Pride of Baghdad by Brian K. Vaughan

>> Friday, April 18, 2014

Pride of Baghdad by Brian K. Vaughan

Pride of Baghdad by Brian K. Vaughan with art by Niko Henrichon

Genre: Fantasy
Publisher: Vertigo
Publication Date: 2006
Pages: 136
Source: Library


The Short Version:
A fictionalized account of the true story of lions who escaped the zoo after the 2003 bombing of Baghdad.

Why I Read It:
Recommended highly (and repeatedly) by many of my friends.

The Book:
From the publisher:

In the spring of 2003, a pride of lions escaped from the Baghdad Zoo during an American bombing raid. Lost and confused, hungry but finally free, the four lions roamed the decimated streets of Baghdad in a desperate struggle for their lives. In documenting the plight of the lions, Pride of Baghdad raises questions about the true meaning of liberation — can it be given, or is it earned only through self-determination and sacrifice? And in the end, is it truly better to die free than to live life in captivity?

My Thoughts:
Told by and from the viewpoint of the animals this is a beautifully told and illustrated story. The four lions who are the main characters all have distinct personalities. When their world they know in the zoo is suddenly changed so drastically the freedom they have wanted is granted. However in a city at war is a dangerous and desperate place for all of the zoo animals.

The artwork in this is simply beautiful despite the wartime setting.

The political allegory is pretty much what I'd expected and I knew what the final outcome would be so that didn't come as a surprise either. The telling of the story through the animals both worked and yet didn't work for me. At some points it felt like bits and pieces of both The Lion King and the Madagascar movies. The anthropormorphizing of the animals at times went a bit too far into humans they represent in the allegory but overall it was still a good book.


3.5 stars Rating 3.5/5

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Wordless Wednesday #234

>> Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Sunset
Ixtapa, Mexico

Ixtapa Sunset
click on image for larger version

For more Wordless Wednesday, click here

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Audiobook – The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum

>> Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum

Genre: Fiction
Publisher: Audible Studios
Publication Date: 2012 Audible Inc. Book originally published 1900
Length: 3 hours, 50 minutes
Read by: Anne Hathaway
Source: Free Audible download

The Short Version:
A tornado lands young Dorothy Gale in the Land of Oz which is most definitely not Kansas.

Why I Read It:
When I got the email from Audible that they were offering this free I downloaded it. When I decided I wanted to read Danielle Paige’s Dorothy Must Die I decided to listen to the original book first.

The Book:
From Google Books:
In the first of L. Frank Baum's time-honored Oz novels, country girl Dorothy Gale gets whisked away by a cyclone to the fantastical Land of Oz. Dropped into the midst of trouble when her farmhouse crushes a tyrannical sorceress, Dorothy incurs the wrath of the Wicked Witch of the West. Dorothy is desperate to return to her native Kansas, and, aided by the Good Witch of the North, she sets out for the Emerald City to get help from the legendary Wizard. On her way, she meets three unlikely allies who embody key human virtues—the Scarecrow, the Tin Woodman, and the Cowardly Lion.

My Thoughts:
I’m sure I read this as a kid but I sure didn't remember much of it. I remembered it being quite different from the movie but the details have faded.

The book itself is an odd story. The interpretations of it as political and social allegory are well known but whether Baum really intended as that may or may not be true and honestly I don’t care. I was interested in the story and how it differed from the movie and to hear Anne Hathaway’s reading of it.

If I had a recommendation at this point it would be that if you want to revisit the original Baum story go the the library and pick up a print edition. Skip this audio version.

The story was quite different from the movie. The Wicked Witch of the West is almost a minor character. As in the movie there is a fair amount of violence for a children’s story. I really didn't remember the Tin Man being such a whiner. I also didn't remember that both the good witches make an appearance. Each area of Oz has a distinct population and is ruled by one of the witches. The munchkins from the movie are only a quarter of the story.

As for the audio production it started out OK and while I like Anne Hathaway fine as an actress but I will never listen to her narrate another audiobook. She seemed to try way too hard to give each and every character in the book a distinct voice and accent. There are far too many characters for that in this book. The Tin Man might have seemed like a big whiner to me because of the way she did his voice. The Scarecrow sounded exactly like Marge Simpson. Before Dorothy and her companions were falling asleep in the field of poppies Hathaway lost me completely. When the stork sounded like a Valley Girl out of the early 80’s I’d had enough. At that point Hathaway’s increasingly odd voice characterizations became a complete distraction from the story. The Guardian of the Gate in the Emerald City sounded like Daffy Duck and the Wizard himself sounded like an elderly Southern lady.

I only finished it because it was so short.

2.5 stars Rating 2.5/5 for the book

1 stars Rating 1/5 for the narration



SoundBytes is a weekly roundup of audio book reviews hosted by Jen at Devourer of Books.

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Weekend Update – The Best Reading Week in a While Edition

>> Sunday, April 13, 2014

Weekend Update

Last weekend was a great reading weekend for me. After finishing up A Circle of Wives by Alice LaPlante Friday night I needed to let it simmer in my head a bit before starting another novel.

Last Saturday I read three graphic novels and made a dent in the stack of books I've got out from the library. I read:

Hawkeye Vol. 2: Little Hits by Matt Fraction – a fun not quite a superhero series

Sweet Tooth Vol. 1: Out of the Woods by Jeff Lemire – this is the first in a new series for me. Post apocalyptic with half human, half animal children and after the first one I went to the library this week and picked up the second

and Pride of Baghdad by Brian K. Vaughan – I’ve had several people encouraging me to read this one for a while. Based on the true story of the animals of the Baghdad zoo roaming free after the city was bombed it’s a fascinating story and beautifully illustrated

Sunday was road trip day. I have a couple of friends who live north of Seattle and we periodically meet up at a pub in Olympia that's halfway between and me and the one who lives farthest north. That meant 5 hours of audio book time for me on the road.

I finished listening to The Wonderful Wizard of Oz narrated by Anne Hathaway and my recommendation is stick to the printed format.

I started listening to Cocaine Blues by Kerry Greenwood narrated by Stephanie Daniel. This is the first in the Phryne Fisher series and I'm enjoying both the main character and the 1920's Australia setting.

I started reading The Accident by Chris Pavone. I really enjoyed his first book The Expats and this one is extremely good so far.

Aside from reading, here are a few random photos from my phone from this week:

The trees are blooming and my allergies are raging but it's still pretty

Blooming tree


I love the detail on this building. Even though its several floors up and not easy to see from street level it's beautiful.
Architectural detail


I do love me a pretty sunset

Sunset
Add caption

Hope you’re having a great weekend!

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