Saturday, June 29, 2024

The Rule of Three Trilogy by Eric Walters

The Rule of Three Trilogy was written by Eric Walters and published by Farrar, Straus, & Giroux.

1.  The Rule of Three, 2014
2.  The Rule of Three: Fight for Power, 2015
3.  The Rule of Three: Will to Survive, 2016

Publishers summary:

One shocking afternoon, computers around the globe shut down in a viral catastrophe.  At sixteen-year-old Adam Daley's high school, the problem first seems to be a typical electrical outage, until students discover that cell phones are down, municipal utilities are failing, and a few computer-free cars like Adam's are the only vehicles that function. 

Driving home, Adam encounters a storm tide of anger and fear as the region becomes paralyzed.  Soon—as resources dwindle, crises mount, and chaos descends—he will see his suburban neighborhood band together for protection.  And Adam will understand that having a police captain for a mother and a retired government spy living next door are not just the facts of his life but the keys to his survival, in The Rule of Three by Eric Walters.

This is an interesting take on the apocalypse plot.  Typically, post-apocalyptic stories begin with total mayhem and immediate killing sprees within the early pages of the story.  The characters end up on the run, eventually finding an oasis in some distant part of the country, where they can finally regain a sense of normalcy.  Sometimes the oasis falls, and the characters must try to find somewhere else that is safe.

In these books, Adam's neighborhood is the oasis.  We follow their story as they build a safe haven and defend it against the outsiders who try to steal what they have.  Since Adam and his acquaintances are never on the run, the plot is rather slow for much of the first book.  It gradually becomes more interesting as complications and threats develop.

Since the book doesn't open with instant mayhem, it is more realistic than many of these types of stories.

Overall, this is a very good trilogy.  It does drag at times.

Friday, June 28, 2024

Books Reduced on eBay

I reduced the prices of around 40 books on eBay.  Some of the reductions were significant, and some of the books are priced well below what I paid.  I need some of this stuff to go away.  I'd rather sell the books at below cost than donate them.

Jennifer's Series Books on eBay

I ended the listings and reduced the prices when I relisted them in order to give them additional exposure as new listings.  Sort my store by "newly listed" first to see the books that were reduced.

I am trying to motivate myself into listing books, but it's not going well.  June has been tremendously busy and stressful, and I just have no motivation.  A lot of my motivation results from successfully selling books.  Since most of my eBay inventory is stagnant, I hardly want to add more stagnant items.

I also have books on Etsy, although I haven't reduced any prices.

Jennifer's Series Books on Etsy

Wednesday, June 26, 2024

The Wilders Duology by Cass Kim

The Wilders duology was written and published by independent author Cass Kim.

1.  Wilders: A Dystopian Half-Pocalypse Series, 2019
2.  Consequences: A Wilders Finale, 2020

The set can also be purchased in digital format as a trilogy with a prequel, The Change, included.  I read The Change between volumes 1 and 2, and that is probably when the prequel should be read.  The reader can only appreciate certain aspects of The Change with knowledge gleaned from having read the first Wilders book.

Publisher's summary:

The forest behind Renna’s home is dark and dense. It holds more secrets than she knows. Having grown up in the half-pocalypse, a world balancing against the tide of a blood-borne virus, Renna knows the rules by heart:

1) Stay inside between dusk and dawn.
2) Close and lock the copper and silver screens.
3) Report anyone suspected of infection immediately.

Now, at seventeen, Renna will have to survive against the rules.

- An unprecedented attack.
- A strange boy with copper eyes.

Can Renna survive the darkness to save the people she loves?

The first book captured my attention pretty quickly.  I was worried about Renna's cat, however.  Timmy Tammy, also known as Tim Tam, is a large cat who is Renna's beloved companion.  It's clear from the beginning of the first book that Renna's home will soon be the site of an attack.  I feared for Tim Tam, since it would have been too sad for him to have been killed.  I mention this to reassure anyone who decides to read these books that Tim Tam will be fine.  He doesn't die.

I enjoyed reading these books.

Sunday, June 23, 2024

Keeper of the Lost Cities Fan Negativity and Criticism

This post is about fan negativity towards the Keeper of the Lost Cities series.  Before I continue, yes, fans have a right to share their feelings.  The problem is that the negative fans drown out the fans who just want to have enjoyable discussions about the books.  This is a moderator issue.  Moderators could rein in the negativity.   

I am so thankful that I stayed off of all the Keeper forums during the month that I read the series for the first time.  They would have ruined it for me.  The forums are an echo chamber, and people like me won't post because we get tired of being downvoted for daring to say something positive.

Most annoying are the disparaging statements directed at Shannon Messenger.  Here's one example.

There was a post about who Sophie's father is.  Someone wrote, "I don't think even Shannon Messenger knows yet, hence the delay and the release of yet another 'filler' book."  Someone else responded, "Hmm, that's actually interesting.  I wonder if she looks at fan theories and decides from there."

These are astonishing remarks.

Sophie's father's identity is central to the entire story arc of the series and clues to his identity have been meticulously placed through the books.  It is disrespectful to Shannon to suggest that she has no idea.  She even said in an interview several years ago that she knows who Sophie's parents are.  While the Keeper books have some flaws, Shannon is a talented writer who spent a year working out the series premise before she began writing the first book.  I have no doubt that she knew who Sophie's parents are before she began writing the first book.

Some fans say that the series has been ruined in recent books and that Stellarlune is particularly boring and pointless. 

I enjoyed Stellarlune as much as I did the rest of the books.  The story does progress in Stellarlune, including some obvious clues as to Sophie's father's identity.  Of course, these same fans say that the part of the book with the clues is the most boring part, which means they missed all the clues.

These fans say that the series is just a money grab and that the only reason the series hasn't ended is because Shannon needs to keep the money coming in.  Actually, the Keeper of the Lost Cities books will not go out of print after the series ends.  The series is also steadily gaining in popularity, so the books will continue to sell.  Warner Brothers recently purchased the movie rights.

These fans more specifically say that Book 8.5 is a money grab.  They also say that the upcoming Book 9.5 is another money grab. 

Okay.  Shannon has stated that the Keeper of the Lost Cities books only show Sophie's point of view.  All books are from Sophie's perspective only.  The purpose of Book 8.5 was so that Shannon could include Keefe's point of view.  The purpose of Book 9.5 will be to show Keefe's point of view while he was in the Forbidden Cities.

Fans say that Shannon should just include Keefe's POV in the main series, but Shannon doesn't want to do that.  It's her series and her prerogative.

When I wrote my post about the cover art reveal for #9.5 Unraveled, I decided not to mention the negativity.  When the cover dropped, fans immediately began complaining.  It was just one complaint after another. 

The Unraveled cover is attractive.  What else does it need to be?

They said that the cover wouldn't attract someone who saw it in a store.  Um, I don't think beginning the Keeper series with #9.5 would be a good idea, so the attractiveness of the cover art to random people is irrelevant.  People new to the series ought to begin with #1.

Fans also say that the cover art for #9.5 looks AI-generated.


I don't get it.  I wish that I could find people who think like I do who just want to enjoy fan discussions that aren't negative.

I understand that fans who have been reading the series for years are tired of waiting at least one year between each new book.  My perspective is different.  I'm a pretty new fan.  I began reading the books on March 13, 2023.  If the series ends with Book 10, then it will conclude in November 2025.  I am thankful that I'm getting to have at least nearly two years of fun speculating about Sophie's father's identity and Mr. Forkle's identity.  It will be different when the answers have been revealed.

I dread the fan reaction when the secrets are revealed.  These fans are so certain that Elwin is Sophie's father when he most certainly isn't.  They will have a fit!

The original fans from 2012 are quite impatient for the series to end.  They are now in their early 20s, and I suspect that most of the toxic fans are a subset of this group.  These people started reading the series when it was first published, which was when they were in middle school.  They were the age-appropriate fans from when the series debuted.  They are now in college or out in the workforce and are in the final transition to their adult lives.  They are annoyed because they still don't know the ending of a series that they started reading in middle school.

I do understand their feelings.  These are not people who will read children's books as adults.  Someone like me wouldn't have been phased by an unfinished middle-grade series that was still in progress.  After all, I started collecting Nancy Drew books when I was 19 and voraciously read vintage children's series books (Nancy Drew, Trixie Belden, Judy Bolton, etc.) when I was in my early 20s.  And I still do, as evidenced by this blog.

But these people aren't going to be adult collectors of children's books.  They want to finish transitioning to adulthood, and they want to leave the Keeper series behind.  Being annoyed about it is understandable, but some of them behave very badly while others pile on, making everyone else miserable.

For instance, someone posted at 5:56:07 one morning.  They wanted to know what others thought about Stellarlune, which they had just finished and had enjoyed reading.  At 6:08:57, someone replied, "We have all stopped caring, its [sic] kind of sad seeing the series be butchered like this but you get over it."  At 6:09:52, someone else replied, "We just don't care anymore."  Those were the first two responses, which set the tone for the thread.  

Consider that both people said that they didn't care.  So, why do they frequent the subreddit for the series when they don't care?  Why do they jump on posts, spewing their negativity?  If the series upsets them so much (and it clearly does), then why do they obsess over it?  Their behavior is unhealthy and must negatively impact their mental health. 

It would be far better for these fans to just drift away from the fandom.  If they still care after the series ends, then they can read the ending.  Sometimes in life, things are left unfinished.  It would be far more healthy for these people to just let it go.

Thursday, June 20, 2024

A Quick Visit to Barnes & Noble

On June 12, I was near a Barnes & Noble store and had 30 minutes to kill.  I went inside to check the children's book department.

The Hardy Boys section is rather small.  (Remember to click on photos in order to see them better.)

It could be that there was a recent run on the Hardy Boys series, since some empty space is present on both sides of the two books.  My fear is that the demand for the Hardy Boys books is so low that Barnes & Noble only stocks a couple of books.

Nancy Drew is a little better, but the selection isn't very good.

Here is a neat metal boxed set of Baby-Sitters Club books.

I had to check on the Keeper of the Lost Cities books.  Quite a few are in stock.

I also photographed a couple of books with appealing covers and titles.  Sometime soon I plan to see if they appeal to me. 

The books are The Secret Library by Kekla Magoon and The Mystery of Black Hollow Lane by Julia Nobel.  Kekla Magoon ghostwrote the second Nancy Drew Diaries book, Strangers on a Train.

Rick Riordan's books remain quite popular.

Here's a modern Choose Your Own Adventure book.

It's good to still see a few traces of vintage series books in the stores, but it's sad that the selection is so poor.  Modern children are into different kinds of books than the ones that we loved as children.

Monday, June 17, 2024

The Girl Who Knew Too Much by Tiffany Brooks

This book was first published as Reality Gold by Dunemere Books on May 22, 2018.  The book was republished as The Girl Who Knew Too Much by Sourcebooks Fire on January 4, 2022.

Publisher's summary:

Survivor meets Lord of the Flies in this fast-paced adventure with fascinating characters and pulse-pounding tension.  You think it's a game?  Think again.

High school senior Riley Ozment is desperate to change her reality after making a fool of herself on social media.  She needs to do something drastic to repair her social standing—like trying out for a Survivor-style reality TV show.  Suddenly, Riley's dropped onto a deserted tropical island with nineteen other teens competing for a million dollars and a rumored treasure lost on the island.

But that treasure has a history: a local curse says that seven people need to die before the treasure can be found.  And six hunters have already lost their lives in the search.  Now the question is: who will be the seventh?

With a cast of vivid characters who will stop at nothing to win the show, a cursed island setting, and a priceless treasure waiting to be discovered, The Girl Who Knew Too Much pitches readers right into a scheming web of lies, love, and betrayal.

A fast-paced new thriller where allies may not be who they say they are and legends abound, perfect for fans of young adult mystery and suspense!

Since this book features a reality show competition with 20 contestants, it has lots of characters.  There are way too many of them, but that is unavoidable given the premise.  It helps once most of them are eliminated.  However, I didn't know what most of them looked like, so I had no clear visual image for most of them.  That took away from my enjoyment.

This book is a bit slow at times.  As published, the book is very good.  If it had been shorter with less of the everyday type content, then it would have been an excellent story.  However, readers who enjoy reading slower-paced stories might find this to be an excellent book.

Friday, June 14, 2024

Dana Girls #6 The Circle of Footprints Glossy Internal Illustrations

The early Dana Girls books have glossy internal illustrations.

Click on each image in order to see it at a higher resolution.

Glossy frontispiece used from 1934 to 1942:

Glossy internal illustration used from 1934 to 1937:

Glossy internal illustration used from 1934 to 1937:

Glossy internal illustration used from 1934 to 1937:

Tuesday, June 11, 2024

More Keeper of the Lost Cities Thoughts and Speculation

Even though I haven't read the Keeper books since my third read-through ended in November, I continue to think about them.  I love theories, and I love discussing them.  This post contains my current thoughts.

STOP READING unless you have read through the entire series including #8.5 and #9.


My opinion about the identity of Sophie's father has not changed.  I still believe that Kenric is Forkle and that he is also Sophie's father.

If you haven't read my past posts, then you can find them here.

Keeper of the Lost Cities Summaries, Reviews, and Theories

My opinion about Kenric and Fintan colluding together to fake their deaths in the Everblaze has shifted for now.

This is what I wrote previously in my post More on the Forgotten Secrets:

What happened when Kenric probed Fintan's mind?  Could Kenric have made a deal with Fintan?  My thinking is that Fintan and Kenric had some kind of agreement that ultimately resulted in Fintan and Kenric faking their deaths at Oblivimyre.

The one thing I've struggled with is that Fintan would know that Kenric is alive.  I've since realized that since Kenric is a Washer, he would have simply erased Fintan's memory right after they escaped the flames.

I've been mulling this over, and I currently feel that both Kenric and Fintan faked their deaths with no knowledge of what the other one did.  There's obviously a secret about what happened when Kenric probed Fintan's mind in the Forgotten Secret.  I thought that Kenric and Fintan made a deal.  Later, it becomes apparent that Kenric learned about Elysian and/or stellarlune from probing Fintan's mind.

From my post The Chronological Order of the Forgotten Secrets:

Stellarlune, Page 239:  "Have you ever heard of Stellarlune?"  "Stellarlune?" Fintan repeated, dragging out the syllables.  "Can't say that I have."

Later in the book, Mr. Forkle makes this remark.

Stellarlune, Page 291:  "Stellarlune," Mr. Forkle repeated, dragging out each syllable.  "You'll have to forgive me—sometimes the abundance of strange terms gets the better of me.  Stellarlune is one of Lady Gisela's projects, isn't it?"

I wrote in that post, "Mr. Forkle is definitely playing dumb by dragging out the syllables in 'stellarlune.'  He's heard of it."  Fintan is playing dumb as well.  Ah, these former Councillors and their games..."   

I suspect that Kenric gleaned some information about Elysian and/or stellarlune from Fintan when he probed Fintan's mind and that they did not necessarily make a a deal with each other.  However, I don't rule it out.

I mull over Kenric/Forkle being Sophie's father pretty much all the time.  It is fascinating how most fanswho are active in online discussionsthink that Elwin is Sophie's father and very few of them see Kenric as a possibility.  These fans take everything that Forkle has said to Sophie as true.  I believe Mr. Forkle has lied just about every time Sophie has asked about her father.

Ironically, I believe that Mr. Forkle is telling the literal truth in this passage.

Page 367   "I'm not who you think I am."  "Who does she think he is?" Biana asked as Fitz snatched Sophie's forms.  His jaw fell.  "He's her father."  "No, I'm not."  "Then why would you list yourself as family?"  "Because I am family.  My name is the one on her Inception Certificate.  Someone had to vouch for her existence.  And since her genetic parents couldn't reveal themselves, I took the responsibility.  Though of course I had to use an assumed identity.  But Mr. Forkle is still me."

Sophie had questioned why Mr. Forkle's name was on her Inception Certificate, and this was his explanation.  When I first read through the books, I took the word "family" as meaning "fellowship."  Everyone who is part of the Black Swan is family in terms of being in a fellowship.  However, I recently realized that Mr Forkle is outright admitting that he and Sophie are family, as in genetic relatives. 

This passage is also from the same scene.

Neverseen, Page 368   "Someday you may understand," Mr. Forkle told Sophie.  "But for now I can at least assure you—as I did with your concerns about Jolie—that I am not your genetic father."  Keefe grabbed Mr. Forkle's wrist.  "He's telling the truth.  And... he actually feels kind of bad about it."

Again, Mr. Forkle is telling the literal truth, and Keefe proves it.  The Mr. Forkle speaking isn't Sophie's father, but his identical twin brother is.  Since Mr. Forkle's twin is Sophie's father, then this Mr. Forkle is Sophie's uncle.  He is family.

As I've been saying for a while, Shannon has revealed the identity of Sophie's father, yet most readers have missed it.  She's also rather directly revealed Mr. Forkle's identity.  The most obvious clue is the anagram from Kenric's full name. 

Kenric Elgar Fathdom rearranges to form the phrase "Forkle grin and teach."  "Grin" is Kenric and "Leto" is teach.  Therefore, "Forkle grin and teach" means "Forkle, Kenric, and Leto."

Shannon very obviously modeled plot devices and names after the Harry Potter series.  The name Cassius was styled after Lucius Malfoy, for instance.  Both Cassius and Lucius are unpleasant characters.  There are other really obvious examples.

Back to the anagram, it was also styled after the Harry Potter series.  "Tom Marvolo Riddle" rearranges to form "I am Lord Voldemort."  So of course, Shannon did the same with her mysterious leader of the Black Swan.

I had wondered last year why Shannon placed such an obvious plot spoiler in Kenric's name and in such an early book in a series that we now know will contain at least 12 volumes (#1-10 plus #8.5 and #9.5).  After I learned that Shannon originally thought that the series would end with three books, I understood why such an important spoiler was placed in the third book.  She wanted to include that clue before the series ended.  It's interesting how that spoiler has been missed by most fans.

Saturday, June 8, 2024

The Defiant Heart by Florence B. Michelson

The Defiant Heart by Florence B. Michelson was published by Whitman in 1964 and marketed as a "Whitman Teen Novel."

I purchased this book in February at the big library book sale.  There were very few older juvenile books at the sale this year, and I grabbed the few that I could.  I saw this book the other day, and on impulse, I read it.  This was an accomplishment, since it is the first book I have read since April.  May was a terribly stressful month.

Publisher's summary:

Rebellion and defiance surged through fourteen-year-old Lila Hogan like an electric current.  With a toss of her head and a snap of blue eyes, she turned from Aunt Clara and fled out the door.  Scoldings—everyone telling her she was too loud, too bold, too—everything!  No one understood her.  Lonely and tearful, Lila fingered her charm bracelet... a dangling heart, a football from Mario... her only tangible link to her happy, carefree life in the city.

From the city to a small town, from old friends to new, from the warmth and love of her grandmother to the disapproving aloofness of her aunt and uncle... these changes made life almost unbearable for Lila in the months after her grandmother's death.  

Never before had she had to fight to prove herself.  She had always been popular and accepted.  Now she found herself standing before a closed door.  Behind that door was everything she yearned for—the love and trust of a family, the closeness of school friends, and, most of all, the inner confidence that would let her hold her head high.  

It was a lonely difficult fight for Lila, but the victory was a shared one.  Each member of the family gained a special understanding when the closed door was opened to love and belonging.

I don't have a firm understanding of the malt shop book genre, so I'm unsure if this book fits.  In my view, it's a young adult book.  It's a coming-of-age story and deals with Lila's struggles as she adjusts to living with relatives.  Lila's Aunt Clara is very classist and makes disparaging comments about Lila's father.  She also won't permit either Lila or her daughter, Irene, to have anything to do with the son of the cleaning woman, since she considers him bad due to her prejudice.

The author ends the story by having Lila make a certain concession.  I understand why Lila does it, but I would have preferred for it to have been a partial compromise instead of giving in completely.  It just didn't sit right with me for Lila to give in regarding something so extremely important to her.  That's all I can say.

This is a very good book.

Wednesday, June 5, 2024

eBay's Problems + 10% Off Sale

My eBay sales have been consistently slower than my Etsy sales for quite a few months.  The switch occurred sometime last fall.  I have had 73 different transactions on eBay since January 1, while I have had 110 different transactions on Etsy since January 1.  I checked site traffic rankings, and I found where eBay is #17 and Etsy is #39.  Etsy has less traffic than eBay by a good bit, yet my sales are consistently better on Etsy.

Why is this?

I can think of at least three reasons.  

  1.  eBay's search, especially for Nancy Drew, is too cluttered, and eBay manipulates search results instead of just showing buyers the results in a unbiased fashion.

  2.  My eBay listings will not be promoted outside of eBay unless I pay eBay an exorbitant minimum extra fee of $5 per day, which is $150 per 30 days on top of other existing fees.  I won't do that.

  3.  eBay is hiding my store categories from buyers.  
The hiding of the store categories is what burns me the most.  The eBay store categories used to show by default in the full web version all the time, just like they do on Etsy.  Mobile is a different situation, and nothing is easy to find in mobile.

In the full web version, the categories are collapsed and easy to miss.  It takes two clicks to get all of them open.  It's illogical to hide the categories in the full web version.  I'm confident that I'm losing sales because of the hidden categories.

On Etsy, the categories display in the full web version, but they don't in mobile.  The situation is suboptimal even on Etsy, and yet, my sales are better on Etsy.  I suspect that the main reason is the off-site ads.  I am permanently opted-in to Etsy's off-site ads.  I am only charged when I get a sale through an off-site ad, which is how it should be.

eBay's setup is to charge by clicks, which means that the ad dollars don't go very far.  The pricing is quite prohibitive.  I believe I need off-site ads in order to get more sales on eBay, but the pricing is so outrageous that I cannot justify paying for it.

So, I'm stuck.  There are undoubtedly things I could do to help the situation, but right now, it's not a priority.

After some thought, I initiated a 10% off sale in my eBay store.  I did it by store categories, so not all of my listings are part of the sale.  Perhaps a sale will help move a few items.

I wasn't going to run a sale on Etsy, but I decided that I might as well.

Jennifer's Series Books on eBay

Jennifer's Series Books on Etsy

I am auctioning one library edition currently, so check it out here.

Nancy Drew #32 The Scarlet Slipper Mystery Vintage Library Binding

Finally, I have a word of caution.  If you sell on eBay and use calculated shipping, make sure you're okay with eBay's new settings.  They defaulted all sellers to where the calculated shipping is charging eBay's reduced commercial rate to buyers, which means that buyers are being charged the bare minimum.  I suspect that some sellers don't have a handling fee applied to shipping.  Those sellers could really be hurt by eBay charging buyers even less for postage.