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review 2018-07-17 01:31
The Clue in the Old Album, Nancy Drew #24 by Carolyn Keene
The Clue in the Old Album - Carolyn Keene

Funny, the first original text Nancy Drew I find is the one where she learns all about antique dolls and the cutthroat dealings of those who collect them.

One evening at a concert Nancy witnesses a purse being stolen and dashes after the culprit. She recovers the purse, but not the contents. The owner is grateful and on learning Nancy's vocation engages her for some further detective work. There is a cryptic note, a willful child, and a missing gypsy violinist. The key to solving the mystery appears to be a stolen photograph album and a missing doll.

Nancy does not mess around. She is undaunted when threats are made against her life, killer dolls are placed in her way, and when people are rude on the telephone. Nancy is determined to reunite a family AND win the first sail boat race for girls.

Obviously, the big deal with this one is the vast gypsy conspiracy that has even River Heights in its terrible clutches. As a people the Romani are depicted here as mysterious, superstitious, and 'wild'. In fact, of great concern for one character is the fact that her granddaughter's gypsy blood may be affecting her behavior. Its totally that and not her missing/dead parents. I don't know much about the Romani as a group, especially in the United States, but they are reduced to a carnival sideshow ("see the child bride in tent 6!") and in the tight grip of the "old ways". During her investigation, everyone was frightened into silence, and in the end it was a white woman who was hiding among them in the caravan that helped Nancy save the day. It doesn't even look like the revised text of 1977 took care of the problems. It's amazing what was acceptable only a few decades ago.

That was hard to swallow, but Nancy Drew, sailing genius, and doll mania kept me reading. My husband, doll genius, assured me that most dolls don't conceal venomous blades and poison spores. Magical health radiation was not a standard feature either. Some of the details were right: many of the dolls Nancy was shown in the collection and at the auction exist and are still sought after. Not enough to fund a crime ring (in this economy?), but its fun to find these references in unexpected places.

Overall, I'm glad to have found this, and even stumbled upon a whole trove of early Nancy Drews so I'm going to be reading a lot more of these.

Next: 'The Ghost of Blackwood Hall'

Previous: 'The Mystery of the Tolling Bell'

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review 2018-07-12 03:45
The Mysterious Case of Nancy Drew and The Hardy Boys by Carole Kismaric
The Mysterious Case of Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys - Carole Kismaric,Marvin Heiferman

I picked this up because of my recent re-attachment to the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew novels. I've been curious about what the original books would have been like ever since I discovered they were re-written starting in the late 1950s. I recently had re-read the revised first volume of each series and was under-whelmed enough to do a combo review, and then I began finding early editions. They are sooo much better you guys! Problematic, but not dull!

I haven't reviewed them yet, because I've got stuff going on all the time like no one else on the planet. When I do, you can check my totes-sleuthy shelf....If I don't change that shelf's name. Jeepers. Anyway this book:

This was a fan-letter about Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys with good layouts and illustrations. The content was often repetitive and a trifle biased towards boy detectives. There were musings on other product lines inspired by the series, successful and not-so adaptations for film and TV (this is 1998 so that aughts film didn't get consideration...which is a good thing). The book does provide a nice pocket history of the development of the juvenile series market though the Strathmeyer Syndicate, and how they invented the ghostwriter as we know it today. There are better and much more comprehensive books on the subject: for Nancy Drew there is "Girl Sleuth" by Melanie Rehak, and for the Hardy Boys try "The Secret of the Hardy Boys" by Marilyn S. Greenwald, which focuses on the first ghostwriter for the series.

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text 2018-06-30 08:10
Blog Tour - Once Upon An Adventure

 

 

 

Welcome!

 

Recently, I got together with some authors to ask them a few questions.  Read on as we talk with these 4 authors just a bit.  Thank you for joining us today.

 

 

 

 

Kitty's Book Spot! Interview with Nicki Chapelway:

 

1. Do you write to music? 
Yes, yes I do. In fact, I find that I can't write unless there is music playing in the background.
 
2. Do you make playlists of music for your books? 
In a way I do, I mean I don't do it on Spotify or anything fancy like that, but I write to movie soundtracks that have themes that make me think of my books. For instance for my novella Winter Cursed I wrote to the soundtrack Snow White and the Huntsman for the Snow White elements, Thor Dark World for the Celtic and Nordic elements, and The Legend of Tarzan for Cedric's and Lizzie's themes.
 
3. What book was your favorite as a child/teen? 
I'm going to say Ella Enchanted which I loved to pieces as a preteen.
 
4. What genre do you hope to write someday that you have not had a chance yet? 
Hmm, oh wow, that's a tough question. I don't think Sci-Fi counts since I've already started that even though I haven't finished any books in that genre yet, so I'll say Time Travel- that counts as a genre right? If not then either Steam Punk or Paranormal.
 
5. What do you hope readers take away from your story(ies)? 
Mostly, I hope that my readers learn not to make the same mistakes as my characters.
 
6. Can you tell the readers one thing about you nobody knows? 
Okay... another tough question. Give me a moment to think about this one. Something that nobody knows... hmm... okay, when I was younger in order to get through the boredom of school, I would pretend to be other people. Like I would be a secretary for some billionaire or a ranger documenting herbs or a Hobbit living in the Shire preparing for second breakfast. When I was twelve I pretended to be the Doctor's companion- and since I like variety, I made up a different companion for each Doctor so I got to choose if I was a time traveling vet or a noble lady. That's something I'm pretty sure I've never told anyone.
 
7. How do we find you online?  What is your favorite social media site? 
Which also kind of answers the second question, cause that's my favorite social media site.
You can also find me on Pinterest, building boards about my current WIPs, here: https://www.pinterest.com/nickichapelway/
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Kitty's Book Spot! Interview with Jes Drew:
 
Do you write to music?
1. I write to music as often as I can- especially during the more intense scenes.
 
Do you make playlists of music for your books?
2. I have unofficial playlists of music for my books, but I have yet to rise above manually finding all the different songs I want, to actually putting something together with them.
 
What book was your favorite as a child/teen?
3. That is a hard question since I went through so many phases with so many genres and so many favorites. But the closest to being a supreme favorite would probably be The Sherwood Ring by Elizabeth Marie Pope. 
 
What genre do you hope to write someday that you have not had a chance yet?
4. Ooh, that's a hard one, because I feel drawn to both the romantic comedy and the psychological suspense. I have aspects of both in most of my books, but I've never really just focused on them- it seems so much easier to write about spies and superheroes!
 
What do you hope readers take away from your story(ies)?
5. I want readers to know that they are not alone in this world and in what they are dealing with. They have God and me- though sometimes we work through our characters to show it.
 
Can you tell the readers one thing about you nobody knows?
6. Genuphobia is the fear of knees, your own or someone else', and the act of kneeling. 
 
How do find you online?  What is your favorite social media site?
7. Well, some of the cavemen next door were grunting about this thing called wifi, so I thought I'd try it out. So far, I've only gotten as far as Goodreads. Have to keep time for my cave painting. 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Kitty's Book Spot! Interview with C. B. Cook:
 
1. Do you write to music?
I don't usually write to music, as it makes it harder for me to focus. But if there's a lot of commotion or conversation around me, I may play some instrumental music (especially movie soundtracks) while I write to block out the other noise.
 
2. Do you make playlists of music for your books?
Not usually. I think that's something I might try in the future, though!
 
3. What book was your favorite as a child/teen?
When I was younger, I loved going back and rereading The Chronicles of Narnia at least once a year. It's still one of my favorite series, but I've gotten out of the habit of doing that. I grew up reading that series, and it's one that I love.
 
4. What genre do you hope to write someday that you have not had a chance yet?
I'd love to write some kind of fantasy book or a mystery that doesn't involve superheroes. I love to read both of those genres, and I'd really like to try my hand at writing them, too!
 
5. What do you hope readers take away from your story(ies)?
I hope that readers are able to learn something about truth from my books, and I also hope that they can learn that you don't need a story to be dark to be enjoyable. Mostly, I want my books to provide some lightheartedness and cleanness that a lot of stories today, especially in the YA category, seem to be lacking. 
 
6. Can you tell the readers one thing about you nobody knows?
I can't think of anything that no one knows, but very few people know that I'm actually a blue belt in Tae Kwon Do!
 
7. How do find you online?  What is your favorite social media site?
I have a blog (The World of the Writer) and accounts on Goodreads and Pinterest! Pinterest is probably one of my favorite social media sites because I love the pictures and writing ideas I get on there. 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Kitty's Book Spot! Interview with Loretta Marchize:
 
1. Do you write to music?
Nope! I know a lot of authors who do, and quite honestly I'd love to, but I write in my family living room with my siblings and mom around, so it would be hard to do.
 
2. Do you make playlists of music for your books?
No, although occasionally I will hear a song and think 'oh hey- this goes with so and so book!'
 
3. What book was your favorite as a child/teen?
Well, I still am a teen, but as a child I loved Ella Enchanted, and the classics- especially Cinderella.
 
4. What genre do you hope to write someday that you have not had a chance yet?
Science fiction or historical fiction!
 
5. What do you hope readers take away from your story(ies)?
I mostly want readers to go away from the book happy, glad that they read it. It's an easy read, mostly just a 'fun' read.
 
6. Can you tell the readers one thing about you nobody knows?
I actually like Star Wars. I've never really told anyone, but I actually really love it! I know a lot of random facts about it. I make a pretense of not really knowing much about it though. Otherwise my brother would bombard me with Star Wars all day, and I don't care for it that much.
 
7. How do find you online?  What is your favorite social media site?
Well, I have a blog: lorettamz.com but I'm also frequently on Goodreads! I don't do much (any) other social media (although I do have a Wattpad account).
 
 
 
 
 
Thank you so much to Jes Drew, Loretta Marchize, C.B. Cook, & Nicki Chapelway for joining us on the Spot!  Thank you readers for being here with us to get to know them.
 
 
 
 
Please check out their latest novels and enjoy!
 
 
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text 2018-06-28 23:29
The Hidden Staircase – ND2.6

The Hidden Staircase - Carolyn Keene  The Hidden Staircase - Mildred Benson,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!

 

1930 Chs 17-22; 1959 Chs 18-19

 

FINALLY we get to the hidden staircase, and the pace really picks up as all the random plot elements start to converge. But not before we spend a lot more time in 1959 with Nancy and the police tracking down the men who kidnapped her father. Acting on clues that Nancy gave them, they’ve picked up one of the men, but can’t get a confession from him. So naturally (?!?), they ask Nancy to do the interrogation. She is of course successful, by using her feminine wiles to appeal to his sense of decency and shames him into cooperating because he’s really just a good guy who fell in to bad company and is now heartily ashamed of himself.

 

1930 Nancy, convinced that Gombet is her “ghost”, decides to confront him directly, but conceals her plans from the frightened old ladies. After they fall asleep, she sneaks out of the house through a window, armed with a flashlight and her gun. Gombet is leaving his house just as she’s getting there, so she decides to break into his house and explore rather than questioning him. She sees a “surly-looking creature” (Gombet’s servant) through the window and avoids the kitchen, then tries all the windows until she finds one to the cellar that’s open. Excitement ensues as she sneaks around, trying to avoid getting caught by the servant, until she accidentally falls through a hidden door in an upstairs closet and all the way down a hidden staircase.

 

1959 Nancy, having spent all the valuable page space dancing, cooking, cleaning, eating delicious meals, and investigating her father’s disappearance, doesn’t get to have fun sneaking around a house that she’s broken into, avoiding detection by a scary servant. Partly because the later revisions deal with the earlier racist stereotypes by just making all the characters white, and partly because 1959 Nancy is too virtuous to engage in illegal breaking and entering. Instead, she wheedles a realtor into giving her permission to explore, despite the house already having been sold to (surprise!) Nathan Gomber. Once again, Nancy lets other characters engage in the shady ethics while she profits from it. She’s like a mob boss keeping her hands clean by letting lesser people do her dirty work. Anyway, similar to 1930, Nancy finds the hidden door upstairs and falls down the staircase, then she and Helen go exploring, eventually coming to another stone staircase, but are confronted by a man telling them to stop.

 

1930 Nancy’s time in the tunnel is a lot more fun, because she’s down there alone at night and nobody knows where she is, and it’s dank and smelly and there are rats, and her flashlight battery is fading, but she bravely marches on until she comes to another stairway that takes her up to… a trapdoor in the attic floor at The Mansion! Nancy sleeps in the next morning and wakes to find that the sisters have finally caved to Gombet’s demands and have verbally agreed to sell the house, but Nancy reveals that Gombet was the ghost and shows them the hidden stairway. They all go exploring together, and discover all the hidden entrances to explain all the ghostly happenings. Then Nancy and the old ladies pile into her little roadster and roar off into town to report to the police.

 

Dated Plot Points: Nancy is trapped in the hidden passageway with no way to call for help, so I’m not sure how this would work in a modern adventure story. I suppose their mobile phones might get no cell reception underground, or maybe Nancy’s phone could have smashed when she fell, and Helen could have forgotten to bring her phone? Also, I loved that the 1959 girls would go exploring a dilapidated old mansion wearing skirts, and even more so that those skirts would have pockets AND those pockets would big enough to carry their flashlights in. I don’t believe they had mini maglites in those days, so these would have been bulky, heavy devices.

 

Considerations: It has always bugged me, and still does, that the books use a single “p” spelling for kidnapped. “Kidnaped” instead of “kidnapped”, although apparently either spelling is correct. Doesn’t make it right though.

 

Index of posts for The Hidden Staircase:

ND2.0

ND2.11

ND2.12

ND2.2

ND2.3

ND2.4

ND2.5

ND2.6

ND2.7 (pending)

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text 2018-06-26 14:59
The Hidden Staircase - ND2.5 Artwork Comparison

The Hidden Staircase - Carolyn Keene  The Hidden Staircase - Mildred Benson,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 he kept essentially the same design, but updated the hair and clothing styles. The book in my collection with this illustration was printed about 1954, but based on Nancy’s hair and clothes, I’m guessing that this illustration was revised in the 40’s.

 

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.

 

And last, here’s an illustration of one of those random scenes inserted just to have an end of chapter cliffhanger and artificial drama, but don’t actually have anything to do with the mystery. In this scene, the ceiling collapses on Nancy and Helen because the old ladies neglected to repair a roof leak. This is never referred to again during the book, not even to discuss the cleanup, despite the author’s zeal for detailing the dusting and tidying and dishwashing, so I guess everyone kept stepping around the pile of rubble and not bothering to get a contractor out to fix the giant hole in the ceiling. I guess the Cult of Domesticity includes ladies engaging in housework, but not actual home repairs or maintenance. All I know is, 1930 Nancy would never have let a collapsed ceiling go unfixed. All 1959 Nancy did about it was change into clean clothes. 

 

Index of posts for The Hidden Staircase:

ND2.0

ND2.11

ND2.12

ND2.2

ND2.3

ND2.4

ND2.5 

ND2.6 (pending)

ND2.7 (pending)

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