Sunday, April 30, 2006

It's here!

Happy Walpurgisnacht, gentle readers! And happy Freinacht, gentle readers in Bavaria! Happy Valpurzina noc, gentle readers in the Czech Republic! And happy various-other-holidays-that-I-can-neither-spell-nor-pronounce, gentle readers in other countries in Eastern Europe! I hope you're all partying like it's 1999!

Although you should be careful--while naturally you'll enjoy celebrating a holiday with such a rich literary tradition, you might want to re-assure your neighbors that you're not Satanists (the Church of Satan was established on this date in 1966).

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Walpurgis Part V

Aaaaaand, last but not least, there are two scenes in Goethe's Faust named after Walpurgisnacht.

A little bonus trivia: my mother once gave me copy of Goethe's The Sorrows of Young Werther--I think it was for an Easter present. (My mom is like that.) Anyway, she told me that it was the one novel that had inspired more suicides than any other. Does anyone have any statistics to back this up? E-mail me! Also... do you think my mother was trying to tell me something?


Friday, April 28, 2006

Hee. Hee hee hee...

Variety is reporting that Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie are considering starring in a film version of Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged.

Excuse me--I'll be in the next room, laughing my ass off.

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Walpurgis Part IV thought I was done, didn't you?

The second act of Edward Albee's play Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?* is called "Walpurgisnacht".

*Completely and totally not Wordcandy-approved. Makes The Master and Margarita look like Fluffy Bunny Goes to the Mall.


Thursday, April 27, 2006

Moving out...

Well, I am finally back from my long weekend of checking out our nation's capital for possible areas to live. Yes--in just a few short months I am going to pack everything up and move to Washington, D.C. I am super excited about a new city... but I am so not into the actual packing and moving thing. (You can just imagine how many boxes of books I have.) Luckily Julia & Nathan are coming out to help me with the move! Right, guys? Right?

One of the best resources that I found is the Newcomer's Handbooks. This series has great descriptions of the various neighborhoods in the city and the surrounding areas. These books have been really helpful in narrowing down the parts of town I might want to live in (and the parts of town that I will never be able to afford). Plus, they're a great resource for accomplishing all those pesky little chores that are associated with moving, like hooking up utilities, getting a new licence, finding a doctor or vet, volunteer opportunities--that kind of thing. I would recommend these books to anyone who is thinking about moving to any of the cities they have covered. They're a great starting tool.

Also, if you know anyone who is moving to a new city due to a new job or maybe graduating from college, check out their publisher's "Welcome Packages". These come with a copy of the Newcomer's Handbook for that city and various other resources, like a Zagat Restaurant guide and city map. (Plus they stick in some cookies and candy to munch on while you freak out over the expense of moving.)


Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Walpurgis Part III

Aaaaand in Mikhail Bulgakov's The Master and Margarita*, there's a scene where Margarita goes to Satan's Walpurgis Ball...

*Good book. Not Wordcandy-approved.


Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Walpurgis Part II

J. K. Rowling once mentioned in an interview that the original name for the Death Eaters was going to be the "Knights of Walpurgis". Frankly, I think "Knights of Walpurgis" sounds a lot less dorky than "Death Eaters", but I'm sure Ms. Rowling had her reasons. (Maybe she thought that Saint Walburga might object to the use of her name...?)

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Sunday, April 23, 2006

Walpurgis Night!

The very Wordcandy-worthy holiday "Walpurgis" is coming up this week (the night of April 30th). Walpurgis Night celebrations in Finland are marked by the publication of two humor magazines: Apy and Julkku. (Both of these magazines are apparently totally tasteless.) Julkku is released as a standard magazine, while Apy is famous for its gimmick format--it's been printed on toilet paper and bedsheets, stuffed into milk cartons and sardine cans, and shaped like a cell phone.

Below--another fine Walpurgis tradition: biiiiiig fires!


Saturday, April 22, 2006

Why have an Easter egg hunt when you can read a book called Men Who Hate Women?

Newsflash: Norwegians are an unusual bunch. Check out this article on their tradition of reading mystery/crime novels during Easter Week.


Okay! As soon as my bank balance recovers from my last vacation, I'm off to Amherst, MA.

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Friday, April 21, 2006

Wordcandy weekly book snippet

Excerpt from:
Kitty and the Midnight Hour, by Carrie Vaughn

Why you should buy a copy of your very own:

The wry, funny, werewolf heroine, who starts off the book as a lowly pack member and finishes it as a kicker of ass and taker of names.

In this scene...

Kitty Norville is a late-night D.J. whose radio show has turned into a call-in therapy center for supernatural beings and the humans who love them too much.

'"Next caller, hello. You're on the air."

"It-it's my girlfriend. She won't bite me."

Bobby from St. Louis sounded about twenty, boyish and nervous. A gawky post-adolescent with bigger fantasies than he knew what to do with. He probably wore a black leather jacket and had at least one tattoo--in a place he could cover with a shirt.

"Okay, Bobby, let's back up a little. Your girlfriend."


"Your girlfriend is a werewolf."

"Yeah," he said in a voice gone slightly dreamy.

"And you want her to bite you and infect you with lycanthropy."

"Uh, yeah. She says I don't know what I'd be getting into."

"Do you think that she may be right?"

"Well, it's my decision--"

"Would you force her to have sex with you Bobby?"

"No! That'd be rape."

"Then don't force her to do this. Just imagine how guilty she'd feel if she did it and you changed your mind afterward. This isn't a tattoo you can have lasered off. We're talking about an entire lifestyle change here. Turning into a bloodthirsty animal once a month, hiding that fact from everyone around you, trying to lead a normal life when you're not even human. Have you met her pack?"

"Uh, no."

"Then you really don't know what you're talking about when you say you want to be a werewolf."

"Uh, no."

"Bobby, I usually make suggestions rather than tell people flat out what to do, but I'm making an exception in your case. Listen to your girlfriend. She knows a heck of a lot more about it than you do, okay?"

"Uh, okay. Thanks, Kitty."

"Good luck to you, Bobby," I said, and clicked Bobby off. "And good luck to Bobby's girlfriend. My advice to her is dump the guy, she doesn't need that kind of stress in her life. You're listening to 'The Midnight Hour' with me, Kitty Norville. The last hour we've been discussing relationships with lycanthropes, bones to pick and beef to grind. Let's break now for station ID and when we come back, more calls."'

(c)Carrie Vaughn, 2005

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Thursday, April 20, 2006

Double Ugh.

Yesterday's post lead to a staff discussion of other books that we are too creeped out by to review. (Look--we're delicate, okay?) There's actually a fair number of them, including, but not limited to:

Henry James's The Turn of the Screw:

Ira Levin's Rosemary's Baby:

...and, of course, pretty much everything Shirley Jackson has ever written:

Look, these are all good books... but read them at your own risk. And, hey--if you're brave enough to want to spend a lot of time with these characters in your head, and you think you'd like to review these books for us, please, please, feel free to do so!

Tuesday, April 18, 2006


It was bound to happen, I suppose.

It was announced this week that Russell Crowe will be starring in an upcoming film version of Robert Cormier's novel Tenderness. Admittedly, Cormier is a gifted writer, and I've been asked why we haven't included him in Wordcandy. I would, but... well, I read Tenderness quite a while ago, but it's still lurking around in the back of my brain. (It's hanging out with all of the other freaky books that I've read and then wished that I hadn't, like Stephen King's IT and all three Hannibal Lecter stories.)

P.S. I won't be seeing this movie, either.

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Cover Art

We all know how obsessed with cover art I am. I really think that good cover art can help sell a book, particularly if it's a book by a relatively new author. If their cover doesn't stand out on the shelf, then they will never attract an audience.

This is why I really love the adult-oriented designs for the UK versions of the Harry Potter series. These are covers that totally allow adults who have a "But it's a children's book!" issue to get over it.

I also found these, although I am unsure where they are from or if they are actual published covers. The author's name on these makes me wonder, since I've never seen Rowling's full name written out like that before. Maybe fan art...?

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Monday, April 17, 2006

Why, Wendelin Van Draanen? WHY?!?

I regret to report that Wendelin Van Draanen has confirmed rumors that there is, in fact, going to be a Sammy Keyes movie.

All we can hope for now is that she didn't sell the rights to Disney....

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Saturday, April 15, 2006

We'll be taking a brief break for Easter weekend...

...but we thought we'd leave you with this creeptastic Easter book cover. Donnie Darko aside, have you ever seen a more malevolent-looking bunny?


Friday, April 14, 2006

Wordcandy loves Shel Silverstein's poetry

-Shel Silverstein

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Thursday, April 13, 2006

Guilty Pleasures

No, this post is not another Laurell K. Hamilton bashing post (although after her last book it really should be--it sucked, Laurell!). Today we are talking about those books that you love in spite of themselves--books that, though you might not be inclined to admit it, are total comfort reading.

My personal guilty pleasure is the book Nobody's Baby But Mine by Susan Elizabeth Phillips. I know the plot of this book is bad... really bad. Dr. Jane Darlington, a genius physicist, realizes on her 34th birthday that she desperately wants a child. Sperm banks are not an option because they tend to be stocked with smart sperm, which would result in a freakishly smart child. She just can't do that to her unborn baby (she was tormented by her own abnormal intelligence as a child) so she decides to find a stupid man to be her 'donor'. Where better for her to look but to Chicago Stars quarterback Cal Bonner? Then there's this plan that involves her posing as a high class prostitute and tampering with a condom to get her baby. (Super classy!) But then, of course, we get to the forced marriage, hillbilly grandmother, Lucky Charms tampering, shotguns and so, so much more.

So I know that this plot is absurd, leaning more toward "Who would ever admit to reading this, let along liking it?", but I don't care--it's absolutely hilarious. It is the one book on my shelf that I routinely read at least once a year and still enjoy.

Now that I have admitted my personal guilty pleasure, I would love to hear about yours. Come on, I know you all have one!


Wednesday, April 12, 2006

They're always telling us to buy classic pieces, right?

Behold, the Babysitters' Club punk rock tee!

Here it is in action:

Aaaaand here's a close-up:

This t-shirtly gem (obviously an important addition to any girl's wardrobe) is the product of the Cat and Girl creator and is available here.

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Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Wordcandy weekly book snippet

Excerpt from:
The Princess Bride, by William Goldman

Why you should buy a copy of your very own:
Dude. The subtitle is "A Hot Fairytale". What's not to love?

In this scene...
Goldman is giving us a little history.

"The year Buttercup was born, the most beautiful woman in the world was a French scullery maid named Annette. Annette worked in Paris for the Duke and Duchess de Guiche, and it did not escape the Duke's notice that someone extraordinary was polishing the pewter. The Duke's notice did not escape the notice of the Duchess either, who was not very beautiful and not very rich, but plenty smart. The Duchess set about studying Annette and shortly found her adversary's tragic flaw.


Armed now, the Duchess set to work. The Palace de Guiche turned into a candy castle. Everywhere you looked, bonbons. There were piles of chocolate-covered mints in the drawing rooms, baskets of chocolate-covered nougats in the parlors.

Annette never had a chance. Inside a season, she went from delicate to whopping, and the Duke never glanced in her direction without sad bewilderment clouding his eyes. (Annette, it might be noted, seemed only cheerier throughout her enlargement. She eventually married the pastry chef and they both ate a lot until old age claimed them. Things, it might also be noted, did not fare so cheerily for the Duchess. The Duke, for reasons passing understanding, next became smitten with his own mother-in-law, which caused the Duchess ulcers, only they didn't have ulcers yet. More precisely, ulcers existed, people had them, but they weren't called "ulcers". The medical profession at the time called them "stomach pains" and felt that the best cure was coffee dolloped with brandy twice a day until the pains subsided. The Duchess took her mixture faithfully, watching through the years as her husband and her mother blew kisses at each other behind her back. Not surprisingly, the Duchess's grumpiness became legendary, as Voltaire has so ably chronicled. Except this was before Voltaire.)"

(c)William Goldman, 1973

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Monday, April 10, 2006

Crack the Code...

So it seems that while we were off in New York, author Dan Brown won his legal battle with a copyright suit in London's High Courts. Having only read Mr. Brown's book, I can't really comment on the plagiarism charges--but I can offer a fun puzzle site for those of you who have read The DaVinci Code. The website for the book has its very own "Web Quest" that you can explore. Happy hunting!

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We're back!

Hi, everybody! We're back from New York (and, as predicted, totally broke). On a truly book-geeky trip to the New York Public Library, we picked up a copy of this book in the gift shop:

Alia's Mission , by Mark Alan Stamaty, is the true story of Alia Muhammad Baker, who saved 30,000 books from Iraq's Central Library of Basra (almost seventy percent of the library's collection) before the building was destroyed by fire nine days after the British invaded. Weeks before war broke out, Baker went to the government for help, which was denied without explanation. Baker began smuggling books into her house and eventually enlisted the help of various friends and neighbors, some of whom weren't even literate. Alia's Mission, which is told in graphic novel format, would make a beautiful present for any bibliophile. It's a great book.

Note: Another excellent version of Baker's story has been told in The Librarian of Basra, by Jeanette Winter.


Thursday, April 06, 2006

Out to lunch

The Wordcandy staff is going to be on vacation for the next few days. Julia, Nathan and Meg are meeting up in New York for a long weekend. Lots of book shopping, art and music are on the agenda. We will be back Monday, totally broke but with lots of new stuff to add to the blog. Have a great weekend!


Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Wordcandy weekly book snippet

Excerpt from:
Bet Me, by Jennifer Crusie

Why you should buy a copy of your very own:
Because you should buy a copy of every Jenny Crusie book that you can get your little hands on, obviously.

In this scene...
Min Dobbs is in the process of being dumped by her yuppie scum boyfriend. She's not exactly torn up about being dumped (she's well aware that he's yuppie scum), but she is mad as hell about the fact that now she won't have a date to her sister's wedding, and her mother is gonna kill her if she shows up without an escort.

'"I'm sorry, Min," David said, clearly not.

Min crossed her arms over her gray-checked suit jacket so she wouldn't smack him. "This is because I won't go home with you tonight? It's Wednesday. I have to work tomorrow. You have to work tomorrow. I paid for my own drink."

"It's not that." David looked noble and wounded as only the tall, dark, and self-righteous could. "You're not making any effort to make our relationship work, which means..."

Which means we've been dating for two months and I still won't sleep with you. Min tuned him out and looked around the babbling crowd. If I had an untraceable poison, I could drop it in his drink now and none of these suits would notice.

"...and I do think, if we have any future, that you should contribute too," David said.

Oh, I don't, Min thought, which meant that David had a point. Still, lack of sex was no excuse for dumping her three weeks before she had to wear a maid-of-honor dress that made her look like a fat, demented shepherdess. "Of course we have a future, David," she said, trying to put her anger on ice. "We have plans. Diana is getting married in three weeks. You're invited to the wedding. To the rehearsal dinner. To the bachelor party. You're going to miss the stripper, David."

"Is that all you think of me?" David's voice went up. "I'm just a date to your sister's wedding?"

"Of course not," Min said. "Just as I'm sure I'm more to you than somebody to sleep with."

David opened his mouth and closed it again. "Well, of course."'

(c)Jennifer Cruise, 2004

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Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Wordcandy Loves DIY Projects!

We here are Wordcandy are huge proponents of the Do It Yourshelf (DIY) movement. It might have something to do with our love of design, or the fact we think good design should be available to everyone... but most likely it's because of the fact that our income levels are just above that of the average college student.

The Washington Post Express did a great article this weekend on DIY books about giving your old T-shirts a new life.

They mentioned a couple of books that would be a great resource for getting started. Generation T:108 Ways to Transform a T-Shirt looks to be the best of the bunch. Author Megan Nicolay has a great website that goes along with her recently published book. It has monthly projects for you to try. (I love the idea of having a Tee party with friends to get together and work on your shirts.)

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Monday, April 03, 2006

Excuse me...

...while I laugh my ass off. Behold! The Anita Blake comic book, coming soon:

Apparently Laurell K. Hamilton really likes this artwork. Not that that's much of a shocker- Anita, as anyone who's seen a publicity photo of Hamilton knows, is Hamilton's alter-ego. And it does not comes as a surprise that Laurell K. Hamilton's vision of herself- as a fiery, dark-haired, ass-kicking and name-taking hellcat, tinged with just a wee hint of wistful femininity- is exactly the kind of thing that translates beautifully into cheeseball comic book artwork.

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Sunday, April 02, 2006

A Public Service Announcement

Do not buy this book, because it SUCKS:

Even though my hopes weren't high (thanks to how craptastic Ms. Hamilton's last few novels have been), I was shocked by how bad this book was. It's essentially one long sex-and-whining scene, capped off by a particularly stupid "Anita Does Something Mystical That Even She Does Not Understand" final chapter. Doesn't Hamilton ever get bored with writing this crap? Remember how cool the first few Anita Blake books were? Remember how much fun it was to read Hamilton's blend of erotica and wry comments on the insurance practices of the undead? (Or, in the case of the Merry Gentry books, her blend of erotica and all of that awesome stuff about Unseelie court machinations.) Apparently Hamilton has completely given up that kind of thing in favor of blow-by-blow (sorry) descriptions of her kinkiest sex fantasies. Sure, Micah is the kind of book that might qualify as pure erotica... if it wasn't so excruciatingly boring.

Note: If you, too, are depressed by Laurell K. Hamilton's ever-lowering standards, go check out LKH_lashouts, a livejournal community devoted to Hamilton-related venting.


Saturday, April 01, 2006

Wordcandy loves Roethke's poetry

I Knew a Woman

I knew a woman, lovely in her bones,
When small birds sighed, she would sigh back at them;
Ah, when she moved, she moved more ways than one:
The shapes a bright container can contain!
Of her choice virtues only gods should speak,
Or English poets who grew up on Greek
(I'd have them sing in chorus, cheek to cheek.)

How well her wishes went! She stroked my chin,
She taught me Turn, and Counter-turn, and stand;
She taught me Touch, that undulant white skin:
I nibbled meekly from her proffered hand;
She was the sickle; I, poor I, the rake,
Coming behind her for her pretty sake
(But what prodigious mowing did we make.)

Love likes a gander, and adores a goose:
Her full lips pursed, the errant note to seize;
She played it quick, she played it light and loose;
My eyes, they dazzled at her flowing knees;
Her several parts could keep a pure repose,
Or one hip quiver with a mobile nose
(She moved in circles, and those circles moved.)

Let seed be grass, and grass turn into hay:
I'm martyr to a motion not my own;
What's freedom for? To know eternity.
I swear she cast a shadow white as stone.
But who would count eternity in days?
These old bones live to learn her wanton ways:
(I measure time by how a body sways.)

-Theodore Roethke

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