Saturday, December 26, 2020

The Enola Holmes Series

I watched the preview for Enola Holmes on Netflix.  I thought I might enjoy the movie, but I decided that I should read the books first, provided that I found them interesting.

I read the beginning of the first book on Amazon, and then purchased it.  I loved it, so I read all six books.  I then watched Enola Holmes on Netflix.  

Let's start with the books.  They are magnificent.  I cannot possibly express how very much I enjoyed them. 

I can't say a lot about the books, simply because I don't want to spoil anything.  I will say that the books remind me a lot of Dickens.  I feel like I'm actually in Victorian London and in the world of Dickens.  That's excellent, because I love that setting.  I have never read Sherlock Holmes, so I can't make any observation about that.

Getting just a little more specific, Enola is trying to stay away from her older brothers, Sherlock and Mycroft, for the duration of the series.  That Enola is in hiding and playing a game of cat and mouse makes the books very suspenseful.  Enola is also a very good detective and is a lot of fun.

I am very glad that I read the books before watching the Netflix movie.  There are several reasons.  The Netflix movie makes a lot of changes.  One of these would have taken away from my reading of the books.  The story involving Enola's mother is changed significantly in the Netflix adaptation, and if I would have have seen the Netflix movie first, I feel that I not only would have felt less suspense but would have expected a certain outcome as I read the books.  

To me, Enola's character in the movie does not have the depth of the book character.  Of course, this is to be expected, but still, I found the character to be lacking.  Don't misunderstand:  The Netflix character is great, but I didn't find her nearly as great as the book character.

I do like Tewksbury better in the Netflix movie.  I really enjoyed the interplay between him and Enola and the hint of romance.  The book's character has a different trajectory, so she wouldn't have the slightest interest in a romance.  

In closing, I recommend both the Netflix movie and the series of books, although the books are more special, in my opinion. 

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

The Thing in B-3 by Talmage Powell

I purchased The Thing in B-3 in a local store last week.  The Thing in B-3 was written by Talmage Powell.  The book was published by Whitman in 1969.  I had seen the book in the store previously, but on that day, I impulsively decided that I might enjoy reading it.  I paid $5 for the book.  

I find that Whitman books vary greatly in quality.  Some books are favorites, but I find that many  Whitman books are substandard or boring.  For that reason, I am always wary of them.  I love the appearance of Whitman books, but the stories are often not very good, in my opinion.

Deciding to purchase The Thing in B-3 was certainly a risky decision based on my past experiences.  I've done it before with other Whitman books and have often regretted those purchases.  I hoped that this purchase wouldn't end up a disaster like so many others.

This is a book where it is best not to give much of a summary.  

Bill Latham, student at Crownover University, has a job in the morgue, cleaning the floor.  One night he finds a body in drawer B-3, an unidentified body that should not be there.

That's all I'm going to reveal.  Spooky, yes?

The text was written quite well and is engaging.  The early part of the story is quite unsettling.  Much of the book plays out like a typical juvenile mystery story, with the backdrop being an unexplained event.

I enjoyed how the author switches perspective between the different characters.  At different times, the text switches between Bill, his father, the housekeeper, Bill's faculty advisor, another doctor, and a couple other people who are involved in the plot.  This is executed well and is not confusing.  Knowing the thoughts of the different characters added to my enjoyment of the story.  

This is a very good to excellent book.  I am so glad that I purchased it.

Monday, December 21, 2020

New Community for Series Book Discussions

I just created a subreddit for vintage series books on Reddit.  Follow the link, and you can read my initial post explaining a few things.  I am hoping that those of you who do not use Facebook will consider joining us on Reddit.

Saturday, December 19, 2020

Books Purchased Today and Recently

I purchased these books locally a couple weeks ago.

The Secret of the Old Mill is the 1927A-1 printing with the mistake "soorry" inside.

Today I purchased some Nancy Drew books with dust jackets.

I also purchased quite a few tweed Nancy Drew books without dust jackets.

I purchased a Whitman book and a Three Investigators book.

Finally, I purchased Little House in the Big Woods with the Sewell illustrations and the dust jacket.  I decided to purchase it as soon as I saw the price of $10.  I was certain that the price was too low, even though I had no idea of the actual value.  I have never been interested in collecting the Little House books, even though I read them when I was young.

My book has "G-U" on the copyright page, so according to this site, it was printed in July 1945.  I looked at sold listings on eBay.  An extremely nice book and dust jacket from 1952 sold for $400.  My book isn't anywhere near that nice, so it's worth a good bit less.  I found another one from 1947 possibly in slightly better condition than mine that sold for $150, so that is probably in the ballpark of what my book is worth.  In any case, I am confident that my book is worth more than $10.

Wednesday, December 2, 2020

Wishing Star #18 Secrets and #19 Sisters

Wishing Star #18 Secrets, Deborah Aydt, 1981

As soon as I sat down to dinner I could tell my parents were upset.

"Something has happened," my father admitted.  "And it's pretty bad.  I've been fired."

"What are we going to do?" I whispered.

Nobody answered.

Cathy's life changes forever after that night.  She switches to a new school, and must cope with her parents' depression and anger as her father is turned away from one job after another.

Her new life holds some happy surprises though.  Cathy fits in with the kids at school, lands a job of her own, and realizes that her friend Benedict is becoming more than just a friend...

It's interesting that the title is Secrets and that the summary mentions nothing about a secret.  There is one, and the summary should have mentioned that part of the plot.

This is a very good book.

Wishing Star #19 Sisters, Audrey P. Johnson, 1982

Would it always be like this?  Would Robin always have to look out for Rae?  Give things up for her?  Robin knows she shouldn't overprotect her sister—but Rae is different...

Robin doesn't really mind moving to the little town on the St. Lawrence River.  She's not crazy about the cold weather, but she's looking forward to making new friends.  And the first one she makes is Chris, who turns out to be very special!

Everything is terrific—except for Rae.  Rae is handicapped, and so self-conscious she spends all her time alone.  Robin feels guilty about her own life—the dates, the parties, the boyfriends—until Rae begins to change.  Before Robin knows it, Rae has her first boyfriend.  The only problem is, it's Chris...

I was surprised that the "handicap" is a slight limp.  I guess I was expecting a bit more than that.  I feel like the early part of the book exaggerates Rae's problem a bit, even though having a limp would be difficult for a teenager who is self-conscious.  Robin states her feelings about Rae on page 5:  "I felt guilty that I was strong and healthy and popular."

I can see where Rae might not be strong or popular because of the limp.  I find it odd that the limp also makes her unhealthy.  Huh.

I enjoyed reading this book, but I found a number of things odd.  I was a bit unsettled and puzzled by the ending.

The rest of this post contains spoilers.  Quit reading now to avoid having the ending spoiled.

When Chris first meets Robin and Rae, he is clearly interested in Rae instead of Robin.  Rae remains aloof, which is how Chris and Robin end up together.  After Chris and Robin have a falling out, Chris goes out with Rae.  They seem to get along pretty well.

Meanwhile, Robin works at a nearby greenhouse and meets Jeffrey.  Jeffrey is cold and arrogant at first, and Robin doesn't like him.  Later, they become friendly, and Jeffrey makes it clear that he is interested in Robin.

Rae and Chris break up.  And then, Robin reflects that she will get back with Chris.  The book pretty abruptly ends.  Uh, what?

I don't like Chris.  Something just doesn't feel right about his relationship with Robin.  I really thought that Robin would develop a relationship with Jeffrey.  She just abandons Jeffrey without any closure.  She isn't even sure about Chris, but she's going to get back with him, even though he has bad traits.  I don't get it.  I thought the author was headed towards a different ending.

Monday, November 30, 2020

Wishing Star #16 Walk Beside Me, Be My Friend and #17 A Summer to Remember

Wishing Star #16, Walk Beside Me, Be My Friend, Joan Oppenheimer, 1978

"Don't walk in front of me.
I may not follow.
Don't walk behind me.
I may not lead.
Walk beside me and just be my friend."

To Kris, anything seems better than living at home.  Her mother is overworked, angry, and demanding.  Her two young brothers are loud and undisciplined.  Her sister is lazy and a brat.  And all Kris does is take care of all of them.

So one night she runs away and finds life on the road is no better.  It holds only violence, terror, and hunger.  It is only when she is placed in Chloe Dunham's foster home that she is able to feel love.  She loves Regan and her loves her.  And out of their love for each other grows a better understanding of her family.

The book pictured is an earlier Scholastic edition not packaged for the Wishing Star set.  Due to the use of stock photos online, this book is hard to locate in the Wishing Star version.

The back cover emphasizes the romance more than it should for this book.  Kris and Regan do like each other, but it's nowhere near love.

This is an excellent book.

Wishing Star #17 A Summer to Remember, Priscilla Maynard, 1982

Carrie's brother is dead.  She has to accept the fact.  But Allen was her idol, and it's so hard to forget him... especially when Marc comes to work on their ranch.  Everything about Marc brings back painful memories of Allen.  And Carrie hates him for it—but at the same time she loves him.  He's kind and gentle and does everything as well as Allen did.

Carrie feels so torn.  She knows she has hurt Marc by avoiding him and brushing him off, but she doesn't know what to do about it.  Then comes the day of danger and excitement that pulls them together—and forces Carrie to face her true feelings.

I did not find this book interesting, so I did not read it.

Saturday, November 28, 2020

Wishing Star #14 Jealousy and #15 The Loving Year

Wishing Star #14 Jealousy, Sheila Schwartz, 1982

Jealous.  That's how Gayle feels almost all the time.  Jealous of Prudence for getting a terrific boyfriend.  Jealous of Stewart for winning the science award.  Jealous of everybody.

Gayle wants to change.  Jealousy only gets her in trouble.  She feels angry and left out and miserable.  And when she fights with Prudence and Stewart she feels hurt.

Gayle doesn't know what to do... until a tragic accident shows her the things that really matter.

Gayle's behavior is intriguing because it is so awful.

This is a very good book.

Wishing Star #15 The Loving Year, Bianca Bradbury, 1982

Faith Conway has always been one of the "summer people" on Stone Island—but not this year.  This year she and her parents will become "islanders," spending the winter in their old summer house.  And Faith is scared.  She's scared of going to a new school, of having to make new friends, of weathering the island's vicious storms.

But Matt Barnes makes a difference.  Strong yet gentle, he shows Faith the island ways, helps her through school, and comes to her rescue during two frightening experiences.

Still there's a distance between them.  Matt's afraid that when summer comes he'll lose Faith to her old crowd—and Faith's afraid he might be right...

This is just a regular all around good book.  Even though the title makes the book sound like it's a romance, it isn't.  This is more a coming-of-age story where Faith is trying to figure out who she is and what is important to her.

Friday, November 27, 2020

Wishing Star #12 Great Lakeside High Experiment and #13 Night Skiers

Wishing Star #12 The Great Lakeside High School Experiment, Neil R. Selden, 1982

The great Lakeside High Experiment is Jen's idea.  And she easily talks her boyfriend, Larry, and two other boyfriends into it.  It's so simple.  Just take a nothing, wallflower girl, pretend she's really great, and make her into a glamorous new person.  All they have to do is keep it a secret from her.

The subject they choose is lifeless, bumbling Maude.  Everything works fine... at first.  Maude gains confidence, changes her appearance, begins to dress better.  But soon Jen suspects things are going a little too well.  She certainly doesn't expect Larry to fall for Maude!  But he does, and after that everything crumbles and keeps crumbling.  Until the night the experiment explodes—for all of them.

Maude is just a really odd name to assign to a teenage girl in the 1980s.  The oddness of the name made the story harder for me to enjoy.

It's obvious that Jen and Larry don't belong together.  Their relationship is really odd and seems a bit fake.

The book is overall very good, but I did a lot of skimming.

Wishing Star #13 The Night Skiers, Dorothy Bastien, 1974

It isn't fair.

Lisa gets stuck with everything at once—the anguish of moving and switching schools during her senior year, the worry over her father's illness... and the heartbreak of leaving her boyfriend, Loren.

Lisa tries to cling to her old life, and makes a dreadful mistake.  She feels so alone, but can't face making friends with any of the new kids—even Curt Hysland who likes her and wants to help her.  How long can Lisa hold on to the past?  Does starting over mean losing what she had before?

This book is just good at the beginning, good enough that I read it.  After the story gets going, the book is excellent.  I enjoyed the character growth that occurs.  I very much enjoyed this book.

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

November 2020 Pandemic Update

Everything fell apart during the week of October 25.  It was around October 22 that I heard that we might have winter precipitation on Tuesday and Wednesday of the next week.  I didn't think much of it, since 90% of the time when winter weather is predicted in Oklahoma, absolutely nothing happens.  The temperature is almost always warmer than initially predicted, and the forecast fizzles out.  

On Sunday, October 25, I learned that the winter precipitation was expected to be an ice storm, but still, I didn't feel that it was that likely to happen.  On Monday, I could tell that it was going to happen and that it would almost certainly be catastrophic. 

Seriously... does absolutely everything have to go wrong in 2020?  Have we slipped into an alternate reality?  At the same time that we had the ice storm warning, New Orleans had a hurricane warning.  That is insane!

Courtesy of

The close proximity of the two storms caused them to affect each other, making both the ice storm and the hurricane worse than they otherwise would have been.  The hurricane became stronger, and the ice storm slowed down, lasting longer.

We had a catastrophic ice storm in December 2007.  The trees were heavily damaged or destroyed.  Power lines and poles fell.  It was dreadful.  The same scenario unfolded again but with one terrible difference.

Like in 2007, the temperature remained at 30 to 32 degrees as it rained for 48 hours.  But quite unfortunately, the trees were still fully covered with green leaves.  The leaves had just barely begun to change from green to yellow, and almost none had fallen. 

The tremendous weight of the ice on the leaves caused the trees to come down.  On some trees, we lost the entire 13 years of growth since the 2007 ice storm.  (The trees had just started looking okay again in the last few years.  Ugh!)  On many other trees, we lost that growth plus a lot more. 

One of the power lines behind my house came down.  All told, I didn't have power for 109 hours.  The first two days were awful.  It was overcast, cold, and raining.  The light coming in from outside was poor due to the cloud cover.  It was so dark!

I do have an inverter generator.  A generator is something that isn't used very often, but it is a lifesaver when it is needed.  The central unit for the front of the house was hooked up to it as well as the refrigerators and freezers.  I did not lose any food.

Due to a remodel, the back of my house has its own central unit.  That one remained disconnected.  Parts of the house were quite cold while other parts were okay but colder than normal.

Due to the widespread power outages, school was closed for three of the days that I didn't have power.  I was glad for that, since I was in no mood to work.  I went back to work on the fourth day that I didn't have power.  I realized how much the power outage was messing with my mind.  It's unnatural for us not to have power, since everything we do depends on it.  It really did mess me up.

After the power came on, I found that I was going into dark rooms and looking for whatever I needed without turning the lights on.  I would then realize that I had electricity and that I could actually turn the lights on.  The power was off for long enough that it did temporarily change my habits.  I think even now that I still have some trauma from it.  Either that, or I'm just traumatized from the entire experience of this incredibly bad year. 

I am discouraged that we had to move to virtual school for the week of November 16-20.  We went straight out of the ice storm and into another crisis.  Students do not learn well virtually.  My county is now red and continuing to worsen, and schools must not be open when the county is red.

We have no national leadership on Covid-19, and our numbers reflect that.  Oklahoma has no real leadership on Covid-19.  The governor pretends like he cares and that he is doing something, but his restrictions mean very little. 

I guess schools closing got his attention a little bit.  He wants schools to be open, so he has placed some ineffective minor restrictions in place.  State employees must now wear masks, but apparently most of them already were.  So the state employee mask mandate doesn't mean that much.  Restaurants must now close at 11 PM.  That's rather ineffective considering that most people eat in restaurants before 11 PM.  What we actually need is a statewide mask mandate, but the governor said months ago that he would never do that.

I want school to be open.  My students want school to be open.  We learned of the switch to virtual learning just before the day ended on Friday, November 13.  The students were not happy.  In a normal year, we would welcome a day to stay at home.  There was no happiness.  We already had five months of school closure from the middle of March to the middle of August.  We then lost three days of school during the ice storm in October.  Now, school is closed again because of the surging Covid-19 infection rate.  We just want our normal lives back.  Please?

Monday, November 23, 2020

October 2020 Pandemic Update

This was written in late September and early October.  My feelings have changed, and I will publish the next post tomorrow.  I decided to publish this one as written.

I cannot say how many times I have thought or said "I don't know" at school recently.  For instance, I had a student present a scenario to me and ask if that would prevent her from completing additional problems on the digital platform.  I thought about it for a few seconds and answered, "I don't know."  I didn't have an answer.

Someone wrote up a summary of a recent board meeting.  Before getting into detail, they gave the gist of the lengthy summary.  The short statement ended with "nobody knows what is going to happen."  That's how we go through each day at work.  We have no idea where any of this is going to take us.  We just don't know anything.

We have been in school nearly two months, and it feels like half a school year.  It also feels like we have accomplished nothing.  2020 feels like it has lasted for several years, and it just keeps going on and on.  I feel like we have slipped into an alternate time line.  

I am stressed but in a way where I am getting by.  It's hard to explain.  I have good coping skills.  My district is worried about all of us, and some teachers are imploding under the stress.  Nobody is behaving as they normally would.

We took a survey to assess how well we are coping.  I answer these kinds of surveys very fast with my initial reaction as to whether I strongly agree, somewhat agree, or disagree with each statement.

I scored well in the survey because I can detach myself from work-related thoughts when I am at home.  I just don't let it bother me.  I also stay away from my school email most of the time I am at home.  Some people cannot detach from it, and they suffer a higher amount of stress.

The entire experience is a bit overwhelming, but it has improved since the start of school.  The initial struggle was trying to set everything up from scratch during the early days of the school year.  The struggle now is in trying to get all of the students to connect and do what they should.  A certain percentage have shut down emotionally and are not doing any work.  

I do understand why some students have shut down.  I have shut down, to some extent.  I have partially let go of this blog.  I am not writing any reviews at all.  I cannot read anything that I would normally read.  I don't enjoy food like I normally would.  I'm not sure how much of that is due to the situation and how much is due to my recurring medication side effect that results in a partial loss of taste.

Don't get the wrong impression:  I'm okay.  I'm just not myself, and I doubt that most people are.  The situation will improve.  I feel that we have five more months before we get past the worst of this.  We will get there.  We just have to hang on.

I don't feel good that we are on the cusp of the dreaded winter wave of Covid-19.  However, I do feel better than I did back in March when I thought of the upcoming winter wave and panicked.  In March, I pushed that aside and didn't dwell on it.  That time is moving ever closer, but we are going to get through this.

I lined up all of my appointments at fall break or thereabouts so that I wouldn't have to miss school.  Also, I want my appointments done before we get into the winter wave of Covid-19.  I knew that I wouldn't enjoy having all these appointments at fall break, but nothing else is going well.  Why not?

Fall break is this week.  I got one appointment done last week, and I have three during fall break.  One of them is an oil change.  In a way, I dread it the most, even more than the dental appointment, which is also quite concerning.  The people who work in the local car dealerships are anti-maskers.  I was the only person wearing a mask the last time I was there, which was in July.  I hope this time is a little better, but I don't have much hope.

I still don't expect that I will reopen either my eBay or Etsy stores until at least May 2021.  The only thing that could cause me to change my mind is if the virus miraculously disappears and our lives immediately go back to normal.  That isn't going to happen, so the stores will remain closed.  

The reason why is that I cannot go to the post office in the morning when I am working.  I refuse to go into any public building past 10:00 AM.  Several people suggested in comments to my previous posts that I could do carrier pickup.  There is no way I will do that.  My carrier is not reliable enough, and I also wouldn't want to leave the packages on my porch unattended for up to five hours until they get picked up.  That's why my stores will remain closed.  Either I will take my packages into the post office, or I will not sell books.  No other option is suitable at this time.

I am thankful that I work in a district that has taken the virus very seriously.  Many other districts, especially rural ones, took few precautions.  I am also thankful that we began the school year with blended learning, which is with half the students at school each day.  Several local districts started the year remote only.  I don't have insight into what happened in those districts, but I suspect that it did not go well.  Likely, many of the students in those districts have not done their work. Those districts are now switching to blended learning.

As a result, the teachers in those districts started with remote learning and now have to readjust to blended learning.  They had the incredible stress of figuring out how to do remote, and now they have to switch gears for blended learning.  I am thankful that we started with blended learning and continue to do blended learning.  I am also thankful each day that I continue not to catch the virus.

Sunday, November 22, 2020

Where Are the Books?

On February 21 and 22, I attended the 2020 Friends of the Library book sale in Oklahoma City.  This is always a huge sale that has upwards of one million books.  That's a lot of books.  In the month leading up to the sale I nervously followed the unfolding pandemic and wondered if the sale would be too risky to attend.  When the week of the sale arrived, there were still no known cases of Covid-19 in Oklahoma.  I decided that I could attend and would probably be okay.  It was fine, but the virus was definitely already circulating in Oklahoma at that time.  We just didn't know that until later.  

There will be no library book sale in 2021, for obvious reasons.  In a way, I'm glad that it won't happen, so I don't have to feel bad about missing it.  That is, I will miss it, but at least I can take solace in knowing that no one else is getting my books.  Oh, snap!  Where are my books?  I refer to the books that I would have ended up finding at this next sale if it were to occur.

The library system has not been accepting donations since early March.  If the books aren't being donated, then where are they going?  It's not like everyone is just keeping their books until after the pandemic is over.

I have been checking some local bookstores around once every four to six weeks.  The inventory was quite depleted during the summer since the stores weren't buying books.  The inventory has now improved, although it is not completely back to normal.  

Based on what I saw and purchased on Friday, I now know that some of the books that would have been donated to the library book sale are being sold to local stores.  Just the sheer number of books that I found makes it likely.  But I also know that some of the books I found yesterday would have ended up at the library sale this next February if all things had been normal.  I will explain.

Let's take a look at what I purchased.

I found some Nancy Drew Twin Thriller editions and softcover Trixie Belden books.  The Twin Thriller editions are in very nice shape.

I purchased a bunch of Baby-Sitters Club books.  The previous owner had purchased most of them from Thriftbooks.

I purchased them because of the increase in value caused by the recent Netflix series (an excellent series, by the way).  Baby-Sitters Club is hot right now.  Hopefully, the books will still be hot whenever I finally decide to sell books again.  If not, then I can probably break even.

I found a biography of Ann M. Martin, who created the Baby-Sitters Club series.

I found some Sweet Valley High books and other assorted vintage paperback books.

Everything mentioned up to this point might or might not have ended up at the library book sale in normal times.  There is no way to know.  It should be noted that vintage teen books like Sweet Valley High almost never show up in my local stores.  I find them at the library book sale and nowhere else.  I am definitely seeing more of that type of book in local stores, which does make me wonder.  I just purchased some last month, so for the first time since probably the 1990s, I have purchased vintage teen books in local stores during two consecutive months.  Hmm...

The rest of the books pictured in this post absolutely would have been donated to the library system if they were taking donations.

All of the local school districts donate their library discards to the library book sale.  This has always been the case.  I now know what one local school did with their books.  They were sold to one of the local book stores.

I purchased a large number of Christopher Pike and R. L. Stine books that were very recently discarded (definitely between August and now based on clues found inside some books) from a middle school in the Oklahoma City area.  The books would have shown up in my favorite part of the sale, which is the section with vintage teen books. 

The vintage teen books section really is my favorite part of the sale, since the books typically never show up in the local book stores.  The library sale is the only place where I ever find them.  Not this year.  Now they are going to the local stores.  I am so excited that I managed to find some of my books that I would normally have purchased at the library book sale.  

I purchased these hardcover Perma-Bound Christopher Pike books.  I did purchase some duplicates; I don't mess around.

I will keep all of the Pike books except for the duplicates.  I now have hardcover reading copies!  This is so thrilling!

I also purchased these R. L. Stine books, most of them hardcover Perma-Bound editions.  The R. L. Stine books came from the same middle school.  I accidentally placed one Point Horror book by another author in this set of pictures. 

I will be selling all of the Stine books, since I don't care for his writing.  I do understand how much others love Stine's books, which is why I purchase them when I find them.  The Stine books will be placed up for sale whenever I decide to begin selling again, probably in late May 2021.  

Monday, November 9, 2020

The Dana Girls Guide Has Arrived

I received my copy of The Dana Girls Guide today.  

This guide details first and subsequent printings of all titles in the Dana Girls series.  The guide also gives some information on other formats, including international editions and library editions.

The format used matches the format in Farah's Guide and in Hardy and Hardy Investigations.  If you are familiar with either of those guides, then you will know what to expect.  I look forward to checking my books to see how many first printings I managed to find over the years when I didn't know what the actual first printing points were.

The guide does not have values, but anyone can get an idea of value by checking out eBay completed listings.  The purpose of this book is to figure out how early of a printing any given book is.

I also purchased the latest Hardy Boys guide.  I hadn't gotten around to it, so this was the perfect time to do so.

Ordering information can be found at the SynSine Press website.

If you think The Dana Girls Guide is a guide that you would want to own, don't delay getting your order in.  The guide should be available for a while, but it won't be available indefinitely.  There will come a point in the future when it will no longer be in print. 

Sunday, November 8, 2020

Wishing Star #10 Remember to Love and #11 Honey

Wishing Star #10 Remember to Love, Dorothy Bastien, 1979

At seventeen, Linda is pretty, captain of the tennis team, and she and Brian are very much in love.  Life is exciting and full.  Suddenly, she discovers that she has a fatal disease.

She rages against the knowledge that she is dying, inwardly shouting, "Why me?"  Refusing to accept the truth, she clings to every speck of hope that she will live.  Finally, she turns to Brian and with his help she faces the future with courage.

The book pictured is an earlier Scholastic edition not packaged for the Wishing Star set.  Due to the use of stock photos online, this book is hard to locate in the Wishing Star version.

Linda is not told what is wrong with her until page 68.  Her parents and boyfriend already know, and they don't tell her.  I was so annoyed.

This book never interested me.  I skimmed my way through it.

Wishing Star #11 Honey, Helen Cavanagh, 1979

Honey wishes she could have a pretty home and a mother who really cares about her.  Ever since her father left them, Honey has been taking care of everything!  She wishes someone would worry about her for a change.  If only she had a friend she could talk to...

Why does she feel so guilty about her mother?  And why is she so mean to Danny when she knows how much he loves her?  Suddenly Honey's world is coming apart—her father is coming back to live with them!  Can she ever forgive him?

This book has an annoying prologue telling all about how Honey feels about various people, then the first chapter shares even more background information.  Up through chapter 5 is background information, and the story does not reach the present until page 58.

Authors should always just get to the story.  The background information is easier to digest when presented throughout the story when relevant.

On page 43, Honey tells the reader that the "only other Black people [she] knew were Mrs. Lance..."  The word "Black" as a proper noun really jumped out at me.  As of June 2020, the media have begun capitalizing "Black" when it refers to the race.  This book was far ahead of its time in respect to that.  Of course, it was probably just a mistake, but still, I found it interesting.

On page 44, Honey explains what she thinks of Van.
We thought she was romantic the way she dressed.  She was our connection, we thought, to the awesomeness and mystery of deep, dark Africa.

I made the mistake of telling her that.

"Listen, little girl," she said angrily, "America is my home.  This isn't the South and this isn't the olden days.  The way I dress isn't far out.  Dunham is just way behind the times, that's all.  Go to New York sometimes, girls, or even just into Boston for the day.  Don't you be thinking I'm some kind of freak.  Women can dress any damn way they please today and I'm my own woman!"
You tell her, Van!

On pages 157 and 158, Van explains about Mother-Pie.
"Okay, so Mama said:  Imagine a pie.  If you cut it up, it's still a pie; still good and nourishing.  It can fill you up with goodness.  Say your real mother is one piece of pie, Honey, and Mrs. Redfield is another.  Your friend, the librarian, is another piece and the old lady who just died was one more.  They all give you what they can give.  And it sounds like your Danny might be a piece of that pie too, and maybe even your dad at one time."  She grinned.  "Men can be mothers too, you know."

Then her dark eyes were boring into mine again.

"Ever consider I might be part of your Mother-Pie?"

I was floored.   "You?" I gasped.

"Sure," she said.  "I'm the mean Mom.  The bossy one.  The one who makes you wipe your feet and do your homework and wants you to look as good as the other kinds.  Yeah, Honey-chile, call me Mother too."
This book is good at the the beginning, although rather tedious.  From page 58 on, the book is very good to excellent.  Overall, the book is very good.

Wednesday, November 4, 2020

Hardy Boys Adventures #21 A Treacherous Tide

I never reviewed Hardy Boys Adventures #20, Return to Black Bear Mountain.  The book bored me, and it wasn't worth trying to write up any kind of summary.  I guessed the culprits very early in the books, because it was that obvious.  I'm not sure how early I guessed, but it had to have been in the first two to three chapters.  The entire book bored me, and I never cared.  I recall skimming some of the book.

In Hardy Boys Adventures #21, A Treacherous Tide, Frank and Joe have volunteered to work on a research vessel in the Florida Keys.  Dr. E. Ella Edwards studies sharks, and the boys are eager to work with her.  Their plans take a sudden turn when Dr. Edwards disappears.  She was on her surfboard, which washes ashore damaged by a shark's bite.  The plot thickens when the boys learn that Dr. Edwards was to be the deciding vote on whether a resort can be built on Lookout Key.

Mayor Boothby is an interesting politician.  He is described as follows on page 101.
I was starting to suspect that Boothby was on the level with us about being a pawn in the blackmailer's schemes.  One thing I'd noticed about Mayor Boothby:  he wasn't so much a convincing liar as an enthusiastic one.  Some people are so great at deception, you never notice anything amiss.  Boothby wasn't one of them.  He sold his lies with bombastic stories and a knack for reading a crowd and knowing what they wanted to hear.  It's a lot easier for people to believe a lie if it confirms something they're already worried about—like sharks making them unsafe.  The guy was a showman.  Subtle wasn't his style.
That made me laugh.

This is a very good book that has humor and is paced well.  Humor is very important and tends to be done right in the new Hardy Boys and Tom Swift books.  It is in the Nancy Drew Diaries series that Nancy is used as the butt of a joke to order to create humor.  The way the humor is done in a story makes all the difference.

This is a very good book.

Sunday, November 1, 2020

A Review of Nancy Drew Ghost Stories

I have not been reading any books at all in the last couple of weeks.  Just about everything that could go wrong did go wrong, culminating in a catastrophic ice storm that resulted in me not having power for 109 hours.  I also have a very bad feeling about this week and the next couple of months, but that's a topic for another post.

I still didn't have power on Saturday morning, although by that point the linemen had arrived and were replacing the pole and fixing the downed lines.  I saw where the Nancy Drew Book Club Facebook group was discussing the Nancy Drew Ghost Stories.

Well, why not?  I hadn't been in the mood to read series books, but I could probably manage this one.  I had never read it before.  I had enough sunlight shining in through the windows to be able to read.

I chose my Econo-Clad hardcover library binding to read.  The book was rebound from an early Wanderer printing and has nice white paper.  The entire reason I started building a set of the Nancy Drew Digest books in hardcover was to have hardcover books to read.

The stories in this book vary in how good they are, and I suspect that multiple ghostwriters were involved.  The adjectives used to describe Nancy's hair color vary by story:  reddish-blond, strawberry-blond, or titian.

The book contains six short stories.
In "The Campus Ghost," a professor has been dead for five years.  That is, she was swept away in a flood, and her body was never found.  Someone who looks like her has been appearing at night in the laboratory at the school.  This story was too predictable for me, although I did find it overall enjoyable.  

"The Ghost Dogs of Whispering Oaks" is much more compelling.  This story partially inspired Her Interactive's Nancy Drew game, Ghost Dogs of Moon Lake.  This story would have made for a good full-length Nancy Drew book.  I really enjoyed it.

I read part of "Blackbeard's Skull," and then I skimmed the rest of it.  I felt that for a short story it has too many characters.  A short story has less room for detail than a longer story does.  I couldn't keep the characters straight.

"The Ghost Jogger" just seemed a bit flat to me, so I didn't read much of it.  

I barely glanced at "The Curse of the Frog" and "The Greenhouse Ghost."  They appeared to be just like the Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys, and Dana Girls books of the 1970s.  This is not a compliment.  It should be noted that there are some very good books from the 1970s, but in general, the stories are a bit boring.

So, I managed to read part of the book.  At least that's something.  My power came back on at 1:26 PM on Saturday, which is even better. 

Saturday, October 24, 2020

An Auction for a Nancy Drew 1940s Style Library Binding

A copy of Nancy Drew #2, The Hidden Staircase, in the 1940s style library binding was auctioned on eBay.  It is quite fortunate for the seller that they decided on an auction, since two people bid very aggressively on the auction. 

I did not need this title since I do already own it.  My page on this library edition does not show this title, because I no longer add images to my cover art galleries.  I have lost interest because of people who have taken my images and put them on their own sites with no source attribution.  Also, most people seem to be more interested in asking questions on Facebook than in using Internet search to find series book websites.  Why should I bother?

So fortunately, I didn't need this book.  I consider this particular binding style to be the scarcest of the Nancy Drew library bindings.  This binding is so scarce that it could be considered rare, and that's a word I typically never use for anything.

Consider that there are fewer known copies of each title in this library binding set than there are known copies of The Secret of the Old Clock with the 1930A-1 dust jacket.  In fact, there are only slightly more known copies of all titles combined of this library binding than there are of known 1930A-1 Old Clock dust jackets.  At present, we know of 13 surviving Old Clock 1930A-1 dust jackets.

Known copies of the 1940s style library binding:

 #1 one (mine) 
 #2 three (mine, another one, and the one just auctioned)
 #3 one (mine)
 #5 two (mine and one that I sold years ago)
 #6 one (mine)
 #7 one (mine)
 #8 one (mine)
 #9 one (owned by someone else)
#10 two (both owned by someone else)
#11 one (mine)
#13 one (owned by someone else)
#15 two (one that sold on eBay and another owned by someone else)
#16 two (both owned by someone else)

That's not very many known copies.  Describing these books as rare is justified.

While I know of three copies of #2, that doesn't make it any easier to find than the rest of the books.  There just aren't enough of these books out there for anyone to find.  

The question is whether the book is worth the final price of $234.50 plus $3.45 shipping (with sales tax possibly added to the total).  Rare items are always worth whatever someone is willing to pay.  So yes, paying over $200 is worth it.  

A rule of thumb used many years ago was that the actual value of an item auctioned on eBay is what the third highest bidder was willing to pay.  The third highest bidder for this book was willing to pay $77.00.  I feel like $75 to $100 is probably a fair price to put on these books if using the fixed-price format, so $77.00 is in line with that. 

However, I do not feel that the winning bidder paid too much.  When two people want a book badly, they will have to compete for it.  That's what happened here.  If I had needed the book, I would have had to have joined the fray as well.  With the competitive bidding now occurring on Nancy Drew library editions, I would have had to have to outbid anyone else who wanted the book.  That's just how it is.  Sometimes the winning bidder has to pay a large amount in order to acquire the book.

As long as the winning bidder can afford the closing price, then it is always worth paying that price to win the auction.  It is far better to pay a higher price than what one might prefer than to regret not bidding high enough.  I still regret not bidding higher on the copy of #15 in this library binding that sold around 10 to 15 years ago on eBay.  Another one has not come up for sale.

I do recommend that library binding enthusiasts consider eSnipe.  If both of the two highest bidders had used eSnipe and held their bids until the final 10 seconds, then the book almost certainly would have closed a good bit lower.  I have used eSnipe since 2001.  While I cannot determine exactly what I have saved, I am certain that I have saved a large amount of money.  

There are also other reasons why waiting until the end of the auction is best, especially when one has become well known among other collectors.  The below passage is an excerpt from an old post in this blog.

Many of us have had bad experiences when bidding early.  I used to bid my maximum early in cases when I was unable to be home to snipe, before I began using eSnipe.  One time a knowledgeable collector spent an hour picking at my bid and finally gave up at just under my maximum.  I would have saved a lot on that book by not bidding until the end.  I never understood why he spent an hour bidding on the auction.

Back years ago when IDs were not hidden and before I sniped, I had a stalker who would bid on items I had found.  That person would "grudge bid" by bidding an outrageous amount just to make me pay a high price for the item.  I got tired of it and decided to bid lower than usual on purpose to catch him at it.  He won the auction.  I received a second chance offer from the seller, since apparently my stalker was unwilling to pay what he had bid.  I refused the second chance offer, even though the price was within what I was willing to pay.

For those reasons and others, I always bid my maximum at the very end of an auction.  

While I cannot prove that I have saved money by sniping, I am absolutely certain that I have.

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

The Dana Girls Guide

We have been waiting for the Dana Girls Guide for around 20 years.  Finally, it will be available in early November.  Please visit SynSine Press for ordering information.  

If you think you will ever want to have a guide to the Dana Girls series, then you need to go ahead and purchase the guide.  The guide will most likely not remain in print.  If you miss this opportunity, then you will have trouble ever finding it in the secondhand market.  Past SynSine Press publications like A Guide to Judy Bolton Country are desired by many who never had the chance to order when available, and those publications almost never come up for sale.  When they do, they are usually expensive.  Don't miss this opportunity.

Monday, October 19, 2020

Series Collector Obituaries

We have lost several series book collectors this year.

Collector Tim Sampson passed away back in the spring.  He was active on Facebook.  He collected many very obscure series and often shared photos of them on Facebook.  Below are a couple of pictures he shared of some of his books.

We lost Joe Slavin in May from Covid-19.  Joe was a well known collector of series books.  You can read Joe's obituary here.

In September, we lost Carolyn Stewart Dyer, who organized the first Nancy Drew conference in 1993.  Read Carolyn's obituary here.

A shocking recent death was that of Bob Williams this month.  Bob passed away from a heart attack.  Bob was actively buying and selling books and had made quite a few recent posts on Facebook about some outstanding series book finds.  Read about Bob's life here and here.

Below is a screen capture of Bob's Etsy shop from right about when he passed away.

I am saddened by these losses.  

Saturday, October 17, 2020

A Group of Books Purchased Locally

In my September 6th post about book hunting, I explained how I hunt for books these days. 

For a number of years now, I have done only targeted book hunting.  I only go to places where I often make good finds.  That way, I'm not wasting much energy.  My pattern prior to March was to check those select places around twice per month.  During this pandemic, I will check those places around once every four to eight weeks.

That was six weeks ago, and I finally made my next visit to just a few select locations where I am more likely to find books.

I purchased some Three Investigators, Nancy Drew, and Trixie Belden books.

The Three Investigators book was priced lower than it should have been.  The Ghost of Blackwood Hall is the first picture cover printing.  It was priced about what I am usually willing to pay, which means not cheap but not too high for me to be able to sell it.  

I purchased the square Trixie Belden paperbacks just to rescue them from the store.  I have mentioned in previous posts that paperback books are almost always priced at $2.00 and up here in Oklahoma.  I continue to be astonished that people can actually purchase books nowadays for as low as $0.10.  Around here, those days are long gone.  The Trixie Belden paperbacks were $2.00 or higher.  I truly was just rescuing them, since I find that buyers prefer the oval Trixie Belden paperbacks.

I found three Dean Trixie Belden hardcover books from the UK.  Those don't show up in the United States very often, so that was a decent find.  The books were not cheap, but they were worth purchasing.

I also purchased some vintage teen books from the 1990s.

The books had been in the store for a number of months.  I posted a picture of the books as seen in the store in September in the Vintage Teen Books group.  There was enough enthusiasm from members that I realized that I should rescue the books.  Some of the books were $2.00 and others were a bit higher.  I don't think I will be keeping them, so the price was a bit steep to me, which is why I hadn't already purchased them.  However, the low price of the Three Investigators book balanced out the cost.

I still am not planning to sell any books online before May 2021.  The books will be shelved, and they will be waiting for the day when I finally open my stores again.