Sunday, July 30, 2017

Wallace Boys #19 Missing in the Mekong and #20 The Pagodas of Pahang

In Wallace Boys #19, Missing in the Mekong, Bruce and Nigel begin their return to Singapore after their encounter with pirates.  The boys spot what appears to be an abandoned boat near Vietnam.  After investigating the boat, the boys discover an occupant, Nguyen Mah Vinh.  Mah Vinh is searching for his father, Marvin Wynne, an American who disappeared on the very day that Saigon fell to North Vietnam.  Can the boys help Mah Vinh find his father?

This is a moving story.  Much of the text consists of flashbacks to Vietnam during the war including the events leading up to Marvin Wynne's disappearance.

I have never been very interested in the Vietnam War, since it was still underway at the time I was born.  I have always been much more interested in events that happened well before my lifetime, such as World War II.

I have always been familiar with the names of events like the Tet Offensive, but they never meant anything to me.  I never cared to learn about them.  This book shows what happened in Vietnam to citizens during the Tet Offensive.  The reader also learns about the devastating environmental effects of Agent Orange and how it caused health problems and birth defects.

This might not sound interesting by how I describe it, but I found the presentation to be excellent and extremely interesting.  I now know more about the Vietnam War than I did before.

This is an outstanding book.

In Wallace Boys #20, The Pagodas of Pahang, Crown Prince Karl-Franz's sister, Flavia, is abducted by Communists while traveling by train in Malaysia.  Bruce and Nigel are camping in Malaysia at the same time with their friends, Kheng Peng and Zainal, and they cross paths with the kidnappers.  The four boys try to rescue Flavia with disastrous consequences.

This book only partially interested me.  I had to skim a lot of it.

I overall enjoyed the Wallace Boys series, but parts of many of the books required a lot of skimming.

Friday, July 28, 2017

The Highview Mystery by Lawrence A. Keating

The Highview Mystery by Lawrence A. Keating was published in 1944.  I saw this book advertised on one of the dust jackets from the Roger Baxter books.  It looked interesting.  I was fortunate to find an inexpensive copy up for sale.  This was two years ago.

As of a few weeks ago when I read this book, there were just two copies for sale online, neither inexpensive.  I believe both were available two years ago when I instead found the cheap copy.  Interestingly, those two books have now both sold.  I mentioned this book on Facebook a few weeks ago with a brief review, and I suspect that I may have helped those books sell.  Regardless, this is an extremely scarce book.

In The Highview Mystery, various items have been stolen from the hospital, including money that will ruin a fundraiser.  Foxy, Tom, and Rick work on solving the case.

The boys are sophomores in high school, although the jacket makes them look like grown men.

I was struck by some slight similarities to the Three Investigators and Brains Benton series.  The three boys have a club that they call the "Three D's," and their motto is "Daring, Dependable Doers!"  The leader is Foxy, who is overweight and intelligent. The clubhouse is in a garage near one boy's house. A sensor placed outside rings a bell when someone approaches the clubhouse.

Nowadays, the illicit use of drugs to get high is such a big problem that the subject is common knowledge.  On page 80, naive Tom asks, "Why would anybody want to steal narcotics?"  Tom is told about addicts and "dope peddlers."  Tom then asks, "Yes, but why would a person become an addict?"  Tom is then told that some do it out of "foolish curiosity" and that others use it "to keep on with their jobs," presumably because they would be more energetic.  Tom is also told that some people become addicted because of chronic pain.  This passage was probably quite enlightening to many young readers in 1944.

This is a very good book.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Wallace Boys #17 Treasure of the Tiger and #18 Sultan of the Sulu Sea

In Wallace Boys #17, The Treasure of the Tiger, Nigel and Bruce arrive in Singapore, staying with Zainal and Kheng Peng.  Kheng Peng shares a copy of a radio mayday message from World War II which has been handed down in his family.  The message holds a clue to a sunken Japanese ship that supposedly carried a great treasure.  The boys search for information, then they depart on a journey to try to find the sunken ship.

This book is highly suspenseful.  The boys encounter some extremely dangerous situations in which the reader expects the boys to face certain death.  The book is excellent all the way through.

In Wallace Boys #18, The Sultan of the Sulu Sea, the boys finish their hunt for treasure on the sunken Japanese ship.  They begin their return journey to Singapore.  Shortly into the trip, the boys discover a ship trailing them.  It soon becomes apparent that the ship is a pirate ship, which intends to take over the Silver Spray.

The boys use every evasive tactic at their disposal, but they are unable to get away from the pirates.  The Silver Spray is taken over, and the boys are forced to go to the pirates' headquarters.

This is an excellent and highly suspenseful book.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys 2017 Matte Flashlight Editions

I collect library editions, and the current format from the company Bound to Stay Bound is what I refer to as the "flashlight library edition."  The flashlight library edition uses the flashlight logo seen on the flashlight editions that are published by Penguin under the Grosset and Dunlap imprint.  Here are photos of the flashlight library editions that I have, most of which came from the same library.

The last two seen in the above photo are variants.  I like the flashlight library editions better than the regular flashlight editions from the publisher.  For those who aren't familiar with the various formats of Nancy Drew books, the following photo shows the regular flashlight editions

The regular flashlight editions are too glossy and gaudy for my taste.  I would like them a lot better if they were more in the style of the flashlight library editions.  Since I do not care for the regular flashlight editions, I do not own a set.

Recently, I spotted this photo in an eBay search.

It caught my eye immediately, and I felt certain that I was viewing some of the Bound to Stay Bound flashlight library editions.  What a pretty blue on the cover of Hidden Staircase!  I decided to purchase the books.

When the books arrived, I saw the spines first.

I was a bit surprised, since the spines are identical to the regular flashlight editions. The books are not likely library editions as I had thought.  But what are they?

The books are just like the regular flashlight editions except that the finish is matte and the front cover design is different.  I examined the books, determining for certain that the books had not been rebound and appeared to be in the original binding.  I could tell that the books are absolutely brand-new and must have been printed recently.  I was flummoxed, because I do not see unexpected variants very often.  I had heard nothing about these books, and word usually spreads quickly when collectors spot variants in stores.

I knew these books had come from somewhere, but I did not know from where.  I have learned that asking questions on Facebook sometimes doesn't work as well as one would expect.  Therefore, I simply put the pictures up with the statement, "Check out these neat books!  They are flashlight editions with matte covers."  I knew that the mystery would be solved shortly.

I quickly was informed that the books came from the store Five Below.  They had been seen in that store five to six weeks ago.  Nancy Drew #1 and 2 as well as Hardy Boys #1 and 2 were available.

I went to one of the Five Below stores today and was able to get Nancy Drew #1 and Hardy Boys #2 to complete both sets.

I like these books.  If you have a Five Below store nearby, you might be able to get the books.  I understand that some stores may be low on stock while others may still have plenty available.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Ghost Hollow Mystery and Mystery at Ding-Dong Gulch by Page Carter

The Ghost Hollow Mystery was published in 1951, and Mystery at Ding-Dong Gulch was published in 1956.  The books were written by Page Carter.

In The Ghost Hollow Mystery, cousins Bucky, Christopher, Melinda, and Jane stay at their grandmother's house.  When Melinda learns that the town school has no books, she organizes a book drive.  The books that are donated will be sold at the general store, and the money raised will purchase books for the school.  Meanwhile, the children learn of a series of thefts in the surrounding area. When items are stolen from their grandmother's home, Bucky and Christopher begin investigating the deserted cabin in Ghost Hollow.

This book has too many characters that are introduced too quickly.  Even worse, each character's dog is introduced by name at the same time that the character is introduced.  I could hardly keep anyone straight.  Authors come very close to losing me completely when they do that.  I am always very tempted to shut the book and not read it.

Just imagine what kind of books would have been donated to the children, since the book was published in 1951.  They would have gotten lots of very old books that are no longer seen nowadays.

This is a very good book.

In Mystery at Ding-Dong Gulch, Bucky and Christopher go to visit Melinda in her new home.  The children investigate several mysteries.  One man keeps his house barred with the doors nailed shut, yet he somehow comes and goes from the house.  Meanwhile, a new rancher is disliked and might be up to something.  Ding-Dong Gulch is another mysterious place that might have a mystery. And then there's the nearby ghost town.

This book is not that interesting because none of the multiple mysteries amount to much.  It's like the author had a number of half-formed ideas and tossed them together in one book.  The story would have been much more interesting if the author had concentrated on one mystery and made it interesting.

I did not like this book.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Wallace Boys #15 Monks of Montafon and #16 South from the Seychelles

In Wallace Boys #15, The Monks of Montafon, Bruce and Nigel learn that Archduke Prince Karl-Franz of Ruritania is missing!  Karl-Franz has been writing a biography of his grandfather, and Karl-Franz's research led him to the Montafon Monastery.  Bruce and Nigel learn that the monks are hiding a terrible secret and that Karl-Franz is in danger.

Bruce's prize possession is a Casio Moon Graph watch, which figures out latitude and longitude as well as when the moon and sun rise and fall.  I had never heard of this watch, so I had to check into it.  I am pleased to report that Casio does still sell a similar watch, so at least Bruce isn't using archaic technology.

I enjoyed this book.

In Wallace Boys #16, South from the Seychelles, Barry Jones gets in touch with Bruce and Nigel.  Barry wants the boys to help him with a trip to the South Indian Ocean.  Some Germans wish to visit a remote island in a dangerous part of the ocean, just because the trip sounds like something they want to do.

Not surprisingly, the Germans have a sinister motive, since they would be daft to visit a remote island for no apparent reason.  Bruce and Nigel are shocked to discover that the Germans are some of their enemies.

Interestingly, most of Bruce and Nigel's friends from past adventures appear in this book.  The same scenario occurs in one Biff Brewster book, Mystery of the Ambush in India.

The first part of this book is boring.  Once the boys set sail, the book is very good.

Friday, July 21, 2017

The Spotlight Club and the Lookouts Mystery Series

I have been trying a bunch of books that I have needed to read for a long time.  These are books that I will not be keeping.

The Spotlight Club series was written by Florence Parry Heide and Roxanne Heide. These books were written for pretty young readers.  I first read The Mystery of the Missing Suitcase.  This book has short, repetitious sentences.  Words are repeated often, and the book is similar to a reader.  The mystery is almost nothing.

Next, I tried the Spotlight Club book, Mystery at Keyhole Carnival.  This book is rather similar to many series books that are set at carnivals.  The carnival is plagued by accidents, and the children must figure out who is responsible.  This book was written on a slightly higher level than The Mystery of the Missing Suitcase.  I liked it better, but it was not very compelling.

I also tried Mystery at the Weird Ruins, which is a title in the Lookouts Mystery series by Christine Nobel Govan and Emmy West.  The children go to government property upon which they see circles of rocks, supposedly placed there hundreds of years before.  The children dig around, moving the rocks.  I had trouble accepting that the authors seemed to think it fine for the children to tamper with an archaeological site on government property.

The children speak in dialect, and I always struggle when books are partially written in dialect.  Most of it was fine, but there were a couple of dialect words that I could not decipher.  That always bothers me.

I did not enjoy Mystery at the Weird Ruins very much.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Wallace Boys #13 Nemesis of the Nefud and #14 Terrorists of Tibesti

In Wallace Boys #13, Nemesis of the Nefud, Nigel, Bruce, and Hanafi stay in the Saudi Arabian desert to learn more about the terrorists.  The terrorists are holed up in a narrow canyon.  Nigel infiltrates the camp while Bruce and Hanafi wait above the canyon for word from Nigel.  Bruce grows impatient and jumps into action prematurely, endangering all three boys.

The terrorists use sheets of camouflage secured by tent pegs to cover their railway tracks so that satellites and aircraft will not spot the railway.  In modern times where everything can be seen from above via satellite, the criminals have to think creatively to cover their tracks.

It was as I read this book that I suddenly realized that to this point in the series, females play no role in the books.  Some females have been mentioned, but they do speak or do anything important.  These are boys' books through and through.  A few females do have minor roles in later books.

I enjoyed this book, but I had to skim many of the lengthy descriptions.

In Wallace Boys #14, The Terrorists of Tibesti, Nigel spots one of the men responsible for the temple massacre while dining in a restaurant in Egypt.  The boys follow the man and later turn him over to the police.  Prior to that, the boys take a shoebox from the man's room.  The shoebox contains a map of the Tibesti Mountains in Chad, so the boys plan a trip to that location via lightweight aircraft.  The trip ends disastrously with the boys once again imprisoned by terrorists.

In this book, the wife of the cab driver, Mahmoot, helps the boys with the stakeout.  She never speaks, which is typical of how this series keeps women in the background until the last few titles in the set.

I also had to skim a lot of this book due to lengthy descriptions that were not interesting to me.  Aside from that, I enjoyed the book.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Christopher Pike Secret of Ka and Strange Girl

In The Secret of Ka, Sara is on vacation in Istanbul.  The goal is to spend the summer with her father, who works in Turkey, except Sara's father is too busy to spend time with her.  Sara meets Amesh, and while in his company, she discovers a magical carpet.

The carpet communicates with Sara by spelling out words when Sara asks it questions.  Even better, the carpet can fly! Sara and Amesh are taken to a mysterious island where temples surround a body of water.  Inside one of the temples, Amesh awakens a djinn and makes a wish.  Sara has learned about the djinn from the carpet, and she warns Amesh of the danger of making additional wishes, as he will become beholden to the djinn.  Thus begins a dangerous adventure in which Sara must find a way to destroy Amesh's djinn before it is too late.

This book has some false information about Turkey and Istanbul which I did not notice, simply because I haven't thought about Turkey and its history in many years.  The false information is quite glaring to those who are knowledgeable about Turkey.  When this book was published, an Amazon reviewer pointed out the problems, and several accounts defended Pike rather strongly.  Those responses have been deleted by Amazon, but apparently those accounts were either Pike or someone very close to him. Pike probably learned from that experience that it is best just to ignore criticism.

Even though the book has those inconsistencies, it is still a very good book.  Both Sara and Amesh have some very annoying personal qualities, but the story is good.  I love the idea of going on a flying carpet to a mysterious island.

In Strange Girl, Fred meets the new girl in town, Aja, who seems detached somehow, and refers to herself as "this body."  Aja can get a rowdy crowd to calm down without saying a word, and she has the ability to heal people.  Aja's healing abilities are shown in a YouTube video that goes viral, and soon, Aja is the center of unwanted attention.

Before I read this book, I could tell by the synopsis that this story is like another version of Pike's adult novel, Sati.  I was not surprised at how Strange Girl ends, since Sati ends in the same fashion.

I don't care for Sati and do not find it very interesting.  This book is like an improved version of Sati.  This book is overall good to very good.  It's still not one of my favorites, but I like it better than Sati.

I have now finished reading every book ever written by Christopher Pike.  Pike's strongest books are his vintage teen books from the late 1980s and early 1990s. Pike's more recent work is also good, but I feel like his vintage books are the best.  Nostalgia may also be a factor, since I read most of those books when I was young.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Wallace Boys #11 Traitors in the Tyrol and #12 Rebels across the Red Sea

In Wallace Boys #11, Traitors in the Tyrol, after resolving the problems of the Ruritanian monarchy, Nigel, Bruce, and Karl-Franz head into the mountains on a hiking trip.  The boys witness a  helicopter make an emergency landing, but when they reach the helicopter to render aid, the occupants have vanished!

Searching the helicopter, the boys discover a ring that belongs to Rupert, who was the leader of the failed coup.  Somehow, Rupert has broken out of jail, so the boys head into the mountains to find him.

This book also bored me.  I don't find the affairs of Ruritania to be remotely interesting.  I skimmed much of this story.

In Wallace Boys #12, Rebels across the Red Sea, Bruce and Nigel are present during a terrorist massacre at Queen Hatshepsut's Temple.  Bruce is on a hillside behind the temple during the massacre and watches it unfold in horror.  Nigel is inside the temple, and Bruce believes that Nigel has been killed.

Later, Bruce learns that the terrorists abducted Nigel by mistake, believing him to be a Saudi prince, Hanafi.  Bruce joins forces with Hanafi in a desperate search for Nigel.

Bruce has sage words of wisdom.
Bruce had learned long ago in his travels that when dealing with petty officialdom—customs officers, the police and the like—you treat them with more respect than perhaps they deserve.  Time and again, he had seen individuals being held up needlessly by a bloody-minded customs official, whereas he and Nigel, with a friendly smile and a polite greeting, would sail through.  Bruce found that the more backward a country, the more the officials had to be shown respect.
Bruce's observation is likely true.

This is a pretty exciting book, and I enjoyed it.  As with the other books, there are some slow parts that require some skimming.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Christopher Pike Witch World: Red Queen and Black Knight

Witch World was first published in 2012.  The title was later changed to Red Queen and labeled as Witch World #1.  Witch World #2, Black Knight, was published in 2014.

In Red Queen, Jessie Ralle spends the weekend in Las Vegas with her high school class.  While there, Jessie is abducted and killed.  She wakes up in the morgue, but her body is dead, at least temporarily.  Later, Jessie wakes up in Witch World, where she learns that she is a witch.  Jessie was put through the death experience in Real World so that her witch powers would awaken. Jessie lives each in Real World and then lives each day again in Witch World.  Or something like that.  The entire premise is very confusing.

I did not enjoy Red Queen.  There are some good parts, but the plot is horribly confusing.  I managed to read the first 220 pages, then I skimmed the remaining 300 pages.

In Black Knight, Jessie and five others wake up in a boxlike room.  They don't know where they are or why.  They leave the room to find themselves in the middle of the jungle on what turns out to be an island.  They find a plaque that tells them that six teams of six will fight and that only one will survive.

This story was obviously inspired by The Hunger Games.  The story is better than Red Queen, but the premise is still rather confusing.  Since Jessie lives a day in Real World and the same day again in Witch World, I kept confusing the two worlds.

Regarding the ending, I thought that if a person were to die in Real World that they would still be alive in Witch World.  That's what I learned from the first book.  Someone dies in Real World in this book, but they are also dead in Witch World.  It's supposed to make sense, so perhaps the explanation is in one of the parts I skimmed.

Black Knight is better than Red Queen, but I did not like it very much.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Wallace Boys #9 Hostage in the Highlands and #10 Assignment in the Alps

In Wallace Boys #9, Hostage in the Highlands, Nigel and Bruce arrive in Scotland to pick up the Silver Spray, the boat that they are to refurbish and deliver to their uncle.  Richard Hannay helps the boys work on the boat.

Richard tells Bruce and Nigel about the nearby island castle on Eilean Donan. Anthrax was dropped on the island during World War II in order to test the effects of anthrax, and the island has been quarantined since that time.  Bruce accidentally lands on Eilean Donan while lost in fog, and he discovers suspicious activity on the island.

The first part of this story is quite slow and boring, but the later part of the book is overall good.  Even the later part of the story drags at times.

In Wallace Boys #10, Assignment in the Alps, Nigel and Bruce have been asked by the British to help the faltering monarchy of Ruritania. Upon meeting the Archduke Karl-Franz, the boys learn that a hidden treasure, if found, will save the kingdom.  Nigel, Bruce, and Karl-Franz head into the mountains in search of the treasure.

The entire book bored me.  I had no reason to care.  I have always had a low tolerance for stories that feature fictitious monarchies.

I did not like this book.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

The Last Vampire/Thirst Series by Christopher Pike

The original Last Vampire books were published from 1994 through 1996.

1.  The Last Vampire, 1994
2.  The Last Vampire 2: Black Blood, 1994
3.  The Last Vampire 3: Red Dice, 1995
4.  The Last Vampire 4: Phantom, 1996
5.  The Last Vampire 5: Evil Thirst, 1996
6.  The Last Vampire 6: Creatures of Forever, 1996

After this, it gets confusing.  The Last Vampire series was renamed Thirst by the publisher.  Last Vampire #1, 2, and 3 were reprinted in the omnibus edition, Thirst #1.  Last Vampire #4, 5, and 6 were reprinted in the omnibus edition, Thirst #2.

Pike then wrote more Last Vampire stories under the Thirst name.
Thirst #3: The Eternal Dawn, 2010
Thirst #4: The Shadow of Death, 2011
Thirst #5: The Sacred Veil, 2013

I cannot write up reviews of the individual books in the set.  I did not take good notes while reading the books, due to a lack of motivation. The stories are too convoluted, contradictory, and confusing for me to make sense of much of it.  The best I can do is give my overall thoughts of the books as well as I can remember.

The Last Vampire/Thirst books tell the story of Sita, who is a 5,000-year-old vampire.  Sita goes by the name Alisa Perne and is extremely wealthy.  Since she has been around for thousands of years, she has amassed a large amount of wealth.  As the first book opens, Sita believes that she is the Last Vampire, but she soon learns that she is mistaken.  There are others, and they want to kill her.

Sita learns that Yaksha is still alive.  Yaksha was the first vampire, and he is the one who turned Sita into a vampire.

I enjoyed the first book, The Last Vampire, just fine.  The second book, The Last Vampire 2: Black Blood, is a bit boring.

I don't recall specifically what I thought of Last Vampire #3, 4, and 5, except that all three books have some really good parts and really boring parts.  They are all mixed.

I really like Sita, and I overall like her story. However, the books contain lengthy passages with mysticism and also contain what I consider to be very boring flashbacks to Sita's early life.  It should be noted that some readers love the flashbacks.

I did make note of one funny quote from The Last Vampire 3: Red Dice.  A security guard witnesses Sita's supernatural abilities.  He remarks, "I watched you jumping from building to building. How do you do that?"  Sita gives a simple answer: "Steroids."  He believes her.

The Last Vampire 6: Creatures of Forever is not a good book.  I had to skim most of it.  Sita goes back in time to the Middle Ages.  A really big deal is made about how Sita went through a terribly traumatic experience during that time, and she must revisit it to fix history.  It didn't seem like anything that traumatic to me, but then, I did skim most all of it.

I am now going to spoil the ending of the sixth and what was originally the final book.  Spoiling the end does not matter since Pike completely negated it for the continuation of the series as Thirst.

At the very end of the sixth book, Sita decides to go back in time to the birth of Yaksha.  Sita knew before Yaksha was born that he was going to be evil, but she opted not to kill his mother.  When Sita goes back in time, she does kill Yaksha's mother.  This means that Sita prevents Yaksha's birth, so Yaksha never would turn Sita into a vampire.  As a result, none of Sita's adventures of the six books ever happened.  I hate endings like that.

But never fear, Pike decided to write more books about Sita.  In order for that to happen, he turned the ending of the sixth book into a dream of Seymour's.  What, I didn't mention Seymour?

Seymour is a good friend of Sita's.  She confided in him during the original six books.  They even traveled together.  In Thirst, we learn that Sita and Seymour never met.  Seymour didn't know that Sita was real, but he dreamed about her all the time, because she connected with him telepathically.  Seymour published Sita's adventures in a series of books, not knowing that Sita was real.  Seymour got some of the details wrong, like the ending of the sixth book, which turned out to be his own dream.

Whew!  This means that Sita never went back in time to kill Yaksha's mother.  So Sita still exists and is 5,000-years-old, and we get to read even more adventures as people try to kill Sita.

In Thirst #3: The Eternal Dawn, Sita is obsessed with a college student named Teri, who is a descendant of Sita's.  Sita befriends Teri and Teri's boyfriend, Matt.  People try to kill Sita, and Teri and Matt get sucked into it. This book is good but nothing spectacular.

On page 394 of Thirst #3, Sita has recently learned that a certain person is a descendant of Yaksha's.  She had no idea, and she is a bit chagrined, as well she should be since she is supposed to have supernatural powers and be very intuitive.  Anyway, Sita tells this person, "Actually, I think the main reason I'm taunting you is because you faked me out for so long. I feel embarrassed.  I'm not used to having someone put something so big over on me."

Um... Sita, dear, this exact situation happened to you three different times during the original six Last Vampire books.  Three different people were around you for quite some time before you figured out that they were each from your distant past.  You are quite used to it.  Do you have a memory problem or something?

Thirst #4: The Shadow of Death
is an outstanding book and is easily the best book in the series.  In fact, I would go so far as to say that Thirst #4: The Shadow of Death is one of the very best books Pike has ever written.  The book is suspenseful all the way through.  The story has more than one plot twist with some very unexpected surprises. This story has the same tone and quality of the very best vintage Pike books of the late 1980s and early 1990s.  It is excellent.

And then comes Thirst #5: The Sacred Veil, which is very similar to The Last Vampire 6: Creatures of Forever, which means that I found it as uninteresting as Last Vampire 6. Sita has an extended flashback yet again, and it makes me want to scream.  Once again, Sita acts like the most horrible thing happened to her in that time, and I don't see the big deal.  As with Last Vampire 6, maybe my problem is that I skimmed too much of the story.  I couldn't help it, since that part of the story was not interesting to me!

Thirst #5 is okay during the first half of the story.  By the second half, Sita has her extended flashback, and the reader has to read (in my case, skim) lengthy scenes with the Master and with Krishna.

Some people have hypothesized that Pike has a ghostwriter, and they think someone else wrote some of the Thirst books.  No, I'm quite sure that every bit of this is Pike himself. Thirst #3 has quite a different style, but I have read Pike's adult novels.  The book matches Pike's adult novels.

Regarding Thirst #5, all the scenes with the Master and Krishna are enough to convince me that the person who wrote them is the same person who wrote the Remember Me trilogy, and that would be Pike himself.

The Thirst series will contain at least three more books.  Pike gave an update in May, stating that he finally wrote the conclusion to the story and now has to rewrite Thirst 6 and 7 to match the ending.

While parts of the Last Vampire/Thirst series were hard for me get through, I did overall greatly enjoy Sita's story.  I will be reading the additional volumes once they are published.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Wallace Boys #7 Crash in the Caprivi and #8 Mischief in 'The Mousetrap'

In Wallace Boys #7, Crash in the Caprivi, Bruce, Nigel, and Muyunda are on a plane that is hijacked.  The hijacker forces the plane to land in a remote area where the hijacker meets up with Isaacs and Lambert, who are in the midst of their latest plot.  The plane takes off again with Isaacs and Lambert on board, and Isaacs forces the pilot to fly straight into a storm, with disastrous consequences.

I found it fascinating to learn about the Kalahari Bushmen and how their way of life has been threatened during the last 50 years.

This book is excellent.

In Wallace Boys #8, Mischief in 'The Mousetrap', Nigel and Bruce are on their way to Scotland to pick up a yacht that they will refurbish for their uncle.  The boys stop in London for some sightseeing and attend a performance of The Mousetrap.  The boys stumble upon Timothy, who is in trouble on the streets of London as he searches for his missing brother.  Nigel and Bruce vow to help Timothy, and their search leads them into grave danger.

This book includes descriptions of a bookstore, Bygone Books, which is organized well, and another bookstore, Bunting's, which sounds like a nightmare.
Excited and hopeful that his quest to find his brother might be over, Timothy entered Bunting's which was a very differently run establishment compared with Bygone Books.  It didn't take Timothy long to see that no attempt had been made to arrange the books on the shelves; fiction was mixed with reference and hopelessly out of any sort of order.  There was also a horrible smell and Timothy wrinkled his nose in distaste. It was the smell of cigarette smoke, but not what he'd ever smelled before, and he didn't think it was a very good idea to smoke in a place like this in the first place.
We learn that the clerk was high from the cigarette, so we can conclude that he was smoking marijuana, even though marijuana is not mentioned by name.

The boys discover that the bookstore is part of a crime ring, and the criminals use hollowed-out books to carry contraband from place to place.

This book has an excellent mystery.  Even though the reader can pretty much guess the villain from the beginning, the crime is not immediately obvious, so the mystery is quite interesting.

This is an outstanding book.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Falling and the Blind Mirror by Christopher Pike

In Falling, Matt Connor decides to fake his own death by jumping out of an airplane as it flies over the ocean.  Matt wants to get revenge on his old girlfriend, and he must appear to be dead before he can put his revenge plan in motion. Meanwhile, Kelly Fienman is an FBI agent who is investigating a serial killer, and later, an abduction.  Kelly's investigations gradually cause her path to cross with Matt's with an interesting twist.  

Pike had already used the idea of a character getting revenge by faking their own death in two books, Gimme a Kiss and Fall Into Darkness.  It's a fun plot, so why not do it again?  I'm impressed that Pike was able to reuse the same basic plot idea to create something entirely different.

This story has a lot of background information about both Matt and Kelly, but unlike Pike's other adult novels, the information is quite important to the plot.  The plot is fascinating as Matt and Kelly's separate stories begin to converge.

This is an excellent book.

In The Blind Mirror, David is walking along the beach when he discovers a body partially buried in the sand.  Later, David is shocked to discover that the body belongs to his old girlfriend, Sienna. Even more shocking is when Sienna calls David on the phone.  Nobody will believe him that Sienna is alive, and David learns too late that he is a victim of a conspiracy.

This story is really suspenseful and reads like a mystery.  This is a very good book.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Wallace Boys #5 Killers against Kariba and #6 Kidnapped in the Kafue

In Wallace Boys #5, Killers against Kariba, Bruce, Nigel, and Muyunda depart on a camping trip on Lake Kariba, which is between Zambia and Zimbabwe.  The boys unwittingly stumble open Isaacs' latest plot, which is to to blow up the Kariba dam. Blowing up the dam will throw the region into chaos, so that the leadership of Zimbabwe can be overthrown.  The boys hope to thwart Isaacs' plan, but first, they must escape from their captors.

The first part of this story is much slower than I would have liked.  The story is overall good, but the historical content was a bit tedious for me and not very interesting.

In Wallace Boys #6, Kidnapped in the Kafue, Bruce and Nigel travel with Muyunda to visit his uncle, Kamwi, who is a game warden in the Kafue National Park.  Kamwi is angry when the boys arrive, even though he invited Muyunda.  Kamwi is not himself and seems not to care about the constant poaching. Muyunda does not understand what has happened to his uncle.

The boys investigate the poachers on their own and discover that the poachers are funding a rebel army.  Even more interesting, the boys' foes Isaacs and Lambert are involved in the plot!

Nigel makes the following observation.
Nigel leant back in his seat relieving tense muscles. "Do you know," he announced, "we've been instrumental in destroying three helicopters in the last couple of years?  I wonder who can claim that distinction."
This book starts out quite well and is interesting from the very beginning.  The story is excellent from beginning to end and is quite engaging.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

The Alosha Trilogy by Christopher Pike

In Alosha, Ali Warner learns about the elementals, creatures from a parallel Earth, who plan to take over our Earth.  Ali's task is to prevent the elementals from invading.  In order to do so, Ali must learn how to awaken her powers.

Ali is 13 years old.  These books are labeled as young adult, but they read like the very bottom edge of young adult.  In particular, this first book is more like a lengthy children's book and is also not very interesting.  Ali awakens her magical powers every easily and with little effort.  There is just something missing.

Pike has stated that this trilogy was supposed to be one long book, but that the publisher broke it apart.  That could be part of the reason why the first book is lacking.

In The Shaktra, Ali enters the elemental world accompanied by a leprechaun,  a troll, and Ra, an African teen she meets in a cavern.  Ali must search for her mother, who is missing, while she seeks answers about the Shaktra, Ali's dangerous enemy.

I like this passage from page 193.
Ra's words returned to haunt her.

"A lot of times being a leader means knowing when not to do something."

"But he's wrong, if I do nothing, they'll suffer more," she told herself.

The truth was... she did not know if that was true.  To leave a dozen fairies in the wild with a mass of broken limbs was an intolerable idea.  To allow them to be changed into scaliis was equally unbearable.  The paradox hit Ali hard, as she imagined it must hit all leaders at one time or another.  She could not do the right thing because the situation was too horrible for any choice to be right.
The second book is much better than the first book.

In The Yanti, the battle for control of the world intensifies.  Ali has regained most of her magical powers, and her elemental counterpart has once again become active.  Ali has possession of the Yanti, a powerful talisman, but when Ali uses it, the talisman nearly destroys her.

The third book is also very good.  The story is left on a cliffhanger, and it is doubtful that the fourth book will ever be published.  This is the publisher's fault.  According to this reviewer and a Facebook post by Pike himself, Pike has written the fourth book, but Tor will not publish it unless the movie adaptation of Alosha is successful.  The movie adaptation has never been made, so there we go. The last book in the trilogy was published in 2006, so the prospect of seeing the fourth book is not good.  Perhaps Pike can regain the rights to the series someday and publish the next book.