the books.  Sellers are not able to find scarce books for just a few dollars each.  I know of a high-end seller of inucabula—books printed before 1501—who spends $20,000 or more on single books and then resells them for $50,000 or more.  Expensive books that are up for sale were expensive for the sellers to purchase.  Never assume that the sellers purchased the books for mere pennies.  Sellers have made significant investments in their inventory.

Getting back to my book, I had the book available for someone who needed it, but I priced it high enough to recover my investment and make it less likely to be purchased to be placed back up for sale at an exorbitant price.  The book is now residing in someone's collection instead of being stuck in limbo for sale online. Many online sellers play "keep away" with scarce books by placing them up for sale at outrageous prices.  I want to get a decent price for my scarce books, and I want them to have a chance at finding a home.  Those books must be priced where they will sell, but probably to someone who needs the book.

At the same time, please understand that I do not mind dealers purchasing from me to resell.  If someone had purchased my book and offered it at a higher price, that would have been fine.  However, I did try to price it so that it would more likely go directly to someone who wanted to keep the book.

In a discussion in one of the series book groups, one person noted that collectors tend to price their books higher than bookstores and antique shops.  This is certainly true for books that are special in some way.  We know what they are really worth.  We know the historic selling prices over the last 20 or more years.  Unfortunately, those new to collecting do not know the historic selling prices, so they think we have priced the books too high.

International editions have become quite problematic to sell.  Buyers expect the books not to cost more than other series books.  In order to collect international editions, I must import the books from other countries.  The seller from whom I purchase the book may price a book at just $5, but I must typically pay postage of $10 to $20 to get the book.  The average international edition ends up costing $15 to $25, and sometimes the cost is much higher.

I have quite a few international editions for sale on eBay.  Many of them came from purchases made over two years ago when someone's entire collection of series books was donated to a library, which then evidently sold the books very cheaply.  Ultimately, the books ended up in large lots on eBay.  I acquired a large number of extras as a result of purchasing some of the bulk lots.   I have had some of the extras up for sale for over two years, and nobody wants them.  Those books are now priced at below my cost.  Even so, I have prospective buyers contact me, asking if I will reduce the prices.

I believe the problem is that because I have had so many extras from those purchases that prospective buyers perceive that the books are easy to find and should be priced cheaply.  Awhile back, someone made an observation about the availability of Vicki Barr books.  They believed that the international editions are much easier to find than the original editions.  They were referring to my listings of international editions of Vicki Barr books.  I was a bit taken aback that someone would think that the international editions are easier to find simply because one seller happens to have a bunch of them.  Now that my extra Vicki Barr international editions have sold, none are available.  They were never easier to find, but they were perceived to be due to my listings.

I have now sold most of those international editions, but for some reason, nobody will purchase my Danish Dana Girls books.  The books have beautiful cover art and are priced below my cost.  The Danish editions are my very favorite international editions, and I cannot understand why the books do not sell.  Actually, I do know why.  The books have been listed for over two years, so buyers think that they are easy to find.  Once they sell, the books will be hard to find.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Sweet Valley High #19 Showdown, #20 Crash Landing!, and #21 Runaway

In Sweet Valley High #19, Showdown, Lila falls in love with Jack, who is a construction worker.  When Jessica meets Jack at Lila's party, she immediately falls in love with him as well.  Jack secretly dates Jessica, and Jessica is furious when she realizes that Jack is continuing to date Lila.

Meanwhile, Liz learns that Enid's boyfriend, George Warren, has fallen in love with Robin Wilson.  Liz is greatly distressed since Enid's heart will be broken when she learns the truth.

I enjoyed this book.

In Sweet Valley High #20, Crash Landing!, George Warren earns his pilot's license and keeps his promise to take Enid on a flight.  Disaster strikes when George's plane crashes.  Enid is paralyzed, but George will fully recover.

Enid has surgery and is expected to walk again.  However, Enid is listless and refuses to complete her physical therapy.  George never told Enid about Robin, and he pledges to stay with her, despite his unhappiness.

I don't like this story very much.  It's unrealistic, and for some reason, I don't care for Enid.  She annoys me.

In Sweet Valley High #21, Runaway, Jessica feels like everyone likes Liz more.  Liz is so perfect, always doing the right thing.  Jessica becomes friendly with Nicky Shepard, who plans to run away from home.  Jessica decides to go with him.

This story would have been much better if Jessica hadn't waited until the end to run away.  And of course, her family catches up with her before she gets very far.  I would have liked to have seen Jessica living away from home for at least half of the book with everyone worried about her.  Instead, nearly all of the story takes place in Sweet Valley.

Nevertheless, I did enjoy the story.

Monday, November 13, 2017

The Motor Girls and The Motor Boys on the Atlantic

This post consists of brief comments about two of the books I read this summer.

I read the first Motor Girls book, The Motor Girls, by Margaret Penrose.  The book was published in 1910.  Cora Kimball gets her very own automobile and solves a minor mystery.

The text is sexist with the boys getting to drive Cora's car.  The boys race Cora's car with a car that belongs to another boy.  The behavior is very irresponsible and results in a wreck.  I felt that the scene belonged in a boys' series book, not a girls' book.  It's so off.

The story has a masquerade near the end that is so boring!  The characters are named by their costumes, and the reader has no idea who is who.  How confusing!

I wasn't very impressed with the book, but I might someday read the other books in the series.  I own most all of them.  This series won't be high on my list.

The Motor Girls series was launched because of the success of the Motor Boys series.  I read The Motor Boys on the Atlantic, which is the only Motor Boys book that I own.  The book was published in 1908.

The boys do a lot of things that they should not do.  I'm sure that the story was perfect for boys of the early 1900s, but this modern female reader couldn't appreciate much of it.  I like many boys' series books, but this one is too strongly a boys' book for my liking.

A ship wrecks, and the boys salvage the cargo that is floating around on the water.  There's no concern about returning the cargo to the owner.  Whoever gets to the cargo first can claim it.

The boys help kill a whale and a shark just to charge admission for people to see them.  They keep the whale on the beach until it decays too much and then they dispose of it.  How disgusting and what a waste!

When the boys are adrift for the second time during the book, the reader learns that they don't have oars since they have seldom needed them.  The reader also learns that the boys' boat has no signal lights.  What a bunch of idiots!

On page 159, the boys use the last of their water while adrift.  They are in the middle of a storm, and since they run out of water, I assume that they have no containers with which to capture any of the rainwater.  These boys have poor planning skills.

I was not very impressed, since I need to like the characters in order to like the story.  I did not like the boys very much.  The Motor Boys series will be very low on my list of books to read, and I'm not sure I will ever read the other titles.

Another book that I read during the same time period was the first Don Sturdy book, which also featured hunting.  I do not enjoy reading about series book characters killing animals for sport.  I had one Boy Hunters book by Ralph Bonehill, which was on my list of books to try.  Instead, I decided that I had no reason to keep it.  I very much doubt that I would enjoy reading it. 

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Sweet Valley High #16 Rags to Riches, #17 Love Letters, and #18 Head Over Heels

In Sweet Valley High #16, Rags to Riches, Roger Barrett has learned that he is Bruce Patman's cousin.  Roger moves into the Patman mansion, where he struggles to fit in.  Jessica seizes another chance to have a Patman as a boyfriend, so she chases after Roger.  Jessica launches a plot to get Roger to decide that his girlfriend, Olivia, is jealous and unworthy of dating a Patman.

Meanwhile, Regina Morrow is seen with an older man at lunch, and rumors fly.  Liz and Todd worry about Regina and try to find out what is going on.

I enjoyed this book.

In Sweet Valley High #17, Love Letters, Caroline Pierce is lonely.  She has always used gossip to fit in with the other students.  She has never had a boyfriend, so she creates one.  "Adam" sends Caroline wonderful love letters, and Caroline reads them to all the girls at school.

Jessica and Lila become suspicious that Adam never visits, so they put pressure on Caroline in order to discover the truth.  Liz soon learns about Adam.  Can she help Caroline save face?

I enjoyed this book.

In Sweet Valley High #18, Head Over Heels, Bruce Patman has fallen in love with Regina Morrow.  For once, Bruce has quit acting selfish and arrogant.  He seems to be truly in love. Jessica doesn't think that the romance will last, so she and Lila make a bet.  Since Jessica can't afford to lose, she does everything she can to force Bruce and Regina apart.  Will Jessica succeed in ruining the relationship?

I feel like by around #15 that the series really hit its stride. The early titles were a bit hard to take.

This is another good book.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Dorothy Dale: A Girl of To-Day and the Tom Stetson Series

This post consists of some brief thoughts on four books that I read this summer.

I read the first Dorothy Dale book, Dorothy Dale:  A Girl of To-Day.  The book was published in 1908 and was written by Lilian Garis under the pseudonym of Margaret Penrose.

Dorothy cries three times and passes out three times.  She goes into hysterics over practically nothing.  This story qualifies as one of the "namby-pamby" old girls' series books.

Language changes over the span of 100 years.  On page 163, Dorothy and Tavia leave on a trip.  The girls feel homesick and miss their friends and family.  Tavia remarks that "it's creepy to leave them all."  "Creepy" doesn't seem right to me in this context, at least not by how most people use it now.  I had to look up the meaning of the word to figure out how I should interpret the passage.  In this context, Tavia means that she feels uneasy about leaving her friends and family.  That makes sense.

The text contains much unnecessary use of quotation marks, a practice that is representative of several authors of old series books.  It's extremely obnoxious and takes me out of the story.  I hate it.

I found this story rather uninteresting.  I own the complete set of Dorothy Dale books.  I might read them someday, but the series is not a priority.

I read the three Tom Stetson books.  The series was published by Whitman and was written by John Henry Cutler.

1.  Tom Stetson and the Giant Jungle Ants, 1948
2.  Tom Stetson on the Trail of the Lost Tribe, 1948
3.  Tom Stetson and the Blue Devil, 1951

The books are set in the jungles of South America near the Amazon river.  Tom, his uncle, and a native boy, Manolo, are the primary characters.

The first book is a little slow at times and has too much detail.  The ending is a cliffhanger, since Manolo has been abducted by a native tribe.

The second book is paced much better.  I enjoyed it a lot more, but I kept confusing the two tribes.  Interestingly, in the third book, the author confuses the two tribes, mentioning one when he means the other.

On page 35 in the third book, the text states that they do not know which tribe was Manolo's.  How strange.  That was figured out in the first book.  Apparently, the author forgot.

I enjoyed most of the descriptive information from early in the third book, but by page 120, it becomes too much.  Finally, the plot gets started, and the book is pretty interesting.  The story ends rather abruptly, and this is the end of the series.

Whitman books can be rather uneven in quality, and I have always been wary of them ever since I read the female movie star authorized editions of the 1940s.  The Trixie Belden series is the shining star of Whitman since it is an outstanding series.  Whitman also published some other books that are rather good, like Brains Benton.  Many other Whitman books are quite mediocre.

The Tom Stetson series is slightly above average as far as Whitman books go.  They are much better than the Whitman authorized editions but are nowhere near as good as Trixie Belden.

For detailed Tom Stetson reviews, please visit this blog.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Sweet Valley High #13 Kidnapped!, #14 Deceptions, and #15 Promises

In Sweet Valley High #13, Kidnapped!, Jessica looks forward to Regina Morrow's big party.  The wealthy Morrow family has just moved to Sweet Valley, and Jessica hopes to make a good impression on Regina's brother, Nicholas. Meanwhile, Elizabeth has to finish her volunteer work at the hospital and then tutor Max Dellon before she can head to the party.

Jessica has a fantastic time at the party, and it is not until late in the evening that she finally realizes that Liz never arrived.  Liz vanished after leaving the hospital.  Fearing for Liz's life, the Wakefields and their friends frantically search for her.

I always loved this book.  For some reason, it didn't interest me that much this time.  It might be that I read it so many times years ago that I remembered the plot too vividly.

In Sweet Valley High #14, Deceptions, Jessica continues to chase after Nicholas Morrow. Unknown to her, Nicholas has decided that Liz is his perfect match, and he won't even let Liz's boyfriend, Todd, stand in his way.  Liz knows that she will never love Nicholas, but she feels compelled to go out on a date with him, just to give him the chance he wants.

Meanwhile, Jessica befriends computer whiz, Randy, in hopes that she can learn enough about computers to impress Nicholas.  Jessica's plan has unintended consequences, getting her in big trouble.

I didn't much care about Liz's dilemma with Nicholas.  It's just stupid for her to go out with him when she is 100% certain that she will stay with Todd.  She should have told Nicholas the truth, but of course if she had, then we would have had no story.

The Jessica subplot is the entertaining part of the book, and I greatly enjoyed it.

In Sweet Valley High #15, Promises, Steven's girlfriend, Tricia, dies of leukemia.  Steven promises Tricia that he will take care of her sister, Betsy.  Betsy stays with the Wakefields after the funeral, much to Jessica's horror.  Jessica is determined to find a way to get Betsy out of the Wakefield home and away from Steven.

Meanwhile, Roger Barrett's mother is seriously ill, and Bruce Patman's father pays for her medical care.  The students of Sweet Valley High wonder why Mr. Patman is being so generous.

I enjoyed the subplot with Roger Barrett more than I did the main plot.

This is a good book.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Nancy Drew Diaries #15 The Professor and the Puzzle

In Nancy Drew Diaries #15, The Professor and the Puzzle, Nancy, Bess, and George attend Oracle College's Greek Gala.  During the party, a student falls from the balcony and is injured.  Nancy suspects sabotage and begins an investigation.

Pages 3, 9, 58, 97, and 116 feature a character smirking.  Nancy smirks on three of those pages.  I hate that word and its use in the Nancy Drew Diaries series.  Nancy Drew should not smirk.

On page 30, Nancy reflects, "Events like this could be overwhelming for some—the noise, the crush of the crowd, the forced small talk.  Even I was starting to crave a little solitude and fresh air right about now."  This is not Nancy Drew!  The characterization is so wrong in this book!

On page 36, Nancy "commanded [her] mind to be calm."  Even worse, Nancy's voice is shaky on page 37.

On page 39, Nancy's problems worsen.  (Personally, I think the poor girl needs to be placed in a mental institution; either that, or I do for reading this book.)  "I realized that I had a pounding headache.  It almost felt like something was inside my brain, trying to punch its way out."  Nancy then has to go sit down.  Yep, she needs to be committed.  This is not how Nancy Drew is supposed to behave during a case.

When the pounding headache came on, I momentarily misunderstood.  I thought that the drinks had been poisoned, which is why Nancy suddenly had a pounding headache.  I then quickly realized that the author was showing Nancy as weak, since apparently girls must want to read about weak girl detectives.  It made no sense.  In all previous Nancy Drew series, a pounding headache would have meant that Nancy had been poisoned or had become ill.  This series is so bizarre.

On page 75, the reader learns that Dr. Stone takes insulin injections for her low blood glucose.  I was so confused.

Most of page 76 describes Nancy's queasiness over seeing an insulin injection.  There isn't any blood visible!  I cannot stand how Nancy Drew is portrayed in this series.  It is truly pathetic.

Bess and George seem to be making up excuses when Nancy wants them to help solve the mystery.  By a comment that George makes at the end of the story, I figured out that George's excuse must have been real.  However, it came across as totally fake as I read the story.  This might have been an attempt at humor, but it fell flat for me.

On page 84, Nancy "glanced over at Iris, who was rolling her eyes in that familiar oh Nancy sort of way."  This is more disparagement, and it adds nothing to the story.

On page 87, Nancy's "heart was racing," and the text implies that she felt terror.  On page 88, Nancy is called a "high schooler."  How many times do they need to put Nancy in her place?  Is this series written by authors who hate Nancy Drew?

The next paragraph contains a strong hint about the culprit, so skip it if you don't want to read a possible spoiler.

The bottom part of page 91 makes it extremely obvious what the motive is, and the reader can easily guess the culprit.  Nancy, of course, has no idea.  To her credit, Nancy does suggest on page 93 that a faculty member could be the culprit.  You think?

On page 102, Nancy thinks two students in Dr. Stone's class are behaving suspiciously because she sees one boy showing the other something on his phone.  How shocking!  Newsflash, Nancy.  Most students do that nowadays.  They can't go more than a few minutes without looking at their phones!  There's nothing suspicious about it.

On page 103, Stone confiscates the cell phones from the two students since they had been warned not to use them in class, telling them that she will keep the phones until class on Wednesday.  Huh?  How would she get away with keeping their phones for multiple days?

On page 108, the reader learns that Nancy is prone to getting into trouble.  Iris warns her that she will have Bess and George call and yell at her.  This is so off.

On page 113, Nancy contemplates a 20-foot fall.  She concludes that she has a 50% chance of surviving serious injury.  I'm not so sure about that.  If Nancy has been trained on how to fall, then she might have a good chance of surviving serious injury.  However, this series has made it clear that Nancy is stupid and inept, so she would almost certainly be killed.

On page 129, George suggests that Nancy check the footage on the security cameras from during the gala.  That way, she might see what happened.  How brilliant!  Why does Nancy need her friends to tell her logical things to check while solving the mystery?  This is eerily similar to the Nancy Drew games.  In the book, George is on the phone giving Nancy advice, just like what happens in the Nancy Drew games.  The problem is that this story is not a Nancy Drew game!  Argh!

On page 149, Nancy runs out of gas.  How do you run out of gas in a modern car?  Don't they have a low fuel warning?  This is especially odd since Nancy has been at the college the entire time.  Did she actually arrive at the gala in a vehicle that was almost completely out of gas?

Two characters should have had less similar names.  I kept confusing Dr. Brown and Dr. Stone.  The names have shared letters and are the same length.  I couldn't keep them straight.

I do have two positive statements.  Nancy takes no bathroom breaks.  The cast of characters is kept to a minimum.

I did enjoy the book, but the plot is too simple and obvious.  Nancy's characterization is off for the entire story.  However, the book is quick, easy, and pleasant to read, so long as one doesn't think of it as a Nancy Drew book.  That's the problem.  The book would be just fine as anything other than a Nancy Drew book.

The Nancy Drew Diaries series was supposed to correct the problems of the Nancy Drew Girl Detective series.  Nancy was supposed to return to how she once was in the older Nancy Drew books.  Instead, Nancy has been made even less perfect than in the Girl Detective series.  The Girl Detective books do not portray Nancy as scared and weak all the time.

I no longer like the Nancy Drew Diaries series.  This series is an epic fail.  And this is coming from just about the only Nancy Drew fan who will admit to actually liking the Girl Detective series.  Everyone else dislikes or hates that series.  This means that I am more open-minded than anyone, but I no longer like the Nancy Drew Diaries series.

It's time for another relaunch.  I previously stated that I wanted both the Nancy Drew Diaries and Hardy Boys Adventures series to continue, simply because I really enjoyed the Hardy Boys Adventures books.  The Hardy Boys Adventures series started out strong, but it has now deteriorated in quality, so it's time to pull the plug.  How about we just go back to the premise of the Nancy Drew Digest series?  Those books are rather good.

Friday, November 3, 2017

Sweet Valley High #10 Wrong Kind of Girl, #11 Too Good to Be True, and #12 When Love Dies

In Sweet Valley High #10, Wrong Kind of Girl, Annie Whitman wants to become a cheerleader. Annie is certain that she is good enough, but she has no idea how bad her reputation is.  Annie has a different date each night, and the other students call her "Easy Annie."  Jessica is on the cheerleading squad, and there's no way that she will let Annie ever become a cheerleader. Elizabeth feels that Annie deserves a second chance, especially after Annie tells her how hard she is trying to change her life.  Can Liz change Jessica's mind?

This was the second Sweet Valley  High book that I read when I was a teen.

I enjoyed this book.

In Sweet Valley High #11, Too Good to Be True, wealthy Suzanne Devlin comes to Sweet Valley for a two-week vacation.  She and Jessica are switching places.  Jessica gets to spend two glamorous weeks in New York City!

Suzanne has the perfect personality, and everyone falls in love with her.  Too late, Elizabeth begins to suspect that Suzanne is not what she seems.  Unfortunately, the damage has been done, and Sweet Valley may never be the same.

I overall enjoyed this book.  I enjoyed the last half of the book more than the first half.

In Sweet Valley High #12, When Love Dies, Steven's girlfriend, Tricia Martin, has broken up with him.  Jessica is thrilled, since the Martin family is trashy.  Mr. Martin is drunk all the time, and Tricia's sister, Betsy, has a terrible reputation.  Jessica decides to set Steven up with her friend, Cara Walker.  Steven isn't ready to forget about Tricia, and Jessica's manipulation has terrible results.  Meanwhile, Elizabeth discovers the grim truth about Tricia's health.

Jessica also spends her time plotting how she can get television personality Jeremy Frank to invite her on his show.  Jessica's plot blows up in her face.

Here, the series begins to evolve into including a fun Jessica subplot in most books.  The Jessica subplots are my favorite part of the Sweet Valley High series.

I like this story, but I don't like how the Martin family is depicted.  It's typical of Sweet Valley High to use harsh terms to describe characters who fall outside of the Wakefields' perfect world, but "trashy" seems a bit much.  My perception of life is quite different now than when I was young, so I consider the Martins to be underprivileged and troubled, not trashy.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Hardy Boys Adventures #15 A Con Artist in Paris

In Hardy Boys Adventures #15, A Con Artist in Paris, Frank and Joe stay in Paris while Fenton Hardy attends the International Professional Association of Detectives (IPAD) convention.  The world's most expensive pen is stolen from the boys' hotel, and famous graffiti artist Le Stylo is suspected of being the culprit.  Frank and Joe aren't so sure, and they begin an investigation.

IPAD?  Seriously?  I knew as soon as I saw the abbreviation for the detective organization that I would not like this book very much.  It did not bode well, and my assumption about the story was correct.

This book is chock full of gimmicks just like the Hardy Boys Undercover Brothers series.  I strongly suspect that this story came from an unused manuscript for the Undercover Brothers series.

I did not like this book.  This book definitely ranks in the bottom two or three Hardy Boys Adventures books.  It's an okay story, but it reads like the Undercover Brothers series.

I now have reservations about the Hardy Boys Adventures series.  Previously, I stated that it is much better than the Nancy Drew Diaries series.  I now fear that the Hardy Boys Adventures series is going down in quality and will soon be a lost cause.  If Simon and Schuster can stay away from unused Undercover Brothers stories, there might be hope.  If not, then the series is doomed.

Monday, October 30, 2017

Sweet Valley High #7 Dear Sister, #8 Heart Breaker, and #9 Racing Hearts

In Sweet Valley High #7, Dear Sister, Liz lies near death after a serious motorcycle accident.  Liz thought that she could take a chance riding just once on Todd's motorcycle, and a drunken driver forced them off the road.

Liz is now in a coma, and Jessica is devastated.  Finally, Liz awakens, but she seems to have turned into Jessica!  Liz behaves outrageously, dating every boy in school except for Todd.  Can Jessica and Todd get the old Liz back?

This was the first Sweet Valley High that I ever read.  I always loved it.  It did not hold up well.  I found it way too hard to believe, and I couldn't get into it this time.

In Sweet Valley High #8, Heart Breaker, Jessica resents Bill Chase  because he once turned down a date with her, so she tricks him into falling in love with her.  Once Jessica has Bill, she ignores him and plays with his emotions.

Bill and DeeDee soon become friendly.  Jessica continues her charade, making sure that Bill and DeeDee's relationship is doomed.  Can Bill overcome Jessica's manipulation?

Jessica's behavior is obnoxious.  I typically like Jessica's schemes, because they usually are designed to lure in a guy that Jessica actually wants.  It's illogical for Jessica to waste so much time on a guy she dislikes.  She's just being mean for no reason.

It was at this point that I realized that many of the early books in the series no longer appeal to me.  I start really liking the books at around #15.

I do not like this book very much.

In Sweet Valley High #9, Racing Hearts, Roger Barrett really likes Lila Fowler, but Lila laughs at him because he is poor.  Unknown to everyone else, Roger works as a janitor in the afternoon and evenings.  Roger wins the qualifying round for a race that could earn him a scholarship. Roger suddenly becomes popular, but he won't be able to compete in the final race because of his job.  Roger is torn and does not know what to do.

I enjoyed this book.  I always like stories in which the protagonist has a real dilemma that is compelling.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Doris Fein: Murder Is No Joke, Dead Heat at Long Beach, and Legacy of Terror

In Doris Fein: Murder Is No Joke, Doris meets a young comedian, Steven Sachs, at a comedy club.  The two fall in love and have a whirlwind romance.  When a man is murdered, Steven is a prime suspect.  But Steven was on stage at the time, so he seemingly has a foolproof alibi.  Besides, Doris loves him, so he cannot be guilty.  Can Doris uncover the truth?

I did not enjoy this book very much.  I did not like Steven Sachs, and I never felt anything with the romance.  I hate reading about a romance that seems repulsive to me on every level.  I also felt that Doris behaves rather foolishly and not much like herself.

Additionally, I could not get into the story at all.

In Doris Fein: Dead Heat at Long Beach, Doris learns to race her expensive racing car.  While practicing, Doris meets racing enthusiast, Roderigo Alcala, who falls in love with her.  Doris cannot stand Alcala, but the spy agency IGO orders Doris to romance him in order to gain information about a group of revolutionaries.  As usual, Doris ends up in a lot of trouble.

I enjoyed this book.

In Doris Fein: Legacy of Terror, Doris travels to Chicago to meet the man who claims to be Harry Grubb's son.  Ashford Miller claims that his mother and Harry Grubb were his parents.  At stake is Harry's huge fortune.  Doris and Ashford become unlikely friends, and Doris becomes Ashford's ally against the organized crime of Chicago's underworld.

I enjoyed learning more about Harry's Grubb's past life.  Stories that explore the relationships between the important characters always have more meaning and are usually the better books in a series.

This is an excellent book.

I enjoyed reading the Doris Fein series.  The series is full of humor.

As I wrote in an earlier review, I wish that Carl Suzuki had been Doris' suitor throughout the entire series.  I enjoyed his character and wanted to see more of him.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Sweet Valley High #4 Power Play, #5 All Night Long, and #6 Dangerous Love

In Sweet Valley High #4, Power Play, Robin Wilson wants to join the Pi Beta Alpha sorority more than anything.  Robin is overweight and unpopular, and she thinks that Jessica is her new best friend.  Robin just knows that Jessica will help her get into the sorority.

Liz knows the truth:  Jessica will never allow Robin to be a member of Pi Beta Alpha.  Liz thinks she can pull some strings and outmatch her twin.  Meanwhile, Lila Fowler is behaving strangely and is giving Jessica some extremely expensive gifts.  Liz is worried.

This book has a great opening line: "Elizabeth Wakefield didn't know how messy things would get with Robin Wilson and the sorority pledging, until she was in too deep to back out."  The reader knows immediately that this story will be interesting.

The following passage from page 108 is one of my favorites.
When [Elizabeth] walked in, she heard Jessica's heartrending sobs and immediately felt like crying herself.  For once in her life, Jessica was being tormented for something she hadn't done.
This book holds up quite well.  It was always one of my favorites, and I still love it.

In Sweet Valley High #5, All Night Long, Elizabeth is worried about Jessica's latest relationship.  Jessica has fallen for Scott Daniels, an experienced college student.  Jessica goes on a beach party with Scott and fails to return overnight.  Consumed with worry, Liz is forced to cover for Jess the next day.

I always enjoyed this book greatly, but it fell flat this time.  I find Jessica's relationship with Scott to be unrealistic, and I was also annoyed with the conflict between Todd and Liz.  I find that I now agree with Jessica that Todd is too dull for Liz.

In Sweet Valley High #6, Dangerous Love, Todd has purchased a motorcycle.  Unknown to him, Liz has been forbidden from ever riding on a motorcycle because her cousin was killed in a motorcycle accident.  Liz hides the truth from Todd as long as she can.  Once she tells him, it strains their relationship.  Todd gives rides to other girls, and Liz fears that she will lose him.

Personally, I'd like for Liz to lose Todd immediately.

This is a book that I did not read when I was a teen, so it holds no nostalgic appeal.  Furthermore, I no longer like Todd, so I have no interest in this story.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Doris Fein: Mad Samurai and Deadly Aphrodite

In Doris Fein: The Mad Samurai, Doris and Carl attend Nisei Week in Los Angeles' Little Tokyo.  Carl introduces Doris to Ed Gilson, who is a personal family friend and Los Angeles police officer.  Gilmer takes the two friends on a guided tour of the festivities.  When Gilmer is asked to investigate the murder of a real estate baron, Carl and Doris assist.

In this story, the reader learns more about Japanese internment during World War 2.

This book marks a turning point in the series.  Near the end, Doris inherits a fortune when Harry Grubb dies.  Carl is suddenly insecure and feels that he and Doris have no future.  Since Carl is old fashioned, he does not wish to be "Mr. Doris Fein," so it becomes clear that he and Doris no longer have a future.

Even though Carl departs from the series, I still have hope that perhaps someday he and Doris might end up together.  Maybe Carl will someday inherit a fortune, then he will feel worthy of Doris.  It's a pipe dream, but I hold onto it.  I really like Carl, and I hated to see him go.

This is a very good book.

In Doris Fein: Deadly Aphrodite, Doris is now fabulously wealthy, living in Harry Grubb's mansion.  Doris no longer has Carl, and she finds that men only want her for her wealth.  Doris' alter ego Petunia takes control, and Doris eats compulsively, gaining a lot of weight.  When Doris learns that her old boyfriend, Larry Small, is returning home, she joins Aphrodite's, a weight-loss spa for the rich and famous.  Soon after Doris joins, she learns that some members have disappeared.  Doris begins to suspect foul play, and unfortunately, the spa's owners know that Doris is suspicious.

I neglected to mention Petunia in earlier reviews.  Doris maintains that her eating is due to Petunia, her alter ego who grunts when she wants food.  Doris is a sensible young woman who watches her eating habits, but Petunia frequently takes control, eating everything in sight.

Chapter 11 is titled "Doris Fein and Her Electric Swimming Pool."  A villain in this book is named Dr. Keene.  That might not necessarily mean anything, but taken with the title of Chapter 11, a mention of the Hardy Boys early in the series, and Harry Grubb's dogs the Rover Boys, I think Mr. Keene might be a sly reference to the author of the Nancy Drew series.

This is one of my favorite books in the series.  It is excellent.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Sweet Valley High #1 Double Love, #2 Secrets, and #3 Playing with Fire

In Sweet Valley High #1, Double Love, Jessica Wakefield has her eye on Todd Wilkins.  Todd is Sweet Valley High's star basketball player, and Jessica is certain that she can make him fall in love with her.  Unknown to Jessica, her twin sister, Elizabeth, likes Todd a lot.  Liz is devastated when Todd appears to be falling for Jessica.

I have never cared for the first book in this series.  It was one of the books I didn't read as a teen, so nostalgia, or rather, lack of nostalgia is the reason why. 

I also no longer care much for the Elizabeth and Todd relationship.  I liked them okay together when I was a teen, but they bore me now.

In Sweet Valley High #2, Secrets, Elizabeth's best friend, Enid Rollins, fears that she will lose her boyfriend, Ronnie Edwards.  Enid tells Liz her darkest secret, that she was once on drugs, and if Ronnie ever finds out, he'll dump her.

Soon, the worst happens.  Someone has told Ronnie about Enid's past!  Enid is certain that Liz told, but Liz kept Enid's secret.  Can Liz ever sort out this mess and regain Enid's friendship?

From page 17:
Even so, Jessica doubted that Ms. Dalton suspected that Ken had a crush on her. 

Teachers could be so dense about some things, she thought.
Ha!  Little do our students realize that we know far more than we let on and that we often play dumb on purpose, at least at first.  They have no idea.

I always enjoyed this book, but now it's just okay.

In Sweet Valley High #3, Playing with Fire, Jessica has been in love with Bruce Patman for the longest time, and finally, Bruce is paying attention to her.  Jessica spends all of her time with Bruce, even cutting classes to spend time with him.  Liz is worried, because Jessica is not acting like herself.  Liz fears that Bruce is using her.  Can Liz help Jessica come to her senses before she gets hurt?

I always loved this book, but now it seems so stupid.  Jessica is such a self-assured young lady, and it's highly unlikely that she would transform into such a permissive person so suddenly.  This book is not believable, and it did not hold up well at all upon this reading.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

The Cassandra Best Series

The Cassandra Best series consists of the following books.

1.  Ticket to Danger, 1990
2.  Race Against Time, 1990
3.  Mystery in Hollywood, 1990
4.  Treasure Beach, 1990

The series was published by Grosset and Dunlap and written under the pseudonym of Jennifer Austin.  The books were published in glossy hardcover editions.

Cassandra Best Jones, known as Cassie to her family, is 18 years old.  Cassie's alter ego, Cassandra, is a detective.

In Cassandra Best #1, Ticket to Danger, Cassie's British pen pal, Alex, has sent her a plane ticket.  Cassie is nervous, because Alex thinks Cassie is wealthy.  Cassie is not wealthy and lives an ordinary life.  Cassie sets her worries aside as soon as she arrives at Alex's estate.  Alex is missing!  Cassie gets to play the role of Cassandra Best as she searches for her missing friend.

Near the end of the story Cassie tries to communicate telepathically with Alex.

This book has a good story idea that is lacking.  I enjoyed the first part just fine, then I started to get bored.  The text needs more description, something to make it more interesting.

In Cassandra Best #2, Race Against Time, Alex sends Cassie a ticket to the Kentucky Derby.  Cassie gets to investigate another mystery when the horse favored to win the race goes missing.

On page 18, Mr. Felsingham tells Cassie that he can always sense when something is wrong in the stable, even when he is in the house.  This is a second instance of telepathy in this series.  I sense a trend.

I enjoyed this book a little more than the first book.

In Cassandra Best #3, Mystery in Hollywood, Cassie invetigates a mystery on the set of a horror movie.

On page 111, Cassie is captive in a room that is "pitch dark."  Cassie can't see a thing.  The problem is that a fire is burning inside the same room.  A fire causes light, but the room is "pitch dark."  This bothered me.

Like all "sabotage on a movie set" books, I had trouble getting into the story.

In Cassandra Best #4, Treasure Beach, Cassie and Alex visit a tropical island where a crew searches for sunken treasure.  One of the diving ships disappears, and Cassie suspects sabotage.

On page 6, Cassie believes that she might have developed a psychic connection with Alex.

Parts of this story bored me.

The problem with the Cassandra Best series is that the books were written with minimal description and minimal emotion.  They mostly lack everything that makes a story good.  The stories come across as not much more than a basic outline with text added.  I assume that the books were not written by a very skilled writer or else the author was paid practically nothing.  I did enjoy some parts of the books, but overall, this is a fairly bland series.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Doris Fein: Quartz Boyar and Phantom of the Casino

In Doris Fein: Quartz Boyar, Doris becomes a courier for a top-secret agency.  Her employers are not entirely honest with Doris, so she has no idea of the delicate nature of her task or of the grave danger that faces her.  By the end of the story, Doris is highly annoyed with the situation.

I did not enjoy this book as much as the previous book.  I never care much for books that involve constant traveling from country to country.  There is a lot of intrigue, and it tired me.

In Phantom of the Casino, Harry Grubb, Doris, and Carl travel to the island of Santa Catarina.  At first, they plan to return home immediately, but they instead end up staying for a few days.  While Doris and Carl dance, the rotating reflector ball crashes down onto the dance floor.  Doris and Carl learn of additional accidents plaguing the hotel, and they begin an investigation.

I was quite thrilled so see Carl again.  I love his character.  I also was quite pleased with the setting.  Books set in specific locations without lots of travel are the ones that I enjoy the most.

Reading this book helped me to understand the unfairness of Japanese internment camps during World War II.  When I studied the war in school when I was young, the lessons focused on the Germans and their actions.  The Japanese were mentioned as well along with internment, but internment would have mentioned in a positive fashion.  This story explains how the internment caused Carl's relatives to lose their property.

It is important to note that the author, T. Ernesto Bethancourt, married a Japanese-American woman.

The culprit is surprising.  This is a very good book.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Red Carnations, Hidden Hollow, and Indian Island by Mary C. Jane

In Mystery of the Red Carnations, Prue Tenney is supposed to write about something exciting over the weekend.  Nothing exciting ever happens.  Prue remembers an unidentified young man who was shot and killed years ago.  She visits his grave and sees the person who leaves the red carnations on the grave each year on the anniversary of his death.  Prue is shocked that the man is Mr. Holman, owner of a nearby farm.  Could Mr. Holman have killed the man?

I was reminded of the Poe Toaster as I read the story.

This is a very good book.

In Mystery in Hidden Hollow, Amy and Freddy stay with their Uncle Ken in a motel cabin.  As winter approaches, the children will be forced to go back home since the cabin has no electricity.  Amy and Freddy have an unhappy home life.  The children are excited—and a bit scared—when Uncle Ken is hired to watch over Mr. Sargent's old cabin in Hidden Hollow.

This is a very good book.

In Indian Island Mystery, a valuable bear's-tooth necklace disappears from Eric and Abbie Jane's parents' shop.  An Indian boy from the nearby island is suspected, since he has run away from home.  The children believe him to be innocent, so they set out to prove it.

The story is good, but I had trouble getting into it.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Dr. Doom: Superstar and Doris Fein: Superspy

The Doris Fein series consists of eight books written by T. Ernesto Bethancourt.  It is a young adult mystery series.

1.  Doris Fein: Superspy, 1980
2.  Doris Fein: Quartz Boyar,  1980
3.  Doris Fein: Phantom of the Casino, 1981
4.  Doris Fein: The Mad Samurai, 1981
5.  Doris Fein: Deadly Aphrodite, 1982
6.  Doris Fein: Murder is No Joke, 1982
7.  Doris Fein: Dead Heat at Long Beach, 1983
8.  Doris Fein: Legacy of Terror,  1984

Doris Fein (pronounced FINE) was actually introduced in Dr. Doom: Superstar, which was published in 1978.  Dr. Doom: Superstar is not part of the Doris Fein series, since the book is not narrated by Doris, but the book does introduce the characters and sets the premise for the Doris Fein series.

Doris Fein lives in Santa Amelia, California.  Doris' boyfriend from high school, Larry Small, works for the town's newspaper.  Harry Grubb is an eccentric millionaire who owns the newspaper.  Doris' other suitor is Carl Suzuki, a New York police officer and later assistant district attorney who appears in a few of the books.

Doris is feisty, independent, and overweight.  Doris is quite into women's rights, and she is quick to let the men around her know what she thinks.  Doris' weight is depicted in a positive fashion, and men find her attractive.  I am unclear about how overweight Doris really is, but I assume that she is at least 25 pounds overweight.  Also, Doris' weight fluctuates up and down throughout the series, which is quite realistic.

In Dr. Doom: Superstar, Larry Small hopes to land a job writing for Rolling Stone magazine.  Larry plans to interview Danny Breckinridge, known as Dr. Doom, when he performs in Santa Amelia.  If Larry can get a good interview, then he might be able to land his dream job.  With the help of Harry Grubb, wealthy newspaper owner, and good friend, Doris Fein, Larry gets the chance for his interview.  As the friends get to know Danny Breckinridge, they learn that someone is planning to kill him.  Can they prevent a murder?

Harry Grubb calls his dogs the Rover Boys.  Both of them are named Rover, so together, they are the Rover Boys.

This is a good book.

In Doris Fein: Superspy, Doris Fein travels to New York to stay with her aunt and uncle.  Plans go awry when her aunt and uncle disappear!  Doris suspects foul play, since Uncle Claude is a diplomat in a country that is having a revolution.  Doris goes to the police to get assistance, but they don't believe her.  Fortunately, Carl Suzuki overhears the story and decides to assist Doris during his off-duty time.  Doris and Carl find themselves in the middle of dangerous intrigue.

This book is full of pop culture references, many that I didn't get.  I was too young at the time this book was published to be aware of most of them.

I really like Carl Suzuki and wish that he had been in all of the books in the series.

The Hardy Boys are mentioned on page 153.

This is a very good book.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Longfellow Square and Nine-Mile Marsh by Mary C. Jane

In Mystery in Longfellow Square, Phil Holt's mother has been hired as Miss Goddard's secretary.  Phill will look after her nephew's dog.  Soon after the Holts get settled, Miss Goddard has a visitor, who is interested in her research of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.

Unfortunately, Miss Goddard trusts the man completely and will not listen to Phil, who is certain that the man is searching the house for something.  The man even orders Miss Goddard to send the dog away, much to Phil's horror.  Can Phil learn the truth in time to foil the man's plot?

The story is good, but like some of the others, I was never that interested.

In Mystery on Nine-Mile Marsh, Lucille no longer has anyone to play with after school. The other girls have formed the Saturday Club, and Lucille was not invited to join.  The girls go to parties and other gatherings that Lucille cannot attend.  Lucille finally makes a new friend, Barbara.

Lucille, Barbara, Kevin, and Brent learn that Moody's Island has a new owner.  The four children are tasked with looking after the property when the new owner goes away. The children discover intruders and soon learn that someone is trying to gain control of the property.

I really enjoyed it when Lucille becomes friends with Barbara.  Take that, you snobbish Saturday Club girls!

This is a very good book.

Friday, October 6, 2017

Vintage Nancy Drew Large Print Edition

I saw a listing for a vintage large print edition Nancy Drew book.  The book was priced higher than I would have liked, but I was very tempted.  The seller's description started out with "This is something that probably is not in your collection!"  What a true statement!  It was the best line the seller could have used to lure me into purchasing the book.  I made the purchase, since I knew that another one would not be coming along anytime soon.

You're probably wondering exactly how large this book is.

That's how large.  The book is 11 1/3 inches by 7 3/4 inches and weighs close to two pounds.  The publisher made enlargements of the original Grosset and Dunlap book.  Lines can be seen on some pages from the copying process.

This is quite a unique book.