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3.58 of 5 stars 3.58  ·  rating details  ·  207 ratings  ·  47 reviews
“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 th
Kindle Edition, 346 pages
Published (first published January 12th 2010)
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Rafa Lombardino
This book was a nice little surprise! I got in touch with author Mike Wood through the Kindle page on Facebook by chance and soon saw that he had self-published his first novel. I'm all for supporting independent writers and, upon reading his book's description, I decided to give it a try. It looked fun, it was about the 1980s, I grew up in the 1980s, so it just jumped to the top of my "What to read next" queue.

I have to say I really can't remember reading a fiction book with a story so compelli
Kristi, A Book Fanatic
The premise got me -- anybody who grew up in the 80's will love this book...
This was a wonderful coming-of-age tale about a fatherless boy who is figuring out his place in life. The author did a great job making the reader root for Al during this story. This book would be great to develop into a movie!! I would recommend this book to anyone that was ever a child or has a heart :)
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 suita ...more
This debut novel by author Mike Wood was a fun summer read and a very cool trip down the 1980s memory lane for me. The story is set in the summer of 1984 in Cape Cod, MA, and is told in the 1st person narrative by 15 year old Al Newman. During this coming of age summer, Al struggles with the unanswered disappearance of his father, and he is determined to find out what happened to him. Along comes a pretty teenage girl, Cammie, who along with her marine biologist father have tracked a wayward man ...more
John Condron
This is a "very good," but not "great" YA novel. I loved the first 38-and-a-half chapters, which is pretty good for a 40 chapter book from a first time author. The characters were engaging and likeable, the story was fast-paced and plausible, and the FIRST ending was very satisfying.

Though I hate cliches, I have to say "I couldn't put it down." I was emotionally engaged with the characters to the point where I had to stop reading several times because I couldn't see through my tears, or because
This was an excellent book. The author did an AMAZING job of capturing how it feels to be an early teenage really took me back 35 years. The characters are well developed and multidimensional. The book moves along at an excellent pace, and even when the story completely changes gears, the transition is smooth. There is an emotional depth to this story that is quite amazing, especially for a first-time author. Lastly, this book has an excellent message, and yet it avoids getting "preachy ...more
I fell a little bit in love with 15 year old Al. He is real in the way a lot of fictional teenagers aren't, and has this whole "endearingly incompetent" thing going on. He's a really nice kid, who messes up a lot (like most 15 year olds). He's a lot like I was at that age, only I wasn't so good at apologies.

Al's relationship with Cammie is really sweet, but not saccharine. There's just the right amount of innocence without being twee and unrealistic.

Sometimes I would drift for a couple of pages
YA. Very enjoyable light easy holiday read. Review to follow.
A sweet, quirky story. Very well written.
More reviews available at my blog, Beauty and the Bookworm.

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. 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
In this book, Mike Wood gives us a chance to relive a small piece of 1984 with his 15 y.o. protagonist, Albert E. Newman. Al has a hole in his heart that hasn't healed. His scientist father disappeared from his life 4 years ago, and his mother has not given him answers. No one has. So Al dreams that his father's experiments in alchemy are the real reason he took off - he imagines plots of kidnapping and conspiracy. Summer visitor, Cammie is fascinated by the idea of a plot. When Al finds a noteb ...more
P. Christopher Colter
By the time I was halfway through Alchemy, I was already thinking about how I was going to review the book without spoiling it. It's about a 14 year old boy in New England in the summer of 1984, which I also was, coincidentally. The protagonist, Al, experiences some major upheaval in his life that summer, and author Mike Wood takes us along for the ride.

I don't want to get into the plot too much, for fear of spoilers, but Alchemy is essentially the tale of Al's first love and his search for the
V.S. Williams
Alchemy is the coming-of-age story of one Albert Einstein (yes, 'Enstein') Newman, who's engaging narrative steers us through the events of one memorable summer in 1980's Cape Cod.

School's out, the sun's blazing and his two best friends are up for some high jinx... but Al's summer plans make a sudden sharp turn when he runs into gorgeous, (relatively) sophisticated and out-of-his-league Cammie, who is visiting the area with her Marine Biologist father as they track a wandering manatee named 'Hug
It's been a few weeks since I read Alchemy, but it's still on my mind, so I thought I write a few quick words about it.

I liked a lot of things about this book, but what really got to me was the very honest portrayal of teenagers. There were so many times throughout the book where I would sigh or laugh or blush and think, "Dude, that was totally me when I was younger!"

Al is honest and awkward, and he has this desire to do the right thing and to not hurt the ones close to him. He wants his mother
Shellys♥ Journal
Al Newman is 15 years old and ready for the same old, same old summer when he meets sweet and beautiful Cammie. It's love at first sight. Al resurrects his search for his missing father - a scientist who disappeared four years ago, and enlists Cammie's help to try and spend more time with her. His plan falls apart as she is called away. But still the mystery calls for him to solve and discover the truth.

I enjoyed this book. It was a trip in the way back machine to the 1980s. Al is a very sympath
I'm actually going to give this book 5 stars because it had everything I look for in a good novel - a bit of suspense, some mystery, some times when I literally laughed/chuckled out loud, and an overall good story. I found the writing style to be very refreshing; I could really seem to get into the head of a 14-year-old boy. It was fun, direct, and yet not-so-direct all at the same time.

That said, I can see why publishers were wary of it. Not because it wouldn't sell or wouldn't be a good read,
Jen Rondinelli
I remember reading this in 6th grade and I felt like maybe I was too young to understand some of it. I just read it again about a year ago and now I can officially say that it was pretty good for my old English teacher's first book :)
Brenda Mengeling
Very enjoyable coming of age novel set in 1984 on Cape Cod. However, it is NOT a YA novel. The themes are quite sophisticated and nuanced, and young adults who read this should have an open-minded adult to talk to about the story.

I found the first person narrative of teen Albert E. Newman quite engaging. All the secondary characters were well drawn also. Cammie, Al's girlfriend for the summer is the most obscure, but that is because Al finds girls confusing and mysterious. The reader can see in
This was another free book I received for my kindle in one of the daily emails alerting readers to deals on amazon. I am continuously amazed at the quality of many of these books. Alchemy proved to be no exception to that and is one of the best books that I've read so far this year. Hugh Manatee, the wayward manatee who makes his way up to Cape Cod each summer, is the perfect mascot for this novel. Alchemy is filled with heart, laughter (I was literally cackling out loud while reading parts), lo ...more
Wow...just WOW! After finishing this story I could see it being a movie. The author weaves a "coming of age" story unlike any I've read before. Al's Dad doesn't come home one day and nobody tells him why leading him to think all sorts of things that may have happened to him and we see it all from his eyes letting us feel the confusion and everything else that happens to Al. Five years later at age 15, Al is dealing with a first love, his boyhood friends, his Mom, his Grandma, his missing Dad and ...more
I was a hesitant to read another "coming of age" story but I am glad I did. I loved the first person narration but thought that some of his observations were a bit too mature to be coming from a person of his age. I thought the author captured the time period well and made enough references to current happenings of the 80's for you to be immersed in that time frame. The characters were well fleshed out and I enjoyed the ending's'(other reviewers made reference to 3 endings)I think Mike Wood is a ...more
This was an excellent book. The author did an AMAZING job of capturing how it feels to be an early teenage really took me back 35 years. The characters are well developed and multidimensional. The book moves along at an excellent pace, and even when the story completely changes gears, the transition is smooth. There is an emotional depth to this story that is quite amazing, especially for a first-time author. Lastly, this book has an excellent message, and yet it avoids getting "preachy ...more
This is truly a wonderful story. It is nothing like I was expecting! I loved all the characters; they were real, well rounded and engaging. The way the author was able to take us into their lives and understand all perspectives was amazing. This story had depth, drama, and humor; it is far more than a simple story. I think this is an author to watch. I recommend this book to anyone who loves heartfelt coming of age stories. This is also a very well edited book, very professional.
Arni Vidar Bjorgvinsson
Wow. What a wonderful read and a wonderful first book by author Mike Wood.

It's a beautiful coming-of-age story that made me both laugh out loud and weep, as I got the privilege of following 15 year old Al and his friends as they enjoyed the pleasures and pain of the fateful summer of 1984.

I can't say much more without spoiling the story, so I won't :)
What I WILL say, however, is: Buy This Book! :D
I just finished reading this book by Mike Wood. Mr. Wood happens to live in my hometown and he is going to be a guest speaker at our next book club meeting to talk to us about his book. Alchemy was a fun, easy read about a young boy coming of age in Cape Cod. I took this book with me to the beach and thoroughly enjoyed the story and characters.
I'm currently reading and really enjoying this young adult book that had nothing but fantastic reviews on Amazing. The Kindle edition is currently only $2.99....

Update - I would give this 3.5 stars. It wasn't amazing but it was really good, especially for $2.99 - a sweet summer story about young love, forgiveness and a manatee named Hugh.
Somehow I knew this book was special from the moment I saw it. It is unlike any other book I have read. Al is such a great character, and I ended up feeling like he or maybe the author was my little brother.

No way am I going to spoil any of the surprises in this book, but it has really touched me. Mike, you should be proud of this book.
Justin Tappan
Tried and couldn't finish. This was self-published on Amazon, and it shows. Not edited very well, as I discovered quite a few grammatical errors. That in itself isn't a deal-breaker, but I just couldn't get into the story. The writing is decent, don't get me wrong. There's potential here. But in the end it just lost me.
Great summer read & awesome to get to have the author at our Book Club. It took awhile to get into the story but once it caught on I couldn't put it down. Mike brought us back to the 80's of a young summer romance. I would recommend this book for anyone to read from young adolescents to adults. Good job Mike!!
Christine Skowera smith

This book is written in the view of a preteen boy and I think that is what it makes it most compelling. His adventures on the Cape with his friends and with a girl he likes were fun to read. The book takes a turn to more serious matters, but again, through the eyes of a preteen boy.
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Ask Me About Alch...: Questions? 1 11 Aug 12, 2011 06:36AM  
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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, ...more
More about Mike Wood...
Mourning Wood: The Preposthumously Early Work of Mike Wood

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