clinendoll@northshire.com's blog

Lost Japan: Last Glimpse of Beautiful Japan by Alex Kerr - Book Review

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$18.95
ISBN: 9780141979748
Availability: Backordered
Published: Penguin UK - June 2016

This is absolutely a masterpiece. Alex Kerr is considered one of the premier Japanologists in the world today and it is easy to see why. Kerr frames each chapter around an important part of his life in Japan, and then expands to include history, cultural studies, and personal reflections of each subject. While lifting up and celebrating the myriad treasures of Japanese history, Kerr is not shy about lamenting the loss of the important cultural artifacts that is currently happening in the modern world. Lost Japan provides a deeper look at Japanese life than most American books cover, forsaking the oft-discussed big cities and salary-man culture in reverence of a more traditional, mindful way of living that is quickly evaporating. A must-read. ~ Reviewed by Chris Linendoll


A Geek in Japan: Discovering the Land of Manga, Anime, Zen, and the Tea Ceremony (Revised and Expanded with New Topics) by Hector Garcia - Book Review

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A Geek in Japan: Discovering the Land of Manga, Anime, Zen, and the Tea Ceremony (Revised and Expanded with New Topics) Cover Image
$18.99
ISBN: 9784805313916
Availability: Click Title for IN STOCK Location
Published: Tuttle Publishing - June 25th, 2019

A fun and casual look at the modern "geek culture" of Japan. Featuring plenty of photos, and easy to read passages, this is accessible to everyone who has ever wanted to visit. Every facet of geekdom is celebrated here, along with tips for travelers hoping to experience these wonders on their own. A perfect companion to more traditional travel guides. ~ Reviewed by Chris Linendoll


The Bridegroom Was a Dog (New Directions Pearls) by Yoko Tawada - Book Review

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By Yoko Tawada, Margaret Mitsutani (Translator)
$10.95
ISBN: 9780811220378
Availability: Click Title for IN STOCK Location
Published: New Directions Publishing Corporation - November 27th, 2012

This slim little novella is a quick read, but not quickly dismissed. An odd, quirky tale of a schoolteacher and her new companion, I'm still unsure of what exactly happened. But I know I liked it. ~ Reviewed by Chris Linendoll


Blood, Sweat, and Pixels: The Triumphant, Turbulent Stories Behind How Video Games Are Made by Jason Schreier - Book Review

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$16.99
ISBN: 9780062651235
Availability: Click Title for IN STOCK Location
Published: Harper Paperbacks - September 5th, 2017

Videogame development has often been described as a hellscape of dark rooms, tight deadlines, low pay, and lost social lives. The men and women (mostly men, sadly) in the trenches however, often say there's nothing else they'd rather be doing. Creating a game is an art form for the 21st century, turning 0s and 1s into sweeping epics that can rival the emotional impact of any Hollywood blockbuster. 

In Blood, Sweat, and Pixels:The Triumphant, Turbulent Stories Behind How Video Games Are Made Jason Schreier , editor of games journalism site Kotaku dives deep into the development cycles of several major games of the past decade, bringing to light the very human stories behind these ground-breaking games.

Hardships are endured during nearly every game's development, often including mind-crushing periods of "crunch" often involving 100+ hour work weeks. One developer tells Schreier early on that "it's a miracle that ANY game gets made" and after following the ups and downs, often over a period of years of development, that becomes abundantly clear here. Egos are bruised, employees are fired, and things go "back the drawing board" so often that it is likely to give you whiplash.

During the development of "Destiny", a science fiction shooter from the makers of the best-selling "Halo" series, one executive tells media that it's lore and cultural impact will rival that of the Lord of the Rings, or Star Wars. Only weeks later though, the entire story is rebooted and patched together by the team after internal testing find its plot line confusing and, even worse, boring.

Another chapter follows the years long creation of farming simulator "Stardew Valley" which started as a one-man developed love letter to classic Nintendo series Harvest Moon, but quickly grew into nearly a decade of seclusion and financial strain for its programmer. All is rewarded in the end though, as Stardew Valley achieves mega success and near-overnight millions for the developer.

Not all stories end well here, as is often the case in videogames. LucasArts, the now-defunct game development arm of Lucasfilm, was hard at work on a game titled Star Wars 1313, which was revealed to the public in a massively successful demo at industry trade show E3 2012. Sadly, the game was ultimately cut, as was the entirety of LucasArts after Disney purchased Lucasfilm in 2013.

Hundreds of talented artists and programmers were suddenly without jobs or insurance. This was not an isolated incident. Recently, several movements to unionize this industry have gained traction, as major development houses and publishers cut jobs across the board. Schreier's warts-and-all look at the industry is a welcome look behind the curtain, and ultimately, and crucial document into the necessity of protecting the often young and hungry people in the games industry. A must-read for anyone interested in gaming, digital production, or behind the scenes looks at an often secretive industry. ~ Reviewed by Chris Linendoll


Get It Together!: An Interior Designer's Guide to Creating Your Best Life by Orlando Soria - Book Review

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$39.95
ISBN: 9783791383705
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Prestel - April 17th, 2018

I LOVE THIS BOOK!!!! Seriously, this should be required reading for everyone looking to make a house into a home. Orlando Soria is the fabulous design wizard we all want in our lives, but most of us are sorely lacking. This book is not only a fantastic resource design, but it is LAUGH OUT LOUD funny. This is wonderful for fans or Queer Eye, or those who wish HGTV was a little more fun. ~ Reviewed by Chris Linendoll


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