Saturday, May 25, 2019

Wildfire #26 Nancy and Nick and #27 Tori/The Best Summer

Wildfire #26 Nancy and Nick, Caroline B. Cooney, 1982
Whenever I see a good-looking boy, I am impressed first and embarrassed second.  I am never quite sure what embarrasses me, but I start blushing as if I had written about him in my diary and he had just read it...
Nancy has lots of dream dates—but no real ones.  She never knows what to say or how to act around boys.

But with Nick it's different.  The first time they meet, they laugh and talk and joke, but Nick thinks of her as just a friend—and Nancy begins to wonder if all her dates will be dream dates... If only they didn't live so far apart.  They never get to see each other.

Then Nancy invites Nick to the Final Fling at her school.  She's so excited!  The last thing she expects is a disaster...

I never felt anything about the relationship in this book.  It was mostly nothing to me.  The book is overall good but just marginally interesting.

Wildfire #27 Tori/The Best Summer, Diane McClure, 1982

TORI—Tori has a quick answer, a joke, or an insult, for everyone—except Dom, the one boy she really cares about.  She never knows what to say to him and feels so confused and uncomfortable.  Does he want her to change?  Be more "ladylike"?  Can she become someone else?  

THE BEST SUMMER—For Sandy, summer is rowing and swimming and picnics... and Greg.  This should be her best summer ever!  She and Greg have both entered the community boat race.  But suddenly the race doesn't matter to Greg anymore—and maybe Sandy doesn't either.  She feels so hurt.  What went wrong?  Why doesn't he care?

And why should I care?

Tori/The Best Summer contains two stories, and I found both of them to be uninteresting and boring.  I read a little of each, skimmed, and abandoned both of them.  I do not like this book.

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Wildfire #24 Lisa and #25 Secret Love

Wildfire #24 Lisa, Arlene Hale, 1981

Brad and Lisa.  Lisa and Brad.  The most popular couple in Centerville High.  Always together, the center of attention.

Lisa is crushed when her parents announce that they're going abroad for the summer, and Lisa will be staying with her grandparents in tiny Reynolds, Iowa—on a farm.

Lisa hates Reynolds from the start.  She thinks she hates Charlie, too, the "country boy" from down the road.  But after a few weeks she's not so sure.  Charlie is caring and strong and sweet.  And by the end of the summer they're in love!

But Lisa is going back to Centerville.  Will Charlie still be important?  Or will Lisa get caught up in her old life... with Brad?

This is another misleading summary.  The book is about Lisa being rude to her grandparents, running around with horrible people, and ignoring people who are worthwhile.

Lisa is far too interested in being popular and being seen with popular kids for me to like her much.  She is clueless for practically the entire book.  The growth needs to happen a little sooner for me to enjoy reading the story.  I also didn't find Charlie that alluring.  The book is just okay until near the end when it gets better once Lisa finally gets a clue.

Wildfire #25 Secret Love, Barbara Steiner, 1982

The first red rose arrives after Mandy sprains her ankle.  The second one comes on her birthday.  The cards are not signed. 

Mandy hardly has time to think about it—her sophomore year is so confusing!  Matt wants to go steady, but Mandy’s not ready.  Pris, her best friend, is only interested in dating, so she and Mandy are growing apart.  And Ted,  her longtime friend, is acting distant and cool.

The roses remain a mystery—until ten more arrive the day of the Christmas dance, and Mandy
learns that secret love can be true love...

Mandy has no idea who is sending her roses, but it's pretty obvious to the reader which boy really likes her.

This is a good book.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Wildfire #22 Sixteen Can Be Sweet and #23 Take Care of My Girl

Wildfire #22 Sixteen Can Be Sweet, Maud Johnson, 1978

Jenny West is so happy—sweet sixteen and summer on the way!  But her life turns sour when her father's illness sends the Wests off to an isolated beach for the whole summer. 

Jenny's miserable until the bright morning when she looks up and finds herself face to face with Keith Ericson.  The golden days stretch ahead of them—days of walking on the beach, holding hands, sharing secrets. 

But too soon it's September—the summer is over—and Jenny wonders how can she bear to leave Keith...

This story reminds me somewhat of Augusta Huiell Seaman's books that are set on the Jersey coast.  Jenny's family is staying on the coast in order for her father to recover his health, and Jenny is lonely.  Seaman's coastal books feature similar plots.

The cover art amuses me.  The girl is so close to the fire that it appears that the fire is licking at her legs.  Yikes.

Wildfire #23 Take Care of my Girl, Carol Stanley, 1978

Kate never makes trouble—she does all the right things.  But her life is boring.  Then she goes to live with the Myers for a year and her whole life changes.  Aunt Caroline hangs loose about routine and rules.  But she makes Kate try things she has never tried before.  And her older cousin Laura shows Kate a new world of dating and boys.  And Andy?  Well, Andy teaches her all kinds of things—especially how to get a hard-to-get boy.

Neither of these books is special, but I enjoyed both of them.

Thursday, May 16, 2019

An Exciting Library Edition Find

A woman has been selling her deceased sister's series book collection in the Facebook groups.  The deceased collector was known to me, and I sold her a number of books years ago.  I decided to purchase an eclectic mixture of the books, focusing primary on library editions.  The books were purchased solely based on short descriptions provided in a number of spreadsheets.  I did not have pictures of the books.  I selected every library edition since I figured there was a chance the collector might have owned some variants that I did not have.  I also purchased some other miscellaneous books.

The books arrived today.  Here is a photo showing what I received.


The books were in small stacks wrapped in plastic, and I unwrapped one stack at a time.  I was dumbfounded—and rather excited—when I saw the following library edition of The Message in the Hollow Oak.



This binding is known as either the "Magnifying Glass" or "Cameo" library binding.  I have collected these books for 18 years.  I have 182—now 183—of them for Nancy Drew #1 through #34, except for one title that I have never seen anywhere.  Guess which title that is?  The Message in the Hollow Oak!

I have never understood why this one title has never before surfaced for me.  It wasn't logical that it would have been skipped in the sequence, but binderies do not necessarily rebind every title in a series.  I had pretty much decided that The Message in the Hollow Oak did not exist in this binding.  I am thrilled to be wrong.  The copy I have is pretty rough, but at least I now have one.  I never reject rough condition copies.  They are always stepping stones to better copies.  Most importantly, this copy proves that this title does exist in this format.

I also really like these library editions.  I like the spine design, and the books are in excellent condition.



This next book is neat.




All three outside edges are stained red.  This is the first library binding I have ever seen in this style.

As I gazed at the group of books, I wondered if I had just repurchased any books that I had sold to this collector.  It's been too many years to know what she purchased from me.  My eyes immediately fell on the Bound to Stay Bound binding of The Clue in the Diary that is seen in the top right corner of the first picture in this post.  Hmm.  The lettering "F" with "Kee" right beneath looks mighty familiar.

I opened the book, and it is from Houchin Elementary in the Moore Public Schools.  Moore, Oklahoma, is a city just to my south in the Oklahoma City metropolitan area.  That just about clinched it.  I immediately went to my set of Bound to Stay Bound books and spotted multiple books with the same lettering on the spine.  They are all from Houchin Elementary.  While I cannot remember any details, I know that I must have purchased a bulk lot of books that came from Houchin Elementary and sold all the extras.  The other three Bound to Stay Bound books that I just received today also came from Houchin Elementary.

It's likely that some of the other library editions came from me as well, although I will never know for sure.  Anyone who buys and sells series books over the years will end up with the same books coming back at times.  It probably happens more often than I realize, and I only know when the books have distinctive markings that are memorable.

Wildfire #20 A Kiss for Tomorrow and #21 A Place for Me

Wildfire #20 A Kiss for Tomorrow, Maud Johnson, 1981

A lightning bug flew between Nick and me.  Both of us reached out for it, our palms cupped.  We missed the bug, but our fingers touched and somehow Nick was holding my two hands in his, and he didn't turn them loose.  

The summer Edie dreaded turns out to be magic!  When she leaves Chicago to visit her father in the little town he's moved to, she doesn’t expect to meet someone like Nick—serious, sensitive, and tender. 

But he's older, a college student, and already has a girlfriend.  Even so, Edie's never felt so attracted to a boy, and wonders if she's falling in love...

This story has as subplot in which Edie and Nick end up solving a mystery.  This is a very good book.

Wildfire #21 A Place for Me, Helen Cavanagh, 1981

Jonathan is Colleen Kelly's secret!  He's her first boyfriend—sensitive and serious, and he understands her need for privacy.  Colleen doesn't want to share Jonathan with anyone, especially her big, noisy family!  So they meet alone, taking long, quiet rides on their horses.

But Colleen can't keep her secret forever.  Soon the Kellys find out about Jonathan.  They meet him, make him part of the family—and Colleen is scared.  She doesn't want their special relationship to change.  Can she hold onto him?  Will they still have enough time for themselves?

This story is quite compelling.  This is a very good to excellent book.

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Wildfire #18 The Voices of Julie and #19 Second Best

Wildfire #18 The Voices of Julie, Joan Oppenhemier, 1979

Julie can stay out with Nick as late as she wants.  She can skip homework or chores— she's got it made!  She lives with her easy going aunt Roz who lets her do anything.

Her only problem is Tony, her best friend's brother.  Tony doesn't approve of Julie.  He keeps trying to get her to shape up.  And he makes her so mad!  Julie wishes he would stay out of her life—until the unforgettable night when she gets lost in the fog...

The first half of the story is annoying and partially boring.  Julie does impressions, and they aren't funny in the book.  If I could have seen a live action version of Julie doing the impressions, then I might have found them entertaining.  I skipped over all of the impressions as well as the parts where Julie is the class clown.

Later in the story, Julie quits doing the impressions as she experiences personal growth.  This part of the story is much better.  The first part of the story is just okay, while the later part is very good.

Wildfire #19 Second Best, Helen Cavanagh, 1979

Shelly Barr thinks she's boring and plain, and always feels second best.  But Ryan Gallagher thinks she's someone special and wants to go steady with her!  She’s excited and happy—until her sister fixes her up with Nick, a sophisticated college boy.

Shelly tries to keep the date a secret, but Ryan finds out and angrily breaks up with her.  And Shelly's not even sure she likes Nick.  Their first date was such a disaster! 

Shelly's so worried.  All she wants is Ryan, but she wonders if a second-best girl can wind up in first place...

This story seems to have inspired the Sweet Valley High book, Lovestruck.  Shelly tries to act sophisticated, like Ken Matthews.  Shelly doesn't get her paper written, so she plagiarizes someone else's paper, just like Ken does.  As is typical, the back cover summary of the Wildfire book fails to mention these plot points.

This is a very good book.

Thursday, May 9, 2019

Wildfire #16 I Want to Be Me and #17 The Best of Friends

Wildfire #16 I Want to be Me, Dorothy Bastien, 1978

Starting over in a new school is hard for anybody.  But it's a disaster when your father is the new principal!  Donna's miserable at school—and at home.  Her parents don't trust her, and never let her go to parties or dances.

The only bright spot in Donna's life is Tack—strong, sensible, happy-go-lucky Tack.  Everybody likes him—except Donna's father.  He says Tack's too old for her, and forces Donna to break her very first date with him.  She's crushed and Tack doesn't understand.  Does Donna care about him enough to face her father's anger?

This book is not really a romance.  The story is about Donna's excessively strict parents who do not trust her at all.  As Donna copes with her loneliness, she becomes aware of the plight of the wild horses, which are being killed by ranchers.  Donna must go against her parents in order to help the horses.  Donna also does a little investigating as she tries to discover what a neighbor is doing in his old barn.

This story is quite compelling.  It is excellent.

Wildfire #17 The Best of Friends, Jill Ross Klevin, 1981

Allison Lawrence has given up hope.  She's convinced that Bobby Stern, the boy of her dreams, will never notice her.

It takes gorgeous Susannah Ellis to turn Allison's life around.  The girls agree to swap—Allison will help Susannah improve her grades, and Susannah will help Allison improve her looks... and win Bobby!

Before she knows it, Bobby asks Allison for a date, and soon they're going steady.  But Allison's dream bubble bursts when Bobby starts mentioning a friend named Judy... and breaking dates. 


Miserable and confused, Allison decides to break up with Bobby—and has the surprise of her life!

I had previously tried to read the two books by Jill Ross Klevin that came earlier in the Wildfire set.  I was not able to read either book due to finding them to be completely boring.  For that reason, I didn't want to give this book a chance.

I started reading it and noted the same excessive detail about the physical attributes and personalities of both Allison and Susannah.  I quit reading and read a few other books.  I tried again and finally managed to get out of the first chapter, which is terribly boring.

The story greatly improves after the first chapter.  While the synopsis does describe the general plot, the book is more about Allison becoming friends with Susannah, who is completely different from her, than it is about romance.  I found the girls' relationship to be fascinating as it developed through the story.  This is a very good book.

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Wildfire #14 Yours Truly, Love, Janie and #15 The Summer of the Sky-Blue Bikini

14. Yours Truly, Love, Janie, Ann Reit, 1981
GOOD LOOKING COWBOY, sensitive, intelligent, 21 years old wishes to correspond with equally understanding, sophisticated, city girl.
Janie Downs, unsophisticated, small town, sixteen-year-old, sees the magazine ad and knows it's the "something exciting" she's been waiting for!  She begins writing secretly to Duke McCoy and pretends she's all the things he wants—including older.

Peter, Janie's boyfriend—good-looking, smart, fun, and the star of the basketball team—adores Janie.  But when she loses herself in her dreams of Duke, Peter gets tired of being second best... and walks away. 

Then Duke writes that he's coming for a visit, and Janie panics!  What will Duke think when he meets the real Janie?  And has she lost Peter forever?

This book is hard to enjoy because Janie is a complete idiot.  When Jessica Wakefield pulls stunts like this, the reader is in for a lot of fun.  Janie... not so much.  I cringed my way through the entire book.  I only marginally enjoyed this story.

15. The Summer of the Sky-Blue Bikini, Jill Ross Klevin, 1978

"I guess what it comes down to is I'll have to choose. Guy—or Stacy and the other kids.  Them or Guy.  I can't have them both.”

Abby's summer on Castle Island is a lot of fun—at first.  She's popular with the kids.  They invite her to parties, and Abby is the center of attention! 

Then she meets Guy.  He's Abby's dream-boy, with blond hair and a terrific smile!  But the other kids don't like him.  He's an outsider to their in-group. 

Abby knows she must make a choice... and it won't be easy.

I could not read this book.  I found it uninteresting.

Sunday, May 5, 2019

Wildfire #12 Dance with Me and #13 One Day You'll Go

Wildfire #12 Dance With Me, Winifred Madison, 1981

"If there's anything in my life I regret, it's the day my mother invited you here," Margo spat at her cousin, Jennifer.  "You've snatched away the only person I ever cared about."

When Jennifer spends the summer with her sophisticated cousin, she leaves behind everything she loves—her family, life on the ranch, and Russ... Or does she love Russ?  She's not sure. 

She's even more confused when she finds herself drawn to Margo's boyfriend, Gary.  She's afraid of hurting Margo... and Russ.  Besides, Gary wants so much from her, and Jennifer doesn't know whether she's willing to change—for anybody.

The story starts out very slow with way too much excruciating detail about the ranch.  I was so bored.  Pretty much the first half of the book is full of filler.  The second half of the book is pretty good.  The last part is quite interesting.

13. One Day You'll Go, Sheila Schwartz, 1981

Kathy knew, with a certainty from deep within, that one day she would find Chris gone...

Chris just appears that summer, a dirty hitchhiker with no place to go, and Kathy’s family takes him in. 

During the golden days that follow, Kathy learns what love is.  She and Chris take long walks in the evenings, share secrets, and always know what the other is thinking. 

But Chris is a "drifter," and Kathy's afraid he'll leave as unexpectedly as he arrived. 

Then comes the disaster that changes Kathy and Chris forever...

This is an excellent book.

Thursday, May 2, 2019

Wildfire #9 Dreams Can Come True, #10 I've Got a Crush on You, and #11 An April Love Story

Wildfire #9 Dreams Can Come True, Jane Claypool Miner, 1981

Ellynne has secret dreams... of being being beautiful, of being popular in her new school, of being a cheerleader.  And she dreams of having a handsome boyfriend.

So far her dreams are coming true.  She sheds 30 pounds and ends up a perfect size 10.  She meets Willie, Redondo High's most popular girl, who introduces her to lots of new friends and helps her with cheerleader tryouts.

And then she meets Kip.  He's the most gorgeous boy in the world.  But he already has a girl friend—cute, bouncy Merri.

Is it right for Ellynne to want to date him?  All she knows is that Kip is very, very special...

I never felt anything about Kip and couldn't understand why Ellynne is so attracted to him, especially when another boy, who is nice, is interested in her.

The next paragraph spoils part of the ending, so do not read it if you want to avoid all spoilers.

Ellynne's new friend, Willie, is black.  Willie's a cheerleader, and the squad has room for just two other girls.  One of the girls who gets chosen is white and is clearly the best.  Another girl is black and is probably the second best.  Willie doesn't expect the black girl to get chosen because she expects that the school will want to keep the squad with two white girls and just one black girl.  In a surprise twist, the black girl is chosen, so the squad ends up with two black girls and one white girl.  That was a pleasant surprise.

This is an overall good book.

Wildfire #10 I’ve Got a Crush on You, Carol Stanley, 1980

"He's never going to notice you.  And if he does, then what are you going to do?  It's just doomed from the start."

When Beth's best friend tells her this, Beth knows it's too late.  Doomed or not, she has a heart-stopping crush on Terry Evans, who is young, green-eyed, interesting, and who also happens to be her English teacher.

Beth wonders if the extra attention he is paying to her is just because he's trying to be a good teacher.  Or is it possible he feels something else?  Beth is willing to risk a lot to find out, even losing Matt.

This passage from page 74 made me laugh.
...he led her to the oldest, most dilapidated car among the dozen or so there.  A teacher's car.  Beth wondered if there were special lots where they sold used cars only to teachers—no car newer than ten years old, none without at least one rusted-out fender, all with unbent coathangers for radio antenna.
This book annoyed me at first, since relationships with teachers are taboo.  I don't know what the laws were in 1980, but such a thing is certainly illegal now.  By well into the story, I was okay with the plot, even though I knew that the teacher relationship would not likely go anywhere.  They wouldn't dare have it work out, for obvious reasons.  The book is overall good.

Wildfire #11 An April Love Story, Caroline B. Cooney, 1981

"Today," My father announced, "I bought a farm in North Carolina. We're leaving the city, Marnie.  We're going back to the land."  

Back to the land?  Leaving the city?  Marnie Macdonald can't believe her ears.  Her parents must be kidding. 

Worse, they're going with the Petersons...  sharing a house with them.  And Marnie can't stand their son, Lucas.  At first.  

But by April, when the MacDonalds and Petersons have lived and worked together for almost a year, Marnie finds herself head-over-heels in love with Lucas!  Now if Lucas would only notice...

The very beginning of the story did not interest me much.  After that, I found the book to be very good to excellent.  This is the first book written by Caroline B. Cooney that I actually enjoyed, which was a relief since I have purchased other books by her.

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Wildfire #6 Funny Girl Like Me, #7 Just Sixteen, and #8 Suzy Who?

Wildfire #6 A Funny Girl Like Me, Jan O’Donnell, 1980

Everything is new for Jeanne.  She's in a new town, going to a new school.  She yearns to be part of the "in" group, to be going to parties with the right crowd.  When she discovers a way to be the life of every party, she's Miss Popularity, always in demand.  Only Tim, who isn't part of the "right" crowd but is the right boy for Jeanne, doesn't like what she's doing.

But it all seems worth it, until Jeanne finds out that being a funny girl isn't always a laughing matter.

The part of the story with the raccoon annoyed me, and I skipped over it.  Jeanne gets this crazy idea to take a slightly tame raccoon to a party to impress her teacher.  The raccoon ends up tearing up the house.  I couldn't believe Jeanne's stupidity, since she seems pretty intelligent.

At the beginning of the story, Jeanne doesn't seem like the type who would play the part of the class clown.  It comes out of nowhere and never makes sense to me.

The book is overall good, but I was never that interested.

Wildfire #7 Just Sixteen, Terry Morris, 1980

Nancy can't believe that a popular superstar like Roger Ames could fall for her.  Even though he's dated lots of older, prettier girls, he treats Nancy like she's something special.  But Nancy's just sixteen and Roger keeps forgetting.  He always seems to expect too much and he always wants everything his way.  Like planning a ski trip for Christmas vacation for just the two of them!  Of course Nancy's parents wouldn't dream of letting her go. 

Nancy's so confused—one moment she's sure she loves Roger more than anything, the next she thinks he's just a spoiled, rich kid.  Is this how she's supposed to feel if she's really in love?

The names used in this story gave me pause.  The main character is Nancy Hughes, and she lives on Cherry Lane.  Her boyfriend is Roger Ames.  The young people like going to a diner named Hardy's.  The author must have been having a little fun with names from series books.

The ending of the story is vague about Nancy and Roger's future.  I don't think they are a good fit, and I'm not sure they have a future.  Overall, this is a good book.

#8 Suzy Who?, Winifred Madison, 1979

It is her first year of high school and Suzy prays that this year will be different—new friends, parties, lots of dates—not just sitting around with the other girls. She wants to be "Suzy Somebody" and maybe even fall in love. Then she meets Peter Gilbert and finds out about love... and heartbreak... and she wishes desperately that she could be "Suzy Nobody" again!

Suzy is so annoying.  Her love for Peter Gilbert is illogical.  Peter is so clearly not interested in Suzy at all.  Even worse, Suzy constantly daydreams, and the daydreams are fairly long and often start suddenly in the middle of scenes.  I ended up confused at times.  I also found the daydreams to be quite boring.

The book is overall good, but it is not very compelling.

Sunday, April 28, 2019

Recent Transaction Problems

I have had a number of problems with transactions so far this year.  Some of these problems caused me great stress and impacted how well I felt in the following days.  This is the worst stretch I have ever had with inconsiderate or overly emotional people.

USPS Inefficiency

The USPS was negligent in its handling of a package that contained a large number of international edition series books.  I would hate for any package to go missing, but this one would have been an epic disaster, since the books could not have been replaced.  By the way, I have never forgiven USPS for losing a set of A. L. Burt Beverly Gray books with dust jackets in the late 1990s.  But I digress.

The package that contained 23 international edition series books was mailed on February 25 and should have arrived in Florida by March 4-6.  The buyer contacted me on March 11 asking if I had any additional information about the package location.  I was quite bothered when I saw that the package had left my post office on February 25 and had disappeared without another scan.

I went to USPS.com and completed the form to initiate a search request.  I probably spent 30 minutes filling out the search request.  Trying to list books printed in other languages isn't easy.  I settled on using key words, like stating that a certain number of books were in Swedish with "Vicki" located somewhere on the front cover.  I made similar statements for the books from other series.  I wanted someone not familiar with the books to be able to spot them easily.  The contents have to be described so that they can be located if the package has been destroyed and the contents scattered.

Due to the nature and scarcity of the books contained in this package, it would have been a disaster if the package had been lost.  I was not happy.  Three days after I filed the search request, the package was apparently found in Dallas, which is where it should have been scanned no later than February 26 or 27.  I don't understand where the package was for the 17 days it took for the package to leave my post office and arrive in Dallas.  The drive from Oklahoma City to Dallas is no more than four hours.

I was relieved that the package had been located, but then it vanished again.  The package was never scanned as having left Dallas, so I was left hanging for six more days until it finally arrived and was delivered in Florida.  This was ridiculous.  Click on the image to see a larger version.


Fortunately, the package was fine and had not been damaged.  Lengthy package delays are typically caused when the package gets destroyed, but that was not the case with this one.  I have to wonder if the package was laying around somewhere getting ignored for 17 days.  I don't get it.

Seller Mistakes

I purchased the first printing of Judy Bolton #3, The Invisible Chimes, from an eBay seller in late January.  First printings of the first three Judy Bolton books with dust jackets that list to Invisible Chimes are just as scarce as the first printings of the first three Nancy Drew books with dust jackets that list to Bungalow Mystery.  The Judy Bolton books are worth much less, but they are just as impossible to find.

About a week after I purchased the book, I received a set of Charles Dickens books instead of my book.  I was quite dismayed, since I knew that my book had to have been mailed to another buyer.  I felt a little sick, because not all buyers will cooperate and forward packages mistakenly mailed to them.  I feared that the other buyer might even throw the book in the trash.  I posted about the situation on Facebook, where others insisted that it would work out.  I wasn't convinced, since I've read too many bad stories about similar situations.

I informed the seller, who had me mail the Dickens books to the correct buyer.  I was reimbursed for the cost.  The seller was not able to determine where the book went.  I personally think the book went to the Dickens buyer, but the buyer didn't admit it.  I never did get my book.  That's why I was so upset when I opened up the package that contained the Dickens books.  Someone received my book and kept it.  I just hope that they didn't throw it away.

I was also reimbursed for the cost of the book, but that didn't get me my book.  Someone has my book.

Buyer Meltdowns

I understand that some buyers are ready to believe the worst, especially when another transaction has ended badly.  However, buyers should not be so quick to judge without even reviewing the situation.

I often split large lots into two boxes.  Sometimes I do send a message to the buyer informing them, but regardless, I always write "Box 1 of 2" and "Box 2 of 2" on the tops of the boxes.  Just reading that simple message should be enough to inform the buyer that another package will be arriving, probably in the next day or so.  Besides, the buyer does receive two shipping notices, one for each box, which should alert them that two packages are coming.

I recently mailed a set of books to a buyer in the two boxes labeled as described above.  I did not send a message.  I actually was planning to in this particular case, but it slipped my mind.  That was a mistake.  The buyer somehow did not see "Box 1 of 1" clearly written in black marker on the top of the box, which is probably the side of the box that the buyer would have cut open.  Anyway, she went into hysterics, sending a message asking where the other books were and begging me to send them.  I wasn't online at that particular moment.  Since I didn't respond, five minutes later she opened a case against me on eBay.

I was pretty annoyed, and I can assure you that I what I tell buyers in cases like this is not what I want to tell them.  I usually have to edit what I type several times to avoid being too combative.  I went with this.

Right, I meant to send you a message letting you know to expect two boxes. I forgot to do so. If you look at the box, you'll see that it is either labeled "Box 1 of 2" or "Box 2 of 2." I never place all of the books from a large shipment in one box, since heavier and bulkier boxes are more likely to be damaged. Half the books are in the other box. While annoying, boxes often get separated and end up on different trucks. That can cause the packages to arrive one or more days apart.

I then received a message asking about the tracking numbers.  She didn't know where to find them.  I told her where to find them, but I also went to USPS.com to see the exact status of both packages.  I determined that the second one was just slightly behind.  I pasted the tracking numbers into my response, telling her to expect the second package within two days.  It arrived the next day.

The buyer closed the case, but even cases closed by the buyer still count against the seller.  Take a look at this screen capture from my account.  Click on the image to see a larger version.


Even though the buyer canceled the case, eBay continues to count it against me.  eBay compares sellers to their peers, and notice that this one "return" places me at a higher percent than my peers.  If just one more buyer opens a case in the next year, I might be charged higher fees or have my top-rated seller status taken away.  Never open an eBay case against a seller unless you are 100% certain that the seller is messing with you.

Inconsiderate Buyers

I would just love to tell you who this person is, but I will refrain.  The buyer is a prominent seller on sites like Amazon, AbeBooks, Biblio, and others.

This person purchased a book from me, and then sent a message asking if I combine shipping.  I said that I do.  I made a grave error in not setting a time limit for combining orders.  I will never make that mistake again.

The buyer purchased a second book and sent a message thanking me for combining the orders.  I figured that the buyer was finished, which was my second grave error that evening.  I combined the orders in one box and refunded the extra postage.  Around 30 minutes after that, the buyer purchased some more books, each individually so that postage was charged on every order.  The buyer also sent another message thanking me for combining all the orders.  This time, I did nothing.  I waited.  Around four hours later, the buyer came back yet again and purchased another book.

This time I sent a link to the remaining ones, telling the buyer that if he wanted them as well to go ahead and purchase them.  He did not make any additional purchases.  Maybe I annoyed him.  Whatever.  I was more than just annoyed myself.  I was furious about his lack of consideration.  He was causing me extra work, and I could not get the books packed until he was finally finished.

He wasn't the only one.

I had another buyer who purchased 32 books from me in 32 separate transactions on Etsy.  Let's just say that the result was a huge mess that took up most of an entire evening.  It wasn't good.  I sent the books in one box, but I had to refund 31 postage overcharges.  It took forever to click on each transaction, enter the refund amount, review, and submit.  I spent 30 to 45 minutes sending refunds.

The other option would have been to mail the 32 books in 32 packages with no refunds sent.  Packing all of the books separately would have taken much longer.  Sending 31 refunds was the better option.

This was a horrible experience.

Disorganized Buyers

A buyer purchased eight books from me in six different transactions over the course of around a week.  One of the transactions had a different mailing address.  I should have asked, but I decided that the buyer probably had a reason for it to go somewhere else.  I mailed it off.

Two weeks later, that package came back refused.  I contacted the buyer to let him know and asked him if he still wanted the book.  He told me that he had received that book from me and that he wished me well in trying to find the correct buyer.

Okay, then.  I knew that I hadn't made a mistake on my end, other than not asking about the address.  I had a hunch, so I ran a search for that title in my completed transactions.  Sure enough, he had purchased two different copies of that book.  He did indeed have a book purchased from me, and I had received the other book back.

I reflected about how the buyer didn't think I owed him anything.  I could have kept the money ($23.94) and the book.  There was never any doubt that I would refund the money, but I could certainly have kept the money and not said anything.

I refunded the transaction and told the buyer about how he had accidentally purchased two copies of the book.

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Wildfire #4 Beautiful Girl and #5 Superflirt

#4 Beautiful Girl, Elisabeth Ogilvie, 1980

"Are you a real live person or just a doll?  Do you have any insides or are you just beautiful outside?"

April's problem has always been her beauty.  Of course people find that hard to believe, but April says: "When I'm quiet, they say I think I'm too good for them.  When I've got a lot to say they think I'm conceited."

Then April meets Nick, and nothing is the same!  It doesn't matter what the kids in school say about her... until Nick turns out to be just like all the others.  How can she help it if he thinks too much about her, if his schoolwork is suffering, if his dream of going to the Naval Academy doesn't come true?  Is that supposed to be April's fault too?

The summaries on the back of the Wildfire books are often very misleading about the content of the book.  This book is actually about bullying.  The book begins when April is four years old and concludes during her junior year in high school.  All of April's friends over the years turn against her.  One girl named Phyllis really hates her and makes sure that no one else likes April.

April has some false friends.  In one case, April thinks a girl is really her friend until the girl invites April to spend the night.  The friend invited April to spend the night just so that her older brother can try to molest her.

This is an excellent book.

#5 Superflirt, Helen Cavanagh, 1980

Flirting is so much fun, and Susan is good at it.  She's pretty, popular, and she has a good looking boyfriend, John, who thinks she's the greatest.  The girls in her class used to like her too, until they got sick of her always cutting in on their territory and flirting with their boyfriends.  

Susan says she doesn't mean anything by it, but that's just the trouble!  She also says she can't help herself—until John breaks it off with her and she winds up breaking her best friend Debbie's heart.

At first I didn't realize why Susan flirts.  I gradually figured out that her father's mistreatment of her is the reason.  Sometime after that point, Susan's flirting causes her to lose her best friend and boyfriend.  She is devastated and finally figures out the reason as well.

This is an excellent book.  At one point, I had a slight amount of tears come to my eyes.  Not very many books spark that kind of emotion in me.

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Wildfire #1 Love Comes to Anne and #3 That's My Girl

Wildfire #1 Love Comes to Anne by Lucille S. Warner, 1979

Can it really be love at first sight? Anne never thought it would happen like this…then she sees "him" walk up the front step at school. By the time she finds out his name, she knows she's really in love! But they come from two different worlds and he must return home in a few months. Does Anne love him enough to give up everything and everyone she's ever known?

I read perhaps one-third of this book and skimmed through it.  The book is so boring.  I didn't like Pierre and didn't see what Anne sees in him.  This is a dull romance book of the type that I cannot stand.

This book is completely boring.

Wildfire #2 I'm Christy, Maud Johnson, 1979 — reviewed here

Wildfire #3 That’s My Girl, Jill Ross Klevin, 1980

Winning a place on the Olympic Figure Skating Team has always been Becky's dream.  She knows she's sacrificed a lot—no parties, early curfew, and endless hours of training.  She prays it will be worth it.  If only Jed could understand!

Jed wants a girl who cares about something other than ice skating.  But if he can't accept her dream, then he'll have to find another girl... Becky knows what is right for her, but it hurts, anyhow!  Now, if only she is chosen for the team!

The story contains extreme detail about competitive figure skating.  People who are interested in figure skating would probably enjoy the information, but I could not stand it.

The text also contains way too much detail about Becky's physical attributes.  It also contains lots of unnecessary detail, like naming every single street as Becky is driven to her practice facility.

This book is extremely boring, and I could not read it.

It's fortunate that I did not try reading the first or third volumes in the Wildfire series in order to see if I would enjoy the books.  If these books had been the first two I had tried, I would have never built the set. 

Sunday, April 21, 2019

The Christy Series by Maud Johnson (Wildfire Romance)

The Christy series consists of four books by Maud Johnson that were published as stories within the Wildfire teen romance series during the 1980s.

Wildfire #2, I'm Christy (also Christy) by Maud Johnson, 1979

Other girls know how to interest boys... how to make them laugh... how to be casual and smart.  Christy never knows what to say, or how to say it when she's with a boy.  Being a new girl in town doesn’t make it any easier!  Then she meets Mike, one of the cutest guys at school.  Can someone like Mike really be interested in her?  Is he just being kind or is it because he's just broken up with Jill?  If only there was a way to know if someone really loves you…



Wildfire #40, Christy's Choice by Maud Johnson, 1982

Christy and Mike date a long time before Christy lets herself believe they're "a couple."  Now they're going steady!  Christy's senior year promises to be extra special, especially after she gets a part-time job in a gift shop.

But by Thanksgiving, nothing is right between her and Mike.  Mike gets upset every time Christy mentions her job.  And Christy sees Mike with his old girl friend.  What does that mean?

To make things even more complicated, a college boy starts asking Christy out!  Christy is confused and unhappy.  She decides it's time to have a talk with Mike...


Wildfire #59, Christy's Love by Maud Johnson, 1984

Christy has never been so happy.  She and Mike are sure of their love for one another and bask together in it’s warmth. 

But their happiness is short-lived when Christy is summoned to the hospital where Mike lies, badly injured.  Christy is terrified that she might lose Mike, the only boy for her.  If only Christy's love can save both of them from tragedy…

Wildfire #61, Christy's Senior Year by Maud Johnson, 1984

Christy still can’t face Sonny's—the soda shop where she and Mike spent so much time.  She wonders if there will ever be a day when she doesn't see Mike’s shadow in everything she does…

So Christy tries to throw herself into the last months of her senior year.  Nina, a new girl, reminds Christy of what it was like to be a stranger in town.  Christy's old friends are supportive.  But it is David Webster who helps Christy realize she can, indeed, love again.

The Christy books are really good.  Each book leads directly into the next book, so the four books need to be read in order.  I read them all back-to-back rather than in their proper positions in the Wildfire set.

I greatly enjoyed these stories and consider them to be excellent.

Friday, April 19, 2019

Wildfire Teen Romance Series

The Wildfire teen romance series was published by Scholastic from 1979 through 1986.  Each book features a photo cover of a teen model.

The stories were packaged as romance novels, although some of the books have minimal romance and are more about the girl growing up.  Some of the summaries on the back covers are rather misleading as to content.

The stories range from excellent to completely boring.  The range in quality is due to the series having many different authors who completed their own stand-alone stories.  Some of the authors were quite excellent, and others were not good at all.

The set is quite hard to complete easily, although it is much easier to complete than its rival, the Sweet Dreams series.  It seems that many of the teen books from the 1980s must have been discarded or recycled.  The books don't often show up in stores and must be acquired online.  Even online, acquisition of every single title is difficult.

I used Thriftbooks' Wildfire series page to begin building my set.  I went straight down the list, adding to my cart all of the books priced at under $4.00 each.  I purchased those books, and then purchased a few that I could find on other sites for under $4.00 each.

As those books began to arrive, I went down the list on Thriftbooks again, purchasing the books that were priced slightly higher.  Also, I was able to pick up a few books priced under $4.00 that had not previously been available.  I specifically looked at Thriftbooks' stock on other sites and used their promotions on those sites to get slight discounts.  All told, most of my set came from Thriftbooks.  The below photo shows some of the books that came from Thriftbooks.


It was not fun getting all of those Thriftbooks stickers off of the spines.

I did have to pay around $10.00 or so for a few books.  I paid $25.00 for one book, because it was the only copy online that was published by Wildfire and not some other publisher.  I specifically wanted the books as packaged for Wildfire so that the books in my set would match.

This next photo shows my completed set of Wildfire books.


This is a list of the Wildfire Romance books.

 1. Love Comes to Anne, Lucille S. Warner, 1979
 2. I'm Christy (also Christy), Maud Johnson, 1979
 3. That’s My Girl, Jill Ross Klevin, 1980
 4. Beautiful Girl, Elisabeth Ogilvie, 1980
 5. Superflirt, Helen Cavanah, 1980
 6. A Funny Girl Like Me, Jan O’Donnell, 1980
 7. Just Sixteen, Terry Morris, 1980
 8. Suzy Who, Winifred Madison, 1979
 9. Dreams Can Come True, Jane Claypool Miner, 1981
10. I've Got a Crush on You, Carol Stanley, 1980
11. An April Love Story, Caroline B. Cooney, 1981
12. Dance With Me, Winifred Madison, 1981
13. One Day You'll Go, Sheila Schwartz, 1981
14. Yours Truly, Love, Janie, Ann Reit, 1981
15. The Summer of the Sky-Blue Bikini, Jill Ross Klevin, 1978
16. I Want to be Me, Dorothy Bastien, 1978
17. The Best of Friends, Jill Ross Klevin, 1981
18. The Voices of Julie, Joan Oppenhemier, 1979
19. Second Best, Helen Cavanagh, 1979
20. A Kiss for Tomorrow, Maud Johnson, 1981
21. A Place for Me, Helen Cavanagh, 1981
22. Sixteen Can Be Sweet, Maud Johnson, 1978
23. Take Care of my Girl, Carol Stanley, 1978
24. Lisa, Arlene Hale, 1981
25. Secret Love, Barbara Steiner, 1982
26. Nancy and Nick, Caroline B. Cooney, 1982
27. Tori/The Best Summer, Diane McClure, 1982
28. Senior Class, Jane Claypool Miner, 1982
29. Cindy, Deborah Kent, 1982
30. Too Young to Know, Elizabeth Ogilvie, 1982
31. Saturday Night Date, Maud Johnson, 1982
32. Junior Prom, Patricia Aks, 1982
33. He Loves Me Not, Caroline B. Cooney, 1982
34. Goodbye, Pretty One – Lucille S. Warner, 1982
35. Just a Summer Girl, Helen Cavanagh, 1982
36. The Impossible Love, Arlene Hale, 1982
37. Sing About Us, Winifred Madison, 1982
38. Searching Heart, Barbara Steiner, 1982
39. Write Every Day, Janet Quin-Harkin, 1982
40. Christy’s Choice, Maud Johnson
41. The Wrong Boy, Carol Stanley, 1982
42. Make A Wish, Nancy Smiler Levinson, 1983
43. The Boy for Me, Jane Claypool Miner, 1983
44. Class Ring, Josephine Wunsch, 1983
45. Phone Calls, Ann Reit, 1983
46. Just You and Me, Ann Martin, 1983
47. Homecoming Queen, Winifred Madison, 1983
48. Holly in Love, Caroline B. Cooney, 1983
49. Spring Love, Jennifer Sarasin, 1983
50. No Boys?, McClure Jones, 1983
51. Blind Date, Priscilla Maynard, 1983
52. That Other Girl, Conrad Nowels, 1983
53. Little Lies, Audrey Johnson, 1984
54. Broken Dreams, Susan Mendonca, 1984
55. Love Games, Deborah Aydt, 1984
56. Call Me, Jane Claypool Miner, 1984
57. Miss Perfect, Jill Ross Klevin, 1984
58. On Your Toes, Terry Morris, 1984
59. Christy’s Love, Maud Johnson
60. Nice Girls Don’t, Caroline B. Cooney, 1984
61. Christy’s Senior Year,  Maud Johnson, 1984
62. Kiss and Tell, Helen Cavanagh, 1984
63. The Boy Next Door, Vicky Martin, 1984
64. Angel, Helen Cavanagh, 1984
65. Out of Bounds, Eileen Hehl, 1985
66. Senior Dreams Can Come True, Jane Claypool Miner, 1985
67. Loving That O'Conner Boy, Diane Hoh, 1985
68. Love Signs, M. L. Kennedy, 1985
69. My Summer Love, Elisabeth Ogilvie, 1985
70. Once Upon a Kiss, Susan Mendonca, 1985
71. Kisses For Sale, Judith Enderle, 1985
72. Crazy Crush, Stephanie Gordon Tessler, 1985
73. The Boy Barrier, Jesse DuKore, 1985
74. The Yes Girl, Kathryn Makris, 1985
75. Love to the Rescue, Deborah Kent, 1985
76. Senior Prom, Patricia Aks, 1985
77. Dating Blues, Maud Johnson, 1986
78. Brian's Girl, Diane Hoh, 1986
79. A Girl Named Summer, Julie Garwood, 1986
80. Recipe For Romance, Terri Fields, 1986
81. The Ten Cupcake Romance, M. L. Kennedy, 1986
82. The Wrong Love, Kathryn Makris, 1986

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Upcoming Reviews and Motivation Struggles

As I write this post, I am most of the way through reading Scholastic's Wildfire teen romance series.  I am now past #70, and the set contains 82 books.  I have experienced mental fatigue since around #60.  The later books have generally vapid content, with obnoxious titles and cover photos.  I have had to skip around half of the books between #60 and #70.  I will have to keep skipping books in order to get through the set.  It's either that or quit altogether.

It's interesting how this problem seems to be typical of most all lengthy series.

If I can make it through the rest of the Wildfire set, then I will commence with reading the Sweet Dreams teen romance series.  That is the plan, but I don't know how far I will get.  I may read some Sweet Dreams books and then have to take a break.  Unfortunately, my breaks can end up taking a year or two.  Therefore, I will try to keep going, but I cannot make any promises.

I am obviously quite far behind in publishing blog reviews as compared to my current reading.  In the last two months, I actually forgot several times to set the next Judy Bolton post for publication.  I also didn't feel like doing it on other occasions and decided to set the posts far enough apart so that I wouldn't have to do anything.

I have had a particularly stressful school year due to a textbook adoption that didn't go well.  The stress has really caught up with me, so I am running on fumes for these last six weeks of school.

I mention this so that you know why I lose motivation.  I am still motivated just enough to keep writing reviews, but that motivation has decreased substantially.

It also doesn't help that the series book community is quite fractured.  We no longer have the great discussions that we had in the Yahoo! groups 15 years ago.  I really expected a better response to my Judy Bolton reviews.  I certainly could have posted links to every post in the Facebook groups, but I didn't feel like it.  Besides, I did post links to my Kay Tracey reviews in one group.  Even so, I didn't get much response to those, either.  So why bother?

I do know that at least several dozen people greatly appreciate my reviews.  I just wish that my reviews resulted in more interaction than just one or two people making short comments.  Quite often, the reviews receive no comments.

After the next two or three years, I likely will not continue to write reviews.  I figure by then that I will run out of new series books to read.  Once I begin revisiting books that I have already reviewed, I will not bother to write anything.  For now, I'll keep going, but I am getting tired of it.

In closing, I want to mention how important it is to take the time to react to people's posts on Facebook.  I don't react to most people's posts, so I'm as guilty as anyone else.  However, I now make a point to react when certain people post.  These are people who tend to get ignored, and it's a shame.  For instance, posts about very obscure series get ignored, so I make sure to react to those posts.  I want those people to know that their contributions are appreciated.

Monday, April 15, 2019

Judy Bolton Series Final Thoughts

I read the first three Judy Bolton books for the first time in the fall of 1991.  This was in the first six months that I collected series books.  I had found those three books in tweed editions at different times in antique shops.  The Haunted Attic was the very first Judy Bolton book I purchased, and I did so because the dust jacket reminded me of the Nancy Drew dust jackets.  I soon thereafter found tweed copies of The Vanishing Shadow and The Invisible Chimes and read all three of them.  I thoroughly enjoyed all three of them and hoped to complete my set eventually.

I was able to purchase most of the books by 1997.  For the higher-numbered titles, I purchased the Aeonian reprints.  I read through the set, except for the three books that I did not have which were #14, 21, and 32.

After I finally finished my set in 1998, I read through the entire set.  This means that I had read the first three titles three times apiece and most of the set twice.  As far as I know, I enjoyed all of the books.  I never recall thinking anything negative about any of them.

Around 15 years ago, I put together the Judy Bolton page on my website.  At that time, I at least partially read some books again in order to write summaries of them.  In the intervening time, I did not touch the books.  I had read the opinions of others, and I now realize that those opinions influenced my memories.

I did clearly remember #22 and #23 as my two favorite titles in the series.  Influenced by others, I thought that I didn't like #1 and #8.  I thought the series was weak from #30 through #38.

After reading the books again in late 2018, I was surprised by how much my opinion of many of the books changed.  I ended up liking some books more than I ever did before, and I ended up disliking some books that I had previously enjoyed.

Here is a list of how I rank the books.

  1. The Vanishing Shadow, 1932 - excellent
  2. The Haunted Attic, 1932 - very good
  3. The Invisible Chimes, 1932 - very good
  4. Seven Strange Clues, 1932 - very good
  5. The Ghost Parade, 1933 - good
  6. The Yellow Phantom, 1933 - excellent
  7. The Mystic Ball, 1934 - good
  8. The Voice in the Suitcase, 1935 - good
  9. The Mysterious Half Cat, 1936 - somewhat good
10. The Riddle of the Double Ring, 1937 - good
11. The Unfinished House, 1938 - very good
12. The Midnight Visitor, 1939 - very good
13. The Name on the Bracelet, 1940 - excellent
14. The Clue in the Patchwork Quilt, 1941 - excellent
15. The Mark on the Mirror, 1942 - very good
16. The Secret of the Barred Window, 1943 - very good
17. The Rainbow Riddle, 1946 - do not like
18. The Living Portrait, 1947 - good
19. The Secret of the Musical Tree, 1948 -  excellent
20. The Warning on the Window, 1949 - excellent
21. The Clue of the Stone Lantern, 1950 - excellent
22. The Spirit of Fog Island, 1951 - excellent
23. The Black Cat's Clue, 1952 - excellent
24. The Forbidden Chest, 1953 - very good
25. The Haunted Road, 1954 - do not like
26. The Clue in the Ruined Castle, 1955 - very good
27. The Trail of the Green Doll, 1956 - do not like
28. The Haunted Fountain, 1957 - very good
29. The Clue of the Broken Wing, 1958 - very good
30. The Phantom Friend, 1959 - do not like
31. The Discovery at the Dragon's Mouth, 1960 - good
32. The Whispered Watchword, 1961 - do not like
33. The Secret Quest, 1962 - very good
34. The Puzzle in the Pond, 1963 - good
35. The Hidden Clue, 1964 - do not like
36. The Pledge of the Twin Knights, 1965 - excellent
37. The Search for the Glowing Hand, 1966 - excellent
38. The Secret of the Sand Castle, 1967 - excellent

The Vanishing Shadow is often mentioned as being a boring book where nothing happens.  I did not find it boring at all.  I found the story thoroughly engaging, and my reading experience was enhanced by reading all three versions and comparing them.  The suspense about the dam possibly breaking and Judy's great fear are what make the story compelling.

I now like The Voice in the Suitcase better than I once did.  I still find the messy house a bit disgusting.  The lengthy performance near the end of the story bores me, but otherwise, I like the book now.

My opinion of The Mysterious Half Cat went down.  The story is strange and not very compelling.

I have always had trouble remembering the titles of #13 through 16.  I'm not sure why, but it's like they were never memorable to me and all blended together.  For that reason, I have had a negative opinion of that group of books in the years since I read them.  After all, I couldn't remember them.  If I couldn't remember them, then I concluded that I didn't like them.

I still find #16 The Secret of the Barred Window to be a bit depressing, but the book is very good.  #13 through 15 are rather good books, so hopefully I will be able to remember them now—or maybe not.  Several times in the last month I have mentally reviewed those titles to see if I can remember them.  I continue to struggle and have to think really hard about them before I can recall the titles.  I can quickly recall every title in the series outside of that group easily in order with no struggle.

I believe I liked #17 The Rainbow Riddle the first time I ever read it.  The next time I read it, I didn't find it very interesting.  This time I found it boring and did not like it at all.  Other readers consider it their very favorite title.  I suspect that those readers who love the book happen to love sentimental books.  I don't enjoy reading chapter after chapter of sentimentality about Judy and Peter getting married.  Very little happens in the book aside from the wedding and honeymoon trip.

The main Roberta books, #18 through 21, are overall as good as ever.  My opinion of #18 went down significantly, but my opinion of #19 through 21 increased considerably.

#22 and #23 were formerly my favorite titles in the series.  I still consider them excellent, but they are no longer necessarily my favorite books.

I no longer like #25 The Haunted Road.  This time I found it boring with the plot creeping along at a snail's pace.

I had a negative opinion of #29 The Clue of the Broken Wing, but this time, I found it excellent.

I have never been very fond of #30 The Phantom Friend, and I liked it even less this time.

I like #31 through #34 much less than I once did.  #32 is excruciating.

I have never liked #35 The Hidden Clue very much.  This time was no exception.

The series ends strong with all of #36 through #38 being quite good.  It's unusual for a series to end with really strong books.

I very much regret that Peter ever became an FBI agent.  I wish he had remained a lawyer.  Peter being in the FBI gives him a superiority over Judy that is a bit obnoxious at times.  He also keeps secrets from her because of his job, and that is also obnoxious.  I do not like it.

I find the Judy Bolton series to be a bit uneven.  Margaret Sutton wrote the books over the course of 35 years that included much change in her personal life.  Furthermore, Margaret Sutton had different editors over the years, and each editor had different expectations about the books.

The series can be divided into four parts.  In #1-10, Judy goes to school and is caught in a love triangle between Peter and Arthur.  These mysteries tend to be quite odd.  In #11-16, Judy is engaged to Peter, and he is an attorney.  In #17-21, Roberta lives with Judy and Peter and is like their daughter.  In #22-38, Judy's adventures tend to involve various friends and sometimes Peter's cases.

For readers wishing to try out the series, no single book will be representative of all of the books due to the variance in premise and style.  My suggestions for the very best titles to try are #18, 19, 20, 21, 23, 24, 26, 28, 36, and 38.  These titles are the ones that would most easily be enjoyed by people who have never read a Judy Bolton book before and have no knowledge of the series.

Friday, April 12, 2019

Judy Bolton #38 The Secret of the Sand Castle and #39 The Strange Likeness

In Judy Bolton #38, The Secret of the Sand Castle, Roxy asks Judy to inspect a property on Fire Island that she is supposed to inherit.  Judy visits the property, known as the Sand Castle, along with Irene, Flo, and Pauline.  The girls only intend to visit for the afternoon, but a misunderstanding causes them to be stranded for days.  The Sand Castle is reputedly haunted by the ghost of a dead woman, and Judy even sees her!

The book opens with a fast car almost hitting Blackberry.  The driver looks just like Peter.  Margaret Sutton intended for the next title in the series to be about Peter's double, and this scene sets it up.

I like that Peter is only present at the beginning and end of the story.  Judy gets to solve a mystery on her own with her friends.  The atmosphere is spooky.  The girls are alone on a mostly deserted island with few people around.

This is an excellent book and a strong ending to the series.

The Strange Likeness was published in 2012 by Margaret Sutton's estate.  It was written by Kate Duvall and Beverly Hatfield.  The book uses the title planned by Margaret Sutton to be the 39th title in the series.  Sutton never wrote that book, since the series was canceled after the publication of #38.

In Judy Bolton #39, The Strange Likeness, Judy witnesses a jewelry theft by a man who looks exactly like Peter!  Judy keeps seeing the man, and she tells Peter about him.  Peter reveals that he is working on a case that involves his double, but he cannot give Judy any details.  Judy continues to see Peter's double, and Judy worries about what might happen.

Page six mentions how Lorraine and Arthur are living in Europe for a year.  This is good continuity, since Arthur and Lorraine are in Europe for a year at the end of the original series.

Pages 15 and 16 remind the reader about Peter's double almost running over Blackberry at the beginning of The Secret of the Sand Castle.  By mentioning events from the previous title, this book reads like it is part of the original series.

This is a very good book.

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Judy Bolton #37 The Search for the Glowing Hand

In Judy Bolton #37, The Search for the Glowing Hand, Judy finds a frightened boy hiding in her house.  The boy is scared because he has been blamed for setting off a fire alarm, which resulted in firefighters being led away from the actual fire.  The boys swears that he is innocent.

Meanwhile, a group known as the Wasps is infiltrating the local schools, getting the students to protest against outsiders living near them.  In particular, the Wasps are against anyone who is not Christian or Caucasian.  Judy searches for the people who are in charge of the group.

On pages 11 and 12, Judy and Horace discuss how Peter became an FBI agent.
"And business school was just something to finish fast so I could work for Peter, and then he joined the FBI—"

"To please you, sis.  You know that was why he joined, don't you?  If you hadn't made such a fuss over Mr. Trent because he was a G-man, Peter might still have his little law office in Roulsville."

"I'd never seen an FBI agent before.  I guess I was a little childish about it," Judy admitted.  "I didn't mean to push Peter into a job that would take him away from me all the time."
This is the second time that Judy has expressed regret about Peter becoming an FBI agent.  I have to wonder whether Margaret Sutton regretted that decision.  I certainly do.  I wish Peter had remained in his law office with Judy helping him.

The previous book, The Pledge of the Twin Knights, mentions characters and scenes from the Oz books.  This book has a character named Oz and mentions the name Ozma.

The cover art was painted by Rudy Nappi.  This is the only Judy Bolton book done by Nappi.  It is believed that the cover art for The Search for the Glowing Hand was originally intended to be the cover of one of the revised text Nancy Drew books, possibly The Secret in the Old Attic.  The cover actually used on The Secret in the Old Attic is seen at the left.

The quality of the cover art for The Search for the Glowing Hand is not as good as Nappi's usual work.  I wonder if that is the reason the cover was not used on Nancy Drew and was then recycled for one of the other series.

The glowing hand was likely added to the cover painting later when it was used for this book instead.

A lot happens in this book.  I feel that the plot could easily have been enough for two books with perhaps the story continuing through both books.  One book could have featured the boy accused of the false alarm, and the other could have focused on the growing unrest in Farringdon.

This is a thoroughly engaging book.  It is excellent.