Thursday, April 04, 2013

Nancy Drew Diaries Reviewed & Giveaway

UPDATE: Winners will be posted once I receive the prices - I can do the drawing now, but there's not much fun in not knowing what you win ;-) Prizes include Diaries books and other things. Hopefully we'll get the drawing done by middle of this next week...Stay tuned!


Judah Ben-Hur
Creative Cutie

Courtesy of Simon & Schuster, you will receive both diaries books, a notebook (1 of pictured) and some neat pins:


Nancy Drew has a new series to sleuth around in, the Nancy Drew Diaries series. This series debuted this past February with two titles, Curse of the Arctic Star and Strangers on a Train. It's never easy restarting an old favorite of fans young and old, but this series has an interesting premise--Nancy writing in her diary at the beginning and end of each case and now has an illustrator for the covers, Erin McGuire. Gone is the clip art and photographic covers of the recent Girl Detective series. They're still being written in first person perspective. The titles are a bit more mysterious and the cover art a bit darker which is always a plus in my book.

How do they fare with this long time fan? I'm going to review the first two books in this posting and then do a little activity for all you Nancy fans that might inspire those with a hand in this series! I'll also be giving away some Nancy Drew books, notebooks, and pins! To be entered into the drawing, here's your mission if you choose to accept it--please leave comments on this post with your name and follow the directions below.

Rather than your own comments about the series, I want you to think outside the box and complete the following 5 spooky titles with your imagination--something you'd like to see in future Nancy Drew Diaries titles. Deadline to enter: Sat. April 14, 2013. You get 1 entry for doing just that. Even better, complete the titles and then give me 1 brief paragraph synopsis (100 words or less) of a mystery that fits one of your titles, and you get 10 entries into the drawing.

The Secret of the _______    ________.

The Mysterious _________ of _________ Hall.

The Hidden _________.

The Phantom of _________    __________.

Nancy's _________   __________.

PLEASE KEEP IN MIND: Comments are Moderated, so they will not show up until approved.

Thoughts on Nancy Drew Diaries & Where is Nancy Drew?

Book #1 - Curse of the Arctic Star

Synopsis:      In this mystery, Nancy and her friends Bess and George go on a cruise to Alaska to investigate strange things happening on the ship. They arrive with Bess's new boyfriend and pretend they're contest winners. One part of the mystery seems to be solved at the end of this mystery but it continues in a two-parter with book two, Strangers on a Train in which Nancy solves the whole case.

Book # 2 - Strangers on a Train

Synopsis:     Nancy Drew continues her Alaskan cruise in part two of this mystery. She's solved one mystery but is it really completely solved? She realizes quickly that there's more going on that she thought and finds herself still on the case to uncover who is behind more threats and old threats that never did get resolved. She even stumbles upon another mystery involving smuggled animal bones. In the end, she solves the case and presumably she and her pals can finally just enjoy a mystery free vacation--until the next mystery, that is! 

Target Age:     8 to 12

A Few Clues About Nancy Drew Diaries...

Nancy has always been a popular character--for over 80 years now--in part due to a simple formula. She's a mystery magnet, who loves to solve a mystery no matter how baffling or how many threats she gets to stay off a case. She's bold, independent, and loyal.She could use her wits and skills of deduction to solve any mystery and tackle any predicament she found herself in. She's a role model and kids have looked up to her and wanted to be like her. The more flawed she is, like in the recent Girl Detective series (which may be more realistic), the less attractive she really is and the less we want to be like her. In the real world, we're all human, so we're all already flawed, we don't need a repeat version of ourselves necessarily. We read these books for entertainment and fun and we end up inspired along the way. We need someone to aspire to be and someone to motivate us and lead by example. That's the Nancy of generations of mystery readers. That's the Nancy who has inspired countless detectives and lawyers to take up the reigns and fight for justice and right wrongs in their own lives and careers. That's the Nancy who inspired a child to break free from a car trunk during a kidnapping and escape after she pondered, What Would Nancy Drew Do? That's the Nancy who inspired first Ladies like Laura Bush and Hillary Clinton; Supreme Court Justices like Sandra Day O'Connor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Where is this Nancy today? I don't feel like she existed the longer the Girl Detective series continued on. Does she exist in Nancy Drew Diaries? That's the real mysterious question that everyone including her publishers should be asking themselves...

My answer? Yes and no.

I liked the first two books. I'd like to see more. I'd like to see where it goes. As a researcher and consultant of the series who has gotten to know fans of all ages over the years and who has enjoyed all kinds of styles of Nancy Drew from her various series and spin-offs, I think my opinion is a pretty well rounded opinion on this series. Keeping in mind this is written for today's tweens, I think the writing style is conversational and flows well. There is some humor and good relationships between the girls in these mysteries--I could picture a group of today's girls having some of these conversations, so that part is done well. I enjoyed the setting and thought it was described well in the book, you could feel as if you were cruising right along with everyone and getting a tour of the ship. The mystery was OK, but somewhat generic, though the two-part cliffhanger should keep kids eager to read book two to see how it all turns out.

Though Nancy Drew sailed through and solved her mystery as always, I feel like she can do better. Like, if I was her "sleuth coach," I might suggest she hang out in a few dark alleys or check out a few abandoned mansions, maybe go on a treasure hunt or an old archaeology dig, or maybe check out that old haunted house in neighboring "Spooky Town" -- anything to bring a little more excitement to her life and in ours as the reader following along with her and her chums on their adventures. A little more spooky for me, with a side of dastardly villains please!

The new "Diaries" theme is very girlie--more likely a style that flatters Nancy's friend Bess more than Nancy and George. It's not too far fetched to think Nancy might write in a diary, however if she's 18 like she's usually been or some such similar age since they're not in school anymore, I think she'd be more into journaling. A diary is something little girls keep, so perhaps the 8 to 12 set reading the mystery may not think of it in terms like that and that may be what appeals more to that age set--the term diary over the term journaling. In fact, if this series is as modern as we would assume it to be--they are texting in these books after all--then Nancy would even more likely be keeping a Blog which is like a journal or diary, but online. A Blog recounting her mysteries or crime solving tips and expertise. Or she might even have some fans or perhaps her computer savvy pal George keeping a Blog about her exploits.

Being that Nancy Drew is a super detective, I feel a little bit like the diary concept isn't quite fitting--it's like a step in the right direction from the previous Girl Detective series, but just not quite there yet. We've previously seen a Nancy Drew Files series in the 1980s/1990s for the older teen set, in which the books began with Nancy's case file with a summary of the case, clues, suspects and everything laid out. That better fits a detective series than a diary. Maybe it's a case of semantics--perhaps renaming it a sleuthing journal or sleuth notebook would make more sense. "Nancy Drew Case Notes," "Nancy Drew Case Files," "Nancy Drew Sleuth Files," or perhaps "Nancy Drew's Dossier." Surely today's kids are not so dumbed down that they don't recognize what a "sleuth" is or what a "dossier" is?

The formula is still there - we have Nancy as a motherless sleuth with an attorney father, she's well known for her detective abilities and solving cases, she has two foil friends that are opposites like oil and water, a boyfriend who sometimes helps with the case and a housekeeper who is a motherly figure and a good cook. She's always stumbling upon a mystery and she always solves her case and gets the culprit in the end. But it's not so much the formula anymore, it's how she gets from beginning to end that really makes the case for Nancy Drew--and whether she's still that Mystery Solve-IT-Girl that's become a Pop Culture phenomenon. Does she still have it? It, being her sleuthing Mojo, or whatever you call it. That special something that kept us turning the pages time and time again to journey along on one thrilling adventure after another, even sneaking just one more chapter, and then another, and another...after bedtime under the covers with a flashlight.

Nancy Drew Diaries attempts to keep the series modern, but also lets Nancy rely on her deductive reasoning, sleuthing skills and her wits more than just technology which for Nancy Drew mystery buffs is a plus. There are those classic villain foibles from the classic Nancy Drew mysteries--threatening notes, physical threats and sabotage. Nancy Drew Diaries is almost there, but misses just a bit of what I'd like to call more Gothic suspense and mystery. There needs to be more drama and suspense, and the mystery should be a bit more mysterious to really compel Nancy from the beginning of her journey throughout the mystery of gathering clues and then attempting to solve it in the end. The reader should feel like they can't put down the book until they've dissected every last word and feverishly sprinted to the final psychological moment when everything comes together and the mystery is solved, the culprit revealed and then like Nancy, we are wistful for another mystery to solve, hoping the thrill ride continues. That was classic Nancy. That's what made Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayer come alive as a child. That's what inspired me. Diaries Nancy needs a jolt. She needs a gentle (or not so gentle) shove toward her former self and I hope she finds her way, one secret passageway and spooky old attic at at time...



Judah Ben-Hur said...

The Secret of the missing manuscript.
-While tracing her family history, Bess discovers she's related to Simon S. Huster, a famous mid-century American novelist. Nancy and the gang make a trip to visit his widower, and quickly discover that she'll be unable to pay the mortgage unless the unpublished manuscript to his final book is found.

The Mysterious Broken Heart of McLeaston Hall.
-- Nancy travels down to Alabama, with Bess and George on a visit to George's old friend Blanche Houser. Blache has recently bought the old McLeaston plantation, a popular museum and rent-able event venue. IT's southern beauty and charm is captivating, but it's chilling history is not. Doomed love in the Civil War, makes Bess's heart swell. But when visions of a weeping girl appear, and confederate ghosts start making war in the house, Nancy knows she must find the source before it's too late. * The broken heart would actually refer to a memento between the doomed lovers*

The Hidden Clock-Tower.
- River Heights Public Library has been a town landmark since it's inception in the 1910s. However, the outdated building is crumbling and budget cuts may force the Institution (and Nancy's access to research materials) to be closed for good. The only hope is that the mob money supposedly stashed there in the 1920s would show up... With the Library doomed, and a mysterious poltergeist showing up, Nancy's on the case.

The Phantom of Emerson College.
-On a visit to Ned at Emerson for the week of his basket ball championship was meant to be some alone time for the both of them, but rumors about a phantom terrorizing across campus quickly invades. Labs destroyed, theater costumes shredded, it's all bad news. When the phantom causes the Emerson team to win the big game however, Ned and his friends are suspended under suspicion of cheating. IF Nancy wants Ned, she's going to have to get her head in the game.

Nancy's Missing Nickerson.
-Ned was suppose to meet Nancy at Emerson's Spring Fling Social, but never shows. Would he stand her up? Nancy ponders this, until Ned doesn't show back up the next day. Ned's missing classes, and didn't pack anything.... and when Ned's car shows up abandoned outside of River Hights Nancy knows she's got to find him.

Nancy Lauzon said...

The Secret of the Old Schoolhouse_______ ________.

The Mysterious Mask_________ of __Halloween_______ Hall.

The Hidden _Microchip________.

The Phantom of Riverheights_________ __Fair________.

Nancy's Daring_________ _Deed_________.

Synopsis: The Phantom of Riverheights Fair -- Nancy and her pals are excited that the annual Riverheights Fair has come to town. But a series of mysterious mishaps (an off-course rollercoaster, a faulty Ferris wheel and a spooky spectre sighting) threaten the lives of the citizens of Riverheights. Can Nancy prevent the fair from closing down for good?

livydarling said...

The Secret of the _____old__ ____barn____.

The Mysterious _____corridor____ of ___Whitman______ Hall.

The Hidden _____chamber____.

The Phantom of ____River Heights_____ _____theater_____.

Nancy's ____missing_____ ____locket______.

The Mysterious corridor of Whitman Hall.
Whitman Hall, which had once belonged to a sociable millionaire who almost overnight becomes a hermit, has been given to Helen Corrning as a birthday present from a friend whose real estate company has ended up with it and been unable to sell due to it's unkept state and mysterious past. Helen wants to fix it up for her and her husband to live in but quickly becomes scared due to strange noises and mysterious shadows. She asks Nancy to help solve this baffling mystery.

Rachelle21 said...

The Secret of the Missing Knight.
Nancy and friends are working part time at a Renaissance Faire and one of the Knights is missing. Can the friends find him before school starts again.

The Mysterious _________ of _________ Hall.

The Hidden Diamond

The Phantom of North Hall
Mansfield University students have seen a ghost but is she really a Phantom or is someone hoaxing everyone. (based on real life ghost at Manfield U, Mansfield, PA)

Nancy's Missing Mother
We discover the real truth behind the death of Mrs. Drew

Lea said...

The Secret of the Mercurial Messenger.
- I long for the days when you would learn new vocab words from reading a Nancy

The Mysterious Lights of Blackadder Hall.
- Halls must always have a proper British sounding name

The Hidden Hallway.
- I also like alliteration

The Phantom of Douglas House
- it's a sequel to Whistling Bagpipes!

Nancy's Purple Bicycle.
- Maybe this would work for a Crew Clue story

Todd said...

The Secret of the Crying Ghost.

The Mysterious Shadow of Gospher Hall.

The Hidden Symbol.

The Phantom of Crystal Cove.

Nancy's Cursed Clue

NANCY'S CURSED CLUE - A gypsy has come to River Heights, and Nancy's good friend, Mrs. Grantland, has become enthralled by the woman’s reading of tarot cards. But when the predictions she makes start to come true with horrible consequences, Nancy sets out to determine if the gypsy is truly able to tell the future, or if someone is creating the future that she predicted!

Todd said...

The Secret of the Crying Ghost

The Mysterious Symbol of Gospher Hall.

The Hidden Reflection.

The Phantom of Crystal Cove.

Nancy's Cursed Clue

NANCY'S CURSED CLUE - A gypsy has come to River Heights, and Nancy's good friend, Mrs. Grantland, has become enthralled by the woman’s reading of tarot cards. But when the predictions she makes start to come true with horrible consequences, Nancy sets out to determine if the gypsy is truly able to tell the future, or if someone is creating the future that she predicted!

Jarrell said...

Nancy’s schoolmate and her sisters beg Nancy to solve a perplexing puzzle surrounding the will of their adventurer father and a hidden treasure. The father’s former colleague suddenly appears and lays claim to the treasure. Nancy and the sisters race to unravel the riddles of the will in the maze of snowy North Carolina mountains before their father’s final gift falls into the wrong hands.

Renovation at Emerson College’s old Franklin Hall reveals an undiscovered room with a series of cryptic portraits of the college’s founders. Nancy must find the link between the mysterious paintings and the college’s secret history while thwarting a cunning vandal intent on destroying Franklin Hall once and for all.

When two of Ned’s fraternity brothers suddenly begin acting strangely and are nearly expelled, Nancy is brought in to help. A missing student, a professor’s bizarre public behavior and DJ’s sudden popularity lead Nancy directly into the path of danger. Nancy must uncover a sinister scheme with disastrous consequences before becoming a victim herself.

Helen Corning Archer asks Nancy to solve a ghostly mystery in historic Savannah, Georgia. The country’s most haunted city has a new specter on the loose and its target is the famed riverfront area. Nancy’s search leads her to moss-covered Bonaventure Cemetery at midnight, exploration of the shadowy tunnels under The Pirates’ House, and a centuries’ old colonial secret that wants to stay buried.

Over her illustrious detective career, Nancy made plenty of enemies as she solved challenging mysteries and sent countless criminals to jail. A daring jailbreak suddenly sends several of her united enemies off to seek revenge. The young sleuth must use clues from the past to escape the present danger intent on her destruction.

Creative-Cutie said...

The Secret of The Old Photo

The Mysterious Book of Pioneer Hall

The Hidden Train

The Phantom of Stoney Road

Nancy's Mysterious Clue

Nancy is on vacation with Bess and George at a little ghost town.They are enjoying there vacation until a very rare and important book is stollen from the towns hall,Pioneer hall,and weird stuff starts happpening so Nancy takes the case.

Ashley said...

The Secret of the Medieval Goblet

Nancy is starring in a stage production and the River Heights museum has lent several artifacts to the production for authenticity. While rehearsing, a medieval goblet is dropped and broken and is determined to be counterfeit! The museum director is astounded and asks Nancy to solve the case. Nancy finds herself tracking members of a counterfeit ring, preventing sabotage to the production and searching for the genuine medieval goblet. When Nancy discovers a secret about the goblet, she finds herself in grave danger on opening night. Will she escape in time to unmask the villains?

The Mysterious Music of Durham Hall

Durham Hall was once one of the grandest estates in River Heights but has been closed due to an ownership dispute. John Durham has hired Carson Drew to determine the worth of the estate and Nancy, Bess and George go exploring. The sleuths hear faint music coming from inside the mansion and discover that someone is robbing the mansion and grounds! Nancy knows the only way to find where the music is coming from is to brave an overnight stakeout and set a trap for the thief. Will the girls find the source of music and are they in danger?

The Hidden Library

Ned is working on a term project in anthropology at Emerson College. Longtime resident of River Heights, Mr. Clark, had a renowned anthropologist as a father and Ned asks to research his private papers. Mr. Clark cannot locate the papers but remembers his father talking about a private library. No such room has ever been found in the house! Nancy is invited to search for the missing papers and a hidden room. Nancy quickly discovers that the elder Mr. Clark has left clues to his library in many unusual places, and that a priceless object may also be found!

The Phantom of Deep Harbor

Eloise Drew invites Nancy, Bess and George to vacation with her at Deep Harbor. Residents of the fishing town tell Nancy about the local folklore surrounding a hidden treasure that contains a rare natural pearl. Nancy and her friends decide to scuba dive in the harbor looking for treasure. When doubloons are found scattered on the beach, Nancy worries the treasure has already been found. Soon she finds a startling clue and decides the treasure is still hidden. Threats are made against Nancy and her friends, and she realizes she must work fast or find herself in deep water.

Nancy's Courageous Quest

When Hannah Gruen goes missing after a visit to the grocery store, Nancy and Carson Drew are overcome with worry. After a ransom note is received at the house, Nancy puts all her efforts into finding the kindly housekeeper. Nancy searches through Hannah's belongings and learns more about the woman who has been like a second mother to her and develops a new appreciation for her. When Effie Schneider unwittingly gives Nancy a clue to the motive for the kidnapping, Nancy finds herself in grave danger alongside Hannah. Can she be courageous for Hannah's sake and help them both escape?

Laura said...

Well, I'm no writer but here are my suggestions:

The Secret of the Mystifying Mansion
Nancy's friend Julie has just inherited a mansion and asks Nancy to come out when mysterious things happen there. Nancy is convinced that someone (or something) wants Julie out of the house and resolves to leave no stone unturned in her quest to find out who it is.

The Mysterious Apparition of Spectre Hall
A new museum has just opened in River Heights and there's a special section dedicated to all things ghostly and mysterious. When Nancy hears of people actually having ethereal experiences there, Nancy is intrigued. She visits the museum herself and is certain that there's a logical explanation for what's happening and asserts that she'll find the culprit(s) before the museum closes its doors eternally.

The Hidden Ingredient
Nancy and her best friends, cousins Bess Marvin and George Fayne, are looking for a recipe to enter in a cooking contest. While searching in her attic, Nancy stumbles across what she feels is a sure winner. The only problem is, there's an ingredient missing! While Nancy searches for this elusive ingredient, it becomes clear that someone doesn't want her to find out what it is and becomes determined to get Nancy out of the competition for good.

The Phantom of the Opera
Nancy is on vacation and high on her to-do/see list is a production of one of the longest-running plays of all-time, Phantom of the Opera. But when she goes to meet the cast a few days before the performance, the lead actor has been kidnapped and is being held prisoner. Nancy is tasked with finding him in time for the performance. Can Nancy do it or will she be the Phantom's next victim?

Nancy's Recipe Riddle
Tie-In with The Hidden Ingredient – Naturally Nancy was successful in sniffing out the missing ingredient of her desired delectable delights and now she, Bess and George are ready to put the recipe to the ultimate test in a bake-off. They feel good about their chances but the first day their creation comes out burnt to a crisp! Nancy discovers someone messed with their oven temperature and knows that sabotage is afoot. Nancy vows to find the culprit and bring them to justice before their chances are iced forever.

Thanks for the fun contest, Jenn.
Laura Albert

Rhodie Wallace said...

The Secret of the Missing Stairs
Helen Corning asks Nancy to investigate her grandfather's estate.

The Mysterious Singing of Fauberg Hall
When Nancy vanishes at Fauberg Hall, Bess and George decide to investigate.

The Hidden Phantom
Nancy searches for a phantom who has yet to be seen.

The Phantom of Mozart Hall
Nancy's cousin, Maria Juliana, asks her to track down a phantom who has been plaguing her home, Mozart Hall.

Nancy's Missing Father
Nancy and Bess fly to Philadelphia to track down Nancy's kidnapped father.

Anonymous said...

Here they are!48

The Secret Of The Verbena Railroad
Hoping for a well deserved vacation,Nancy travels to Alabama with her longtime-chums,Bess Marvin and George Fayne!At first it seems as as if Nancy might just get some time to relax.Clear blue skys,southern dirt rodes...and a house overlooking an old,rusty railroad.
The girls soon hear the story of a fateful railroad accident and the legendary ghosts that now haunt its location.Despite Nancy's vacation,she's determined to find the logical explication behind the hauntings and discover a strange truth conscerning the Verbena railroad.

The Mysterious Pathway Of Lilian Hall
Nancy Drew comes to Lilian hall to visit a family-friend but as soon as she arrives,she realizes that all is not well.Nancy is told that there is an old pathway leading away from the residence.Some say it leads to a long lost family treasure,others a doomed fate! Can Nancy find the truth before disaster strikes?

The Hidden Face
River Hights news has their first big story since...well...Nancys last mystery!
Storys of faces appearing in windows and valuable items being stolen through River Hights is just the beginning.As the clues pile up,so do the dangers as Nancy gets closer to the truth.

The Phantom Of Forever
At an old abandoned mansion things aren't always as they seem but in a story like this can the truth still be logical?The legand of two people,bound together by their love still haunts the grounds.Legand has it that,in the 1800s,Eizabeth Colins Married Thomas Whitfield but that after his death,she was heartbroken.After her own passing,she was said to have been seen Wondering the grounds of her lovers estate asking him to come back and be with her forever.
Nancy is determined to find the truth behind the recent sightings and will discover a secret as large as a forever-lasting love.

Nancys Hometown Horror
Kidnappers have hit river Hights like a tornado and as ransoms are demanded and more people go missing ,it's up to Nancy to find the reason.

Creative-Cutie said...

can you say who won please?

Jenn said...

Nobody has won yet because I haven't done the drawing yet--won't be until later this week so please be patient everyone :)


Jenn said...

3 Winners - Judah Ben-Hur, Creative-Cutie, and Betsy! E-mail me your addresses to ship to -

Creative-Cutie said...

yay! I'm so excited thanks so much.

Anonymous said...

By the way,I have a couple of questions.
1.Is Ned in these books?
2.(Totally random question) Do you think there's any chance that maybe...possibly...a sequel will be made to the 2007 ND movie?

Jenn said...

@MysteryPlayer - Yes, Ned will be in them and it's highly doubtful there will be a sequel to the Emma Roberts movie. I am sure they will do another film someday but I think it will be done with another actress at this point.