Mount TBR 2018 Final Checkpoint

Mount TBR 2018

1. Tell us how many miles you made it up your mountain (# of books read). If you’ve planted your flag on the peak, then tell us, take a selfie, and celebrate (and wave!). Even if you were especially athletic and have been sitting atop your mountain for months, please check back in and remind us how quickly you sprinted up that trail. And feel free to tell us about any particularly exciting book adventures you’ve had along the way.

After reaching my initial goal of 100 books off the TBR pile back in September, I decided to give Mt. Olympus a shot at 150 books. I’m happy to say I reached that goal on December 29.

2. The Words to the Wise According to Mount TBR: Using the titles of the books you read this year, see how many of the familiar proverbs and sayings below you can complete with a book read on your journey up the Mountain. Feel free to add/subtract a word or two to help them make sense. 

I’ll do a all-Western round-up here:

A stitch in time…Empty Saddles
Don’t count your chickens…[before] The Night Branders
A penny saved is…. (an) Incident at Sun Mountain
All good things must come… Among the Hunted (aka Marshal of Bitterroot)
When in Rome… Guns Up
All that glitters is not… The Ghost Trail
A picture is worth a… Singing Lariat
When the going gets tough, the tough get… the Last Shoot-Out
Two wrongs don’t make (a)… Dakota Boomtown
The pen is mightier than…. Saddle Justice
The squeaky wheel gets… (the) Song of the Gun
Hope for the best, but prepare for… The Last Rodeo
Birds of a feather flock… (to) The Manhunter

Steven C. Lawrence – Saddle Justice (1957)


Vintage Western
Wild Wild West Reading Challenge #29
TBR #150
Date Finished: December 29, 2018

An army sergeant rides down from Fort Abraham Lincoln in Dakota Territory to Nebraska to investigate the lynching death of his younger brother, who was involved with various business deals and the Mexican-American community. The sergeant finds the town riled up against the Mexican-Americans and faces some of that prejudice himself as he tries to find out the truth in a town ruled by a cold-hearted rancher and his gunmen.

A fast-moving Gold Medal paperback original that has a more-or-less standard plot and characters, this is nevertheless entertaining enough for a day’s read.

And with that one off the TBR pile, I’ve reached 150 for the year and achieved Mt. Olympus.

Edgar Rice Burroughs – Pellucidar (1915)


Vintage Science Fiction
TBR #149
Date Finished: December 29, 2018

David Innes returns to Pellucidar, the hidden world on the inside of the earth, and finds the empire he had set up in his previous visit in a shambles. He gathers the human tribes again to fight the reptilian creatures, as well as the evil human Hooja the Sly One, and rescue his wife Dian the Beautiful.

Although an exciting story, this is a fairly standard Burroughs chase plot, with Innes in pursuit of various forces who have captured Dian in succession. No characters were all introduced in the previous volume, so do little here other than contribute to the background action. Still, it is from 1915, what do you expect?

Ray Bradbury – Twice Twenty-Two (1966)

Vintage Science Fiction
Deal Me In Challenge: K♦️, K♣️, K♥️, 5♠️, 10♠️
TBR #148
Date Finished: December 28, 2018

Twice Twenty-Two is an omnibus collecting two collections of short stories, The Golden Apples of the Sun (1953) and A Medicine for Melancholy (1959), each of which consisting of 22 short stories. The quality varies somewhat, especially in the second collection, though that one throws in more science fiction than the first. The focus here, though, is much more on looking backward, with several stories featuring a melancholic nostalgia to a small-town childhood that probably only existed in Bradbury’s imagination. Still, Bradbury was a very gifted writer with great style, and he is able to quickly develop settings and character, even if the plot is awfully light in some of these stories.

For the Deal Me In Challenge, the following were selected:

K♣️ “The Wilderness”: Pioneers to a newly settled planet suffer homesickness as they anticipate the arrival of women settlers, a rather chauvinistic imagining of the future.

10♠️ “Invisible Boy”: A lonely old Ozark woman wants to keep a visiting boy so convinces him that her spell has made him invisible. It doesn’t turn out as she imagined, as he wants to go home, so she finally gives in and tells him he has reappeared. She lives with her own imaginary boy thereafter. This Ozark life is more far-fetched to us than the future stories of interplanetary settlers.

5♠️ “The Pedestrian”: Very short story about old man doing things considered bizarre by society, such as taking a walk or not watching TV. Don’t think we’ll get there.

K♦️ “The April Witch”: An April witch takes partial control of a young woman and uses her to be in love and dance and enjoy the spring, showing more joy and excitement than the woman. Poetic, enchanting.

K♥️ “The Fruit at the Bottom of the Bowl”: A man goes nuts trying to wipe away his fingerprints after committing a murder. Interesting examination of guilt and paranoia.

Basil Copper – The Secret Files of Solar Pons (1979)


Vintage Silver Age Mystery
Cloak and Dagger Challenge #135
Official 2018 TBR Pile Challenge #14
TBR #147
Date Finished: December 26, 2018

This volume collects four Solar Pons novellas published after the death of creator August Derleth. The imitation of Sherlock Holmes is quite complete, with some criticizing these stories as just cut-and-paste jobs, with Copper selecting various settings and situations randomly to create his pastiche. These stories lack the clever endings and tantalizing clues of a true master storyteller, but nevertheless are rather enjoyable stories. Here Solar Pons solves mysteries at a mysterious house in the swamps, at a London theater where various parties have a grudge against the lead actor, against a mastermind plotting to rob a London museum of its valuable objects, and at a lonely house where the poor niece is being swindled by her evil uncle. Fun stuff that probably shouldn’t have waited so long on my shelf.

Ernest Haycox – The Last Rodeo (1956)


Vintage Western
Wild Wild West Reading Challenge #28
TBR #146
Date Finished: December 27, 2018

This is an outstanding collection of ten Ernest Haycox short stories that were first published in the slicks, especially Collier’s during the 1930s. Haycox is a master of the form and quickly sets the setting and characters when telling his stories. It is obvious why he graduated out of the pulps to the more general circulation magazines of the day.

Robert C. Harvey – Milton Caniff Conversations (2002)


TBR #145
Date Finished: December 27, 2018

This volume is a collection of published interviews with Milton Caniff, creator of Terry and the Pirates and Steve Canyon, originally published between 1945 and 1989. These interviews certainly allow Caniff’s voice to come through, though the articles cover the same ground repeatedly. The best is an interview with Will Eisner, as they get into the technical aspects of comic strip work.

Nick Carter – The Christmas Kill (1983)


Vintage Silver Age Mystery
Cloak and Dagger Challenge #134
Monthly Key Word: Christmas
TBR #143
Date Finished: December 26, 2018

Nick Carter is asked by his boss to investigate a bombing at a Japanese toy factory, as a favor he is paying to an old female friend of his. Nick’s cover is blown immediately, and assassins make multiple attempts on his life, killing several civilians. An anti-American terrorist organization seems to have infiltrated the plant and is sending their new toy robots to the U.S. for Christmas, each loaded with a bomb. Nick must defeat this plot, while receiving no assistance from his own agency or any other.

The craziness of this plot makes the secret Nazi take-over-the-world plot of the James Bond story I just read, Icebreaker, seem rational. If you can get past the impossibility of it all, it is fun and quick, though one dimensional.

2018 Monthly Key Words 2018-12-26

John Gardner – Icebreaker (1983)


Vintage Silver Age Mystery
Official 2018 TBR Pile Challenge #13
Cloak and Dagger Challenge #133
TBR #141
Date Finished: December 23, 2018

James Bond is called in to participate in a joint mission against a renewed Nazi organization. Joining him are agents of the U.S., Israel, and the Soviet Union. Of course, nobody can be trusted, leaving Bond in a precarious position to destroy the Nazis.

The third in the John Gardner Bond series, this one turned out better than I expected, after it sat on my shelves for 30-plus years. The first two in the series were rather tight-laced, dreary 1980s Cold War stories, if I remember correctly, but this one a bit more fun with unusual villains. Bond tends to rely on the Finnish agents and Soviet military for most of the action, but he does endure some hardships in pursuit of his goals.

C.S. Lewis – Out of the Silent Planet (1938)


Vintage Science Fiction
Official 2018 TBR Pile Challenge #12
TBR #140
Date Finished: December 21, 2018

A scientist is abducted by two others and taken on their secret rocket ship to a mysterious planet, where they plan to turn him over to aliens to be sacrificed. He escapes and learns about the various aliens as well as the universal force that all planets know about, other than earth.

A bit slow going at first, with much time spent on description of the aliens and environment, as is standard in much science fiction, to the detriment of the story. The more metaphysical aspects that are developed are more unusual and fit with Lewis’ interest in religion. Perhaps not the classic I expected, but still entertaining and thought provoking.