Sunday, February 18, 2018

Sweet Valley High Stranger in the House and A Killer on Board

In Sweet Valley High Super Thriller, Stranger in the House, Ned Wakefield learns that John Marin is out of prison and on parole.  Of course, the reader has not heard of John Marin until this moment.  Ned helped send Marin to prison, and he has never forgotten Marin's threat to get even with him.  Ned worries about his family and what Marin might do to them.

So of course, Ned does not tell even his wife about John Marin.  He keeps his worries a secret so that no one in his family can take precautions.  Ned soon learns that Marin has been in their house.  But he still tells no one!  I'm sorry, but this is unforgivable.  Ned should have spoken up.  An omission like this could have caused the entire family to have disowned Ned Wakefield, but naturally they don't seem to care think he did anything wrong later.

I found this book quite suspenseful.  Both Liz and Jess have new boyfriends, and I knew that at least one of the two boyfriends, and possibly both, had to be Marin.  Creepy!

In Sweet Valley High Super Thriller, A Killer on Board, John Marin is back behind bars.  The Wakefield family goes on a trip to Catalina Island to recuperate after the recent stressful events.  Soon after the family departs, John Marin escapes from prison and learns their destination.

I found this book rather boring.  I did not care at all.

Friday, February 16, 2018

Nancy Drew Twin Thriller Promotional Papers

The purchase detailed in this post is why I love eBay and why I check my eBay feed everyday.  If you have saved searches on eBay, then you have an eBay feed.

Many collectors have stopped checking eBay, because eBay no longer has the excellent selection that it once did.  However, you never know what might suddenly appear on eBay at any given moment.  That's why I check eBay every single day without fail.

I found nothing of interest on eBay from December 18 through February 9.  That is almost eight weeks.  Others would have given up on eBay, but I keep checking no matter what.  I was finally rewarded in the late evening of February 10.

I checked my eBay feed and saw a picture of the promotional papers for the Nancy Drew Twin Thrillers book club editions.  I have wanted to get the promotional papers for quite some time.  I saw the low price of $9.99 plus postage and clicked on the listing as quickly as I could.  I saw that the listing was set as Buy It Now and didn't bother to read the description.  I knew that I had to act fast, because the listing would not last long.  I managed to complete the Buy It Now just 11 minutes after the seller listed the item.  The good items always go fast on eBay.

The paperwork is missing the original mailing envelope and the order form, but the letter and the color brochure are present.

Use the following link and scroll to the bottom of the page to see the mailing envelope, order form, and return envelope that I do not have.

An advertisement for the book club can also be found in the first issue of Pizzazz magazine from October 1, 1977.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Sweet Valley High Murder in Paradise, #115 Treasure of Death Valley, and #116 Nightmare in Death Valley

In Sweet Valley High Super Thriller, Murder in Paradise, Alice Wakefield has won a trip to Paradise Spa.  Liz, Jess, Enid, Lila, and Mrs. Fowler go on the trip with Alice.  Both Liz and Jess immediately fall for boys who work for the spa.  Everyone is enjoying the trip, but soon, the girls sense that something is wrong.  All of the employees are runaways who are not allowed to leave.  One employee turns up dead, and Alice Wakefield vanishes.

The girls discover the spa director's sinister plot.  The director, who has a severely disfigured face, plans to steal Alice Wakefield's face.  Wow.

This book mostly bored me.  On the upside, at least this thriller edition does not use the ridiculous summer intern story of all the previous thriller editions.

In Sweet Valley High #115, The Treasure of Death Valley, Liz, Jess, Todd, Ken, Bruce, and Heather are dropped off in Death Valley for a four-day hiking trek.  The six students were selected via a mandatory essay contest run by Sweet Valley Survival School.  The students are placed in pairs for the trek:  Liz with Bruce, Jessica with Todd, and Heather with Ken.  Clearly, the survival school wants maximum drama.

Heather brought her portable television on the trip and watches her favorite soap opera.  It is then that the teens learn about three escaped convicts who are in the area.  Meanwhile, Liz finds a map to hidden gold, and Jessica makes certain that the group goes off course to find it.

It's quite odd that this particular group of six won the essay contest.  It's even more odd that Liz is the only one interested in the survival trek.  Nobody else is happy.  How did the others win?  I don't guess that we are supposed to question any of this.

The author was not good at suspense or at the humor that is supposed to be present in the Sweet Valley High series.  The books are not anywhere near as interesting as they should have been.

The dangerous scenes are like vignettes.  The danger comes on suddenly, is described minimally, and is resolved extremely easily.  There is no suspense whatsoever.

In one scene, Jessica and Todd are trapped in a tunnel after the entrance collapses.  On page 73, the pair suddenly pushes through the "loose pile of debris" like the rocks are lightweight Hollywood props.  I must say that I have never seen a tunnel cave-in resolved like that.

Each time the teens are in trouble, they yell and bicker constantly.  It's awful.

In Sweet Valley High #116, Nightmare in Death Valley, the nightmare continues.  That is, the reader's nightmare continues.

Page 122 is from Liz's point of view, but the escaped convicts are called names that Jessica thought up.  Liz hasn't had a chance to talk to Jessica, so it's rather strange that she uses Jessica's names.  Perhaps some twin telepathy is at play, or maybe just bad writing.

One of the escaped convicts dies while trapped in a cave with the six teens.  The teens take the time to bury the dead man before trying to get out of the cave.  This is stupid!

Finally, the teens try to find an exit from the cave, but water runs into the cave.  Oh, no!  This is exactly why the teens shouldn't have taken the time to bury the dead man.  The water rapidly rises higher and higher, but before the reader can feel concern, the water suddenly begins falling.  That's what I mean about no suspense.

Shortly thereafter, Ken punches the wall of the cave in frustration.  You'd think he would break his hand, right?  Of course not!  The cave's wall is not hard packed.  The soil is loose.  They start punching a hole in the wall, then they see stars in the sky.  The hole that was just created is right next to the 7-Eleven.  I'm speechless.

These two Death Valley books are by far the worst Sweet Valley High books that I have read so far.  The werewolf books are pretty bad, but at least they were written by a decent writer.  The Death Valley books are just completely awful.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Sweet Valley High #112 Jessica Quits the Squad, #113 Pom-Pom Wars, and #114 "V" for Victory

In Sweet Valley High #112, Jessica Quits the Squad, Heather Mallone is a new student at Sweet Valley High.  Heather tries out for the cheerleading squad, and all the other cheerleaders love her.  Jessica cannot stand Heather, and she is the only one who can see Heather's true personality.

Jessica is falling for Ken Matthews.  Everything is wonderful, until Jess reads Liz's diary.  Jess learns that Liz once had a fling with Ken and that Liz still has feelings for him!

I was annoyed with Liz for pining after Ken.  It's considered such a betrayal that Liz had a brief relationship with Ken during the months that Todd lived in Vermont.  Um, what about Jeffrey French?  Liz had quite a lengthy relationship with him, and these later books ignore that Jeffrey ever existed.

Also, the fling with Ken occurred pretty far back in the series, and Todd has been back from Vermont for ages.  And Liz is just now feeling guilty?

In Sweet Valley High #113, The Pom-Pom Wars, Jessica starts a new cheerleading squad since she can't get along with Heather.  She blackmails Liz into joining her new squad.  Either Liz becomes a cheerleader, or Jessica tells everyone about her fling with Ken.  Both Jessica's squad and Heather's squad hope to compete in regionals, but the squads are forced to merge since the school can only send one squad.

This book is quite boring until Jessica blackmails Liz into becoming a cheerleader.  Oh, yeah!

In Sweet Valley High #114, "V" for Victory, the Sweet Valley High cheerleaders compete in the national competition.  Heather's old squad tries to sabotage the SVH squad.  Todd, Ken, and Winston try to crash the event so that Todd and Ken can mend their relationships with Liz and Jess.  The event does not allow any boys, so the three boys dress up as cheerleaders so that they can get in the gate.

I found it really hard to believe that no boys are allowed at the event, since many schools have coed cheerleaders.  Furthermore, I found it impossible to believe that the audience could not contain boys.  Last, it's ridiculous that three large boys could wander around the event dressed as cheerleaders and have others believe them to be girls.  Right.

Some parts of this trilogy are interesting, but I was mostly bored.

Friday, February 9, 2018

Sweet Valley High #107 Jessica's Secret Love, #108 Left at the Altar, #109 Double-Crossed, #110 Death Threat, and #111 Deadly Christmas

In Sweet Valley High #107, Jessica's Secret Love, Sue Gibbons, the daughter of Alice Wakefield's college roommate, comes to stay with the Wakefields.  Sue's mother recently passed away, and Sue regards the Wakefields as family.  Sue plans to marry in Sweet Valley, and the Wakefields help her plan her wedding.

Meanwhile, Jessica falls in love with Jeremy, a young man she meets at the beach.  Jessica falls so hard for Jeremy that she is certain that he is her destined love and that she will marry him.  Jessica is shocked when she learns that Jeremy is Sue's fiance.

Jessica has dinner with Bruce at the same restaurant where Sue and Jeremy are dining, in an attempt to make Jeremy jealous.  This scene is utterly hilarious.

I enjoyed this book.

In Sweet Valley High #108, Left at the Altar, the wedding plans continue.  Jessica pulls a few dirty tricks, but the wedding proceeds as planned.  During the ceremony, Jessica speaks up on why Sue and Jeremy should not marry, which stops the ceremony.  The book ends on a cliffhanger.

I also enjoyed this book.

In Sweet Valley High #109, Double-Crossed, the Wakefields seriously consider sending Jessica away to boarding school due to her outrageous behavior.  Jeremy has to go away for a few weeks, and he leaves his phone number with Jessica.  Oddly, Jessica cannot ever get through to him, but Jessica trusts Jeremy completely.  Sue continues to live with the Wakefields, even though the wedding is off.

Jeremy returns, and he and Jessica attend a Halloween party, which is also attended by Sue.  At the party, Jessica sees Jeremy and Sue kissing.  Jessica is devastated.

I enjoyed this book somewhat less than the previous two books in this miniseries.

In Sweet Valley High #110, Death Threat, Jeremy shows up at the Wakefields, telling them that Sue has been abducted.  Jeremy also convinces Jessica that Sue initiated the kiss and that he is still in love with Jessica.

Very early in the story, the reader learns that Jeremy and Sue have faked Sue's abduction.  Sue is supposed to receive an inheritance, but her mother stipulated that Sue could not marry Jeremy.

Jeremy's love affair with Jessica, the canceled wedding, and the faked abduction are all part of a plan for Jeremy and Sue to get the inheritance and stay together.

I found this book boring until around page 72.  The first part has no suspense, since the reader knows that the abduction is fake.  The story becomes very funny when Jess talks to Lila on the phone and tries to tell her about Sue being held hostage.  Jessica cannot talk freely, since she is not supposed to tell.  Lila misunderstands and thinks that the entire Wakefield family is being held hostage.  This leads to a hilarious series of events.

Nancy Drew is mentioned on page 79.

In Sweet Valley High #111, A Deadly Christmas, Jessica finally realizes that Jeremy has been using her.  Elizabeth and Jessica also learn that Sue has been in on the scheme from the very beginning, but they pretend that they do not realize this.  Later, Sue confesses and claims that she will help them bring Jeremy to justice.  However, the girls are not certain whether Sue is telling the truth.  She might still be working with Jeremy.

While I overall enjoyed this book, I was a bit bored with the story by this point in the miniseries.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Sweet Valley High #104 Love and Death in London, #105 Date with a Werewolf, and #106 Beware the Werewolf

In Sweet Valley High #104, Love and Death in London, Liz and Jess arrive in London in order to work as interns on the London Journal.  Liz quickly falls for Luke, a strange young man who works for the newspaper, while Jessica falls for Lord Robert Pembroke.  The girls investigate after they learn about a grisly string of murders.  Details about the murders have been withheld from the newspapers, and the girls sense a cover-up.

This book is boring.  It's full of travelogue details.  The reader is supposed to feel fear, but I never felt it.

In Sweet Valley High #105, A Date with a Werewolf, Liz learns all about werewolves from Luke, and she soon suspects that Robert Pembroke might be a werewolf.

On page 38, Elizabeth feels like Nancy Drew.

This book is also boring.

In Sweet Valley High #106, Beware the Wolfman, Robert Pembroke is now in hiding, accused of murder.  Liz thinks he is a werewolf.  Jessica believes he is innocent.

On page 27, Jessica decides that Liz isn't the only one who can be like Nancy Drew.  On page 131, Jessica ruefully thinks about how she's no Nancy Drew, since she hasn't been able to find Robert.

Boring, boring, boring!  Ugh.

These books are painful.  They are supposed to be horror books, but the reader feels nothing.  The books are surreal, and the reader isn't certain what to think about the werewolf situation.  All along, the reader is led towards believing that werewolves are real.  For instance, the elder Pembroke hunts werewolves, which implies that they are real.

When the werewolf finally appears, he is called by that name.  In the next scene, the text states that he is wearing a werewolf mask, but Liz acts completely like she is with a real werewolf, thinking of his fangs and blood.  The werewolf gets killed, and the falling action is vague about what happened.  The reader can infer that the culprit either really was a werewolf or that he was mentally ill.

The next paragraph spoils the identity of the werewolf, although it doesn't matter.  I knew who the werewolf would be all through this awful trilogy.

In the next book in the series that takes place after the girls return to Sweet Valley, Liz is embarrassed that she fell in love with a boy who believed that he was a werewolf.  Okay, so now we know that Luke was not a werewolf.  Then what was the point of the entire trilogy?  I would never read these books again.  They are awful.

Saturday, February 3, 2018

Sweet Valley High #101 Boyfriend War, #102 Almost Married, and #103 Operation Love Match

In Sweet Valley High #101, The Boyfriend War, Jessica and Lila go to the Caribbean during spring break.  Upon their arrival, Jessica learns that Lila tricked her.  She and Lila have been hired to watch over very young children all week.  Jessica and Lila also go after the same boy.

Meanwhile, Liz does research on a report that she plans to write about her mother.  To her shock, she finds a wedding photo of her mother with Hank Patman.  Even worse, Liz suspects that the two are having an affair, since the Patmans are getting divorced.

This is an excellent book and exactly what one expects from Sweet Valley High.  The book contains lots of great humor and is fun to read.  It was a welcome relief after the depressing nature of the previous group of books.

In Sweet Valley High #102, Almost Married, both Todd and Liz's parents will be away all week.  Liz and Todd come up with the crazy idea of Todd staying at Liz's house so that she and Todd can pretend that they are married.  So that Jessica won't tell on them, they agree to cook Jessica's meals and do all of her chores.

Meanwhile, Liz spends time with Bruce as they worry about their parents.  Bruce doesn't want his parents to divorce, and Liz worries that Bruce might become her stepbrother.  Through it all, Liz and Bruce develop a bond and seem to be falling in love.

This book also contains lots of humor and is a very good story.

In Sweet Valley High #103, Operation Love Match, Liz and Bruce have realized that they don't really love each other.  They have also learned that Mrs. Wakefield is not having an affair with Mr. Patman, but the Patmans are still planning to divorce.  Liz, Jess, and Bruce develop a scheme to try to get the Patmans back together.

The trilogy should have ended with the previous book.  This book is mostly boring, and I did not enjoy it much.  It does have some good humor, so I was able to laugh a few times.

Thursday, February 1, 2018

The Rayn Mirago Series by B. D. Messick

The Rayn Mirago series consists of four books written by B. D. Messick.

1.  Sojourn: The Wildlands, 2015
2.  Sojourn: The Deadlands, 2016
3.  Sojourn: The Beastlands, 2016
4.  Sojourn: Enclave, 2017

In Sojourn: The Wildlands, the oceans have risen, and the world's climate has been destroyed.  The United States has fallen, and five cities remain as enclaves:  Las Vegas, Spokane, Dallas, Chicago, and Atlanta.  The rest of the former nation is in ruin.  Rayn Mirago lives in the Las Vegas enclave and is about to turn 17.  Teens are forced to leave their enclave at 17 and must sojourn to another enclave, which is chosen by lottery.  Only the strong will survive the sojourn, so this practice keeps the remaining population strong.  Teens are forced to go to another enclave so that the population will remain diverse.

In the lottery, Rayn ends up with the Atlanta token in her lottery.  As she leaves Las Vegas, she says goodbye to her parents, knowing that she will never see them again.  A couple of days into Rayn's journey, she is joined by Luk, who left before his birthday so that he could join her.

In Sojourn: The Deadlands, Rayn and Luk continue their journey through what was once Colorado, Kansas, and Missouri.  This part of the country is desert with dangerous hybrid creatures and vicious wind storms.  The teens are captured by members of a dangerous cult run by an insane man named Jacob.  An important character dies, and Rayn is consumed by hatred.  Rayn and Luk reach Graceland, where they stay with a group of people who are fugitives from Jacob.

In Sojourn: The Beastlands, Rayn and Luk depart from Graceland for Atlanta.  The rumors are that Atlanta has fallen, but Rayn wants to find out the truth.  She also wants to seek revenge against Jacob.  Alee sneaks away from Graceland to join Rayn and Luk.  The group soon consists of four after the teens encounter Trace during their journey.  The teens fight through the jungles of Mississippi and Alabama as they slowly get closer to Atlanta.

In Sojourn: Enclave, Rayn, Luk, Alee, and Trace reach the final stages of their journey into Atlanta.  Once the teens reach Atlanta, they face their final showdown with Jacob.

The romance is excessively overdone in this series and is not believable most of the time.  Rayn and Luk are constantly kissing, touching, giving each other seductive looks, and admiring each other's bodies.  They even stop to do this in the middle of dangerous scenes or right after nearly getting killed.  The kissing and ogling of each other is extreme and obnoxious.

I enjoy romance when done properly, but the romance is not developed right in these books.  It's nauseating.  Each time Rayn and Luk began their antics, I coped by quickly skimming over as many paragraphs as needed to get past the smooching.  Yuck.

The romance is somewhat less obnoxious by the third and fourth books, but it is still excessive and annoying in those books.

I was really bothered about Luk's token in the first book.  I knew instinctively that he probably did not get Atlanta as his destination, but Rayn accepts that he did without even asking.  How stupid.  The topic was ignored for the entire first book, and I considered it rather important.  I was bothered about the token the entire time, and I would have been less bothered if Rayn had even considered the possibility of Luk not having the same token.  Instead, Rayn smooches with Luk constantly instead of thinking about this rather important detail

It was not until page 69 of the second book that Rayn finally asks about Luk's token.  Oddly, she accepts his lame answer and doesn't begin questioning his story until later.

Aside from the annoying romance, this is a rather good dystopian series.