Thursday, June 18, 2015


Last month, Wellington-based author TA MacLagan launched her debut young adult thriller, THEY CALL ME ALEXANDRA GASTONE. It looks like it will be the first instalment in an exciting spy series, and is published in ebook form by United States-based publisher Full Fathom Five Digital. Here's some more info...

Book Blurb: 
When your life is a lie, how do you know what’s real?

Alexandra Gastone has a simple plan: graduate high school, get into Princeton, work for the CIA, and serve her great nation.

She was told the plan back when her name was Milena Rokva, back before the real Alexandra and her family were killed in a car crash.

Milena was trained to be a sleeper agent by Perun, a clandestine organization from her true homeland of Olissa. There, Milena learned everything she needed to infiltrate the life of CIA analyst Albert Gastone, Alexandra’s grandfather, and the ranks of America’s top intelligence agency.

For seven years, “Alexandra” has been on standby and life’s been good. Grandpa Albert loves her, and her strategically chosen boyfriend, Grant, is amazing. But things are about to change. Perun no longer needs her at the CIA in five years’ time. They need her active now.

Between her cover as a high school girl—juggling a homecoming dance, history reports, and an increasingly suspicious boyfriend—and her mission in this high-stakes spy game, the boundaries of her two lives are beginning to blur. Will she stay true to the country she barely remembers, or has her loyalty shattered along with her identity?

The author (from the publisher website): 
TA Maclagan is a Kansas girl by birth but now lives in the bush-clad hills of Wellington, New Zealand with her Kiwi husband, son and four pampered cats. With a bachelor’s degree in biology and a PhD in anthropology, she’s studied poison dart frogs in the rainforests of Costa Rica, howler monkeys in Panama and the very exotic and always elusive American farmer. It was as she was writing her ‘just the facts’ dissertation that TA felt the call to pursue something more imaginative and discovered a passion for creative writing. THEY CALL ME ALEXANDRA GASTONE is her first novel.

Early reviews? 
Early reviews have been promising, with Publisher's Weekly praising the novel's "intersection of action, espionage and drama" before noting that "readers will gladly sit back and watch Alexandra navigate the obstacle course that comes with playing her role too well. It’s a strong debut for New Zealand author Maclagan." BookList called it: “An intricate, debut spy thriller…readers will keep turning pages, and the surprise ending will have them anxiously awaiting a sequel."

From my perspective, I think it's great to see talented New Zealand authors turning their hand to tales of mystery, murder and mayhem for readers of all ages. I'm intrigued by MacLagan's tale, and will be looking forward to giving it a read myself - and out-and-out espionage thriller can be a joy to read now and then. 

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