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~Review~ Super Mario: How Nintendo Conquered America by Jeff Ryan

Book: Super Mario: How Nintendo Conquered America

Author: Jeff Ryan

Publisher: Portfolio

Expected Publication Date:  August 4th, 2011

Source: Advanced Readers Galley through Netgalley.com

Star Rating: 4 out of 5

I thoroughly enjoyed this little romp through Nintendo history. I had learned that they had a greater and more diverse history than just Mario and video games but I hadn’t really paid attention. It was cool to sort of get an inside look on how games like Donkey Kong, Mario, Zelda and all the other staples we are aware of came about. Learning about the evolution of the game systems Nintendo as gone through to get to where we are now is fascinating. You also learn about the rivalries between the other gaming companies and how that has made Nintendo better or in maybe some cases worse. How Mario used to be Jumpman and the Princess was named Pauline? Why Yoshi came about?

I was a little amazed to not see Goldeneye referenced when Ryan was talking about the N64 system (and if it was, it was in such a passing manner that I can’t recall it). I understand this was a book more geared toward Mario and his Renaissance appearances as a plumber, doctor, race car driver and the like. But to not mention Goldeneye especially when you focus some quality time on Rare was almost astounding. Goldeneye on the N64 was what got me back into wanting to play video games from the few times I tried rather unsuccessfully to conquer Super Mario Bros on the SNES or the hours I spent trying to get Jumpman to save the Princess in Donkey Kong as a child.

Either way this is a perfect book for any Super Mario lover or someone just interested in gaming history. I certainly learned a lot in the process of reading the book and now look at Mario and even Nintendo in a different light.

I will leave you with credit song from the semi-popular Super Mario Brothers Super Show…are you ready to “Do the Mario?”

Random Fact: The guy playing Mario is a former wrestler Capt. Lou Albano


~Review~ Malled – Caitlin Kelly

Book: Malled: My Unintentional Career in Retail

Author: Caitlin Kelly

Publisher: Portfolio Hardcover

Date To Be Published: April 14th, 2011

Source: Uncorrected galley from netgalley.com

Star Rating: 4 out of 5

This was an interesting read about the trials and tribulations of not just one women but many people trying to make it in the dog-eat-dog world of retail during the recession. Caitlin Kelly fed up with the lack of writing gigs coming her way decides to head for the comfort of a job working part-time at The North Face ready for a steady paycheck.

Kelly’s experiences really helped to show just how much we forget all the hard work for very little the people behind the cash wrap go through just to make a paycheck. She talks about crowded storerooms, inadequate lightning, space, equipment and people that happens not only in her store but retail environments everywhere and really makes you feel it, even if you have never experienced it before. All this frustrates her because how are you to create positive shopping environment when you can’t quickly get to the product or so short-staffed you only have a short time to dedicate to the customer.

Kelly also peppers the book with interesting facts covering all aspects in the retail world; from tidbits about working conditions in many stores, discusses the turnover rate compared to pay, frustrations stemming from the recession and many more. Every fact she brings up really helps to bring home the fact that the ones who serve us behind the counter are often giving the short end of the stick, they help make our world go round.

I am only too familiar with the retail world although unlike Kelly I could only handle it for no more than a few weeks. I just hated being just a cog in the machine, the second I clipped on my name tag and strolled through the aisles I just felt my identity slipping away. Kelly first enjoyed it but soon it just started dragging her down. The environments retailers often create are just not one that creates a positive mental vibe. From both my experience and from reading her book I feel like I am more contentious of how I am treating the person behind the cash register or roaming the aisles. Even if for just a brief period I want to help brighten their dull day, most of them I know don’t really want to be there but it is all they can get to help support their families.

This book may not be for anyone but if you want a little expose on the knitty-gritty of the retail world, pick up this book. Kelly presents her frustrations in a way that never feels like she is just a whiney but truly wanting to express her feelings. This book would be great for a business major or anybody interesting in how every piece of a business works especially those who own or manage a place of business. Even though this book shows the dirtier side of working retail it could even be beneficial for a recent high school grade or even their parents.  I can only hope that some sort of lesson can be taken from this book that can help us work on creating a safer, happier and less detached working environment.