Thursday, September 11, 2014

Review: "A" Is for the Alchemist: A Winnie and Winslow Adventure by James Larson

“A” Is for the Alchemist is a middle grade action/adventure novel where Winslow and Winnie team up with their cat and a homeless dog to battle an alchemist who wants to turn base metal into gold – at whatever the cost in human lives

What follows is a madcap adventure complete with Winnie’s robot and science fair project being kidnapped, a flock of paranoid pigeons, a mechanical hawk and a race to prevent the alchemist from turning an NFL football stadium into gold while a game is in progress – threatening the lives of 100,00 innocent fans.

I've always liked books about twins and this one is no exception.

In "A" Is for the Alchemist: A Winnie and Winslow Adventure, Winnie has made a singing robot that she thinks will win the STEM Fair. However, the robot gets stolen by a flock of pigeons. She finds an amazing gadget in the attic and she thinks this may be the key to winning the STEM fair instead. What secret does this device hold, what does it mean for the twins, and what does everything going on have to do with a mysterious alchemist?

The story is written in the third person but the focus shifts from the twins to the animals and back. It allows the reader to understand the different pieces of the puzzle before the characters do and it helps readers get a better feel for the characters.

Winnie is my favorite character in the book. Amulet the dog is a coward and not that smart, but he made me laugh, partly, I think, because I imagined him as Dug from the movie Up. I didn't really like Winslow as I felt he was too slow to react and there were times when I felt like screaming at him to move. I didn't like the cat either as he seemed to be a self-serving, self-important animal.

The villain Dr. Lodestone was also quite despicable and really served his purpose. Even though his plot was far-fetched, him and his sidekick Crazy Eyes were so much fun to hate that it wasn't hard to believe in what they were trying to do. The whole alien subplot that seems to be meant for future books wasn't my cup of tea, however. It felt borderline X-Files to me and I wasn't a fan of that series. I hope the future books have more villains that are like Dr. Lodestone and Crazy Eyes as I felt they were more interesting.

Thanks to NetGalley and Smith Publicity - Book Baby for the e-copy.


  1. Winnie is a smart kid.
  2. There's a lot of potential here for the rest of the series.
  3. There are some interesting characters in the book.


  1. Some subplots feel unnecessary. 

"Perfecto Pigeon Wings: special spicy, special yummy!"

  1. You like books about twins.
  2. You like action-packed books.
  3. You like books with smart heroines. 



Note: This post contains Amazon and Book Depository affiliate links.

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