Monday, October 16, 2017

Doris Fein: Quartz Boyar and Phantom of the Casino

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, October 13, 2017

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

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

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

This is a very good book.

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

This is a very good book.

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

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

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Dr. Doom: Superstar and Doris Fein: Superspy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This is a good book.

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

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

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

The Hardy Boys are mentioned on page 153.

This is a very good book.

Monday, October 9, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This is a very good book.

Friday, October 6, 2017

Vintage Nancy Drew Large Print Edition

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

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

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

This is quite a unique book.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Dead End Farm, Dark Windows, and Mystery by Moonlight by Mary C. Jane

In Mystery at Dead End Farm, old Nils Gustafson has disappeared.  His farm is deserted, and Nils is nowhere to be found. Priscilla and Greg find a few strangers on Nils' land and wonder what is going on.  The children learn that several men think that Nils is planning to sell a plane that he was fixing up for Greg.  Greg refuses to believe the rumor, which causes a rift between the children.

This book did not interest me that much.  The problem is that I never cared about the situation or what happened to the characters. I have to feel invested in the plot in order to care.

In Mystery Behind Dark Windows, Ellie Pride's Aunt Rachel refuses to sell the old mill.  Instead, Aunt Rachel leaves the mill empty, with all the men out of work. The townspeople are deeply resentful about the situation.  A group of boys runs around stealing things, and the townspeople believe that the young people have too much idle time.  Meanwhile, vandalism occurs at the mill, and Ellie tries to find the culprit.

This book also didn't grab me that much.

In Mystery by Moonlight, Gail hears strange noises from Morgan's Green, an abandoned old ruin of a house.  The house burned years before, but part of the structure still stands. Soon, Gail learns that the old house may be sold shortly.  Gail is devastated, because she uses an old shed that is hidden in the woods on the property as her secret place to write stories.  Gail is constantly teased about her stories, so she hides them in the old shed. Will Gail lose the old shed?

This is a very good story.

Monday, October 2, 2017

The Hideous eBay Seller Hub and Other Random Thoughts

eBay sellers have a selling manager that presents data in an organized fashion.  It's great.  eBay thought that they could improve it and came up with the seller hub.

I was switched to the seller hub earlier this year, found it awful, and followed the link to opt out.  Last month, eBay placed me in the seller hub again, but this time, no link to opt out was present.  I couldn't believe it.  The seller hub is truly awful.  Nothing can be found easily, and useful links that were prominent in selling manager are nowhere to be found.  It's another example of company employees who don't use the site thinking that they can make it better for those that do use the site.  

I thought I had to stay in seller hub and have been tortured by it for several weeks.  I finally noticed a link to the seller hub message board.  I went to it, where I discovered a bunch of unhappy sellers who hate the seller hub.  You would think that eBay would get a clue.  Why force us to use something that everyone hates and is unusable?

The good news is that I learned that we can opt out, but in a difficult to find fashion.  Go into your account settings and find "subscriptions."  The seller hub subscription will be listed.  Click on the link to cancel the seller hub subscription.  After that has been done, go back to the subscriptions page.  Scroll down until you find "selling manager." Click on it to subscribe to it.  You will have the selling manager back.

The selling manager has a prominent link at the top to switch to seller hub.  It's rather interesting that the awful seller hub has no link to switch to selling manager.  eBay does not want us to use selling manager, which is a far superior product to the hideous eBay seller hub.

This screen cap shows my selling manager.

Click on the image to see a larger version.  I did remove the sales information from the right side, but otherwise, you are seeing the information from the top part of my selling manager.  The links along the left side are extremely useful and include my buying information.  I am not just a seller, and I like to be able to get to my buying activity just as easily.  All buying information is missing in seller hub.  Furthermore, the useful seller links along the left side are all missing from seller hub.  I use most of them often.

That's why I cannot stand seller hub.

I ended my 10%-off promotions on both eBay and Etsy.  I apologize to those of you who actually appreciated the promotions.  Unfortunately, many people apparently felt entitled to a greater discount than what I offered, so I felt that the promotions were encouraging bad behavior.  An increasing number of people have contacted me in the last couple of months to ask for a "larger discount."  Since this behavior makes me stubborn, now I have no discount at all.

After some comments, I want to clarify my remarks from my last post.

My goal of 365 books by the end of the year was set because I expected to read many short, modern books this year.  I thought I was going to be reading Sweet Valley High by June, but that didn't happen.  I wanted a difficult goal because I wanted to be driven to read through that lengthy series as fast as I could.  That's why I set the goal.  But sometimes plans don't go as expected, and I ended up reading some very long books.  Now I'm back on my original planned track since I am currently reading Sweet Valley High.

Some of you feel that my reading goal is causing me stress.  Not at all.  If I don't reach my goal, I'm not going to lose sleep over it.  When I lost interest in reading 2 1/2 weeks ago, it was because I got annoyed with what I was reading.

I had purchased a small number of Babysitters Club books to try out.  I wanted to read every book that I had purchased to get a good sample of the series.  I greatly enjoyed the first few that I read.  I then read a few that I didn't like as much.  I next read one that had an excessive amount of background information done in the style of Girls of Canby Hall, obviously designed to take up many pages.  I became so annoyed that I quit reading.

I was at a loss as to what to read, and I had some other things that took my interest instead.  I wasn't stressed by the reading; it's just that I lost interest in reading temporarily.  I then forced myself into Sweet Valley High, and I'm set again, reading along at a good pace.  I love to read more than any other activity, so my reading goal does not stress me one bit.

Let's mention what does cause stress:  Facebook.  In the last month, I have been told off twice.  I was called a "dumb broad" and told to "f--- off."  Another person told me that I didn't have the right to close threads in my own group and that I didn't have the right to remove members from my own group.  Excuse me?  Group membership is a privilege, not a right.  If you cause trouble, you will be removed.

I am actually getting really good at taking the attacks in stride.  Being called a "dumb broad" made me laugh, since it was so stupid.  I wasn't aware that men still call women dumb broads these days.  I consider it an old-fashioned term, since I remember it from childhood when I watched reruns of old television programs from the 1950s and 1960s.

What gets to me is the amount of time spent on Facebook moderation.  It's taking up way too much time that I would not lose if others were careful about their actions.  We have rules, and multiple times in September, new members did not read the rules and immediately broke them.  I have to decide when to kick the person out and when to warn them in an attempt to salvage their membership.  In both cases where I was told off, I warned them in as kind a fashion as I could instead of kicking them out. They both reacted belligerently, and both were kicked out.

I also lose time when I have to explain rules to new members.  New members cannot post links, and I was asked for clarification.  Here is a screen cap of the thread, with the name of the other person removed.

Having to explain the rules over and over takes up a lot of time.  I have other tasks that I wish to complete, yet I lose a lot of time having to answer questions, clarify rules, and deal with various situations on Facebook.

Some people don't understand the blog post links on my Jennifer's Series Books Facebook page.  This has been a problem for quite some time.  I use the website IFTTT to automatically post to my page when a new blog post appears here.  I have had the feature set to place "Just Published:" in front of the title of each blog post.

I have had several users suggest that I change my Facebook page's category to "book publisher," and I finally realized that the text on the blog post links may have been the cause.  I have even been congratulated on having a post published.  This is a blog that I control; there's no need to congratulate me for hitting the "publish" button. 

Additionally, the below Facebook post caused confusion.

And again, the "Just Published:" part caused the confusion.  It was thought that the two Mary C. Jane books had just been published by a publishing company.  I have now removed those words from the IFTTT application so that only the blog post title appears.  That should help prevent people from thinking that I am publishing books.

It won't help with the people who don't understand how to use Facebook.  I have been asked quite a few times where my blog posts can be found.  They see a post, which looks like the picture seen above, and have no idea that they can click (or tap) anywhere on the image to get to the blog post.  I have had to explain that several times.  I'm not sure what to do about that.