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Around the World in 80 Days by Jules Verne

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Around the World in 80 Days by Jules Verne Around the World in 80 Days by Jules Verne
Illustrator: Joseph Ciardiello
Series: Extraordinary Voyages #11
Published by The Reader's Digest Association on November 28, 1988 (first published 1873)
Source: Library
Genres: Classic
Pages: 205
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‘To go around the world...in such a short time and with the means of transport currently available, was not only impossible, it was madness’

One ill-fated evening at the Reform Club, Phileas Fogg rashly bets his companions £20,000 that he can travel around the entire globe in just eighty days—and he is determined not to lose. Breaking the well-established routine of his daily life, the reserved Englishman immediately sets off for Dover, accompanied by his hot-blooded French manservant Passepartout. Travelling by train, steamship, sailing boat, sledge and even elephant, they must overcome storms, kidnappings, natural disasters, Sioux attacks and the dogged Inspector Fix of Scotland Yard—who believes that Fogg has robbed the Bank of England—to win the extraordinary wager.

Around the World in 80 Days was pretty much what I expected. Phileas Fogg makes a bet with his friends that he can travel around the world in 80 days and sets off with his newly-hired servant, Passepartout. Fogg is a calm, organized, rich man, and nothing throws him. It’s basically his money that lets him accomplish his aim. Passepartout has most of the adventures. It’s really more about the race against the clock than experiencing the countries they were travelling through. The story was first published in 1872 and it’s attitudes toward native cultures are definitely dated. It was interesting to see the view of the America West at that time, though.

The blurb makes it sound a bit more exciting than it is. Fogg is a bit too reserved, while Passepartout worries about everything that comes up, we know Fogg will make it work. He is too unflappable. In all honesty, Passepartout is my favorite character. He’s the one out in the towns, seeing the sites, interacting with merchants, getting into trouble. He makes a good companion for Fogg, since he is everything Fogg isn’t.

There’s a side plot with a Scotland Yard agent, Fix, who is following Fogg because he’s convinced Fogg’s a bank robber, which adds a bit to the story as he attempts to delay Fogg on several occasions. He’s obsessed with Fogg, but as they journey together, he comes to respect and like him too, I think.

It’s a short, fairly quick read and I’m glad I finally got around to it. I didn’t love it, but it was fine.

About Jules Verne

Jules Gabriel Verne ( 8 February 1828 – 24 March 1905) was a French novelist, poet, and playwright.

Verne was born to bourgeois parents in the seaport of Nantes, where he was trained to follow in his father’s footsteps as a lawyer, but quit the profession early in life to write for magazines and the stage. His collaboration with the publisher Pierre-Jules Hetzel led to the creation of the Voyages extraordinaires, a widely popular series of scrupulously researched adventure novels including Journey to the Center of the Earth (1864), Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea (1870), and Around the World in Eighty Days (1873).

Verne is generally considered a major literary author in France and most of Europe, where he has had a wide influence on the literary avant-garde and on surrealism. He has sometimes been called the “Father of Science Fiction”, a title that has also been given to H. G. Wells and Hugo Gernsback.

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A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro

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A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro
Narrator: Graham Halstead, Julia Whelan
Series: Charlotte Holmes #1
Published by Harper Collins on March 1, 2016
Source: Library
Genres: Mystery, Young Adult
Length: 8 hrs 41 mins
Format: Audiobook
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Jamie Watson has always been intrigued by Charlotte Holmes; after all, their great-great-great-grandfathers are one of the most infamous pairs in history. But the Holmes family has always been odd, and Charlotte is no exception. She’s inherited Sherlock’s volatility and some of his vices—and when Jamie and Charlotte end up at the same Connecticut boarding school, Charlotte makes it clear she’s not looking for friends.

But when a student they both have a history with dies under suspicious circumstances, ripped straight from the most terrifying of the Sherlock Holmes stories, Jamie can no longer afford to keep his distance. Danger is mounting and nowhere is safe—and the only people they can trust are each other.

I have a soft spot for Sherlock Holmes, so when someone (I forget who) said they enjoyed this take on the characters, I had to put it on my to-read list. Jamie Watson and Charlotte Holmes are descendants of the famous duo and they “just happen” to meet at boarding school. In Connecticut. But don’t worry, the story will get to that. Coincidences are never really coincidences in a Holmes world.

Charlotte is pure Sherlock, complete with drug problems, brilliant deductions, and violin-playing, which comes off a little differently in a 16-year-old girl. She can be tough to like, but we’re seeing her through Watson’s eyes, and he’s either falling in love with her or is obsessed with her or both. When a student they both hates ends up dead, everything points at them, so of course they have to solve the mystery. What else could a Holmes and Watson do? The mystery was clever, with plenty of connections to the original Holmes stories.

I enjoyed the writing, the descriptions and metaphors were well-done. I especially enjoyed the Watsonian guide for the care and keeping of Holmeses that Jamie’s dad has put together.

I listened to the audio version and I think the narrator did a good job being Jamie, since the story comes from his point of view. The epilogue is told by Charlotte, who doesn’t really have much to add. I’m glad the same narrators are doing the next in the series.

This is a YA book and it does deal a lot with drugs. It also deals with a rape, which may be a reason some won’t want to read it. I’m not sure it was handled the best way either, it made sense to the plot and the characters, but is not a good example of how the crime should have been reported/prosecuted. The kids don’t really have much supervision, which makes it easier to investigate/sneak around campus, but also easier to end up over your head.

I do kind of wish Watson and Holmes could remain just friends, but I have the feeling one, if not both, is hoping for more.

This book trailer makes me almost wish it was a movie.

About Brittany Cavallaro

Brittany Cavallaro is a poet, fiction writer, and old school Sherlockian. She is the author of the Charlotte Holmes novels from HarperCollins/Katherine Tegen Books. She’s also the author of the poetry collection GIRL-KING (University of Akron) and is the recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship. She earned her BA in literature from Middlebury College and her MFA in poetry from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Currently, she’s a PhD candidate in English literature at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. She lives in the Bay area with her husband, cat, and collection of deerstalker caps.

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The Secrets of Wishtide by Kate Saunders

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The Secrets of Wishtide by Kate Saunders The Secrets of Wishtide by Kate Saunders
Narrator: Anna Bentinck
Series: Laetitia Rodd Mysteries #1
Published by Dreamscape Media on October 25, 2016
Source: Library
Genres: Historical Mystery
Length: 10 hrs 35 mins
Format: Audiobook
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Mrs. Laetitia Rodd, aged fifty-two, is the widow of an archdeacon. Living in Hampstead with her confidante and landlady, Mrs. Benson, who once let rooms to John Keats, Laetitia makes her living as a highly discreet private investigator.

Her brother, Frederick Tyson, is a criminal barrister living in the neighboring village of Highgate with his wife and ten children. Frederick finds the cases, and Laetitia solves them using her arch intelligence, her iron discretion, and her immaculate cover as an unsuspecting widow. When Frederick brings to her attention a case involving the son of the well-respected, highly connected Sir James Calderstone, Laetitia sets off for Lincolnshire to take up a position as the family’s new governess—quickly making herself indispensable.

But the seemingly simple case—looking into young Charles Calderstone’s “inappropriate” love interest—soon takes a rather unpleasant turn. And as the family’s secrets begin to unfold, Laetitia discovers the Calderstones have more to hide than most.

The Secrets of Wishtide is fine. I really just don’t have much to say about it. Letty is a competent investigator, but I wanted her to have more of a personality I guess. She’s a little bland, which does allow her to fit in unobtrusively, but I wished she had more of a spark to her. Ido have some hope for her and Inspector Blackbeard though.

I liked the Victorian Britain setting, both London and the countryside. We see the seedy side of the city and the drawing rooms of the rich. We see inside of Newgate and the country manor. I do think it did a good job of portraying how women were treated and the (lack of) options in that era.

As far as the mystery goes, what started as a short trip to look into an unacceptable love interest turns more complicate and dead bodies start to pile up. The story got a little complicated and I’m never much of a fan of the “oh look, he wasn’t really dead after all” plot line. And it’s funny that just about all of Letty’s hunches pay off. It was well-plotted though, with enough clues and witnesses. There’s no grand revelation, but there is a good scene where the bad guy is cornered.

I guess The Secrets of Wishtide draws a lot of it’s inspiration from Dickens’ David Copperfield, but since I’ve never read it I totally missed that part.

Will I read the next in the series? Maybe, if my library gets it on audio and I don’t have anything else lined up.

About Kate Saunders

Kate Saunders is an author and journalist. She has worked for The Times, Sunday Times, Sunday Express, Daily Telegraph and Cosmopolitan amongst others, and has contributed to Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour and Start the Week. She has written numerous books for adults and children, including the bestselling Night Shall Overtake Us, and her follow on to E Nesbit’s Five Children and It stories, Five Children on the Western Front, which won the Costa Children’s Book Award in 2014. She lives in London.

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