Alcan Heavy Biker

Nonfiction author Sheimo’s (Stock Market Rules, 2012, etc.) first novel tracks a traveler’s motorcycle journey from Alaska to Minnesota on the treacherous Alcan Highway in the summer of 1970.
It doesn’t take much to convince Dan Johnson to embark on an adventure—just a couple of bucks. When his pal Jim loses a bet that he’d be the last to get married, Dan buys his first motorcycle and decides to go on a 3,000-mile journey to collect his $5 winnings and attend Jim’s wedding. Plus, he has a hunch his old flame Elaine might be there, which certainly sweetens the deal. Dan has only 10 days to travel from Fairbanks, Alaska, to Minneapolis on the Alcan Highway, a rugged and sometimes desolate route that could pose problems for an inexperienced motorcyclist. But Dan forges ahead, insisting, “[T]his might be my last chance to do something like this. At twenty-three years old, obligations will catch up to me.” The novel has an intriguing premise, and it may give motorcycle enthusiasts a nostalgia kick. However, the stiff, boilerplate dialogue quickly gives the odyssey a predictable, movie-of-the-week feel. Whether he’s battling angry bears, getting hassled by the border patrol or trying to save an out-of-control trucker, Dan always narrowly escapes injury, like James Bond or Indiana Jones. But unfortunately, Dan isn’t as interesting a character as those adventurers. Instead of requesting shaken martinis, Dan thinks about his preferred peanut-butter thickness on sandwiches (“one-half inch, a gourmet technique he learned a few years ago from his younger sister Anne”) and touts the benefits of “eyeball steaming”—that is, pressing his eye sockets against a hot coffee cup. Sheimo states in the acknowledgements that he actually traveled the Alcan Highway by motorcycle in 1970, but despite his firsthand knowledge of the terrain, the novel just doesn’t feel authentic enough to be completely believable. Instead, readers are left alone with the thinly sketched protagonist as he attempts to beat the odds, which seem always to be tipped in his favor.
A road trip that doesn’t feel dangerous or realistic enough to become a fully engaging adventure.

Pub Date: June 16, 2014

ISBN: 978-1499173512

Page Count: 198

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Aug. 26, 2014

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A romantic, sad, and ultimately hopeful book that’s perfect for fans of Jojo Moyes.


In Walsh’s American debut, a woman desperately tries to find out why the man she spent a whirlwind week with never called.

Sarah has just separated from her American husband and is visiting her hometown in England when she meets Eddie. He’s kind and charming, and although they only spend one week together, she falls in love. When he has to leave for a trip, she knows they’ll keep in touch—they’re already making plans for the rest of their lives. But then Eddie never calls, and Sarah’s increasingly frantic efforts to contact him are fruitless. Is he hurt? Is he dead? As her friends tell her, there’s a far greater likelihood that he’s just blowing her off—she’s been ghosted. After trying to track Eddie down at a football game, Sarah starts to become ashamed of herself—after all, she’s almost 40 years old and she’s essentially stalking a man who never called her. But as Sarah slowly learns, she and Eddie didn’t actually meet randomly—they both have a connection to an accident that happened years ago, and it may have something to do with why he disappeared. The tension quickly amps up as the secrets of Eddie’s and Sarah’s pasts are revealed, and the truth behind their connection is genuinely surprising and heartbreaking. The barriers between Sarah and Eddie seem insurmountable at times, and although their issues are resolved in a tidy manner, the emotions behind their actions are always believable. Walsh has created a deeply moving romance with an intriguing mystery and a touching portrait of grief at its heart.

A romantic, sad, and ultimately hopeful book that’s perfect for fans of Jojo Moyes.

Pub Date: July 24, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-525-52277-5

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Pamela Dorman/Viking

Review Posted Online: May 1, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2018

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An ambitious and bewitching gem of a book with mystery and passion inscribed on every page.

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A withdrawn graduate student embarks on an epic quest to restore balance to the world in this long-anticipated follow-up to The Night Circus (2011).

Zachary Ezra Rawlins is a typical millennial introvert; he likes video games, escapist reading, and drinking sidecars. But when he recognizes himself in the pages of a mysterious book from the university library, he's unnerved—and determined to uncover the truth. What begins as a journey for answers turns into something much bigger, and Zachary must decide whether to trust the handsome stranger he meets at a highflying literary fundraiser in New York or to retreat back to his thesis and forget the whole affair. In a high-wire feat of metatextual derring-do, Morgenstern weaves Zachary's adventure into a stunning array of linked fables, myths, and origin stories. There are pirates and weary travelers, painters who can see the future, lovers torn asunder, a menacing Owl King, and safe harbors for all the stories of the world, far below the Earth on the golden shores of a Starless Sea. Clocking in at more than 500 pages, the novel requires patience as Morgenstern puts all the pieces in place, but it is exquisitely pleasurable to watch the gears of this epic fantasy turn once they're set in motion. As in The Night Circus, Morgenstern is at her best when she imagines worlds and rooms and parties in vivid detail, right down to the ballroom stairs "festooned with lanterns and garlands of paper dipped in gold" or a cloak carved from ice with "ships and sailors and sea monsters...lost in the drifting snow." This novel is a love letter to readers as much as an invitation: Come and see how much magic is left in the world. Fans of Neil Gaiman and V.E. Schwab, Kelly Link and Susanna Clarke will want to heed the call.

An ambitious and bewitching gem of a book with mystery and passion inscribed on every page.

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-385-54121-3

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Aug. 4, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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