Thursday, August 31, 2017

Plain Jane and Pretty Betty and Little Miss Sunshine

In Plain Jane and Pretty Betty, Jane is happy when her family moves away from Coal Run. For years, the other children have taunted her by bullying her and calling her "Plain Jane." The family gets settled in Greenville and has a bright future until Jane's guardian loses his job.  Jane must help provide for the family.  As Jane seeks work, she meets "Pretty Betty," a rich girl who looks down on Jane.  While Jane works to help her guardians, Betty encounters unexpected misfortune.  The two very different girls soon find that their future destinies are inexorably intertwined.

The ending of the story has a very unrealistic coincidence.  That sort of thing can be expected in the average series book, but the coincidence is rather extreme in this case.

This is an excellent book.

In Little Miss Sunshine, Margery's father has died.  Margery is forced to give up her beloved dog, Tinker, and must go away to live with her father's old friend, Major Welby.  The Major has no idea how to care for a girl, so he hires Mrs. Sloper to be her caregiver.  The Major is unaware that Mrs. Sloper's references are fake, and Mrs. Sloper promptly begins abusing Margery.

The beginning of this book quite depressed me, since every horrible thing that could possibly happen to Margery does happen.  It was almost more than I could take.  Mrs. Sloper is awful!

This is an excellent book

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Don't Hurt Laurie! by Willo Davis Roberts

Don't Hurt Laurie! is a book that I remember vividly from childhood.  It was written by Willo Davis Roberts and was published in 1977.  I probably read it around 1980 to 1982, and I read it four or more times.  I recall checking it out from the library at least four times, maybe more.  I was obsessed with the book and couldn't get enough of it.

Don't Hurt Laurie! is about a girl who is physically and emotionally abused by her mother, Annabelle.  Laurie has been taken to the hospital many times for burns, broken bones, and cuts.  As soon as anyone begins to notice that Laurie gets hurt a bit too often, Annabelle forces the family to move.  Laurie has a stepbrother and stepsister, and Annabelle never hurts them.  Laurie's stepfather and his mother also have no idea what is happening.  Laurie is afraid to tell anybody, because she is certain that no one will believe her.  If no one believes her, then Annabelle's abuse will worsen.

I have always remembered this book vividly, even though I hadn't read it since childhood.  I remembered Laurie and a friend playing in a ravine behind the property.  I remembered the abuse.  And I remembered that for some reason, this book spoke to me, which is why I read it so many times.  I was not abused as a child, but for some reason, I strongly identified with Laurie.  After so many years, I didn't know exactly why I loved the book so much, but I decided to read the book again to see what I could figure out.  I knew why practically as soon as I began reading the book.

Laurie's personality is a 100% match for my own.  I have never read any other book that matches my personality and how I was as a child as closely as this book does.  Laurie is shy and doesn't make friends easily.  Laurie reflects on how others ignore her and don't even notice her.  She loves to read.  She can't think up the right words in conversations.

This book still speaks to me.  I still love it.

On page 59, Laurie has "no refuge anywhere, except within herself."  She has to "withdraw into a world of make-believe in her books."  As did I, since I never fit in with the other children.

On page 83, Laurie's new teacher raps her across the knuckles with a stick for not paying attention, hurting her.  Even the teacher abuses the poor girl!  I'm not sure if Davis meant that specifically when she wrote the story, since that sort of thing was more acceptable back then.  Perhaps she did.  I doubt I thought anything of that when I read the book as a child.  But it really stands out now as more physical abuse.

This book also spoke to other children.  I read reviews on Goodreads, and multiple reviewers stated how they read this book over and over again.  One person who was not a victim of abuse stated that she wondered if the librarian might have thought she was a victim.  Another person who loved the book was a victim of abuse, and it gave her courage.  And yet another reviewer wrote that she got help for an abused friend after reading the book.

For those of us who fit a certain personality type or have had certain experiences, this is an extremely compelling and outstanding book.  It will always be special to me.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Nell Grayson's Ranching Days and Four Little Women of Roxby

In Nell Grayson's Ranching Days, Nell hasn't seen her best friend, Cora, ever since Cora moved out west years ago.  Cora comes to visit Nell in Boston.  Cora has changed and is now a brash, outspoken western girl little fit for the high life in Boston.  Cora is miserable in Boston, and finally, she invites Nell to visit her at the ranch.

The girls do not arrive at the ranch until page 95, which is nearly halfway through the book. The story is odd with almost half of it taking place in Boston, considering that the title is Nell Grayson's Ranching Days.

The half of the book set in Boston is based upon the schtick of the western girl Cora not fitting in because she continually says and does outrageous things.  I was not amused and found the first half of the book to be quite uninteresting.  Cora's western dialect is also obnoxious.

The last part of the story is pretty good, however.  This book is overall good.  It could have been very good or excellent if the Boston part of the story had been dropped and if the portion at the ranch had been expanded.

In Four Little Women of Roxby, Alice, Jean, Corny, and Bab are orphaned and living on their own in the small town of Roxby.  The girls' parents died years before, and they had been cared for by their aunt until a year before when she died.  Now the girls are all alone in the world, struggling to earn a living.

Bab has been stricken by fever and lies in bed, at times close to death.  The other sisters help nurse her as they struggle to earn money.

Elizabeth Duffield Ward wrote at her best when she wrote books like this one.  This book has a strong Blythe Girls vibe and is an excellent story.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Patsy Carroll #3 Golden West and #4 Old New England

In Patsy Carroll #3, Patsy Carroll in the Golden West, Mr. Carroll has some kind of case involving a film star.  He won't say what, and the girls are left to speculation.  However, Mr. Carroll takes the girls with him as he goes to the Golden West to take care of this mysterious business.

On page 6, Patsy is described as "Titian-tressed."  This might be the first time that I have seen a character's hair described as "titian" aside from Nancy Drew.

This book is completely boring and incoherent until page 135.  It's totally pointless.  Up to that point, the book consists of one silly conversation after another with inane comments or pointless speculation about the film star.

On page 139, the premise is finally explained, which should have been done no later than page 10.  I began enjoying the book on page 139.  I recommend that readers skip the first 130 to 135 pages of the story and begin reading there.

In Patsy Carroll #4, Patsy Carroll in New England, the Wayfarers travel to New England on a vacation.  And it's not worth my time to try to write anything else.

This book is so boring!  It consists of conversation after conversation about a bunch of nothing.  Ugh.  I probably read around half of the first half of the book and then gave up completely.

The writing style is horribly confusing.  All four books were written in an old-fashioned style that is difficult at times, but this book is worse. I was strongly reminded of Lilian Garis and Harriet Pyne Grove during the parts of this book that I did read.

Here is an example of the Harriet Pyne Grove-esque writing from pages 80 and 81.
But that evening at the hotel no incident occurred to justify Patsy's hope in some actual, interesting coincidence.  No one appeared in the dining room, in whom the Wayfarers might have professed personal interest, and later in the exchange, in the lounge and in the big old-fashioned parlors, the combination of passe toilette and antiquated musical talent, that did things to the poor, helpless piano, all combined to convince the girls that a summer stay in Boston was entirely a period of stern necessity.
Really?  Let me run the other way.

On page 174, we learn that the group will rent a vacation house for $150 for one month.  $150 in 1921 money is approximately $2000 now.  The Carroll family has serious money to spend on vacations.

And it was at about page 174 that I gave up.

Three of the four Patsy Carroll books are way too long with generous use of silly conversations included in order to lengthen the lame plots.  The second book was the only one that did not excessively drag for me.  Even parts of it dragged, but it read quite well.  The second book is the main one I would consider reading again.  I could also see reading the first book again, since it wasn't that bad.  This series should have ended with two books.  If it had, I would have a much higher opinion of the set.

I have one book with dust jacket, and $1.50 is printed on the spine.  The average series book of the time cost no more than $0.50, so $1.50 is terribly expensive in comparison.  Using an inflation calculator, $1.50 is $31.40 in 2017.  Even more expensive children's books, such as the Harry Potter books in hardcover, sell for no more than $20.00 on Amazon.  Even those books can be found for considerably less in the secondhand market.  So $31.40 would be pretty expensive for a modern children's book.

I have this theory that the books were written and published for rich girls.  Setting the cost at $1.50 precluded girls of modest means from purchasing the books.  Patsy and her friends have a supercilious view of many of the other characters, most apparent in the second volume in their treatment of the "darkies."

At the beginning of each book, Patsy behaves in a childish fashion, determined to get her way about whichever vacation she is planning.  She is quite unlikable in those scenes.  Patsy and her friends have converse endlessly about the most inane things, and they behave much like rich girls who have little sense.

At the same time, Patsy is portrayed as quite capable, but she does behave in a very silly fashion during many scenes.  While I do like Patsy and her friends during parts of the books, I cannot stand them at other times.

Even though the series is highly flawed and difficult to read, the early blue books are very nice and worth having for those who like early series books.  They are handsome volumes that are nice to look at and enjoy.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Girl from the Country and Three Girl Chums at Laurel Hall

The Barton Books for Girls series was written by two authors under the pseudonym of May Hollis Barton.  The series was a Stratemeyer Syndicate series and was published by Cupples and Leon.

 1.  The Girl from the Country, 1926
 2.  Three Girl Chums at Laurel Hall, 1926
 3.  Nell Grayson’s Ranching Days, 1926
 4.  Four Little Women of Roxby, 1926
 5.  Plain Jane and Pretty Betty, 1926
 6.  Little Miss Sunshine, 1928
 7.  Hazel Hood’s Strange Discovery, 1928
 8.  Two Girls and a Mystery, 1928
 9.  The Girls of Lighthouse Island, 1929
10.  Kate Martin’s Problem, 1929
11.  The Girl in the Top Flat, 1930
12.  The Search for Peggy Ann, 1930
13.  Sallie’s Test of Skill, 1931
14.  Charlotte Cross and Aunt Deb, 1931
15.  Virginia’s Venture, 1932

The books were written by Elizabeth Duffield Ward, except for Kate Martin's Problem and The Girl in the Top Flat.  Elizabeth Duffield Ward also wrote the Blythe Girls series, and this series is very similar to that series in tone and type of story.  These books almost certainly will appeal to those who like the Blythe Girls.

In The Girl from the Country, Laura's father, Daddy Tom, falls from a ladder and will be unable to work for quite some time.  Daddy Tom's old friend, Mr. Whipple, comes to call and invites Laura to stay in the city with him sometime.

Laura decides to seek work to help her family and asks all over town.  No one will hire her.  Finally, Laura takes Mr. Whipple up on his offer.  She plans to stay with him while she seeks a job in New York City.  Unfortunately, Mr. Whipple is away when Laura arrives, thus starting a chain of unfortunate events where Laura struggles to survive in the big city.

This is an excellent book.

In Three Girl Chums at Laurel Hall, Nan, Jo, and Sadie plan to attend Laurel Hall together. Their plan is threatened when Jo's father loses his money due to theft by an employee. Meanwhile, Jo rescues Nan's Aunt Emma from a fire, and Aunt Emma becomes Jo's benefactor.  The three girls leave for their new school.  Upon their arrival, the three girl chums unwittingly make an instant enemy who does all she can to get the friends expelled from school.

On page 110, one teacher, Miss Radley, does not know the names of her students.  She calls on a student who is looking at her by pointing at the girl and calling out, "You tell me!"  Therefore, all girls who are not prepared for the lesson avoid eye contact, thereby avoiding trouble.  That's kind of funny.

This is a very good book.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Patsy Carroll #1 Wilderness Lodge and #2 Southern Skies

The Patsy Carroll series consists of four books written under the pseudonym of Grace Gordon.

1.  Patsy Carroll at Wilderness Lodge, 1917
2.  Patsy Carroll under Southern Skies, 1918
3.  Patsy Carroll in the Golden West, 1920
4.  Patsy Carroll in Old New England, 1921

The books were published by Cupples and Leon, initially in very expensive editions and later in much cheaper editions.  The early editions must have sold in small numbers due to the high price, so they are very hard to find these days.

The early editions are very thick light blue books with a glossy frontispiece, three glossy internals, and a white dust jacket with the same image as the book's cover.  The later editions are red books with just the glossy frontispiece.  The books pictured here are the early books.

Each story is around 340 pages long. Unfortunately, the stories are not complex enough to be 340 pages, and each book should have been around 150 pages shorter. These books contain lots of silly conversations used to fill up pages and pages of text.

In Patsy Carroll #1, Patsy Carroll at Wilderness Lodge, Patsy and her friends, Bee, Mabel, and Eleanor, decide to call themselves the Wayfarers.  The Wayfarers plan a trip to the Adirondacks with Patsy's Aunt Martha along as chaperone.  During the trip, the Wayfarers help find a lost will.

On page 66, Aunt Martha cautions against the girls trying to solve the mystery, since by doing so, they will "be turned into a band of sleuths."  I don't see anything wrong with that.

The last 60 to 80 pages of the book drag because the plot had already been resolved for the most part.

In Patsy Carroll #2, Patsy Carroll Under Southern Skies, the Wayfarers journey to Florida with Aunt Martha and Patsy's father. Mr. Carroll has recently purchased an old Spanish mansion, so the group will stay there during the Wayfarers' vacation.  Upon their arrival, the girls discover a strange girl running in the woods, a hostile servant, and a mean old woman who lives nearby.  Patsy senses a mystery and decides to solve it.

On page 22, the girls' dormitory is on fire. The girls gather downstairs, inside the burning building, where the girls line up and the matron takes roll.  After the matron takes roll, the matron selects the girls for the bucket brigade.  The bucket brigade is put together, then the other girls wait to leave the building until after the bucket brigade goes upstairs.  What the heck?  The fire is raging across the back of the building the entire time this is happening!  It's lucky everyone isn't killed in the fire!

This story has an excessive amount of negative racial stereotyping.  Mr. Carroll hires some workers, and he calls them his "black boys" all through the story.  They are also called "darkies," "negroes," and even the n-word.  It sounds so derogatory the way he refers to them.  Old books frequently have this sort of thing, but it's rather excessive in this story, with the references appearing every few pages all through the book.  The reader is never given a chance to forget that there are "black boys" nearby.

The author also gets in a few negative statements about Indians and Latinos for good measure.

On page 55, Mr. Carroll is called "Massa Carroll" by the "mammy."

On page 68, the girls are walking around the property, and Eleanor cries out, "There's a darkie over yonder, clipping away that thicket!"  The exclamation is uttered like seeing the man is somehow a bit of a curiosity, as if the girls are viewing a freak show at the circus.  Patsy then calls to the gardener, "Hey, there, Uncle!" to get his attention.  How very rude.  Of course, "Uncle" obsequiously runs over to the girls, eager to do whatever he can for them.

I enjoyed this book the most of the four books.  It has less filler than the other three stories.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Kathy Young and Latchkey Mystery by Margaret Goff Clark

In Who Stole Kathy Young?, Meg is walking down the road when she sees her best friend, Kathy, abducted right in front of her!  Meg is horrified and runs to Kathy's house to tell her father.

Meg is worried about Kathy, who is deaf.  The van used for the abduction is recovered, and Meg finds the power pack for Kathy's hearing aid inside the van.  Kathy can hear nothing, rendering her helpless.  With few clues, Meg and her friend, Julian, ask a private investigator to help them find Kathy.

It was fun trying to guess the culprit as I read this book.

The story is very good to excellent.

In The Latchkey Mystery, burglars are breaking into houses in Minda's neighborhood.  Minda forms a neighborhood watch group with her school friends who live in the same neighborhood.  They call themselves the Ferrets.

The Ferrets devise various methods to keep an eye on the neighborhood.  Each Ferret keeps a list of suspects and writes down anything suspicious that they see.

This is a very good book.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Bearstone and Far North by Will Hobbs

In Bearstone, Cloyd is a troubled teenager.  He has been sent by his tribe to a group home. Cloyd is then sent to live with Walter, an old man who lives on the mountain by himself.  Cloyd likes Walter, but when a group of hunters visits Walter, Cloyd decides that the hunters are Walter's real friends and that all of the men are laughing at him.

Cloyd strikes out to hurt Walter in the worst way possible, and when it is too late, Cloyd learns that Walter is his real friend.

This is not the kind of book that I typically enjoy.  I have trouble relating to a protagonist who is so full of anger and takes revenge upon someone who does not deserve it by doing the most appalling act possible.  Aside from that, the story is good and teaches a lesson.

In Far North, Gabe starts boarding school in the Northwest Territories of Canada.  His roommate is Raymond, an Indian from Nahanni Butte. Gabe gets an opportunity to ride on a bush plane one weekend, and to his shock, Raymond will be flying on the plane to return home.  He is dropping out of school.  Also taking the flight is Johnny, Raymond's great-uncle.

The pilot, Clint, takes the boys to an unscheduled stop on the Nahanni River to see the waterfall.  The plane's radio quits working, but Clint is unconcerned, even though no one knows where the plane is.  Upon landing on the river, the engine fails, stranding the passengers. Thus begins a terrifying struggle for survival that lasts for most of the harsh, northern Canadian winter.

This is an outstanding book.  The author does not get bogged down on extreme detail, and the story flows well in a very interesting fashion.  The story is quite moving, and as I read the final chapter, tears came to my eyes.  That doesn't happen often.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Sebastian Island and Flooded Museum by Margaret Goff Clark

In Mystery of Sebastian Island, Dena Foster is on her way home from boarding school to Sebastian Island.  During the trip, Dena meets Guy, who is also on his way to the island. Guy's bag looks just like another man's bag, and Dena sees the other man take Guy's bag. Guy refuses to believe Dena, even though Dena knows that the wrong bag was taken. Dena little suspects that the bag mix-up is a clue to a dangerous mystery.

This book is a good mystery.  I kept wondering about certain characters and whether they were in with the villains or not.

The story becomes very suspenseful towards end.  This is a very good book.

A quote from page 80 is amusing.  Dena looks over the books in her room to see if she can find one for Mrs. Kaufman, who doesn't have enough reading material.  Dena reflects, "It was a sure thing that Mrs. Kaufman would be long past Nancy Drew."  I don't know about that.  It seems that many of us are still stuck on Nancy Drew.

In Mystery in the Flooded Museum, Susan begins volunteering for the summer at Fort Pitt Museum.  A valuable wampum that has just been placed on exhibit is stolen.  Susan is shocked to discover that she is a suspect, since one of her belongings was found near the exhibit.  Susan hunts for clues while the employees remove all of the exhibits due to a flood warning.

I did not like this book.  Nothing about it interested me.  This is my least favorite book by Margaret Goff Clark.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

The Dan Perry Series by Kent Sagendorph

The Dan Perry Series consists of three books written by Kent Sagendorph and published by Cupples and Leon.

1.  Radium Island, 1938
2.  Beyond the Amazon, 1938
3.  Sin-Kiang Castle, 1938

In Radium Island, Dan Perry's father is abducted by a Russian, Varkofsky.  Dan and his friend, Shorty, follow Varkofsky in their plane and manage to rescue Anson Perry. The boys learn that Varkofsky has jumped Mr. Perry's claim on the pitchblende mine on Radium Island in Great Bear Lake, Canada. Dan and Shorty fly to the lake to capture Varkofsky, but instead, the boys are captured! They are forced to labor in the mine for months.  Can they ever escape?

Anson Perry becomes paralyzed at the beginning of the first book.  Unlike in most series books, Mr. Perry does not recover.  He is still paralyzed at the end of the third book. Since Mr. Perry is paralyzed, Dan takes over running Mr. Perry's affairs for him.

In Beyond the Amazon, another of Anson Perry's claims has been jumped, this time in Brazil in the middle of the rain forest.  The claim is a diamond mine, and Dan and his companions fight to get it back.

This book is poorly edited.  For instance, on page 56, the sun is shining, and on page 60, it is said to be pitch black outside.  I was rather confused, especially since little time had passed.

The entire book is full of lots of fighting, which often doesn't make sense.  In one scene, I couldn't figure out which direction some of the natives were going.

I had to skim a lot of the book.

In Sin-Kiang Castle, Shorty's father is missing in China.  Dan and Shorty travel to China to search for him.

This book is also confusing at times, especially when the information presented is obviously false.  We learn that in China it is noon of the day before.  No, China is ahead of United States time, not behind.

I did not care much for this book and skimmed a lot of it.

The first book is the strongest of the three. The second and third books would have been better if they had been edited better.  In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if the second and third books were not edited at all.  They read like rough drafts.

For a more detailed review, read "Dan Perry: An Unusual Series."

Friday, August 11, 2017

Mystery Horse and Death at Their Heels by Margaret Goff Clark

In Mystery Horse, Jennie Longboat lives on the Tuscarora Reservation.  Miranda Young is staying with Jennie, and Miranda frequently disappears.  Tonight, Miranda has disappeared again, and Jennie heads up the road looking for her.  After a time, Miranda appears, her face flushed and hair tangled. Miranda claims to have been asleep on the porch.  Jennie knows something is up, but Miranda isn't talking.

The girls hear a horse that night, and Miranda claims that the horse is a ghost horse.  Jennie is certain that the horse was real, but Miranda insists that she saw a ghost horse in the sky. Miranda's story causes problems, because the women of the tribe decide that Miranda's vision is a bad omen and that they will have to appoint another man as chief.  Jennie tries to get proof that the horse was real.

This book opens at night, which creates a suspenseful atmosphere.  I was surprised at the reveal of the culprit.

I read this book very quickly.  It is excellent and very engaging.

In Death at Their Heels, Rick receives a phone call that sets him on edge.  He asks his stepbrother, Denny, to go with him on a camping trip.  Rick insists that they leave that night and that they tell nobody.  Unknown to Rick, Denny leaves a note in the kitchen telling Aunt Wilma their destination.

Once the boys arrive in Algonquin Park in Canada, Denny learns that Rick is running from a young man who is trying to kill him. Rick learns about the note and is furious. Soon, it becomes apparent that Rick's enemy has learned the boys' destination, putting them on the run once again.

Rick makes extremely stupid decisions.  He is stricken by fear, so this is why, but I still had a problem with it.  After Rick realizes that his enemy knows they are in the park, he should have left the park with Denny.  But no!  The boys stay in the park so that they can be found.  Of course, there wouldn't have been a story if Rick had behaved logically.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Vicki Loring #1 A Career for Vicky and #2 Golden Buttons

The Vicky Loring series was published by Golden Press and consists of just two books.

1.  A Career for Vicky, 1962
2.  Golden Buttons, 1963

In A Career for Vicky, teenager Vicky Loring wants to follow in her father's footsteps. Kenneth Loring is a famous television anchor, and Vicky has recently gotten an entry-level job at his network.  Vicky is soon plunged into mystery when her friend, Julia Clevenger, disappears at her debutante debut.  Meanwhile, Mr. Loring works with Julia's father, Senator Clevenger, on a dam project that has run into a problem.  The ownership of the land that Senator Clevenger needs for the dam is in question.

The two separate plots converge towards the end of the book, which can always be expected in this kind of book.

This is a fast-paced, excellent story.

In Golden Buttons, Vicky is now her father's assistant at the network.  Mr. Loring and Vicky arrive in Zourab in the Middle East. Mr. Loring is being secretive about a message he has received, which puts Vicky on edge. Vicky finds an ornate golden button on the ground in a local market, and soon after, Vicky notices that someone is following her. In time, Vicky realizes that the golden button holds the secret to something and that she is in grave danger so long as she has the button in her possession.

I overall enjoyed the first two-thirds of the book.  The last one-third of the book bored me.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Adirondack Mountain Mystery and Missing Stamps by Margaret Goff Clark

In Adirondack Mountain Mystery, Andy visits his cousins in the Adirondacks.  Andy's vacation is at risk of being spoiled due to a recent bank robbery.  The robbers were last seen in the Adirondacks, so Andy's cousin Midge orders the children to stay at the house and not explore the nearby countryside.  Andy spots evidence of someone prowling around in the immediate area, so he hopes to help get the robbers captured so that he can enjoy the rest of his vacation.

This book is good, but it is also one of Margaret Goff Clark's books that I do not like as much as the rest of her books.  I do not find it that compelling.

In Mystery of the Missing Stamps, Mark Baxter, his mother, and his stepfather have just moved to the resort that his stepfather manages.  Mark is having trouble adjusting to his new life, but he has made one friend, Ben. A tourist's valuable stamps are stolen, and Ben becomes the primary suspect.  All clues point to Ben, and it is not until much later that Mark realizes that someone is framing Ben for the theft.

On pages 10 and 11, the 1856 British Guiana one-cent stamp is mentioned and said to be worth $100,000.  I always like to check on the current value of valuable items so see how much the value has increased.  That stamp is now worth $9.5 million.

This is an excellent book.  It's a great mystery that keeps the reader guessing about the identity of the culprit.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Pirate Oak, Apple Orchard, and Lost Letter by Helen Fuller Orton

I tried three books written by Helen Fuller Orton.


Mystery in the Apple Orchard is too young for me.  It reads like a book for very young children. It's cute and would be fun to read to a child.  It's not so good when read by an adult.

Mystery in the Pirate Oak is better.  The story is still pretty simple, but the book is interesting.

The Mystery of the Lost Letter is the best of these three books.  The story includes a search through a library full of books and a secret passage that leads to a nearby hillside.  The story is quite interesting.

This book was published in 1946, right after World War II.  Miss Wayne has the library full of books.  Everyone considers Miss Wayne selfish for not loaning out her books.  I can see that viewpoint, especially for the time period in which the book is set. However, no matter what a person possesses, it is their decision whether to loan out the items. They shouldn't be considered selfish for keeping their belongings for their own use.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Marble Zoo and Star Lake by Margaret Goff Clark

In Mystery of the Marble Zoo, Jill and her sister, Carol, arrive at the Chapman place at night to spend the weekend sorting through Uncle Leon's belongings in preparation for selling them.  Jill wishes that the family could keep Uncle Leon's house, but they can't afford it.  Just before Uncle Leon died, he told Jill that he has a treasure, but he was unable to give her any details.  As Jill begins her search for clues, she notices that the contents of a drawer disappear.  Someone is prowling in the house, and Jill realizes that someone else is searching for the treasure.

My copy of this book was signed by Margaret Goff Clark.  It appears that she commonly signed books so it is not too unusual to find inscribed books.  Even so, having one is quite special.


This is such an excellent book.  By opening the book at night with a prowler on the Chapman property, Clark sets the stage for a highly suspenseful story.  I was enthralled from start to finish.

In Mystery at Star Lake, Jeff joins his brother, Hal, at the family's cabin in the Canadian woods.  Hal plans to build an addition to the cabin, and Jeff plans to help.  Hal initially changes his mind about Jeff staying at the cabin after a stone is thrown into the cabin with a warning note attached.  The note reads, "Get out!"

Jeff convinces Hal to let him stay.  The brothers receive another warning, and someone tries to blow up the cabin!  Can Jeff find the culprit before someone gets hurt?

For whatever reason, this book did not grab me.  I enjoyed it, but it is in the group of books by Margaret Goff Clark that I enjoyed less than her other books.

Friday, August 4, 2017

More Books and Bulk Lots Listed on eBay and Etsy

I have listed many books on both eBay and Etsy in the last few weeks.  I have listed some bulk lots on eBay, some tonight and others within the last few weeks.  Some lots have already sold, but others are still available.

Jennifer's Series Books on eBay

On eBay, a 10% discount will apply to orders with at least two items in it.  In order to receive the discount, you must add the items to your shopping cart before paying.  Once all items are in your cart, then you may complete checkout and pay through PayPal.

You will not receive a discount when items are purchased and paid for individually.

Jennifer's Series Books on Etsy

On Etsy, an active coupon code can be found on the main page of my shop.  Enter the coupon code into your shopping cart to receive 10% off of any order of $10 or more.


Serpent of Pirate Cove and Trouble at Turtle Bay

The Serpent of Pirate Cove was written by Bill Knott and was published by Steck-Vaughn in 1971.

In The Serpent of Pirate Cove, Jeff and Bob see a large serpent in the water in Pirate Cove.  Soon, others see the serpent, and hundreds of people flock to the area in hopes of seeing the mysterious creature.  Jeff and Bob suspect a hoax, and they set out to find out what is happening.

This is like the typical series book where someone pulls off a hoax by having some kind of monster appear in a lake.  This type of story is almost always good.

This is a very good book.

Trouble at Turtle Bay was written by Marie Holmstrand and was published in 1957 by Dodd, Mead & Company.

In Trouble at Turtle Bay, Bud and his father fish from Lake Superior. The taconite mining industry is bringing change to their town, and the family is caught between the old ways and the new ones. Bud wants to embrace the new life, but his father clings to tradition. The company tries to force the family to sell their land, but Bud's father refuses.

This is a coming-of-age story and not a mystery.  The story is absorbing, and I kept wondering how the plot would resolve.  The solution does not become apparent until pretty close to the end of the book.

This is an excellent story.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Seneca Hill and Buried Indian Mask by Margaret Goff Clark

In The Mystery of Seneca Hill, the Burnham family may lose its motel.  Their business has dropped, and funds are low.  One night, Doug sees a mysterious light on Seneca Hill.  When the children investigate, they discover that someone has been digging on the hill. Through clever deduction, the children realize that an old fort might have once been on the hill, and if they can provide proof, the family might be able to keep their property.

I had trouble getting into the book at first because I could not figure out where the motel, the neighbor's house, the river, the hill, and the road all were with respect to each other.  A map would have helped greatly.  I was so confused.

The story is overall good, but it is not very suspenseful.  This is one of my least favorite books by Margaret Goff Clark.

In The Mystery of the Buried Indian Mask, Julie works on an archaeological dig as her summer job.  Artifacts begin to disappear, and Julie works on finding the culprit.

The author does a good job with misdirection, making several people appear to be suspicious.  I was intrigued with the plot as I tried to figure out the true identity of the culprit.

This book is more for older children since it has a hint of romance, and two people get knocked out.

This is an excellent book which is very suspenseful.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

The Ghost of Follensbee's Folly by Florence Hightower

The Ghost of Follonsbee's Folly by Florence Hightower was first published in 1958 and is 218 pages long.  My copy is a Weekly Reader edition.  I have owned this book for many years.  I picked it up either at a garage sale or thrift store.  I can't remember, but I am so glad that I finally read it.

In The Ghost of Follonsbee's Folly, the Stackpole family moves into an old house that dates from before the Civil War.  The house is in disrepair, and Mr. Stackpole soon discovers that repairing the house is using up all of his money.

The family hears strange noises at night, but they attribute the sounds to the furnace or water pipes needing repair.  Tom befriends a boy named Joe who spends his days near the river.  Joe won't tell Tom where he lives or much of anything about himself, but Joe and Tom quickly become best friends.

Angela the cook is the best character.  On page 28, Angela declares, "Watching the river I knew it wasn't my place to judge others even though I'm nearly always right and they're mostly wrong."

As Mr. Stackpole's plans go awry on page 34, Angela points out, "Man proposeth.  God disposeth."  Angela is wonderful.

On page 74, Elsie and Tom have to feed the twin infants.  Unfortunately, the twins are prone to fits of rage.  Elsie and Tom hit upon the perfect solution:  Make the boys race. The children shove food in the babies' mouths as fast as they can.  "There was no time for displays of temper.  Either they ate their fastest or they strangled."  I couldn't believe it.

The characters are described quite well and have memorable personalities.  The book has lots of humor.  Without giving specific spoilers, the story has the typical series book elements that we love so much.  Parts of the story remind me a little bit of the Nancy Drew books The Hidden Staircase, The Clue of the Tapping Heels, and The Hidden Window Mystery.

This is an excellent book.