Lexie Conyngham's Blog: writing, history and gardening.

Monday 21 September 2020

Book tour: Along Came a Spyder, by Apeksha Rao




Are your Spidey senses tingling?


At 17, Samira Joshi has only one dream in life. She wants to be a spy.

 And why not? 

Spying runs in the Joshi genes.

Her great-grandmother was famous for sticking her nose in everyone’s business. Her grandmother had a flourishing side-business of tracking down errant husbands and missing servants. Her parents are elite intelligence agents for RAW.

Yet, they want their only daughter to become a doctor.

When she sees a college friend being trapped by a pimp, Samira does some spying of her own, and discovers the existence of a secret sisterhood of teen spies — The Spyders. And, she wants in!

The question is, do they want her?


To find out, read this fast-paced, gripping YA novel by brand new author, Apeksha Rao.


My review: We hit the ground running in this teen fiction spy adventure! Samira comes from a family of spies and is keen to continue the tradition, but her parents don’t approve. But when Samira gets involved in an incident in Dubai they are forced to let her tag along. There’s lots going on in this book, with plenty of witty asides and intriguing incidents. There’s a good deal of fun poked at Indian civil service habits and Indian family politics, but things do turn serious with the death of a fellow student, and with Samira’s own childhood traumas coming to the surface. The Dubai plot and Samira’s own ‘professional development’ are intertwined with mixed results. Amidst the fun there are some serious issues, too: terrorism, drug running, prostitution, real life. This is a thoroughly entertaining book from start to finish, but it doesn’t shirk the heavy things.

Book links:

Amazon India: https://amzn.to/3miRgof

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/52663172-along-came-a-spyder


Advance praise for Along Came A Spyder:

"A thrilling read with several nail biting moments. Will keep you hooked till the end."

 Andaleeb Wajid, author of The Legend Of The Wolf


"A fantastic spy story, keeps you on the edge and you can't stop till you finish the book. A fantastic debut book. Look forward to reading more from the author."

Kanchana Banerjee, author of Nobody's Child and A Forgotten Affair.


"Witty, snarky and a thorough entertainer, Along Came a Spyder is a welcome addition to India's YA genre."

Shilpa Suraj, author of Love, Marriage and Other Disasters, Saved by Love, and, Driven by Desire


"Apeksha Rao writes a taut espionage thriller with a twist-a-minute narrative that is sure to get all readers hooked. The language is flawless, the characterization spot-on, and the plot is filled with rich details. It is the kind of story that you'd leave all your other work aside to read. Be warned!"

Neil D'Silva, author of Haunted, Yakshini and Maya's New Husband



Author bio:


Apeksha Rao fell in love with words very early in life.

While other kids of her age were still learning to spell, she was already reading her older brother’s books and comics.

She wrote her first story at the age of seven and submitted it to Tinkle, a very popular children’s magazine.

Writing took a backseat, as she established a thriving medical practice.

But Apeksha rekindled her love affair with words, while on maternity leave.

She would tap away at her keyboard while rocking her twin babies to sleep, as sleep deprivation stimulated her dormant creativity.

She wrote numerous short stories, that she published on her blog.

Apeksha has been lauded for her taut and gripping stories, that always come with a twist at the end.

In addition to Along Came A Spyder, she has written The Itsy Bitsy Spyder, a prequel novella to the Spyders series.

A Mumbaikar, born and bred, Apeksha comes from a family of doctors.

At the ripe age of thirty-four, she wound up her practice and moved with her family, to Bengaluru.

She is now a full-time writer.

She is also a die-hard foodie, who’s still trying to find the best vada-pav in Bengaluru.

She has twin boys, who keep her on her toes.

Apeksha’s husband is her inspiration to write, as well as her biggest critic.



Website – https://apeksharao.in/

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/ApekshaRaoOfficial/

Twitter – https://twitter.com/apekshar

Instagram - https://www.instagram.com/rao.apeksha/


Thursday 3 September 2020

A few books from August

 First, just to let you know that the launch of Dragon in the Snow has been postponed to 7th October and will be viewable on Facebook, so if you can't make it live you can see it later! Let us know at 

contact@kellascatpress.co.uk if you need a link nearer the time.


Right, I seem to be halfway through a lot of books and haven't actually finished so many in August, so here we are in no particular order (this won't take you long, and I think I might have been a bit grumpy this month!):

Past Crimes: A Compendium of Historical Mysteries

OtherJennifer Ashley Gardner, Past Crimes: A collection of shorts from her three series. Well written with only a few Americanisms and they’re quite subtle, like picking up a fork instead of a knife and fork, and cooking ‘flat muffins’ for breakfast. The first centres on a young Victorian cook in London, the second on a Roman gladiator, and the third on Captain Lacey (I’d read one of those books before). I like the style of each, perhaps Captain Lacey least of the three, but then I’m picky about my Georgian crime. Something that particularly irks me (though Gardner is perhaps less guilty of this than other authors) is that neologism to want for ‘I wanted for her to be nice to me’. No. I wanted her to be nice to me. It seems to be creeping in from America and however correct you might argue it to be now, it certainly wasn’t even thought of in Georgian London.

A Corpse in A Caravan (An Izzy Palmer Novella, #1)

Benedict Brown, A Corpse in a Caravan: Roughly novella-sized, this was nicely set in a dismal winter caravan park in the rain, with tantalising allusions to books in the series which I have not read. I liked the quickly-sculpted social circle with all their issues and the way the plot was resolved.

Murder by Misrule (Francis Bacon Mystery #1)

Anna Castle, Murder byMisrule: Francis Bacon, who has offended the Queen, is bemoaning his lot when he comes across the corpse of a venerable lawyer, his old tutor. We’re straight into the action of Elizabethan London here. The style is good if a bit convoluted, and there’s a touch too much background information all at once, but the plot is pleasantly complex and it’s fairly easy to imagine ourselves in the setting.

Where The Truth Lies (DI Ridpath #1)

M.J. Lee, Where the TruthLies: I’ve enjoyed a book by this author before, but in a different series. The main character is a police officer just back from major sick leave and sent to work in the coroner’s office – an interesting set-up, and the first case starts with great promise. Not sure about some of the names – Eileen and Irene (though Eileen is sometimes Cecilia) for young women is unusual these days. There are some nasty scenes, but the main character is very likeable and the secondary characters are unusual without being freakish.

The Scent of Guilt (DI Bliss, #2)

Tony Forder, The Scent ofGuilt: There are a lot of people very enthusiastic about this series, but I'm afraid I don't quite understand the hype - just me, perhaps. Confusingly this starts years after the first in the series, though I gather the author had a good reason for it – just be warned. I’m confused too about the first two victims here, referred to as ‘elderly’ and aged, apparently, 60 and 58, and living in sheltered accommodation – goodness! I waited to hear if there was some odd reason for this. He also refers to his DCI’s PA as ‘elderly, bespectacled’ – I doubt the police keeps them on past 67. Bliss is no spring chicken – he’s 55, to judge by his reminiscences about his wife. Increasingly irritable, I don’t need to know every time he drives that it’s an Insignia, just that it’s a car and not a tractor. In the same vein, I don’t need to know what brand of mobile phone he uses. Bliss is a likeable character, though: he is supportive of junior officers with potential (their glowing remarks about him are a little less credible), has a better degree of common sense than a lot of his fictional equivalents, deals sensibly with his health problems and applies himself to his work without veering into obsession, yet has his believable faults, too, and in the end the book is very readable and enjoyable. But sorry, I still don't think it's outstanding.

The Secrets of Pain (Merrily Watkins, #11)

Phil Rickman, The Secrets of Pain: Perhaps not my favourite in this terrific series, but that might be because I kept being interrupted in reading it and kept losing my way. But as usual the characters continue to grow and the plot, entangling crime and the supernatural, is intriguing.