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 Oppenheimer, 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, 1984
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.

Sunday, April 7, 2019

Judy Bolton #36 The Pledge of the Twin Knights

In Judy Bolton #36, The Pledge of the Twin Knights, Judy and Honey join the chess club at its meeting in one of the conference rooms of the Hamilton Manufacturing Company.  Judy considers the location to be strange and wonders whether any of the members could discover the company's secrets.

Horace and Donald are called back to the newspaper during the meeting, and Judy's disquiet grows.  She seeks out a radio, learning from the news that 10 prisoners have escaped.  Judy's new friend, Lorna, acts strange, and Judy wonders if she knows something.  Later, Judy learns that her father is missing.

A baby swallowed a screw, and Dr. Bolton is supposed to remove the screw by dropping a magnet down the esophagus.  Since Dr. Bolton is missing, the hospital decides to wait until Dr. Bolton is found before doing anything about the screw.  What if Dr. Bolton is never found?  What if they end up waiting too long?  The hospital's decision seems strange to me.

This story is quite compelling, since Dr. Bolton is missing.  This is an excellent book.

Friday, April 5, 2019

Judy Bolton #34 The Puzzle in the Pond and #35 The Hidden Clue

In Judy Bolton #34, The Puzzle in the Pond, Judy discovers a piece of the Boltons' old furniture from the Roulsville flood in a pond near the Jewell sisters' property.  The pond is upstream from Roulville, so Judy is mystified how the furniture came to be in the pond.  Judy also helps locate a missing boy from a nearby orphanage and hopes to reunite him with his father.

On page 52, the reader learns that the Roulsville flood occurred six years ago, which puts Judy's age at about 21.

On page 142, Blackberry has gone inside an abandoned house.  He will not come when Judy calls him, so she and Peter drive off.  Judy is rather careless with that cat.  Of course, he's supposed to be as smart as a human, so the reader can assume that the cat will be found.  In real life, the cat would end up lost forever.

The ending of this book is more drawn out than I would have liked, and I became quite bored towards the end.  I do like how the book has a connection with the Roulsville flood.

This is an overall very good book, but some parts were not very compelling and bored me.

In Judy Bolton #35, The Hidden Clue, Judy cares for a young sister and brother who have no place to stay after their orphanage burned.  The girl and boy have no names and are known as Sister and Little Brother.  Judy learns about a talking doll that Sister remembers and feels that the doll is a clue to Sister's past.

I do not find Sister to be at all likable, so I was never interested in the story.

This book bored me.  I do not like it, and I have never liked it.

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Only Six More Books to Go...

I am on a quest to build a complete set of Nancy Drew #57 through #175 in hardcover library editions.  I have worked on this set since 2001.  For the last couple of years, I have worked harder at locating the books.  Additionally, a few of you are now keeping an eye out for the books I do not have.

Since I wrote about my search last summer, I have acquired three more books.

115. The Suspect in the Smoke, 1993
122. The Message in the Haunted Mansion, 1994
130. The Sign of the Falcon, 1996

I acquired #130 on August 20, 2018, thanks to a fellow collector's sharp eyes.  I acquired #122 on September 24, 2018 and #115 on March 1, 2019.  These three books were the lowest-numbered books that I needed.

I still need the following books.

148. On the Trail of Trouble, 1999
158. The Curse of the Black Cat, 2001
160. The Clue on the Crystal Dove, 2001
169. The Mistletoe Mystery, 2002
170. No Strings Attached, 2003
175. Werewolf in a Winter Wonderland, 2003

I don't know if I can complete the set, since Nancy Drew #57-175 were never issued as a set in hardcover.  The hardcover books that I have acquired came from random softcover books that were sent to binderies by libraries to be rebound as hardcover books.  Not all softcover titles were necessarily ever rebound as hardcover books.  The higher the number in the set, the fewer copies that were printed in softcover.  This results in fewer copies that could have been rebound as hardcover books.

I have attempted to build sets of other library bindings for Nancy Drew #1-56.  I have run into problems since sometimes certain volumes were never bound in a particular type of binding.  Consider the binding that I refer to as the Cameo library binding.  On this page, you'll notice that I do not picture #12 Hollow Oak.  The page was put together over a decade ago.  I have far more examples of the Cameo library binding than what I have pictured on the site.  I have still never seen an example of #12 Hollow Oak.  I have all of #1-11 and #13-34 in multiple copies of each in different binding colors, but I have never found #12 Hollow Oak.

That's why I can't be sure that all of Nancy Drew #57-175 were rebound as hardcover library editions.

So now I am down to where it gets really hard to acquire the final titles, if they exist.  #169 almost certainly exists since Amazon has a product page for the library edition.  For the other titles, I consider it likely that #148 exists, somewhat likely that #158 and #160 exist, and possible that #170 exists.  I don't know about #175, but I am ever hopeful that all of the books exist in hardcover.

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Nancy Drew and the Hidden Staircase Now on DVD

Nancy Drew and the Hidden Staircase starring Sophia Lillis was released on DVD on April 2.  The movie was always planned as a direct-to-DVD release.  It was released in theaters briefly in order to help promote the DVD.

The movie is available in Walmart and Target stores and is also showing up for sale online on various sites.  My Walmart store had over two dozen copies, so Walmart is probably the best option.

The last part of the movie has a teaser about a possible future adventure, and I would really like to see it come to fruition.  For that to happen, the movie needs to successful.  Let's get some DVDs purchased so that we can keep the Nancy Drew brand viable!

I did see the movie in the theater, and I did enjoy it.  I will write up a review for this blog at some point in the near future after I have viewed the movie again on DVD.

Monday, April 1, 2019

At a Crossroads with eBay and Etsy

eBay now requires that all fixed-price listings be listed as Good 'Til Cancelled (GTC).  At least half of my listings are now GTC, and the rest will follow within the next two weeks as they are relisted.

I previously mentioned that I will no longer be able to float more than 250 listings because of this change.  On March 31, I had 211 active listings and one expired listing that needed to be relisted.  I had already used all of my 250 free fixed-priced listings, so I had to wait until my listings reset in order to avoid a listing fee of $0.25.  If all of my listings were already GTC, then that one extra listing would have auto-relisted and caused me to incur the fee of $0.25.  I still have slightly too many listings.

I have been trying to figure out how to handle this situation.  Am I better off paying higher fees on eBay?  Should I list on other venues?

On Amazon, sellers pay a $39.99 monthly fee in order to list items, and then they pay the transaction fees as items sell.  While the monthly fee is significant, Amazon does have the traffic and sales.  Sellers do not have to advertise their Amazon listings.  While intriguing, I decided not to pursue selling on Amazon at this time.

I am already on Etsy where I do not have a monthly fee.  I pay $0.20 per item for each item to be listed for four months.  That isn't bad.  I have been pretty satisfied with Etsy, but sales come and go.  I have really good periods and then nothing.

I do not care to expand my Etsy shop more than I have already done, because I am not certain about future Etsy policies.  Etsy sent out a survey to a portion of its sellers.  Sellers had to sign a nondisclosure affidavit in order to take the survey.  Read eCommercebytes for some information.

I looked into paying for a higher-level eBay store.  The screen captures seen below were taken from this page.

I have the Basic eBay store and have a yearly subscription, so I pay $21.95 per month.

This next table shows how many free listings are allocated to each store type.

There's a reason why I never mention my 250 free auction listings:  I cannot use them.  The books category is not one of the allowed categories for the free auction listings.  That really angers me.  I'm told that I get 500 free listings per month, but I only sell books.  I cannot use the 250 auction listings.  If I could use them, I'd list some of my better books in auctions.  I would then have enough free listings for each month.  It's a shame.

I've been eyeing the next level of eBay store, which is Premium.  I would get 1,000 free fixed-price listings, but that is way more than I need.  I would have to pay $59.95 per month if I go with the yearly subscription.  It's doable, but I'm not ready to seriously consider it.  $59.95 is a significant increase per month from $21.95, and I would still be paying all the final value fees and PayPal fees in addition to that.

I see myself as having three options.  For the first option, I could continue with stores on both eBay and Etsy.  I would have to keep my eBay listings down to my current level to avoid incurring any additional fees.

The second option would be to keep my stores on eBay and Etsy as they are but go ahead and incur some extra listing fees on eBay.  For instance, I could list 50 extra items per month on eBay, which would cause me to pay $12.50 extra in fees per month.

The third option would be to close my Etsy shop completely and change to the Premium eBay store.  That way, I would save the Etsy listing fees and would then list everything on eBay.  I would still end up paying higher fees on eBay than I currently do on eBay and Etsy combined.

For now, I'm going to stay at my current eBay store level and wait to see what happens with Etsy.  However, the second option is the most logical of the three options.

I have believed from the start that eBay forced all fixed-price listings to GTC in order to eliminate the float.  By eliminating the float, sellers must pay for all extra listings above the listing allocation, which is a sly way for eBay to raise fees to sellers.  My fees will increase once I decide to give in.  I do think I will ultimately yield and will go with the second option mentioned above.  The change in policy is about money, and eBay will get that money.

Meanwhile, I am still working on decreasing my eBay listings, especially the stagnant ones.  77 eBay listings are currently on sale for 15% off.  The sale ends on April 7.  After April 7, the sale will be null and void.

All orders of $35 or more on either eBay or Etsy will receive free shipping to United States addresses.

Jennifer's Series Books on eBay

Jennifer's Series Books on Etsy