Thursday, January 30, 2020

Sweet Dreams #19 Love Song and #20 The Popularity Summer

Sweet Dreams #19, Love Song, Anne Park, 1982

When Dennis, a popular senior, asks Elizabeth for a date, she's so surprised and happy, she's practically floating on air.  She's never liked a boy as much as she likes Dennis.

But can their relationship ever work out?  Dennis comes from a wealthy family and Elizabeth's mother can barely make ends meet.  Worse, Dennis refuses to go steady.  He says he likes Elizabeth but he keeps going out with other girls.  Especially perfect Melissa who comes from the "right side of the tracks."

Elizabeth never knows where she stands.  How much does Melissa mean to Dennis and how much does Elizabeth mean to him?  Could Dennis really love a girl who came from the wrong part of town?

I like the first half of the story a lot.  I was a little bored during the second half and partly skimmed it.  Overall, this is a very good book

Sweet Dreams #20, The Popularity Summer, Rosemary Vernon, 1983

When Frannie's friends first told her about the Popularity Plan, she didn't believe them.  How could anything ever help her with her shyness or even get her a boyfriend?  But it worked!

Now, a year later, she's going steady with Ronnie, and even helping her shy cousin Joleen use the Popularity Plan herself.  But watching Joleen's first romance come true, Frannie begins to wonder about her own.  Does Ronnie still love her?  Does she still love him?  Whatever happened to the tingle she used to feel?

And if she does still love him, why is it so hard to say "no" to that handsome lifeguard who keeps asking her out?

I couldn't read the first book, Popularity Plan, so I didn't try to read this one.

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Sweet Dreams #17 Ask Annie and #18 Ten-Boy Summer

Sweet Dreams #17 Ask Annie, Suzanne Rand, 1982

Annie's shyness disappeared when she started giving the guys advice about their girlfriends.  Now all the boys talk to her, especially Tim, the boy Annie's crazy about.

At first, Annie's thrilled just to be with Tim—until he asks Annie about how to keep beautiful, stuck-up Marcy in line.  Now Annie needs some advice of her own.  If she helps Tim keep Marcy, she'll never get a chance with him.  But if she doesn't, will Tim stop being her friend?

This is a pretty good book.

Sweet Dreams #18 Ten-Boy Summer, Janet Quin-Harkin, 1982

Jill's vacation gets off to a wild start when her best friend, Toni, thinks up a contest—who can be the first to date ten new boys!  It seems like a great solution to a boring summer until the girls get into a big fight over one of the boys.  Suddenly the friendly competition turns into all-out war.

Then, Jill meets Date Number Three and she knows she's in love.  And Craig likes her too—in fact, he wants her all to himself.  But he doesn't know about the contest, and Jill's afraid to tell him.

If she drops out of the contest, Jill won't be able to face her best friend.  If she doesn't, she'll lose the boy she loves.

This sort of story is too stupid for me.  I read part of it and quit.  I was not interested.

Sunday, January 26, 2020

The Difficulty of Finding a Good Book to Read

In my summary of my 2019 reading, I explained how I was less interested in reading than I was previously.  This trend has continued and is worsening.

I have actually read seven books so far this month, so I am still reading.  However, I'm not enjoying the books very much.  I broke away from the Sweet Dreams set again at the start of this month.  I tried reading a few vintage series books from the 1930s.  The series books of the 1930s have always been favorites.  Unfortunately, the books aren't doing much for me right now.

The latest Nancy Drew Diaries book, Hidden Pictures, arrived last Sunday.  I can't tell you how I excited I was!  I always enjoy the process of reading and reviewing the Diaries books, even when I don't like the book.  I knew I was in for a fun experience regardless, and I read that book quickly.

As I wrote in my review of Hidden Pictures, I felt a loss when I finished the book.  I want to read a pile of books that are exactly like it.  Where do I find them?  This is so distressing.

I then decided that a book by Mildred Wirt Benson ought to do it, so I read The Hollow Wall Mystery.  I enjoyed it, but honestly, not that much.  The book is good, but it's not what I want to be reading.

So, back to Sweet Dreams.  If I'm not even going to enjoy reading books that I ought to enjoy reading, then I might as well continue attacking my TBR pile.

This weekend I have read or attempted to read these six Sweet Dreams books.  That six books are involved should tell you that I didn't read most of them.

I quit Dial L for Love and Too Much to Lose early in each story.  I actually read Lights, Camera, Love.  It's a good book.  Magic Moments has a strong opening, but then I got bored and quit partway through the story.  Love Notes seems boring from the start, so I couldn't read it.  I tend not to read any of the books that feature girls who are strongly into learning dance or becoming a professional musician.  I am now reading Ghost of a Chance, and it's pretty good so far.

I definitely like the Wildfire Romance series better than Sweet Dreams.  This is still just based on a one-fifth of the Sweet Dreams series as compared to the entire Wildfire Romance set.  My opinion could change, but it's holding steady as I sample additional Sweet Dreams books.

The Wildfire Romance books feature slightly more of a type of book that strongly appeals to me.  I prefer the books where the girl has a more significant problem that must be solved, rather than a bunch of fluff.

I will continue with Sweet Dreams reviews.  Many of them will just consist of the publisher's summary followed by a short statement of whether I enjoyed the book.  Since I have been unable to read many of them, my statement will be short and to the point.

I am putting the Sweet Dreams books up for sale as I progress through the set. 

Sweet Dreams books on eBay

Saturday, January 25, 2020

Nancy Drew Diaries #19 Hidden Pictures

In Nancy Drew Diaries #19, Hidden Pictures, Nancy receives a newspaper article in the mail.  The article tells about an employee who disappeared from the Carlisle Museum—and then reappeared inside a vintage photo displayed in the museum's Christopher DeSantos exhibit!

Nancy, Bess, and George travel to Shady Oaks, where the museum is located.  Upon their arrival, the girls learn that another person has vanished, and this victim has also reappeared inside a vintage photo in the exhibit.  The photos are locked inside their frames via combination locks, which makes tampering highly unlikely.  Nancy feels certain that spirits are not responsible, and she sets out to uncover the culprit.

The entire Nancy Drew Diaries series has been plagued by the constant switching between bad authors and good authors.  Each time we get a good book, we then get a bad book, and the cycle repeats.  Since I did not like the previous book, as it bears too much resemblance to The Haunting on Heliotrope Lane, I fully expected this book to be good, which would fit the constantly changing pattern of the series.  I was correct.  And of course, this means that the next book will probably be awful.

This book has none of the problems of any of the substandard books in this series.  Since I have read the books in this series months apart from each other over the course of the last seven years, it's hard to compare how good the books are to each other.  Looking over my past reviews, I estimate that this book is one of the top five to seven books in the set, which to date contains 20 titles.

The story starts off very strong and is interesting from the very first page.  I was captivated immediately and read through the entire book quickly.

On page 28, the girls end up with an extra plate of eggs at a restaurant, due to the sudden departure of a dining companion.  "Bess happily ate them herself."  Ah, nice.  This fits the continuity of the original Nancy Drew series.  This is also a big clue that this author did not write any of the Diaries books where George eats a large quantity of food for no reason.

From page 102:
Both [Bess] and George looked concerned by the idea that I might be the next target, and I could tell that Bess in particular was remembering being kidnapped herself, not too long ago.
Bess was kidnapped in the previous title, The Stolen Show.  Normally, I would conclude that this author also wrote that book, but The Stolen Show is too much like Heliotrope Lane.  There is no way that the author of Heliotrope Lane wrote this new book, unless the author of Heliotrope Lane suffers from multiple personality disorder.

This book has no mention of the restroom or needing to pee.  Nobody smirks.

The other books in the series make mention of Nancy being forgetful or unaware of basic life details when she is focused on a case.  This often comes across as a cheap shot taken at Nancy, due to how the author conveys this information.

On page 151, Nancy suddenly realizes that it is morning, and that she hadn't noticed that they were at the police station all night long.  The way the information is conveyed is perfect and does not make Nancy look bad at all.  Nancy is just uber-focused on the case.  Well done, ghostwriter!

This story actually is sabotage for the umpteenth time.  However, this is creative sabotage of the type usually seen in the Hardy Boys Adventures series.  This type of sabotage is fascinating.

This book is very good to excellent.  I actually felt a loss when I finished, because I wanted to read another book just like it.  I enjoyed this book more than all of the books I read from October through early January.  Granted, I read many books during this time that didn't much appeal to me, but it is still impressive that this book is stronger than everything I read in late 2019.

I actually greatly enjoy modern Nancy Drew when done right.  This book is that type.

In closing, I want to explain my current perspective on the cause of the problems with the Nancy Drew Diaries series.  I recently realized that the ghostwriters must be given considerable latitude in how the stories are developed and written.  The old days of yore where the book packager exercised complete control over Nancy Drew are long gone.  The publisher is letting the ghostwriters do whatever they want.  That's the problem.

I drew this conclusion after reading Reuben Sack's posts on Instagram.  Reuben Sack is the ghostwriter for A Nancy Drew Christmas and six of the Hardy Boys Adventures books.  Reuben Sack is one of the good writers.

The Mad Man of Black Bear Mountain  Reuben Sack:  "[T]his one's set in a slightly exaggerated version of my own backyard."

A Nancy Drew Christmas  This book has the word "hell" in it, which offended some fans.  A reviewer on Amazon complained about the language as well as "lesbian, gay people" in the book, which weren't even in the book.  Sack was offended by the review and called the reviewer out on her bigotry.

Dungeons and Detectives  Reuben Sack:  "I went on a gleefully nerdy rampage with this one—D&D, comic shops, LARPing, and a Halloween costume bash at a haunted medieval castle."

The post about Dungeons and Detectives made me realize that the ghostwriters must be developing the stories to a significant degree.  The bad writers are the ones responsible for the mediocre Nancy Drew Diaries stories.  Simon and Schuster is negligent in not doing an adequate job of making sure that the series is consistently good and in line with how Nancy Drew ought to be portrayed.

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Sweet Dreams #15 Thinking of You and #16 How Do You Say Goodbye

Sweet Dreams #15 Thinking of You, Jeanette Nobile, 1982

Is Fran too smart to fall in love...

Fran's tired of being called a "brain"... and missing all the fun!  She wants to be like everyone else for a change—to go to parties, have dates, and fall in love.

Can she get Paul to notice her... change her image just a little... and still be herself?

I liked this book at first, then I became annoyed.  Fran is way too insecure.  I skimmed most of the book and then read the ending.

Sweet Dreams #16 How Do You Say Goodbye, Margaret Burman, 1982

Lisa knows she should break up with Lawrence.  He's not right for her and she knows it.  But Lisa's got a big problem—she can't say no.  To anyone.  So when Lawrence asks her to go steady, she accepts (sort of) even though she's just met Alex.  He's the boy Lisa really likes and wants to see a lot more of.  Now she has two boyfriends but she's miserable.

Lisa wants to straighten things out, but she's afraid of hurting Lawrence.  So she lives a double life of lies and confusion, trying to keep Lawrence and Alex apart.  And it works—until the night when her lies go too far.

I was okay with the story at the beginning until it becomes clear that Lisa is a complete idiot.  She knows that she doesn't want to go steady with Lawrence, but she won't tell him that.  She says, "Probably—almost definitely—I'll wear your chain.  You hold onto it until then."  She next tells him, "I'm more that ninety-nine percent sure.  I can almost promise you for a fact that I will feel pleased and proud to go steady with you."

A bit later on page 86, Lisa tells Lawrence, "Um, I've almost made up my mind—I mean, I am ninety-nine and forty-four-one-hundredths-percent sure that we can really just go along almost as if I'd told you yes."  To his credit, Lawrence is getting annoyed.  I had completely lost patience with idiot Lisa and quit reading the book.  I wanted to slap her.

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

eBay's Packing Slip Inaction

In June 2018, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that states can charge sales tax on purchases made from out-of-state businesses.  Prior to this ruling, most Americans paid very little sales tax online.  The only sales tax paid was on transactions with businesses that had a physical presence in the buyer's home state, such as Walmart.

As of June 2018, very few states had enacted laws assessing sales tax on online purchases.  As the few states which had enacted laws began to reap the benefits of having those laws in place, the vast majority of the remaining states quickly began passing sales tax laws for all online purchases.

This page on eBay lists the states for which sales tax is collected from buyers.  As of this writing, 38 states plus the District of Columbia charge sales tax on all online transactions.  This is problematic for me as an eBay seller, simply because eBay hasn't changed its packing slip to include sales tax.  What are they thinking?

I find that most all other sites quickly adapt to change, while eBay lags behind by a couple of years.  I am sure that eBay has been informed that its packing slip does not indicate the sales tax that has been charged to the buyer.  You would think that they would want to fix it in a timely fashion, but months have already gone by with no change.

I always print a packing slip and place inside the package simply as a safeguard in case the shipping label gets ripped off of the package.  I know of one past case when a shipping label did get ripped off of a package that I mailed.  The package was sent to the mail recovery center where it was opened.  The packing slip was found with the buyer's address, so the package was forwarded to the buyer.  

It is very important that the buyer's address is inside the package so that a damaged package can be recovered.

Most buyers probably do not look at the packing slip.  I toss all of the packing slips that are inside the packages that I receive.  However, some buyers might look at the packing slip.  If so, then the packing slip had darned well better have the actual amount that the buyer paid for the item.  That's where eBay is failing us.

The following image shows the eBay packing slip total as compared to the PayPal packing slip total for the same eBay transaction.

I feel that I will look bad if I use the eBay packing slip.  The eBay packing slip does not acknowledge the sales tax, like the money just vanished into oblivion.  As the seller, I never receive the sales tax.  The $0.79 collected by eBay never reaches my account and will be sent to the buyer's state.  However, the tax ought to be shown on anything that the buyer will see.  The PayPal packing slip shows exactly what the buyer paid. 

I now have to go into PayPal to print the packing slips.  It takes longer, and it annoys me.  Since I have to go to extra trouble, I have added the URL of my Etsy shop to the PayPal packing slip.  If I have to spend extra time getting the packing slips printed, then I'm going to advertise my Etsy shop on them.  I'm probably never going to get an Etsy sale from inclusion of the URL, since most buyers never look at packing slips.  However, I gain personal satisfaction in just knowing that the Etsy URL is on the paper.  Take that, eBay.

Saturday, January 18, 2020

Today's Book Find + 10% Off on eBay and Etsy

These books were purchased locally today.

The Hardy Boys picture cover books have the original text and list to Desert Giant on the back cover.  The Nancy Drew matte picture cover books have the original text and were printed during the early 1960s.

The Nancy Drew flashlight edition is one of the textured flashlight variants.  This format is explained in my post, "Hidden Clues #6 The Textured Nancy Drew Flashlight Editions."  By the way, this reminds me that I dropped the ball on my Hidden Clues string of posts.  I will have to get back to them. 

The softcover Nancy Drew books are in pretty nice shape overall.

I actually wanted to do two Facebook posts tonight, one on the book find and one about my eBay and Etsy listings.  However, Facebook does not allow normal visibility to more than one post per day on my Jennifer's Series Books Facebook page.  Whenever I publish two posts in the same day on my page, the second one is mostly invisible.  Even when the second post is the more interesting of the two posts, which should result in more views for that post, it instead ends up with far fewer views. 

This has happened too many times for it just to be a random occurrence.  Websites do throttle traffic for various reasons.  In my case, I'm sure Facebook is trying to get me to pay for advertising.  I would pay for Amazon Prime long before I would ever pay for any Facebook advertising.  And I continue to refuse to get a Prime account.  So there you go.

Besides, I do not believe that paying for Facebook advertising will actually help gain me more traffic.  I have read accounts of people paying advertising only to find that traffic decreases in the long run.  These people claim that Facebook allegedly throttles the traffic even more in order to force the user to continue to pay for visibility.  I'm not going to play that game.

My solution was this blog post with the book finds mentioned first, followed by what I wanted to mention about my eBay and Etsy listings.

I was fortunate to receive eBay promotions for each of the last three months in 2019.  This resulted in me being able to list over 300 listings each month without having to pay an overage.  The promotions were granted undoubtedly because of the holiday season.  Now it's January, and I have not received a promotion.  I have an overage looming.

In an attempt to avoid the overage, I have placed all of my eBay listings at 10% off for the next week until the end of the day Saturday, January 25. 

Jennifer's Series Books on eBay

I have also reduced the prices of my Chalet School books yet again.  They are now at fire sale prices.

I recently listed quite a few Sweet Dreams books on eBay.

Jennifer's Series Books on Etsy

I also placed my Etsy listings on sale until the end of the day Saturday, January 25.

If you see this post after the close of the sales, the discount will no longer be active and will not be honored.

Friday, January 17, 2020

Sweet Dreams #13 The Summer Jenny Fell in Love and #14 Dance of Love

Sweet Dreams #13 The Summer Jenny Fell in Love, Barbara Conklin, 1982

Jenny's summer gets off to a bad start when her mother decides to take in boarders... and seventeen-year-old Cliff and his mother move in.

Suddenly the house just isn't big enough.  Wherever Jenny turns, Cliff seems to be in the way.  And even though they are both trying hard, they just can't get along.

Then Cliff starts interfering with Jenny's love life, trying to protect her from the one boy she's always dreamed of dating.  At first Jenny is furious, but then she realizes Cliff is jealous.  And Jenny is touched.

Will Jenny's summer turn into something wonderful—and totally unexpected?

At first, I really enjoyed the book.  By halfway through the story, I became intensely annoyed that Jenny and Cliff keep yelling at each other.  Cliff overreacts over tiny things, and Jenny ends up screaming at him.  Both of them come across as mentally unstable.

I quit reading the book halfway through.  I couldn't take it anymore.

Sweet Dreams #14 Dance of Love, Jocelyn Saal, 1982

If Polly follows her heart, will she lose her best friend and her most cherished dream...

Ever since third grade, Polly and Jennifer have shared everything from ballet lessons to boy talk.  They both dream of becoming famous dancers... and falling in love.  Then Polly meets Cott Townsend, and her plans get turned upside down.  Can Polly win Cott's love, keep Jennifer's friendship, and still be true to herself?

This book bored me, and I could not read it.

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Sweet Dreams #11 The Problem with Love and #12 Night of the Prom

Sweet Dreams #11 The Problem with Love, Rosemary Vernon, 1982

Cathy's the partying type, who loves having fun.  John's the serious type, who hardly ever cracks a smile.  They seem like the boy and girl least likely to fall in love.

But then Cathy's report card brings them together.  Her math grades are so terrible her parents hire John as her tutor!

At first, she can't resist making John nervous, teasing him and acting like a flirt.  But the more she tries to get his attention, the less he seems to care.  And suddenly she's the one who's getting nervous, because for once the funny girl is in love.

Cathy teases and flirts in the most obnoxious fashion.  As John tries to help her with math, she keeps teasing and flirting.  What an airhead.

The book is good overall, but I found it annoying.

Sweet Dreams #12 Night of the Prom, Debra Spector, 1982

Will Barbara's prom report have a happy ending...

Barbara's the best editor the school paper has ever had—serious and hard working.  But Kris, Barbara's best friend, thinks she's missing out on all the fun—like the prom.  And deep inside Barbara wonders if Kris is right.

Then Michael dares her to trade her typewriter for a prom gown, and Barbara finally gets the inside scoop on romance.

The summary puzzles me.  I don't think Michael ever dares Barbara to do anything, unless I skimmed over something.

This book is very good to excellent.

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Signed Memorabilia from Nancy Drew and the Hidden Staircase 2019

In early December, I acquired three autographed items associated with the 2019 movie, Nancy Drew and the Hidden Staircase, starring Sophia Lillis.

This cap was signed by Sophia Lillis (Nancy Drew), Sam Trammell (Carson Drew), Jesse C. Boyd (Wharton), and Laura Wiggins (Helen).

This copy of Nancy Drew #2, The Hidden Staircase, was signed by Sophia Lillis (Nancy Drew), Laura Wiggins (Helen), Sam Trammell (Carson Drew), and Jesse C. Boyd (Wharton).

Finally, I acquired this prop signed by Sophia Lillis (Nancy Drew), Laura Wiggins (Helen), Zoƫ Renee (George), and Mackenzie Graham (Bess).

The sign measures 13 inches by 19 inches and is printed on Epson photo paper.  The below screen capture from the movie shows the placement of the sign in one of the shop windows.

I like having my very own "River Heights Slice of the Heights Festival" sign.

Monday, January 13, 2020

Sweet Dreams #9 Cover Girl and #10 Love Match

Sweet Dreams #9 Cover Girl, Yvonne Greene, 1982

How can Renee tell Greg about her secret life...

Renee's living a life that most girls only dream of.  Overnight she's become a glamorous high-fashion model in New York City.

But behind her cover-girl smile is a girl with a broken heart.  She's hiding her new life from her boyfriend Greg—who hates everything phony and loves Renee for what she used to be.  Once he finds out the truth, will her ever trust her again?

I really like books that have a conflict that involves a secret.  This book is very good.

Sweet Dreams #10 Love Match, Janet Quin-Harkin, 1982

If Joanna plays to win, will she lose Rick forever...

Joanna's a 15-year old super-jock who's not quite ready to trade in her sneakers and sweatshirts for three-inch heels and designer jeans.

Then she joins the boys' tennis team... meets Rick... and decides she enjoys being a girl!

But Rick's the #1 player on the team... or at least he was until Joanna came along.  Can they both play to win... without losing each other?

On page 77, Joanna states, "My father is a college football coach, and you know they don't get paid that kind of money."  Joanna means that her father does not make enough for her to have had professional training in tennis.  This passage doesn't quite ring true for me.  College football coaches did not make much prior to the 1970s.  By the late 1970s and into the 1980s, the compensation increased substantially.  This book was published in 1982, and by that time, salaries were not low.

This book is interesting from the very start.

Friday, January 10, 2020

Sweet Dreams #7 Green Eyes and #8 The Thoroughbred

Sweet Dreams #7 Green Eyes, Suzanne Rand, 1981

Julie has had a crush on Dan ever since sophomore year.  Now that Pam, Dan's old girlfriend, has moved away, Julie finally has him all to herself.  And he is worth the wait.  Dan is one of the most popular boys in school and he really cares for Julie.

But something is wrong.  Every time she sees Dan so much as talk to another girl, Julie becomes hopelessly jealous.  And even when Dan reassures her, it doesn't help.

Then Pam returns and Julie is convinced Dan is seeing her again.  Will Julie let her jealousy ruin the best relationship she's ever had?

Julie is so horribly jealous that I cannot stand her.  She is a bit mentally unstable.  I found the story uninteresting and could not read this book.

Sweet Dreams #8 The Thoroughbred, Joanna Campbell, 1981

Things have always come easy for Maura—good looks, good grades, and a real talent for horseback riding.  So when she and her friend Jill start their summer at a horse farm, Maura decides she's going to win first prize in the annual horse show.

Then Maura meets Kevin, a dark, handsome boy who rides as if he was born on a horse.  Riding with Kevin is like dancing with a wonderfully graceful partner, and for the first time Maura falls in love.  But Kevin wants too much from her too soon and she's scared.  She needs a little breathing space.

Feeling rejected, Kevin decides to show Maura up by winning the prize that she has been working towards all summer.  But Maura is determined to win, even if it means losing the first boy she's ever really loved.

First, I don't like horse books.  Second, I don't like Kevin.  The book did not interest me.  I gave it 40 pages, and then I gave up.

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Sweet Dreams #5 Little Sister and #6 California Girl

Sweet Dreams #5 Little Sister, Yvonne Green, 1981

Cindy feels she's going to be second-rate all her life.  Her older sister Christine has the pretty face, the good body, and gets all the cute boys.  Cindy just can't win.

Then in study hall Cindy meets Ron, an ex-basketball star who's the best actor in high school.  He's just been chosen to play Romeo in the big production of Romeo and Juliet.  Cindy can't believe that Ron's really interested in her, Christine's little sister.  But this time it seems she's Number One.

Suddenly, Cindy's hopes for romance and happiness are crushed when Christine is chosen to play the role of Juliet.  It seems that Cindy will lose again... unless she can prove to Ron that she's not second best after all.

This is a very good book.

Sweet Dreams #6 California Girl, Janet Quin-Harkin, 1981

In California, swimming was important and Jennie was determined to be an Olympic competitor.  But at her family's new home in Texas, football is all anyone cares about.  Jennie is alone, an outsider, "that weird California girl."

Then she meets Mark.  He was a football star until a serious injury left him on crutches.  Nobody pays much attention to Mark since his accident—except Jennie.  She's seen his beautiful drawings and is falling in love with his artistic soul.

Secretly, Jennie enters Mark's drawings in a contest, and overnight Mark has his star status back.  But he may be leaving Jennie behind.  Jennie is so hurt and confused that she isn't concentrating on her swimming.

Did Mark ever really care for her?  Is Jennie losing her love and a chance at her Olympic dream?

This book is overall good.

Monday, January 6, 2020

Sweet Dreams #3 Laurie's Song and #4 Princess Amy

Sweet Dreams #3 Laurie's Song, Suzanne Rand, 1981

Laurie Adams isn't sure who she is anymore—a good student who writes beautiful poetry or a star-struck groupie for the local rock band.  She's being pulled apart by two very different boys who are fighting for her affection.

Skip is a budding rock star and the most handsome boy in school.  He wants Laurie to write lyrics for his songs and take the leap to fame and fortune.  Then there's Jeff—a hard-worker determined to do more with his life than just get by on good looks—like Skip.  Jeff wants Laurie to discover life and love on her own terms... and his.

Which boy should Laurie choose... which one will make her happy?

It's not hard to figure out which boy would be better for Laurie.

I definitely read this book when I was young, and I believe it was one of the only two Sweet Dreams books that I read.

This is a very good book.

Sweet Dreams #4 Princess Amy, Melinda Pollowitz, 1981

Spending a month at an isolated summer retreat with her rich relatives didn't sound like much fun to Amy.  But she hadn't counted on being swept off her feet by a boy as handsome and wild as Guy.  His smile and the way he calls her "Princess" make her feel weak all over.  Is Guy serious, or is he just a spoiled rich kid playing with Amy's emotions?

Then there's Peter, so down-to-earth.  His big hand on Amy's shoulder gives her a feeling of security and warmth she's never felt before.  But Peter just works on the island.  He's not one of the fast crowd.

Two incredible boys from two very different worlds... and Amy must choose.

In this book, it's also not hard to figure out which boy would be better.

On page 54, Amy gets a shower, and the water sprays "from each of the eight corners of the hexagonal, glass-walled shower stall."  A hexagon has six sides, not eight, so it would have formed six corners.

This is a very good book.

Friday, January 3, 2020

Sweet Dreams #1 P.S. I Love You and #2 The Popularity Plan

Sweet Dreams #1 P.S. I Love You, Barbara Conklin, 1981

When her father left after the divorce, Mariah lost her sense of family.  Now she's lost her special summer, too.  Instead of fulfilling her dream to become a writer, Mariah has to help her mother with a a house-sitting job in very rich, very snobby Palm Springs.  People with a lot of money make Mariah uncomfortable.

Until she meets Paul Strobe, the rich boy next door.  Paul's not a snob and he doesn't act superior.  In fact, his sandy hair and piercing blue eyes break down all Mariah's defenses.  With Paul, Palm Springs becomes the most romantic place on Earth.

But Paul has to go into the hospital for some tests and then an operation.  He's seriously ill and all his family's money can't help him.

Will Mariah lose Paul, too, just when she's found her first love?

This is an excellent book and the perfect title for launching a series.

Sweet Dreams #2 The Popularity Plan, Rosemary Vernon, 1981

Frannie is so shy, she thinks she might go all the way through high school without even being kissed, much less finding that one boy who would make her feel special.  Then her girlfriends create The Plan, and Frannie has so many boys after her that she can't keep track of all the parties and dances.

Not everyone falls for The Plan, though.  Ronnie, the quiet, talented boy in art class, is the boy Frannie wants, the one she's always dreamed of.  But since everyone else started paying so much attention, Ronnie seems to be avoiding her.  Will Frannie have to give up The Plan and go back into her shell to show Ronnie how much she really cares?

I could not read this book.  I am not interested in books where the protagonist is playing a game just to get boys interested.

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Books Read in 2019 and My Reduced Interest in Reading

I have already written at length about my reading experience in 2019.

In April in "Upcoming Reviews and Motivation Struggles," I mentioned my struggle with finishing the Wildfire Romance books and beginning the Sweet Dreams series.  I mentioned stress and how I wasn't that motivated to do reviews due to lack of response to reviews of popular series like Judy Bolton.

In June in "2019 Mid-Year Reading Update," I detailed how my stress worsened and how sick I was in May and June.  I continued to be disinterested in reading and writing reviews.

In the middle of November in "My Reading Pace Slowdown or What Has Led Me Astray," I came clean about my Hashimoto's thyroiditis and how it affects me.  I mentioned how I was more interested in watching YouTube videos of Queen + Adam Lambert and Adam Lambert than in reading books.

In late November in "Reading, Reviews, Medication, and Books Listed on eBay," I gave further information about my autoimmune condition and stated that my reading pace was still very slow.

In December, I was annoyed about unsolicited advice about what I was reading.  In "Reducing My 'To Be Read' Books," I explained that in August, I decided to read straight through my TBR ("to be read") books, one after another.  Here, I explain further about my reasoning.  Much of what follows was actually written before I wrote the post mentioned in this paragraph.  I was so annoyed about the judgmental comments that I wrote out two lengthy responses separate from each other in order to get over my annoyance.

I was disinterested in reading for reasons already detailed in "My Reading Pace Slowdown or What Has Led Me Astray."  Since I had no reading goal for 2019, was distracted by CW Nancy Drew and the new Nancy Drew game, kept watching Queen + Adam Lambert and Adam Lambert videos on YouTube, and as a result would read fewer than 200 books by year's end, I seized the opportunity to work on a problem I have, which most all of us have.  There are books that I had purchased that I had never read.  I had a feeling that reading them would not be very satisfying but I had to try the books at some point in time.  A time with no reading goal and no strong interest in reading seemed like the perfect opportunity.

Some readers might not understand my reasoning, but it made sense to me.  I wasn't going to read much, so I figured that I should just make a task out of it and force myself to read certain books kind of like I was reading them as part of a job.  Does that help?  If not, don't worry about why.  It worked for me.

So I proceeded through one book after another.  I had to decide whether I could read the books, as in whether I could ever in my entire life manage to read the books.  If I couldn't force myself to read them at a time when I didn't care if I enjoyed what I read, then I would never be able to read them.  I wanted to list the books for sale if I couldn't read them.  I didn't want to sell them and regret it later, wondering if I would have enjoyed the books if I had tried them.  I had to try.  And try I did.

For those who think that I shouldn't be reading books that I don't enjoy... I didn't read all of them.  I read a couple dozen books partway through and quit.  Some books were read halfway.  Some books were read for only a few chapters.  The very first page or two of some books scared me off.  Never worry about me wasting my time and energy on bad books.  I know when to stop.

I must have between 8,000 and 10,000 books in my house.  I am very satisfied that I have cleared out books that took up a length of at least six feet on my shelves.  Some books have already been listed and sold.  I am very pleased to have made headway with books that were taking up place and had never been read.  That is why I forced myself to try all of those books that I found boring.

Also, some of you might be wondering why I purchased a bunch of boring books.  At the time I purchased the books, they wouldn't have been boring.  I already explained in my previous post that my taste in books has changed in the last 10 years.  If I had read the books 10 years ago, I might have enjoyed most of them.  Reading lots of boys' series books since 2014 has changed me as a reader.

I am in communication with several collectors via private message.  I have been told by more than one collector that they do not participate in the Facebook groups due to the critical comments made by various people.  I have also been told that some other people have never participated in the groups because they feel intimidated.

There are so many people who now hold back and do not participate, and this has been caused by other people who make critical comments and offer unsolicited advice.  The recent advice I received reminded me that perhaps I should be less open.  I have pulled back at times in the past, but I keep going with most of what I want to share.  It would be a shame for me to quit altogether.

I am the only series book collector who has a blog that has had at least one post per every seven days (usually once every two or three days) for every consecutive seven day period for the entire last decade.  I did actually check through all of the blog posts in December to verify this statement.  It is true.  This is not bragging; this is a simple statement that I have been very consistent in maintaining this blog.  When I get critical comments or unwanted advice, I wonder why I continue.

As I remarked in early 2019, the reviews will stop at some point.  I will exhaust my supply of books that interest me that I have not yet reviewed.  Once that happens, I will have no more reviews for this blog, and that will likely happen within the next year or so.  I actually believe it could happen in 2020.  I see the end of the reviews coming possibly very soon.  For instance, I want to read the Beverly Gray series again.  I have already reviewed those, so what would I write?

Just let me do my thing, even if you don't understand.  Sorry, I just had to get that off my chest.

My previous yearly totals for books read are as follows.

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

I ended up reading 185 books in 2019, which is pretty incredible considering how distracted I was.  This total is on par with what I believe I read per year leading up to 2014.  I did not keep track of my totals for those years, but I tended to read around 130 to 180 books per year in the years immediately preceding 2014.  

In the below list, the books in blue are books that I had read before.  You will notice that some titles were skipped over when I read certain series.  Those titles are ones that I did not read enough of to count on my list of books read in 2019.  I read dozens of books partway through in 2019 that ended up not making the list.

January:  22 books

Judy Bolton #31 The Discovery at the Dragon's Mouth
Judy Bolton #33 The Secret Quest
Judy Bolton #34 The Puzzle in the Pond
Judy Bolton #35 The Hidden Clue
Judy Bolton #36 The Pledge of the Twin Knights
Judy Bolton #37 The Search for the Glowing Hand
Judy Bolton #38 The Secret of the Sand Castle
Judy Bolton #39, The Strange Likeness
Judy Bolton, The Whispering Belltower
Wildfire #53 Little Lies
Wildfire #51 Blind Date
Wildfire #34 Good-bye, Pretty One
Nancy Drew Diaries #17 Famous Mistakes
Wildfire #24 Lisa
Wildfire #13 One Day You'll Go
Wildfire #39 Write Every Day
Wildfire #29 Cindy
Wildfire #43 The Boy for Me
Wildfire #4 Beautiful Girl
Wildfire #5 Superflirt
Wildfire #6 A Funny Girl Like Me
Wildfire #7 Just Sixteen

As I began reading the Wildfire books in January, I read the lowest-numbered book in my possession.  I was in progress reading the series as the books were arriving in the mail.  As additional books arrived, I read whichever book was earliest in the set, gradually moving towards the beginning of the set until I was able to proceed in order.

February:  17 books

Wildfire #9 Dreams Can Come True
Wildfire #8 Suzy Who?
Wildfire #10 I've Got a Crush on You
Wildfire #11 An April Love Story
Wildfire #12 Dance with Me
Wildfire #14 Yours Truly, Love, Janie
Wildfire #2 I'm Christy
Wildfire #40 Christy's Choice
Wildfire #59 Christy's Love
Wildfire #61 Christy's Senior Year
Wildfire #16 I Want to Be Me
Wildfire #18 The Voices of Julie
Wildfire #19 Second Best
Wildfire #20 A Kiss for Tomorrow
Hardy Boys Adventures #18 The Disappearance
Wildfire #21 A Place for Me
Wildfire #17 The Best of Friends

The four Wildfire Christy books were read consecutively by choice as soon as I had all four of them in my possession.

March:  20 books

Wildfire #22 Sixteen Can Be Sweet
Wildfire #23 Take Care of My Girl
Wildfire #25 Secret Love
Wildfire #26 Nancy and Nick
Wildfire #28 Senior Class
Wildfire #31 Saturday Night Date
Wildfire #32 Junior Prom
Wildfire #33 He Loves Me Not
Wildfire #35 Just a Summer Girl
Sweet Dreams #1 P.S. I Love You
Sweet Dreams #5 Little Sister
Wildfire #36 The Impossible Love
Wildfire #37 Sing About Us
Wildfire #41 The Wrong Boy
Wildfire #42 Make a Wish
Wildfire #44 Class Ring
Wildfire #45 Phone Calls
Wildfire #46 Just You and Me
Wildfire #47 Homecoming Queen
Wildfire #49 Spring Love

April:  19 books

Wildfire #50 No Boys?
Wildfire #54 Broken Dreams
Wildfire #56 Call Me
Wildfire #60 Nice Girls Don't
Wildfire #62 Kiss and Tell
Wildfire #64 Angel
Wildfire #65 Out of Bounds
Wildfire #67 Loving That O'Connor Boy
Wildfire #69 My Summer Love
Wildfire #77 Dating Blues
Wildfire #82 The Wrong Love
Wildfire #80 Recipe for Romance
Wildfire #75 Love to the Rescue
Wildfire #76 Senior Prom
Wildfire #78 Brian's Girl
Wildfire #81 The Ten Cupcake Romance
Wildfire #79 A Girl Named Summer
Sweet Dreams #3 Laurie's Song
Sweet Dreams #4 Princess Amy

I struggled as I finished reading the Wildfire books in April.  I did not like many of the high-numbered books.  I quit reading the Wildfire books in order and grabbed whichever book seemed the most appealing of the books left to read.  That's why the order is a bit random for the final books in the set.

May:  19 books

Sweet Dreams #6 California Girl
Sweet Dreams #9 Cover Girl
Sweet Dreams #10 Love Match
Sweet Dreams #11 The Problem with Love
Sweet Dreams #12 Night of the Prom
Sweet Dreams #17 Ask Annie
Sweet Dreams #19 Love Song
Sweet Dreams #21 All's Fair in Love
Dana Girls #1 By the Light of the Study Lamp
Dana Girls #2 The Secret at Lone Tree Cottage
Dana Girls #3 In the Shadow of the Tower
Dana Girls #4 A Three-Cornered Mystery
Dana Girls #5 The Secret at the Hermitage
Dana Girls #6 The Circle of Footprints
Dana Girls #7 The Mystery of the Locked Room
Dana Girls #8 The Clue in the Cobweb
Dana Girls #9 The Secret at the Gatehouse
Dana Girls #10 The Mysterious Fireplace
Dana Girls #11 The Clue of the Rusty Key

My reading of the early part of the Sweet Dreams set did not go well.  Notice how many of the books I had to skip.  I bailed on Sweet Dreams and read the Dana Girls series instead.

June:  16 books

Dana Girls #12 The Portrait in the Sand
Dana Girls #13 The Secret in the Old Well
Dana Girls #14 The Clue in the Ivy
Dana Girls #15 The Secret of the Jade Ring
Dana Girls #16 Mystery at the Crossroads
The Culling Series #1, The Culling
Days of Want Series #1 Turbulent
Davy of Want Series #2 Hunted
Dark Inside Series #1 Dark Inside
Dark Inside Series #2 Rage Within
Dark Inside Series #3 Fury Rising
Days of Want Series #3 Turmoil
Darkest Minds Series #1 Darkest Minds
Darkest Minds Series #2 Never Fade
Darkest Minds Series #3 In the Afterlight
Dana Girls #18 The Clue of the Black Flower

Dana Girls #17, The Ghost in the Gallery, just about did me in.  I did not read enough of it to count it as a book read.  During the time that I was in progress with Dana Girls #17, I took a break and read 10 young adult dystopian novels.  It was rather hard to resume reading the Dana Girls series, but I managed to do so.  Books written by Harriet Adams can be a bit hard to stomach, but I persevered.  It should be noted, however, that I did not manage to read all of the Dana Girls books this time around.

July: 18 books

Dana Girls #21 The Haunted Lagoon
Dana Girls #22 The Mystery of the Bamboo Bird
Dana Girls #24 The Secret of Lost Lake
Dana Girls #25 The Mystery of the Stone Tiger
Tom Swift Inventors' Academy #1 The Drone Pursuit
Tom Swift Inventors' Academy #2 The Sonic Breach
Dana Girls #26 The Riddle of the Frozen Fountain
Dana Girls #27 The Secret of the Silver Dolphin
Dana Girls #28 Mystery of the Wax Queen
Dana Girls #30 The Phantom Surfer
Dana Girls #14 The Curious Coronation
Dana Girls #15 The Hundred-Year Mystery
Dana Girls #16 Mountain-Peak Mystery
Dana Girls #17 The Witch's Omen

Unpublished Dana Girls #18 Strange Identities
Nancy Drew picture book, Mystery of the Lost Dogs
Nancy Pembroke #1 Nancy Pembroke, College Maid
Nancy Pembroke #3 Nancy Pembroke, Sophomore at Roxford

From August through to the end of the year, I went straight through my TBR books, with a few other scattered books mixed in.

August:  10 books

Nancy Pembroke #5 Nancy Pembroke, Junior
Nancy Pembroke #6 Nancy Pembroke in Nova Scotia
Nancy Pembroke #7 Nancy Pembroke, Senior
Marjorie Dean High School Series #1 Marjorie Dean, High School Freshman
Marjorie Dean High School Series #2 Marjorie Dean, High School Sophomore
Marjorie Dean High School Series #3 Marjorie Dean, High School Junior
Marjorie Dean High School Series #4 Marjorie Dean, High School Senior
Marjorie Dean College Series #1 Marjorie Dean, College Freshman
Marjorie Dean College Series #2 Marjorie Dean, College Sophomore
The Oklahoma Land Rush of 1889 by Stan Hoig

September:  17 books

The Fur Person by May Sarton
Marjorie Dean College Series #3 Marjorie Dean, College Junior
Marjorie Dean College Series #4 Marjorie Dean, College Senior
Marjorie Dean Post-Graduate Series #1 Marjorie Dean, Post-Graduate
Marjorie Dean Post-Graduate Series #2 Marjorie Dean, Marvelous Manager
Marjorie Dean Post-Graduate Series #3 Marjorie Dean at Hamilton Arms
Marjorie Dean Post-Graduate Series #4 Marjorie Dean's Romance
Marjorie Dean Post-Graduate Series #5 Marjorie Dean Macy
Marjorie Dean Post-Graduate Series #6 Marjorie Dean Macy's Hamilton Colony
Grace Harlowe Overseas Series #1 Grace Harlowe Overseas
Grace Harlowe Overseas Series #2 Grace Harlowe with the Red Cross in France
The Mark of the Red Diamond by Josephine Chase
The Golden Imp by Josephine Chase
The Green Jade Necklace by Josephine Chase
Behind the Purple Mask by Josephine Chase
The Blue Shadow Mystery by Josephine Chase
The Girl from Sunset Ranch by Amy Bell Marlowe

October:  7 books

Nancy Drew Diaries #18 The Stolen Show
The Girls of Rivercliff School by Amy Bell Marlowe
A Little Miss Nobody by Amy Bell Marlowe
The Great Library Series #1 Ink and Bone
The Great Library Series #2 Paper and Fire
The Great Library Series #3 Ash and Quill
The Great Library Series #4 Smoke and Iron

November:  7 books

Hardy Boys Adventures #19 Dungeons and Detectives
Tom Swift Inventors' Academy #3 Restricted Access
Felicity Way by Helen Girvan
The Hidden Treasure by Helen Girvan
The Missing Masterpiece by Helen Girvan
Those Who Remain Series #1 Those Who Remain by Priscila Santa Rosa
The Light in the Mill by Helen Girvan

December:  13 books

Sweet Dreams #24 The Trouble with Charlie
Sweet Dreams #25 Her Secret Self
Sweet Dreams #27 Too Young for Love
Sweet Dreams #28 Trusting Hearts
Sweet Dreams #31 Too Close for Comfort
Sweet Dreams #32 Daydreamer
Sweet Dreams #34 Country Girl
End Times Series #1 by Shane Carrow
Sweet Dreams #36 Summer Dreams
Sweet Dreams #39 First Love
Swept Away #2 Woodstock Magic
Sweet Dreams #41 The Truth about Me and Bobby V.
Sweet Dreams #43 Tender Loving Care

For now, I will continue with my TBR books.  Any Sweet Dreams book that I do not like will be immediately put up for sale.  I want to reduce the amount of space taken up by the Sweet Dreams books, and I have made a good start.