My hands are numb from the cold air. It's 6 am and I'm waiting outside of the Prelude Clubhouse for my dad to finish a breakfast meeting with his work group. Every Sunday, he insists on taking me with him for golf, but when the meeting starts, I only stay long enough to finish my food. Their conversations are always so bland, so reserved. They talk numbers and reports, almost as if to bore me. Deep down, I know that it's a distraction. It might be a family gathering, but I am the only relative that comes. There are dozens of men there. I can't imagine that not a single one is a father or a husband.
No—they purposefully wait for me to leave to talk business. It worries me what kind of work my dad is involved in that's so closed-off and secretive. I picture them as a room of criminals. My presence is an inconvenience, but I have to attend. It's only fitting after my mom died two years ago. He would take her. I feel like coming here helps fill that empty void for my dad.
A door opens from behind me and I turn slightly to see a younger member of the group approaching me. He's dressed in a black business suit like the others, but striking blue eyes contrast jet-black hair. He stood out to me from the first day and from what I've seen of his mannerisms, he's fairly new to the organization.
"Needed some fresh air?" he asks as he comes to stand at my left side.
I shrug. No one has ever asked me this before.
"I wouldn't know what to talk about in there," I admit.
He smiles, but looks ahead at the foggy rolling hills beyond the course.
"You might be surprised," he responds. "There's a lot to be said about what we do. You never know—one of these days, this might be your legacy to share with us."
I smile back, failing to re-capture his wandering gaze. "I doubt I'm cut out for it. That's more my father's thing." I question why I called my dad that. I'm not one to pick up conversational cues for the sake of the other person. This man has a strange effect on me. It doesn't make me feel very comfortable.
"Maybe," he concludes simply.
I open my mouth to mention that I'm not fully sure what it is that they do, but he turns and returns to the front double-doors.As one opens, he catches it, holding it for my dad.
"Thank you," my dad says to him, before walking to me.
The man disappears inside, but not without another glance at me. I'm not sure what it is behind his eyes that has me stuck in place. It was forceful.
"There you are," my dad tells me in a tone that's meant to be cheerful. I don't buy the attitude for one second—his eyes tell a different story. They're apprehensive, almost scared.
"That was weird," I explain to him. "He asked why I'm out here."
"I'm not surprised. You never stay." He starts walking with me across the road leading from the clubhouse to the entrance gate. "What did he say?"
"I'll explain when we're back at the house."
This place has the tendency to give me the creeps on any day. I have no interest in discussing anything personal within possible earshot of the grounds. Before we take more than two steps onto the lawn to cut across to the parking lot, a black sedan drives at an oddly-low speed across the road. I follow it with my eyes as it circles to behind us. Then, it stops—so do I. My dad must sense my hesitation. He stops, too, turning around to look at the car. A rear passenger's window rolls down and I see a mirror-like reflection no bigger than a bottleneck shining from the lower edge of it. I get an uneasy feeling and step towards my dad.
A loud bang cuts through the air and I hear my dad gasp. The window rolls up as the car leaves, just as slowly as it came. The next few moments don't feel real—they happen too quickly. All I can do is let out the breath I've been holding as I shake my dad on my lap, having collapsed onto the grass in a desperate attempt to catch his falling body. I see blood soaking through his blazer where his heart should be. I near to touch it, to try to stop the bleeding, but my hand freezes, moving sharply to his face instead as I pray that he moves.
"Dad," I squeak in the loudest voice that will escape my lips—it's inaudible. I shake him again by the shoulders, but he won't move anymore. It's like he froze. "Dad!"
Echoes of my cries pulsate through my head, but he won't hear me. He won't listen anymore.
Nimona by Noelle Stevenson is the tale of a villain and his sidekick. It's also about what is good and what is evil. It's about friendship and loyalty. It's also about sharks. Lord Ballister Blackheart is an evil genius who just happens to have an opening for a sidekick which Nimona believes she is qualified to fill. Initially, Blackheart is against the idea but once Nimona shows off her skills as a shapeshifter and proves her worth he's more than happy to strike up a partnership. The problem is that she shows absolutely no restraint and insists that their plans should be ramped up to include more killing, mayhem, and overall destruction. Blackheart is a stickler for the rules and his nemesis Sir Ambrosius Goldenloin perceives that Nimona is going to cause major waves (sharks!). While their rivalry is one of the reasons Blackheart became a villain he staunchly refuses to kill Goldenloin and therein lies one of the major rubs. There's a political sidestory as well. The Institution of Law Enforcement and Heroics where Goldenloin is employed is not exactly on the up and up. Then there's the struggle with what makes someone a 'monster' and what makes them a 'hero'. It's a really good book, guys. The artwork is top notch, the characters are fleshed out, and it is hysterically funny. I highly recommend for anyone who wants a book with a lot of heart. 10/10
PS This started out as a webcomic and I've read other places that if you saw Nimona as the webcomic version then the only new part of this book is the epilogue. Just a heads up. :-)
I very much enjoyed The Lunar Chronicles. It has everything. I'm talking adventure, dystopia, romance, comedy, political upheaval, mutants, heroines, mental health issues, racial misunderstanding, and SO MUCH MORE. (No, this isn't a commercial.) The final book in the series, Winter, was a whopper at over 800 pages (Harry Potter anyone?) and Meyer covered a lot of ground. Not only did she have the gargantuan task of fleshing out the character of Winter as she had done with the first 3 (4 if you count Fairest) but she also had to tie it all together to bring a conclusion to the overarching struggle of the series. Will Levana succeed in marrying Kai and becoming Empress of the Eastern Commonwealth? Do Thorne and Cress have a chance at a happily ever after? Can Scarlet be saved from Winter's menagerie? Will Winter's Lunar sickness ultimately result in her complete break from reality? GO READ WINTER TO FIND OUT!
I received a free copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley
in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!
This is not a work of fiction; nor is it strictly speaking history. It is an examination of the Holocaust, focusing in particular on Poland and the Warsaw Ghetto, Auschwitz and Treblinka.
The author starts by noting and condemning young people's – and not only young people's – ignorance of history in general, ("they don't know what they they don't know and therefore confidently believe they have a clear understanding of what went before") and in particular of World War II and the Holocaust. He claims – and I believe him – that almost nobody knows – or cares! – what happened in Poland during WWII.
Let me quote: The torment of Poland and the Poles defies adequate description. There is a strong argument that popular historiography in the West, influenced as it was by Cold War prejudice, failed to properly inform generations of students born after 1945 about the true extent of Polish suffering. In the five and a half years between the German invasion in September 1939 and the liberation of Poland by Soviet forces in February 1945, 5,820,000 Poles and Polish Jews, almost all non-combatants, were murdered, worked to death, starved or consigned to the flames. The grisly total represented almost 25% of Poland's 1939 population and far outstrips the sacrifice of any other nation on Earth during the war. [...] The relationship between Poles and Jews during the German occupation, at community level, presents a picture of stark paradox. In Poland as a whole, less than one-tenth of the pre-war Jewish population survived – far less than in any other country in Europe – yet more ethnic Poles risked their lives to save Jews and were subsequently honoured for their sacrifice than in all the occupied territories together.
Why was this? It was because Hitler seriously believed that he was going to be able to incorporate Poland into the Third Reich. Indeed, that he already had. This was ethnic cleansing on the grand scale. The vast new territory was to be racially pure. The extermination camp at Treblinka, of which we hear almost nothing because there were almost no survivors to bear witness, processed (gassed and incinerated the bodies of) 10,000 people a day. 10,000 people a day, month after month, year after year. And that was just one camp! Auschwitz, Majdanek, Chelmno and others, were not far away.
Here is a map, to put you in the picture. (It is not from the book.)
Just look at that border ...
David Gilbertson has put an enormous amount of work into this book. It is a book that everyone should read, but what with those who already "know it all" and those – the vast majority – who do not care, very few will. And so, inevitably, at some point in the not so distant future, history will repeat itself ...