Sunday, January 31, 2021

Spirit Town by Suzanne Roberts

Spirit Town was written by Suzanne Roberts.  It was published by Whitman in 1972. 

From the back cover:


you, with your family, unsuspectingly moved to a weird, spirit-ridden town called Hangsaman, where everyone in town believed in witches and sorcerers and spells and the world of the dead?

Mimi had to face the evil there in Hangsaman, in this chilling tale about a ... SPIRIT TOWN.

Mimi moves to Hangsaman along with her mother and older sister, Julia.  Mrs. Wade purchased a house site unseen in Hangsaman, just certain that she would have a successful beauty parlor.  It turns out that success is not guaranteed in this strange new place.

This town is smothered by an oppressive sense of evil.  Three mediums live in the town, and they communicate with the dead.  Mimi doesn't believe it for a second, but Julia is immediately intrigued.  Julia's boyfriend was recently killed in Vietnam, and Julia hasn't been herself in months. 

Julia snatches onto the hope that she can speak to Chuck again.  Mimi tries to convince Julia that the mediums are fake, but Julia won't listen.  Mimi's insistence that the mediums cannot contact spirits raises their ire.  Mimi becomes frightened, certain that she is in danger.  Can she prove that the mediums are frauds before it is too late?

As I read the book, I was unsure whether the mediums would turn out to be fakes or whether they would turn out to be real.  The book has an overlying sense of mystery, danger, and the unknown from the very beginning.

This is a very good to excellent book.

Sunday, January 24, 2021

Trying and Quitting 24 Books in the Last 24 Hours Including Many Windswept Books

In June 2020, I compiled this list of Windswept titles as I worked on building a set of the books.  I have all of the books on hand, and this is the correct order.  Some sites have some titles in the wrong order.

  1.  Don't Walk Alone, Mary Bringle, 1982
  2.  Someone Is Out There, Carole Standish, 1982
  3.  Girl in the Shadows, Miriam Lynch, 1982
  4.  The House of Three Sisters, Virginia Neisen, 1982
  5.  Yesterday's Girl, Madeline Sunshine, 1983
  6.  The Snow's Secret, Carole Standish, 1983
  7.  The Red Room, Kay Dobkin, 1983
  8.  The Silvery Past, Candice Ransom, 1983
  9.  Dreams and Memories, Lavinia Harris, 1983
10.  A Forgotten Girl, Elisabeth Ogilvie, 1983
11.  The Ghost of Graydon Place, Dorothy Francis, 1983 
12.  The Silent Witness, Meredith Hill, 1983
13.  The Empty Attic, Jean Francis Webb, 1983
14.  Murder by Moonlight, Dorothy Woolfolk, 1983
15.  The Girl Cried Murder, Dorothy Woolfolk, 1983
16.  House of Fear, Willo Davis Roberts, 1983
17.  Mirror, Mirror, Virginia Nielsen, 1983
18.  The Missing Sunrise, Joan Oppenheimer, 1983
19.  Dark Magic, Miriam Lynch, 1983
20.  Mysterious Summer, Marion Schultz, 1983
21.  Phantom Light, Susan Dix, 1983
22.  The Lost Holiday, Elizabeth Olsen, 1983
23.  A Date With Danger, Edward Hunsberger, 1988
24.  The Burned Letter, Conrad Nowels, 1984 25.  The Castle Murder, Vivian Schurfranz, 1984 
26.  The Secret, Carol Beach York, 1984
27.  Mystery Cruise, Carole Standish, 1984
28.  The Disappearing Teacher, Conrad Nowels, 1984  
29.  The Hidden Room, Jennifer Sarasin, 1984
30.  The Accident, Jesse Osburn, 1984
31.  The Warning, Dorothy Francis, 1984
32.  Secret of the Dark, Barbara Steiner, 1984
33.  Weekend of Fear, Virginia Nielsen, 1984
34.  The Mansion Murder, Vivian Shurfranz, 1984

Here are my books.  Almost all of them have the Windswept packaging.  The Girl Cried Murder is the only one that doesn't.

I read Someone Is Out There before I began building the Windswept set.  I enjoyed that book.  I took a risk in building the set based on my liking of that book.  Meanwhile, my reading of Sweet Dreams went very badly last year.  I started reading the Wishing Star set and got on quite well with those for a time.  I then had to quit.  

Months and months came and went.  

I have read 10 books this month that I have really enjoyed.  I want to read.  I actually want to read, which has mostly not been the case for the last year.  This is amazing!

I tried reading a couple of Whitman books.  Nope.  After some thought, I found where I left off in Wishing Star, which was #21 But This Girl Is Different.  Uh no, I can't do it.  I tried Wishing Star #22, 23, 24, 25, 26, and 27 last evening.  I read varying amounts of each book.  It's a "no" on all of them.  

I then switched to Windswept:  #1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, and 16.  I did not like any of them.  I try to give the books at least a few chapters, but the authors open the books with excessive details about each girl's entire life or other stuff that probably has nothing to do with the story.  How boring!  For goodness' sake, I'm not reading the biography of a famous person.  I'm reading teen fiction that is supposed to be light reading.  Ugh.

There is a reason why the Sweet Valley series and Christopher Pike's books were so successful.  The authors got to the point on the very first page, immediately captivating the reader.  The authors didn't force the readers to slog through minutiae for chapter after chapter.  

I am actually reading Windswept #17 Mirror, Mirror, and I might make it through the book.  I also might not.  I have skimmed a little bit to get past certain unnecessary boring details.  I do think I will make it to the end even if I have to skim in places.

At least I'm going to be able to clear even more books off of my shelves.  Yay!

I will resume selling books sometime between March 13 and June 1.  Either I must be immune after vaccination or the school year must be over, whichever comes first.  I do not expect to be vaccinated for at least another month, which means that selling as soon as March 13 is now in doubt.  

Whenever this subject comes up, I get asked to let you know when certain books will be sold.  Really, the easiest thing for both you and for me is for you to simply follow my online stores.  Whenever I open them again, you will receive an email telling you about my "new" listings, which will actually be my old listings from August 2020.  And then, as I do begin creating actual new listings, you will receive an email each day when I list new books.  It's that easy.

Go to this page on eBay.  Click on "Save this seller" on the line where my user ID appears.  That's all you have to do.

Go to my Etsy shop.  Right under where you see 2,055 sales, there is a box that has a heart followed by "Favorite shop" and the number of followers.  Click on that box to follow my Etsy shop.

Saturday, January 23, 2021

Nuclear Survival: Southern Grit, Northern Exposure, and Western Strength by Harley Tate

Harley Tate's Nuclear Survival series consists of nine books.  It is best to read the Southern Grit trilogy first, followed by the Northern Exposure trilogy, and ending with the Western Strength trilogy.  Grant is the protagonist of the first trilogy, and he briefly encounters Midge at the beginning of the first book.  Midge is the protagonist of the second trilogy, and Midge's sister, Lainey, is the protagonist of the final trilogy in the set.  So we get to see what happens in three separate parts of the country as the disaster unfolds.

Since each set of books opens on the day that the disaster begins, none of the summaries spoil events for any of the books.  The summaries were taken from Amazon's product pages.

Southern Grit:

What if an EMP is only the first strike?

With a credible threat to the United States and a plane stuck on the tarmac, Grant Walton is thirty seconds from full-blown panic mode.  He’s the only one in the airport who knows the truth.  When the power goes out, he can’t waste another second.  It’s the beginning of the end and every man for himself.

A nuclear attack will rip the country apart.

Leah Walton is wrapping up a twelve-hour shift as a nurse in the heart of the city.  When the power goes out, the hospital operates on crisis mode.  She can’t stop to breathe, let alone check her messages.  When she finally listens to her husband’s frantic calls, she’s faced with an impossible choice:  leave or die trying.

Could you drop everything to save yourself?

Grant and Leah race the clock to find each other before the United States is plunged into chaos.  When the bombs fall, their worst fears come true.  Can Grant make it home in time to find his wife?  Will Leah escape the brunt of the blast?

Northern Exposure:

An imminent threat.  A city in the dark.

When a fellow hacker clues Midge Sinclair into an impending terror attack, every second matters.  She must alert her sister, find her mother, and make it out of Chicago before a nuclear bomb tears the city apart.  The only problem?  She’s 30,000 feet in the air careening toward O’Hare in a powerless plane.

Could you drop everything to save yourself?

Danny Olsen spends his days learning to be a doctor and ignoring his father’s disapproval.  When he flies back to college via a layover in Chicago, he never expects to meet a girl like Midge.  She’s smart, quick on her feet, and the only person who can get him out of the airport alive.

Strangers on the run against impossible odds.

With an EMP destroying the grid in Chicago, Midge and Danny race the clock to escape the city before a nuclear bomb turns downtown to ash.  They’ll have to learn to trust each other if they want to make it out alive.

Western Strength:

A looming threat.  A reporter on the edge.

Lainey starts her day like any other, preparing to host the midday news on a local TV station.  When her younger sister calls, spouting off about an imminent terror attack, she’s skeptical.  Midge might be a top-notch computer hacker, but that doesn’t mean she’s a reliable source.

An entire country thrown into chaos.

Keith takes his dog for a run and heads into work, expecting an uneventful eight-hour shift behind a video camera.  When his ex-girlfriend busts into the boss’s office with news of not only a massive blackout, but potential nuclear bombs, he doesn’t believe it.  A glimpse at her sister’s information changes everything.

Could you chase the story despite the risks?

Lainey and Keith are thrown together in a race-against-time to uncover the truth and broadcast the facts to the American people.  They’ll have to trust each other, their instincts, and their wits to survive.

I enjoyed all three sets of books, but the trilogy I enjoyed the most is Western Strength.  I like Lainey the best of the protagonists, and also, I felt deep suspense since I knew what was going to happen after having read the previous trilogies.

Thursday, January 21, 2021

After the EMP Series by Harley Tate

The After the EMP series by Harley Tate is divided into three trilogies.  The first trilogy features Madison and her parents, who are all three in different locations when the EMP strikes. 

The summaries included in this post were taken from Amazon's product pages.

If the power grid fails, how far will you go to survive?

Madison spends her days tending plants as an agriculture student at the University of California, Davis.  She plans to graduate and put those skills to work only a few hours from home in the Central Valley.  The sun has always been her friend, until now.

When catastrophe strikes, how prepared will you be?

Tracy starts her morning like any other, kissing her husband, Walter, goodbye before heading off to work at the local public library.  She never expects it to end fleeing for her life in a Suburban full of food and water.  Tackling life’s daily struggles is one thing, preparing to survive when it all crashes down is another.

The end of the world brings out the best and worst in all of us.

With no communication and no word from the government, the Sloanes find themselves grappling with the end of the modern world all on their own.  Will Madison and her friends have what it takes to make it back to Sacramento and her family?  Can Tracy fend off looters and thieves and help her friends and neighbors survive?

This trilogy has a slow start with a lengthy description of the types of EMPs and how each type affects the world.  While I understand the reason that the description was included, most people reading the book probably have already read many others and know the premise quite well.  A shorter explanation would have sufficed. 

The first two books in this trilogy are very good.  The third book gets bogged down with Walter worrying about his daughter Madison a bit too much, which I found boring.  Walter's concern is certainly realistic, but in a book, it is just too much.

The second trilogy switches to a second group of characters.  

Two weeks into the apocalypse, would your switch be flipped?

Colt Potter's a no-nonsense air marshal who doesn't hesitate to use his skills.  When he sets off on his own, leaving the comfort of a warm bed, a good looking woman, and the University of Oregon behind, he's ready to be a solitary man.  Rescuing a fifteen-year-old girl is the last thing he needs.

When you have nothing left, can you find the will to survive?

Dani may be young, but she's no stranger to hardship.  When the pangs of hunger drive her to the brink, Dani makes the difficult choice to steal.  She knows she might get caught. She never expects a stranger to save her.

The end of the world brings out the best and worst in all of us.

Joining forces isn't part of the plan, but desperate times call for desperate measures.  With danger around every corner, will Colt and Dani find the strength to trust each other?  Or will the past ruin any chance of seeing the future?

I really like Colt and Dani and the gradual father-daughter relationship that develops between them.  The second trilogy is my favorite part of the set.

In the third trilogy, the Sloane family's group and the group containing Colt and Dani join together.  I will not include the summary of this trilogy, since it is the final part of the set and has some spoilers in it.  The final trilogy is a bit weak.  Some parts are hard to believe and are just very uninteresting.  

Even though I didn't enjoy the final trilogy nearly as much as the first two, I overall greatly enjoyed the set of nine books.

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

The Harvesting Series by Melanie Karsak

I read a few dystopian series in September and October.  I was uninterested in writing any kind of proper review, but I do want to give some information about the three sets of books that I read.  If you happen to like the same kind of dystopian novel that I do, then I want you to know that these also fit what I like.  I find it very hard to locate the exact kind of dystopian novel that I enjoy.  

This post covers the first set that I read, which is the Harvesting Series by Melanie Karsak.  The set contains five books.  They are pretty short, so far as this kind of book goes.  As I recall, the books feature three different sets of characters.  These characters are introduced in separate volumes.  This concerned me when I finished the first book and began the second book to find that it contained different characters.  Sometimes authors do a poor job when switching between different sets of characters in their parallel adventures.  In this case, it is just fine.  I feel that it works better for the different sets of characters to be introduced in different volumes from each other.  The reader does not have to switch back and forth between sets of a characters within a single volume.  

These books border on fantasy, but they are set firmly in our world.  For that reason, I don't mind the fantasy aspect.  For the most part, I am not a fan of fantasy, so it's important to me that any book similar to that type is set in our world.  I have no patience for detailed descriptions of worlds dramatically different from ours.  I don't have time for that.

I copied the summaries of three of the books from Amazon's product pages.  It is okay to read these three summaries.  They will not spoil the series, since each summary is from a book that introduces one of the sets of characters.  I'm always afraid to read any summary past the first book in a set since they tend to contain major spoilers for continuing story arcs.  These summaries are fine.

#1 The Harvesting

Layla spent her whole life running away from her hometown.  Raised by the town’s medium, and called the "weird" girl, the last thing she wants is to go home.  But when Layla gets a desperate call to return just as an outbreak sweeps the globe, her instincts urge her to go.  Good thing, because the dead are rising.  The town’s residents, including the ex who jilted her, will need Layla’s help if they hope to survive the end of the world.

#2 Midway

Step right up, ladies and gentlemen, for the beginning of the end.

Carnie.  Ride jockey.  Roustabout.  White trash.  Tilt girl.  Gypsy.  Cricket has been called a lot of things, but she never thought survivor of the zombie apocalypse would be one of them.  One day she’s barking on the midway, and the next day, the world is eating itself alive.

Cricket, along with Vella, a tarot reader, and Puck, Cricket’s mangy mutt, find themselves running for their lives, but where can you hide when mankind has fallen? Cricket will need help if she hopes to survive.

#4 Witch Wood

Harm none, and be ready for zombies.

In the little town of Brighton, Amelia’s practice of Wicca marks her as a curiosity both at home and at school.  But Amelia can’t change what she is.  Knowing how to see auras, heal, and cast spells comes naturally to her.  Only Madame Knightly, the ancient matriarch and owner of Witch Wood Estate, to whom Amelia plays caretaker, doesn’t seem to mind.  In fact, the crumbling old mansion is full of oddities.

However, when modern treatments fail to make a dent in the flu outbreak sweeping the globe, those who once ridiculed her white witchcraft turn to Amelia for help.  While her eucalyptus tinctures prove no more effective than western medicine, her spell-casting is another matter.  The residents of Brighton soon depend on the very magic they once ridiculed to save their lives.

I have not included the summaries for #3 and #5.  In #3 The Shadow Aspect, the characters from the first two books meet each together.  In #5 The Torn World, all three sets of characters come together.  

I must mention one quote from page 203 of the fifth book.  "The idea of a vampire, and not the sorry-assed sparkly kind, terrifies me."  Ooh, insulting Edward Cullen.  Nice.

I really enjoy reading this type of book when the text flows well and is interesting from start to finish.  This set is exactly like that.  The main weakness that I recall is that there are way too many characters in the first book.  As the extra characters begin to be killed off, it becomes much easier to keep everyone straight.  

I enjoyed this series.

Saturday, January 16, 2021

Problems with the New Facebook and Blogger Interfaces

I open this post with a Judy Bolton image, used solely to prevent a completely obnoxious image from showing on my Facebook page.

I mentioned awhile back my intense dislike for the new Facebook and Blogger interfaces.  Forcing change on users during a major pandemic is disrespectful and dismissive.    

Regarding Blogger, I find it very difficult to build a post which has multiple photos.  I select the photos from my computer, then they land in the post in reverse order.  The photos are named in the order I want them and are selected in the order I want them.  Why reverse the order?  How does that make any sense?  

I experimented just to see if I could get Blogger to place the photos in order by changing the names or changing the order in which I selected them.  Blogger still placed the photos in reverse order.

The only way to get the photos in order is to select each photo individually and upload it before going to the next photo.  This is a huge waste of time.

I could also try creating the photographs in reverse order, then the images might land in the blog in order.  I don't care to play such an elaborate game.

How about fixing the issue, Blogger?

There is still the problem of the draft posts not having the correct dates.  The solution is just not to create any posts and not to publish anything.  Problem solved! 

Hey Google, is this your way of killing off Blogger?  If so, then you are doing great.  It's working!

Now Facebook...  Ugh.  I hate the new interface.  Actually, it is okay in that Facebook has finally quit hiding all of my friends' posts from me.  Okay, that's an improvement.  The problem is that I cannot stand how the new group content is handled.  There used to be numbers next to the group's names in the left sidebar that would let me know which groups had new activity.  Those numbers are gone.

I've been trying to figure out how to handle it.  I tried a few things, but I find that I'm not using any of those methods.  The result is I am no longer visiting most groups on Facebook.  

Another annoyance with the new Facebook is that it has a video section at the top.  That icon activates with a red notification for me once every few days.  I want to ignore it, but I don't like seeing it activated.  I have to click on it to dismiss it.  So what do I see?  Stuff like this.

Note:  These screen caps landed in this post at the very end, not where I wanted them.  They are supposed to land where my cursor is.  In the past, I could drag them to the proper position if they ended up in the wrong place.  I couldn't move them.  I had to delete all of the following text and then paste it at the end after the images in order to get them in the middle of the post.  Blogger, you suck.  

Anyway, these videos are of topics that do not remotely interest me.  The videos are from pages that I do not follow.  There were seven other videos, all from pages that I do not follow and of things that I do not want to see.  Facebook, you also suck.  

Since early December when I was forced into the new Facebook interface permanently, my usage of Facebook has decreased by at least 50%.  

There is also a concerning new development on Facebook which I don't care to discuss for several reasons.  We need a fail-safe, some place other than Facebook else to gather to discuss series books, just in case.

We need to use a site that actually has traffic.  Alexa has a list of the top internet sites by country.  Since more series book collectors are in the United States, I used the list for the United States.  Below, I have listed the top 15 sites plus the two other social media sites that showed in the top 50.  I am not able to see the rest of the list since I don't have an Alexa membership.  


Most of these sites are not social media sites, so they won't work.  There are several social media sites, but most of them are not conducive to the types of discussions that we would want to have.  However, there is one certain social media site that is rather high in the list of which I have been a heavy user for one year:

Reddit is a throwback to the old internet.  It isn't pretty like Facebook and doesn't have the neat bells and whistles.  It does allow for discussions just like we used to have on Yahoo! Groups.  It does allow for photos in a post.  It does not allow for photos in comments, which is a drawback.  The people on Reddit don't seem to be as sensitive as the people on Facebook, which is a plus.  Of course some are, but in my experience, Reddit users have a tougher skin than the people on Facebook.  I like that.

I created a subreddit for series books, which I mentioned recently here in a post.  I am going to continue to work at it.  I hope that the series book collectors who are non-Facebook users will join.  I hope that at least some Facebook users will join as well.

Vintage Series Books on Reddit

I originally intended to do this around a year ago, but I decided that it wasn't necessary.  The new Facebook interface has me so annoyed that I was moved into action.

Saturday, January 9, 2021

Rearranging and Removing Books from My Collection

I decided to post these pictures here even though I strongly dislike the new Blogger interface.  Blame Blogger for my lack of posts, because it's their fault for switching us to a new interface that is highly defective.

My goal is to remove 500 to 750 books from my series book collection so that I will have more room to display my other collections.  I have neat items that have been stashed in boxes in closets or in cabinets that I have not seen in years.  I must reduce the items in my several collections so that I can once again enjoy what I have.  Otherwise, there is no point.

This time in history is very difficult.  We've had every kind of societal upheaval imaginable in the last year, and we continue to do our best to avoid getting Covid-19.  I cannot control when I will be able to get the Covid-19 vaccine and when this horror will end, but I can gain better control of my collections.  I do have multiple collections, even though I typically only mention the series book collection in this blog. 

My collections have taken over my home.  I want to keep everything that is important to me, which is most of it.  But I can cull out many items to bring the collections under control.

I have been roving around my home for close to two weeks now, pulling books out from here and there, deciding to sell them someday when I open my online stores again (four to six weeks after I am finally vaccinated or late May, whichever comes first).  These pictures were ones that I shared on Facebook near the beginning of the process. 


The pictures are of books that I will sell when I open my stores again.  In the time since I photographed the above books, I have pulled a large number of additional books out of my collection.  I'm not sure how many altogether.  When I last counted, I was at 350 books.  I feel like I'm up to around 500 books right now.  

Today I worked on my Nancy Drew Files.  I have been building a set of hardcover library editions of the Nancy Drew Files.  Even though I am working on the set of hardcover books, the Nancy Drew Files books are at the low end of my Nancy Drew collection as far as how important they are to me.  The original 56, the Digest books, and the Girl Detective books are all more important to me.  I'm not sure about the Diaries books.  The Diaries books are probably more important to me than the Files, and I don't even like them that much.  

I decided that I don't need a complete set of Files #1-124 in the softcover edition when I am working on a hardcover set.  I combined the two sets earlier today, removing the softcover books for any title where I own a hardcover copy.  This will also make it easier for me to see what I need in the hardcover version.  Select a picture to see a larger version.

That gave me some extra space.  I have never been able to get at my Files books since they are on a top shelf (books less important to me are always up high where I cannot get to them) behind the front row of books. 

I knew what to do.  I got out my lunchboxes which were in a closet and a cabinet.  I placed them on the shelf in front of the Files.  The lunchboxes will be easier to move than a shelf full of books if I need to get at my Files books.  Even better, I can see the lunchboxes now.  

The Dana Girls picture covers and German Trixie Belden books will not necessarily stay on the bottom shelf and are not perfectly arranged at this time.  I am not going to be culling any of them, but I will be culling and moving around other books, so they might get moved at some point.

I have three categories of books in my house:  my collection, extra books that have not been listed for sale, and books that have been listed for sale.  I don't have trouble keeping my collection separate from the other two categories.  I do have problems with the unlisted extra books and the listed extra books.

Even though none of you can see the listings, I do have around 500 books that have been listed for sale online.  The listings are inactive but are still there ready to be activated when I am ready.  I have to keep those books together on certain shelves so that I don't get them mixed in with other books.  I have managed to get those books to take up less space as I have expanded my shelves full of unlisted extra books.  I need to do some more combining so that I can squeeze the extra Files books onto some of the shelves. 

It would certainly be easier on me if I were able to sell books right now and get some of them out of here.  But then, if I were selling books, I wouldn't have the time to organize my books.  I have to get creative, and so far, I have avoided having to box books up.  I can always box up the extras if I must, but I am trying to avoid that for as long as I can since boxing up books makes it harder to get to them.

By the way, I checked sold listings on eBay to see what my lunchboxes are now worth.  The Bee Gees lunchboxes have gone up in value.  The disco backlash is now a part of the distant past, and those lunchboxes are more desirable than they were years ago.  The Zorro lunchboxes are not worth as much as they once were, but they are still quite desirable.  The Nancy Drew lunchbox has the lowest value of the six lunchboxes.  

Saturday, January 2, 2021

The Hardy Boys Hulu Television Series

Adaptations are important, because they keep the original property viable and in the public's mind.  Adaptations may not be like the original books, but they are important to the continuing success of the property.  Adaptations do not damage the books.  The books will never change and will always be available to the fans who prefer them.

Unlike many fans of Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys, I view filmed adaptations with an open mind.  I don't expect them to be like the original books, and I'm not disappointed when they are different.  I guess this is because I understand that the adaptation has been adapted; it has been changed from its original form.  Most fans argue that the characters and premise should not be changed at all from the original stories.  To me, an adaptation is like an alternate reality to the original form.  

In early December, 13 episodes of Hulu's Hardy Boys series were made available.  You do have to subscribe to Hulu to see the shows.  However, if you are a new subscriber, you can get a free trial.

I am not going to attempt to summarize the plot of the show.  A single story arc spans the 13 episodes of the series.  I cannot summarize it without spoiling the story.

Frank Hardy is 16 years old, played by an actor who is 23.  Joe Hardy is 12 years old, played by an actor who is around 13 to 15 years old, depending on who you believe.

The main complaint by fans is the age difference.  I have no problem with the age difference.  Joe is an utter delight.  He's no slouch.  Joe is smart and does a lot of investigating on his own. 

Frank is the one to which I did not connect.  I like him fine, but I just don't particularly connect with him.   

The boys' friends are changed up a bit.  Chet is African American.  He still lives on a farm and drives a yellow truck called "The Queen."  Callie is Chet's girlfriend as the series opens, but she and Chet break up later.  Callie and Frank clearly like each other.  

Phil Cohen likes to eat, and his personality is more or less what Chet's was in the original books.  That messed with my mind at first, but I'm fine with it.

Biff is a girl who is near Joe's age.  She and Joe make a great team.

The Hardys move to Bridgeport during the first episode.  

This series is set in the 1980s.  The vehicles are from the 1980s, and the music used is from the 1980s.  The logo for the series is the Hardy Boys Casefiles logo, and the Casefiles series debuted during the 1980s, which is why I think it was used.

The show does include supernatural events, but it is nowhere near the level of what has happened in the Nancy Drew series.  Whether we like it or not, any show nowadays is likely to include something like that in order to make the show as interesting as possible to modern viewers.

The show does have some Easter eggs, like the cities of Franklin and Dixon.  I noticed the usage of bulletin boards and felt that they were a reference to the Nancy Drew games.  Also, "Waverly" shows up on a wall on a poster, and that is part of the name of one of the Nancy Drew games.

Someone online pointed out the usage of a song by New Order called "Blue Monday."  The cover of "Blue Monday" by Flunk was used in the 2007 Nancy Drew movie with Emma Roberts.

Episode #7 "Figure in Hiding" gives a good view of a partial set of Hardy Boys blue matte picture cover books.

While this version does make some significant changes from the books, it is much closer to the Hardy Boys book series than CW's Nancy Drew series is to the Nancy Drew book series.  In the CW Nancy Drew series, Nancy Drew has sexual relations with other characters, and this is a major departure from the books.  This Hardy Boys series has nothing of the sort, which should make it more palatable to fans.  Yes, it does have changes, but the changes are not like what happened with Nancy Drew.

I strongly encourage you to give this show a chance.  You might end up liking it.  I certainly did.  In fact, this is the first filmed version of the Hardy Boys that I have actually managed to watch all the way through.  I highly recommend this show.

Friday, January 1, 2021

Books Read in 2020

This year wasn't all about books.  I consumed a good amount of recorded media, and this naturally reduced the number of books read in 2020.

With reading, my problem has been that nothing much has interested me.  I have not been able to enjoy the typical vintage series book, and I have quit reading many books partway through, ones that I would normally have enjoyed.  My reading has been sporadic, sometimes not reading for a few weeks and then reading several books rapidly.  

I found that recorded media interested me much more during the last year, and my consumption was the most since in the time period from 2006 to 2010. 

As the year began, I watched Nancy Drew on The CW each week.

As always, books in blue are books that I had read before.

January:  9 books

When I pasted my list into this post, I was struck by how long this year has seemed.  I stared at the first book, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl by Harriet A. Jacobs, with surprise.  I surely read that book at least two years ago!  Life was so much simpler at the beginning of the year.  I read the book by Harriet A. Jacobs after seeing it mentioned in an article that I read on New Year's Day, probably this one.  That seems like so long ago.

Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl by Harriet A. Jacobs
Arden Blake #1 The Orchard Secret
Arden Blake #2 The Mystery of Jockey Hollow
Arden Black #3 Missing at Marshlands

Nancy Drew Diaries #19 Hidden Pictures
The Hollow Wall Mystery by Mildred A. Wirt
Sweet Dreams #50 Lights, Camera, Love
Sweet Dreams #53 Ghost of a Chance
Sweet Dreams #56 Campfire Nights

I was still trying to slog through the Sweet Dreams books at this point in the year.  January was a rather normal month, all things considered, but it was around January 25 that I realized that we had a huge problem looming.  The clock was ticking...  Would I be able to go to the big book sale?

February:  4 books

Sweet Dreams #58 Rhythm of Love
Sweet Dreams #59 Please Say Yes
Sweet Dreams #60 Summer Breezes
Sweet Dreams #61 Exchange of Hearts

In February, I was consumed by reading about the pandemic.  I read only four books because of my distraction, but also, because I was quite bored with Sweet Dreams.  Fortunately, I was able to attend the big book sale, just before everything fell apart.

March:  5 books

#1 Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
#2 Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
#3 Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
#4 Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
#5 Harry Potter and Order of the Phoenix

In March, I escaped by reading Harry Potter after not having read them in many years.  I watched all eight Harry Potter movies for the first time right after I finished reading the seven books.

April:  16 books

#6 Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
#7 Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
Tom Swift Inventors' Academy #4 The Virtual Vandal
Hardy Boys Adventures #20 Return to Black Bear Mountain
American Adventure Series #1 Crossed Trails
American Adventure Series #2 Hollywood, Ho!
American Adventure Series #3 The Hills of Home
Sweet Dreams #65 The Two of Us
Sweet Dreams #70 Special Someone
Sweet Dreams #71 Too Many Boys
Sweet Dreams #72 Goodbye Forever
Sweet Dreams #75 First Summer Love
Sweet Dreams #80 A Shot at Love
Sweet Dreams #81 Secret Admirer
Sweet Dreams #88 Wrong Kind of Boy
Rick Brant #1 The Rocket's Shadow

Somehow or another, I was able to get into reading books during April.  This was the only month in 2020 where my reading pace was anywhere near what has been normal for me.  It was also the month in which I finally gave up on Sweet Dreams.  I haven't gotten back to them.

Reading the three American Adventure books was the bright spot in April.  Not only that, but reading those books was the highpoint of my 2020 reading year.  I remember that time with happiness.  After I had read the books, I posed a question about whether anyone would care if I put up scans of the books, since they are nearly impossible to find and are in the public domain.  Around three or four of you expressed interest, and I could tell that it was genuine.  That motivated me, and I scanned all three books.  At least one or two of you read and enjoyed them.  That made me happy.

May:  9 books

Rick Brant #2 The Lost City
Rick Brant #3 Sea Gold
Rick Brant #4 100 Fathoms Under
Rick Brant #5 The Whispering Box Mystery
Rick Brant #6 The Phantom Shark
#1 Beverly Gray, Freshman
#2 Beverly Gray, Sophomore
#3 Beverly Gray, Junior
#4 Beverly Gray, Senior

In May and June, I tried to read some vintage series.  I chose two of my favorites.  It just didn't work for me.  Maybe some other year...

June:  11 books

#5 Beverly Gray's Career
#6 Beverly Gray at the World's Fair
#7/6 Beverly Gray on a World Cruise
#8/7 Beverly Gray in the Orient
#8 Beverly Gray on a Treasure Hunt

Wishing Star #6 Too Much in Love
Windswept #2 Someone Is Out There
#9 Beverly Gray's Return
Nancy Drew Diaries #20 The Vanishing Statue
#10 Beverly Gray, Reporter
#11 Beverly Gray's Romance

July:  9 books

Wishing Star #1 The Lost Summer
Wishing Star #2 The Girl Who Wanted Out
Wishing Star #3 Blind Sunday
Wishing Star #4 The Two Worlds of Jill
Wishing Star #5 Francesca, Baby
Wishing Star #7 Don't Look Back
Wishing Star #8 Katie
Wishing Star #11 Honey
Wishing Star #13 The Night Skiers

In July, my final Sweet Dreams posts were published.  One person told me to get back to reading vintage series books, since they were tired of Sweet Dreams.  This proved that some people take me for granted.  

August: 10 books

Wishing Star #12 The Great Lakeside High Experiment
Wishing Star #14 Jealousy
Wishing Star #15 The Loving Year
Wishing Star #16 Walk Beside Me, Be My Friend
Wishing Star #18 Secrets
Wishing Star #19 Sisters
Wishing Star #20 Why Did You Leave Me?
#1 The Harvesting by Melanie Karsak
#2 Midway by Melanie Karsak
#3 The Shadow Aspect by Melanie Karsak

In late August, I abandoned reading the vintage teen books.  By this point, I was floundering, unsure what to read, not finding anything of interest.  I returned to dystopian teen novels and was able to find some that interested me.

September:  13 books

#4 Witch Wood by Melanie Karsak
#5 Torn World by Melanie Karsak
Hardy Boys Adventures #21 Treacherous Tide
Tom Swift #5 The Spybot Invasion
After the EMP by Harley Tate #1-9

Around the beginning of September, I watched a few episodes of the television series, Goosebumps, on Netflix.  They were okay, but they made me think about Friday the 13th: The Series, which I wanted to see again.  This is the television series featuring Micki, Ryan, Jack, and later Johnny, who recover cursed antiques sold by Louis Vendredi, who had made a deal with the devil.  The series shares the same name as the movie franchise with Jason Voorhees, but otherwise, it has nothing to do with it.

I purchased the complete set of all three seasons.  From September through November, I watched all 72 episodes.  I loved seeing those shows again.  I was at quite a loss when I finished.  I wanted more!

October:  9 books

Southern Grit by Harley Tate #1-3
Northern Exposure by Harley Tate #1-3
Western Strength by Harley Tate #1-3

November:  5 books

Enola Holmes #1-5

December:  6 books

Enola Holmes #6
The Summoning by Kelley Armstrong
The Thing in B-3 by Talmage  Powell
13 Tales of Horror by 13 Masters of Horror, edited by T. Pines
Friday Barnes #1 Girl Detective
Friday Barnes #2 Under Suspicion

In early December, I watched Enola Holmes on Netflix.  I then watched Hardy Boys, the Hulu television series.  In late December, I still craved television similar to Friday the 13th: The Series, so I watched the 2019-2020 Twilight Zone on CBS All Access.

I read 106 books in 2020, but I also watched more than 120 episodes from television shows.  I watched more recorded media in the last year than I read books.

In 2014, I began keeping track of how many books I read.

2014:  262 books
2015:  231 books
2016:  355 books
2017:  403 books
2018:  315 books
2019:  185 books
2020:  106 books

Ever since my reading peak in 2017, the number of books I have read has dropped each year.  In the short term, I don't expect my reading to increase.  I hope by the middle of the year that I will be more motivated to read than I have been.  That, of course, depends upon what happens.