September mood longs for breezy fall nights

***spoilers possible

This month was EXTREMELY slow because I went on vacation. And contrary to my belief, I found basically zero time to read. I didn’t pack any physical books (except the two for the Goodreads give-away-day) and was reliant on my Kindle, which (of course) died on my long flight. Thus, I only got a few hundred pages into Outlander. Once I reached Germany, I went from one family gathering to another: two weddings, one baptism, grandparents, parents, siblings, and cousins do really take up a lot of time. I don’t want to sound like I am complaining though, I had a wonderful time and really enjoyed my family. Plus, I did get a lot of knitting done – both, mom and sis, joined me on several occasionss, so it became kind of a family affair!

 

Sing, Unburied, Sing (Jesmyn Ward) ♠♠♠♠

73This is a tough book to read. Ward’s way of creating haunting images is extraordinary. Her knack for language really shines through as she tells a sad story of despair. Jesmyn Ward provokingly conveys what it feels like to struggle with your inner demons while facing what life demands of you. Her characters are often lost and helpless. They feel alone despite the fact that they’re surrounded by family. The author tackles concepts like addiction and interdependency in a too-real fashion that makes you want to shake the characters until they wake up and face the facts. This book was slow-going for me as I often felt overwhelmed and lost myself. As I said in my Goodreads review, I think this novel will become a classic one day, and with her nomination for a National Book Award, the author is well on her way.

 

It (Stephen King) ♠♠♠♠♠

74Well, hot diggety. This book blew my mind. Stephen King is an underappreciated wizard of words. He slays with language. He creates and takes away. This is a very long novel but yet it didn’t feel that way. I know people often complain that he is wordy and has plot points that are completely irrelevant to the story, but I’d argue that those are what make the book. These interludes and tangents force you to get to know the main characters and that became really important for It. His character development in this book was simply genius. He believably conveys what it means to grow up in a town like Derry, the importance it takes to have friends when you feel hopeless, how puppy-love can turn into so much more, and how ignorance is sometimes the best solution. He spins a tale that is frighteningly fascinating, a villain that you want to hate but can’t, and a feverish need to remember what was so easy to forget. And you, the reader, are along for the ride. You meet The Losers when they were young and you get to know them again as adults. The story is frantic, doused in chaos, and full of twists and turns, and yet you always know where you are and what’s going on. This is a slow read, one to savor, with lots of pauses but it never feels that way. My heart was pounding at times, I gasped on several occasions, and yes, at times I was scared like a little kid. King’s dedication of this book to his children was perfectly fitting and really captures the essence of It.

 

Select (Marit Weisenberg) ♠♠♠

75

This book felt immature and parts of the story were just not believable. Marit Weisenberg shows promise as a writer and her ideas have potential. I am expecting more to come as she grows in her profession. Don’t get me wrong, this is a decent series and I will probably read sequels. I enjoyed the characters and the premise. It just was missing something, the important je-ne-sais-quoi, the thing that takes a good novel over the top and makes it great. Fingers crossed the author will get there in the future.

 

 

The Heart is a Lonely Hunter (Carson McCullers) ♠♠♠♠

76The best description for this books is ‘language over content’. This is right up my alley. I loved Carson McCullers writing. It was beautiful, imaginative, interesting, and quirky. She is capable of making the mundane special. There is no real plot here but there is no need for it. Her characters are what carry the story. You will laugh with them, cry with them, hurt with them, grow with them. You will question their motives and you will praise their courage. You will wonder why and then go ‘ah, I see’. This is not a feel-good piece of work. This is a critical view on 1930s American small town society. You should read it because your life will be better for it. Also, I adore this cover!

 

Kinderland (Mawil) ♠♠♠♠♠

77Guys, I couldn’t be more excited about having found this book. This was like a walk down memory lane IN GRAPHIC NOVEL FORM. I found myself in Berlin in this eclectic comic book store – Modern Graphics (side note, you should check it out if you ever find yourself on Oranienstrasse). I had a fun conversation with one of the clerks there about our mutual admiration of Neil Gaiman until I asked him to recommend a local Berlin author – and here he led me to Mawil. I was immediately drawn into as it is about a young boy growing up in East Berlin, dealing with East German fallacies/idiosyncracies/quirks and the sudden fall of the Berlin wall. I devoured this book and essentially read it in one night. The illustrations are exactly what they should be given the topic. All in all, this is a home-run of a book.

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It’s time for another Dewey’s readathon!

Woohoo!!!! It is readathon month! Dewey’s has been doing an amazing countdown, which I, unfortunately, couldn’t participate in as I spent most of September abroad in Germany. Nevertheless, I am stoked because 1) I love 24-hour readathons and 2) it is Dewey’s 10 year anniversary! And of course, I will be supporting one of my favorite charities again: The East Nashville Hope Exchange. I have to say I was overwhelmed with the monetary (and cookie/snacks, text messages, phone calls, and hanging out with me in coffee shops) support I received during the last readathon in April. It went way beyond my expectations. And I am certain the volunteers at the Hope Exchange appreciated it as well. So, with that said, let’s blow their minds this time! I pledge to donate 10 cents for every page I read. Please feel free to pledge any amount you choose if you feel so inclined 🙂 – let’s use #ichleseblog and @deweysreadathon with our donations (donation button is on the main site towards the bottom right). Alternatively, you could look through their specific wishlist and choose an item or two from there to donate.

My game plan for this readathon is fairly similar to the ones in the past: lots of genres, lots of snacks, my puppies, a coffee shop visit, chit-chats with friends when I get tired, and of course fun bookmarks. I’ve gathered a few new ones since the last readathon and will surely feature them in picture form as they are being used during October 21st. You’ll be able to follow me in the Facebook group, on Twitter (@evilbibliotaph), in the Goodreads group – where I’ll be hosting reading hour #8, and of course on here!

I have NOT narrowed down my TBR for this event, although I have some ideas and I am leaning toward making it spooky themed as I am already participating in the RIP XII readathon and haven’t made as much progress there as I wanted. Here, I thought vacations are for reading and was (yet again) proven wrong. I definitely have enough exciting books to fill 24 hours ranging from classic gothic lit to graphic novels to fantasy adventures to Stephen King-esque horror. Though I started reading the Outlander series and given that the first book alone is 800 pages or so, they would also be good readathon candidates. Ugh, and then there are some of the sci-fi books I’ve been meaning to read and of course my NetGalley ARCs – well jeez, the choices are tough and plentiful! I will make a blog post later with the actual list (once I commit to it! – maybe you can help me 😉 ).

Anyhow, let’s savor this month and get ready for another Dewey’s 24-hour readathon!

Goodreads turns 10!

Well hello there! I guess it’s time for a quick reminder (albeit late) that today is a special day – Goodreads turns 10. In honor of this anniversary, the excellent people at Goodreads encourage everyone to be a book fairy today. They partnered with The Book Fairies for this fun endeavor and declared today to be a #hideabookday.

I did my part. I am currently visiting home (Germany!) and left one book on a train from Berlin to Munich and another at the entrance of a local high school in my hometown. The two books I chose are near and dear to my heart. 21743391_10155827730906388_3993408119708996877_nA Monster Calls utterly wrecked me. I read it in one sitting and basically wept the entire time. It has everything that makes a great story – and if you know me you know I love a good telling about death and how to deal with it. 21463399_10155827730806388_8289167421363250723_nNeverwhere was my second Neil Gaiman read and to date is still my favorite book of his. It’s dark,  sarcastic, imaginative, magical, and sexy.  It has a badass (at times villainous) female warrior and creepy monstrous henchmen. It speaks of friendship, bravery, and loyalty, and it draws you into a world so different from our own.

Sadly, I only could hide two books because I actually had to fly with them, and you know weight restrictions and a girl needing all her clothes doesn’t bode well for taking a bunch of books. I, however, was able to recruit my sister to the cause and she also left books behind in Germany. I love how different our book choices are!

IMG-20171002-WA0005 (1) IMG-20171002-WA0007 IMG-20171002-WA0008

 

Did you participate today? What books did you choose? And why?

RIP XII – it will get spoo(boohoo)ky!

It feels like fall in my neck of the woods. I am sitting here with my morning coffee and getting ready to start another bout of 50-minute reading sprints (*thank you, Facebook reading buddies for this inspiration) and I am really getting excited about the most important season of the year, the spooky season. To add to this, I just discovered the perfect readathon – Readers Imbibing Peril hosted by Heather and Andi. And it is already on its 12th annual repeat!

Of course, I immediately joined. Bear with me as I reason my way through this – all I know so far is that it celebrates the horror, the mystery, the thriller, the supernatural, and the all around dark and mystical genres. I am so in! I also gather that there are several stages of peril, which allows participants to, well, participate as much as they want. There further appears to be a group read (Slade House by David Mitchell) as well as prompts for short stories and movies! It seems that the readathon is mostly celebrated through blogs, thus here I am doing my part.

So how will I go about this, you ask! Looking through my TBR mount (as it is right now, and of course always subject to change), I have plenty of books that fit these categories. Some of them come from NetGalley ARCs, some of them are from my BOTM subscription, and some of them are from the library or procured some other way.  Here are a few (and I am still deciding if they are in fact DARK enough for this):

  • It (Stephen King) disclaimer: I started this one in August 😉
  • The Hangman’s Daughter (Olive Pötzsch)
  • The Blinds (Adam Sternbergh)
  • Select (Marit Weisenberg)
  • A Conjuring of Light (V.E. Schwab)
  • Behind Her Eyes (Sarah Pinborough)
  • Sleeping Giants (Sylvain Neuvel)
  • The Marriage Pact (Michelle Richmond)
  • Final Girls (Riley Sager)
  • Dark Harvest (Norman Partridge)

If you have any must-read suggestions, please do share! There are a few books I have in mind, which I haven’t gotten yet, that I bet will make it on this list – especially some really cool graphic novels I’ve been wanting to delve into.

I will write my updates to this readathon progress here on this blog (and may occasionally post a picture on Instagram #ripxii). I am not yet sure if I will track my daily reading or if I will just have summaries per book. We shall see!

I really hope you will join me in this endeavor! Celebrating the darker side of things is a must in fall!

August brings summer night readings

***spoilers possible

August. Another one for the books 😉 …. I have completed 6 books of varying difficulty levels and lengths – it is only 6 because I have been trying to make my way through Stephen King’s IT … and let me tell ya, that book is kicking my butt. I adore it so much, don’t get me wrong, but it is slow-going for me. I have to put it down way more often than anticipated because with all that imagining and reliving of childhood fears my brain gets fried and my body feels exhausted. Anyhow, the books I did finish were of various successes – obvi Neil Gaiman did not disappoint but unfortunately, others did. Overall, I did surpass my Goodreads Reading Challenge this month – I am currently at 78 books (pledged to read 75 this year) and have, unofficially, set a new goal of 100. That should be possible as I still have 19 more books to read just to fulfill my girls reading club challenge and the Popsugar Reading list. Plus, I figured with Dewey’s 24-hour readathon coming up in October and a bit of traveling in September and November, I should have good stretches of time for reading.

 

Rodrick Rules, Diary of a Wimpy Kid II (Jeff Kinney) ♠♠♠♠♠

65I really like this series a lot and can completely understand how these books speak to younger readers. They’re light-hearted and fun and really emphasize things we find funny at the age of 8 or so (like farts – though in my case I still find that funny today – side note, I once took a Facebook quiz and my mental fart age was 9). While reading this particular book, I found myself laughing out loud a few times and really thought I should unearth my old diaries just to see what kinds of issues I was writing about at that age. In addition, reading this series seems to give me mad points with the two boys I tutor weekly. Hey, in fact, they are the ones lending me the books.

 

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (JK Rowling) ♠♠♠♠♠

66This is still a 5 star read for me, but let me tell you, I was cringing so hard this time around – Harry is just plain unbearable teenage angsty in this book. I guess I grew up. In fact, I found myself relating to Snape quite often – who hasn’t had their heart seriously broken at this point in their life?! Hermione and Neville also stick out in this book – they really grew up and seem to find their way into adulthood quite gracefully. Luna Lovegood, of course, has always been one of my faves and she still is after this re-read. And overall, the dark and gloomy theme just has me all kinds of swooning. Then there is Sirius’ death which made me teary eyed once more. I am looking forward to the next one, which so far has always been my favorite in the series.

 

Ready Player One (Ernest Cline) ♠♠♠ and 1/2♠

67This book was fluff for me, an easy read, a page turner. I had expected a bit more to be honest. It came so highly praised. It was really missing depth in my opinion. There was a lot of telling instead of showing, the author didn’t really have the skill to portray teenage thoughts and beliefs, and on top of it, there was just a lot of random character facts. Having a black, gay female lead, for example, hiding as a white dude in the virtual reality world is only relevant if you make it so, if it adds to the story, if it propels the plot forward, or if it enriches the emotional nuances of the book  – unfortunately it just didn’t. There were several of those missed opportunities. I am curious to see how they will deal with that in the upcoming movie.

 

The Wednesday Letters (Jason F. Wright) ♠

68I would give this 0/5 stars but then I wouldn’t know how to rate one of those terrible ghost written romance novels you can buy at Walmart or CVS. The writing was pretty standard horrendous but what got me the most was the over the top Christian references. How this book is not categorized as Christian literature is beyond me? In fact, it was so blatantly Christian and in your face that it almost could double as a how-to-forgive-everyone-no-matter-how-terribly-they-wronged-you manual. Honestly, I don’t even feel this book is worth my time typing a real review. Just don’t read it. Spare this time and use it toward, I don’t know, kissing spiders or cuddling with venomous snakes – cause I bet you’ll have a much better experience.

 

The Sleeper and the Spindle (Neil Gaiman) ♠♠♠♠♠♠

69

 

This book has everything: strong female lead, tons of Grimm tale references, beautiful illustrations, and Gaiman’s voice! I loved it so much, it immediately got a spot on my all time favorites list. It’s a short read and you should waste no more time and read it now.

 

 

 

M is for Magic (Neil Gaiman) ♠♠♠♠♠

70Short stories aren’t for everyone, and if I am honest, I have had my troubles with them in the past. I get too attached to a character and feel like his/her whole story hasn’t been told in only those few pages. I always want to know more, find out new things, follow them further. And then there are Neil Gaiman short stories. They are plainly perfect. He gives you enough to satisfy your cravings, to make you fall in love with the characters, to remember them long after finishing the story, and to feel oh so connected to the plot. You think he does graphic novels or adult-ish fantasy well, you need to read one of his short stories. He is THE master of it. Technically, this book is geared toward children, but let me point out, these are not your ordinary kids’ tales – they are scary and gruesome, at times graphic, and at the very least often tragic, yet they make you also laugh and giggle. They’re full of humor and wit. They seamlessly walk the line between fiction and truth. But most importantly, they make you think and wonder. Magical is one word for his writings. Profound is probably a better description.

The force of July

***spoilers possible

How is it possible that July has come and gone already? In the blink of an eye isn’t even accurate anymore. My reading quota has definitely slowed down in the past few months, and July had an additional “hiccup”. I bought a spinning wheel! Thus, in addition, to being distracted with new knitting projects, now I am also busy learning how to spin. And anyone who knows me would attest to that, that I just get pretty much obsessed when it comes to aquiring a new skill. Anyhow, I did make it through several really good books this month, and to top it off, ended it with one of my all-time favorite retro re-reads.

 

Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail (Cheryl Strayed) ♠♠♠♠♠

57 I enjoyed this adventure very much. I loved how honest and vulnerable the author approached the retelling of her journey and how relatable her problems were. She was an average girl, deciding to begin a trip of healing on a whim, without really knowing what to expect, without really being prepared, and without asking for help or guidance (specifically from family and friends). Her reasoning that “selbst ist die Frau” really struck home with me. I feared with her, I laughed with her, I dreamt with her, and I healed with her. What more can you ask off a book? I’d read this again. And you should read it too!

 

Flirting with Felicity (Gerri Russell) ♠♠

58 This ain’t no Nora Roberts story. Unfortunately! She would’ve catapulted the premise of this book to amazing heights. Aside from the fact that this love story was unrealistic and the courtship way too perfect, I had several issues with Russell’s interpretation of what going green means. The author’s uneducated and naive view on sustainability was so blatantly apparent that I am thinking it was only used because it gives the novel a contemporary edge as being environmentally-friendly can be seen as somewhat of a fad right now. I was disappointed with this book, and doubt I will read any other of this author. Nora Roberts just needs to write her books quicker for me to be able to indulge in my guilty pleasure of romance literature 🙂

 

My Sister Rosa (Justine Larbalesier) ♠

59Pseudoscience babble meets horror YA novel. Terrible execution – is all I have to say about this. And please, young readers, do not believe anything this book puts forth as (neuro)science. In fact, I am going to shamelessly suggest here for everyone who is interested in science and research to check out my friend’s blog in hopes she can shed some light on what research findings really mean and how they’re misrepresented in mainstream media. Also, I gotta be honest, I had real-high hopes for this book and I am seriously sad that it let me down this much – the premise was so damn cool and it being a YA made it even better.

 

Death Comes for the Archbishop (Willa Cather) ♠♠♠♠

60

What a beautiful piece of work. The descriptions of New Mexico and the character development are outstanding. Despite it being a slow story, I was engaged the entire time. Willa Cather is one wizard with words. I will definitely check out any of her other books. I am a huge fan of language over plot.

 

Come Sundown (Nora Roberts) ♠♠♠♠

61

 

Nora Roberts does her thing. Fun and quick just as I had expected.

 

 

Knit The Season (Kate Jacobs) ♠♠♠

62Oh, how I adored the first two books in this trilogy. This one, unfortunately, fell flat. Everything seemed rushed. Plots weren’t flushed out. Too many different scenarios and character subplots made the entire story feel crowded – not every character needs their journey neatly wrapped up. Nevertheless, this novel is still filled with wonderful knitting anecdotes, fun yarn descriptions, and cozy knitting club evenings. It’s worth a read only if you feel compelled to complete this trilogy. Also, although this is a minor point, the cover art is just plain terrible.

 

The Complete Maus: A Survivor’s Tale (Art Spiegelman) ♠♠♠♠♠

63Honestly! This was a very raw and emotional read for me – I’ve only recently begun to read more WWII stories as I have been inundated with such during high school and in general growing up in Germany. I think a graphic novel was the perfect medium for this story. Art Spiegelman created an honest and unadorned view on surviving the holocaust, building a new life in a foreign country, and dealing with mental illness. His own estranged relationship with his father and his efforts in understanding his father’s life story only added to the complexity of this piece of work but really elevated its humanness. This is for sure a book that I would love to own and display on my book shelf.

 

Die Verlorene Ehre der Katharina Blum (Heinrich Böll) ♠♠♠♠♠♠

64I cannot begin to describe the literary genius that is Heinrich Böll – he is a modern marvel of language, a complete Wunderkind of the Schachtelsatz, an ideal of taking the mundane and making it special. He uses words like a chef uses spices, flavoring scenes and plots with just the right amount of sadness, laughter, intellect, or wit. His eye for current events and their essence is legendary and I wish I had just a smidgen of his talent in distilling complex concepts into simple and understandable portions, which he then takes and remixes into unique, yet recognizable stories. I don’t know how well his works translate into other languages, but even if only one tenth of it comes across, you will still be witness to one of the most relevant authors of the 20th century. Die Verlorene Ehre der Katharina Blum was my introduction to Heinrich Böll. Mandatory reading in early high school, I remember I could not put this book down (once I actually picked it up to read – yes I was that teenager who never wanted to do any homework). Within the first sentences, I knew I had come across what is now one of my all-time favorite books and authors. Reading it, I became so angry with the press and specifically gossip newspapers that at times I had to pause. I related to almost every character in the story and truly felt I was part of the ongoing events. The same thing happened during this month’s re-read. I got angry. But I also fell in love again with Böll’s language and his forever long sentences, complicated further by the use of a millions adjectives, adverbs, and clarifiers. I am still salty thinking about how media messed with the young protagonist’s life but yet I am so darn glad that I, on a whim, decided to make this book my retro re-read for my girls book club. Oh how I just love Heinrich Böll.

Junebug readings

***spoilers possible

Another slow month for me but it contained some really, really good books!

 

Kafka on the Shore (Haruki Murakami) ♠♠♠♠♠

49 What a read – it was confusing, magical, airy, deep, surreal, and utterly accurate at the same time. Kafka on the Shore swept me off my feet. I am a huge Franz Kafka fan and this book came highly recommended by both my dad and my sister (who are also Kafka fans), and it truly did not disappoint. It reminded of Kafka’s metamorphosis in the way that the reader was just as acceptant of the weird and supernatural happenings in this book as when Gregor Samsa awoke to be a bug. Nothing in this book is by coincidence. Murakami is smart, worldly, intellectual, and purposeful. There were so many twists and turns and I was just along for the ride. Some things remained hidden and were never explained, others let to total aha moments. This book was so jam-packed with things that I am sure I missed lots of them – and this just calls for a reread! The only advice I can give is to read this book slowly, to really think about the words you just read, to savor each moment, and to just immerse yourself completely into this strange Japan that Murakami spins.

 

Vassa in the Night (Sarah Porter) ♠♠♠♠

50 This is another very, very strange read. This novel was so bizarre that I am not certain I actually have an opinion about it per se. I recommend it because it leaves you feeling awkward and confused. I loved getting lost in the Sarah Porter’s fantastical world filled with old Russian folk tales, odd creatures, and many, many creepy themes. The only thing I did not enjoy was the writing itself at times. The author did too much telling and not enough showing. Overall though, this is definitely a book made for me as I just adore weird and creepy things.

 

Commonwealth (Ann Patchett) ♠♠♠ and 1/2♠

51 I love Ann Patchett as much as the next basic bitch (just joking) but this was not my cup of tea. Generally, Ann is a genius when it comes to family sagas, character development, and haunting descriptions of our world, but this one missed the mark a bit for me. The story itself was engaging enough and the characters, of course, were relatable and complex, yet somehow I found myself very bored at times and even easily distracted. I can’t really put my finger on what was missing but I’ll be sure to update this post when I think of it.

 

Red Queen (Christina Henry) ♠♠♠♠♠

52 Let’s just take a moment to indulge in my love for Alice in Wonderland and creepy/weird/odd/fantastical things …. and then let’s swoon over how Christina Henry combines these things in her Chronicles of Alice series. The second book, Red Queen, is just as dark, fantastical, and brilliant as the first one. I am so stoked about this series, and I really hope Henry continues on. Alice grew up in this book, she became independent and found her own. I love how Henry made her flawed, yet fiercely perfect; a victim, yet a hero; and not a girl and not yet a woman (Thanks Britney!). I found tons of feminist symbolism in her writing and really hope it was intentional. Gah, I just love a dark Alice universe so much.

 

A Midsummer Night’s Scream (R.L. Stine) ♠

53 How is it possible that you can pen our beloved Goosebumps stories, and then this, Mr. Stine?????? I don’t even know where to begin, this was so bad. First off, this was nothing, NOOOOOTHING, like Midsummer Night’s Dream. I deeply apologize to my good sir William. Secondly, if taken as truthful, the depiction of teenagers in this novel could have terrible consequences. Given that this is geared toward young adults I really, really hope they do not take on the main characters as role models. Please, Mr. Stine, do not ever again use such cliches and stereotypes as the basis for the development of your characters. We are looking for real and complex individuals whom we can and WANT TO identify with.

 

The Thirteenth Tale (Diane Setterfield) ♠♠♠♠♠

54 Are you a book lover? A person who needs literature in their life? Someone with the desire to live at times in fantasy worlds? Do you admire writers and poets? Do you adore the written word? Have you enjoyed Jane Austen, George Eliot, and Wilkie Collins as much as any New York Times Bestseller author right now? If you answered yes to any of these questions, this book is for you! I was hooked from the first sentence in the book. I knew I needed to never stop reading until it reached its conclusion. The fact that this novel read like classic English lit, but contained as many twists and turns as a contemporary piece of work, was just the icing on the cake. Do yourself a favor, read it asap!

 

One (Sarah Crossan) ♠♠♠♠♠

55

This was very new to me. I have never read a novel comprised of poems before. This was lovely, and the format worked great for the story. It gave it the right amount of punch as it took you along the lives of two teenage sisters and their trial and tribulations of growing up. While most of us can identify with this, we don’t really know anything about what that means in the context of your life depending on your sister’s life as this is the story of conjoined twins. This novel was eye-opening and roller-coaster of emotions for me, and I can only urge you to read it too.

 

 

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (J.K. Rowling) ♠♠♠♠♠

56

 

I am re-reading HP. What else is new? I loved this book as much as I loved it the first time. It is still as amazing as ever. I adore everything Sirius Black and I have a total soft spot for werewolves. I also really love how this is the first book in the series where the HP universe gets dark!