Keene, Carolyn. Curse of the Arctic Star (Nancy Drew Diaries #1)
February 5th 2013
Nancy (who is in high school) is called to a Superstar Cruise ship by her friend Becca, who has taken a job with the line. Even before the ship's maiden voyage, odd things are occurring, and who better to solve the mystery than Nancy. Her cover is that she won the trip, and so she brings good friends George and Becca. Becca's college aged boyfriend, Alan, is studying ecology, so he asks to come along as well. Things continue to go wrong on the ship-- a bratty boy's tarantula is set loose on the buffet, a chandelier falls, a mannequin shows up in the ship pool covered in red drink mix. Who is out to sabotage the cruise line? There are suspects everywhere, and even though someone is arrested for stealing jewelry from the gift shop, Nancy is not convinced that the real culprit has been apprehended.
Strengths: The travel aspect of this is quite fun, and who doesn't want to read about a cruise to Alaska? The characters all have distinct personalities, and Nancy uses her sleuthing skills well.
Weaknesses: I was thinking that Nancy would be a middle grader; while her age is true to the original series, it seems somehow odd today that Nancy would be allowed to go on a ship alone and share a suite with Becca's random college boyfriend. This makes for an odd feeling, since the series is clearly aimed at younger middle grade readers.
Keene, Carolyn. Strangers on a Train (Nancy Drew Diaries #1)
February 5th 2013
Nancy's trip continues with a train ride across Alaska. Even here, bad things keep happening, like broken glass on Nancy's seat. Everyone's a suspect, and many of the suspicious people turn out to be suspicious for other reasons-- someone is trying to set up a union, crew members are romantically involved, etc. When it seems that the train and ship might be being used to smuggle illegal objects, Nancy goes in to high gear and finds the culprit in a rather unlikely place (even though I thought the person who did it was creepy from the beginning!)
Strengths: Good descriptions of Alaska, some mild suspense and danger, mention of Ned Nickerson, Nancy's trusted boyfriend of 80 years, near the end.
Weaknesses: Same sort of age disconnect as in first book. I don't know that I will buy the next books in the series, Mystery of the Midnight Rider or Once Upon a Thriller.