Monday, September 16, 2019

Dana Girls #16 Mystery at the Crossroads

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, September 13, 2019

Dana Girls #15 The Secret of the Jade Ring

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Dana Girls #14 The Clue in the Ivy

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

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

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

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

This is an overall good book.

Monday, September 9, 2019

Figuring Out My Nancy Drew

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nancy Drew #57-78

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

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

Nancy Drew #79-175

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

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

Nancy Drew Files

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

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

Nancy Drew Girl Detective

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

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

Nancy Drew Diaries

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Long live Nancy Drew!

Sunday, September 8, 2019

Dana Girls #13 The Secret in the Old Well

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, September 6, 2019

Dana Girls #12 The Portrait in the Sand

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Nancy Pembroke #7 Nancy Pembroke, Senior

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, September 2, 2019

Dana Girls #11 The Clue of the Rusty Key

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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