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Alchemy [Kindle Edition]

Mike Wood
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (88 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $14.95
Kindle Price: $2.99
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Kindle Edition $2.99  
Paperback $13.46  
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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.

Editorial Reviews


"What starts as a hunt for a missing father later reveals itself as clever novel about young love and the maturation of emotion. In the summer of 1984, Al's dad has been missing for 5 years. A scientist interested in alchemy, he one day just disappeared. But Al tells us and his young girlfriend Cammie that he believes he has been receiving codes that will lead them to his father. As the search progresses, he learns some hidden truths from his parents' past and present relationship. The result is an engaging novel that addresses many feelings young readers will relate to (jealousy, longing, sexual curiosity) in a constantly moving adventure. And while the narrator's denouement offers a more cynical slant than perhaps is preferable, it's not enough to overshadow the charm of this touching rumination on the nature of chance and fate." - Publishers Weekly

About the Author

Alchemy is “author” Mike Wood’s first novel. His previous publications include a series of humor/dating pieces for the Connecticut Post, where he was a featured free-lance writer for their popular “Get Out” column. His work has also appeared in the web-based ‘zines, “CT Independent News” and “Scientific Dinosaur.” Alchemy is the result of a somewhat serendipitous meeting with best-selling author AJ Jacobs, whose continued praise and encouragement inspired Mike to head to the basement and start pursuing his secret dream of being a writer. Presently, Mike is happily living out his real dreams in Connecticut as a middle school teacher, faithful husband, and dedicated father.

Product Details

  • File Size: 1331 KB
  • Print Length: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Booksurge (January 12, 2010)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0038M2HC6
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #503,855 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved it!!!!! January 25, 2010
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!
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not what I expected at all September 17, 2011
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.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Tear Jerker? March 25, 2011
By Beary
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.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars pure nostalgia January 17, 2010
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!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Quick, fun read June 15, 2010
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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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Escape on the Cape June 30, 2010
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Glancing at powerful imagery on the cover of Alchemy, my 5 year old son asked me if the book was about strength. I replied "Yes".

We meet the young teenager Al in the dawning of a transitional summer of his life. We are endeared to him in his early exploits as curious kid and grow and learn with him as he meets his first love, finds his lost dad, and embraces the dawn of adulthood while still cherishing his innocence.

With the colorful group of friends and family you are immersed in Al's summer of mystery & mayhem unfolding on the beautiful Cape. While it is fun escape at most times, you will find yourself with a pang in your heart & tears on the page unable to put the book down.

Flipping through the pages before you begin, it is well presented with clear font & good type space. Charming illustrations & quotes by Albert Einstein guide you from one section to the next.

I was not expecting to be able to see so vividly & lovingly through a teenage boys eyes, but the author's voice made that so easy. My kids were enchanted by the photos & the illustrations & when they are old enough I will gladly give this book to them as part of their essential library.

I enjoyed it & have shared it & you will as well.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars a beautiful girl staying for the summer while her marine biologist ...
Okay. Let me begin by copying and pasting the description of this book. According to Goodreads, Alchemy is about how, "The summer of 1984 was a golden time in America. Read more
Published 10 months ago by Chelsea Heidt
5.0 out of 5 stars the title is misleading, but
I'm a little dense, and didn't get the meaning of the title until the end. But loved every minute reading to get there. It flowed so well, I kept reading and forgetting the time. Read more
Published 11 months ago by Roberta Wilkerson
5.0 out of 5 stars A Coming of Age Story, Following a Number of Events Triggered By a...
Mike Wood's debut novel Alchemy was a refreshing tale that had sat unread on my Kindle for a long time and I wish I'd gotten around to reading earlier. Read more
Published 15 months ago by James N Simpson
5.0 out of 5 stars Awesome Book
This is a good read. The story and plot are very well thought out and written. It is definitely worth the read.
Published 18 months ago by KERRY M PAWLING
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Coming Of Age book
As a mom, I'm always looking for a goods book for my son to read. This is a hit! I love the characters and the way the author gives each of them a depth and interest to make them... Read more
Published 22 months ago by Mom of 3
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Read!
I really enjoyed this book. I read during a weekend camping trip, and thought it was cute and well written!
Published 22 months ago by erin o
4.0 out of 5 stars Easy read
Although the story started out rather bouncy, it was tied together quite well. The emotions came through loud and clear, making me laugh and cry. Thanks.
Published 22 months ago by Tina Lee
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing. Enjoyed every minute
I don't think I could describe this book and give it justice. The author so eloquently put early teen life (not just the frivolous parts) into this book that it was so real. Read more
Published 23 months ago by Granolamomma
5.0 out of 5 stars A Fabulous Journey
I highly recommend this novel. The characters are well-developed and have intertwining story lines. The relationships between the characters are varied and seem so real. Read more
Published 24 months ago by Julie
3.0 out of 5 stars depth and passion
I am not sure at what readers this is aimed. The occasional lewdness and blasphemies made it unsuitable for my teen but it reads as a real coming of age novel in so many ways. Read more
Published on May 26, 2013 by Alisan
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More About the Author

Mike Wood is a middle school teacher by day, husband/father by night, and author by accident. His first novel, Alchemy, was mostly written while recovering from a torn Achilles tendon (which is a cool injury when it happens on a football field, but not so cool when it occurs while dancing at an outdoor concert!) That injury, and a somewhat serendipitous meeting with best-selling author AJ Jacobs, inspired Mike to start pursuing his secret dream of being a writer. After many rejections from agents and publishers, claiming his work was great, but too hard to market, he finally found someone foolish enough to publish his books...himself!

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