Tuesday, January 31, 2017

National Parks Mysteries #10 Out of the Deep and #11 Running Scared

In National Parks Mysteries #10, Out of the Deep, the Landons and their foster child, Bindy, arrive in Acadia National Park.  Olivia's latest task is to discover why the whales are beaching themselves along the shore of Maine.

Bindy is a troubled girl known to be a pathological liar.  Unfortunately, no one believes her when she learns key evidence as to why the whales are becoming beached.  Bindy takes matters into her own hands, endangering the lives of all three children.

The obligatory plug for National Geographic occurs on page 70.

On page 78, Bindy has disappeared for the second time.  Jack thinks of the legal ramifications.  His family might be sued, and they might not ever be able to take care of foster children again.  I found it refreshing for a series book to mention possible consequences of the family's misadventure.  Series books don't usually mention that sort of thing.

This is an excellent story.

In National Parks Mysteries #11, Running Scared, the Landon family vacations at Carlsbad Caverns National Park with their current foster child, Sam.  Sam is a troubled young boy who stutters.  Sam has his heart set on exploring Left Hand Tunnel, mainly because he is left-handed.

Olivia and Steven aren't able to accompany the children, so a park employee takes them to join a tour in progress.  An emergency situation causes Sam to become frightened, and he runs off into the caverns.  Jack and Ashley try to find him, becoming hopelessly lost.

For once, Olivia does not have a task at the park. The adventure is centered around the many hours that the children are lost in the tunnels.

This book is outstanding.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Merivale Mall #9 Never Say Goodbye and #10 Sweet Success

In Merivale Mall #9, Never Say Goodbye, Don is forced to move back in with his parents.  Don's parents are difficult.  They worry about money and fight all the time.  They expect Don to stay home every evening, which puts a strain on Don's relationship with Danielle.  Don must make a change in his life, but his decision could cause Danielle to lose him forever.

Meanwhile, Lori has her eye on a bag lady who frequents the mall.  Lori is determined to help the woman, but she is rebuffed at every turn.

I have already mentioned that Danielle and Don are my favorite part of the series, so not suprisingly, I really enjoyed this book.

In Merivale Mall #10, Sweet Success, Lori's talent at creating fashion has been discovered. Lori now has a wealthy backer who gets her started in business.  Lori quickly learns that the schedule is exhausting, leaving her no time for her friends or for studying.  Lori must examine her priorities and decide what is most important to her.

Meanwhile, Danielle's family has money problems, and Danielle is forced to get a job. Danielle tries several jobs, with each one ending in disaster.

I enjoyed this book.

I didn't realize it as I read these books, but the series is winding down during books nine through twelve.  Each plot and subplot is part of a greater story arc that leads Lori and Danielle to where they are at the end of the final book.

Friday, January 27, 2017

National Parks Mysteries #8 Valley of Death and #9 Escape from Fear

In National Parks Mysteries #8, Valley of Death, the Landons and their latest foster child, Leesa, arrive in Death Valley National Park so that Olivia can investigate why bighorn sheep are dying.  Jack is puzzled that his parents have told him nothing about Leesa's background, and he senses a great mystery.  Ashley is abducted mistakenly, and it turns out that the culprits wanted Leesa instead.  Leesa decides to turn herself over to the men, but Jack goes with her.

Near the end of the story, Ashley is traumatized by her experience.  This is much more realistic than what is usually seen in series books where the protagonist is unfazed by grave danger.  I enjoyed the realism.

This is a very good book.

In National Parks Mysteries #9, Escape from Fear, the Landons visit Virgin Islands National Park so that Olivia can help the park protect the dying coral reefs.  When the family arrives, they discover that Forrest, the son of a diplomat, has arrived in St. John without an adult.  Mr. and Mrs. Landon insist that Forrest stay with them. Jack and Ashley soon learn that Forrest has a mystery and that he has come to St. John to meet his mother for the first time.

This is a very interesting book.  Forrest's story is compelling.  This is an excellent book.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Merivale Mall #7 Hometown Hero and #8 Slave for a Day

In Merivale Mall #7, Hometown Hero, Don James saves a toddler from certain death when he catches the boy after a fall from the upper level of the mall.  Suddenly, Danielle's relationship with Don can become public.  She doesn't have to be embarrassed about seeing a hero, even if he is a mechanic.  But then Don is accused of theft, turning Danielle's world upside down.  Danielle dumps Don while he struggles to prove his innocence.

I like Danielle the best when she is involved with Don.  The relationship between Danielle and Don is the best part of this series.

This book is excellent.  I read it fast.

In Merivale Mall #8, Slave for a Day, Nick's old girlfriend, Vicki, has moved back to Merivale. Word on the street is that Vicki wants Nick back and will stop at nothing to get him.

Lori learns about Atwood's Slave for a Day fundraiser and is devastated to learn that Vicki plans to bid top dollar to get Nick to be her slave. Can Lori save her relationship with Nick?

Meanwhile, Danielle comes up with a crazy scheme to make Don jealous.  Danielle's scheme is so stupid.

It was during this book that I decided that I had grown tired of Lori and Nick's relationship.  I like them fine as a couple during the early books, but by this point in the series, it is apparent that their relationship is on shaky ground.  Nick is not very considerate of Lori's feelings, and I kept wishing that she would dump him instead of continuing to cling to the relationship.

I only somewhat enjoyed this book since I found both the main plot and the subplot to be annoying.

Monday, January 23, 2017

National Parks Mysteries #5 The Hunted, #6 Ghost Horses, and #7 Over the Edge

In National Parks Mysteries #5, The Hunted, grizzly cubs are disappearing from Glacier National Park, and Olivia's task is to find out why.  Olivia and Steven leave their children alone at the camp, admonishing them to stay close to the trailer.  Ashley discovers a runaway boy from Mexico, Miguel, hiding in the bushes, and then the three children witness some men steal grizzlies from the park.  The three children end up in grave danger with nowhere to turn.

These books keep getting better and better. This book is excellent and is quite suspenseful.

In National Parks Mysteries #6, Ghost Horses, two sibling Shoshone children, Ethan and Summer, are placed with the Landons.  Ethan dislikes the Anglos and doesn't get along with Jack.

The Landons and their foster children travel to Zion National Park so that Olivia can investigate the deaths of wild mustangs.  Ethan's resentment grows, and Jack believes that Ethan is trying to put a curse on his family.

This is a very good book.

With the publication of volume 7, the series was rebranded as the Mysteries in Our National Parks series, and the cover art changed design.

Additionally, the hardcover books began to be printed on slightly lower quality paper that is still good quality paper.  The first six books were printed on excellent quality paper that is quite thick.

The first six hardcover books feature a set of color photos from each national park inserted in the middle of the book.  The photos were discontinued beginning with volume 7.

In National Parks Mysteries #7, Over the Edge, Olivia comes up with a plan to save the condors of Grand Canyon National Park.  After Olivia announces her plan, she receives an anonymous threatening email.  Ashley feels certain that the Landons' latest foster child, computer genius Morgan, is responsible for the threat.

In each book, the Landons have faced danger. The danger is greater in this book and each subsequent title.  Not only did the book design and series name change, but the stories were made even more exciting.

The obligatory National Geographic mention is made on page 108.

This is an excellent book.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Merivale Mall #5 Better Than the Truth and #6 Junior Weekend

In Merivale Mall #5, Better Than the Truth, Lori agrees to travel into the mountains with her lab partner, Frank, to collect algae samples.  A snowstorm shuts down all travel, and the two teenagers are forced to spend the night together in Frank's family's mountain cabin.  Soon, everyone in Merivale knows that Lori and Frank spent the night together.  Nobody believes Lori's story that nothing happened, and Lori may lose Nick as a result.

On page 107, Lori's mother gives her some wise advice.  "Stop defending yourself.  When people defend themselves, other people just assume something's wrong.  But if you project confidence instead, and ignore the silly lies being spread about you, eventually you'll win everyone over. And if some of them don't come around?  Forget them.  Your true friends will be there for you, Lori. Even Nick."

This is true.  Sometimes a person has to defend oneself, but in many cases, getting defensive makes everything worse.

I greatly enjoyed this book, even though at the beginning I was annoyed about Lori making such a stupid decision to travel into the mountains with Frank.

In Merivale Mall #6, Junior Weekend, Danielle gets her sister, Christine, to invite her to Junior Weekend at the college.  Danielle's mission is to get Christine's friend, Jack, to fall in love with her. Unfortunately, Christine also invites Lori to go on the trip, and Danielle fears that Lori will cramp her style.  Danielle's problems grow when Jack is too busy studying to pay any attention to her.

Danielle is so stupid in this book.  She interrupts Jack at the library and acts flirty while he studies. He's not interested, girl.  Get a clue!

I enjoyed this book even though Danielle's behavior is so annoying.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

National Parks Mysteries #3 Cliff-Hanger and #4 Deadly Waters

In National Parks Mysteries #3, Cliff-Hanger, the Landons visit Mesa Verde National Park so that Olivia can investigate why a cougar attacked a hiker.  A girl called Lucky is the Landons' latest foster child.  She and Jack grow close while Ashley insists that Lucky cannot be trusted. Ashley believes that Lucky has taken an artifact from the park, which is illegal.  Jack insists that Lucky is telling the truth about not taking the artifact.

The reader can guess what Lucky's mystery is and can see that Ashley is quite insightful while Jack is clueless.

In this book, both Olivia and Lucky have pagers, which are obsolete nowadays.  Even some books from the last 20 years are already quite dated.

I enjoyed the interplay between Jack and Lucky.  Jack has to decide between right and wrong.  Lucky's story is interesting.

I greatly enjoyed this story, and it is my favorite in the series so far.

In National Parks Mysteries #4, Deadly Waters, the Landon family travels to Everglades National Park so that Olivia can investigate why the manatees are dying.  Foster child Bridger, who is set in his western ways, comes along on the trip. When Jack's camera is stolen, the children have no idea that the theft is a clue to what is happening to the manatees.

On page 110, the author gets in a sly reference to National Geographic by having Jack mention that his photos are not quite good enough for the magazine.

I really enjoyed this story.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Merivale Mall #3 Playing Games and #4 Never Stop Smiling

In Merivale Mall #3, Playing Games, Merivale High and Atwood Academy's football rivalry has reached an all-time high.  Lori's boyfriend, Nick, plays for Atwood Academy, and Lori must decide which school to support.  At first, Lori plans to root for Atwood, but a mean cheerleader at Merivale High insists that Lori prove her loyalty to Merivale High.  Will the rivalry destroy Lori and Nick's relationship?

The main plot of this story is a bit annoying.  I find the subplot to be much more interesting.  Danielle has to volunteer at a daycare for extra credit for one of her classes.  It's fun to see Danielle interact with the children while she tries to keep her extracurricular activity a secret from her snobbish friends.

Danielle also has a secret boyfriend, Don, who is a poor boy who plans to become a mechanic. Don and Danielle's secret relationship is the best part of this series.  I love it.

I enjoyed this book.

In Merivale Mall #4, Never Stop Smiling, several of the girls compete for the title of Miss Merivale Mall.  Both Danielle and her friend, Teresa, plan to win the title and lord it over the other.  Danielle is jealous that Teresa's family has hired a coach, and Danielle schemes to find a way to beat Teresa—even if it means cheating!

On page 73, Danielle thinks, "If the contest were fair, all she'd have to do was show up and accept the crown.  So why did she have to go through this other stuff?"  Right, they should give the crown to Danielle, just because!

I enjoyed this book.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

National Parks Mysteries #1 Wolf Stalker and #2 Rage of Fire

National Geographic published a series originally known as the National Parks Mystery series and later renamed the Mysteries in Our National Parks series.  The books were written by a mother-daughter writing team, Gloria Skurzynski and Alane Ferguson.  The series ran for 13 volumes.  All 13 books are available in softcover.  The first 12 books are also available in hardcover with dust jacket.

 1.  Wolf Stalker, 1997
 2.  Rage of Fire, 1998
 3.  Cliff-Hanger, 1999
 4.  Deadly Waters, 1999
 5.  The Hunted, 2000
 6.  Ghost Horses, 2000
 7.  Over the Edge, 2002
 8.  Valley of Death, 2002
 9.  Escape from Fear, 2002
10.  Out of the Deep, 2002
11.  Running Scared, 2002
12.  Buried Alive, 2003
13.  Night of the Black Bear, 2007

I found the first six titles in hardcover with dust jacket in a bookstore.  They caught my eye and were priced at $2.00 each.  I hesitated, thinking they probably wouldn't interest me.  Books published by National Geographic and set in national parks?  I didn't expect much, thinking that the books would probably consist of boring stories with lots of educational content, similar to the Stratemeyer Syndicate's travelogue books of the 1960s.  However, I purchased them anyway, figuring I would later regret the purchase. Still, I hoped to try them eventually, just in case.  That was in February 2016.

The books stayed on the shelf near where I read for month after month.  I'd look at them and wouldn't be interested.  Finally in December 2016, I grew disgusted by all the "mumbling" in Richie Tankersley Cusick's books and felt at a loss as to what to do.  I dropped the Cusick book on the floor as a means of dismissing it and looked around aimlessly.  My eyes fell on the six National Parks Mysteries books I had purchased months before and had repeatedly rejected.  Well, why not?

A reviewer on Goodreads stated in the first sentence exactly what I thought as I read the first book:  "This book was better than I thought it would be."  I was surprised to find the book to be quite enjoyable and interesting.  I was glad that I had finally tried the series.  Once I read the first few books, I quickly purchased all of the remaining titles.  I had found my escape.

The Landon family consists of parents Steven and Olivia and their children, Jack and Ashley. Steven runs a photo lab and hopes to be a professional photographer someday, and Olivia is a veterinarian.  At the beginning of the series, Jack is 12 while Ashley is about 10.  By the end of the series, both children are approximately one year older.

The rangers at the various national parks rely on Olivia's expertise to help them with various problems with the animals.  This results in the Landon family taking trips to the national parks as Olivia works on the problems. The Landon family also takes in foster children on a short-term basis, and in each book, the family has a new foster child who travels with them to the national park.

Each book incorporates park history and typically at least one legend into the text.  The information is not lengthy and is always presented in an interesting fashion that enhances the story.

In National Parks Mysteries #1 Wolf Stalker, Olivia has been asked to investigate the scene where a man's dog was killed by one of the wolves from Yellowstone National Park.  If Olivia cannot find a suitable explanation, opponents to the wolves may decide to begin killing them.  Meanwhile, the Landon's new foster child, Troy, runs away from the rest of the family, causing Jack and Ashley to journey into the frozen wilderness in search of him.

I enjoyed this book.

In National Parks Mysteries #2, Rage of Fire, the Landon family is vacationing at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.  While there, Olivia agrees for the family to take Danny, a Vietnamese orphan, as a temporary foster child. The Landons will be taking Danny to his new guardian.  Danny pulls Jack and Ashley into a harrowing adventure in the national park, which results in them being chased by a mysterious woman.

Danny has a mild mystery in his background, but otherwise, this story is not much more than a long chase scene.

While I like the story, this is the weakest book in the series.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Merivale Mall #1 Two for One and #2 The Best of Everything

The Merivale Mall series was published by Troll in 1989.  The series consists of 12 books and is a clone of Sweet Valley High.

Lori Randall attends Merivale High School while her wealthy cousin, Danielle Sharp, attends Atwood Academy.  Danielle is a snob who has no time for Lori, unless she needs a favor.  Lori is always foolish enough to help Danielle, since she loves her cousin.

Lori's character fills the role of Liz Wakefield while Danielle is like Jessica Wakefield. Danielle also has a lot of Lila Fowler in her as well.  Danielle has a couple of dreadful friends who may be more nasty than most anyone in the Sweet Valley High series.

In Merivale Mall #1 Two for One, Lori is attracted to Nick Hobart, handsome quarterback for Atwood Academy.  Unfortunately, Danielle also wants Nick, and she puts the moves on him.  Lori and Nick's romance appears to be doomed before it even begins.

This book sets up the premise for the series. Several of the teenagers work at Merivale Mall, and all of them hang out at Merivale Mall.  

The story arc of this book plays out just like the plot of a Sweet Valley High book, so I knew exactly how the conflict would be resolved.  Near the end of the story is a ridiculous scene in the mall where a note gets intercepted and rewritten multiple times by scheming teenagers.  The note is dropped, changes hands, and is rewritten so many times that I lost track and became annoyed. The scene should have been shortened considerably.  The way it was published is silly.

I enjoyed this book.

In Merivale Mall #2, The Best of Everything, Lori carefully saves for a used car.  She has to make a down payment by a certain date, and she will have just enough money for the payment. Meanwhile, Danielle purchases expensive clothing, and her father warns her to quit going over her credit limit.  Danielle asks Lori for money.  Will Lori sacrifice her dream car to help Danielle?

Anyone who has read Sweet Valley High knows whether Lori helps Danielle and what happens as a result.  And then Danielle has to clean up a big mess.  The way the plot is resolved is very funny and reminds me so much of all the hilarious Jessica Wakefield scenes that I love so much.

I also enjoyed this book, a bit more than the first one.

Note: I have created a Facebook group for enthusiasts of vintage teen books such as the ones reviewed in this post.  Please follow this link to join.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Richie Tankersley Cusick The Locker, Someone at the Door, and The Drifter

In The Locker, Marlee and her family have moved to a new town, and Marlee begins attending her new school.  The first time Marlee opens her locker, she has a terrible experience that she knows is real.  Marlee learns that her locker belonged to a girl who disappeared, and Marlee realizes that the other students are keeping secrets from her.

The beginning of the story drags at times.  The second half of the book is much more suspenseful.  I overall enjoyed the story.

In Someone at the Door, Hannah and Meg are stranded alone in their isolated home during a blizzard.  Two strangers arrive needing help, and Hannah suspects that one of them is a dangerous murderer who escaped from prison.  Meg trusts the men, but Hannah is certain that they are up to no good.

The second half of the book is very suspenseful and very scary.  The reader is kept guessing, although the cover art spoils one part of the plot. However, I found that it didn't bother me and actually creeped me out as I neared that part of the story and waited for that part to play out.

In The Drifter, Carolyn and her mother have recently moved into their new home, Glanton House.  Almost right after their arrival, a man arrives wanting to live with them and help them fix up the house.  Carolyn's mother agrees, much to Carolyn's horror.  And events steadily deteriorate into a scary situation.

It's incredible that Carolyn's mother lets a strange man move in when she knows nothing about him. Of course, this is done to set up the story, but it's ridiculous.

This was the first Cusick book where I noticed that the characters "mumbled" over and over.  In some cases, mumbling made no sense.  Yelling would have been better.

I found most of the book to be a bit too slow.  The last one-third of the book is the best part.

This is a decent book and nothing more.  I would never read it again.

My Cusick journey went downhill from this point on.  I tried reading Silent Stalker and had to skim most of it.  The characters tease each other so much that the story is boring.  They also "mumbled" a lot.  Argh!

I then tried reading The Mall and Help Wanted which have lots of teasing, stupidity, and mumbling.  I couldn't read them.  I hadn't read all of my Cusick books, but I had to take a break and read something else.  I don't know if I will get back to the rest or not.

I have created a Facebook group for enthusiasts of vintage teen books such as the ones reviewed in this post.  Please follow this link to join.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Dark Forces #13 The Curse, #14 Blood Sport, and #15 The Charming

In Dark Forces #13, The Curse, Dana is terrified because her 17th birthday is in three days. During her entire life, Dana has had nightmares about how she will be killed on her 17th birthday. Dana's nightmares worsen, and Dana soon realizes that she is an ancient Egyptian princess who has been reincarnated.

I did not like this book and skimmed most of it.  I felt disconnected from Dana and never cared at all about her.  The book is lacking everything that makes a book interesting to read.

In Dark Forces #14, Blood Sport, Bob is asked to join the Icarus Gymnastic Troupe.  The members travel from city to city doing public performances, and Bob wants the practice so that he can qualify for the Olympics.

Like the previous title in the set, the book is missing something.  I never felt interested in what happens to Bob and never cared about his predicament.

The story is overall good but I was never engaged.

In Dark Forces #15, The Charming, Kathy wants to be a famous actress.  Her boyfriend is in charge of the school play, and Kathy is furious when another girl is chosen for the lead role.

Kathy is approached by an agent, who promises that she can make Kathy famous.  Kathy must agree to two conditions:  She must tell no one about the arrangement, and she must obey all commands.

On page 39, Kathy is told, "[Y]ou read too many Nancy Drew mysteries when you were growing up."

Fortunately, this book is better than the previous two titles.

Just like the Twilight Where Dark Begins series, the Dark Forces series declined towards the end of its run.

I overall greatly enjoyed the Dark Forces series.

I have created a Facebook group for enthusiasts of vintage teen books such as the ones reviewed in this post.  Please follow this link to join.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Richie Tankersley Cusick Fatal Secrets and House Next Door

In Fatal Secrets, Ryan's sister Marissa falls through the ice and drowns.  Marissa was trying to tell her something just before she died, and Ryan realizes that Marissa had a secret.  Charles Eastman, a friend of Marissa's, arrives at Ryan's home to stay.  Ryan doesn't trust him, but her mother will not listen.  Frightening events occur, and Ryan feels like she is losing her mind.

I realized fairly early in the story that Ryan was being gaslighted.  I was quite engaged in the story as I tried to figure out who was involved. One character behaved so extremely suspicious that I knew he was involved, but other culprits were shocking.

Ryan saw her sister multiple times throughout the story.  It's not clear whether this was a sign of her mental breakdown or whether a spirit was involved.  It is not explained, and the reader must decide.

This is an excellent book.  Some scenes are scary and hilarious at the same time, like when Ryan is chased down a deserted street by Santa Claus.  This book would have made a perfect horror movie.

In The House Next Door, Emma's twin brother, Charlie, dares her to spend the night in the abandoned  house next door.  Soon after Emma enters the house, she meets a spirit and has a strange experience.

When Emma enters the house next door, she travels into the past in a similar fashion as what happens in the book The Twisted Room.

Emma and Charlie tease each other relentlessly.  I found it very annoying and juvenile.  Once both Emma and Charlie are thoroughly frightened by what is happening, the teasing lessens, which makes the story much better.

I did not care for the beginning of the book, but the last part is quite scary and thrilling.

Note:  I have created a Facebook group for enthusiasts of vintage teen books such as the ones reviewed in this post. Please follow this link to join.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Dark Forces #11 Waiting Spirits and #12 The Ashton Horror

In Dark Forces #11, Waiting Spirits, Lisa and Carrie are staying with their parents and grandmother in their grandmother's childhood home.  Lisa and Carrie try spirit writing, which summons several spirits to them.  Soon, Lisa realizes that one of the spirits is trying to take over her body.

I like this statement by Lisa's grandmother on pages 96 and 97.
"Your times haven't been so sweet," she said sadly.  "Oh, I don't think it's been all that bad for you.  But the shadows are longer now than they were then.  It all changed in 1945."

Lisa gave her a puzzled look.

"Oh, study your history, child.  That was the year we blew up Hiroshima and learned our planet was as mortal as we are.  I always thought a great dividing line was drawn then.  No one born after that time can understand what it was like to grow up without that shadow."
This resonates with me.  We have now lost even more of our innocence, and the world is very different now than it was when I was growing up in the 1980s.

This is a good book.

In Dark Forces #12, The Ashton Horror, Dennis joins Adrian's fantasy game club.  The club meets in an old cavern that has ancient drawings. Adrian announces that the club will be summoning Mogar out of the past.  The other members think it is all just in fun, but they later learn that Mogar is very real and very dangerous.

The ending of the story is wrapped up way too fast.  Dennis takes some grenades out of his father's weapon collection.  He uses a crowbar to pry the cases open.  I would like to have seen how Dennis would have explained his actions to his father.

I enjoyed this book.

I have created a Facebook group for enthusiasts of vintage teen books such as the ones reviewed in this post.  Please follow this link to join.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Books Read in 2016

As I updated my reading progress this year, a few people had trouble grasping how I read so many books.  Reading is my favorite activity. That should be enough explanation, but here's some more.  I read instead of watching movies.  In fact, I believe that I watched not even one movie in 2016, which may be the first time that has ever happened.  Think about how much time you have spent watching movies, and there you go.  There's nothing surprising about watching lots of movies, and there shouldn't be anything surprising about spending that same time reading lots of books.

I also watch very little television.  That's more time freed up.

I don't read every word of every book.  I don't need to read the obligatory explanation of how Frank is older than Joe, their father Fenton is a detective, and so on in every Hardy Boys book.  I skim or skip over those paragraphs.  That saves time.

I am reading children's books.  Most of them do have at least 150 pages, but they are nowhere near as long as the average book for adults.  This means that I can read more children's books than I could adult books.

In "How to read 462 books in one year," Sarah Weinman explains her reading technique.  "What also seems to happen is that I read a page not necessarily word by word, but by capturing pages in sequence in my head. The words and phrases appear diagonally, like I'm absorbing the text all in one gulp, and then I move on to the next sequence I can absorb by paragraph or page."

I can't do what Sarah describes, but I do sometimes read individual paragraphs diagonally.  It considerably speeds up reading.

Now that I have explained, let's get to the point of the post.

I began 2016 reading the later titles in the original Hardy Boys series.  In the first few weeks of the year, I made the decision to read all of the Hardy Boys Digest, Undercover Brothers, and Adventures books.  This was a rather large commitment, and I did have doubt as to whether I could force myself to read all of them consecutively and in a timely fashion.  Actually, I knew that I could, but I knew that I couldn't allow myself to read much else, if anything, and that I had to stay strong and focused on just the Hardy Boys books.

By April, I was up to around #85 in the Hardy Boys Digest series.  As I just mentioned, I knew that I had to stay focused in order to get through around 150 additional Hardy Boys books.  If I were to continue reading books at the pace I had set to date, I would be able to read 282 books by the end of the year.  I then set a goal to read 300 books by the end of the year, and by the end of April, I had increased my pace to be on track to read slightly more than 300 books by the end of the year.

I set the goal to read 300 books by the end of the year in order to guarantee that I would be able to read through all of the Hardy Boys books by August.  I had to keep on task.

I reached my goal of 300 books in early November.  Not surprisingly, my pace abruptly slowed almost to a halt.  I majorly slacked off during the first half of November, partly because I reached my goal and partly due to many distractions.  I had decided to add several lengthy series to my list of books to read, and all of those books will take me at least 1 1/2 years to read even if I go very fast.  I needed to motivate myself into speeding up again.  Otherwise, I'd never get the books read that I want to read.

I had to set a new goal for myself in order to motivate myself to keep going.  At that time, I appeared to be on track to read around 325 to 330 books by the end of the year. I wasn't sure how much further I could go, so my initial goal was to push as far as I could to 335, 340, or 345 books.  I read fast and furiously in the second half of November and settled on a new goal of 350 books.  Somehow, I would read at least 350 books by the end of the year.

My pace in the first half of December was short of what I needed, but once I was off work for the holidays, I had the necessary time.  I read books as fast as I could, on some days completing two books.  By Christmas Eve, I had read 342 books altogether. I had one week to go.  My goal was so close that I could almost touch it.

At about 11:30 PM on December 31, I finished my 355th book of the year.  Obviously, I don't party on New Year's Eve, unless you consider reading to be the same as partying.

Next is a list of what I read by month and in the order I read the books.  I sometimes had to read out of order while I waited for books to arrive in the mail.  For the Hardy Boys Digests, I drove around to local stores purchasing what I could over a several week period as I awaited my complete set in the mail.  This resulted in me reading a random assortment of the entire range of titles.

January:  26 books

Hardy Boys #46-58
Hardy Boys Revised Text #4-7, 9, 10, 12-17, 19

February:  21 books

Hardy Boys Revised Text #20-23
Hardy Boys Digests #64, 81, 59, 123, 136, 168, 71, 173, 176, 131, 178, 154, 159, 164, 180, 187, 90

March:   22 books

Lance Todd #1, 2
Hardy Boys Digests #61, 60, 62, 63, 65-70, 72-80, 82

April:  36 books

Morgan Bay Mysteries #5
Hardy Boys Digests #83-89, 91-107, 109-119

May:  31 books

Hardy Boys Digests #120-122, 124-129, 132-135, 137-151, 153, 156, 157

June:  45 books

Hardy Boys Digests #158, 160-163, 165-167, 169-171, 174
White Princess by Elva Ditmann
Hardy Boys Digests #175, 177, 179, 181-186, 188-190
Hardy Boys Undercover Brothers #1-20

July:  42 books

Hardy Boys Undercover Brothers  #21-37, super editions #1, 2
2007 Nancy Drew/Hardy Boys Super Mysteries #1, 2, 3, 4
Nancy Drew Diaries #11, 12
Hardy Boys Adventures #1-12
The Seventh Hour by Tracey Ward
Morgan Bay Mysteries #1
Ashfall Trilogy #1, 2, 3

August:  27 books

Morgan Bay Mysteries #2-4, 6-8
Wynn and Lonny #1-6
Brains Benton, The Case of the Crossed Wire
Jenny Dean #1-4
Twilight Where Darkness Begins #1, 3, 4, 6, 10, 13, 8, 2, 11, 5

September:  21 books

Twilight Where Darkness Begins #7, 9, 12, 14-26
Dark Forces #1-5

October:  24 books

Dark Forces #6-12, 14, 15
Lois Duncan, I Know What You Did Last Summer
Lois Duncan, Killing Mr. Griffin
Nancy Drew Diaries #13
Hardy Boys Adventures #13
A.S. Maxwell, Secret of the Cave
Lois Duncan, Don't Look Behind You
Lois Duncan, Summer of Fear
Lois Duncan, Stranger with My Face
R. L. Stine, The Baby-Sitter
Lois Duncan, Down a Dark Hall
Lois Duncan, Daughters of Eve
R. L. Stine, The Baby-Sitter II
Lois Duncan, The Third Eye
Merivale Mall #1
Richie Tankersley Cusick, The Locker

November:  25 books

Lois Duncan, The Gift of Magic
Lois Duncan, Locked in Time
Lois Duncan, They Never Came Home
Lois Duncan, Ransom
Lois Duncan, Gallows Hill
Sweet Dreams, Love by the Book
Nightmare Hall #2 The Roommate
Merivale Mall #2-12
Lois Duncan, The Twisted Window
Richie Tankersley Cusick, Fatal Secrets
Richie Tankersley Cusick, The House Next Door
Richie Tankersley Cusick, Summer of Secrets
Richie Tankersley Cusick, Someone at the Door
Richie Tankersley Cusick, The Drifter
Diane Hoh, The Accident

December:  35 books

Richie Tankersley Cusick, Silent Stalker
Richie Tankersley Cusick, Overdue
Mysteries in Our National Parks #1-8, 10-13
Girls of Canby Hall #2-13    
Mysteries in Our National Parks #9
Mystery Solvers #4, 1-3    
Girls of Canby Hall #14-17                                  

The very first book I read in 2016, Hardy Boys #46, The Secret Agent on Flight 101, was the only book I read in 2016 that I had already read before.  Of the 355 books I read in 2016, 354 were for the first time.  That's quite an accomplishment.

In 2017, I expect to read quite a few books for the second time, based on what I intend to read in the near future.  I also expect to read at least around 300 books in 2017.