Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Sweet Valley High Winter Carnival, #33 Starting Over, and #34 Forbidden Love

In Sweet Valley High Super Edition, Winter Carnival, the junior and senior classes of Sweet Valley High are looking forward to spending an upcoming weekend at a ski resort.

Liz is feeling jealous of Jessica, because Jessica won a trivia contest.  Also, Jessica has been inconsiderate, and pretty soon, Liz wishes she had never had a sister.  Even worse, Jeffrey is angry with Liz because Liz will miss the first night of the carnival because she plans to go to a rewards ceremony with Todd.

I enjoyed this book when I was a teen, but it doesn't hold up well.  Liz's behavior is quite stupid.  She doesn't tell Jeffrey about the rewards ceremony, making Jeffrey angry.  She then doesn't understand why Jeffrey is angry.  Even worse and most baffling, Liz takes Jessica's dumb advice about how she needs to make Jeffrey jealous.  Ugh!

This book is just mediocre.

In Sweet Valley High #33, Starting Over, Dana Larson's cousin, Sally, arrives in Sweet Valley to live with her family.  Dana is eager for Sally to fit in, and she is a bit ashamed that Sally was raised in foster homes.  Dana wants Sally to forget about all of that, and she pretty much forces Sally to take on all of her interests.  Dana just knows that Sally will be so happy to live with the Larsons.

Dana is rather annoying in this story.  I really enjoyed reading about Sally and her adjustment problems.

The Jessica subplot is the best.  Jessica acquires a new dog and keeps it inside the house hidden from her parents in an attempt to prove that she can take care of a dog.  I especially like when the dog eats through the washing machine hose, and Jessica has to conceal this slight problem from her parents.

This is a very good book.

In Sweet Valley High #34, Forbidden Love, Maria Santelli and Michael Harris have fallen in love.  The problem is that their parents hate each other because of a bad business deal.  Everything seems perfect when Michael proposes to Maria, but then Michael becomes overly possessive.  Maria begins to have second thoughts.

This is a good book.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Sweet Valley High #30 Jealous Lies, #31 Taking Sides, and #32 The New Jessica

In Sweet Valley High #30, Jealous Lies, Sandra Bacon's best friend, Jean West, has been nominated for membership in Pi Beta Alpha.  Sandra doesn't want Jean in Pi Beta Alpha, because the sorority is all she has that Jean doesn't.

Meanwhile, Steven decides to quit college and take a job on a ship.  The Wakefield family is horrified, but Steven will not listen.  They use reverse psychology, acting like they are happy to see him leave in hope that he will change his mind.

This is a very good book.

In Sweet Valley High #31, Taking Sides, Jeffrey French is a new student at Sweet Valley High.  Enid has a crush on him, while Lila decides that Jeffrey is the boy for her.  Liz helps Enid get to know Jeffrey, while Jessica schemes to keep Jeffrey interested in Lila.

Liz soon realizes that Jeffrey likes her, but she reacts by trying harder to get Jeffrey to like Enid.  Liz makes a mess of the situation, risking her friendship with Enid as well as a possible future with Jeffrey.

Liz and Jessica's annoying younger cousin Jenny stays with the family.  Jenny attaches herself to Jessica and to Jessica's current love interest.  Jessica can't spend any time alone with him, and he even seems to like Jenny a lot.

My favorite scene in the book is towards the end when Liz is crying by herself on the beach.  Jessica comes to her and comforts her, helping Liz to see that she does like Jeffrey.  It's wonderful to see Jessica comforting her sister instead of scheming against her.

The early part of the story is rather annoying.  Liz's behavior is stupid, but the story does become quite enjoyable once it becomes apparent that Liz has fallen for Jeffrey and doesn't even know it.

This is a very good book.

In Sweet Valley High #32, The New Jessica, Jessica is tired of people mistaking her for Liz.  She dyes her hair black and adopts a sophisticated and vaguely foreign persona.  Liz is crushed, feeling like she has lost her twin sister and that Jessica has rejected her.  Can Liz get her sister back?

I enjoyed this book.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Sweet Valley High #28 Alone in the Crowd, #29 Bitter Rivals, and Malibu Summer

In Sweet Valley High #28, Alone in the Crowd, Lynne Henry feels like a misfit.  She has no friends, and everyone ignores her.  Lynne loves to play the guitar and write songs.  When The Droids announce a songwriting contest, Lynne decides to enter, but she does so anonymously.

Lynne has always had a crush on Guy Chesney, and he immediately falls in love with the anonymous songwriter.  But Lynne is certain that she can never live up to Guy's expectations, so she tells no one that she wrote the song.

This book is quite unrealistic, like most books in this series, but I have always loved it.

In Sweet Valley High #29, Bitter Rivals, Liz's childhood best friend, Amy Sutton, has returned to Sweet Valley!  Liz is thrilled, and she just knows that Enid and Amy will love each other.

Unknown to Liz, Enid immediately takes a disliking to Amy.  Amy is silly and vain.  She is not at all like Liz's description of her.  Liz is blind to the change and to Enid's feelings.  Will Enid lose Liz's friendship?

I enjoyed this book.

In Sweet Valley High Super Edition, Malibu Summer, Elizabeth and Jessica have taken jobs as mother's helpers in Malibu.  Jessica takes the job that she thinks is better, but it turns out that Elizabeth gets to stay with a fabulously wealthy family while Jessica is stuck in a small house.  Jessica schemes to get Elizabeth to switch with her, but Elizabeth refuses. 

The summer is full of surprises, and Liz unexpectedly falls in love for the first time since losing Todd.  Jessica has a romance of her own, and both girls find themselves in difficult situations.

On page 9, Lila informs Liz and Jessica that she hopes to fall in love this summer since "[t]here are a lot of great-looking girls in Malibu."  I was taken aback, since Lila has so far only been interested in boys.  The book I read is the first printing, and "girls" was changed to "boys" in later printings.

This book held up well, and I enjoyed it as much as I did years ago.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Sweet Valley High #26 Hostage!, #27 Lovestruck, and Spring Break

In Sweet Valley High #26, Hostage!, Elizabeth learns that Regina Morrow has returned home from Switzerland.  Liz goes over to visit Regina, but a strange woman who claims to be her aunt answers the door, telling Liz that no one can see Regina.  Liz contacts Nicholas, who informs Liz that he and Regina do not have an aunt.

Nicholas returns to Sweet Valley.  He, Bruce, Liz, and Jessica devise a method of getting a message to Regina, and the four friends learn that Regina is being held captive!  Mr. and Mrs. Morrow are being held in a separate location.  The friends must find a way to rescue the Morrows simultaneously so that none of them get hurt.

Nancy Drew is mentioned on pages 7 and 23.

I always loved this book, and I do still like it, just not as much.  That's been the case with many of these books.  They don't quite hold as much of an allure as they once did.

In Sweet Valley High #27, Lovestruck, Ken Matthews falls for sophisticated Suzanne Hanlon.  Suzanne wants to change Ken.  She gets him to watch foreign films, and she wants him to quit football.

Meanwhile, Ken is failing English, and Liz Wakefield is tutoring him.  Ken spends too much time with Suzanne, and he resorts to a desperate means of getting a passing grade on a short story.  By doing so, Ken betrays Liz's trust.  Can he save face and right his wrong?

I like this story.  What Ken does is truly awful, and that makes the story compelling.  This is a very good book.

In Sweet Valley High Super Edition, Spring Break, Liz and Jess travel to France for spring break.  They stay with the Glize family.  Mme. Glize is a wonderful host, but her son, RenĂ©, takes an instant disliking to the twins, apparently because they are Americans.  Jessica spends most of her time with a boy, but Liz stays at home, where RenĂ© treats her horribly.  Liz's vacation has turned into a miserable experience.

The cover art makes the girls look like they are on crack.

I did not like this book years ago, and I still do not like it.  It bores me.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Sweet Valley High #24 Memories, Special Christmas, and #25 Nowhere to Run

In Sweet Valley High #24, Memories, Steven notices that Cara Walker is no longer selfish.  Her parents divorced, and Cara has become a caring young woman.  Steven feels ready to start over after the death of his girlfriend, Tricia, but Tricia's sister, Betsy intervenes.  Betsy keeps Steven busy with memories of Tricia.  Will Steven ever be able to let go?

Liz is drawn to a basketball player for a rival school.  Michael Sellers looks just like Todd Wilkins, and Liz makes sure that she meets him.  Has Liz found someone who can replace the hole in her heart?

Gah.  More moping by Liz.  Yuck.  Please, Jeffrey French, hurry up and arrive.  Save me!

Except for the Liz parts, I enjoyed this book.

In Sweet Valley High Super Edition, Special Christmas, Liz is excited because Todd is coming home for Christmas!  Jessica hopes to become Miss Christmastime and ride in the Christmas parade.  Plans get foiled when the twins learn that Suzanne Devlin is going to stay with them for Christmas, and Lila outsmarts Jessica by becoming Miss Christmastime.  Even worse, Todd seems distant, and Liz feels that the old spark is gone.  Will Christmas be a disaster?

Unfortunately, this book contains more moping by Liz about Todd, but the good news is that their relationship is over at the end of the story.  Yay!

The best part of the story, as usual, is the Jessica subplot concerning Miss Christmastime.  Lila tricks Jessica, but then Jessica tricks Lila and gets what she wants in the end.  Good for Jess!

I enjoyed this book.

In Sweet Valley High #25, Nowhere to Run, Emily Mayer feels trapped.  Her stepmother, Karen, finds fault with everything she does.  Now Karen has a new baby and has suggested that Emily go away to boarding school.  Mr. Mayer sides with his wife, and Emily fears that she will lose her home.

Grandma and Grandpa Wakefield come for a visit.  Liz and Jess spend all of their free time with their grandparents and gush over everything their grandparents do.  Alice Wakefield feels threatened and worries that her daughters no longer need her.

I love stories where the stakes are high.  Emily has a real problem, and I enjoyed reading about it.

This is a very good book.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Black Friday/Cyber Monday Sale at Jennifer's Series Books

I recreated my sales offer on both eBay and Etsy.  The offer runs through late evening on Tuesday, November 28, 2017.  If you see this blog post after November 28, the offer will no longer be active and will not be honored.

The sales offer is for a 10% discount when two or more items are purchased in the same transaction.  The items must be placed in the shopping cart first, then the offer will be activated.  After the items are in the shopping cart, then checkout can be completed.

Jennifer's Series Books on eBay

Jennifer's Series Books on Etsy

No coupon code is necessary on either site. 

I just listed quite a few Nancy Drew, Dana Girls, and Three Investigators books on Etsy.  I will also be listing many books on eBay during the time that the offer is active.  I will be off work starting tomorrow afternoon, and I will get started on listings as soon as I can, probably on Wednesday.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

On the bright side, Todd is leaving! 

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

I do not like this book.

Friday, November 17, 2017

The Expectation of Low Price Regardless of Scarcity

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

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

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

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

I enjoyed this book.

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

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

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

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

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

Nevertheless, I did enjoy the story.

Monday, November 13, 2017

The Motor Girls and The Motor Boys on the Atlantic

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, November 11, 2017

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

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

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

I enjoyed this book.

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

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

I enjoyed this book.

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

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

This is another good book.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For detailed Tom Stetson reviews, please visit this blog.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This is a good book.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Nancy Drew Diaries #15 The Professor and the Puzzle

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, November 3, 2017

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

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

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

I enjoyed this book.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Hardy Boys Adventures #15 A Con Artist in Paris

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

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

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

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

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