Weekend Shorts: Mitosis and Nancy Drew

I’ve got two very different stories to talk about today — one a delightful interlude to tide me over until a sequel, the other a horrible travesty upon my childhood. Which to talk about first…

Mitosis, by Brandon Sanderson
MitosisOh, let’s start with the good. I like good. I like Steelheart. I like this story, which starts with our good friend David really super extremely excited about… eating a hot dog. I mean, I get that he hasn’t had one in ten years, but… a hot dog? I’d be more excited about, like, pizza, although I don’t really like Chicago-style pizza… this is not the point! Although, pizza, yum.

Anyway, there are hot dogs eaten and also we find out — spoilers if you haven’t read Steelheart yet, which, go do that now — that the Reckoners have managed to more or less reclaim Chicago, although they can’t do much about that steel everywhere, and also that David is being called “Steelslayer” and given all sorts of credit for defeating Steelheart. So of course another Epic, this one aptly called Mitosis, shows up in Chicago demanding to speak with David to find out what really happened. We learn a little bit more about the Epics and their powers and weak spots, and we get a decent setup for the upcoming Firefight, and all and all I am entertained.

The Demon of River Heights, by Stefan Petrucha
The Demon of River HeightsAaaaaaaaaaaaaah. So you may remember that ages ago I partook in a Nancy Drew Challenge in which I was going to read all of the 56 original (well, “original”) Nancy Drew books, except I only made it to 11 before I was like, I think I can predict the next 45 just fine, thanks. But I read and loved all 56 as a kid, as well as all eleven billion of the new Nancy Drews that were out in the early nineties, so I couldn’t help myself when I realized that this graphic adaptation existed in my library. Please, help yourself and avoid this!

For one, this graphic novel suffers from the all-too-common GIGANTIC BOOBS problem, with even sporty George sporting a rack larger than mine. I’m not sure the artist understands the audience for Nancy Drew stories. Secondly, it suffers from the same predictability as the original series, except with more explosions. Thirdly, it was published in 2005 and is a ridiculous time capsule of mid-aughts technology, you know, when smartphones were this crazy new thing that had yet to take over the world? So Nancy drives this hybrid car, which she keeps forgetting to put gas in, and also keeps losing cell phone reception, which, fair. But then George has this fancy not-iPad with “wifi and cell-phone dial-up” that, I shit you not, she uses to look up how to fight a bear while Nancy is FIGHTING A BEAR in the MIDDLE OF THE WOODS. So there’s that, and actually that’s just a few pages in so if you want to pick up the book just to enjoy Nancy punching a bear in the face I think that’s probably totally legit. I can only imagine what will happen in the rest of the series, because I am NOT reading any more of it. (Unless you tell me it’s awesome, then maybe.)

The Clue of the Broken Locket, by Carolyn Keene

It was kind of a bad idea to read this book basically immediately after reading In the Woods, but it was all I had left to read so that’s what happened!

It’s your average Nancy Drew story… we have doubles, and a sinking canoe, and someone trapped in a house… I could probably go on, but I just don’t want to think about this too hard.

Sadly, I think I’m going to have to call it quits on the Nancy Drew Challenge. I’ve gotten through 11 of the 56, and I think the other 45 are just going to have to wait until next year. Or the year after. Or when I’m really old and can make my descendents read them to me — they are so much easier to take in audio form!

Rating: 5/10
(Nancy Drew Challenge, Support Your Local Library Challenge)

See also:
[your link here]

Pass me yours, if you’ve got ’em.

Password to Larkspur Lane, by Carolyn Keene

Did you know that there is an International Federation of American Homing Pigeon Fanciers? Neither did I, until I read this book! Oh, homing pigeons. You’re so useful for nefarious purposes.

Right, so, Nancy manages to intercept one of these delightful pigeons as it falls out of a plane, and it has a cryptic message about blue bells and whatnot and therefore Nancy just knows it’s a mystery! Fun times! And then her dear friend Helen Corning (now Archer) comes to Nancy with another mystery happening to her relatives out on their estate, and Nancy’s all, I can solve both of these at the same time! But, if you’ve been following along, you know that these two cases end up intertwined.

Sadly, there is no chloroforming or drowning. But there is disguise and escape and Nancy being thrown into a hole, so we know it’s still our Nancy Drew. 🙂

Rating: 7/10
(Nancy Drew Challenge, Support Your Local Libary Challenge)

See also:
[your link here]

Pass me yours, if you’ve got ’em.

The Sign of the Twisted Candles, by Carolyn Keene

I was so right, Nancy totally does get chloroformed again! Oh, Nancy, you gotta stop killing those brain cells.

Hanyway, the mystery in this book is a little different from Nancy’s usual… here she starts off with a seemingly simple mystery in hand — is Asa Sidney, a relative of George and Bess, being taken care of in his inn (another inn? seriously??) as he is supposed to be? Of course, he isn’t, and soon some of his other relatives are after him for his oodles of money, and Nancy tries to protect him, but then he dies and suddenly George and Bess are upset that Nancy is protecting all that fortune what was meant to go to their families, and Nancy gets chloroformed, and so does a crappy guard, and it’s all just a mess until Nancy ends up solving a mystery no one even knew existed! Goodness.

I have to admit I didn’t like this one as much as I liked the eight previous… I need more intrigue in my Nancy Drew. 🙂 Let’s hope that Password to Larkspur Lane is more to my style!

Rating: 6/10
(Nancy Drew Challenge, Support Your Local Library Challenge)

See also:
[your link here]

Pass me yours, if you’ve got ’em.

Nancy’s Mysterious Letter, by Carolyn Keene

More recycling! Nancy has a double again, except this time the double is in name, not in appearance. After a series of events that gets a bag of mail stolen, Nancy finds out that one of those stolen letters was for her, from a law firm in Britain. Her lawyer dad manages to get a copy of the letter from the firm, and though it is a really exciting letter about getting a huge inheritance, it is for a different Nancy Drew — who conveniently happens to be in the River Heights area just now. Nancy tries to track down this other Nancy, but of course there’s someone else out there who wants the inheritance and thus doesn’t want our Nancy finding other Nancy and blabbing about it. Confusing? Yes.

In exciting news, Nancy gets chloroformed, which if I recall correctly is going to happen about a billion times more in these books. I guess as long as she doesn’t go out on a boat anymore, her chances of danger will be about the same.

Rating: 7/10
(A to Z Challenge, Nancy Drew Challenge, Support Your Local Library Challenge)

See also:
[your link here]

Pass me yours, if you’ve got ’em.

The Clue in the Diary, by Carolyn Keene

Hey everyone, it’s Ned Nickerson! Yippee! The whole Nancy Drew cast is finally together! Helen Corning, who?

And, seemingly in honor of this momentous occasion, this book is pretty boring. There’s only one explosion and that’s right at the beginning, no one gets kidnapped, there’s no body-switching, no one goes anywhere near the water… what’s going on, writers? I kind of like it! This book is more like The Secret of the Old Clock — in fact, very like it. Nancy gets attached to a cute little girl and wants to help her family out, and when it turns out that there’s a mystery around why the girl and her mother aren’t getting money from the father, who is meant to be working in another town, Nancy is totally on the case. The melodramatic writers, not to be left out, have thrown in the explosion at the beginning and a convoluted patent-stealing operation, but the main focus of the story is classic clue-finding and mystery solving, not running from counterfeiters. And, of course, the mystery gets easily wrapped up by full confessions from everyone involved, which is delightfully quaint!

However, things are only going downhill for Nancy’s bad-ass-ness. After being rescued by a man at the end of the last novel, it seems no one wants to let Nancy do her thing anymore, and now that Ned’s on the scene it looks like he’s going to be Nancy’s default bodyguard. Mrs. Gruen even says at one point, “Shouldn’t you take a man with you?” Crap. If Nancy starts turning into Bess, I’m going to be less than pleased.

Rating: 7/10
(Nancy Drew Challenge, Support Your Local Library Challenge)

See also:
[your link here]

Pass me yours, if you’ve got ’em.

The Secret of Red Gate Farm, by Carolyn Keene

It seems, at least according to the Nancy Drew canon, that owning an inn is a really terrible idea. You’ll end up going broke and then crazy people will show up at your door demanding that you sell your inn to them for more money than they’ll get after you lose the inn and it goes up for auction or whatever (this is terrible business sense on the part of the crazy people) and when you refuse they’ll yell and scream and (in the case of Lilac Inn) maybe even try to blow you up!

Nothing that drastic happens at Red Gate Farm, thank goodness, but there is someone demanding to buy the inn, and there is a nature cult renting some land belonging to the inn’s owners, and there is totally a counterfeiting operation going on in a cave. No, really! Nancy gets all up in this particular business because Bess(!!!) spends a crap ton of money on some perfume and then spills it all over a train. No. Really. A man smells the perfume and comes over all, “What’s going on in our secret club?” and Nancy’s like, “Um, what?” and the man suspiciouses away. Meanwhile, a woman on the train, called Jo, has fainted and Nancy decides to take overly good care of her, to the point of becoming a lodger with Bess and George(!!!) at Red Gate Farm, which Jo’s family owns. And then see the aforementioned cult and the counterfeiting.

Interestingly, this is the first book wherein Nancy doesn’t get her own darn self out of all the trouble she gets into… she actually has to be rescued by a man. Does this spell trouble for our kick-ass heroine? I hope not!

Rating: 7/10
(Nancy Drew Challenge, Support Your Local Library Challenge)

See also:
[your link here]

Pass me yours, if you’ve got ’em.

The Secret of Shadow Ranch, by Carolyn Keene


George and Bess! George and Bess! George and Bess!

No Helen Corning this time. It’s all about my favorite cousins, George and Bess if you didn’t figure that out, and the mystery at their uncle’s ranch. Nancy has conveniently flown in to visit with George and Bess in Phoenix, where she finds out that their uncle is ready to pack all of the girls onto the next flight back to River Heights because his ranch is… wait for it… haunted. Were people in the 1930s really this gullible? Apparently.

Anyway, Nancy does some good sleuthing and gets to stay on to find out who is doing the haunting, and it turns out that it’s probably some bank robbers who have coincidentally kidnapped another of George and Bess’s uncles and brought him to Phoenix, where they discovered that there was treasure buried in them thar hills of Shadow Ranch and set out to find it. Of course, Nancy makes sure that doesn’t happen, but not before she has a few brushes with kidnapping herself.

Oh, and Nancy doesn’t do anything silly on the water in this book, but she and George and Bess do run out of it on their drive back to the ranch at the beginning of the book. Close enough?

Rating: 7/10
(Nancy Drew Challenge, Support Your Local Library Challenge)

See also:
[your link here]

Pass me yours, if you’ve got ’em.

The Mystery at Lilac Inn, by Carolyn Keene

Okay, seriously, Nancy, stop going out on the water! This book begins with Nancy’s canoe getting overturned and ends with her imprisoned on a freakin’ miniature submarine. I don’t know what to do with this girl.

The melodrama heats up some more in this book and the plotlines start getting recycled — I don’t know how that’s possible four books into a series, but apparently it is. In one mystery, Nancy’s friend Emily is living in a haunted inn (see The Hidden Staircase) which is of course not really haunted but which is having bad things happen to it for not really a very good reason in the end. In the other, which is vaguely connected to the first, Nancy has a double (see the end of The Bungalow Mystery) who has stolen a bunch of her stuff and is making charges to her… not credit card, but whatever they had back in the 30s.

The bad stuff that happens to the inn is crazy — stuff gets stolen, employees quit, a time bomb is placed under Nancy’s cottage, a simulated earthquake almost knocks down the main building — and I don’t really know how the Keene writing team could possibly have made this seem like normal happenings in rural Illinois, but they made it work.

Rating: 6/10
(Nancy Drew Challenge, Support Your Local Library Challenge, A to Z Challenge)

See also:
[your link here]

Pass me yours, if you’ve got ’em.

The Bungalow Mystery, by Carolyn Keene

Another Nancy Drew book, because it’s way easier to “read” these audiobooks on my drives than to read a physical book right now! But they’re still delightful, so that’s good.

In this one, things really start heating up for Nancy. First of all, she and her friend Helen get caught in a storm while in a boat (she also gets stranded in a boat in The Secret of the Old Clock; I think she should really avoid the water) and just when Helen is telling Nancy to save herself, an attractive (because everyone’s attractive in these books) 16-year-old called Laura shows up in her own boat to save the both of them! Huzzah!

The three of them take refuge in the titular bungalow (which we hear about all of maybe twice more in the book), and Laura tells Nancy her life sob story, which includes being a newly minted orphan and having to go live with new guardians soon.

Meanwhile, the lovely Hannah Gruen has sprained her ankle, so Nancy cuts short her adventurous vacation to go home and take care of Hannah while Carson Drew is off lawyering. Carson soon phones to get Nancy involved in his new embezzlement case, and while she’s investigating she also gets drawn in to Laura’s Case of the Really Crappy Guardians. These two cases [spoiler alert? I think not] end up being related in the end, and Nancy and Carson even find themselves in roles reversed from The Hidden Staircase, with Nancy all locked up and Carson attempting to rescue her.

These books are definitely getting more fantastic and melodramatic as they go; it kind of entertains me but at the same time I’m like, “Oh, come on, this totally does not all happen to the same attractive eighteen-year-old girl in the span of a few weeks!” But I guess it does, if said girl is Nancy Drew.

A fun note on the feminist side: Nancy Drew is such a threat at one point that she gets knocked unconscious by the bad guy. That’s pretty bad-ass.

Rating: 8/10
(Nancy Drew Challenge, Support Your Local Library Challenge, A to Z Challenge)

See also:
[your link here]

Pass me yours, if you’ve got ’em.