Friday, June 26, 2015

Review. Interview, & Giveaway: They Call Me Alexandra Gastone by T. A. Maclagan

Today on WinterHaven Books we have the amazing T.A. Maclagan with us!  She is stopping by to answer a few of my questions about her latest book and there is also a really fun contest and giveaway that you won't want to miss!  

1. How much research did you do before writing your novel?
I’ve always been a huge fan of spy books, both fiction and nonfiction, so in a way, I’ve been researching for the book most of my teen and adult life!

2. I would have loved to have known more about Milena's family, will we get to see more of them in the next book?
Yes! The next book is very much a family affair! The reader will be introduced to Milena’s enigmatic father, who is definitely not going to be winning father of the year.

3. Can you tell us anything about Milena's mom? I'm extremely curious about her connection to Perun.
Wow. Such a hard question. You’re very intuitive. All I can say is that Milena’s mom’s relationship to Perun is a central aspect of the sequel. No one is who they first appear to be

4. Whose character was the hardest to write?
Lex was probably the hardest to write. As a spy for the “other side” it took some trial and error to make her both likable and believable as a character. In some of my earlier versions she came across as too distant from Grant and Albert.

5. Are you Team Grant or Team Varos? I have to say I am torn!!
I have to say that I’m a bit torn as well. They are both good for her in their own ways. I probably lean toward being team Grant, just because Grant is so my sort of guy. I love the sporty geek types. That said, I’m not sure Lex is the right girl for him. I’m still working through my feelings on Lex’s romantic life

6. What can you tell us about the sequel?
The plan is for a duology, so readers will only have to wait for one more book before all their questions about Lex and Perun are answered. The sequel, if all goes according to plan, should be out next year. Expect lots of twists and turns and some very big reveals! Lex and the reader are in for a ride.

I am so excited for the sequel! Especially after reading these answers!  I just want to know more and it looks like I will get my wish yay!
T.A. thanks so much for stopping by, it's been amazing working with you!

About the Author
T.A. 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 Ph.D. 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 T.A. felt the call to pursue something more imaginative and discovered a passion for creative writing. They Call Me Alexandra Gastone is her first novel.
You can find her online at:

They Call Me Alexandra GastoneThey Call Me Alexandra Gastone by T. A. Maclagan
Publisher: Full Fathom Five Digital
Release Date: May 20th, 2015
Purchase: Amazon / B&N / iTunes / Kobo
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?
My thoughts:
I have to say I am really loving the whole spy/impersonating story lines that are coming out these days.  This is my second book that has incorporated this into its plot and while I did have a few problems, I still really enjoyed it.

Milena after watching her mom die is enrolled at Perun.  Perun is a school for spies sort of speak and there Milena trains to infiltrate the CIA and report back to her home country, Olissa.  Her first mission is to impersonate Alexandra Gastone and to do this she undergoes plastic surgery and watches countless videos so that she can emulate her. Nobody can know, she must become Alexandra for her country and to avenge her mother.

I really liked the political intrigue that was woven into this story.  I sometimes get lost inside the story and get really confused, but the author did a really great job at explaining things.  She didn't dumb it down for the reader, she took the time to set up her government and I appreciated the extra time and care.  

I am not sure if I buy where the story eventually went though.  I was right with the author up until the last few pages.  I would have liked a little bit more explanation and I think what would have really helped was more back story.  I don't know the why's of Olissa's hatred for the US other than the surface problems and even those were kind of debunked along the way.  I know this is the first book in the series so I am just going to assume the next book will answer my questions.  I'm intrigued so the author did something right that's for sure and I'll definitely pick up the next installment, because I want those answers!

Milena was an interesting character.  I really rooted for her and I did like her, but I did expect more of a bad arse.  After reading all about her training I felt like she didn't quite deliver on her supposed amazing skills.  I'm wondering if the author chose to go this route because she was young and out of practice??  Whatever the reason I wish she had been a bit more aggressive and able to defend herself.  That being said though I did feel for her and I can't imagine what she went through especially at the end after a huge bomb is dropped.  I think she will come into her own in the next book and I have a feeling I will like her even more.

Okay my complaints...1. I would have liked to have known more about Milena's mom and why she was murdered.  This was never explained and I needed that explanation.  This would have solved so much for me and honestly the whole book it was in the back of my mind.  I don't think I missed the explanation because I was hunting for it.  I wanted that and I wanted to know how Milena's family was involved with Perun.  These topics were kind of skirted around and well it bugged me.  2. the romance.  If you have read my reviews lately you know I am not a fan of romance at the moment.  That being said I can always overlook one if it is done right and I just don't think this one was.  I honestly though appreciate the author giving Grant and Milena flaws early on so that the inevitable love triangle won't be so bad.  I know one is coming and I just don't know how I feel about the other guy.  There is an age thing to deal with and we don't really get to see much of him, so I just don't know.  I can see why the romance was needed, but I wish the author would have focused more on back story and let the romance fall by the waste side.

Those are my only complaints and while they sound like big ones they really aren't.  I can get past them because the author did create a fun novel that kept me interested and pining for more.  I have lots of questions and I think the author will definitely deliver with the next installment.

3.5 snowflakes

T.A. is giving away a $15 Amazon gift card to one lucky reader!  Fill out the form below to enter!
Good luck!
a Rafflecopter giveaway 

I also have a fun contest to share!  Here's all the details!


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