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Sunday, March 16, 2014

{Blog Tour} ALPHA GODDESS by Amalie Howard


Alpha Goddess
by Amalie Howard
Publisher: Sky Pony Press
Published: March 2014
Length: 384 pages
Editions: print, ecopy
Source: Publisher via NetGalley

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 — Illysia (the Light Realm), Earth (the Mortal Realm), and Xibalba (the Dark Realm). 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.

Retellings of classic fairy tales and Greek myths are becoming staples in the young adult and adult fiction genres, and now Amalie Howard, author of the popular “Bloodspell,” brings the myth of Rama and Sita’s love story to an exciting new level. Howard’s stunningly fresh voice and imaginative characters promise to make “Alpha Goddess” an exciting addition to the young adult fiction world. Aimed at readers ages 13 to 17, both girls and boys will relate to Sera’s and Kyle’s realistic teen persona and dilemmas while learning more about a famous Hindu myth.



Sera is a typical American teen girl who has the typical growing up issues: angsty, discovering her self, trying desperately to find her place and fit in among peers at school, and the typical teen self doubts of "am I pretty enough/skinny enough/cool enough" all while worrying about performing well in school in preparation for college.What is not typical about Sera is what she learns from her parents shortly after turning 16 years old. Geesh. It is enough to be granted your wish to be special, beautiful, envy of all the girls, the one to be desired by all the boys. But imagine when you're being told that not only are you an immortal, but you're one of the Goddesses of mythical Indian beliefs! She also learns that the "ugly" self she sees when she looks in the mirror isn't what she looks like at all. She's perfectly beautiful and glowing, the latter literally.

Sera learns why her parents had to put the "Shade" (a kind of glamour to hide her) on her. It is not only to shield her and protect the humans from seeing how she glows, but to hide her from the dangers out there that can not only harm her and her family, but the welfare of the entire human world. Sera learns that there are battles as there is a full-fledged war going on. In-fighting between other mortals who walk the earth among humans, the many demons who are doing the same, and some have very malicious goals. As is with humans, there are bad immortals and good immortals, bad demons and good demons.

So now Sera has her teenage human angsty stuff going on, learns she's a goddess, learns there is a war going on, and learns that she has a role in trying to protect the human world while managing her teenage angsty, her mixed emotions, her feelings, her desires. This girl's plate is FULL.

The story moves along well enough, only a few areas dragged the tiniest bit. Sera's denial was a tad annoying as she went on and on despite the evidence staring at her in the face. Angst is one thing, the excessive denial turned into whining, and I found it annoying. The prose developed around the tale fits and the characters are believable enough (yes, even Sera with her whining. Who doesn't know a really whiny teen? ;) ), and I enjoyed learning about India's cultural beliefs. I thought this book also reflected America's diversity quite well, the Melting Pot that we are.

My favorite character? Nate, the 10 year old brother. He's the most likable and has a good handle on things. I especially liked how, in the very beginning, he saved his sister's butt from mom's wrath and extorted her for snacks. lol 


AMALIE HOWARD grew up on a small Caribbean island where she spent most of her childhood with her nose buried in a book or being a tomboy running around barefoot, shimmying up mango trees and dreaming of adventure. Traveling the globe, she has worked as a research assistant, marketing representative, teen speaker and global sales executive. In between writing novels and indulging her love of reading, Amalie is also a books review editor for TheLoopNY, and blogs at amaliehoward.com. She is represented by the Liza Royce Agency. 
Her debut novel, BLOODSPELL, was selected as a Seventeen Magazine Summer Club Read. She is also the author of The AQUARATHI series from Harlequin TEEN (WATERFELL Nov 2013 and OCEANBORN Aug 2014), THE ALMOST GIRL from Strange Chemistry Jan 2014, and ALPHA GODDESS from Skyhorse/Sky Pony Press Mar 2014.

For tour and upcoming events, check out amaliehoward.com for more information.

And you can stalk Amalie at: Goodreads | Twitter | Facebook 


Q&A with author Amalie Howard


You released your first book “Bloodspell” in 2011, which led to an impressive five book publishing deals. How the heck do you have time to write so much, and what does it feel like to have your work recognized in such a great way?
I am so incredibly grateful that my wonderful editors saw something they loved in my books and wanted to publish them. All three of my upcoming novels—WATERFELL, THE ALMOST GIRL, and ALPHA GODDESS—each brings something different and unique to the table, so I’m really excited that readers will get to sample such a diverse range of what I have to offer as an author.
As far as writing so much, I’m very lucky that I’m a fast writer, so once I get an idea in my head, I just go. I plot a basic outline of my expectations, and then I let the story take me on its journey. And as I always say to my teen creative writing classes, writing is like homework. You have to make time for it and be diligent about doing it.

What will fans of “Bloodspell” like best about your upcoming titles?
Fans of BLOODSPELL will enjoy meeting some very special new characters and being introduced to completely different worlds—figuratively and literally, especially in THE ALMOST GIRL. In WATERFELL, I was particularly excited to share my love of the ocean (I grew up on an island) and surfing! I also wanted to explore the myth of the sea monster and shift it from something terrifying into something beautiful … enter the mysterious world of the Aquarathi!
I’ve always been fascinated by quantum mechanics (even though I was hopeless at physics in high school) and the possibility of alternate universes. In THE ALMOST GIRL, I was able to explore that and more in this book, like the whole concept of nature versus nurture and whether we evolve differently based on harsher environments. I think this book will take readers on an interesting journey.
In ALPHA GODDESS, I wanted to explore some of the stories I’d been told as a child. I also wanted to share some of my experience with readers. My father comes from a long line of Hindu priests, so these myths were a large part of my childhood. The Ramayana is a particularly beautiful love story, and while my novel is a work of fiction, I really enjoyed crafting my version from such an inspiring mythology.

Your next release, “Waterfell,” departs from the world of vampires and witches but stays in the realm of fantasy and science fiction. What do you like about those genres?
Clearly, I love escaping reality. Fantasy and science fiction have always been my true loves. Don’t get me wrong, I love a great contemporary novel as much as anyone, but getting lost in a an epic fantasy world or meeting characters from other planets who have superhuman powers is icing on the cake for me. I like being able to push the boundaries of reality, to create mind-boggling ‘what if’ scenarios … for example, with WATERFELL, what if sea monsters really did exist? And what if they were a species from another planet hiding on ours? And what if they could shift into human form? With science fiction and fantasy, the possibilities are endless.






Like all of your books so far, “The Almost Girl” features a strong, independent female character as the protagonist. What do you hope readers learn from her?
I’m a huge fan of strong female protagonists (that said, I do have a novel with a strong male protagonist so I’m not gender-biased). I do like strong protagonists on the whole, but I also do think there has to be character growth that is transparent and meaningful to the reader. No one’s going to relate to a character who stays the same. With Riven from THE ALMOST GIRL, I love that she has to dig deep down to embrace her emotions. A soldier first, she’s so hard on the outside but still vulnerable on the inside—I really connected with her struggle to just let go of all her rules and be a girl. We build so many walls to keep from being hurt that we don’t allow ourselves to connect with others. I love that she was brave enough to trust her heart. In the end, I’m hopeful that readers will empathize with Riven and learn, as she does, that humans are born to feel, and that being open to life and love doesn’t make you weaker … it makes you stronger.

“Alpha Goddess” is your take on an Indian mythological tale. Where did you first hear about it?
Although ALPHA GODDESS is a work of fiction, a lot of my inspiration for the characters and the world-building in this novel is based on Hindu mythology. My father is a second generation Brahmin (priest class in traditional Hindu society), so Indian mythology was an integral part of my childhood and religious education. Fascinated by stories and legends of various Hindu gods who incarnated as avatars to avert human tragedy, I wanted to write an epic story that encompassed some of the Hindu mythology elements I enjoyed as a child, like the Ramayana, the story of Rama and Sita. Of course, ALPHA GODDESS is my own invented take on another reincarnated version of these characters, and does not actually exist in Indian scriptures.

You are quite the world traveler. How do you incorporate the cultures you come across into your writing?
I love meeting new people and exploring different cultures. I really believe that traveling the world has helped me to craft my characters, especially the ones that aren’t human (whom I have to invent). How do they evolve? How are they different from regular people? How are they the same? I enjoy using elements and facets from all the different cultures I’ve interacted with over the years to develop compelling scenarios and create robust characters in my writing.
I also like to include some of my favorite cities in my novels, for example, Paris and New York in BLOODSPELL, San Diego, California in WATERFELL, and Fort Collins, Colorado in THE ALMOST GIRL. Although a writer can research anything online, writing about a place I’ve actually been to helps me to picture scenes and places more vividly. It allows me to create more authentic descriptions, so that my readers can feel like they are there, too.  

We can only imagine you’re working on something new. Can you give us any sneak peek into the mind of Amalie Howard and what’s to come?

            I’m working on several different projects. I’ve just finished writing OCEANBORN, which is the sequel to WATERFELL, and I’ve also just completed a near-future, technological YA thriller/romance, which has a male protagonist that I’m very excited about. That one is now in the capable hands of my agent. In addition to that, I have outlined a companion novel to ALPHA GODDESS, and I am about to start writing the sequel to THE ALMOST GIRL. Lastly, I’m fleshing out a joint project with another YA writer that’s super secret and under wraps for now. So yes, I’m busy, but I’m embracing it all (with a lot of gratitude). 

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