Thursday, December 5, 2013

Nancy: A History

Since I had no luck finding any Nancy Drew books last week, I thought that I would make up for it by giving a little history of the girl detective.

The first Nancy Drew book was published in 1930, the first title being The Secret of the Old Clock. The series is ghost written under the pseudonym Carolyn Keene. This means that different authors have written for the series throughout the years. There have been over one-hundred and seventy-five books published, some ending up as New York Times Bestsellers. Although Nancy is eighty-three years old, she is still a cultural phenomenon. 

Over the years, Nancy's look has changed.
In the early books, Nancy was a sixteen year old girl. Over the years, Nancy aged to eighteen. She has stayed eighteen in the series and doesn't age.  Nancy's father, Carson Drew, is a prominent lawyer in their hometown, River Heights. She lives with her father and their housekeeper, Hannah Gruen, who plays a maternal role in place of Mrs. Drew, who died when Nancy was young. Nancy's best friends have a big part in solving the mystery. Cousins Bess Marvin and George Fayne are always by Nancy's side. Later in the series, Nancy's boyfriend, Ned Nickerson, also becomes a big part in the stories. 

Nancy is a character that all young girls can look up to. She is bold, daring, intelligent, and imperfect. She evolves over the years, becoming modern with gadgets like a cell phone and hybrid car. She solves mysteries by searching high and low for clues, talking to suspects, and sometimes getting into a little trouble.

There are over nine different series within the Nancy Drew empire, not including the crossover books with the Hardy Boys. Among the series are graphic novels and super mysteries. Since 1998, the computer company Her Interactive has made PC games based on Nancy Drew. There are twenty-nine games to date. Nancy has also made a few appearance on TV in three different shows and in one box office movie.

Nancy Drew has sparked the creation of other girl heroines in mystery books. She has bestowed the love of reading in those who have dared to open the cover.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

The Village Book Exchange

Driving down Mound Road, I have passed the Village Book Exchange many times. Until, now, I had never gone inside. My latest stop was a medium sized store located on one of the busiest streets in Warren.

The Village Book Exchange was just an okay experience for me. It did not have any books fitting my taste, but it did have a lot to offer. I found the staff friendly and the atmosphere pleasant. The playing Christmas music added a cozy feeling so close to Thanksgiving. When I initially arrived, the owner greeted me enthusiastically, asking if I had visited the store before. When I said that I had not, she gave me a quick run-down of the store's basics. The main room was home to general novels, the back wall dedicated to mysteries. There was an additional room in the back for sci-fi, romance, and paranormal romance. Each of the genres had a large amount of books in the collection. I was impressed with the size of the science fiction section and the mystery section. They had a good variation in titles and authors as well as pretty popular books. The store had a big collection of Murder, She Wrote books, James Patterson books, and Star Trek books.

My biggest problem with the Village Book Exchange was that there was no children's or young adult section.  Those are the books I prefer to browse through at used book store. I do not read much adult fiction yet, so looking through those books is not as fun for me. I think that if a used book store says they have a large stock of all kinds of books, it should. If not, specify that all the store has is adult books. When I talked to the owner, she told me that their stock is based on what people bring in to trade. At the Village Book Exchange customers are allowed to bring in old books in exchange for credit towards their next purchase. The amount credited depends on the edition, condition, and popularity of the trade ins. All books bought at the store are half off the cover price, which is the price of the book when it is new. Considering that most of the books were in fairly good shape, I would say that the prices were fair. I have definitely seen better prices, though.

As I mentioned earlier, the Village Book Exchange did not have a children's section, therefore, it did not have any Nancy Drew books. I was disappointed. So, I do not have anything to report as far as Nancy Drew. This is the first store I have been to that did not have anything from the series.

I do not think that I will go back to the Village Book Exchange anytime soon. Maybe when my book tastes change, and I read adult books, I will return. Even though I had a mediocre experience, there is still a lot of books at the store that suit other readers.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

John K. King Books North

With the end of the semester nearing, and my schedule getting busier, I didn't have time to drop by a book store this week. So, I am going to take this opportunity to tell about my favorite used book store of all time.

It was a sunny August day- my birthday to be exact. My parents, sister, and I piled into the car. I had no idea what our destination was. It seemed that they had planned a fun, surprise excursion. The trip was not far and we ended up on Woodward Avenue. The building before me had a towering sign that read BOOKS. My jaw dropped in awe.

Welcome to John K. King Bookstore, North.

John King is the biggest used bookstore in Michigan. It has over one million used and rare books in stock and three locations. The main location is in Detroit, in an old glove factory. The second is nearby and hold rare and art books, rather than general novels. The third location is in Ferndale, which is the store that my family and I visited.

Upon entering, I knew that I was in for a treat. I took a deep breath of the sweet smell of old books and grinned. I excitedly rushed forward to explore every inch of the store. The store had a multitude of shelves, each of which were stacked and filled to the ceiling with books. There were many genres and books of all kinds. There was a section of rare and old books, many of which were locked safely in a glass case. There was also a notably large selection of Holiday books, something that I usually do not see at book stores.

I instantly found the children's and young adult sections and immediately had a stack of books that I wanted to add to my own collection. From a friendly bookstore cat to a piled high bargain table, the store had everything I could ever ask for. The prices were low and reasonable, also. I walked away with five new books and the rest of my family made purchases as well.

The Nancy Drew collection as John King was astounding. From my memory, there was an entire book shelf full of the old yellow spined classics. There had to be at least forty of them. Many of the books were the old, 30s and 40s editions. I picked out a copy of one of my favorite Nancy Drew books, The Mystery at Lilac Inn. I was excited to add this book to my collection because it was one of the first old editions I had ever bought. I could have bought many other titles, since the store had pretty much every title of the original series, but I had to limit myself. All of the Nancy Drews were in good condition, though they also looked very loved by their previous owners. I knew I would love my own new book.

John King was a fantastic birthday experience for me. I could have spent hours and hours browsing the stacks. I cannot wait to go back and see what I find next.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

The Paperback Exchange

The Paperback Exchange is a tiny store tucked away from the downtown area of Romeo. It is not on the main street, but on a back street by the police station. I trekked to the store twice. The first time, I arrived at the store just after it had closed for the day. It was quite inconvenient, I thought, that the store closed at three in the afternoon. But, I returned, braving the chilly weather and the long drive with my sister.

The store was not much bigger than the living room of my own house. It was super tiny. Opening the door, I was greeted with a burst of warmth and that familiar musty smell of old books. My eyes beheld books, books, and more books. Stacked on shelves, piled on the floor, strewn across table tops, there were books of all kinds everywhere. I found it difficult to browse, though. I was forced to move stacks around, sometimes only able to just peek at the titled spines. That experience wasn't particularly enjoyable, I felt like I missed out on seeing a lot of books. But, nevertheless, I was impressed with what I did find.

I found that a lot of the books were older. I don't mean from one hundred years ago, but classics from my childhood. There was an entire stack of Ann M. Martin's The Baby-Sitter's Club series, many of them wore their original covers. I also spotted some of the American Girl series as well as the Animal Ark series- both of which I loved when I was younger. Seeing those series was like taking a step back into the past, giving me that warm fuzzy feeling inside.

The rest of the stock at The Paperback Exchange was the usual romance and mystery genres, along with one of  the biggest science fiction sections I have seen yet. The store also has magazines, religious books (both fiction and non), and the usual strew of adult fiction. There were two large stacks of just author Jodi Picoult's novels. And I even spotted a few old copies Agatha Christie mystery novels.

The store had a bit of a Red Wing's theme to it, including posters on the wall where bookshelves were absent. The theme brought out a bit of personality among the shelves and shelves of books. Prices were fairly decent. Mostly books were under ten dollars, with the exclusion of special editions or newer novels.

The Nancy Drew books were a challenge to find. After having to sit down on the floor to look on a low shelf, I first found about few of the Nancy Drew Files. The Files series is from the '90s and is just another spin-off from the original series. It carried on through the early 2000s, with refurbished covers and was fairly successful. On the other end of the children's section, far  from the Nancy Drew Files, there were more Nancy Drew books. I found a few of the yellow spined books behind a huge stack of old Hardy Boys books. I had to move the stack to get a better look at them. I ended up with  an old copy of The Sign of the Twisted Candles, which was in pretty good shape. The others were both copies of The Secret of Shadow Ranch, a title that seems to pop up in every bookstore I have visited.

 The Paperback Exchange is a little bit of a drive for me, so I can't say if I will return or not. But, after I got over having to sift through messy piles, the store left me with a fairly good impression.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Squirreled Away Books

Armada, Michigan. This small, farm town, is often overlooked on the map. Out-of-towners visit for the summer's popular Armada Fair and again in the fall for the nearby apple orchards and haunted houses. In other seasons, Armada can be unknown to the outside world. Within this town, there lies a duty gem. One that is just waiting to be unearthed and cleaned off.

This gem that I speak of is the local bookstore, Squirreled Away Books. Of course, the natives of Armada visit Squirreled Away often. A fact that a friend of mine, who grew up in Armada, told me. But, for those who live in the suburbs and city, there is something that they are missing out on- a fantastic store.

The store carries both used and new books, as it is the only bookstore in the city. The new books are recently published, current best-sellers, available to purchase for twenty percent off of the list price. The used books are all in fairly good condition and most of the titles were familiar to me. Prices depend on condition and edition, as well as if it is paperback or hardback. Most of the books are under five dollars.

The genres featured at Squirreled Away include children's fiction, general fiction, mystery, romance, self-help, travel, spiritual/religion, philosophy, fantasy, "fang-tasy" (vampire novels), classics, and child development. A wide variety of books were available under each genre. It was clever of the owners to play off the popularity of vampire novels by creating the “fang-tasy” section. This shows that the store is in-tune with popular novels and trends. Squirreled Away really knows how to engage customers.

Squirreled Away is an adorable store. Sitting high on the shelves were statues, stuffed animals, and photos of squirrels of all kinds all around the store. It really played up the cute "squirreled away" theme. The store was on the smaller side, but the shelves were stacked high. The atmosphere was comfortable and small-town friendly. The owner, who was working at the time I was there, showed genuine excitement when I made a purchase. 

The Nancy Drew books proved hard to find during my visit, but after searching the stacks high and low, I eventually found them in with the children's chapter books. At least twenty of the Nancy Drew on Campus books were in stock at the store. This series features Nancy during her college years. This set of books was not as popular as the original books because the story line strayed far from the familiar characters. Some critics said that it became more of a soap opera series than a mystery series. I, personally, did not care for this series, which only lasted for twenty-five books. The other Nancy Drew books at the store belonged to the Nancy Drew Notebook series, which features Nancy and her friends in their elementary school years, solving equally elementary mysteries. (Despite that, I really like that series.)

My experience at Squirreled Away was great. I'd be quick to award this used bookstore as my favorite, so far.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Friends of the Public Library- Sterling Heights

My intentions for this blog post were to review a used book store called K’s Book Exchange. But upon reaching my destination, I found that K’s had closed recently. So, I decided to visit another public library and check out its Friends Bookstore, as I did last week with Rochester Hills and Shelby Township. This time, I visited the Sterling Heights Public Library’s Friends Bookstore.

I have been to the Sterling Heights library many times. The library itself is huge. The Friends bookstore is large, as well. In fact, it is much bigger than both the Rochester Hills and Shelby Township stores.
To start, the store has a cart out front with sale books. Most of them were Christmas books, on sale for twenty-five cents. Inside, there were also tables full of sale books. These books were considered “red dot” items. Anything with a red dot is fifty percent off the sale price. Shoppers can also fill a plastic grocery bag with as many books as the bag can hold and only pay three dollars. The same goes for paper grocery bags, only costing five dollars. This is a great bargain- someone could easily fill a bag with ten or so books.

The rest of the Friends store was reasonably priced as well. All books, magazines, DVDs, VHSs, and audio books were under two dollars. Stock wise, there was an impressive collection of classics, many of which sported evidently older binding. Other types of books featured were romance, humor, large print, and a rather large section of cookbooks. There were a few audio books- both on cassette and CD- which was impressive. I rarely see audio books at other used book stores. Also, there was an extensive stock of Disney movies on VHS.

A big section of the store was dedicated to young adult books. Half of them were books withdrawn from the library’s collection- older books that don’t get checked out anymore. The other half was donations- newer books with more titles that I recognized. The young adult section was spread throughout the store, so I had to hunt a little to browse through everything. But, I was impressed by what I ended up finding.

Merchandise at the store seems to move in and out quickly. While I was there, there were about ten other people in the store at the same time. The Friends volunteers run an efficient store.

I was a bit disappointed to only find a single copy of Nancy Drew at Friends. This copy, though, was one of my favorites. The Secret of Shadow Ranch was an older copy, in good condition. It sat amongst other mystery series of that era- including The Hardy Boys and The Dana Girls Mysteries (also written by Carolyn Keene).

In all, the Friends of the Sterling Heights Library had a good store. I would recommend this store to anyone looking for new titles as well as looking to help out the local library. I know that I will return in the future.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Friends of the Public Library- Shelby Township and Rochester Hills

For many years, public libraries have developed a program called “Friends of the Library”. This is a non-profit program that takes donations given to the library and sells them in the library’s “Friends Bookstore”.  Used books, movies, and music can all be donated. Those of which cannot be used for the library’s collection then ends up in the store. Withdrawn books from the library's collection are sold as well. The money made from the sales from the bookstore goes to improving the library and buying new items.

Many libraries in the area have these bookstores. Recently, I visited the Rochester Hills Library store as well as the Shelby Township library.

I like to visit the Friends bookstores because, no matter the price, the money I spend goes to helping the library. As someone who visits libraries a lot, I like to know that I can be a part of something that helps make the libraries a better place.

The fact that the stores are community based and stocked by donations, the prices of the books and other medias remain low- mostly under two dollars for hardcovers and under one dollar for paperbacks. The variety of books is always good, even if there are not a large quantity of books.

Rochester Hills Friends Bookstore:
The Rochester Hills Public Library is huge, but the Friends Bookstore is not. In fact, it is two small carts parked in the library’s lobby. When I visited, I found out that a few weeks before the library had held their annual Fall book sale. Because of that, the stock at the Friends store was little to nothing. In all, my visit to Rochester was not exciting, but I will keep my eyes open for their next seasonal sale and hope for better luck then.

Shelby Township Friends Bookstore:
The Shelby Township Public Library’s Friends Bookstore is bigger than Rochester’s. At this library, the Friends store has its own room within the library. It is only a few shelves, but the stock is fairly decent.

The store has a few tables outside the actual store that holds sale items. These items are usually CDs and books bundled together by series or author. The store also has a Free Item table, where books are placed if they don’t sell after being on the shelves for a while.

Mystery and Romance genres are popular at the store, but there is also a large section of classic books as well. The children’s section was also large, mainly supplied with picture books.

Among the children’s section was the Nancy Drew series. There were 5 books total, more than I expected to find at the Friends store. Three of them were Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys Mysteries. I have been pleased to find the dual mysteries again at a used store. These along with the other two- Nancy Drew Case Files- are series that I usually only see among selections available to check out at libraries. I hardly ever see them for purchase, until now.

So, while the Rochester Hills store had little to offer, the Shelby Township made up for that disappointment. I was able to walk away with a few new books without spending much money, which is always a plus.