Review: Super Mario: How Nintendo Conquered America by Jeff Martin

Super Mario: How Nintendo Conquered America by Jeff Ryan: Book CoverSuper Mario: How Nintendo Conquered America by Jeff Ryan

            • Pub. Date: August 2011
            • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
            • Format: Hardcover , 304pp
            • Sales Rank: 120,838
The story of Nintendo’s rise and the beloved icon who made it possible.

Nintendo has continually set the standard for video-game innovation in America, starting in 1981 with a plucky hero who jumped over barrels to save a girl from an ape.

The saga of Mario, the portly plumber who became the most successful franchise in the history of gaming, has plot twists worthy of a video game. Jeff Ryan shares the story of how this quintessentially Japanese company found success in the American market. Lawsuits, Hollywood, die- hard fans, and face-offs with Sony and Microsoft are all part of the drama.

Find out about:

• Mario’s eccentric yet brilliant creator, Shigeru Miyamoto, who was tapped for the job because was considered expendable.

• Minoru Arakawa, the son-in-law of Nintendo’s imperious president, who bumbled his way to success. 
• The unexpected approach that allowed Nintendo to reinvent itself as the gaming system for the non-gamer, especially now with the Wii Even those who can’t tell a Koopa from a Goomba will find this a fascinating story of striving, comeuppance, and redemption.

David’s Thoughts:

The Super Mario Bros. franchise is by far the most popular video game franchise with over 240 million games sold. So how did Nintendo, originally a trading card company, create a best-selling game about a plumber? In this book, the author, Jeff Ryan, walks the reader through each stage of Nintendo’s development of Mario, from arcade games to the Wii console. He talks about the decisions made by Nintendo while creating each new game, and how competing companies responded.

As an avid video gamer, I found this to be an interesting and fun read. There are lots of “Wow! Really?”, facts about the video game industry. The writing is clear and easy to read. There’s very little techno-babble or corporate legal discussion that would put off a casual reader. The only problem I had with this book is that the other seems to be too big a fan of Nintendo and readily put down other companies. While I understand that he wouldn’t have written the book if he was a fan, I was looking for a bit more impartiality.

Overall, a good read that highlights not only the video game industry, but says a lot about what people, as a culture, look for in our entertainment.

David’s Rating:


3 Penguins – would give 3.5 if there were half a penguin

Review: Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins

Hex Hall (Hex Hall Series #1) by Rachel Hawkins: Book CoverHex Hall by Rachel Hawkins 

            • Pub. Date: February 2011
            • Publisher: Hyperion Books for Children
            • Format: Paperback , 352pp
            • Sales Rank: 17,715

Three years ago, Sophie Mercer discovered that she was a witch. It’s gotten her into a few scrapes. Her non-gifted mother has been as supportive as possible, consulting Sophie’s estranged father—an elusive European warlock—only when necessary. But when Sophie attracts too much human attention for a prom-night spell gone horribly wrong, it’s her dad who decides her punishment: exile to Hex Hall, an isolated reform school for wayward Prodigium, a.k.a. witches, faeries, and shapeshifters.

By the end of her first day among fellow freak-teens, Sophie has quite a scorecard: three powerful enemies who look like supermodels, a futile crush on a gorgeous warlock, a creepy tagalong ghost, and a new roommate who happens to be the most hated person and only vampire on campus. Worse, Sophie soon learns that a mysterious predator has been attacking students, and her only friend is the number-one suspect.

As a series of blood-curdling mysteries starts to converge, Sophie prepares for the biggest threat of all: an ancient secret society determined to destroy all Prodigium, especially her.

My Thoughts:

Rachel Hawkins created a story that is something that almost every teen can relate too and that is being different and not really understanding who you are and where you fit.  I really enjoyed the fact that the spell Sophie cast to arrive at Hex Hall was really one that she thought was going to help someone and make her fit in some place, not easy for a witch to do. After moving around so much, one might think that Sophie would be happy to be in one place but yet again she just doesn’t fit in. It is here at Hex Hall that she finally learns who her father really is and that only makes her even more different than the other students.  Not only is she a black witch but her father is the head of the Council, that sentenced every student to this school until they are eighteen, including Sophie’s roommate, who is even more of an outcast because she is a vampire.  The other black witches try to get Sophie to join their coven, but she wants nothing to do with it.  When Sophie finds one of these girls almost dead, all fingers point to her new roommate.  Sophie is determined to clear her friend.  Sophie is going to learn a lot more than she excepts before she solves this mystery and might get her heart broken along the way.

For me, this book started a bit slow but then it picked right up and I could not put it down.  I can remember times when I was a teen that I felt just like Sophie so it was very interesting for me to see how she was going to work some of her issues out and how she would handle the truth about what she really is.  Rachel Hawkins did a wonderful job with creating a story that plays with your emotions and keep you guessing from chapter to chapter.  My favorite single scene in Hex Hall  was when Sophie is trying to use magic to make her All Hallows dress and it keeps turning out horrible .  It made me laugh out loud.

My Rating:

4 Penguins.  I wish I was using half ratings though as it would be 4.5.  The only real reason why is that the story started slow for me.  That doesn’t mean it will be the same for you so check it out!


Review: That Summer by Sarah Dessen

That Summer by Sarah Dessen: Book CoverThat Summer by Sarah Dessen

            • Pub. Date: May 2004
            • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
            • Format: Paperback , 224pp
            • Sales Rank: 23,649
            • Age Range: Young Adult
            • Source: RAK Gift
            • ISBN-13: 9780142401729
 That Summer Synopsis:

For fifteen-year-old Haven, life is changing too quickly. She’s nearly six feet tall, her father is getting remarried, and her sister&150the always perfect Ashley&150is planning a wedding of her own. Haven wishes things could just go back to the way they were. Then an old boyfriend of Ashley’s reenters the picture, and through him, Haven sees the past for what it really was, and comes to grips with the future.


During the summer of her divorced father’s remarriage and her sister’s wedding, fifteen-year-old Haven comes into her own by letting go of the myths of the past.
My Thoughts:
I love Sarah Dessen’s writing style and how she communicates the message of the book.  As with previous books that I have read by Sarah Dessen, That Summer meet the expectations I have for this author.  A story about a girl, Haven, who is too tall in her opinion and everything in her life is changing and she doesn’t know how to deal with it.  It is hard to imagine that one girl could go through so many changes in one short summer, her dad is getting remarried to the Weather Pet, who broke up her parent’s marriage, her older sister is also getting married, she keeps growing taller and taller and her best friend comes back from 4-H camp a changed person who Haven can’t seem to relate too.  In this middle of all of this, Haven runs into one of her sister’s ex-boyfriends, Sumner.  Haven always liked him the best and he seems to always be there for her just when she needs him.
This is a great story about too much change in a short amount of time and how to come to terms with us.  I think everyone beyond this age looks back and knows the exactly period of time when their life changed from being that young teen/adult to facing the real world and all of the challenges that go along with it.  It was great to see Haven grow and her self realizations change as the story moves along.  This is a great book for a teen who has lots going on in their life.  Or anyone who went through it.  It made me think about this time in my own life and how I dealt with it.
My Rating