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Alchemy [Kindle Edition]

Mike Wood
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

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Book Description

“Mike Wood is Massachusetts' answer to Carl Hiaasen. Alchemy is a great and funny tale of wayward manatees, love, fatherhood and pirate treasures, not necessarily in that order.” – AJ Jacobs, bestselling author of The Know-It All


When a migrating manatee makes a prolonged stop off the coast of Cape Cod, his unexpected arrival (and the beautiful daughter of the marine biologist who is following him) sets into motion a charming chain of events that will result in 15-year old Al learning the truth about his missing father, the joy and pain of first love, and ultimately even the fate of Hugh Manatee!


The summer of 1984 was a golden time in America. From California, where gymnast Mary Lou Retton was winning Olympic gold, to Cape Cod, where explorer Barry Clifford was discovering pirate gold, the nation seemed obsessed with the precious metal. But for 15-year old Al, that obsession hits a little too close to home when he finds a code-filled notebook belonging to his missing father that may contain the ancient formula for turning lead to gold. Convinced that his father’s sudden disappearance is connected to his secret experiments in alchemy, Al sets out to find the truth. He enlists the help of Cammie, a beautiful girl staying for the summer while her marine biologist father tracks a wayward manatee, and together they begin unraveling the mystery. But the closer they get to an answer, the closer they grow to each other, and as the end of summer draws nearer, Al wonders if they can break the code without breaking his heart.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1331 KB
  • Print Length: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Booksurge (12 Jan. 2010)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0038M2HC6
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #586,055 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

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4.7 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding! 22 May 2011
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This book was actually not at all what I was expecting. From reading the author's description, I was anticipating something more along the lines of The Goonies meets Stand By Me, and to a point, it is like that, being full of teenage boys charging about the place on bicycles and getting into tricky situations and there is even lots of clue solving and a ship wreck.

But this book is so much more than that. It isn't just teenage adventure and coming of age rites of passage like a first kiss. It's thought provoking, philosophical and tender. It was entirely convincing as the voice of Al, the boy at the centre of it.

It has moments in it that made me chuckle out loud but also a part that had me reaching for the Kleenex because it was so touching and beautifully written.

I really hope Mr Wood decides to write some more books, because this one was very, very good.

Postscript: read the credits at the end too, they are worth the two minutes it will take you.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Alchemy 4 Sept. 2011
By BigAl
Format:Kindle Edition
In his bio on Amazon, Wood indicates he had many rejections from agents and publishers, "claiming the book was great, but too hard to market." After reading "Alchemy," I understand why. It isn't a mystery, although there is a mystery to be solved. It has a protagonist who is the perfect age for a Young Adult novel and I daresay many in this demographic would relate to much of the story - possibly (hopefully) even learn from it. However, some parents might feel that parts of the book aren't suitable for the younger portion of the demographic; not because it is explicit or crude (it isn't), but because some subject matter might be too mature for them (saying more would be a spoiler.) Marketing as a Young Adult book might also limit the adult audience, many whom would find the book nostalgic for the time in which it takes place as well as some of the things Al is going through. It is a coming of age story, but that doesn't help with the marketing angle and also sells the book short -it is much more than that.

I also understand why those agents and publishers liked "Alchemy." Wood's writing voice (or maybe I should describe it as Al's voice) is different in a way I haven't been able to identify. Whatever it is that makes it different, it fits the character well. During the story, Al learns about love, in many different forms. He matures, learning that just being himself and being open about his feelings is best. Most importantly, he finds out that things aren't always as they appear and that sometimes people do the wrong thing for the right reasons. Older teens and adults, especially those who were still young in the 80s, should especially connect with "Alchemy."

One minor complaint I had were a few instances where Al's Great-Grandmother appeared in the story.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A gem! 18 Aug. 2013
By Bobby
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I downloaded and read this a couple of years ago. However unlike many books I read back then I remember this story pretty well so that is quite something. It is not my usual genre, a coming of age story set I think in the 80s in Cape Cod. It was atmospheric and I felt I was really transported there. Recommended for a different read.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.5 out of 5 stars  88 reviews
20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved it!!!!! 25 Jan. 2010
By Denise Tadduni - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
A stunning debut by a major new talent, Mike Wood has written a fresh tale with realistically constructed characters. From the opening sentence to the exhilarating conclusion, Alchemy is a captivating story filled with nostalgia. I found myself, more than once, laughing out loud at Al's antics. Although told from the point of view of a 15 year old boy, people of all ages can easily relate to this story. In my opinion the next book can't come fast enough!
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not what I expected at all 17 Sept. 2011
By HJ - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I definitely felt disappointed that this book was not what I expected. I'm not sure what exactly I expected, but I felt that it turned into some sort of after school special, which ironically, was referenced in the book itself.

I didn't enjoy the opening introductions because they felt really forced to me, but after that, I enjoyed getting to know Al and friends - and I enjoyed the idea of the mystery/codes etc. While some of the details about his dad were quickly obvious, it was still disappointing to me that the story took a totally different turn from the mystery angle. I was looking forward to the mystery/adventure. I'm trying not to spoil the story, so it's hard for me to write my thoughts completely. I guess the the long and short is that I felt like it became very belabored. Some of the dialogue was just too much. And it seemed that Al sure was an emotional genius for processing some difficult issues quickly. In the end, it just felt like two halves of two different books - like a fun/nostalgic would-be mystery/adventure turned preachy after school special.

Still, I did keep wanting to stay till the end, and I found Al pretty likeable overall. Esp the parts that were just b/t Al and Cammie and Al and his friends were fun. So - it's a solid three, in my opinion.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Tear Jerker? 25 Mar. 2011
By Beary - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This story started out slow and I was having difficulty getting "into" the story. But, I persevered and finished it. I was pleasantly surprised. I started caring very much about the characters and even got teary eyed. Also, the way the Al starts to tell is story is great and makes much more sense by the end. I think this book has a good lesson about making the most of the opportunities you have and don't let the fear of hurt stop you from caring.
11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars pure nostalgia 18 Jan. 2010
By Acesfull - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book manages to take the reader on a nostalgic trip to the past, while still embracing relevant and topical themes. A story that is, at its' core, about relationships and will appeal to both teens and adults. As a child who grew up in the 80's this book was like a blast from the past and had me smiling about "the good old days". But what made me really love the book was the characters. They were so well developed and real. My favorite was the grandmother. A difficult to love (or even like) woman, who, in the end you "get", even if she doesn't change and become magically perfect. The scenes with her ranged from lol to truly poignant and I really love that. I found that despite that the author's audience seems to be young adults, he never patronizes, or doubts their ability to understand that families are complicated. Love and relationships are complicated. And still, despite the deeper underlying themes, it is a truly funny read. The cast of quirky supporting characters only adds to the hilarity and the feeling that this is a real town with real people. There's Gilly the camp couselor, who was kind of like that jerk in every 80's movie that you love to hate. Or Tweety the little girl with the speech impediment and loads of spunk. Really, I could go on and on, but the bottom line is that it is truly a superb freshman effort and I can't wait to see what Mike Wood comes up with next. Very nice!
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Quick, fun read 15 Jun. 2010
By Erica L. Olson - Published on
I read the ABNA excerpt and rated it 5 stars because of the wonderful voice and lyrical writing this author showed. The rating of 4 stars on the full does not mean that it lost its appeal as a book - or that I liked it any less.

As a YA writer, I read this with the expectation that I was reading a book for teenagers. What I got was a wonderfully written story that shows the nostalgia of the 80s that should appeal to anyone who grew up in that era. I had a few areas that I felt could have been played-up or played-down, so I went with a 4 star rating - with the expectation that he will turn this one or the next into a hands-down 5!

If you're looking for a charming story that makes you wish you were back in 1984, falling in love, or thinking your family was the strangest one EVER, please read Alchemy. You'll be glad you did.
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