Saturday, October 13, 2018

Trixie Belden #39 The Mystery of the Galloping Ghost

In Trixie Belden #39, The Mystery of the Galloping Ghost, Trixie and Honey travel to Minnesota with Regan to stay on a ranch.  At the ranch, Regan hopes to learn some new techniques that he can use with the Wheelers' horses.  Trixie meets a ghost hunter, and she even sees what might be a ghost riding a horse.  The ranch is in danger of being lost to a developer, and Trixie suspects trickery.

One of the ranch's horses is named Jupiter.  This is odd, since one of the Wheelers' horses is Jupiter.

The ranch owner's name is Bill Murrow.  The author refers to him as Bill throughout the book, and this kept confusing me since Regan's first name is Bill.  I don't understand why the surname wasn't used.  It would have helped me for sure.

The plot is very flimsy, especially towards the end.  For instance, a horse goes missing, and everyone searches for the horse for at least a couple of hours.  It seems to me that they search in the entire surrounding area.  Later, Trixie realizes where the horse must be, and she goes directly there and finds it.  The location is rather close to the ranch, close enough that Trixie and Honey can walk there.  This doesn't make sense.

While I consider this book to be overall good, it bored me for the most part.

As I read Trixie Belden #35 through 39, I kept thinking of the Nancy Drew Diaries series, which is the current incarnation of Nancy Drew that is being published by Simon and Schuster.  I can make multiple comparisons.  The authors of the final Trixie Belden books didn't try very hard, just like the authors of the Nancy Drew Diaries series put forth little effort.  The Trixie Belden authors had to have looked at the publisher information sheet for the series, but it's more like they simply pulled names off of it and used however they wanted, kind of like Mad Libs (see Nancy Drew Diaries #10 review).

Trixie is "smug" in these final books, which is like when Nancy Drew or her friends "smirk" in the Nancy Drew Diaries series.  Both words annoy me so much.

And now I will stop myself before I go off into a long rant about the Nancy Drew Diaries series.  But I will make one final remark.  What was done to Trixie Belden in the final Trixie Belden books was bad but nowhere near as bad as what has been done to Nancy Drew in some of the Nancy Drew Diaries books.  Just read my review of Nancy Drew Diaries #16 to see how Nancy Drew has been turned into a coward.  The inconsistencies of the final Trixie Belden books are bad, but at least Trixie mostly retains her correct character traits, unlike Nancy Drew in the Nancy Drew Diaries series. 

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Trixie Belden #37 Pet Show Mystery and #38 Indian Burial Ground Mystery

In Trixie Belden #37, The Pet Show Mystery, Trixie sees Norma Nelson feeding the pheasants on Glen Road.  When Trixie realizes that the pheasants cannot find enough food during the winter, she and the Bob-Whites organize a pet show.  The proceeds will purchase seed for the birds.  As plans get underway, someone tries to sabotage the show.  Trixie must find the culprit before the show is ruined.

It's a bit rude for Trixie to upstage Norma and find a way to feed the birds without asking Norma for help or trying to involve her at all.

The characters behave inconsistently in this story as compared to earlier books in the series.  Quality control was lacking.  That aside, the story is overall very good.

In Trixie Belden #38, The Indian Burial Ground Mystery, an archaeological dig commences in the Wheelers' game preserve.  Trixie and Honey get jobs at the dig.  Meanwhile, thieves are breaking into the homes of the wealthy.  One night, the girls see a ghost in the game preserve while the Manor House is being robbed.  Is there a connection, or have the Indians' spirits risen from their graves?

This book is full of characterization errors.  Suddenly, Trixie likes riding Lady the best.  It was always Susie before.

Miss Trask actually screams when the Manor House is robbed.  Miss Trask would never scream.  On page 171, Miss Trask grumbles.  Ugh!  No, she wouldn't!

I just wanted to slap Trixie all through this book.  She is described as "smug" over and over throughout the book.  This reminds me of the "smirks" in the Nancy Drew Diaries series.  I cannot stand it.

Trixie also pouts on page 180.  Say what?!

On page 151, Trixie and Honey are able to pull a man and a dog out of a cellar by pulling them up by rope.  The man and dog are said to weigh around 200 pounds altogether.  I am a bit skeptical about whether the girls really could have done it.

This is a very good book, but in order to enjoy it, the reader must ignore the glaring inconsistencies.

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Trixie Belden #35 Mystery of the Memorial Day Fire and #36 Mystery of the Antique Doll

In Trixie Belden #35, The Mystery of the Memorial Day Fire, the Bob-Whites are watching the Memorial Day Parade with the rest of the town when a large explosion occurs inside a downtown building.  The Bob-Whites are dismayed to learn that Nick Roberts' father's shop was the location of the explosion.  The shop has been destroyed and Mr. Roberts is suspected of being the culprit.  Trixie suspects a newspaper reporter of setting of the explosion, perhaps to create news.

Beginning with this book, the stories are around 20 pages shorter than the preceding books in the series.

The Bob-Whites are selling T-shirts to help Nick's father, and on page 122, Trixie claims that she doesn't know anybody, which makes it hard to sell anything.  She then states that she is afraid to try because she fears that "people will hang up on me or laugh at me."  Since when has Trixie ever worried about failure or what other people think?  This is such a major character inconsistency that I am dumbfounded.  How could the author screw up like this?

Later in the book, the Wheelers' tack room is on fire.  The horses are inside, and nobody removes them.  The horses are just left in there to inhale smoke while the fire department is called.  Sure, the fire is put out, but the horses still could have died of smoke inhalation.  Not only that, but Regan is absent without explanation.  I thought Regan is paid to take care of the horses.  I suppose that's why everyone just leaves the horses in the stable to die.

This book is overall good, but it is certainly below average as compared to most books in the series.

In Trixie Belden #36, The Mystery of the Antique Doll, Trixie and Honey are enlisted to help Mrs. De Keyser, an injured woman who lives on Glen Road.  A new antique shop has opened next to Mrs. De Keyser's house, and Trixie finds it strange that the owner, Mr. Reid, knows very little about antiques.  Later, Trixie and Honey plan to go to Paris for the weekend with the Wheelers as a reward for being finalists in a spelling bee.  Mr. Reid requests that the girls pick up an antique doll for him and bring it to the United States.

The problem with this book is that so much of it makes little sense.  It's odd for Trixie and Honey to be finalists in a spelling bee.  This is random and inconsistent with the rest of the series.

It's also odd that Trixie and Honey are suddenly on the school's newspaper staff along with Mart.

I kept wondering about the antique doll.  It is strangely not mentioned until page 70.  The titular subject is completely absent until nearly halfway through the story.

It's strange for Trixie and Honey only, and no other Bob-Whites, to get to go to Paris on a weekend in the middle of the story.  It's also bizarre for the Wheelers to turn the girls loose in Paris unchaperoned except for their cab driver, who was not known to them beforehand.

The next paragraph contains a plot spoiler, so skip it if you don't want to know.  I contend that this story is too stupid for a spoiler to matter, but I have done my duty in warning anyone who cares.

The antique shop owner was using the girls to smuggle something into the United States—something hidden on the doll.  You would think that the objects would be hidden inside the doll.  But no, the rather heavy and unwieldy items are sewn into the doll's dress.  How utterly obvious and stupid.  Oh, and the objects?  They are printing plates to be used to print counterfeit money.  OMG.

The book is actually overall good, but the plot is beyond stupid.

Sunday, October 7, 2018

The James Budd Series by Dale Carlson

As I read the final Trixie Belden books, #35-39, I noticed advertisements for the James Budd series.  I was intrigued, especially because Dale Carlson also wrote the Jenny Dean series, which I enjoyed.  I purchased the four books.

The James Budd series consists of four books.

1.  The Mystery of the Madman at Cornwall Crag, 1984
2.  The Secret of Operation Brain, 1984
3.  The Mystery of the Lost Princess, 1984
4.  The Mystery of Galaxy Games, 1984

I find it interesting that Dale Carlson wrote a series for Grosset and Dunlap at about the same time that she wrote a series for Golden Press.  It's rather uncommon for an author to have series published almost simultaneously by rival publishing companies.

James Budd is like a teen version of James Bond.  His girlfriend is Honey Mack.  James and Honey are described as the perfect couple, perfectly matched to each other.  Both of them have spectacular fighting abilities.

I'm not going to do proper reviews of the four books, but I do want to mention the plot of the third book, which is particularly absurd.  In The Mystery of the Lost Princess, Sam Star, who is James' guardian, is in Europe looking for the lost princess of Mornia.  Meanwhile, Sasha is a girl who goes to school with James and Honey.  While in gym class, Honey notices that Sasha is being abused.  She has scars on her back from beatings.

James and Honey decide that they must get Sasha away from her aunt.  James comes up with an insane scheme to have Sasha pretend to be the lost princess of Mornia.  This means that he is even planning to fool Sam Star.  James and Honey look up facts about Mornia in books and have Sasha memorize them.

The scheme is so very wrong, and as soon as James decides to do it, I just knew that Sasha was probably going to turn out to be the real lost princess of Mornia.

I mostly read all four books.  They are not very interesting to me.  I have never liked spy thrillers, so I'm not surprised that I found them boring.  The books could appeal to those who do like spy thrillers.  If you are one of those people, then consider trying these books.

The final Trixie Belden books, which were published at the same time as these books, are not as good as the earlier Trixie Belden books.  Let's just say that I like the final Trixie Belden books much better than the James Budd books.  In my opinion, the James Budd books are bland and uninteresting.

Friday, October 5, 2018

Trixie Belden #33 Mystery of the Vanishing Victim and #34 Mystery of the Missing Millionaire

In Trixie Belden #33, The Mystery of the Vanishing Victim, the Bob-Whites decide to hold a rummage sale.  A Model T Ford is donated to the sale, and the Bob-Whites advertise the sale by using the Model T to pick up donations.  The vehicle is vandalized, and meanwhile, a man is run down by a vehicle.  The man does not know his own name, and he disappears.  Trixie vows to find him.

This book contains too much information about various collectibles, automobiles, and other explanatory information.  It is so boring!  The mystery is uninteresting, and I have never liked this book.

I remember purchasing this book at Target, probably in 1983.  I remember reading it, and I did not enjoy it.  Most of the books I read were from my elementary school library, although my mother did purchase a few of the older editions for me at a garage sale.  This was the only Trixie Belden book that I purchased new and the only title higher than #16 that I read when young.  If I had only purchased a different book than this particular one from Target, perhaps I might have purchased some more of the higher-numbered ones, like the ones that are actually good.

In Trixie Belden #34, The Mystery of the Missing Millionaire, Trixie and Honey find a wallet on Glen Road near Mr. Lytell's store.  The girls turn the wallet over to Mr. Lytell, who gets in touch with the owner's daughter.  The girls learn that the man has disappeared, and his daughter, Laura, is very worried.  Laura needs money to hire a private investigator, and Mr. Lytell loans her some money.  Trixie doesn't like Laura, because Jim pays too much attention to her.  Trixie is quite suspicious of Laura and doesn't know whether she has just cause or is suspicious because of her feelings.

A subplot has Mart falling for a get-rich-quick scheme.  I find it rather hard to believe that Mart, of all people, would fall for a scam.  It would have been more believable for Bobby to have fallen for a scheme, since Bobby lacks all common sense.

This is a very good book.

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Trixie Belden #31 Mystery at Maypenny's and #32 Mystery of the Whispering Witch

In Trixie Belden #31, The Mystery at Maypenny's, a factory plans to expand using part of Matthew Wheeler's game preserve.  The factory also plans to take part of Mr. Maypenny's property.  Mr. Maypenny is strongly opposed to the plan, while Mr. Wheeler is in favor of it.  Even the Bob-Whites are divided, with some of them wanting the economic development and others wanting the game preserve to stay completely intact.

Mr. Maypenny's nephew comes to visit, but he doesn't stay long after Mr. Maypenny becomes furious that his nephew is trying to obtain power of attorney.  An environmentalist also becomes involved, and the situation worsens when dead ducks are found in the game preserve.

The story has some flaws, but this is still a very good book.

In Trixie Belden #32, The Mystery of the Whispering Witch, Fay Franklin lives in the old Lisgard mansion with her mother, who is the housekeeper.  Fay's mother has to be hospitalized, so Trixie and Honey spend the night in the mansion with Fay.  The mansion is said to be haunted, and the girls are visited by the witch.  Terrified, the girls make it through the night, but nobody will believe their story.  It soon becomes apparent that Fay thinks she is possessed, but Trixie suspects a more earthly explanation.

This book probably would have scared me if I had read it when young.  Now, it does nothing for me.  I don't find it scary because the story is too strange for a Trixie Belden book.

While the main mystery is explained away, the ending of the story implies that Trixie actually had been visited by the witch's spirit.

This is an overall good story.

Monday, October 1, 2018

Trixie Belden #29 Mystery of the Velvet Gown and #30 Mystery of the Midnight Marauder

In Trixie Belden #29, The Mystery of the Velvet Gown, Trixie helps with the school's production of Romeo and Juliet.  The drama teacher, Miss Darcy, has borrowed some costumes for the production.  The velvet gown disappears, and Trixie finds Miss Darcy with the costume later.  While Trixie trusts Miss Darcy, she begins to suspect that all is not right.

In the meantime, Miss Darcy's father has been abducted in England, and a classmate is jealous that Diana has won the role of Juliet.

The plot has too many different parts that don't fit well together.  The jealous classmate is not relevant to the rest of the story except that the jealous classmate helps the girls towards the end of the story.

The abduction of Miss Darcy's father is relevant to the plot, but it appears to be inconsequential until late in the story.  In short, the story could have been plotted better.

This book is good but nothing special.  I became bored towards the end of the story.

In Trixie Belden #30, The Mystery of the Midnight Marauder, a vandal who calls himself the Midnight Marauder performs acts of mischief during the night.  Strangely, the vandal warns his victims ahead of time, which is most curious.  Mart is one of the suspects, simply because he will not admit to why he was at the school late one night.  The Bob-Whites know that Mart is innocent but cannot figure out the guilty party.  Trixie soon realizes that the advance warnings hold the key to determining the Midnight Marauder's true purpose.

This story is extremely good, and the plot is quite compelling.  Mart is involved with the school newspaper, and Mart's role in the story is what makes this book so good.  I cannot give any further information without revealing a major plot point.

This is an excellent book.