Monday, September 16, 2019

Dana Girls #16 Mystery at the Crossroads

In Dana Girls #16, Mystery at the Crossroads, the Danas find an old spoon in the woods near an abandoned old inn.  Later, the girls learn that the spoon is said to be cursed.  The girls also speak to a young gypsy girl who has been forbidden to marry Stivo.  Stivo has been accused of stealing a valuable silver platter.  Meanwhile, the spoon is stolen from the Danas' room.  The girls search for both the spoon and the platter and hope that they can exonerate Stivo.

If there had not been a gap in publication of new Dana Girls books, this book could in theory have been published in 1947.  I find that interesting since the Nancy Drew book from 1947 feature gypsies.

On page 67, Ina speaks up against Lettie, which is unusual.

Page 112 begins with "Suddenly a sickening thought came to the girls."  It's odd how the Dana girls are telepathic as times, and each girl has the exact same thought.

On page 151, the Danas' parents are described for the first time.  Mr. Dana had dark hair like Louise, and Mrs. Dana had blonde hair like Jean.

This book ends with the usual late Stratemeyer Syndicate practice of a lengthy question and answer session with the culprit.  This always bores me.

The book contains a lot of educational content about about spoons, gypsies, and other stuff.

The story is very good, but it lacks the punch of the early books.  The Dana Girls series is teetering on the brink at this point, about to descend forever into Harriet Adams' crazy world of chuckles and grins.

Excessive use of "chuckled" and "grinned" is distinctive of Harriet Adams' writing.

Friday, September 13, 2019

Dana Girls #15 The Secret of the Jade Ring

In Dana Girls #15, The Secret of the Jade Ring, a new student, Fleurette Garnier, has just arrived at Starhurst.  Fleurette is very reclusive, and at first, she refuses to join the school's archery team.

Jean's jade ring is stolen, and the school's jade ring from its museum is discovered to be a fake.  Fleurette acts flustered whenever jade rings are mentioned, which places suspicion on her.  The Danas believe Fleurette is honest, but they cannot solve the mystery without Fleurette's cooperation.

On page 2, the readers are finally told that the girls have lived with Aunt Harriet and Uncle Ned ever since the death of their parents.  It seems like that information should have been mentioned in the first book in the series.

The text contains lots of information about the history of jade and jade rings.  Since this is the first book actually written in the middle 1950s, it is the first Dana Girls book that tries to be educational.  That, of course, makes the book less enjoyable to read.

On page 169, Ina speaks out against Lettie.  This is rather unusual.  It's also rather fun.

This book follows the formula of the later Syndicate books, and this will be the case for the duration of the Dana Girls series.

I found this story to be a bit repetitive and boring.  I was bored by two-thirds of the way through the book and began skimming parts of it.

This book is overall good, at least up until the point where I became bored.

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Dana Girls #14 The Clue in the Ivy

In Dana Girls #14, The Clue in the Ivy, Jean and Louise spend the weekend with their friend, Carol Humfrey, in Old Bridge.  The girls soon learn that the residents are frightened because Webster College's chapel bell rings at night.  The chapel reportedly holds the clue to a missing treasure that, if found, could keep the college from being sold.  The Danas resolve to find the treasure if at all possible.

This book was published in 1952, but the book was actually written in 1944, which is when Mildred Wirt signed the release.  If the series had not gone on hiatus in the late 1940s, this book would have been published in 1945.

On page 12, the text reveals that the Danas have been at Starhurst for three years.  Aunt Harriet is in her mid-forties.

On page 98, the Danas learn that some men, who had been in contact with Lettie, had dug up a dead cat, thinking it would be treasure.  Later, the Danas play a prank on Lettie by sending her a box with cat fur in it.

This is an overall good book.

Monday, September 9, 2019

Figuring Out My Nancy Drew

We are one month away from what could be the big Nancy Drew fan meltdown of 2019.  A new Nancy Drew television series starring Kennedy McMann will premiere on the CW network on October 9.  The series has already caused controversy and arguments between fans, and fans have not even seen it yet.  If the episode is faithful to the script that has been circulating online, then some fans will get quite upset because of the sex scenes.

The CW’s Nancy Drew Won’t Directly Adapt Any Books, But It Will Be Horny

Personally, I don't care whether Nancy Drew is horny or not.  In a perfect world, a Nancy Drew television series would be based upon the Grosset and Dunlap books, which means that she would not be horny.  Of course, I would prefer that.  However, we do not live in a perfect world, so there you go.

I want Nancy Drew to be strong and independent and motivated to solve mysteries.  You know, not like Nancy is portrayed in Nancy Drew Diaries #16 The Haunting on Heliotrope Lane.  Yes, I will keep linking to that one review.  If Nancy Drew has to be horny in order to be strong, independent, and motivated, then I can deal with it.

That aside, fans have already begun fighting among themselves due to varying opinions about this television series and how Nancy Drew will be portrayed.  The biggest problems arise when some fans make very strong statements including the phrase "not my Nancy Drew" or "not Nancy Drew."  Other fans have pointed out that the latter phrase is outright wrong, since a television series titled "Nancy Drew" is Nancy Drew by default, so the statement "not Nancy Drew" is inaccurate.  Using "not my Nancy Drew" also offends others, since one person's Nancy Drew may not be another person's Nancy Drew.

I find all of this to be rather interesting and have reflected upon it at length in recent months.

The inherent problem with filmed versions of books is that a filmed version cannot replicate what we see in our minds when we read the books.  Filmed versions will always fall short of expectation for that reason.

I am rather open-minded about various filmed versions of Nancy Drew, since I know that they cannot replicate my reading experience.  I do not like some versions very much or do not care about them, but they do not upset me.  I also keep quiet and don't tell other people when I don't particularly care for a certain version.  I don't want to spoil someone's joy or put negativity out there.  It just doesn't matter to me.

This got me to thinking:  Exactly which Nancy Drew books are my Nancy Drew?  To do this right, I must analyze both the cover art and the stories.  I will also use "not my Nancy Drew" repeatedly, so bear with me.  It's not a phrase that I like or have ever used, but it is appropriate in this discussion.  My use of "not my Nancy Drew" will offend some of you, which will make my point.  You've been warned.

Nancy Drew #1-34, original text with 25 chapters

Stories:  I did not read any of these books when young.  I like them, but I view them as a quaint older version.  Nancy doesn't act like Nancy should.  Not my Nancy Drew.

Cover Art:  I love the cover art, but again, this is older cover art.  Not my Nancy Drew.

Nancy Drew #1-34 revised text and #35-56

Stories:  I did read these books when young.  This should be my Nancy Drew.  Guess what?  It's not.  Many of the stories have not held up well, and I do not like them as much as I did when young.  Not my Nancy Drew.

Cover Art:  That stupid flip hairstyle.  Not my Nancy Drew.

Nancy Drew #57-78

Stories:  I don't like these books.  Not my Nancy Drew.

Cover art:  The cover art is good but looks a bit dated.  Not my Nancy Drew.

Nancy Drew #79-175

Stories:  Many of the stories are sabotage, but ignoring that aspect, these stories are quite good.  You know what?  This is my Nancy Drew.

Cover art:  I like the cover art for pretty much all titles.  Yes, this is my Nancy Drew.

Nancy Drew Files

Stories:  This Nancy Drew annoys me because of her relationship with Ned.  Not my Nancy Drew.

Cover art:  The cover art is fine, but this is not my Nancy Drew.

Nancy Drew Girl Detective

Stories:  I actually like this chick.  Aside from when Nancy is portrayed as too forgetful, I like this version.  This is my Nancy Drew.

Cover art:  Just take a look at the banner on my Facebook page.  I love the logo.  This is my Nancy Drew.

Nancy Drew Diaries

Stories:  Don't get me started.  Not my Nancy Drew.

Cover art:  The cover art is pretty, but Nancy is too young.  Not my Nancy Drew.

Regarding the different filmed versions of Nancy Drew, most of them are not my Nancy Drew.  In particular, Bonita Granville is not my Nancy Drew.  She's too silly.  The filmed versions that I like the very best are the 1995 television series starring Tracy Ryan and the 2002 television movie starring Maggie Lawson.  I tend to prefer the modern filmed versions over the vintage filmed versions.

Okay, so I figured it out.  I am a modern Nancy Drew girl.  I prefer the modern filmed versions, and I am quite fond of most of Simon and Schuster's Nancy Drew output from the 1980s to the present day, with the exception of the Nancy Drew Files and Nancy Drew Diaries series.  My Nancy Drew is a more modern version, which is why I am open-minded about new versions.  I just don't see a problem with Nancy Drew changing to fit modern society.

Even when the version has problems, I still get some pleasure out of it.  I also actually do enjoy reading the Nancy Drew Diaries series.  The books are seriously flawed, but I get a kick out of writing my reviews.  I am especially proud of my Heliotrope Lane review, which is why I keep linking to it.  Oops, I did it again.

Did my use of "not my Nancy Drew" offend you when I applied it to the original text books?  If so, then that's why fans of more modern versions get so upset when "not my Nancy Drew" is used.  I do not get offended by that phrase, but I wish people would quit using it due to the trouble it causes.

I would never use "not my Nancy Drew" aside from what I just did in this post because I have always thought of Nancy Drew as the composite of every Nancy Drew that has ever been.  My Nancy Drew is actually every single one of them combined.  Nancy Drew is the sum total of every version of Nancy Drew that has ever existed.  She is that brash girl from 1930, that poised young woman from 1965, and that quirky girl detective from 2003.  She is Pamela Sue Martin, Emma Roberts, Maggie Lawson, Sophia Lillis, Tracy Ryan, Bonita Granville, and soon to be Kennedy McMann.

Nancy Drew is so much more than the character from the original text books.  She has become part of our culture.  As Nancy Drew changes with the times, the essence of the character remains the same.  Nancy Drew transcends time and space.  She has existed since 1930 and will exist so long as published or filmed versions remain available.  She represents many different things to many people, but at her core is a confident young woman who likes to solve mysteries.

Long live Nancy Drew!

Sunday, September 8, 2019

Dana Girls #13 The Secret in the Old Well

In Dana Girls #13, The Secret in the Old Well, a student at Starhurst named Arlene Sherwood has disappeared.  The only clue is that Arlene went to see a psychic reader and that the reading may have upset her.  The Danas fear that Arlene might instead have been abducted.  Their fears worsen when Arlene's father also disappears, and her mother is ordered to turn over some important papers.

Jean has poor math skills.  On page 10, Louise remarks that a bloodhound was able to track a scent 105 hours old.  Jean exclaims, "Why, that's over five days!"  No, 120 hours is five days. 

On page 105, Louise receives an electric shock from the chain hanging in a well.  Of course, Louise is just fine.  My main thought is how Kay Tracey-esque the electric shock is.

A dance and dates with Bill and Bob are mentioned.  The series is moving in the direction of getting Louise and Jean some regular dates, but Bill and Bob won't be the chosen ones.

On page 139, Louise gets hit in the back with a stone.  Excellent!  More shades of Kay Tracey.

On page 184, the Danas want a photograph that Lettie has of herself with Mr. Osborne so that they have a picture of their suspect.  "It took some time to convince Lettie she ought to part with the photograph.  Louise finally won her over by saying the picture of her was very cute and she would like to have it.  She would cut Mr. Osborne out later."  Lettie agrees.

Say what?!  The Danas and Lettie truly despise each other.  Louise's statement about Lettie being cute is so obviously a lie, and Lettie falls for it.  This is absurd.

It turns out that the well leads to an underground cave.  Fur pelts are hidden in the cave.  My thought is... what if it rains?

This book introduces Kate Allen, a Starhurst student who appears in just a few books.

I became bored during the last couple of chapters, although I enjoyed the story up to that point.  This story is overall very good.

Friday, September 6, 2019

Dana Girls #12 The Portrait in the Sand

In Dana Girls #12, The Portrait in the Sand, Jean and Louise travel to the shore with their teacher, Miss Warren, to search for her missing fiancĂ©, Richard Henley.  Henley works for the FBI, and the girls suspect that he went missing while working on a case.  Some people believe that Henley drowned, and the girls try to keep the rumor from Miss Warren as they search for clues.

On page 41, the girls observe that the printing from Henley's letters is almost the same as the carving on the plaque.  Carving on a plaque and printing a handwritten letter are not the same process at all, and the letters would not necessarily be similar enough to prove that both were done by the same person.

On page 59, the Danas row a boat while lobsters roam around loose in the boat.  The girls have to keep pushing the lobsters back as they continue to row.  Personally, my desire not to have lobsters crawling all over me would have overridden my desire to eat them.

Miss Warren sculpts a statue near Ham Gert's shack.  Gert wants it destroyed down, but the Danas see him as being unreasonable.  I'm on Gert's side here.  If I were living in a shack on the beach, I wouldn't want visitors to come along, erect a statue, and expect me to just tolerate it.  The nerve of the Danas!

On pages 85 and 86, Miss Warren receives a message that is said to be "by a very ignorant person or one who wanted to appear uneducated."  Really?  The message states, "YOUR BOY FRIEND AIN'T AT CLIFF HAVEN.  HE IS FAR AWAY.  YOU AND YOUR FRIENDS GO HOME OR YOU'LL GET IN TROUBLE."  "Ain't" is a problem, but otherwise, the message reads quite well and doesn't strike me as being by someone uneducated.

On page 93, the Danas make Cora Appel come stay with them at the Pattons' cottage.  They inform the Pattons that Cora might break dishes,  and they are lighthearted about it.  If I were Mrs. Patton, I wouldn't want to be forced to take a maid who will break my dishes.  Once again, the Danas show how much nerve they have. 

The problem with this book is that the plot is repetitive and the girls fail to pay attention to the most important clue.  The Danas are looking for a missing man.  They keep hearing a call for help from the cliffs.  They think it's strange or that it's the wind.  They do their thing and keep hearing the calls and discounting them.  This continues until the book is far enough along that the girls finally come to their senses and investigate.

I enjoyed this story and found it to be pretty engaging reading.  Nevertheless, I found it bothersome that the girls ignore the cries for help.

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Nancy Pembroke #7 Nancy Pembroke, Senior

In Nancy Pembroke #7, Nancy Pembroke, Senior, Nancy and her friends continue their charity work via their secret organization.  They are now in their last year of college, and they hope to pass the torch to members of the junior class, if they can find the right kind of girls.

I enjoyed most of the book.  I became bored during the last several chapters.  The girls have one party after another leading up to their graduation, which is a bit much.  After enduring probably at least five parties, I then had to endure lengthy commencement events.  I was completely uninterested, but I made sure that I read the ending.

Nancy Pembroke truly is an unusual series.  Nancy Pembroke, College Maid and Nancy Pembroke, Sophomore at Roxford feature a large amount of hazing, and absolutely everyone is completely fine with the hazing.  Hazing is considered necessary to one's growth as a person.  These two books are rather interesting, although absurd.

In between the above books, Nancy travels to Canada in Nancy Pembroke's Vacation in Canada.  Nancy behaves like an idiot in this book and the reader must endure copious information about historical statues in Canada.  After Nancy's Sophomore year, she travels to New Orleans in Nancy Pembroke in New Orleans.  Actually, Nancy spends a lot of time in other places in this book.  I dislike both of these books and mostly did not read them.  I don't feel that I missed out on much, and I was able to enjoy the final books in the series just fine.

In the last three books, Nancy Pembroke, Junior; Nancy Pembroke in Nova Scotia; and Nancy Pembroke, Senior; Nancy matures.  These three books are the strongest titles in the series.  It's incredible to see how much Nancy changes and what a wonderful person she becomes.

In closing, I do recommend the Nancy Pembroke series to those readers who enjoy early 20th century college series books.  The stories have little to no mystery and are simply an account of the girls' adventures through college.  For the most part, the books are quite interesting and enjoyable.

Monday, September 2, 2019

Dana Girls #11 The Clue of the Rusty Key


In Dana Girls #11, The Clue of the Rusty Key, Jean and Louise rescue Jasper Conway and his papers when Oliver Pritz sets fire to Conway's store.  Pritz later tries to get the papers away from the girls, and they refuse.  Unfortunately, Pritz manages to steal the papers, and the girls must try to recover them.

For years I have had the impression that I didn't like this book when I read it years ago.  I couldn't remember why.  Reading the book again refreshed my memory.  This story is lame.  Part of the plot involves the girls wondering whether Oliver Pritz and Dr. Gormly are the same person, when it is stupidly obvious that they are.  The plot is also full of a bunch of randomness that is not entertaining.

On page 103, Mr. Fletcher has "a motion-picture camera of latest design."  I realize that the Fletchers are wealthy, but this is only 1942 and rather impressive.

On page 105, a random baby shows up outside the Fletchers' home.  Of course, they decide to keep it.  Why not?  Wouldn't anyone keep a random baby that shows up outside their house?

The bit about the baby reminds me of the Kay Tracey book, Beneath the Crimson Brier Bush.  I mention this mainly because two other phrases on the following few pages remind me of other series books.  The phrases are just coincidental and mean nothing, but I was amused nevertheless.  On page 107, a "sunken garden" is mentioned, reminding me of another Kay Tracey book.  Finally, on page 108, a "frozen fountain" is mentioned, which reminded me of a later book in the Dana Girls series.

Lettie puts medicine in box of chocolates, making the Danas sick.  That girl ought to be severely punished for her behavior, but little is ever done to her.

Image taken from eBay listing
This is the first book in the series which pairs the girls off with male companions.  Two young men, Edwin and Barry, stay at the Fletchers' home, and they go skating with the girls.

The book is overall good to very good, but I lost interest towards the end.  I forgot that I hadn't finished the book and started reading the next book in the series.  I later figured out that I hadn't finished, but I didn't care.  The story is a bit repetitive, besides all the random events.

And the Pritz/Gormly thing is stupid.  I used to own a copy of the German edition of The Clue of the Rusty Key, but the cover art did not appeal to me.  Why?  I hate the stupid Pritz/Gormly thing.  I certainly don't want to own a book that pictures it on the front cover.

Friday, August 30, 2019

Nancy Pembroke #5 Junior and #6 Nova Scotia

In Nancy Pembroke #5, Nancy Pembroke, Junior, Nancy and her friends return to Roxford.  As members of the junior class, the girls must mentor the younger girls.  Nancy finally realizes how awful she behaved during the previous year and vows to improve.

The story arc of this book centers around Nancy's personal growth.  She gradually becomes a much nicer person and is less flighty.  She quits treating Philip badly and even becomes friends with him.  For a time, I thought that Philip might be a prospective suitor, even though Nancy has written to a young man named Curtis for quite some time.

On page 20, the reader learns some interesting information about one of the professors.  "Professor Cummings stayed in town all summer, and has been playing around with a young kid from high school."  OMG.

Now that the girls are in one of the upper classes, they are no longer interested in hazing.  Instead, the girls form a secret society for the purpose of helping people in need.

This is a very good book.

In Nancy Pembroke #6, Nancy Pembroke in Nova Scotia, Nancy and her friends travel to Nova Scotia.  Nancy further matures, and she even falls in love with a young man named Jim.  In this book, the reader learns about Nancy's beliefs concerning romance and men.

Jim rescues Nancy from a predicament and impulsively kisses her.  From pages 168 and 169:
Her cheeks burned as she recalled his good night, yet she could not, some way, feel angry at him, as she should.  Why?  She had always hated any form of "necking" and a boy who tried it even once was out of her good graces.

"You're so funny, Nan," remarked one of her admirers, smarting from a rebuke.  "Everyone does it now."

"That may be," she had replied.  "Let 'everyone.'  I won't."

"But why?  There is no harm in it," he had persisted.

"Whether there is harm in it or not, I don't like it.  I consider love and all that goes with it such a wonderful, such a sacred thing, that I don't care to spoil it by playing at it with Tom, Dick, and Harry.  My kisses and hugs are going to be kept for the one right man; if he ever comes.  This wholesale display of affection is unspeakably cheap and disgusting, and I won't be a party to it."
I like how Nancy stands up for her convictions.  But wait...  Nancy used to kiss Uncle John on the lips.  So it's fine for Nancy to "neck" with her uncle but not with prospective suitors.  Um, okay.  The last part of the Nancy Pembroke set is like a different series from the first part.

On page 206, Nancy and Jeanette speak about the importance of finishing their education.  Nancy remarks, "I really want to finish college, and be prepared to earn my living in some way if it is ever necessary.  So many girls think that if they can only get hold of a man, they need never lift a finger again."

Jeanette then replies, "I know; and one can never be sure what will happen at some time in the future.  It is foolish not to find out what one thing we can do well, and then fit ourselves to do it.  Then, in an emergency, there is something to depend upon."

These girls, especially Nancy, have really matured.

This is a very good to excellent book.

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Dana Girls #10 The Mysterious Fireplace

In Dana Girls #10, The Mysterious Fireplace, Captain Dana's friend, Tom Fairweather, invites the Danas to spend Christmas at Highfort, an estate that he is currently in the process of purchasing.  The Danas arrive at Highfort to discover that Mr. Fairweather has disappeared.  Adding to the mystery is the appearance of two other parties who claim ownership to the estate.

Of course Lettie Briggs also shows up at Highfort as a guest of the caretaker.  Lettie provides the comic relief.  She roams around with a gun, managing to shatter a window, and later, she shoots a bear.

On pages 130 and 131, Sonya creates an "animated gingerbread man" by baking a gingerbread man with a wire inside.  When the gingerbread man is ready, Sonya opens the oven, grabs the wire, and the gingerbread man hops out of the oven.  Sonya makes him walk towards Applecore, who is frightened.

I took the scene at face value years before when I read the story and never really thought about it.  I now question whether this is possible.  The gingerbread man would have to have been overcooked in order for the wire to stay inside so that he could walk without falling apart.  Perhaps the gingerbread man is smaller than I imagine it.  I am picturing one the size of a cookie sheet.  A small one would be less impressive but more likely to work.

The clue to Mr. Fairweather's location is how he addresses his letter to Captain Dana, calling him "Ned Krad Dana" when Captain Dana doesn't have "Krad" in his name.  Jean figures out that this is a clue and that "Ned Krad" should be read backwards as "dark den."  Oh, come on.  This is stupid.

How on earth are the girls supposed to know where to find a building that contains a "dark den"?  How could they spot this "dark den" by driving around the countryside?  Obviously, this is the best that the creator of the story could think up.  It's rather lame.

The Olavus and the Danas tear up all the fireplaces and cannot find the missing papers.  After they destroy everything, they finally realize that the Christmas tree that was overturned by the nighttime intruder just might be important.  They then find the passageway that leads to the discovery of the papers.  What a waste to tear up the house!

I consider this story to be Kay Tracey-esque in a rather epic fashion.  I love it.  This is a very good but rather strange story.

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Removing Permanent Marker from Books

I recently purchased a partial set of Dana Girls books online that had prices written on the spines.  I wasn't sure whether the prices were in grease pencil or black marker, but I decided to take a risk and purchase the books anyway.  When the books arrived, I discovered that the prices had been written in black marker, which was quite unfortunate.  Marker can sometimes be removed, but more often, it cannot be removed.  The determining factor is how porous the cover is.

Here are the seller's pictures.




Ugh.  This was pretty dreadful.  I knew that I could partially remove the marker, but I wasn't sure to what degree.  I began with some lighter fluid first.  I wiped at one spine, and the lighter fluid smeared the marker.  That approach was too risky.  I didn't like the idea of smearing the marker all over the spine.  I was afraid that some of it would soak into the cover.

I next switched to a soft eraser.  I was able to remove around three-fourths of the marker with the eraser, then I decided to see what would happen if I were to use lighter fluid.  I wiped a paper towel dampened with lighter fluid across the remaining marker.  Since only some marker remained, just a little smearing occurred.  I immediately tried erasing again.  More of the marker lifted off quite easily.  Wetting the remaining marker with lighter fluid caused the marker to loosen enough to be erased better.  I repeated the process, wiping with lighter fluid, erasing again, and then repeating the process until the marker was gone.

I spent around 30 minutes on the books, but I was able to remove nearly all of the marker.  Around half of the books still have a shadow of the price still present, but they look so much better now.


Books with prices written on the spines are quite undesirable, and the books will now look presentable on a shelf.

These books are Grosset and Dunlap matte picture covers of the 1960s.  The picture covers of the 1960s have more of a glossy matte finish.  The glossiness does help prevent marker from soaking into the cover.

Lighter fluid and eraser probably will not work on marker on the Grosset and Dunlap matte picture cover books of the 1970s and 1980s.  Those books are a porous matte.  I have tried to remove marker from those books, failing miserably.  It is better not to try.

Monday, August 26, 2019

Dana Girls #9 The Secret at the Gatehouse

In Dana Girls #9, The Secret at the Gatehouse, Mr. Warrington is one of the owners of Captain Dana's ship.  Rumors are floating around that Mr. Warrington is having trouble with the government, and the Danas worry that this could affect Captain Dana's job.  Meanwhile, the girls chance to meet Mrs. Zerbe, who has worked for Mr. Warrington for many years.  Through Mrs. Zerbe, the girls learn about a secret in the gatehouse.  Prowlers are spotted near the gatehouse, and the girls worry that the secret might impact Mrs. Warrington's business.

It's really odd how much school the girls miss.  They are out of school for most of this story and miss quite a few days, and they had just been out on a ranch in the previous book.

On page 17, Lettie has set three dogs loose at Starhurst at night.  The Danas try to get the dogs out, and this results in them being blamed.  I'm not sure why the girls are the only ones to get involved, and their action is what causes them the problem.

On page 62, a man is described as having "black, curly hair and rather bold manners."  The girls feel that the description is "vaguely familiar."  On page 76, the man is described as having "black eyes and curly hair, and a conceited air about him."  Suddenly the girls know that the man is Abe Mantel.  How did they not know the first time?  This is an example of lazy and careless writing where information is kept from the reader.  The reader doesn't know what Abe Mantel looks like until page 76.  The Dana girls do know, so they should have recognized the description the first time.

These old books usually have racial stereotypes which are offensive to varying degrees.  This book has a passage that I find to be particularly offensive, more so than many stereotypes in these old books.

Miss Warrington has a colored chauffeur.  On page 172, the farmer's wife is concerned about not having enough room for the visitors when she learns that the group has a chauffeur.  Louise tells her that the chauffeur can sleep downstairs.  The farmer's wife then asks if the chauffeur is honest.  The implication is that a colored man wouldn't be honest.  I find it offensive to judge someone based solely on his race.  The woman finally agrees to let the chauffeur sleep in the kitchen instead of outside in the cold.

On page 213, it is revealed that Kaner tried to blackmail Warrington regarding the secret he knew.  On page 215, Jean burns the papers that contain Warrington's secret.  Jean declares, "Mr. Warrington's secret will be safe forever."  Um, what about Kaner?  He knew part of the secret, and we are just supposed to assume that he will never reveal it at any point in the future.

This book reads just like the early Nancy Drew books.  It isn't overly bizarre like the average Dana Girls book.  This is a very good story and one that Nancy Drew fans would definitely enjoy.

Saturday, August 24, 2019

Nancy Pembroke #3 Sophomore at Roxford and #4 New Orleans

In Nancy Pembroke #3, Nancy Pembroke, Sophomore at Roxford, Nancy and Jeanette have transferred to Roxford.  Nancy cannot bear to stay in Eastport with Uncle John gone for a year, which is why she switches schools.  I personally don't see the difference, since Nancy is away from her uncle either way.  Furthermore, Nancy loses all of her friends when she changes to a new college.  Nancy makes some strange decisions.

On page 21, the reader is introduced to Philip Spenser.  Philip's friend tells him, "[Y]our family has made a perfect ass out of you."  I have to say that I greatly enjoyed the entrance of Philip.  It's also a bit odd, since up to this point the series has been told from Nancy's viewpoint.  This book alternates between Nancy and Philip.

Nancy is absolutely horrible to Philip in this book.  It's quite distressing.

On page 44, Nancy tells Jeanette about how she sent a picture in the mail to her father.  The picture and its outer wrapping arrived separately.  This is apparently the most amazingly funny story that the girls greatly indulge in repeating.  My problem is that this same story is in the first book of the series on page 169, told a little differently.  The author even uses the same poem again.  This story must have been too short, so the author stuck in some filler.  The A. L. Burt Company was more concerned about the length of the text than the quality of the story.  Read this post for more information.

These books are a tad bit more old fashioned than typical books of 1930 and later.

This series sends the message that hazing is just fine.  The girls are informed that hazing teaches them good life skills and that they should put up with whatever is done to them and accept their punishment with good spirit.  The girls are also told that whenever they are not being hazed that they will be on friendly terms with the perpetrators.

Some of the hazing includes making a girl walk ahead of a car on the road while the car's bumper pushes her along.

Philip is hazed by being forced to escort pedestrians back and forth across a busy intersection.  A crowd forms, and traffic is completely blocked for quite some time.  I find it amazing that law enforcement doesn't care that the college students shut down roads while they haze each other.

I enjoyed this book.

In Nancy Pembroke #4, Nancy Pembroke in New Orleans, Nancy and her friends discuss what to do over the summer break, and this includes going to New Orleans to visit dear Uncle John.

I could not read this book.  I figured that it would be something of another travelogue, and the beginning of the story is boring.  I did skip through a few parts of it, but I read very little.

I should note that near the end of the previous book, Nancy Pembroke, Sophomore at Roxford, Uncle John gets married!  Yay!  Nancy, of course, is utterly devastated.  The good news is that by the fifth book in the set, Uncle John is no longer of any importance to the series.  I am very glad of that.

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Dana Girls #8 The Clue in the Cobweb

In Dana Girls #8, The Clue in the Cobweb, Katherine Blore disappeared mysteriously from Captain Dana's ship.  Captain Dana enlists the help of his nieces in locating the woman.  Jean and Louise check Katherine Blore's current residence only to find her gone.  The landlord becomes ill, so the girls help him get the house rented.  While in the house, Louise falls ill, and it is believed that an herb might be responsible.

On page 48, Ina Mason complains that Mrs. Crandall favors the Dana Girls.  This actually is true.  Mrs. Crandall lets them miss school all the time and very often lets them leave on the weekends.

On page 71, the girls need a taxi so that they can trail a suspect.  One of the instructors comes along, and Jean asks to borrow his car.  The instructor agrees.  This rather amazed me.  The instructor doesn't know why the girls need his car, and he's fine with them taking it.

On page 84, Mrs. MacVey offers to loan Louise any book that she might find interesting.  After Louise finds one, Mrs. MacVey tells her "don't be in a hurry about returning it."  Of course we know that Louise will return the book, but this kind of remark made to most people would likely result in the book never coming back.

I absolutely hate dialect in series books.  I cannot stand it.  Dialect makes the text unnecessarily hard to read, and in these old series books, the dialect is usually offensive.  I especially am annoyed when the author inconsistently writes the dialect.  As distasteful as the dialect is, at least the authors should bother to be consistent about it.  If the author is going to go there, then the dialect should not be written in a slipshod fashion.

On page 107, Wu Sing has an odd speech pattern.  "Young Amelicans crash-crash door and set Charlie free."  Also, "Charlie Young velly hard boy to clatch."

It's rather odd how Wu Sing sometimes can pronounce the "r" sound and other times cannot.  Wu Sing's speech pattern is an example of slipshod dialect.

It's a bit random for the Danas to fly out to a ranch in the west in the middle of the story.  The story bored me from that point on, and I skimmed to the end.  I didn't find the story that good even before the western excursion.

The book is overall good, but it is a weak Dana Girls mystery.

Monday, August 19, 2019

Nancy Pembroke #1 College Maid and #2 Vacation in Canada

In Nancy Pembroke #1, Nancy Pembroke, College Maid, Nancy and her best friend, Jeanette, go away to college in Eastport.  Nancy chose Eastport because her beloved Uncle John lives there, and Nancy cannot bear to be far away from him.  The girls soon experience constant hazing by the girls of the sophomore class.  Meanwhile, the girls look forward to joining a sorority.

Nancy is rather immature, wild, and flighty during the early books in this series.  I like her well enough, but at times, she is rather hard to take.  Nancy has an unusually close relationship with her uncle which comes across as incestuous.  On page 83, Nancy gives Uncle John an "especially loving kiss."  On page 134, Uncle John gives Nancy a "tenderly indulgent" smile.  On page 144, Nancy lays "a caressing hand on his."

From page 220:
[Uncle John] smiled his slow, thoughtful smile. "I thought perhaps you might enjoy being nearer me—"

He never finished his sentence, for Nancy's arms around his neck and her kisses on his mouth made further speech impossible, and left no possible doubt of her preference.
The hazing includes girls being whipped and paddled.  Hazing is so prevalent in this book that it seems like the girls attend college solely for the purpose of harassing each other.  They certainly are not very interested in studies.

This book contains lengthy poetry that was written by Jeanette.  The poetry actually isn't bad at all, and I read some of it in the early part of the story.  I then decided that the poetry was taking up too much time and was way too long.  The poems sometimes cover around two entire pages.  After reading the first few poems, I skipped over the rest of them.  I don't have time for that.

I enjoyed this book.

In Nancy Pembroke #2, Nancy Pembroke's Vacation in Canada, the girls go on an incredibly boring vacation in Canada where the reader must endure lengthy explanations about the historical significance of every statue seen in Canada.

On page 9, Nancy gives Uncle John six kisses.

Uncle John prepares to depart for Europe, and he may be gone for a year.  Nancy is utterly devastated, and she acts like he has died.  I don't understand Nancy's unhealthy attachment to her uncle.  She does still have her parents, so I fail to understand why she is so very dependent on her uncle.

This book is an extremely boring travelogue.  It actually makes the more boring Stratemeyer Syndicate travelogues seem rather good in comparison.  This book is basically a history book.

It also doesn't help that Nancy continues to behave like she has no common sense.  For instance, she cannot get a bottle of ginger ale open, so she smashes the neck of the bottle against a bowl, breaking it.  The drink spews, and then the girls seriously consider drinking the remains of the ginger ale from the broken bottle.  Fortunately, the girls decide to throw out the ginger ale.

I read around half of the book, then I skipped over chunks of 10 to 15 pages at a time.  Each time I skipped ahead, I briefly read more historical information similar to what I saw during the previous set of pages.

I did not like this book.

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Selling Books with Pulp Paper

During World War I and World War II, Grosset and Dunlap used pulp paper in its books due to paper shortages.  Cupples and Leon also used pulp paper in its books during World War II.  Other publishers such as Goldsmith, Whitman, and World Publishing Company used pulp paper in all of their books. 

Pulp paper does not age well.  I have now collected books for 28 years.  Grosset and Dunlap books from World War II with pulp paper were not in good shape 28 years ago, and I have noticed a significant decrease in condition of those books since that time.  The condition will only get worse as more time passes.

I don't know how much longer the books can even last in usable condition.  By the time the books are 100 years old, they may begin disintegrating.  Some books are already at that point.  I have seen a few Kay Tracey Cupples and Leon books with pulp paper from World War II with what I call "binding rot."  The binding looks like it is turning into compost.  Pieces fall out, and the paper detaches from the binding.  Add another 25 to 50 years, and far more of the books will have binding rot.

Selling books with pulp paper is quite problematic.  I seldom have books that I have sold returned to me due to buyer dissatisfaction, but when books are returned, they are usually returned because of pulp paper.

I try to convey to buyers in such a way that they know that the books have pulp paper.  I can do this easier on eBay, since I can use different colors of font in my listings in order to draw attention to the pulp paper.  I show a photograph of the pulp paper to try to get the point across.

On Etsy, I show a photo of the pulp paper and mention it in the description, but I cannot use a different color of font.  The way the pictures display in Etsy listings may make it less likely that buyers will view all photos and see the pulp paper.  I recently had a Nancy Drew book with pulp paper that was purchased on Etsy returned for a refund due to buyer dissatisfaction.  I decided to pull all of my Nancy Drew books with pulp paper off of Etsy.  It's just not worth the potential trouble.

The first two photos show the books that I just pulled off of Etsy.  The Message in the Hollow Oak with dust jacket seen on the right is the book that sold and was returned to me.



These next books have dust jackets and pulp paper.  They are extras that have not been listed for sale yet.



These last books are primarily books with condition issues that make them undesirable to sell individually.  The first three books in this group have pulp paper.  The rest of the books have good quality paper, although the paper looks similar to pulp paper due to the rough condition of the books.



I am going to place the books with jackets in individual listings on eBay.  The rest of the books will go in bulk lots.  For books like these, I strive to be blunt and make the books sound not that great.  Sometimes I try to make the books sound absolutely awful.  In those cases, the books are also priced really cheap.  I have never had one of my cheap bulk lots returned for a refund, so my approach seems to work well.

Saturday, August 17, 2019

Dana Girls #7 The Mystery of the Locked Room

In Dana Girls #7, The Mystery of the Locked Room, Mrs. Crandall is thinking of purchasing a piece of property at Moon Lake to use as a camp for the girls of Starhurst.  Five girls are chosen to go on an exploratory trip to Moon Lake, including the Dana girls and Lettie Briggs.  The house that is located on the property may be haunted.  Jean and Louise must prove that the house is not haunted before Mrs. Crandall will consider purchasing the property.

After playing tennis, Jean and Louise are walking along when Jean swings her racket to demonstrate a serve.  Jean doesn't realize that a man is walking close behind the girls, and she hits him in the head with the racket.  Of course, the man is Lettie's friend, and she blames Jean.  On page 17, Jean complains, "It isn't fair, for I am entirely blameless."  Huh?  Jean did swing the racket, so she did cause the accident.  She didn't do it on purpose and shouldn't be accused of intentional harm, but she is hardly blameless.

Moon Lake is the location of the proposed girls' camp.  Moon Lake is also a location used in the Nancy Drew series.

On page 175, Jean and Louise worry about Applecore possibly eloping with Toby.  Jean comments, "Applecore isn't very bright, but she is too good for that shiftless fellow."  Toby was previously described as "moronic."  Cora Appel is rather a moron herself, so it seems to me that the two would make a perfect couple.

On page 210, Mona explains about her past.  She wandered away from her grandmother's home and was taken to a children's home.  Mona explains, "I was very happy in the institution."  Say what?!  Mona was happy to be in a children's home instead of with her grandmother.  This makes no sense!

This is a very good book.

On the Run with Trixie Belden Books

This is too good not to share.  This morning I was in a very light sleep.  Really, I just needed to get up and didn't want to bother.  This is when I usually remember the more outlandish dreams.

I was first outside an apartment complex where someone was selling just a few Nancy Drew matte picture covers and one Three Investigators hardcover book (Talking Skull) on some tables with other junk.  I had to go back home to get some cash.  But then the person and books disappeared.  Then they were back, but I wasn't able to get the books because someone else picked them up.

Later, I was in Dallas, barefoot, and on the run.  Some mysterious, evil organization was after me.  I was hoping to find some bookstores.  I'm not sure why, since it seemed that I had far bigger problems.  I passed by an appliance store with a large inventory of books on cooking and self-help books.  Bummer.

I then took refuge with some people who had two deluxe and two oval Trixie Belden books.  They told me that my location had been discovered and that I didn't have much time.  They (the people) disappeared.

I had to make an escape.  I took the four Trixie Belden books.  I didn't take the microwave popcorn, because I wasn't in the mood.  Besides, I couldn't take the microwave with me.

I went to the back of the house.  I climbed a staircase that led to a high window.  I opened it and climbed down a ladder that was attached to the outside wall.  The back of the house was in the deep woods, and by the way, I was still barefoot.  Why did I not find shoes while inside the house?  It was dark, and I worried about poison ivy.  A bright light appeared from above.  A spotlight!  Oh, no!  I made a run for it, Trixie Belden books in hand, and I woke up.

I assume that the dream was a merging of a young adult apocalyptic story with my interest in book collecting.  Let's face it; I was basically stealing Trixie Belden books from someone's house.  This is bad behavior, but in a story about an apocalyptic disaster, society collapses and everyone steals from everyone else.  It's curious that it was more important to take the Trixie Belden books than to take bottled water and other supplies.  I certainly wouldn't have lasted long on the run.

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Nancy Drew Files Hardcover Library Editions

In the last couple of years, I decided to begin working on a set of the Nancy Drew Files in hardcover library editions.  Library editions are books that were rebound in a hardcover library binding.  All of the Nancy Drew Files library editions were once softcover books.

These books should not be confused with the set of 10 Nancy Drew Files books that were issued in a large format hardcover edition by Grey Castle Press.  Some of you will be surprised to learn that I have no interest in the books issued by Grey Castle Press.  I dislike books that are much larger than other similar books.  For the same reason, I do not collect some international edition Nancy Drew books that are quite large in format.  It's just an oddity I have.  Each of us has certain odd habits with respect to collecting, and often those odd habits make no sense to anyone else.

I want my Nancy Drew Files hardcover books to be the same size as the paperback books, so I have to go with the books rebound as hardcover books.

I recently added six hardcover Nancy Drew Files books to my set.



The books are in rough shape with lots of wear and tear.  My purpose when collecting library editions is simply to get a copy of each book.  I have to accept many books in rough shape.  When collecting library editions, one must expect a significant percentage of the books to be in rough shape.

I now have 54 of the 124 Nancy Drew Files books in hardcover.


Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Dana Girls #6 The Circle of Footprints

In Dana Girls #6, The Circle of Footprints, Louise and Jean become acquainted with the Doke family, who are very poor and in need of money.  Mason Doke's plane crashes and he later dies, leaving Mrs. Doke a widow.  A box of money is found in the Dokes' home, but Mrs. Doke fears that the money was stolen by her husband, so she refuses to use it.  The Danas are forced to hide the money for Mrs. Doke after a prowler tries to steal it.  Meanwhile, the girls try to find the actual owners of the money.

It is ridiculous how the girls continue to move the money from place to place, including a shed, a cellar, a cave, and a rocky ledge.  The money is placed everywhere except where it would actually be safe.

The plot of this book goes in circles, so the title is rather appropriate.  The story consists of way too many bizarre and improbable coincidences.  The Danas have a list of people who were swindled.  Each person they find just happens to know the very next person on the list or has some information that will lead the girls to the next person on the list.  The result is a very disjointed story that is held together by the coincidence of each person knowing the next person.

The book is very good at the start, but it gradually gets tiring.  The story is overall good.

Sunday, August 11, 2019

Dana Girls #5 The Secret at the Hermitage

In Dana Girls #5, The Secret at the Hermitage, a former prison warden, Harold Norton, mistakenly believes that Louise is an escaped inmate, Nina Regan.  Louise bears some resemblance to Nina Regan, and nothing anyone says can convince Norton that Louise is not Nina.  Harold relentlessly pursues Louise, putting her in grave danger.

Meanwhile, the girls chance to become acquainted with Nina Regan and believe that she is innocent of the crime for which she was convicted.  The girls work to uncover evidence that will prove Nina's innocence.

It is a bit scary for the ex-warden to harass and try to capture Louise.  This makes the story quite suspenseful.

This book has some unusual events that are rather Kay Tracey-esque.  On page 93, an enraged tiger is stopped after it is hit in the nose by a box of chocolates.  The tiger begins licking at the chocolates, forgetting that it was angry and on the rampage.  On page 134, the hermitage is suddenly buried by a landslide.

On page 139, Nina communicates with the Danas by tapping out letters.  Jean proclaims that the code is simple.  "One tap for A, two for B, and so on."  Um, that would also mean 13 taps for M, 19 taps for S, and 26 taps for Z.  What kind of a stupid code is that?  It would take forever to send simple messages.  Of course, Nina and the Danas send lengthy messages back and forth without any trouble.

This is an excellent book.

Saturday, August 10, 2019

The Nancy Pembroke Series

The Nancy Pembroke series consists of seven books published by A. L. Burt under the pseudonym of Margaret T. Van Epps.  According to James Keeline, the books were written by Helen M. Persons.

1. Nancy Pembroke, College Maid, 1930
2. Nancy Pembroke's Vacation in Canada, 1930
3. Nancy Pembroke, Sophomore at Roxford, 1930
4. Nancy Pembroke in New Orleans, 1930
5. Nancy Pembroke, Junior, 1930
6. Nancy Pembroke in Nova Scotia, 1931
7. Nancy Pembroke, Senior, 1931

Some online sources indicate uncertainty about the correct order of the books in the series.  The books are listed in one order on each copyright page and in a different order on the back panel of each dust jacket.  Copyright registration records do not help, since five of the books were registered on the same date in yet another order.  I can confirm that the list seen above shows the correct order for the set.

I have always been interested in the Nancy Pembroke series but not to the point of trying to find the books.  Many years ago, I heard about the hazing that occurs in the books and how it is a bit outrageous.  I have also heard that the series is considered to be odd.  This made me curious.  Probably once every few years, I thought about the series and briefly considered trying to acquire them.  I never followed through.

The books are quite hard to find in the original A. L. Burt editions, which have good quality paper.  The books are readily available in the World Publishing Company edition, but those books have poor quality paper that has turned brown.  I dislike purchasing books with pulp paper and avoid them whenever possible.  My interest in acquiring the Nancy Pembroke books has never been strong enough for me to want to purchase the books with pulp paper.

The series is in the public domain.  Five of the seven books are on Google Books, but I will never read them.  I do fine with reading modern young adult books through the Kindle app on my iPad, but that is a completely different situation.  I find that with old books, I will never get around to reading any of them in a digital format.  I know that they are available and waiting, but there are thousands of digital books out there.  Those books aren't going away, and I feel no urgency in getting around to any of them.  On the other hand, when I actually see the old books in a bookcase near me taking up shelf space, I am motivated to try them.  I must get around to reading them so that I can decide whether to keep them.

For those reasons, I never did get around to acquiring or trying the Nancy Pembroke series.  Recently, I was checking eBay, which I do far more often than I will admit.  I saw a set of six Nancy Pembroke A. L. Burt books with dust jackets that had just been listed.  The lot had a Buy It Now of $49.95 with free shipping.  I couldn't go wrong at that price, even if I ended up not liking the books.  A. L. Burt series books with dust jackets are typically very hard to find.  I purchased the lot, which ended up costing $54.50 with the added sales tax.

I then looked around for the seventh book in an A. L. Burt edition and found exactly one copy available.  Score!  In just a few minutes, I had secured the entire set of Nancy Pembroke books in the A. L. Burt edition with good quality paper.  I was finally going to be able to read the set!




Reviews will follow.

Thursday, August 8, 2019

Dana Girls #4 A Three-Cornered Mystery

In Dana Girls #4, A Three-Cornered Mystery, Jean and Louise are invited to spend the weekend with Edith Darrow, their new friend.  The girls chance to find some papers hidden in the barn, and the papers belong to Ed Carillo, a man wanted for stealing from his employer.  Jean and Louise spend the night in the barn hoping that Carillo will show up to claim the papers.

While the Danas are in the barn, an injured man shows up, and the Darrows disappear!  Jean and Louise wonder what happened to Edith as they try to follow Carillo's track.

The book is titled A Three-Cornered Mystery because of three locations with "corner" in the name.  Two towns are named Rocky Corner and Spring Corner, and the culprit is found to be staying at the Three Corners Apartments.

The Danas drive to New York City.  They leave their home in Oak Falls in the morning and reach a city 100 miles from New York City in the afternoon of the same day.  On page 161, "They were swept up in the stream of New Jersey traffic, crossed the Hudson River, and finally found themselves in the roar and bustle of Manhattan."  The Danas live fairly close to New York City and are to the west or south of the city.  I like the idea of the Danas living in Virginia.

This is an excellent book.

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

2019 Nancy Drew Coloring Book by Mika Ingerman

Nancy Drew fan Mika Ingerman has created a coloring book based on classic Nancy Drew illustrations.  This coloring book was published under the licensing agreement between Simon and Schuster and the Nancy Drew Sleuths. 






The coloring book is softcover with a spiral binding. 

Since the coloring book is being printed through limited print runs, it has to be preordered.  The first printing shipped out recently, and those of us who preordered the first printing received the coloring book in the last few days or will soon receive it.  The second printing will be ready in the middle of September.  Fans are often reluctant to preorder items like this, but that is the only way items like this can be made available. 

The coloring book can be ordered via the Sleuth Shop at the Nancy Drew Sleuths website.

I wrote this post so that those of you who are not on Facebook or are not in the Facebook groups know about the existence of this new coloring book.  Please note that the Sleuth Shop is run by Jennifer Fisher of the Nancy Drew Sleuths and that she and I are not the same person.  My name is Jennifer White.  If you need more information about the coloring book, contact Jennifer Fisher through her website.

Monday, August 5, 2019

Dana Girls #3 In the Shadow of the Tower

In Dana Girls #3, In the Shadow of the Tower, Jean and Louise try to help Josy Sikes, an orphaned hunchback who has lost a $1000 bill.  Josy's money is found by a hunter, who unintentionally makes Josy feel bad because of her deformity.  Josy and the hunter both run away in separate incidents.  The Dana Girls try to find both missing people.

This story is a mess, but I like it.  The first two books in the series read very much like early Nancy Drew books.  This book reads more like the typical crazy Kay Tracey book.

The idea of a young girl carrying around a $1000 bill is absurd.  Even for today, carrying around a $1000 bill sounds stupid.  Consider that the $1000 bill would now be worth $19,000, which is a ridiculous amount of money for a young girl to be carrying around.

This story is full of racial stereotypes that come across as too stupid to be believed by the modern reader.  I read these things and am appalled that people who were not white were actually portrayed in such a horrible fashion.  All of the colored people roll their eyes and are scared to death over practically nothing.  They see Josy with her hunchback and actually think she is a monster.  The hunchback could not have been that bad.  It is ridiculous and hard to believe.

Despite the craziness of the story, I thoroughly enjoyed it.  This is an excellent book.

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Dana Girls #2 The Secret at Lone Tree Cottage

In Dana Girls #2, The Secret at Lone Tree Cottage, Jean and Louise are worried when their favorite teacher, Miss Tisdale, disappears.  Miss Tisdale's car is soon found abandoned, and it's clear that the teacher has been abducted.

The girls learn that Miss Tisdale has a sister, Mrs. Brixton, who is estranged from their parents.  Miss Tisdale has been supporting Mrs. Brixton, who is now in great need without her sister's support.  The police cannot be contacted since it is believed that the shock of learning of Miss Tisdale's disappearance could kill her father.  The Danas have no choice but to try to solve the mystery with only Captain Dana's assistance.

On page 173, Captain Dana tells the girls about the boy who was hired by a man to pick up a letter at the post office.  The boy took the letter to the man, and then the man drove off.  The boy somehow knew the license plate number.  That's a bit amazing that a boy who was paid to do a small job just happened to note and remember the license plate.  Wow.

This story features a live radio show, which dates the story.  It's not surprising that this book was dropped during the second run of the series in the 1970s.  However, all books written by Mildred Wirt Benson were dropped for the second run, so the story being dated was not the real reason.

This is a very good book.

Monday, July 29, 2019

Dana Girls #1 By the Light of the Study Lamp

In Dana Girls #1, By the Light of the Study Lamp, Uncle Ned purchases a present for Jean and Louise, a study lamp which the girls intend to use in their room at Starhurst.  Shortly after the lamp arrives, it is stolen!  The girls track the lamp to a junk store, where they purchase it.

Meanwhile, the Danas' friend, Evelyn Starr, may not be able to remain a student at Starhurst.  Evelyn's family once owned the property which is now used for the school.  The Starrs have lost their fortune, and even worse, Evelyn's brother, Franklin, has disappeared!

On page 18, Garbone insists, "I know nothing about a lamp.  I am not a thief.  I am an honest business man."  Right.  I find that many people who go around declaring their honesty are actually dishonest.  Garbone fits this pattern perfectly.

I had never thought that the price of $50 for the study lamp was off, and that is because I wasn't thinking about it.  $50 is fine now, but $50 in 1934 is quite a high price.  That amount is equivalent to around $950 today.  Can you image two high school girls paying $950 for a lamp?  The Dana Girls must be very wealthy to be able to throw money around like that, especially considering that the $50 is used to repurchase their own lamp.

Jean and Louise get back at their rivals, Lettie and Ina, by adding red pepper to cream puffs and placing them where Lettie and Ina will find them.  At times, the Danas are no better than Lettie and Ina.

On page 138, it's extremely improbable that Evelyn doesn't recognize her own brother in disguise.  She doesn't recognize his voice.  This is impossible to believe.

This is a very good book.

Saturday, July 27, 2019

An Overview of the Dana Girls Series

Please read this post for a list of Dana Girls titles and an explanation about which Dana Girls books were revised.

Both the Dana Girls and Kay Tracey series were created during the early 1930s by the Stratemeyer Syndicate as rival series to the much more successful Nancy Drew series.  Both the Dana Girls and Kay Tracey series have had a convoluted publishing history with periods of time when each series was out of print and then revived.  Both series are currently out of print, probably for good.

The Dana Girls and Kay Tracey series are very similar.  Both series feature girls who solve mysteries.  The girls have a jealous rival who quite often causes lots of trouble.  It has been theorized that rejected Nancy Drew plot ideas might have been used for both series.  The plots of both series tend to be crazier and more absurd than the Nancy Drew plots.  For this reason, the Dana Girls and Kay Tracey series are often compared to each other.

On February 2, 2018, I wrote, "I have a special fondness for Kay Tracey, but I probably like the Dana Girls series better."  I actually really didn't remember exactly how I felt, but most everyone else seems to like the Dana Girls series better, so I figured that was the case.  A few months later, I read all of the Kay Tracey books again.  I was pleased that I enjoyed them as much as ever.  I began to suspect that I might not like the Dana Girls series quite as much as I once did.

After I had read through a number of the Dana Girls books this summer, I wrote in reference to my previous comment, "Let's revise that statement. 'I have a special fondness for Kay Tracey, and I like the Kay Tracey series better.' "  I have now finished reading the entire Dana Girls series, and in my opinion, it is overall weaker than the Kay Tracey series.

I consider the Kay Tracey series to be overall very good.  There's a good reason why.  The Kay Tracey series consists of 18 titles, which are all equally good.  The series underwent no major change in tone or quality during the years it was published.

The Dana Girls series quite unfortunately consists of 34 titles.  If the series had ended with just 10 titles, I would consider it to be an excellent series.  If it had ended with 12 to 18 titles, then I would consider it to be a very good series.  Sometimes we wish that excellent short series had continued longer.  The Dana Girls series serves as an example of what happens when a series is allowed to continue on and on until it deteriorates into an insipid mess.

The Dana Girls series can be divided into four parts.

#1 By the Light of the Study Lamp through #14 The Clue in the Ivy

#1-4 were written by Leslie McFarlane, and #5-14 were written by Mildred Wirt Benson.  All of these books were written during the 1930s and 1940s.  All of these books have 25 chapters.  #14 was not published until 1952, but it was actually written during 1944 and fits with the first 13 books.  These books are the golden age of the Dana Girls series.  These books tend to be very good to excellent.  They are a strong group of stories, and they are just as good as the original text Nancy Drew books.

#15 The Secret of the Jade Ring through #18 The Clue of the Black Flower

These books are the transition books.  All four books have 25 chapters.  These books are the first ones containing educational content, such as the history of jade or how to make artificial flowers.  The educational content is often boring and reads like it was lifted out of an encyclopedia.

Mildred Wirt Benson wrote #15 and #16.  Her writing style for #15 and #16 is different than it was for #5-14 for two reasons.  First, #15 was written eight years after #14.  Second, Benson had to insert educational content into the stories.  Harriet Adams took over writing the series with #17, and the series quickly went downhill from there.

#19 The Winking Ruby Mystery through #24 The Secret of Lost Lake

All of these books were written by Harriet Adams.  These books are excessively educational, which makes them rather boring.  This portion of the series is one big travelogue with lots of information about various destinations.  The plots are often quite stupid and not in an entertaining fashion.

By this time, Harriet Adams was writing all of the Nancy Drew and Dana Girls books.  The Nancy Drew books from this time period are better.  My theory is that Harriet concentrated her efforts on the Nancy Drew books and turned out an inferior product for the Dana Girls series.

#25 The Mystery of the Stone Tiger through #30 The Phantom Surfer followed by #14 The Curious Coronation through #17 The Witch's Omen from the 2nd series

Harriet Adams wrote all of these books, and the plots tend to be a bit stupid and bizarre.  I actually like this group of books better than the previous group, mostly because the travelogue aspect is gone.  I also surmise that Harriet Adams was more comfortable in her writing and was able to produce a better product.  That said, the final four books in the 2nd series were first published when Harriet Adams was 84 to 87 years of age.  Harriet's writing ability was better, but her health was also failing, which resulted in the final Dana Girls books being a bit... strange.

By the way, I have noticed that generous usage of the words "chuckled," "grinned," and "amazed" are indicators that Harriet Adams did indeed write the books.  It is unknown whether all books attributed to Harriet Adams were actually written by her, since she signed releases for many books years after the books were published.  I feel confident that Harriet Adams did actually write all Dana Girls books that are attributed to her.

My reviews will follow.  I find that my opinion of many of the books from #16 and up differs greatly from what other people think.  For that reason, do not use my opinion on those books to guide you on whether those books are worth reading.  I cannot stand some books that others love, and I get a huge kick out of some books that others cannot stand.  That's why I hate it when people ask me which books are the best in a series.  That depends on you.

Friday, July 26, 2019

Wildfire #81 The Ten Cupcake Romance and #82 The Wrong Love

81. The Ten Cupcake Romance, M. L. Kennedy, 1986

Every time Amy Miller falls in love she eats her heart out—literally.  Her latest craze is cupcakes, but when her friend Sharon finds Amy devouring a whole box of them, she knows Amy needs to find a hobby.  Why not become a romance novelist?

 Amy thinks it's a great idea, and Simon Adams, a cute English guy at school, fits right into the plot.  In fact, he's the main character!  Amy goes out with Simon to gather "data" for her book.  It's a good thing she’s sworn off boys.  She'd hate to let her feelings interfere with her work.  But what about Simon's feelings...?

This story is a bit silly, especially at the beginning.  The story was written in a humorous fashion.  The problem is that I don't want a funny Wildfire book.  The book is overall good, and I just marginally enjoyed it.

82. The Wrong Love, Kathryn Makris, 1986

When Carl Jenson first moved to the Texas border town where Sarita Valdez lives, he didn't even know what a taco was.  Sarita thought that was funny.  She liked Carl's sweetness and his warm blue eyes, too.  Sarita offers to show him around, and that's when she finds out that tacos aren't the only thing Carl knows nothing about.  Her friends' prejudice against "Snowbirds," or Anglos from the North, is very real.

Sarita never expected to fall in love with Carl, but now that she has, she's afraid her friends won't accept him, or—worse yet—that they'll expect her to break up with him.  How can Sarita's first love feel so right when everyone tells her it's so wrong?

The boyfriend is Karl, not Carl.  The name is spelled wrong in the synopsis.  Way to go, Scholastic!

On page 18, Sarita and her friend are referred to as the Bobbsey Twins.

The next paragraph spoils part of the ending.

Sarita realizes that her fears about her friends' prejudice were unfounded.  Carmen asks her, "Do you think that maybe the prejudice was coming from somewhere inside you, instead?"  Carmen further explains.  "Sometimes, Sarita, what we most fear in others is really inside ourselves."  I thought that this was an interesting development.  It also allowed for the author to wrap up the plot in a nice, neat package with everyone getting along happily ever after.

The cover photo really bothers me.  The girl looks like the typical Caucasian American.  Before I began reading the book, I barely glanced at the summary, since I find that the summaries often reveal way too much information that I would rather not know at the beginning of the book.  Since I barely glanced at the summary, I thought that the boyfriend would be the Latino, not the female protagonist.

The girl on the cover does not look Latino.  She could vaguely be, but she just looks like the girls on all of the covers.  This is so lame!  Scholastic should have used an obvious Latino girl.  I was so disappointed.

This is an excellent book.