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Title: Alpha Goddess
Author: Amalie Howard
Publisher: Sky Pony Press
Acquired Via: JKS Communications
Release Date: March 18, 2014
In Serjana Caelum’s world, gods exist. So do goddesses. Sera knows this because she is one of them. A secret long concealed by her parents, Sera is Lakshmi reborn, the human avatar of an immortal Indian goddess rumored to control all the planes of existence. Marked by the sigils of both heaven and hell, Sera’s avatar is meant to bring balance to the mortal world, but all she creates is chaos. A chaos that Azrath, the Asura Lord of Death, hopes to use to unleash hell on earth.
Torn between reconciling her past and present, Sera must figure out how to stop Azrath before the Mortal Realm is destroyed. But trust doesn’t come easy in a world fissured by lies and betrayal. Her best friend Kyle is hiding his own dark secrets, and her mysterious new neighbor, Devendra, seems to know a lot more than he’s telling. Struggling between her opposing halves and her attraction to the boys tied to each of them, Sera must become the goddess she was meant to be, or risk failing, which means sacrificing the world she was born to protect.
I waited a long time for a book that featured some sort of Middle Eastern mythology. Alpha Goddess focuses on Hindu mythology, but there is a bit of Iranian lore that is mixed in with the story. It's not a major thing, but it was enough to make me a happy camper. Besides the wonderful mythology, there is also the typical YA love triangle, which isn't quite as exciting. However, Sera was a realistic teen who behaved like a typical kid that young readers will easily relate to.
I will happily admit that the extent of my knowledge of the mythology Howard uses in Alpha Goddess begins and ends with my recognition of the names and the regions of their origins. (That's why I want to read more from that area of the world and learn.) That being said, the world-building worked for me because the use of gods, goddesses, and the afterlife was new to me and not something I can nitpick to death, like Greek mythology. So many writers seem to choose Hades and Persephone when dealing with Hell or the underworld.
Since I was in unfamiliar waters with Alpha Goddess, it was a quick read. I kept flipping through the pages to see more and learn more. The times that the story did start to drag had nothing to do with the world-building or writing. It had more to do with the characters.
Sera was not a problem for me. I liked that instead of being a petite, wilting flower that I've seen so much of lately, she's a brunette that stands nearly six feet tall. Very rarely do I read about tall girls in this genre. Of course she rebels against her parents (hello, teenager?!), but she's not incredibly disrespectful or stupid in her disobedience. The best thing about Sera is how she interacted with her little brother, Nate. Instead of treating him like a genius of a pest, she treated him as an equal. That was so beyond awesome. However, when Kyle and Dev came around, I did drift a little at times. They weren't bad characters to read, but love triangles. *sigh*
For those of you who are looking for a book outside the box in YA, I recommend Alpha Goddess. It takes the path less taken when it comes to mythology, and Howard's writing will have you hooked. I can't wait to see what else Amalie Howard has in store for us.
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About the Author
A rising star among young adult writers, Amalie Howard developed a loyal following after releasing her debut book, Bloodspell, in 2011. Now, she is returning with five new books that are sure to excite her devoted fans and catch the attention of new readers.
A bookworm from the beginning, Howard grew up on a small island in the Caribbean with her nose buried in books. When she was just 13 years old, her poem “The Candle” was published in a University of Warwick journal, marking a sign of great things to come. Howard immersed herself into other cultures, globetrotting through 22 countries in North America, Europe, Asia and Australia. After moving to the United States, she earned a bachelor’s degree in international studies and French from Colby College in Maine. She also holds a certificate in French literature from the Ecole Normale Superieure in Paris, France. Traveling around the world, Howard has lent talents as a research assistant, marketing representative, freelance writer, teen speaker, blogger and global sales executive.
Howard is a recipient of a Royal Commonwealth Society award, an international youth writing competition. She is also a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.
Howard’s first book, Bloodspell (June 2011, Langdon Street Press) earned rave reviews and was named a Seventeen Magazine Summer Beach Read. Readers will hear more from Howard as she releases a pair of two-book series, Waterfell (November 2013, Harlequin TEEN) and The Almost Girl (January 2014, Strange Chemistry), as well as Alpha Goddess (March 2014, Skyhorse/Sky Pony Press) over the next two years.
Howard lives in New York with her husband, three children and one willful feline that she is convinced may have been a witch’s cat in a past life.
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To satisfy FTC guidelines, I am disclosing that I received an advance copy of the book for reviewing purposes through JKS Communications in exchange for an honest review. The book was likely provided by the publisher or author, which has in no way affected the outcome of my review. All opinions expressed are rambling, honest, and completely my own.