Friday, August 31, 2018

Linden Hall, Heron Shoals, and Missing Half by Augusta Seaman

In The Mystery at Linden Hall, Prince Lucien Morat is the nephew of the exiled King of Spain, Joseph Bonaparte.  Morat's wife is the headmistress of a boarding school in Bordentown, New Jersey.  Verity lives across the street from the school, and soon, her life becomes intertwined with Inez, a foreign student at the school.

I tend not to like Seaman's books that weave actual historical figures into the plot of the fictitious story.  For that reason, I did not enjoy this book.  The story is okay, and I am sure that others like the story.

In The Curious Affair at Heron Shoals, Marty lives with her grandmother on the coast of New Jersey.  Marty resents her grandmother taking in three boarders, Ted, his father, and his music teacher.  Marty is asked to find a way to get Ted to forget about his troubles, so she tells him about her grandmother's pet parrot, Thusy.  Marty's grandmother acts nervous whenever the parrot is mentioned and will never reveal how the parrot came to live with her.  Ted is enthusiastic, and the two young people work hard at solving the mystery.

This is a good book overall, but I was never very interested.  For some reason, the story didn't really grab my attention.

In The Missing Half, the Porter family comes to live in the old family mansion at Bordentown.  Half the mansion has been wrecked, and nobody knows why.  Cousin Zeke, who lives nearby, is said to be the owner of the house, but Gramp Porter insists that his side of the family was supposed to inherit the home.  The young people help Gramp search for the missing half of a will that bequeathed the home to their side of the family.

This is another book that I did not find very interesting.  The problem was that the story contains way too much detailed information about pretty much everything.

I might add that during these books my Augusta Seaman reading experience began to wear on me.  This almost always happens to me when I read all of the books from the same series or by the same author in rapid succession.

Some of you are probably wondering why I do that to myself.  This is because I know that I would likely never get back to the books if I quit.  I still haven't returned to my unfinished reading of the Grace Harlowe series.  It's been 7 1/2 years.  That's why I make myself finish each set, since I probably would never get back to them.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Trixie Belden #9 Happy Valley Mystery and #10 Marshland Mystery

In Trixie Belden #9, The Happy Valley Mystery, the Bob-Whites stay with the Beldens' Uncle Andrew on his sheep farm in Iowa.  When Trixie learns that Uncle Andrew's sheep are being stolen by thieves, she is immediately on the hunt for the culprits.  Trixie keeps accusing the wrong people of being thieves based only on how suspicious she thinks they look.  All of the adults laugh at Trixie's exploits as she vows to solve the mystery.

I used to love this book, and the flood scene with Jim, Trixie, and Honey is one of my most vivid memories from reading the Trixie Belden books while in the sixth grade.  The story did not hold up at all.  Trixie's stupid mistakes are too stupid for me.  I did not enjoy seeing Trixie get laughed at over and over.  Half of the story is Trixie made into a laughingstock.  The other half of the story consists of too much information about  4-H, sheep farming, jackrabbit hunting, and comparisons between Iowa and New York.

With this book, the Bob-Whites have paired off into couples that are suddenly slightly romantically interested in each other.  It seemed forced to me on this reading.  In fact, this book reads much like a malt shop book, which is not my kind of book.

The book is not much of a mystery, and there is no real detecting.

I did not enjoy this book, aside from the flood scene which I still enjoy.

In Trixie Belden #10, The Marshland Mystery, Trixie wants to replace Miss Bennett's herb collection, which was destroyed by a clumsy student.  Brian gives Trixie directions to Martin's Marsh.  During the outing, Trixie and Honey meet Miss Rachel, who is the last of the Martins.

Meanwhile, a child prodigy named Gaye is staying with the Wheelers.  Gaye will be playing in a recital and has to practice constantly.  Gaye is a very snobbish young girl, and she is also very unhappy.  Gaye also goes out to the marsh, and Gaye's adventure leads to complications for Miss Rachel, who may end up losing her home.

I have always considered this cover to be creepy and scary.

On page 19, we learn that the bracelet that Jim gave Trixie in the previous book is not a sentimental gift.  Oh, really?  The bracelet has "Jim" engraved on it.  How very odd for Jim to give Trixie a bracelet that is not sentimental but just happens to have his name engraved on it.

Trixie turns 14 at the end of this book, and her age is frozen at 14 for the rest of the series.

In my opinion, the series hits its stride with this book.  The Julie Campbell books are excellent and serve to set up the premise of the series.  The books between the Julie Campbell books and this one are transition volumes.  From this point on, the Bob-Whites just are.  This book hits the right tone.

This is an excellent story, and I enjoyed it as much as ever.

Sunday, August 26, 2018

New Listings on eBay and Etsy + Reasoning Behind High Prices

I have recently listed a large number of books on Etsy, including many this weekend.  I have listed Nancy Drew book club edition PCs, Norwegian Vicki Barr books, French Dana Girls books, Judy Bolton books with dust jackets, Nancy Drew books with dust jackets, Whitman books, scarce books by Florence Hightower, Cherry Ames, Golden Boys, and Nancy Drew softcover books.

Jennifer's Series Books on Etsy

I am also working on using up my August free listings on eBay.  In order to help accomplish this, I moved some books from Etsy to eBay.  The prices did go up.  I am quite aware that my first printing The Clue in the Diary with dust jacket might be overpriced.  I don't dare start it lower.

A certain person who buys and sells on eBay deliberately tries to hurt other sellers, and I don't wish to deal with him.  First printing Nancy Drew books with dust jackets are among the books that this person desires for inventory.  I have this person blocked on three IDs, but if he wants one of my listings, he will simply use another ID.  For that reason, I start books that this person might want at higher than I think he would be willing to pay so that I hopefully keep him away from me.  I then gradually lower the price until the book sells to someone who hopefully wants it for their collection.

I don't mind people buying from me to resell; I do mind people buying from me to resell while trying to hurt me through feedback.  I don't understand why some people want to hurt their own suppliers, but I wish to stay away from them for obvious reasons.

The books I moved to eBay are generally more expensive books that I think will be more likely to sell on eBay.  I also listed some Hardy Boys books with jackets and Nancy Drew original text picture covers.

Jennifer's Series Books on eBay

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Trixie Belden #7 Mysterious Code and #8 Black Jacket Mystery

In Trixie belden #7, The Mysterious Code, the school board is concerned about the existence of clubs in Sleepyside after several acts of vandalism.  The Bob-Whites are informed that they may have to disband.  In order to prove the worth of the club, the Bob-Whites plan an antique charity show.  After a lap desk is stolen, Trixie searches for clues to the people who are causing trouble in Sleepyside.

This is the first book not written by Julie Campell.  It has a very different tone.  The teasing banter that was present in the first six books is absent from this story.

Bobby is suddenly quite mature and can put together complete sentences and can pronounce words correctly.

On page 108, a Japanese man is interested in the swords.  Trixie observes that he keeps bowing.  Trixie's observation serves no purpose, and neither does the constant bowing.  It struck me as an unnecessary racial stereotype.

On page 110, the Japanese man "shows his white teeth in a broad smile."  My thought was, Why do white people not show their white teeth?

On page 161 we learn that Trixie's birthday is May 1.

I have never liked this book.  The entire plot feels forced.  There is no real reason for anyone to think the Bob-Whites are to blame for anything, and the Bob-Whites come up with an immediate charity event on the spot with no trouble at all.  It didn't ring true for me.

I also have read this story far fewer times than the rest of the first 16 books.  I am not certain whether I ever read this book in the sixth grade.  Regardless, I still do not like it.  I find it uninteresting.  I skimmed the book on this reading.

In Trixie Belden #8, The Black Jacket Mystery, a boy named Dan Mangan starts school in Sleepyside and lives with and works for Mr. Maypenny.  Dan wears a black jacket that has a name on the back that has been painted over.  Trixie is suspicious that Dan is a member of a gang and that he is up to no good.

Thankfully, the fun banter is back with this volume, so the tone is much improved from the previous book.  The banter is what makes the Trixie Belden series so entertaining.  My all-time favorite Trixie retort is when she puts Mart in his place on page 30.  "The use of too many polysyllabic words is definitely a symptom of immaturity."  Poor Mart is flabbergasted!

Not only does Dan have a black jacket, but he wears cowboy boots.  This considered quite unusual.  This book was published during the 1960s, so I'm sure it was odd at that time.  However, it wouldn't be considered odd now.

Dan's gang is called "The Cowhands."  What kind of stupid name is that?  I have always thought it stupid.

I really feel that The Black Jacket Mystery should have been written and published before The Mysterious Code.  If The Mysterious Code had been published after the introduction of Dan Mangan, then it would have been logical for the school board to have questioned the Bob-Whites' legitimacy as a club.  Dan's presence would have marred their reputation, due to his shady history as a gang member in New York City.

I don't like this book as much as I once did.  It is good, but I skimmed parts of it.

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Voice in the Dark, Pine Barrens Mystery, and Vanderlyn Silhouette by Augusta Seaman

The Voice in the Dark is a collection of 11 of Augusta Huiell Seaman's short stories that were previously published in magazines.  Reading a short story is not as satisfying as reading a full-length novel, but the stories are interesting and entertaining.

In The Pine Barrens Mystery, Roxanna and her brother, Chub, plan to spend their vacation in Atlantic City, but at Chub's insistence, they instead stay in a boarding house in the Pine Barrens of New Jersey.  The two stumble upon an old house, which has been abandoned for years.  Roxanna's new friend, Alma, shows her an old diary that she found in the house.  The girls become enthralled with learning more about the people who once lived in the house.

The Pine Barrens Mystery is a very good book.

In The Vanderlyn Silhouette, Dosia lives in a small house on the old Richmond Hill Estate with her mother, who is the housekeeper.  Two young relatives, Priscilla and David, come to live with Dosia and her mother.  John Vanderlyn also comes to the estate to paint.  Dosia discovers a paper silhouette of John Vanderlyn.  The silhouette is a clue to the location of some important documents.  Vanderlyn and his young friends search for the papers.

This is another of Seaman's historical novels and is also one of Seaman's most scarce books.  The story starts off in an unfocused fashion, detailing several events that are seemingly unconnected.  For that reason, the book is not very interesting at first.  The story improves once the reader better understands events.  Even so, this is not one of my favorite Seaman novels, since I prefer the ones that are not based on actual historical figures.

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Stone Frog, Ghost Burro Canyon, and Whistling Mountain Mystery by Dorothea J. Snow

In The Secret of the Stone Frog, the Brokie family has recently moved back to Huntertown, Alabama.  Billy Joe has no friends at school, and he cannot break into the cliques.  The only boy who will speak to him is Hans, who is also new.  Billy Joe reluctantly becomes friendly with Hans and soon learns that Hans is worth having as a friend.

Billy Joe learns that an ancestor of his is believed to have robbed the town's bank.  The Brokie family does not believe the story, but the rest of the townspeople think that he might have been guilty.  Billy Joe unexpectedly uncovers some clues and begins trying to prove his ancestor's innocence.  The stone frog in the center of town provides an unexpected revelation.

I picked this book up at a book sale earlier this year.  After reading the first few pages, I wasn't sure if I would like it.  I finally decided to dive in and give it a try.  I ended up enjoying the book far more than I expected.

The story is quite interesting and is a good mystery.  It does drag a little bit towards the end, but otherwise, this is a very good book.

Since I enjoyed The Secret of the Stone Frog so much, I purchased two other children's books by Dorothea J. Snow.

In The Mystery of Ghost Burro Canyon, Ted's family has moved to his grandparents' motel in Colorado.  The motel business is a struggle, and Grandpa worries when travelers select the other motels on down the road, which have better amenities.  The motel needs to be upgraded, but the family does not have the money.  Ted learns about the buried treasure of Ghost Burro Canyon and decides to search for it. 

I love the setting of this book.  The motel setting reminds me of trips taken in my childhood when we stayed in motels.

The summary on the dust jacket of this book reveals the ending, so I am glad I did not read the summary before finishing the book.  The summaries on all three of these books give away too much information, including events from near the end of each story.  I suggest reading only the front flap part of the summaries on these books and avoiding the back flap portion until after each story has been read.

This is another very good book.

In The Whistling Mountain Mystery, Billy and his family have moved to Martinsdale, Alabama, to live in the old family home.  They are dismayed to find the home in extreme disrepair with no plumbing or wiring.  The Todds begin to clean up and plan to save money so that they can gradually get electricity and water.

Billy hears about the legend of the lost Corbett treasure.  The Corbetts were his forebears, and a servant was supposed to hide the family silver in a cave on the mountain in the days when the Yankees were coming.  The servant vanished, and the silver has never been found.  Billy hopes to find it to pay for the electricity, but everyone laughs at him.

The children find an important diary in the trunk of an abandoned house that had been rented out for many years.  I find it impossible to believe that none of the renters would have gotten a hold of that diary.

Chapter II is titled "Rose-Colored Glasses."  The title refers to how optimistic the Todds are about making a home out of a house that is in very bad shape.  On the first page of the chapter,  Mama mentions an old family plantation from before the war and how it had "many servants and field hands for it."  I thought the chapter title rather apropos, since Mama speaks of the plantation as though viewing it through rose-colored glasses, not mentioning the rather important fact that the field hands were actually slaves.

This is a very good to excellent book.

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Trixie Belden #5 Mystery Off Glen Road and #6 Mystery in Arizona

In Trixie Belden #5, The Mystery Off Glen Road, Brian plans to purchase a jalopy from Mr. Lytell for $50.  Brian's plans collapse when the Bob-Whites' clubhouse is heavily damaged by a hurricane.  Brian's money is used to repair the roof, so Brian won't be able to buy the jalopy after all.

Trixie comes up with an idea to use the ring that Jim gave her as collateral so that Mr. Lytell won't sell the jalopy.  Meanwhile, the Bob-Whites take over the job of patrolling the Wheelers' game preserve, which only Trixie and Honey know will pay for the jalopy.  Trixie discovers signs of a poacher and fears that the Bob-Whites will lose their job.

On this reading, I found it odd that Trixie thinks that the single-wheel tracks belong to a unicycle.  The tracks lead away from where a dead deer was found, and the carcass has disappeared.  Trixie thinks that the poacher somehow carried the deer on a unicycle.  It's strange that Trixie never thinks of a wheelbarrow or similar contraption. 

This story is really not a mystery at all.  Trixie's scheme is the main plot, but it is hilarious and entertaining.

In Trixie Belden #6, The Mystery in Arizona, Uncle Monty invites the Bob-Whites to spend their Christmas vacation in Arizona at his dude ranch.  Upon the group's arrival, the Bob-Whites discover that the Orlando family has vanished, leaving Uncle Monty without help.  Trixie volunteers the Bob-Whites as replacements, which keeps everyone quite busy.  Trixie soon notices some strange behavior and is convinced that several residents of the dude ranch have strange secrets.

I always loved this book when young, but the story did not hold up well this time.  I was quite bored with all the history and information about Arizona.  I skimmed those parts.

Friday, August 17, 2018

Figurehead of the Folly and Strange Pettingill Puzzle by Augusta Seaman

In The Figurehead of the Folly, Joan goes to stay in Miss McKeever's boarding house for her summer vacation.  Joan works for her board by taking care of Mary Lou, who is an invalid.  Joan quickly becomes acquainted with the residents of the boarding house.  Mr. Doane keeps a figurehead in his room along with some ship models.

One night a prowler messes with Mr. Doane's figurehead, causing it to fall.  Joan and Mary Lou suspect a mystery surrounds the figurehead, and they watch for clues as they keep an eye on the other boarders.

This story would make an excellent play.  Almost the entire story takes place inside the house with characters entering and leaving.  A play based on this story would be wonderful.

This is an excellent story.  The characters are described well and really come to life.  The mystery is interesting.

The Strange Pettingill Puzzle contains two stories.

"The Strange Pettingill Puzzle" was reprinted as The Riddle of the Lonely House by Scholastic.

In "The Strange Pettingill Puzzle," Peter and Christine are staying in a cottage on the seashore for the summer.  Soon after their arrival, they meet Alan Pettingill, who shows them a way to get into an abandoned old mansion.  The young people discover a prowler in the vicinity and try to figure out who it is.  Meanwhile, Alan's family was supposed to inherit the old mansion, but the will was never found.  The young people search for it.

This is a very good story.

In "The Curious Case of Callista," two members of the Four-Corners Hobby Club come into possession of an old doll named Callista.  The children uncover a mystery concerning the doll and hunt for clues.

"The Curious Case of Callista" is for younger children, and I did not enjoy it.  The story has too many extremely detailed explanations of ordinary events.  I was bored and skimmed the story.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Trixie Belden #3 Gatehouse Mystery and #4 Mysterious Visitor

In Trixie Belden #3, The Gatehouse Mystery, Trixie and Honey explore the old gatehouse on the Wheeler property.  When Brian and Mart return from camp, they along with Trixie, Honey, and Jim form the Bob-Whites, making the old gatehouse their secret clubhouse.

Trixie finds a diamond embedded in the floor of the gatehouse, and she concocts a strange theory where a gang of thieves stayed in the gatehouse, losing one diamond.  Trixie suspects the Wheelers' new chauffeur, Dick, but everyone else thinks she is crazy.  Trixie sets out to prove that she is right.

Only the third floor of the Wheeler house is air-conditioned.  I did not think this strange years ago, but now I do.  I realize that it was uncommon back then for homes to be air-conditioned.  However, the Wheelers are so rich that I feel they should have done the entire house.  Why not?

I only partially enjoyed this book on this reading.  I know the story by heart, and I was not very interested in the later part of the story.  I also was not interested in the culprit's lengthy explanation of every detail, so I skimmed the climax of the story.

In Trixie Belden #4, The Mysterious Visitor, Trixie and the Bob-Whites become friends with Diana Lynch, who is struggling to adjust to being wealthy.  Di is inducted into the club, and the Bob-Whites help Di plan a Halloween party.  Di's Uncle Monty, a long-lost relative, has recently appeared, and Uncle Monty seems determined to make Di's life difficult.  For this reason, Trixie is certain that Uncle Monty is an impostor.  She is determined to uncover the truth, despite the danger.

On page 54, Trixie wonders whether the "person Di hated so violently" was Uncle Monty.  I mention this because I like using the word "violently" in front of "dislike" to indicate my feelings.  One time recently, a coworker expressed surprise at my use of the word "violently" as if I were strange to use it.  I started wondering about my usage of the word.  I knew I got it from somewhere, and I was glad to see it in this book.  Do any of you use "violently" in this fashion?

The Bob-Whites, particularly the boys, are disgusted about all of the rubber creatures that Uncle Monty hid for the party in order to scare the guests, saying that the pranks are "dangerous."  I never have seen them as such a big deal as the Bob-Whites do, which shows how times have changed.  Nowadays, this sort of prank would be considered very tame and probably one used just for younger children.

On page 197, Trixie tells the others that if she is wrong that they can "chop off [her] head."  This is followed by some banter about corpses and heads being chopped off.  This never bothered me before, but in the last 20 years many heads have been chopped off by terrorists, so I now find the flippant nature of the passage to be in bad taste.  The passage would not have been considered in bad taste at the time it was written.

This book holds up well, and I enjoyed it as much as ever.  The entire story is excellent.

Monday, August 13, 2018

Acquiring That Elusive Book

On February 24, I wrote:
I wasn't quite ready to try reading the books of Augusta Huiell Seaman.  Her books are high on my reading list and are, by the way, the only books I have admitted to having high on my list.  I feel that I need to work into Seaman's books because of the difficulty I have in switching between modern and vintage books.

Additionally, I want to wait a little longer because I still need to acquire one book.  Please don't ask which book, because I am not going to tell you.  I prefer to keep that information private, since I have had people take advantage of me when they know that I need a certain book.  They will price the book much higher than if I did not need the book.  I will hopefully be able to locate the book in the next few months, and if not, then you'll know by which book I skip when I read and review Seaman's books.
In June and July, I read through Augusta Huiell Seaman's books, despite lacking that one elusive book.  I wrote the reviews, and now most of the reviews have been published.  Finally, I acquired The Vanderlyn Silhouette, which arrived in the mail today.  I searched for a copy for 14 months.  The Vanderlyn Silhouette is one of Seaman's most scarce books.

This acquisition came just in time.  I have published the Augusta Seaman reviews up to just five books before The Vanderlyn Silhouette, which equals two Augusta Seaman blog reviews.  The review that should include this book will publish in the next 7 to 10 days.  I should be able to wait until this weekend to read the book.  I want to read the last 2 1/2 Trixie Belden books first, and I hope I can do that by this weekend.  At that time, I will read The Vanderlyn Silhouette and will adjust my remaining Augusta Seaman reviews.

Bitsy Finds the Clue and Riddle at Live Oaks by Augusta Seaman

In Bitsy Finds the Clue, Bitsy begins her freshman year at William and Mary in Williamsburg.  Bitsy can't get along with her roommate and is quite lonely.  She gets lucky when her mentor, Celeste, lets her stay in her family's home, Romney House.  Bitsy soon learns that Romney House has a mystery.  Celeste's two great-aunts and great-uncle will not allow the house to be restored and seem to be hiding something.  Bitsy and Celeste discover that the secret could dishonor the family, and they hope to uncover information that will reveal the truth.

This is an excellent story.  The old Romney House has secret passageways and spooky events.  I especially enjoyed the setting with Bitsy in college and staying with a friend's family.

The Riddle at Live Oaks contains two stories.

In "The Riddle at Live Oaks," three children search for a family treasure that was hidden on a plantation during the Civil War.  The children believe that an elderly former slave holds the key to the mystery, but he has had amnesia ever since the Civil War.

"The Inn of the Twin Anchors" was reprinted by Scholastic as The Mystery of the Old Violin.

In "The Inn of the Twin Anchors," two girls and a boy live in an old inn.  While beachcombing, they meet an old hermit who seems afraid of a man who has recently arrived in the area.  The children also notice that the hermit's Stradivarius violin has disappeared and then reappears later.  The hermit acts secretive, and the children try to figure out what is wrong.

Both of these stories are good.

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Trixie Belden #1 Secret of the Mansion and #2 Red Trailer Mystery

In Trixie Belden #1, The Secret of the Mansion, Trixie lives at Crabapple Farm near the town of Sleepyside, New York.  The Wheeler family moves into the neighboring mansion, and Trixie immediately becomes best friends with Honey Wheeler.  The girls explore the nearby Frayne mansion while old Mr. Frayne is sick in the hospital.  They discover Jim Frayne, who is Mr. Frayne's nephew.  Jim is hiding from his mean stepfather.  Old Mr. Frayne is dying, and the young people search for a fortune that is said to be hidden in the old mansion.

Trixie earns a $5 allowance per week for doing chores around the house.  When I read the books in 1983 to 1984, I received $5 per week, so I thought the amount was fine.  I didn't know that the book was first published in 1948.  $5 in 1948 is now worth over $50.  We are expected to believe that the Beldens are poor, yet their daughter is given the equivalent of over $200 per month.  I assume Brian and Mart would have received similar amounts.  The Beldens aren't so poor after all.

I enjoyed this book, but not quite as much as I once did.  The problem is that I practically have the story memorized.  Also, I always have trouble switching from one type of book to another.  I read this book right after reading the last Augusta Seaman book, and the style is quite different.  Trixie is also skewed younger than Seaman's books, so I struggled with that as well, which is what I expected.
    In Trixie Belden #2, The Red Trailer Mystery, Trixie, Honey, and Miss Trask set off in the Wheelers' trailer to find Jim, who has run away.  The girls learn about a group of trailer thieves, and they soon suspect that the family living in a red trailer is involved in the thefts.  The girls keep an eye out for the red trailer family as they search for Jim.

    The cover art of this edition depicts the scene where Trixie finds Joeann's cut-off pigtails.  This is a bizarre choice for the cover art, although it is interesting.

    I enjoyed this book mostly as much as I did when young.  Like the first book, I pretty much have the story memorized, but I still enjoyed it just about as much as ever.

    Thursday, August 9, 2018

    Stars of Sabra and Mystery of the Empty Room by Augusta Seaman

    In The Stars of Sabra, Penelope finds a old chest hidden in the foundation of her house.  The old chest contains a journal that details events that occurred during the Revolutionary War.  Penelope and her friends follow clues based on the journal entries and eventually find a valuable object that enables Penelope's father to purchase a piece of land that he has always wanted to own.

    I have already stated that I tend not to like the Seaman stories where the journals feature actual historical figures.  I am more interested in the stories that feature completely fictitious people.  This book contains a large amount of information based on historical figures, and it all bored me.  For that reason, I did not enjoy this book.

    In The Mystery of the Empty Room, Lois, her sister, and their guardian come to live with a family friend, known as Uncle Si.  Uncle Si sells antique furniture, and the entire house is full of furniture and lots of junk.  The girls gradually adjust and manage to clean up parts of the house.  Lois' sister, Jean, discovers an empty room on the second floor.  Uncle Si allows no one to enter the locked room.  He also owns a nearby cabin that is fully furnished and is kept locked.  The girls sense a mystery and decide to get to the bottom of it.

    This is a very good book.

    Tuesday, August 7, 2018

    Revisiting the Trixie Belden Series

    I wanted to read the Trixie Belden series again, but I was concerned that I might have trouble getting into the stories.  In a way it's strange that I felt that way.  I have always loved Trixie Belden, but I have read so many boys' series books in the last five years that my perspective has changed.

    Trixie Belden is skewed younger than most vintage juvenile series books that interest me, so I feared that could make a difference.  I had not read the Trixie Belden books since sometime in the 1990s, so I was concerned that my outlook might have changed too much.  The main reason I worried is that I do have strong sentimental feelings towards Trixie Belden, and I didn't want my memory to be tainted.

    I read Trixie Belden when I was in the sixth grade, but this was when I had mostly outgrown the Nancy Drew series.  I discovered the Sweet Valley High series less than one year later, which started my journey reading young adult books.  This means that I read Trixie Belden a bit later than what would be expected and at the very end of my childhood reading experience.

    I read the hardcover books from the 1970s, which were what my elementary school library had.  My mental image of Trixie Belden is how she looks on the covers of these books.  Trixie looks way too young to me on all other formats, even though the other formats are more accurate in their depiction of Trixie Belden.  I might not have read Trixie Belden in the sixth grade if the books had been the previous formats.  Trixie rather looks like an older teenager on these books, and I was on the verge of beginning to read books for teenagers.

    Ever since I have been online, I have been quite dismayed that these books are called the "uglies" or the "short and uglies."  Some of us Gen Xers tend to favor this format, and it's upsetting to have it disparaged constantly by everyone else.  Recently I finally noted that a few people admit to liking this format.  I think many people who like this format are afraid to speak up.  The last time—and only other time—I have ever stated how I hate the name given to this format, I was taunted by another collector.  That's just great.  It's bad enough that everyone else makes fun of the format we like, but we also get insulted about it.  How about respecting other people's opinions? 

    When I decided to try to read the first Trixie Belden book in July, I selected the deluxe edition, since I have always considered the deluxe editions to be very nice books.  I quickly decided that I couldn't read it since Trixie looks too young.  I pulled out the thin hardcover edition—I do refuse to use the popular name for them as can be seen on my website—and continued reading.  The change in format helped considerably, since Trixie looks right to me.

    I always use a scan of the actual book I read when I review books, regardless of condition.  I do not use the scans from my website since those are low quality.  Many years ago, the data storage amount allotted for the site was very low, so I had to use low quality scans.  The scans aren't good enough for this blog.

    Since I decided to read the thin hardcover books of the 1970s, those books will be featured in the reviews for volumes 1 through 16.  And you know what?  For me, they look perfect.  No, they are perfectly perfect.  Most of you might not like them, but this Gen Xer does.  In fact, as I have read and enjoyed them, I have decided that I love them.

    For volumes 17 through 38, I will read the Goldencraft hardcover editions, which means those will be featured in the blog.  Finally, I will have to read the softcover edition of volume 39. 

    I have read the entire set before, except probably volumes 36 and 39.  I am certain that volume 36 was added to my set last, but I also believe that I did not own volume 39 during the time that I last read the books.

    To be more specific, I have read the first six Trixie Belden books many times.  I have read most titles of #7 through #16 at least several times.  I have read #17 through #19 and #33 at least twice.  I have read #20 through #32, #34, #35, #37, and #38 at least once.  #36 and #39 are the only two books that I have probably never read.

    I have now read far enough into the Trixie Belden series to be able to report that I did struggle with some of the earlier books (Note the use of earlier rather than earliest.).  If that surprises you, read the last sentence of the first paragraph of this post again.  I knew that what I have been reading the last few years has changed my perspective on vintage series books significantly.

    I enjoy some of the early Trixie Belden books as much as ever, but others don't hold the magic for me that they once did.  Some stories contain too much explanatory information about charities or other topics.  For me, the series really hits its stride beginning with volume 10, and at that point, I began enjoying the books just as much as I did years ago.  I am thankful for that.  Reviews of the books will follow in the coming weeks.

    Sunday, August 5, 2018

    Brass Keys of Kenwick and House in Hidden Lane by Augusta Seaman

    In The Brass Keys of Kenwick, Audrey is an art student who plans to make a model of a house for a project.  She has chosen Miss Jenifer's house.  Audrey stays with the family next door and works on her model in a studio in Miss Jenifer's home.

    Audrey and her new friends soon notice prowlers, then one night Miss Jenifer has a stroke.  It is believed that a sudden fright caused the stroke, and the young people believe that a prowler was the likely cause.  The young people try to discover what really happened in hope that the knowledge will help Miss Jenifer get well.

    This is an overall excellent book.  I did not enjoy the last few chapters once I learned that Miss Jenifer's secret is based on actual historical figures.  By this point in my reading of Seaman's books, I had developed an aversion to that style of story.

    The House in Hidden Lane contains two stories, both for younger children.

    In "The House in Hidden Lane," the Tanner family stays in Aunt Abigail's home.  Aunt Abigail has tried to find a family treasure that is said to be hidden in the house.  The Tanner children search for the treasure.

    In "Just Around Our Corner," Alma's family moves into a new house.  Two elderly ladies live next door, and they are shut-ins.  Around the corner is a rowdy family, and Alma quickly becomes friends with the children.  The elderly Cady sisters are a constant source of interest to the children, who notice some peculiar behavior.  The children soon have a chance to help the Cady sisters gain happiness.

    Both of these stories are good, but they are not as satisfying as Seaman's full-length novels.

    Friday, August 3, 2018

    River Acres Riddle and Charlemonte Crest by Augusta Seaman

    The River Acres Riddle: A Book of Mysteries contains three short stories by Augusta Seaman.

    In "The River Acres Riddle," Dorita and Marietta find a piece of paper tacked to a fence post near their house.  The piece of paper has a coded message written on it.  The girls are unable to decipher the message, but in the meantime, they notice several strange events.  Someone keeps prowling in the immediate area of their home, and the girls learn about a car accident that happened the night the paper was tacked to the post.  Sensing that all of the events are intertwined, the girls continue working on the code.

    This story is okay but nothing special.  I was never very interested in it.

    In "Cat's Cradle," Shirley Anne and her family live on a ranch near San Antonio.  Shirley Anne finds an injured Mexican near the ranch, and the Parsons nurse him back to health.  During Pablo's recovery, he and Shirley Anne become good friends.  Shirley Anne teaches him to play cat's cradle.

    One day, Pablo tells Shirley to memorize the statement, "It is magic to skip the first and take every fifth!"  Pablo insists that the message will save her someday in a time of great need.  And so it does.

    This is a very short story, but it is very good.

    In "The Hexagonal Chest," Leslie finds a hexagonal chest on the beach and hides it until she can open it.  Meanwhile, Leslie's aunt disappears, and strangers are spotted in the area.  When Leslie finally gets back to the chest, it has vanished!

    This story is in first person, which is unusual for Seaman's stories.

    Mammy speaks in dialect, and she has pretty long speeches.  I found the dialect obnoxious and began skipping it.  It's too much trouble to have to sound out all the dialect in order to figure out what is being said.

    Aside from the annoying dialect, this is a very good story.

    In The Charlemonte Crest: A Modern Mystery in Colorful Haiti, Molly and Helen become good friends.  Helen shows Molly an ornate candlestick that is a family heirloom.  Molly accidentally drops the candlestick, and the bottom slides open.  The girls discover a packet of letters that leads them into a mystery.

    This is one of the first books by Augusta Seaman that I read.  I enjoyed it but found some of the historical content to be a bit much.  I wanted to read the book again for this review, but I did not make it very far.  I did not feel like reading all of the historical content again.

    This is a good story, but it is rather didactic.

    Wednesday, August 1, 2018

    Shadow on the Dial and Disappearance of Anne Shaw by Augusta Seaman

    In The Shadow on the Dial, Naomi and Enid enjoy visiting an old plantation that once belonged to their ancestors.  The girls are dismayed when they learn that a wealthy man, Mr. Speer, plans to purchase the plantation and tear down the old house.

    The girls become acquainted with Ronny and Leila, who are Mr. Speer's children.  When Ronny learns that the girls have a secret about the old house, he promises to sway his father from tearing it down, if they will share the secret with him.  The four young people join together to uncover the secret of the old plantation, which can be found by locating the missing sundial.

    This book is very good to excellent.

    In The Disappearance of Anne Shaw, elderly Anne Shaw suddenly vanishes from her home.  Most people are unconcerned, since Anne has done this before.  Kenneth, Mercedes, and Sanford feel differently, since they are aware of strange intruders in Anne Shaw's home.  It is up to the young people to rescue Anne Shaw.

    The was the second book by Augusta Seaman that I read last year.  I read the book again for this review.  I am glad that I read it again, since I noticed something that I did not spot the first time.  I recently read The Secret of Tate's Beach.  When I read this book last year, I had not read that book and did not know about Mr. Tate, who makes an appearance in this book.  The Disappearance of Anne Shaw is set just a short distance from The Secret of Tate's Beach on the New Jersey shore.

    The last part of the story where the mystery is explained is way too lengthy and difficult to understand.  I struggled with it last year, and on this second reading, I skipped it.  That portion should have been shorter and more concise.

    Except for the last part of the story, this is a very good book.