Category Archives: Thomas Dunne Books

Review: The Hollow Ground by Natalie S. Harnett

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books (May 13, 2014)
  • ISBN-10: 1250041988
  • Source: Publisher

Eleven-year-old Brigid Howley live in the Pennsylvania coal country. The mines in the ground below their home rage with a deadly ferocity.  They are in constant fear of deadly fumes that escape these mines and are often awaken in the middle of the night by a man responsible for checking the gas levels in their home. It becomes a regular and constant part of their lives, expecting an explosion in the vast mines beneath their home to take their home and all of their possessions.

When a sink hole robs them of their home, they are forced to move to the home of her estranged paternal grandparents. Their new home is not any safer than the previous but the family is desperate. Her mother is the only breadwinner in the family; her father, injured years ago in the mines,  is unable to hold down a job for long. Her grandmother is a force to be reckoned with and an argument from years ago causes a rift between Brigid’s mother and Grandmother. Her grandfather, stricken with a black-lung, constantly reminds Brigid of the curse that haunts their family.

Brigid struggles to keep her weakened and tested family together. Her mother long ago lost any faith in Brigid’s father and the tension in the home is overwhelming.  Yet when Brigid discovers a ghastly sight in a bootleg mine shaft,  family secrets come pouring out, true evidence of the curse that plagues this strong, Irish family.  With it become a sudden revelation to the cause of her father’s mining injury and implies his involvement of his brother’s death in the mines years ago.

A devastating and emotional coming of age novel , The Hollow Ground beautifully and so expertly captures a genuine part of our country’s history. The fires that raged in the Pennsylvania country still rage, a constant reminder of the past.  Set in the 1960s, this novel eloquently blends a historical account of our nation with one young girl’s journey to come to terms with her family’s haunted past.  The characters so richly developed that readers won’t have  a difficult time connecting, enduring the struggles and challenges they are faced. The setting is expertly detailed, making it easy to become immersed in this truly tremendous novel.

To say this novel is a page-turner is an understatement. I was captivated from the first page, taking every minute I could spare to retreat back to Brigid’s world. Growing up outside coal country myself (albeit, a far more modernized setting) ti wasn’t difficult for me to become invested in this story. A must read for both fans of historical fiction and mystery, The Hollow Ground has an intensity that will continue to burn within me like the abandoned coal mines that played such an integral role in our nation’s history. Highly, highly recommended.

Mx3 Review: Day One By Nate Kenyon

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books (October 1, 2013)
  • ISBN-10: 1250013216
  • Source: Publisher

John Hawke, at one time, was a prominent technology reporter but an ethical transgression forced him into unemployment. Haunted by the mistakes of his past, Hawke barely gets by on freelance assignments.  With a wife, a young son, and another child on the way, John is desperate to get a lead.  His most recent opportunity: do a profile of James Weller, head of a tech company, Eclipse. According to rumors, Eclipse stole Weller’s idea for a revolutionary concept in computing. Just as Eclipse is about to reveal the secret, New York City goes haywire. Any device containing a computer chip malfunctions, acting as if it has a mind of its own.  From coffee makers to helicopters, these objects rebel against the humans that use them.  Weller’s invention has something to do with this destructive chaos. Soon, the streets of New York are riddled with wreckage. Passengers in subway trains are held captive by the very train that transports them. New York City is quickly blocked off from the rest of the country.

Hawker must get out of the city and save his family in New Jersey. When the police identify him as the responsible party in the “terrorist attack,” his very life is in jeopardy.  He soon realizes that what pursues him is not human at all, but “Jane Doe,” a self-aware, self-upgrading form of artificial intelligence.  Originally Weller’s invention, Jane Doe was “acquired” by the NSA and the DOD and weaponized. Yet these agencies didn’t fully understand Jane Doe’s power. Unbeknownst to anyone but her creator, Jane Doe has replicated, infiltrating every form of technology. There’s no where to hide: security cameras with facial recognition, cell phones with GPS tracking.  She can track you down in a matter of moments.  The only apparent way to escape her overreaching grasp is to rid yourself of all forms of technology, from cars to cell phones and computers. The concept is terrifying, essentially reverting to a time before the Industrial Revolution. In this terrifying, wholly plausible thriller, Kenyon forces the reader to think before picking up that iPad or smartphone.

As an avid fan of horror, I’ve been a fan of Kenyon’s work for some time. In Day One, however, Kenyon evokes a scenario so realistic that I found it more terrifying than his horror fiction!  The action and intensity picks up in the first few pages and doesn’t dwindle at all, taking the reader on a terrifying race to save human kind.  While the concept of a techno-apocalypse is not unique, Kenyon’s creativity puts an incredibly plausible spin on a relatively familiar storyline, adding a spin that makes this novel stand out from others like it.  Kenyon leaves the ending open, leaving me hoping there is a sequel (or better yet, a series!) in the works!

I read this egalley on my iPad (yes, I recognize the irony). Quickly, I realized just how pervasive technology is in our lives and how elaborate the steps we would have take to remove it.

If you are looking for an intense techno-thriller, this is the read for you! Highly recommended!

2013MX3

Mx3 Review: Harbor by John Ajvide Lindqvist

  • Hardcover: 512 pages
  • Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books; Reprint edition (October 11, 2011)
  • ISBN-10: 0312680279
  • Source: Publisher

One snowy morning on a small island in Sweden, Anders and Cecilia take their six-year-old daughter, Maya, across the ice to visit a lighthouse in the middle of a frozen channel.  Anders & Cecilia explore the lighthouse, allowing Maya to explore on her own. She disappears, not leaving a footprint or any indication of her fate.

Two years later, Anders returns to the island.  Now in a perpetual state of intoxication, Anders turns to the inhabitants of the island for answers to his daughters disappearance. He can’t accept that Maya is dead; he is certain she’s alive somewhere. Everyone, including his own mother, appear reluctant to say a word, the sea seemingly holding a power over them all. It’s not long after his return that strange things begin to happen: items moved, including some of Maya’s possessions, the overwhelming feeling of being watched. Never could Anders have imagined depth to the mystery and secrets behind the islands past. He commits to doing whatever it takes, risking everything, to find out what actually happened that morning two years ago. Anders will stop at nothing, risking his own life, to discover what happened to his daughter.

Known for reinventing horror genres, Lindqvist doesn’t fail to do the same in Harbor.  The suspense built up at a slowly, steadily, keeping the reader on their toes.  Characterization is another aspect at which Lindqvist excels; Harbor is story that takes place over five generations, allowing the history, the familiarity, of each of the families involved to build.

Harbor is quite a lengthy novel, but yet there is so much that I want to know more about.  That’s not to say that the author left things unanswered; he was extremely successful at tying all the levels of the storyline together.  I simply didn’t want this one to end; I was drawn to the characters and the richly drawn atmosphere .

The beauty behind this book is the author’s writing; this is a book that cannot be skimmed or skipped over. Tiny details mentioned early on will come back again in later chapters. Missing those details might take away the impact of the story.  I don’t often like to compare authors to others, but fans of Dan Simmons and the classic writings of Stephen King will definitely appreciate the style of this novel.

There are not many horror books that I would recommend to those that aren’t fans of the genre, but Harbor is a book that would be appreciated by fans of a multitude of genres. The writing is rich, the characters multi-dimensional, the storyline compelling.  Highly recommended.