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Bleach Box Set (Vol.S 1-21): Volumes 1 - 21
Bleach Box Set (Vol.S 1-21): Volumes 1 - 21
by Tite Kubo
Edition: Paperback

17 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent entertainment, 24 Feb 2009
Not so long ago my husband watched episodes from an Anime series that was new to him. At that time I had no idea what it was when I noticed it for the first time when I was passing by through the living room. The artwork immediately got my attention. I hate the extreme Manga style showing people with huge eyes and piggy bank lips. I especially dislike the habit of putting girl faces on women`s bodies and dress them in silly school uniforms. Afterwards the writers often seem to have trouble to make their minds up if these are actually girls or women.

But this time, I found the artwork actually beautiful and intriguing. This was still typical Manga or Anime in many ways but the extremes were toned down in a way I found attractive and interesting to look at. But my timing was unfortunate. Having a dad kicking his son across the room and shouting at each other while the artwork changed into a very abstract style spoiled it for me and when I paid more attention next time it was during a fight involving a character who looked so much like the typical Anime brute that I didn`t stick around for long again.

Therefore my passion for Bleach was definitely not love at first sight. In spite of my bad first impressions my husband was insistent and asked me one day to stay and try to look past the quirks this series has. Now I am grateful that my husband`s colleague introduced him to Bleach and that my husband, who knows what I actually like, got me to give the series a real chance. I must admit, there are still some of these over-the- top moments when I just roll my eyes and I still can`t stand this stupid talking teddy bear but these scenes don`t happen often and sometimes I can`t help it: The exaggeration can make these humorous scenes actually more funny!

The more I watched Bleach the more I was amazed how complex this series actually is. It is a very impressive example of world building. The Bleach universe has a LOT of different layers and elements I find fascinating to explore. It is continually growing and evolving, building on what happened before and providing new surprises. Bleach is an ongoing series that has to date more than 200 episodes and three movies. I started to become a fan when my husband had nearly reached episode 70. It didn`t put me off, the contrary. Of course I didn`t know all the background when I started to get seriously interested but I still understood what the main story thread was about.

But I think in order to really appreciate Bleach you should watch it from the beginning. I definitely understood a lot more and also noticed some subtle fineries for the first time when I watched episodes again. You can watch Bleach and just enjoy the action, the amazing and sometimes breath taking fantasy fight scenes, the humour, the music and the strong friendship between the main characters. Bleach is definitely entertaining but to me it is much more than that.

Not only has Bleach a very sophisticated universe, it also has a rich variety of characters who also have layers that are very complex when you look closely. Some of them are very interesting indeed. It didn`t take long and I developed very close bonds with some of these fictional characters. The same applies to my daughter who loves this series as well.

My six-year-old loves science fiction and fantasy, as we do. We let her watch Doctor Who under supervision but not Torchwood. In this case, we decided to let her watch Bleach under supervision but not D.Gray-Man, which is excellent too, a different series with similar ideas but in many ways darker than Bleach. Her favourite character is the main female character called Rukia. She is a warrior, a strong but also very feminine character I also like very much. My favourite character is Ishida, the Quincy. He is the "nerd" of the group of friends, socially awkward and extremely intelligent. He isn`t particularly strong, certainly not physically but makes up for it by outthinking his opponents. Ishida is one of the most complex characters and a lot of his history is still waiting to be explored in much more depth and detail.

I like it very much that men and women are treated as equals in the series. Women are no less diverse, strong and interesting than the men. I also like it that the series also shows strong people who are not warriors, who lack the "killer instinct", but who are no less important and valued, well, not by everyone but Bleach does a good job of challenging these prejudices especially warrior characters have sometimes as well as the idea of nobility and class. There are good character stories dealing with what is the law and what is actually right, about when not to follow orders, when to stand up for what you think is right even when doing so is not only difficult but even dangerous. I found it very interesting that one of the captains and therefore one of the strongest fighters is a man who also battles a chronic and it seems incurable illness he has since birth.

When I started to explore what is available I was amazed to discover how big Bleach actually is. The variety of merchandise is amazing. One of the first things I bought are the Bleach art books, soundtracks and the Manga books. Therefore I read the books after having watched the series and I discovered that there are scenes in the books that are not in the episodes as well as the other way round. Sometimes the books have more character scenes and also darker versions of scenes that seemed to have been toned down for the TV audience. I found it interesting to compare both.

This 21 books box set is covering the first three Bleach Anime seasons which is the whole Soul Society chapter. The first two seasons are already available to date. The third one will be later this year.

Torchwood: Almost Perfect
Torchwood: Almost Perfect
by James Goss
Edition: Hardcover

1 of 4 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars The worst Torchwood book so far - just dreadful!, 13 Jan 2009
There is no contest: This is definitely the worst Torchwood book I have read and it took me a long time to finish it. I literally had to force myself to continue reading. The only reason why I did that is because on some level I was curious how this dreadful story will end.

It is a shame. A book exploring the obsession with perfection and beauty could have been very interesting. But instead the book is concentrating on the primitive instincts, on twisted, ugly personalities. The book is constantly looking at the darkest parts of the British binge drinking culture but at the same time giving the impression that wild parties with sex and alcohol is also something attractive and that having fun has to be combined with alcoholic drinks. People are obsessed with clothes and with body image.

Unfortunately some of the main Torchwood characters are no better. It could have been very interesting how Ianto as a woman deals with the change and his friends around him. From the start, there was little sympathy but a barrage of often under-the-belt humour that is everything but funny. Ianto himself was pathetic in this book. All he was interested in is what to wear, complaining about high heels and partying with people who were nothing else but disgusting. Jack wasn`t any better. A lot of what was going on is far away from what I consider to be good taste.

The only plus - and that is a stretch - is Gwen`s husband Rhys. He actually has a really good scene in this book but that is the positive exception of the rule.

This book is dreadful. There is no better word for it.

Torchwood: Pack Animals
Torchwood: Pack Animals
by Peter Anghelides
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 6.10

1 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An entertaining read, 29 Dec 2008
For a long time I was kept in the dark and I didn`t like that very much. There are quite a few scenes in which strangers were butchered by monsters and these descriptions went sometimes too far for my taste. It often felt like horror for horror`s sake without adding anything of substance to the overall story.

On the other hand, even when I got impatient, I never lost my curiosity of what is going on here. The idea of monster trading cards coming to life is interesting and on a certain level entertaining. Unfortunately the book doesn`t offer much concerning character development. The interactions are predictable and don`t offer any surprises. The only aspect that caught my attention about the known characters is the question about Jack`s limits to regenerate.

It gets more interesting later in the book when answers are being revealed and the climax is well written. For a quick, entertaining read I can recommend the book but it is certainly not one of the best Torchwood novels I have read so far.

Torchwood: SkyPoint
Torchwood: SkyPoint
by Phil Ford
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 6.36

3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Easily the best of the three new novels!, 29 Dec 2008
This review is from: Torchwood: SkyPoint (Hardcover)
When I saw the covers of the new Torchwood books for the first time this one was the least appealing to me. Although there are a few good episodes with Tosh, she never was as interesting to me as the other characters.

This is a good example that you shouldn`t judge a book by its cover because this book is easily the best of the three new Torchwood novels. It has the typical ingredients of Torchwood members going after a monster and defeating the baddies at the end but this book offers much more depth than just being an entertaining horror novel.

Contrary to the other two new offerings, this book is exploring some of the characters in more depth and made me think. The book mainly looks at Tosh and Owen, who they are and what made them the way they are, their relationship and first of all it deals with the question of death and afterlife. The TV series looked at Owen`s condition in some excellent episodes but this book explores this topic even more by adding new characters, like a young girl who had also been brought back to life although not by artificial means and her religious mother.

In Skypoint, a huge largely empty new apartment block, you can find also two monsters, one of them is human and the other - I would never have guessed the true nature of that creature. It was a surprise and having watched all episodes, I probably should have guessed the truth.

The book also contains some good scenes with Gwen and Rhys, in this book a newly wed couple. Jack and Ianto also have some good parts.

As it is not unusual for Torchwood, there are some messy scenes in it but within limits and they are usually combined with good character scenes. What I also like is that the end is surprisingly uplifting when you keep the nature of this book in mind.

I can recommend this book very much.

Torchwood: Trace Memory
Torchwood: Trace Memory
by David Llewellyn
Edition: Hardcover

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I enjoyed it, 18 April 2008
This book is a bit different than the other Torchwood novels I know because the actual main character is a time traveller called Michael. Michael is a very intriguing character who became a continuous time traveller by an accident that is linked to Torchwood. From the beginning I was wondering what will become of him and I was kept wondering until the end of the book. I like it that the answer is somewhat open to interpretation. Maybe Jack managed to break the cycle Michael is stuck in but maybe not. But even if he did, I don`t think Jack was able to finally free Michael. I very much cared for that tragic character and although I would have wished a happy end for him I think the author made the right choice.

What I like is that this book uses the opportunity when exploring the accident and its consequences to reveal more about Torchwood`s past and the history of the main characters. If the author wanted to, he could easily write a sequel. I would welcome it if the does but maybe it is better to leave the reader wondering and wanting more.

Torchwood: The Twilight Streets
Torchwood: The Twilight Streets
by Gary Russell
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 5.24

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent!, 5 April 2008
This was a very interesting read but it is a book that would benefit from reading it twice in order to be able to follow the twists and turns better. I had the problem that the book starts slow and I got a bit impatient because I was thinking, all right, this is intriguing but what does it mean?

But after a while the story managed to captivate me and it was very interesting to follow how all the pieces of the puzzle finally fit together and revealed the answer to the mystery about the area in Cardiff Jack can`t enter.

I welcomed the return of the mysterious old man, Bilis Manger, from the first season. He is the centre of the mystery and what was also interesting to me is that the difference between good and evil became blurred. I found it fascinating to see a possible future for Torchwood. The author used a lot of what has been shown in the second season and especially now, after I have watched the season finale, that part - especially the Owen/Tosh relationship - left some impact on me.

Contrary to "Something in the Water", this book does not only offer accurate characterizations, it uses them very well and offers quite a few surprises. It is an excellent book I can recommend very much.

Torchwood: Something in the Water
Torchwood: Something in the Water
by Trevor Baxendale
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 6.62

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Nothing special but not bad, 1 April 2008
I like the book but contrary to the other Torchwood novels I have read before, it lacks depth. On a superficial level the book is entertaining but it is nothing special. The characterizations are accurate but the author didn`t do anything with them that adds something, that challenges them or even shows some interesting interactions. You can feel the bond between these people and find some nice touches of humour but there was nothing I found really engaging.

The story itself felt like a "connect the dots" exercise because everything was so predictable. This was a blood, gore and snot story in which these graphic descriptions seemed to be more important sometimes than actually dealing with the characters as people. We have a female monster in a beautiful looking package who is distributing its seed among the male population but in the disguise of what looks like a particularly unpleasant and painful flu epidemic. I hate the cliché used at the end and although I expected it, I was nevertheless very disappointed.

Although the book could definitely been better, for a quick, light read it is not a bad choice.

Stargate Atlantis: Blood Ties
Stargate Atlantis: Blood Ties
by Sonny Whitelaw
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: 5.77

3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The - so far - most interesting SGA novel, 29 Jan 2008
This is in many ways the most interesting Stargate Atlantis book I have read so far and with one exception, I have enjoyed this book very much.

First of all, the book did something I am still waiting for in SGA on TV: a team-up with Daniel Jackson. He added a lot to the story and not only because the interactions between him and Rodney were very entertaining indeed. The book also introduced a new character who played an important part, the FBI profiler Rebecca Larance. I found her very intriguing from the very beginning.

The idea of Wraith on Earth has been touched at only very little on TV so far and this book explores this topic in ways I wouldn`t have imagined. We find out that there is so much more behind the killings that look like Wraith feedings. The authors look at various elements from history and mythology as well as genetics and expand on what we learned so far from various episodes.

The book has a healthy mix of character elements, action and real life and not so real life science and technology. I also enjoyed the sense of wonder, of discovery when the authors described a world on which dinosaurs and other ancient creatures are alive and have developed in remarkable ways.

I never liked the IOA much but when Woolsey said annihilating that world would not be genocide because the world has no human inhabitants, I felt sick and disliked that organization and that bureaucrat even more than before. I really hope I will never hear that justification in "canon" SGA! I am glad that there was no discussion if such an order had to be followed and about the importance of the chain of command: There was an immediate agreement that this world and especially its sentient inhabitants needed to be saved and that their survival had to be kept a secret. The plan worked beautifully and it was a nice idea to finish the book on that positive note.

The authors touched the question of what it means to be human in interesting ways. There is one part in the book in which Ronon was challenged to face his attitude towards the Wraith I especially liked. Also Teyla got some interesting parts, although not necessarily good ones. The only part I don`t like in the book is the end of most of the Wraith related humans (to keep it simple) on Earth. Triggering a mass killing by singing a specific song was just a too ridiculous idea! Even the authors said that Dr. Lam gave an explanation that Teyla didn`t understand but left it with that. Well, it is one way of pushing the reset button although the authors left the door open because some of these people survived and are hidden somewhere.

Anyway, I am hoping for more interesting SGA stories like this one in future!

Stargate Atlantis: Casualties of War
Stargate Atlantis: Casualties of War
by Elizabeth Christensen
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: 5.69

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Familiar pattern but a good story, 29 Oct 2007
This book has the number 7 and by now I was hoping for something else than another variation of the theme "Stargate Atlantis meets more humanoids at odds with each other on some planet, things get stirred up and it is up to our heroes to bring both sides together so that they can find a way to live in peace." Really, as much as I like this book, this pattern is getting tiresome. Stargate Atlantis has so much more to offer than this!

Nevertheless, I enjoyed reading this book because it uses that plot well. How the conflict is solved was not really that interesting to me. Not that it was not well written but the pattern was a bit too familiar to me by now so that it didn`t offer any surprises. To me, the conflict between the natives on the planet was more background of what was actually really interesting, namely the characterizations of the main characters.

I think this is the first SG Atlantis book in which Weir was allowed to shine. It was rare enough that her skills as a negotiator were shown on TV. In this book I had reason to respect her dedication, her skills and also her bravery combined with a stubbornness I also would have liked to see much more often in the series.

What I also found interesting that I could see her caring and fighting for her people but there has never been a strong, familiar bond between Weir and anybody she worked with, also not with Sheppard. It was very much in character that Sheppard took Weir`s arguments to heart but afterwards discussed the much more personal aspects of his decision not to quit after all with Ronon.

Sheppard was certainly more vulnerable in this book than usual because of his inner struggle if he should resign when he was having doubts because of recent actions and decisions he made. I could understand where he comes from and I could very much feel with him. He was nevertheless the leading character of the book as he is usually in the series. I liked that combination.

I have always been a Ronon fan and the few Ronon episodes are among my favourites. He plays a very important part in this book, not only as an impressive heroic figure but also as a three dimensional person. This is definitely another main reason why I enjoyed this book.

Teyla and Rodney play good parts, too, but they are not the most important characters in this book. I am actually grateful that this book is not as Rodney-heavy as it is usually the case. I prefer it when books focus on some characters than trying to cram something for everybody into a story.

I found "Casualties of War" to be an enjoyable read. Just, please, what about more variety in storytelling!

Stargate Atlantis: Entanglement
Stargate Atlantis: Entanglement
by Martha Wells
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: 5.90

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good book but could be much better, 31 May 2007
This book offers a new twist to the topic of exploring ruins and technology left behind by the Ancients. The Quantum Mirror is a very interesting idea as are the - kind of - mirror Wraith, the Eidolon. I think this idea would also benefit the Stargate Atlantis TV series.

Some parts of the book are impressive. They deal very well with the mutual distrust, the trouble on both sides to work together and understand each other. On the other hand, the book could have been so much better. It suffers from the problem so many ensemble stories have: In spite of some highlights, I would have liked a more detailed, more personal examination of how people actually feel by having to work together and having to fight the Wraith. There is a lot of action going on but I would have preferred more emphasis on characterizations and interactions.

I expected it that the three male Eidolon who helped would be out of the picture very quickly. I regret it that I was so right. I would have expected that the book features Ronon very strongly, but that opportunity was wasted. He was not much more than a background character, which is a real shame considering what the topic of this book is.

I also would have preferred it not to see the Wraith described as "it" again (except maybe the drones) and allow them to show a bit more intelligence as given in this book. The Eidolon Queen manipulated the Wraith MUCH too easily. The book could have been much more interesting if the Wraith leaders would actually have been a challenge, not only as space vampires and thugs but also on an intellectual level. But, of course, it is easier this way to put the climax together and end the book.

I liked the book but unfortunately there is a lot of wasted potential.

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