Google+ Reading Teen: Top Ten Butt-Kicking Females . . . and Giveaway!

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Top Ten Butt-Kicking Females . . . and Giveaway!

Counting Down the Top 10 Butt Kicking Females that Influenced the Character of Alexandra Gastone in They Call Me Alexandra Gastone! Plus Giveaway!

10. Wonder Woman

 Wonder Woman was on when I was a kid and was my first introduction to badass female warriors. I loved pretending to be her and given that my obsession with such women remains, I know she had an impact on me and because of that on Alexandra.

9. Echo on The Dollhouse 

You'll no doubt realize that I'm a huge Joss Whedon fan by the time you get to the end of my list. Echo comes in at number 9 because of her journey toward self-discovery. At the start of the show, she's a doll without an identity. She can be anyone she's programmed to be. But then her old identity starts to seep though. I'm very intrigued by notions of identity and in how people come to be who they are. Alexandra's exploration of her identity is a pivotal component of They Call Me Alexandra Gastone.

  8. Boomer from Battlestar Galactica

 I'm a huge BSG fan and one of my favorite characters was Boomer. In many ways, her struggle against her inner Cylon, mirrors Alexandra's struggle with being a spy.

7. Claire Bennett from Heroes

Although undeserved, the cheerleader stereotype is such that very few would expect a cheerleader to be physically indestructible like Claire Bennett in Heroes. It's what made her character so fun (at least in the first season anyway). Similarly, I made Alexandra a cheerleader, because few would expect a cheerleader of being a badass spy. I love playing with stereotypes and the misconceptions they cause.


6. Elizabeth Jennings from The Americans

Although I'd written my first couple of drafts of Alexandra Gastone before The Americans hit the airwaves, I found that my later drafts were influenced by the show, in general, and Elizabeth Jennings, in particular. Elizabeth is a Russian sleeper agent living in the U.S. during the 1980s. She is a caring mother to two very American kids while also being a stone cold killer, who wouldn't hesitate to kill an innocent bystander in order to protect her cover. I found the dualism of her life to be very intriguing and it influenced my perceptions of the dualism in Alexandra's life.

  5. Sydney Bristow from Alias

In the first season of Alias, Sydney juggled her spy life with having a serious boyfriend and being a graduate student. I loved that idea of having to balance a super sexy spy life with more mundane things like homework, finals and maintaining a relationship. As a high school student, Alexandra has to maintain just such a juggling act.

4. Nikita from La Femme Nikita

In the late 1990s version of the show, Nikita was falsely accused of murder and recruited into Section One to be trained as a spy and assassin. A spy's life is a tough one and when you've had that path chosen for you, things can get very interesting. Like Nikita, Alexandra didn't choose to be a spy.

3. Veronica Mars

I'll be a Marshmallow forever and always! Although not much of a physical fighter, armed with a taser and her wit, Veronica was still a force to be reckoned with. I love girls that aren't afraid to be smart and Veronica was one of those just like Alexandra.

2. Buffy Summers from BTVS

 If Wonder Woman got me interested in butt kicking women and made me fantasize about being one myself, Buffy Summers pretty much sealed the deal. While Wonder Woman was cool for just being able to go up against the guys and win, Buffy was even more intriguing because her character was so multidimensional. She may have had to face the Hellmouth a time or two, but like Alexandra, she also had real teen girl problems - boy issues, mom issues, homework issues, mean girl issues. She faced them all as a strong believable character with the added bonus of having some of the best dialogue on TV.

1. Evelyn Salt from Salt

Evelyn Salt comes in at number 1 because she is the inspiration behind They Call Me Alexandra Gastone. In the movie Angelina Jolie plays a Russian sleeper agent and there’s a short flashback segment showing her spy training as a child and then her insertion into the United States. She’s maybe ten years old at the time of her insertion and we see nothing of her life again until she’s an adult. It’s this tiny little flashback sequence that served as my inspiration. What must her life have been like as a teenage sleeper agent? That story is the one I explore in They Call Me Alexandra Gastone.



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?

"An intricate, debut spy thriller...readers will keep turning pages, and the surprise ending will have them anxiously awaiting a sequel." —Booklist
"I couldn’t put They Call Me Alexandra Gastone down—Maclagan’s clever, never-what-they-seem characters and authentic tradecraft tidbits lured me in, while Alexandra’s resourcefulness against overwhelming odds kept me constantly guessing." — Lindsay Smith, author of the Sekret series
"A solid debut that has both heart and smarts. Clever, solidly paced, and power-packed with a killer voice. They Call Me Alexandra Gastone is a blast to read. A perfect balance of mystery, romance, and betrayal. Bring on the sequel!" — Lindsay Cummings, author of The Murder Complex


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:

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