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Book Review: Mary Jane by Jessica Anya Blau

Mary Jane by Jessica Anya Blau is a coming of age novel taking place in Baltimore, Maryland. During the 1970's, fourteen year old Mary Jane is caught in the middle of her family's conservative ideals and the progressive ideals of the Cone family where she is a summer nanny. Mary Jane is a sheltered teen who enjoys cooking with her mother, listening to Broadway Show Tunes, and singing in the church choir. On the first day of work, she is shocked at the mess in the Cone's home and introduces them to home cooked meals and keeping the house clean. In return, Mary Jane gets a front row seat to sex, drugs, and rock & roll. This novel was the selected for the book club I belong to. Again, this is a novel that I likely wouldn't have chosen to read on my own, but I was glad I did. Mary Jane is the first novel I've read by Jessica Anya Blau, and I was impressed with her storytelling.  Touching on race, class, and stereotypes, along with drugs and infidelity, it reminded

Book Review: The Secret of the Old Clock (Nancy Drew Mystery Stories, #1) by Carolyn Keene

The Nancy Drew Mystery Stories by Carolyn Keene is a book series that my mom introduced to me in middle school. I remember falling in love with it immediately, so as part of my quest to read my way through my childhood, I had to reread it again. Of course, I started with the first book in the series, The Secret of the Old Clock (Nancy Drew Mystery Stories, #1). There were a few things that ran through my mind reading it as an adult that I know I didn't think of as a child. 

Most importantly, this book was originally published in May 1930, and I didn't give it a second thought that cars were still relatively new in the United States and that it was highly unlikely that an eighteen year old would have their own car let alone a convertible. What surprised me the most is that at least the first book had been rewritten since its original publication date. So, I have purchased a copy of what is supposed to be the original story through ThriftBooks.com. I am hopeful that it really is the original story, and I can't wait to compare the two versions.

Other things that I didn't really think much of when I originally read this story as a kid is that Nancy's dad, Carson Drew, is an attorney, and he obviously is a very good lawyer because he has a live in housekeeper that also has served as a nanny of sorts for Nancy. That isn't a common thing for people who are middle class. Then, there is the clothing stores where customers actually have a seat and wait for a sales clerk to wait on you. Wow, times sure have changed since then! And, the writing in The Secret of the Old Clock (Nancy Drew Mystery Stories, #1) is very mature. I think kids today would be shocked at some of the words that are used because they aren't commonly used words today . . . words like shan't.  

The Secret of the Old Clock (Nancy Drew Mystery Stories, #1) is extremely well written and held my interest even as an adult. I even think children today would enjoy this first installment in the series despite it missing some of the modern conveniences of today like cell phones and computers. I gave it four out of five stars.

Synopsis of The Secret of the Old Clock (Nancy Drew Mystery Stories, #1) by Carolyn Keene:  By pure chance, Nancy Drew witnesses a little girl named Judy fall off a bridge and rushes to help her. When she helps Judy home, Nancy gets roped into searching for the missing will of Josiah Crowley, which supposedly leaves money to Judy's aunts.


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