BY SEAN CLARK

[In this feature, we highlight a handful of the best book reviews appearing over the weekend in major newspapers.]

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Super Mario: How Nintendo Conquered America, by Jeff Ryan. Reviewed by Michael Thomsen (Barnes and Noble Review).

My Nintendo stock is worth a bit less than it was in 2007, just after the sometimes-juggernaut launched the Wii. Sort of like Apple, Nintendo found themselves on the fringe a few years back before making a resurgence, and exist behind the face of an everyman. But while Apple’s jeans-wearing Jobs remains a relatively unlikeable tech magnate, everyone who knows the face of Nintendo (Shigeru Miyamoto) loves the smiley little guy. (He was even knighted in France.) Also unlike Jobs, he doesn’t run the company; despite his fame he just makes and plays games like some sort of video game Willy Wonka. I like that he’s the focus of this review and hopefully the book, which I’ll be giving a read.

[Get the book]

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The Magician King, by Lev Grossman. Reviewed by Cory Doctorow (Boing Boing).

Here’s the sequel to The Magicians, one of my honorable mentions for Best Books 2009–and a book that probably didn’t need a sequel. Still, if you liked the first, this book continues its quest to be the anti-Harry Potter, and it’s worth a read. My own review will be up later today, but Cory Doctorow had a similar reaction to me that I thought I would share. Alternatively, Paul DeFillipo over at Salon (via B&N Review) saw things a little differently.

[Get the book]

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Ready Player One, by Ernest Cline. Reviewed by Janet Maslin (New York Times).

It seems everyone’s really excited about this book. I couldn’t be more skeptical. A novel jam-packed with as obscure references to video games and 80’s pop-culture, so only a dork like me could truly appreciate it… that sounds like the kind of novel idea I would’ve had as a stoned undergrad. And Maslin, though she seemed to enjoy the book, does little to assuage my fear that there’s too much gimmick and not enough meat here. I’m sure we’ll have a C4 review of this in the very near future, so stay tuned I guess.

[Get the book]

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UnderDogs, by Markus Zusak. Reviewed by Susan Carpenter (Los Angeles Times).

I really loved Zusak’s The Book Thief, a 2006 YA novel set in Nazi Germany. I constantly recommend it to people. UnderDogs is a collection of Zusak’s three novels prior to The Book Thief. It’s a shame it took the success of that book to get attention to these, because this three-volume Australian family drama sounds like it holds its own just fine. Zusak is a tremendous talent who deserves more attention.

[Get the book]

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Quickly: Brad Thor, Patriot with a Pen” is a link I just had to click (awesome name).

Bonus Book Trailer: This week I’ve actually got a good one; one that does a pretty good job of representing its book. I just finished listening to the Victory Chimp audiobook, and once I’m able to wrap my head around it, I’ll have a review up. In the meantime here’s the trailer, the result of a fan video contest.

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