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text 2020-05-09 20:27
The Bungalow Mystery - update ND3.9
The Bungalow Mystery - P.M. Carlson,Russell H. Tandy,Carolyn Keene
The Bungalow Mystery - Carolyn Keene

Reading the 1930 & 1959 versions of The Hidden Staircase simultaneously, comparing differences in the story and characters, and pondering dated plot points. Spoilers: full plot description below!


Artwork Comparison


The changing artwork is part of my fun in collecting these books. Although there are two text versions, the illustrations were updated three times, with the quality deteriorating each time.


Russell Tandy did the first two versions, but the second revision, to save costs on the printing, only included a single frontispiece in a plain paper rather than glossy page, and for this book was an entirely new scene. The book in my collection with this illustration was printed about 1952, but based on Nancy’s hair and clothes, I’m guessing that this illustration was done in the 40’s. Here are an example of the original and revised Tandy illustrations, the first showing Nancy breaking into Jacob’s house, and the second showing Nancy and the rescued Jacob finding his house ransacked and empty:


The illustrations were revised again for the 1959 revised text, but this time by an uncredited artist who had little of Tandy’s talent, and by the 1970’s (for the later volumes in the series) the illustrations look like they were pulled from a reject pile of scribblings. The revised versions all have 6 plain paper line drawings. These revised text illustrations don’t attempt to mirror Tandy’s original work, although they sometimes show a similar scene.


The stormy lake:


The tree blocking the road:


And last, here’s an illustration of my favorite scene in the original, that never would have made it into the revision, where Nancy parks illegally, rushes into a hotel lobby, snatches the phone from the desk clerk, then proceeds to give him orders to start making phone calls for her.   


Index of Posts:

ND3 Reading start

ND3 Reading finish

ND3.0 Overview

ND3.1 1930 Chs 1-3 vs 1960 Chs 1-2

ND3.2 1930 Chs 4-6 vs 1960 Ch 3

ND3.3 1930 Chs 7-9 vs 1960 Chs 4&8

ND3.4 1930 Chs 9-11  vs 1960 Ch 5-7; 9-10

ND3.5 Chs 12-14  vs 1960 Ch 11-12

ND3.6 1930 Chs 14-17 vs 1960 Ch 13-14

ND3.7 1930 Chs 18-21 vs 1960 Ch 15-17

ND3.8 1930 Chs 22-25 vs 1960 Ch 18-20

ND3.9 Artwork comparison

ND3.10 Overall review

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review 2020-03-01 22:41
★★★☆☆ Being Texan: Celebrating a State of Mind
Being Texan: Celebrating a State of Mind - Jeff Carroll

Since my father passed away a couple of years ago, I've been slowly reading through all my books that connect us, as a way of remembering him. He took me with him to pick up this book at an author signing. He became a fan after auditing Carroll's Texas History course at Blinn Jr College. I remember him telling me how, as the only old fart in a class full of teenagers, he probably got much more out of it than the kids that were simply getting their required credits out of the way. Knowing my dad, he probably stayed after every class, BSing with the professor and probably making him late for supper on the regular. My dad did love to tell tales, and he had a passion for local and family history.


About the bookThis book is intended to be used as supplemental reading for middle school Texas History classes, and it does it very well, given the constraints. It uses simple language in a direct, storytelling style, meant to both entertain and to reinforce historical facts. The scope is broad enough to satisfy diversity requirements and the prose carefully dances around the kind of scientific and historical facts that tend to annoy the bible thumpers, nationalists, and alt-righters that populate the state textbook selection committee and various schoolboards. I do wish he'd cited his sources for historical fact, or at least provided a reference list at the back, in addition to the facilitator's guide. 


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url 2020-02-13 17:10
24 Festive Tasks: The Charity

The last post on the 2019's edition of the game from me, I swear LOL. I apologize for taking so long, January was a mess.


Thanks to TA, MbD, and MR for allowing me to play hostess. As part of our duties, we were to pick a charity. I don't know if the other hostesses have chosen their charities, but I decided to choose mine today and make the donation..before I forget to do. So on behalf of the BookLikes.com community of readers, I made a US $50.00 donation to...



We Need Diverse Books!

A grassroots organization of children’s book lovers that advocates essential changes in the publishing industry to produce and promote literature that reflects and honors the lives of all young people.


I picked this organization because I wanted to a charity that works with children's literature, as I have two elementary school kids who needed professional help (other than their main teachers) in learning to read. Also, in light of the upholding white supremacy going on in the world generally and publishing in particular (hi RWA! hi Flat Iron! hi B&N classics!), I wanted to support an organization that works to bring literature to every child by marginalized authors. 


The charity uses a PayPal service to process donations, so although it is my name and email on the donation, in the notes field I dedicated the donation to the BookLikes.com community of readers in honor of our 24 Festive Tasks challenge. That might not mean anything to the person at WNDB, but I wanted this community/players to be acknowledged. You all were amazing and I enjoyed both hosting and reading all the posts you wrote. 




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text 2020-01-04 19:06
24 Festive Tasks: Final Results -- and Thanks to All Participants!


A big Thank You to everybody who joined the game and participated so actively: Collectively, we achieved the very respectable total score of




Go us -- well done everybody!  Thank you so much from this year's hosts: Murder by Death, Moonlight Snow (Reader), TeaStitchRead (Mrs. Claus' Tea House), and me.  Once again, it's been great fun watching the truly amazing things that everybody came up with to complete to the various tasks and the creativity that went into everybody's posts.


And a special shout-out to Darth Pedant for stepping in and doing such an absolutely smashing job substituting for MbD as a host of the Melbourne Cup Day "pick your ponies" task!


Before moving on the stats of this year's game, I wanted to share, at least once, the gorgeous 2019 festive calendar image "as such" -- without being half hidden below all the calendar doors, open or closed.



Thank you once more to MbD for finding it -- as MbD told us, it's an illustration for Charles Dickens's Christmas Carol.


Thank you all, also, for playing along and reporting your completed tasks using the form that MbD created -- even though RL interference didn't let me get around to posting stats as frequently in 2019 as during the 2018 game, the form (and the Excel sheet it yielded) made tracking points just so much easier!



The Figures:

Number of active participants: 18
("Active" = completed at least one book or other task for the game)
Average number of points collected: 28.06
Number of card blackouts: 4
("Blackout" = completed at least one book or other task per square)



Results by Squares / Holidays:


With almost 28%, overall the book tasks were the most popular tasks of the game, followed by Task 1, with Tasks 2 and 3 almost on equal footing and Task 4 bringing in the rear (though not by a terribly wide margin).  (Well, this is a book site ... :) )


Almost 60% of all tasks completed were the second or further task completed for the square in question.

On a total of 8 squares, one or more participants completed all five tasks (book and other tasks):

* Día de los Muertos

* Japanese Culture Day

* Melbourne Cup Day

* International Day for Tolerance

* International Children's Day

* World Philosophy Day

* St. Nicholas' Day

* St. Lucia's Day

Biggest individual point-earning square: Día de los Muertos -- 46 points total
Runner-up: Melbourne Cup Day -- 42 points total
Third Place: Japanese Culture Day -- 40 points total


Seeing one of our newly-introduced holidays (Japanese Culture Day) scoring so well makes me very happy -- and hattip to our new co-host TeaStitchRead / Mrs. Claus' Tea House, who whipped out all four tasks for this square in absolutely zero time as one of her first hosting contributions.

Least point-earning square: Festivus -- 9 points total


Average points per square (including bonus points): 21.04

Average points per square (excluding bonus points): 20.88



Breakdown of Books and Tasks per Square



The Books

Squares for which the highest number of participants read a book: Día de los Muertos and Japanese Culture Day -- 10 participants

Runner-up: Guy Fawkes Night - 9 participants

Shared Third Place: Winter Solstice, Hanukkah, and Christmas -- 8 participants each

Fewest books read for: World Philosophy Day and St. Andrew's Day -- 2 participants each

Average number of book points accrued per square: 5.67


 The Tasks


Square with the overall highest number of points collected for all non-book tasks: Melbourne Cup Day -- 37 points (including 2 bonus points)

Runner-up: Día de los Muertos -- 36 points

Third place: Japanese Culture Day -- 30 points


Excluding bonus points, Día de los Muertos and Melbourne Cup Day switch places; Japanese Culture Day remains third.


Least number of non-book points: International Human Rights Day -- 4 points

Most popular individual task: Día de los Muertos, Task 3 (epitaph for the year's most disliked book) --  14 points

Runner-up, by points: Melbourne Cup Day, Task 1 ("Pick your ponies") -- 12 points (including 2 bonus points)

Runner-ups, by participants (= excluding bonus points): Japanese Culture Day, Task 4 (Japanese food), and Melbourne Cup Day, Tasks 1 and 3 ("Pick your ponies" and picture of favorite cup / mug)   -- 10 points each

Third place: Melbourne Cup Day, Task 2 (“Roses are Red, Violets are Blue” poem) -- 9 points

Least popular: Thanksgiving, Task 4 (postcard to a friend), International Human Rights Day, Task 4 (reconstitute a body of the UN), Hanukkah, Task 4 (food donation), Festivus, Tasks 3 and 4 (going "pole'mic on a book character, and "Festivus miracle" dialogue), Kwanzaa, Task 3 (corn dish), New Year's Eve, Task 4 (holiday dinner with famous person as guest), and Epiphany, Task 2 (personal "epihany" experience) -- all 0 points (sniff).  With one exception, these are all in the final weeks of the game ... seems most of us just ran out of steam towards the end!


Average number of points accrued for non-book tasks per square, including bonus points: 15.3

Average number of points accrued for non-book tasks per square, excluding bonus points: 15.1


Average number of points accrued for individual non-book tasks, including bonus points: 3.9

Average number of points accrued for individual non-book tasks, excluding bonus points: 3.67



Congratulations, everybody, and thank you all so much again for making this such a fun and successful game!


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text 2020-01-03 00:20
24 Festive Tasks: TA's Master Update Post -- Final Wrap


Books: Candles

Tasks: Stars




Book:  Ngaio Marsh: Death and the Dancing Footman (audio version, read by James Saxon)

Task 1: Miss Marple limerick.

Task 2: Chili con carne.

Task 3: Epitaph for The Disappearing Spoon.

Task 4: Gaby in Mexico (& Guatemala).


Points: 5





Book: Michael Innes: Death at the President's Lodging (audio version, read by Stephen Hogan)

Task 1: Beethoven Festival.

Task 2: KitKat flavors.

Task 3:

Task 4: Teriyaki Chicken.


Points: 4




Book: Ellis Peters: The Rose Rent (audio version, read by Nadia May)

Task 1: Pick your ponies.

Task 2: Ross are red, violets are blue: Shakespeare, Much Ado.

Task 3: Cheshire Cat mug.

Task 4: Holiday treats in a cup.


Points: 5




Book: Joy Ellis: The Stolen Boys (audio version, read by Richard Armitage)

Task 1:

Task 2: Book world revolution: thinking differently about books.

Task 3:

Task 4: Bookshelf ordering system.


Points: 3




Book: Agatha Christie: And Then There Were None (audio version, read by Dan Stevens)

Task 1: Favorite rainy day books.

Task 2:

Task 3: Dragons.

Task 4: Books on my shelf with antonym titles.


Points: 4




Book: E.C.R. Lorac: Murder by Matchlight (audio version, read by Mark Elstob)

Task 1: Sunrise photos.

Task 2: Authors who died this year I'll miss the most.

Task 3:

Task 4: Sunset walk in the woods.


Points: 4




Book: Chris Ewan: The Good Thief's Guide to Paris (audio version, read by Simon Vance)

Task 1: Redeeming feature of a DNF'd book (Renee Ahdieh, The Wrath and the Dawn).

Task 2: Baby diaries.

Task 3: Having to let go my library.

Task 4: My one UNESCO world heritage site to visit: Machu Picchú.


Points: 5




Book: Cyril Hare: An English Murder

Task 1: Favorite children's and middle grade books.

Task 2:

Task 3:

Task 4: Carnivals and amusement parks.


Points: 3




Book: Plato: Timaeus and Critias (audio version, read by David Rintoul, David Timson and Peter Kenny)

Task 1: Reading philosophy.

Task 2: Rating and reviewing policy.

Task 3: Creature comforts.

Task 4: Books read in school.


Points: 5




Book: Lesley Cookman: Murder in Steeple Martin (audio version, read by Patience Tomlinson)

Task 1:

Task 2: Fiction about royalty "moonlighting" as commoners.

Task 3:

Task 4: Nobel prize medal for Harriet Vane.


Points: 3




Book: Louisa May Alcott: The Christmas Stories (audio version, read by Susie Berneis)

Task 1: Toddler on the move alone in the city.

Task 2: The books I am most thankful to have found this year.

Task 3:

Task 4:


Points: 3



Book: Ann Cleeves: White Nights (audio version, read by Kenny Blyth)

Task 1: Favorite Scottish writers.

Task 2:

Task 3: 2019 Reading: greatest "catches" from my TBR.

Task 4: Black Watch tartan.


Points: 4




Book: Louise Penny: Still Life (audio version, read by Adam Sims)

Task 1: Advent calendar.

Task 2: Favorite holiday tradition / moment.

Task 3: Pineapple (wassail) bowl.

Task 4:


Points: 4




Book: Joy Ellis: Five Bloody Hearts (audio version, read by Matthew Lloyd Davies)

Task 1: Book wish list.

Task 2: Holiday treats.

Task 3: Same book -- different title.

Task 4: Audre Lorde: Coal.


Points: 5


Book: Nancy Mitford: Christmas Pudding (audio version, read by Kristin Atherton)

Task 1: Foreign cuisine: Chicken Tikka Masala.

Task 2:

Task 3: Literature Nobel Prize for Harriet Vane.

Task 4:


Points: 3




Book: Katrine Engberg: Krokodilwächter (audio version, read by Dietmar Bär)

Task 1: Harriet Vane and the St. Lucia maidens.

Task 2: Sleigh rides.

Task 3: Kokopelli and Dobby.

Task 4: Books from the farthest origins.


Points: 5




Book: Agatha Christie: Three Blind Mice and Other Stories (audio version, read by Simon Vance, Hugh Fraser, David Suchet, and Joan Hickson)

Task 1: Candles.

Task 2: Listening to Mary Kelly's The Christmas Egg long past my regular bedtime.

Task 3:

Task 4: Childhood good night stories.


Points: 4




Book: Nicholas Blake: Thou Shell of Death (audio version, read by Kris Dyer)

Task 1: Dreidel spin: first book of 2020.

Task 2: Water chestnut latkes.

Task 3: Reading Angela Thirkell's High Rising by flashlight.

Task 4:


Points: 4


Book: Donna Andrews: Owl Be Home for Christmas (audio version read by Bernadette Dunne)

Task 1: Airing of grievances: 5 most disliked books of 2019.

Task 2: Battle of the Books: Pippi Longstocking vs. Anna Karenina.

Task 3:

Task 4:


Points: 3




Book: Agatha Christie: Hercule Poirot's Christmas (audio version, read by Hugh Fraser)

Task 1:

Task 2: Christmas movies.

Task 3: Christmas book gifts.

Task 4: The gifts that meant the most to me.


Points: 4




Book: Agatha Christie: A Caribbean Mystery (audio version, read by Emilia Fox)

Task 1:

Task 2: Favorite books where music is an important feature.

Task 3:

Task 4: Coffee and pastries with a colleague.


Points: 3




Book: Candace Robb: A Gift of Sanctuary (audio version, read by Stephen Thorne)

Task 1: 2020 reading goals.

Task 2: 2019 reading stats.

Task 3: 2020 reading year bibliomancy.

Task 4:


Points: 4




Book: Terry Pratchett: Hogfather (audio version, read by Nigel Planer)

Task 1:

Task 2: Favorite Discworld characters.

Task 3: Discworld subseries world I'd like to visit: The Witches.

Task 4: Good Omens: Rooting for Crowley, Aziraphale, and Agnes.


Points: 4




Book: Agatha Christie: Star Over Bethlehem (audio version read by Simon Vance)

Task 1: Spicy red pesto pasta.

Task 2:

Task 3: Purple comfort socks (with pompoms!).

Task 4: Tea and book.


Points: 4






(Not used.)













      95 points





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