Monday, July 22, 2019

Wildfire #73 The Boy Barrier and #74 The Yes Girl

73. The Boy Barrier, Jesse DuKore, 1985

"Love" means zero in tennis.  That's a score that Stacey King, the Number One player on the girls' tennis team, never earns on the court.  Off the court, it's another story.  There her love life scores a big fat zero!  Stacey was always too busy playing tennis to learn how to talk to boys.  Now she'd like the chance to change all that—especially since she's met Keith Flowers, the Number One player on the boys' team.  But the boy barrier is harder to break than Stacey had realized.  It gets even harder when the coach of the boys' team asks Stacey to join. If she accepts, will she become "just one of the boys"?  Can Stacey be Number One in Keith's heart if she takes his place as Number One on the team?

Stacey's best friend is Sally, and the similar names kept confusing me.  Also, too many people are introduced all at once in the same scene at the beginning of the story, which made my confusion even worse.  I cannot remember characters when they are thrown at me all at once.

I was confused on page 70.  The reader is told that Stacey's mother never went to college because it was the time of the Great Depression.  The Great Depression lasted from 1929 to 1939.  Either this book is set way back in the past, or else Stacey's mother is much old than would be expected.  The book was published in 1985, so Stacey's mother would have been at least 65 years old.  This is possible, but it is not how these books are usually set up.

On page 44, the story starts getting interesting when Stacey joins the boy's team.  However, the story then falls flat.  I only read part of the book.  The book has too much content about tennis, and the characters are boring.  I did not care about the story. 

74. The Yes Girl, Kathryn Makris, 1985

Gwen’s favorite word is yes.  She says yes to Susan who asks for free math tutoring, yes to any friend who needs help... even a yes to nice but boring Mitch who asks her for dates.  Gwen doesn't have a minute to herself.  

Unfortunately, she hardly has any time for Phil, either.  Phil is funny, handsome, and definitely not boring.  And Gwen likes him a lot.  When he asks her out, Gwen says yes... with delight.  But she is still saying yes to Mitch, too. 

Phil soon becomes tired of being Gwen's second choice, and tells her so angrily.  Now Gwen is torn.  If she starts saying no, she may lose her friends. If she can't stop saying yes, she'll lose Phil.

I do not find it enjoyable to read about a girl who is letting everyone take advantage of her so that she doesn't have any fun.  Going out with boys she doesn't like is appalling.

I read a little of the book, skimmed some, then I read the ending.  The only part of the book that interested me was the last couple of chapters.

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Tom Swift Inventors' Academy #1 Drone Pursuit and #2 Sonic Breach

I have never paid any attention to Tom Swift, since the premise does not interest me.  I have tried to read a sample book or two from the original Tom Swift series and the Tom Swift, Jr. series.  They do not appeal to me at all.  I cannot get past the first few pages.  Since I do love the Rick Brant books, in theory I ought to be able to enjoy the Tom Swift books.  Unfortunately, it's just not going to happen.

I heard of a new Tom Swift series to be published by Simon and Schuster, but I didn't care.  Why would I, right?  I saw a recent post on Facebook that had a photograph of the books, which are hardcover with dust jacket just like the Nancy Drew Diaries and Hardy Boys Adventures books that I own.  Now wait just a moment...

I read the publisher's summaries.  The summaries for both books appear below.

#1 The Drone Pursuit

When your dad funds the Swift Academy of Science and Technology, you’re bound to have a bunch of tech at your disposal.  So no one bats an eye when Tom and his best friend, Noah, test their new virtual reality drone before class.  At the academy, once class starts and the drone is parked, their brainiac friends then launch into farfetched discussions about the curriculum.  And when they watch a documentary about the FBI’s most wanted hackers from the eighties, they quickly start speculating that the academy custodian is one of them.

At first, Tom dismisses the idea as another one of his friends’ conspiracy theories.  But using their new drone, he spies the custodian acting suspiciously around school.  As Tom and his friends search for evidence that the custodian is the missing hacker, the signs become impossible to ignore when Tom gets threatening messages that warn him away from investigating.  And when someone releases a virus in the school servers, all bets are off as the adjoining servers at tech giant Swift Enterprises come under fire.  Can Tom and his friends uncover the true culprit before it’s too late?

#2 The Sonic Breach

Tom gets to take all sorts of cool classes at the Swift Academy of Science and Technology, but robotics may be the one he is most excited for. Their teacher is holding a battling robot tournament, and Tom has to build a machine that will come out on top.

With the final battle coming up, Tom and his friends need as much time as possible to refine their masterpiece. But the rest of their teachers have been giving so many pop quizzes that they can barely focus in class, never mind concentrate on the tournament. Naturally, everyone is frustrated with the trend…until a mysterious new phone app appears. If students get pop quizzes during first period, they can warn everyone else about it by getting their phones to emit a high-pitched sound—a mosquito alarm—that adults can’t hear.

Tom is unsure about the whole thing, but it technically isn’t cheating, right? But when someone changes the app to break all the rules, the ethics aren’t debatable anymore. The longer the perpetrator remains unknown, the more harshly teachers treat all the students, and the pressure won’t stop until Tom and his friends track down the person behind the app takeover.

The plots sounded interesting to me.  I also realized that I could read these books and see if they are executed better than the Nancy Drew Diaries.  Imagine the light bulb going off in my head!  I had a suspicion that the Tom Swift books would be better than the Nancy Drew Diaries books.  I could not pass up this great opportunity to read some books that might cause me to go off on another rant about the Nancy Drew Diaries series.  I actually enjoy writing my rants.  For those not familiar with my past posts on the subject, these two posts will catch you up.

Comparing the Nancy Drew Diaries to the Hardy Boys Adventures
Gender Inequality in the Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys Books

I purchased both Tom Swift books and have read them.  The books read very much like the Hardy Boys Adventures series, and I feel confident that the books would appeal to fans of the Hardy Boys Adventures.  As I read the books, I was sure that one of the Hardy Boys Adventures writers was involved.  I have now verified that the ghostwriter for the Tom Swift books also has written four of the Hardy Boys Adventures books.  

The students at Swift Academy are ages 12 and 13, but honestly, they are no less mature than the older and highly-conflicted Nancy Drew of the Diaries series.  In fact, the students in these books are much more more well adjusted and capable than Nancy Drew is in some of the Diaries books (*cough* Heliotrope Lane).

Tom Swift does not shake in fear, and he doesn't have to try to motivate himself.  He has his cool gadgets, and he has a mystery to solve in each book.  He is on target all the time.  He understands technology (duh).  He also doesn't visit the bathroom a single time, unlike the strange bathroom obsession in the Nancy Drew Diaries series.

Oh yeah, and these books are not sabotage.  We have a winner!

I enjoyed both of these books as much as the best Hardy Boys Adventures books.  That also means that I enjoyed them more than the majority of the Nancy Drew Diaries books.  Simon and Schuster is doing great with the Hardy Boys and Tom Swift.  The most recent two Nancy Drew Diaries books have been a big improvement over previous titles.  I do have some hope for Nancy Drew currently, and that is what keeps me from going off on a rant right now.  Nevertheless, I remain skeptical about Nancy Drew since the Nancy Drew Diaries series has been quite uneven in quality.  

I will purchase future Tom Swift Inventors' Academy books and am excited that the upcoming third and fourth books were also written by the same ghostwriter.  I see all of the current Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys, and Tom Swift books as parts of the same universe, and they compliment each other quite well.  It would be really cool if the Dana Girls could join that universe and be written for modern readers.  I'd love to see it happen.

Monday, July 15, 2019

Information Needed: Nancy Drew Matte Picture Cover Books with the Yellow Band

Nancy Drew fans keep asking about the matte picture cover books with the yellow band at the top edge.  I think most of us who were collecting in the past were not at all concerned with the books with the yellow band at the top edge.  Most of us don't even like them.

Seen below are all of the Nancy Drew matte picture cover books with the yellow band at the top edge.

People who are currently collecting the picture cover books seem to be quite confused about them and are focusing a lot of attention on them.  They view the books with the yellow bands almost like they are a different cover art variation.  I have finally concluded that the books with the yellow bands need to be added to my cover art gallery since collectors are so hyper-focused on them.

This is the cover art gallery:  Nancy Drew #1-56 Picture Cover Gallery.

I thought I just needed to scan the books with the yellow bands and insert them in.  I did it for Lilac Inn, then I realized that I have a big problem.  I don't know the date ranges.  I began editing the page in an offline file, and you can see a screen capture below, indicating the trouble spot.  By the way, I also plan to remove the "-present" from all of the books and change the year to 1985, since the flashlight editions began in 1986.

The books with the yellow bands are not covered in Farah's Guide.  I know they are from the middle to late 1970s and continued into the early 1980s, but I do not wish to put vague information on my page.  I need the exact years.  More precisely, I need the beginning year for each volume.  I can figure out the rest.

I need your help.

I spent a lot of time today looking at the back cover lists of every single matte picture cover with the yellow band that I currently have in my possession.  I have a lot of extras.  I then went to eBay and viewed every listing for the books with yellow bands, both current listings and sold listings.

I have noted the earliest time that any book was printed with the yellow band based on books I have seen so far.  What I do not know is if all of them changed to the yellow band at the same time.  Sometimes changes were staggered, such as when the Stratemeyer Syndicate revised the books down from 25 chapters to 20 chapters.  The below list shows the volume numbers, the year, and the earliest back cover list that I was able to find for each book with the yellow band present on the front cover.

#4 1974 Glowing Eye followed by Cookbook
#6 1975 Forgotten City
#7 1975 Forgotten City
#10 1975 Forgotten City
#17 1975 Forgotten City
#24 1975 Forgotten City
#25 1974 Glowing Eye followed by Cookbook
#28 1976 Sky Phantom followed by Cookbook
#29 1976 Sky Phantom followed by Cookbook
#35 1974 Glowing Eye followed by Cookbook
#36 1974 Glowing Eye followed by Cookbook
#37 1974 Glowing Eye followed by Cookbook
#38 1974 Glowing Eye followed by Cookbook
#39 1975 Forgotten City
#40 1974 Glowing Eye followed by Cookbook
#42 1975 Forgotten City
#45 1974 Glowing Eye followed by Cookbook

I need collectors to look at any matte picture cover books with the yellow band for #6, 7, 10, 17, 24, 28, 29, 39, and 42 and see if you have one that lists Nancy Drew to Glowing Eye followed by the Nancy Drew Cookbook.  For #28 and 29, I would also be interested in knowing if anyone has one that lists to Forgotten City.

I hope you can help so that I can fix the cover art gallery.  By fixing the cover art gallery, I hope to make it easier to answer all of the questions.

Update:  Information I have received indicates that most of the yellow band books were issued in 1974.  The only books where I have not yet received verification are #10, 28, and 42.

Sunday, July 7, 2019

Wildfire #71 Kisses for Sale and #72 Crazy Crush

Wildfire #71 Kisses For Sale, Judith Enderle, 1985

Even though Lindsay is through with Ross, she still misses him, still longs to hear his voice, still is pained when she sees him in school with a new girlfriend.  But she doesn't miss his bossiness.  It's time for her to be independent!  

Her best friend Blaine says being independent doesn't mean spending all of her time alone.  Why not help organize the Spring Carnival?  At least it will keep her mind off Ross and who knows who she will meet?  But Lindsay isn't prepared for handsome Bill Stark—or for falling in love.

This book might be okay to other readers, but it did not interest me.  I read just some of the book and then quit.

It is at this point that I begin to hate the cover art for the remaining books in the series.  I look at this cover and want to run away.

Wildfire #72 Crazy Crush, Stephanie Gordon Tessler, 1985

Joey Jacobs is just crazy about Link Zinc, lead singer in the town’s hottest rock band.  But he doesn't even know she's alive!  Determined to win him, she plans to audition as the band's new drummer.  Then Link will be sure to notice her!  

There's just one small catch—Joey can't read music, let alone play the drums.  Handsome Todd Perlman, a musician in the school orchestra, volunteers to help her learn, and Joey's well on her way to fulfilling her dream.  So how come everything feels wrong?

Because it is wrong.  A girl who has no clue how to read music or play the drums somehow expects to learn to drum well enough to be chosen as a band's new drummer.  That is just stupid. 

I also cannot stand books which feature fake rock groups that I, as the reader, somehow am supposed to appreciate and admire.  Why should I care about a fake rock group?  And Link Zinc... gag.

I read some of the book, skimmed a bit, and then quit.

Sunday, June 30, 2019

2019 Mid-Year Reading Update

Halfway through the year is a good time to reflect on how the year is going and how it compares to the previous year.

In April, I wrote about motivation struggles.
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...

...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.
When I wrote that passage, I had no idea how bad it would get.  I came down with an awful virus on May 10 which caused complete voice loss.  I was unable to talk during the last two weeks of school.  School ended on May 23, but my torture continued.  I could not talk until around June 10.  My hoarseness finally went away around June 20.  That was a horrible experience.  Even now, my voice is a little weaker than it should be and cracks at times, although most people would not notice anything.

With everything that has happened in recent months, my interest in publishing reviews continues to be rather low and does appear to be further diminishing.  I can also see by my reading progress to this point in the year that I am reading at a slower pace than in each of the previous five years.

2014:  262 books
2015:  231 books
2016:  355 books
2017:  403 books
2018:  315 books

So far in 2019, I have read 114 books.  If I keep that pace, I will read 228 books by the end of the year.  Yes, that is still a fabulous number of books to read in one year, but it does show that my pace is dropping off.

It should be noted that my reading pace has not dropped off quite as much as it appears.  I struggled with many of the Wildfire and Sweet Dreams books that I read before I broke off reading those books.  I began reading the Dana Girls series and that went well up until #17 which bored me completely.  I abandoned that book and switched to modern teen dystopian books.  I found some really good ones, but I also also struggled with others.  I am having problems with lots of books.

All told, I have partially read 25 to 30 books that do not count in my list of 114 books read so far this year.  I read from 30 to 40 pages up to around half of each of those 25 to 30 books.  What I read from those books is equivalent to at least a dozen books.  I cannot count partial books as books read.

Currently, I am trying to get back into the Dana Girls series.  I struggled with #18 because it is too implausible and bored me.  I have barely started #19, but it seems to be written in a fashion that appeals to me much more than either #17 or #18 did.

I have to wonder who exactly really wrote the Dana Girls books from #17 and up.  I am aware that Harriet Adams supposedly wrote those stories, but I have doubts.  Some books credited to Harriet Adams were likely written by other people.  The books vary in tone.  I suspect that the books that aren't as good are the ones more likely written by Harriet.

That sounds bad, and I want to point out that I am a strong supporter of Harriet Adams' contributions to series books and the Stratemeyer Syndicate, more so than most people.  I feel that she doesn't get enough credit for what she did.  However, that doesn't change the fact that she wrote some pretty bad books.

Hopefully, I can continue with the Dana Girls series.  If so, then reviews might get posted regularly.  I am slowing down the posting of reviews again because I didn't get far with Sweet Dreams and the Dana Girls reading is in doubt as well.  I don't want to publish the Sweet Dreams and Dana Girls reviews that I have written until I figure out whether I will be able to do the rest.  Keep your fingers crossed that The Winking Ruby Mystery goes well.  If so, I might be able to continue with the Dana Girls.  After that, I will try to motivate myself into continuing with the Sweet Dreams series.

Saturday, June 29, 2019

Wildfire #69 My Summer Love and #70 Once Upon a Kiss

69. My Summer Love, Elisabeth Ogilvie, 1985

Diana may have flunked all her classes but she had fun doing it.  And now she’s got an exciting summer planned.  

But Diana's mother has plans of her own.  She ships Diana off to a broken-down farm to be tutored by an old friend.  Diana is prepared for the most boring summer of her life.  How will she survive it? 

But as soon as Diana arrives, sparks start flying.  Mac and Josh Thornton, two great-looking cousins, are in the middle of a fight over the farm, and Diana has to choose sides.  The most boring summer of Diana's life turns into the most exciting, but now she's still wondering how she will survive it.

This is another example of Scholastic providing a summary that does not really tell about the story.  This book is about how the Thornton heirs plan to sell the property that Mac, his mother, and his brother live on.  The heirs want to raze the property and build a resort.  At first, Diane doesn't care, but she gradually realizes that the property must be saved.

I had fun trying to figure out how the house and property would be saved.  I kept searching for clues as the story progressed.

This is an excellent book.

70. Once Upon a Kiss, Susan Mendonca, 1985

Paula can hardly believe it's happening.  She goes to a costume ball dressed as Cinderella... she shares a special kiss with Kevin, who's dressed as Prince Charming... she even loses her shoe at midnight!  It sounds just like the fairy tale, but Paula knows fairy tales don't come true.  She's not Cinderella, and Kevin isn't Prince Charming.  He's too much like the boy who broke her heart.  Kevin is trying to discover who the masked Cinderella really is.  But Paula's not sure she wants to be discovered.

The story is okay at the start.  I liked the idea of Paula running away from the party, which set up what should have been a romantic story.  Instead, Paula vehemently denies that she is the girl even after it is painfully apparent that Kevin must know.  It's so annoying and stupid.

I did not read most of the book.

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Wildfire #67 Loving That O'Connor Boy and #68 Love Signs

67. Loving That O'Connor Boy, Diane Hoh, 1985

Pam Morrison has never gone against her parents' wishes.  Until now.  She's dating "that O'Connor boy," as her disapproving father calls the dashing but difficult Bud O'Connor.  He does have a well-deserved reputation as a troublemaker.  But only Pam knows the real Bud, a wonderful boy who longs for attention since he's had so little at home.

Gossip and past mistakes seem to haunt their relationship.  But if Pam really loves Bud, does it matter what other people think?

This book is excellent from start to finish.  I read it in one day.

68. Love Signs, M. L. Kennedy, 1985

The strangest things are  happening to Tracy.  And strangest of all is that she always knows they're going to—her horoscope tells her.  She's been right about so many things, it's eerie.  The stars predict she'll meet a handsome stranger, and Jeff shows up.  Tracy and Jeff have so much in common, everything seems wonderful at first.  But the stars also warn Tracy not to mistake friendship for love.  Beside, Pisces and Libra are an impossible combination.

Then Steve, star quarterback for the football team, asks Tracy for a date, and this time it's a perfect match, according to the stars.  But Tracy can't get Jeff out of her mind.  And she can't help thinking that maybe the stars are wrong.

On page eight, Tracey's brother speaks about the new computer at work.  It has 512K of memory!  Ooh, such fantastic technology from the 1980s!

I enjoyed this book at first, but Tracey's decision not to date a boy just because of her horoscope is too stupid.  She ignores her own feelings just because of the prediction.  I skimmed most of the book.

Friday, June 21, 2019

Wildfire #65 Out of Bounds and #66 Senior Dreams Can Come True

65. Out of Bounds, Eileen Hehl, 1985

Only an airhead would go for a guy nicknamed "Killer."  But Tobie Tanner is no airhead.  A serious, intelligent student, Tobie has most of her life planned, up to the moment she finishes her first novel.  But once she interviews Lou "Killer" Keller for the school newspaper, Tobie is lost, and wonderfully in love.  Off the field, Lou is bright and sweet, but Tobie can't forget that football is a violent game.  Can a peace-loving writer find happiness with a guy who has to leave his gentle ways in the locker room?

I enjoyed this book, although portions of it are a bit slow.

66. Senior Dreams Can Come True, Jane Claypool Miner, 1985

After a tough school year, it's finally the summer before Ellynne's senior year.  Her mother wants her to find a job, but Ellynne looks forward to spending long, lazy days relaxing on the beach.  It's time for some fun!

She really misses her steady, Kip, who's away working.  He's afraid she'll find someone new—and she does.  Blond, easygoing Kenny is different from any boys she's ever known.  He's free from responsibilities for the summer and just wants to have a good time.  Ellynne's sure that all work and no play makes a dull girl.  But what about all play?

The first book about Ellynne is Wildfire #9, Dreams Can Come True.

This book is boring, and I read very little of it.

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Wildfire #63 The Boy Next Door and #64 Angel

63. The Boy Next Door, Vicky Martin, 1984

Jenny and her sister Emily instantly approve of their new next-door neighbors, Rob and Paul.  Jenny finds she can talk easily to Rob, especially about her art.  For all of them, the summer seems to be full of promise.

Yet even though Rob gives Jenny confidence, he can also take it away.  She has to question a relationship that would cause her so much love, and so much pain.

Scholastic once again gives a summary that doesn't describe the story.  The story is mostly about Jenny's relationship with Rob and Paul's mother, who is one childish, troubled woman.

All of the adults are called by their first names, which is confusing.  Sometimes the adult is initially addressed by their first name with no explanation as to their identity, such as being a parent to another character.  I could hardly keep the characters straight.

The Wildfire books are supposed to be set in ordinary smaller cities or towns.  The exact location is often never mentioned.  This book is apparently set in England, even though the text never states the location.  The towns have English names, and London is mentioned numerous times.

I did not enjoy this book.

64. Angel, Helen Cavanagh, 1984

Somehow Angel had managed to tell Jody and Tania exactly the opposite of the truth about a classmate.  Angel likes to tell the best stories possible, and sometimes the truth just isn't all that exciting.  

But the lies, for all their drama, are also confusing, and Angel has to make up new stories just to cover her old ones.  The only story she can't make up is Jay's—he seems to love Angel, but he confides in Jody.  And with jealousy as her inspiration, Angel gets ready to tell the biggest lie of all...

The cover photo is great.  Angel looks like she is a naughty girl.

I really enjoy stories like this one.  Angel has a real problem, and she causes lots of trouble.  This is a very good book.

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Helpful Information for People Not on Facebook

The fan base for series books is now quite fractured.  I can think of at least six distinct subgroups of fans.

The first five subgroups represent levels of how connected fans are with each other from least to greatest.  The sixth group is very connected in one sense but completely disconnected in another.

1.  Some fans have never gone online.  Their only contact with other fans is through printed series book publications such as Mystery and Adventure Series Review, Yellowback Library, and The Sleuth.  Other fans in this group may not even know about any of the series book publications and quietly enjoy their series books unaware that any other fans exist.

2.  Another group of fans are those who are online, buy and sell their books on eBay, but are disconnected from all online resources.  It is as though eBay is an island, and they know nothing else.  You might be skeptical that this group exists, but I know that it does based on my interactions with eBay buyers over the last 22 years.

3.  The next level consists of eBay users who are aware of this blog and the websites, but are disconnected from all of the online discussions, both past and present.

4.  Some fans who are online and purchase on eBay also were members of the Yahoo! groups.  These people never made it out of the Yahoo! groups and have lost contact with other fans except for those who were active 20 years ago.  These people also know about all online and offline resources, but they do not use Facebook.

5.  The fans who were open to using Facebook made the migration from the Yahoo! groups to Facebook where the current discussions occur.  These people know about all resources that exist both online and offline.

6.  Fans who are on Facebook only and do not know that this blog exists or that any informational websites exist.  No matter how many times we link to outside resources in the Facebook groups, these people do not figure out that they can get information directly from these resources.  Some of them may not understand what Google is and how it works.  They use the Facebook groups as an online chat where they ask questions and get answers.  The same questions get asked over and over.

Even though these people are online, some of them refuse to purchase books online and lament that they cannot find any of the old books in stores.  No matter how many times they are told about all of the books available on eBay and other sites, they won't make a purchase.  Some of them think online sellers are out to defraud people, while others think all books online are priced too high.


This last part is for those of you who are in the third and fourth groups.  Since you do not use Facebook, you miss out on a lot of information.  Some of the information can be gleaned from Facebook sources that are public, where you do not have to be a member in order to view the content.

Most series book groups are closed, so you cannot view the content unless you join Facebook and then join each group.  However, a small number of series book groups are public.

The Dana Girls: Super Sleuths
Hardy Boys Fan Club
Series Book Forum
Series Book Swap & Sell
Tom Swift Fan Club

A number of Facebook pages exist, and you can view these without joining Facebook.

My page is Jennifer's Series Books.

Here are some other pages that have content strongly related to series books.

Around the World with Nancy Drew
Books on Bay
Capwell Wyckoff Fan Page
The Happy Hollisters
The Hardy Boys Mysteries
Nancy Drew Games
Nancy Drew Sleuths
The Three Investigators Mystery Series - U.S. Editions Collector Site

You are missing out on most discussions that occur on Facebook, but at least you can glean some information from the above sources.

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Wildfire #60 Nice Girls Don't and #62 Kiss and Tell

59. Christy’s Love, Maud Johnson, 1984 — reviewed here

60. Nice Girls Don't, Caroline B. Cooney, 1984

Tory Travis just wanted to play ball.  But little things started to get to her.  The boys' team went by in a bus while Tory and her teammates were squished into a station wagon.  The boys were budgeted for uniforms while the girls had to have a bake sale to raise the money.  But her mother and Kenny remind her that nice girls don't make fusses.

Only Jonathan is on Tory's side.  He's on her side when she comes up with a plan to change things.  But Tory knows that if she's going to battle the school board, she risks losing the support of the people she loves the most.

The title and cover photo are misleading, since Tory isn't doing that.

Some parts of the story are pretty good while other parts drag.  The story is overall good but not that interesting.

61. Christy’s Senior Year,  Maud Johnson, 1984 — reviewed here

62. Kiss and Tell, Helen Cavanagh, 1984

Denise is outgoing and warm, basking in her family's noisy love.  Jason is a quiet loner, from a difficult family background.  She is enchanted by his intelligence and solitary style, and he has found in her a trusted friend, at last.

But Denise wants to share her new-found love, while for Jason, romance is a private thing.  And Denise worries that sometimes, this time, love just isn't going to be enough.

Jason obviously has serious emotional problems.  It is clear that he isn't right for Denise.  I overall enjoyed this book.

Monday, June 17, 2019

Wildfire #57 Miss Perfect and #58 On Your Toes

57. Miss Perfect, Jill Ross Klevin, 1984

Super athlete, straight-A student, president of her class, editor of the school newspaper—Kim
excelled at everything.  That's what her father expected of her.  But her friends notice that Kim doesn't smile much anymore, and her boyfriend Brad is afraid that Kim doesn't have
time even for him.

Kim is so busy, Kim is perfect. But her achievements are beginning to demand a very high price...

Kim annoyed me, and something about the way she was portrayed didn't feel right to me.

I was not interested in this book.  I could not read it.

58. On Your Toes, Terry Morris, 1984

Until she meets David.  Even then, he understands how much time she needs to practice, to prepare for the tryout that could launch her career.

They find time to date, and everything is perfect.  Pam knows she's in love.  But when David is hurt in an accident, he innocently forces Pam to choose her love... or her dream.

I also was not interested in this story at all and could not read it.

This was the fifth consecutive book in the set that I did not enjoy.  During this stretch of reading, I became quite disgusted and came very close to quitting the set.  Fortunately I continued, since some of the later titles are quite good.

Sunday, June 16, 2019

More Vintage Japanese Nancy Drew and Judy Bolton Books

I recently acquired two more vintage Japanese Nancy Drew books and three more vintage Japanese Judy Bolton books.

The Japanese books tend to use the original English titles somewhere on the outside of the book or jacket or possibly on the title page.  The text of each book is entirely in Japanese.

This edition of Nancy Drew #12, The Message in the Hollow Oak, was published by Kodansha in 1958.  The book has a dust jacket, and the dust jacket has the original cellophane cover on it.

Dust jacket with cellophane cover

Dust jacket without cellophane cover

Cellophane cover

Front panel of dust jacket

Front cover of book

Back cover of book


This edition of Nancy Drew #19, The Quest of the Missing Map, was published by Poplar in 1968.  The book and jacket have the same cover art.

Front panel of dust jacket
The cover art is a bit creepy.  That looks like a monster's hand reaching for the map.  The cover art gives the impression that The Quest of the Missing Map is a horror story rather than a mystery.  Perhaps Godzilla makes an appearance.


This edition of Judy Bolton #1, The Vanishing Shadow, was published by Kodansha in 1957.

Book with dust jacket

Front panel of dust jacket

Front cover of book

Back cover of book

Since the Nancy Drew Kodansha edition pictured at the beginning of this post has a cellophane wrapper on the dust jacket, I assume that this Judy Bolton book originally had one as well.

This next edition of Judy Bolton #1, The Vanishing Shadow, was published by Poplar in 1968.  The book and jacket have the same cover art.

Front panel of dust jacket


This edition of Judy Bolton #16, The Secret of the Barred Window, is a hardcover book in a slipcase.  It was published in 1964.

Front of slipcase and front cover of book

Back of slipcase

Previous posts:

2018: The Year of the Japanese Series Book
Vintage Japanese Judy Bolton Books Part 1
Vintage Japanese Judy Bolton Books Part 2
Modern Softcover Japanese Nancy Drew Books
Older Japanese Nancy Drew Books Part 1
Older Japanese Nancy Drew Books Part 2
Older Japanese Nancy Drew Books Part 3

Saturday, June 15, 2019

Wildfire #55 Love Games and #56 Call Me

55. Love Games, Deborah Aydt, 1984

Molly has always loved her mother, and her stepfather, who raised her as his own.  Now she loves Sam Rutledge, too.  Then the father who left her as a baby comes back, expecting Molly's love.  He's tearing her family apart—and Sam seems to be on his side!  Is that any way for the boy you love to act?

Who cares?  The only thing about the book that I slightly like is the quote on page 10 where Molly describes her mother and stepfather as sitting on a couch "looking like the Bobbsey twins."  That is pretty much the only marginally entertaining statement in the book.

This book did not interest me at all, and I skimmed through it.

56. Call Me, Jane Claypool Miner, 1984

Michelle and Adam promise not to date other people when Adam moves away.  Their phone calls are their only contact.  But Michelle finds that her days are lonely and lonesome, and her parents urge her to go out with anyone.  Michelle chooses good old Charlie. 

She doesn't expect to have fun—but she does.  She doesn't think Charlie is handsome—but he is.  She doesn't want her life to be any more complicated—but it is.  

Adam is coming back.

My problem with this book was that I didn't like either boy.  I can't care about Michelle and her romance problems when both boys are nothing to me.  

I don't care for this book.

Friday, June 14, 2019

Wildfire #53 Little Lies and #54 Broken Dreams

53. Little Lies, Audrey Johnson, 1984

How much could one little lie hurt?  Shannon isn't sure, but she's afraid the truth is worse than the lie.  Why would Blake, the wealthiest boy on the beach, give her a second look?  She's only a mother's helper, but she lets him think that she's a guest at the beach house where she works and that she's going to an exclusive girls school in the fall. 

The more she loves Blake, the more she wants him to know the real story.  But Shannon puts off the moment until her lies, like the waves on the beach come crashing in on her...

This is a very good book.

54. Broken Dreams, Susan Mendonca, 1984

Strong, hopeful, in love... they were the perfect couple.  Then Scott is injured, maybe permanently, and Kelly can't seem to help him.  The Scott who once cheered for her at swim meets now stares sullenly at her from his hospital bed, taunting her for loving him, begging her to leave him.  But behind his angry words, Kelly senses something else.  Could Scott love her after all?  Can they go on despite their broken dreams?

This book is just okay and is not very interesting.

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Nancy Drew Early First Printing Values and Avoiding Buyer Regret

Attention sellers:  This blog post was written for advanced collectors and will not contain the information you seek.  The first printing dust jackets for the first 10 Nancy Drew books are extremely scarce and seldom come up for sale.  Do not confuse these with later dust jackets.  A first printing dust jacket is the jacket printed for the very first printing of a book.  The second and subsequent printing jackets are different.  You must own Farah's Guide in order to tell.  You can also search this blog for old posts about the first printing dust jackets.  For some basic information, read this guide and this page.

The first printing Nancy Drew dust jackets are especially scarce for the first 10 Nancy Drew books.  Around 20 years ago, I decided that I wanted to own every single first printing Nancy Drew book with the matching first printing dust jacket.  It seemed to be an impossible quest.

So that I would never have buyer regret, I always purchased any available first printing book and jacket as it became available at a reasonable price.  A bad condition first printing dust jacket is better than not having a first printing dust jacket.  A few critical comments were made by some of you regarding a few of my purchases.  I didn't understand why those critical comments were made, since bad condition books and jackets could always be upgraded.

Some collectors want to buy each book only once and never have to upgrade.  If you have that kind of patience, then that's wonderful.  I don't.  I could never be sure when or if another example would surface and at a price I could pay.  The goal always was to secure a copy then worry about a better copy.  Bad condition copies could always be upgraded.  I was never locked into always having to keep the copies I purchased that were in bad shape.

I recall that the first copy of the 1933A-1 dust jacket for The Password to Larkspur Lane that I owned was badly water damaged.  So what?  I sold that book many, many years ago and have had a nice dust jacket for many years.  Someone owns that water-damaged jacket now, and I am sure that they treasure it.  There is something thrilling about purchasing a first printing book and jacket in rough condition for a reasonable price.  Those purchases can be much more satisfying than the expensive purchases in nice shape.

These days, few people are seeking the early first printing Nancy Drew books with dust jackets.  Actually, everyone would love to own them, but only a handful of collectors are willing to spend the serious cash necessary in order to acquire the jackets.  I have recently concluded that the handful of collectors who currently seek the early first printing jackets only want examples in very good or better condition.  This means that the dust jackets in great shape are still very expensive when they show up for sale.  The dust jackets in rough shape do not sell except at lower prices.  That's an interesting turn of events.

One of the bad condition books and dust jackets that I purchased was for the first printing of The Secret at Shadow Ranch.  The book had mildew all over it, and the jacket was pretty bad.  I swapped out the book for the one I already owned and placed the jacket on it.  I sold the mildewed book for a very low price.

Yeah, it was pretty bad.  But by purchasing it, I had one.  I purchased the above jacket in 2011.  I am not sure if one sold between 2011 and 2019.  The first printing dust jacket for The Secret at Shadow Ranch is quite scarce.

Note:  I mark first printings with stars on the spines.  The star is on the mylar cover, not on the jacket itself.

A seller recently listed a first printing book and jacket for The Secret at Shadow Ranch on eBay.  The jacket also isn't very nice, but overall, it is better than mine.  Knowing that most people are currently uninterested in paying very much for the early first printing dust jackets when not in excellent condition, I didn't want to pay the seller's asking price.  The seller kept relisting the book at a slightly lower price each time.

After a couple of weeks, I decided that I wanted the dust jacket.  I actually didn't care about the signed book one way or the other.  Signed books do nothing for me.  That probably doesn't make sense to most of you, but I simply do not care about signatures in books.  I have no emotional reaction to a signed book.  Also, I am quite aware of the story about how Mildred Wirt Benson was allegedly not paid much to sign a large quantity of books.  That taints the signature.

But I wanted that dust jacket.

I wondered what most people would be willing to pay.  I suspected that a price reduction to $500 would likely do it, because the signature would be quite desirable to many people.  I saw the book itself as no better than the book I already had.  However, I knew others would see the book differently due to the signature.

The dilemma is in deciding how long to wait when a seller continues to relist a book at a lower price each time.  I wanted to get the jacket at a lower price, but I needed to make the purchase before the price was low enough for others to decide to go for it.

When the listing priced at $825 ended, the seller relisted the book at $750.  That was a $75 price reduction and more than the previous reductions.  I pulled my jacket off the shelf.  I had forgotten that the back panel was missing a huge piece.  That made my decision.  I purchased the book at $750.  It likely would have gone lower, but I felt that any further reductions would have made it too risky for me to keep waiting.  As stated previously, I wish to avoid buyer regret.  I am still haunted by two certain books from around 15 years ago that got away.

The seller had written $1100 inside the book, which means that the book was originally priced at $1100 before it was ever listed on eBay.  I am satisfied with having paid $750, especially since I will have to pay 9.1% local sales tax on all of my eBay purchases beginning July 1.  By the way, the sales tax will also be applied to any postage charges.  After July 1, the book would have to be reduced significantly more in order to cancel out the sales tax.  $750 was the right price point for me.

Sometimes we think a price is too high when we first see an item listed.  Sometimes it really is way too high.  If the price is somewhat near what you are willing and able to pay—and the item is very scarce and not likely to show up again anytime soon—then you should purchase the item.  Don't wait and regret it.