Book Review: Freedom or Death

This is the fourth book in the Juche series, which I would recommend reading in order. For quite a while now, Areum and her family have been in a concentration camp in the land of Choson, which is instantly recognizable as North Korea. Threatened daily with death and on the brink of starvation, Areum is more desperate than ever to find a way out for herself and her sister Nari. As she struggles to stay alive and plot her escape, she finds an ally she would have never expected.

I have enjoyed this series since the beginning, although the setting in a concentration camp is a hard one to read about. It is great to see the growth of Areum from a completely brainwashed teenager to someone who is very slowly beginning to see the light. The dynamic of a group of people who are in a life or death situation and are forced to turn on each other is sad and difficult to watch, and the way Areum navigates that is intriguing and often heartbreaking. There are moments of realization for Areum that are very powerful, especially one in particular that might cause you to shed some tears. . The combination of action and intrigue will keep you turning the page. This is a story about a concentration camp, but it’s also about the truth and how it can be shaped and manipulated. And it’s about the coming of age of a young girl forced into a terrible situation.

I received a free copy of this book from the author. My review is voluntary and my opinions are my own.


Adria Carmichael is a writer of dystopian fiction with a twist. When she is not devouring dystopian and post-apocalyptic content in any format – books, movies, TV-series and PlayStation games – she is crafting the epic and highly-addictive Juche saga, her 2020 debut novel series that takes place in the brutal, totalitarian nation of Choson. When the limit of doom and gloom is reached, a 10K run on a sunny day or binging a silly sitcom on a rainy day is her go-to way to unwind.



*Kindle Unlimited subscribers can read the series for free.

Self-Published Saturday/Juche 3: The Storm of Storms

Self-published Saturday is my attempt to help Self-Published/Indie authors. These authors have to do it all, from cover design to editing to marketing and more. Saturdays are reserved for giving them a little bit of help with the marketing side. This week’s first offering is the third book in Adria Carmichael’s Juche series, The Storm of Storms. This is the story of a young girl and her family who are imprisoned in a concentration camp in the country of Choson, which most will recognize as North Korea. See my review and an insightful Q&A with the author, Adria Carmichael.


After learning Nari’s shocking secret, Areum’s plans change drastically. Her new plan is riskier and more dangerous than ever, but first they must survive a devastating storm that almost eliminates the food supply. Areum struggles to learn who she can trust as she tries to keep herself and Nari alive. Along the way, she begins to learn some things about herself and her family.

This third installment of the Juche series is packed with action, intrigue, and deception. Areum’s growth continues as she very slowly begins to see the truth, guided by Nari. Nari, though she is physically weaker than Areum, can be wiser and more perceptive, and each twin uses their own particular strengths to keep them both alive. 

In this heartbreaking but compelling series, we watch the depths of evil to which mankind can sink. At the same time, we see the strength of those who continue to fight against great odds. The characters are well written, and the intrigue between the prisoners and guards is interesting to watch. The devastating storm and its aftereffects are powerfully portrayed. As this heartrending journey continues, you won’t want to miss a moment.


Cover grade is a new feature from me. As part of stressing how important the cover is to getting your book noticed on Amazon, I am putting my opinion of the cover in the form of 1 to 5 stars. This is meant as helpful and not critical. It does not reflect on the overall book review. With the millions of choices readers have while scrolling through books online, your cover needs to stand out.


Adria Carmichael is a writer of dystopian fiction with a twist. When she is not devouring dystopian and post-apocalyptic content in any format – books, movies, TV-series and PlayStation games – she is crafting the epic and highly-addictive Juche saga, her 2020 debut novel series that takes place in the brutal, totalitarian nation of Choson. When the limit of doom and gloom is reached, a 10K run on a sunny day or binging a silly sitcom on a rainy day is her go-to way to unwind.


Tell us a little more about yourself.  Where are you from and where do you live nowWhat do you like to do when you’re not writing?

Well, I’m a project manager by day and a writer by night, and in between I have a family with two wonderful children. I also indulge in my passion for long-distance running as often as I can. I live in Europe, but I can’t be more specific than that due to the sensitive topic I’m writing on (North Korea has people who harass those who depict their country in a bad way). I am a summer person and spend most of the summer vacation in the garden or on day trips. Winter I would prefer to just hibernate through (with a short break for Christmas and New Year). But at least I can get a lot of writing done during those long, dark winter months.

I also write what I love, so I consume anything dystopian or post-apocalyptic, whether it is books, movies, TV series, or Playstation games. My favorite in that genre is the TV show “Jericho” because it lets you follow the disintegration of society day by day and not only shows it long after it has happened. I’m thinking of writing something along those lines after Juche.

What inspired you to write the Juche series?

It was about ten years ago now I think. Time flies. I had just read both the Hunger Games trilogy and Escape from Camp 14, which is about the only known person who has escaped that North Korean prison camp. While reading, I noticed there were quite a few similarities, such as one capital where people live in luxury and the rest of the country only works to maintain the capital’s wealth and power. The people there are used as slave labor. The camps/districts are surrounded by high-voltage fences and people are abused by vicious guards. District 12 is mainly used to extract coal, so is camp 14 etc.

So, I came to the conclusion that North Korea is a lot like Panem, if you take away all the sci-fi stuff, and would be a great setting for a story. I could only find one fictional novel that used this concept before me (the Orphan Master’s Son). That was the moment of inception. Then, a few years later, while I was researching, I watched a documentary which included two sisters from North Korea. The older sister had fled and was living a free life in China, but the other one was left in North Korea. With the support of the film crew, they managed to smuggle the younger sister across the border and set up a heartfelt reunion in her apartment in China. However, to my surprise, it didn’t work out like that. The younger sister was still completely indoctrinated and didn’t believe any of the bad things her older sister told her about their country and leaders. In the end, she just hopped on a bus and went back to the border. That encounter really fascinated me, and right then and there I decided I wanted to make the protagonist just as indoctrinated as that girl, and the story would be seen through her eyes as her beliefs are increasingly challenged by the reality around her. 

How many books are planned for the series? That is a good question. The thing is that I didn’t write Juche as a series. My original idea was that the story would fit in one novel. When it grew out of that, I thought – trilogy. Then five books. Now, my best guess would be 9-10 books in total, and I split them up where it fits the story and so as not to make them too long. There are however some divisions to be made, so if you think in terms of a TV series, book 1-4 would be the first season. 

Areum appears selfish and angry much of the time through the first three books, and her growth seems slow.  Her treatment of her parents is horrible.  Can you explain Areum’s bad attitude to us and is there any hope for growth?

As I mentioned in the second question, my aim was to create a protagonist who is a victim of indoctrination and to see the world as the story develops through her indoctrinated eyes. She is herself not aware that she’s indoctrinated and thinks it’s the others who “don’t get it”. On top of that, she is a strong-minded fourteen-year-old girl with family issues and everything else that comes with that. So, yes, her behavior in the beginning of the story is appalling, which at first makes the reader dislike her, but as the story progresses, it becomes increasingly clear that she is the greatest victim – the totalitarian regime didn’t only take her freedom, they took her mind as well. In essence, what I try to explore in Juche is how much reality her indoctrination can withstand before breaking… if it breaks at all. You will have to read the books to find out if her mind will be freed or not, but as to the question “is there any hope for growth”, the answer is definitely yes 🙂

Obviously the subject matter of your series is very heavy.  How do you provide a glimmer of lightness or hope now and then

I would say that since Areum starts out hating her family (parents and twin sister) more than anything, the lightness and hope comes from the changes in those relationships over time, even if the situation they’re in becomes increasingly impossible. Also, Areum is an extremely strong character that refuses to give up. She doesn’t take anything lying down, but fights and wins more often than not, and I hope the reader is along for the ride and roots for her. Also, if you have a morbid sense humor like me, there are a few treats here and there as well.

Do you have plans for writing any other series?I have several ideas (one of which I mentioned before), and considering the writing style I have developed, all of them are likely to become series. But I’m not sure if I will start sketching on any of them before I have finished Juche. I’ll see how I feel after the fourth book. 

What does your writing day look like?

I really wish I had writing days, but in reality, I have a 9-5 job and a full time family, so I write nights and weekends whenever I have some time and energy to spare. I do like writing, however, so it would be nice to be able to do it full time some day. 

What self-publishing lessons or tips have you learned thus far that you can share with new writers?

I have learned a lot these past 2-3 years, but I’m sure I have only started to scratch the surface. One thing I would advise, though, is to focus on the story. Your writing will develop over time, but the story needs to be compelling from the start. The book that helped me understand this was “Story Genius” by Lisa Cron, so would highly recommend that one to start with. Secondly, the end product is not only the text you produce. It’s also the editing and the cover design. It’s important to get those right, and that’s easier with direct communication, so I would recommend using freelancers. If you go with a larger service provider, all communication will go via a coordinator, and then you can’t shoot off random questions, the lead time is longer, and the number of misunderstandings grows ex

Adria, thank you so much for answering my questions and providing us even more insight into your characters, your writing, and this series.


*Kindle Unlimited Subscribers can read this for free.

BOOK 1 and BOOK 2 are currently part of a free promotion until the end of the day today (Saturday September 18th). They can also be read free by Kindle Unlimited Subscribers anytime.

*If you buy the book(s), please leave reviews on Amazon and Goodreads, as well as anywhere else you review books.  Some people feel very daunted by writing a review. Don’t worry. You do not have to write a masterpiece. Just a couple of lines about how the book made you feel will make the author’s day and help the book succeed. The more reviews a book has, the more Amazon will promote it.

*Please click on the “share” buttons below and share these books with your Twitter, Facebook, and WordPress followers. A little bit of help from all of us will help self-published authors go a long way!


Book Promo: Juche 3: The Storm of Storms

*Not a book review. Review will be posted later.

Juche copy

To celebrate the release of The Storm of Storms, book #3 in her YA Dystopian saga, Juche, Adria Carmichael is giving the first two installments away for FREE! From September 14th to the 18th, you can download The Demon of Yodok and The Weeping Masses on Amazon for zero dollars!

Juche part three - eBook - CopyThe Storm of Storms (Juche #3)

Publication Date: September 15th, 2021

Genre: YA Dystopian/ Survival

A highly addictive Young Adult Dystopian Survival Saga that will keep you glued to the pages.

Nari’s shocking revelation in the watermill changes everything in an instant, and Areum is once more faced with an impossible decision. Will she betray her sister in order to save her life, or support her and let her die? In the midst of this struggle, the storm of the century hits the camp, and life goes from hard to impossible overnight. Areum slowly comes to realize there is only one way to ensure their survival.

To escape!

But how can they escape from an escape-proof prison camp? And even if they would get past the ferocious dog patrols, the machine gun-equipped guard towers and the electrified barbed wire fence… will she be willing to condemn everyone they’re leaving behind to an inescapable end through torture and death?


The Demon of Yodok (Juche #1)Juche part one - eBook - Copy

JUCHE [dʒuːtʃe]

Just when Areum, daughter of a privileged family in the totalitarian state of Choson, thought she was free from her personal prison, her world collapses around her as her family are taken away in the middle of the night to a hell-like camp in the mountains where people who have strayed from the righteous path are brutally re-educated through blood, sweat, tears and starvation.

There she has to fight for survival together with the family she hates and is forced to re-evaluate every aspect of her life until then – her deep resentment toward her twin sister; her view of her father in face of the mounting evidence he is a traitor with the blood of millions of fellow countrymen on his hands; and even her love and affection for the Great General – the eternal savior and protector of Choson, whom she had always considered her true father.


The Weeping Masses (Juche #2)Juche part two - eBook

Areum’s hopes to be set free from the brutal political prison camp holding them is crushed, and the heinous assault on her sister plunges her into a state of shock and horror… and puts her on a collision course with her family. All hope seems to be lost. Just when she is about to give up, however, a disturbing revelation is made… and as the evil of the camp is given a face, Areum finds a new purpose to keep fighting.


But first they need to survive, and with the constantly harshening conditions and her family being targeted from all directions, daily life in Yodok turns into a never-ceasing fight to evade imminent doom.

On top of everything, an impossible tragedy strikes Choson, and the unquestionable truth Areum has built her life around is challenged to its very core.


About the Author

AC Logo 2

Adria Carmichael is a writer of Young Adult Dystopian fiction with a twist. When she is not devouring dystopian and post-apocalyptic content in any format – books, movies, TV-series and PlayStation games – she is crafting the epic and highly-addictive Juche saga, her 2020 debut novel series that takes place in the brutal, totalitarian nation of Choson. When the limit of doom and gloom is reached, a 10K run on a sunny day or binging a silly sitcom on a rainy day is her go-to way to unwind.

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Self-Published Saturday: August 7, 2021/Torn Between Worlds

This is the newest edition of Self-Published Saturday, where I highlight self-published books and their authors. As you know, self-published authors have to do their own marketing, and I hope with this feature to help spread the word about their books.

Due to popular demand, I am changing Self-Published Saturday slightly. I am going to post more than one, and sometimes several, Self-Published Saturday features every Saturday. So this is the first of two Self-Published Saturday features I am putting up today. My first feature is Torn Between Worlds by Nancy Blodgett Klein. Told in diary form, it is a young adult story of immigration from Mexico to the US to Spain. As always, if you buy the book, please remember to leave a review. This is so important for self-published authors.

Torn Between Worlds is the life story told from the diary of Isabel, a nine-year-old girl who is taken by her father from Mexico to the United States, not through Customs, but through the desert in a trip arranged by a coyote. This young adult coming of age story takes Isabel from Mexico to the United States, back to Mexico, and then to Spain. Along the way, she relates historical events such as the September 11th, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center, deadly protests in Mexico, and the horrific 2004 Madrid train bombings. We are shown both Isabel’s daily life and world events through her diary, as her father takes her back to Mexico and she ends up going to Spain with her mother, who is fleeing prosecution in Mexico for her political activism. The author Nancy Blodgett Klein does a good job in this epistolary novel, as we see Isabel grow through her written voice from a 9 year old to a teenager, and then beyond. Although Isabel is a middle-grader for most of this story, I would recommend this only to young adults and above, as it contains very sensitive subject matter, such as violence and rape.

I downloaded a copy of this book on Kindle Unlimited, where subscribers can read it for free.


Nancy Blodgett Klein

(In Her Own Words) Torn Between Worlds was my first novel while Life Lessons was my first non-fiction work. Both were published in 2021. I worked as a journalist for 15 years in Chicagoland, starting out as a police reporter in Chicago. I also worked for the American Bar Association Journal, writing hundreds of articles on political, social and legal topics. Later on I was a public school teacher, including to many students from Mexico. I now live in sunny Spain with my husband Rick. I received a bachelor’s from Tulane University in philosophy and a master’s in journalism from Boston University. Later, I earned a second master’s in education from Roosevelt University. I love to read and am a member of two book groups and one writers group in Spain. I am passionate about travelling too. I write a blog called covering a wide variety of topics.


AMAZON *Kindle Unlimited subscribers can read this book for free.

Two Reminders before you go:

  1. If you buy the book(s), please leave reviews on Amazon and Goodreads, as well as anywhere else you review books. This is very important to self-published authors.
  2. Please click on the “share” buttons below and share these books with your Twitter, Facebook, and WordPress followers. A little bit of help from all of us will help self-published authors go a long way!

Self-Published Saturday, July 31, 2021

This is the newest edition of Self-Published Saturday, where I highlight self-published books and their authors. As you know, self-published authors have to do their own marketing, and I hope with this feature to help spread the word about their books. This week’s feature includes two books, both by Brett Salter. They are books 3 and 4 of his Talisman Series. I reviewed Books 1 and 2 already, and I have provided links below. The Talisman Series is a young adult/middle grade fantasy adventure–with dragons! As always, if you buy the book, please remember to leave a review. This is so important for self-published authors.

Book Review: Windy City Ruins (Book 3)

In Book 3 of the Talisman series, Rome, Julian, and Mrs. Case head to New York to meet with a contact and learn more about the talismans and their mission. Circumstances land them in the “Windy City” of Chicago, and they meet new friends and face new challenges. With targets on their backs and evil drawing ever closer, they continue to search for information on how to defeat the Tyrant King and his armies. I continue to enjoy this series, as Rome and Julian learn even more about talismans and their mission, and they meet fascinating new friends along the way. Rome continues to grow and learn. While I was still frustrated with Julian’s rudeness early in the book, he begins to show some growth as well. The group meets even more players in this game and we are introduced to another type of dragon. There is a shocking surprise that will provide more challenges than ever. I continue to be fascinated by the dragons in this series and the good vs. evil battle as a whole. Brett Salter has given us a fascinating world to explore in the Talisman series.

Book Review: The Battle for Verdana (Book 4)

Rome and Julian’s search for true synergy takes them to the forests of the Pacific Northwest where they search for answers and deal with the ever-pursuing enemy. More surprises and new friends await them in the latest book in the Talisman series.

Wow! Five stars for this one as Rome and Julian continue to grow in strength and humility. There are ups and downs, and a fantastic surprise at the end that will not disappoint. As always, epic battles abound, and I really enjoyed the character growth I saw in this book. This book teaches kids important lessons in integrity, humility, and team building. A team is made up of those with different strengths and talents, and I am glad to see this lesson shown so well in these books. I am looking forward to Book 5 and the adventures that await.




Brett Salter

Brett Salter’s background in writing stems mostly from the inspiration he found as a kid in Fantasy and Sci-Fi books. These include The Chronicles of Narnia, The Xanth Novels, The Time Quintet, The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, and everything from Shakespeare to Dr. Seuss.  In his formative years, he joined several punk rock bands and wrote songs, poetry, and short stories aplenty.  As an adult he took on a dare and wrote The Talisman Series.  He has published four books in this series so far:  The Search for Synergy, Riders of Fire and Ice, Windy City Ruins, and The Battle for Verdana.


You will find links buy all four books of the Talisman Series by clicking on the photo above.. Kindle Unlimited subscribers can read them for free.

Q&A With Brett Salter

Brett Salter was kind enough to answer some questions for me, and I thank him again for taking the time out to do that. Here is the Q&A below:

What inspired you to write the Talisman Series?  I’ve told this story a bunch of times.  And it’s completely true.  My mother dared me to write a book off a premise we came up with together, and I just went with it.  Before I knew it, I had the first book done and since it ended on a cliffhanger, we were like, “What next?”.  I realized that I liked writing so much that I just kept on going.  Now, I’m sitting on 4 self-published books and 7 more waiting in the wings (get it?)

What is the main message you want readers to take away from this series?  I think the main thing I want to impart on young readers is to always take that first step into adventure.  It could be a situation in real life or cracking open a book and following along with characters.  Preaching creativity is really what I strive for with my life and my kids’ lives.  I want them to be passionate about their interests and always be creative because this world need creativity now more than ever.  

How is Book 5 coming along?  Can you share the title yet, and how many books do you have planned for this series?  I plan on releasing the 5th book of my proposed 12 by winter of this year! It needs an edit or two….or three or four. And it needs some cover art, but it should be out early 2022. Book four ends with a pretty big cliffhanger regarding our heroes and their powers.  Well, that DOES get resolved, but the 5th book opens so much more trouble for our heroes in the form Darkbrand threats. Plus, we get a ton of reveals regarding the “big bad’s” plans, more Talismans, and we maybe, possibly, definitely get to visit a new dragon den???  I have several titles in the mix, but I have not settled on one yet.  This book is going to be a little darker than the previous 4, so I need title reflective of the darker turn in the series.  I’m open to suggestions

In your bio you mention being inspired by the Chronicles of Narnia and the Lord of the Rings, among others.  Both series feature scenes with dragons, of course, and Eustace from the Chronicles of Narnia even turns into a dragon at one point.  Obviously Eustace was a boy who was turned into a dragon and Rome finds out he is a dragon disguised as a boy.  However, is Eustace an inspiration of sorts for Rome?  That’s an interesting question.  I think the idea of Rome transforming into a dragon may have unintentionally been inspired by Eustace Scrubb or perhaps a similar character from another work of fiction.  But I will say this.  The main difference between Euastace and Rome is that Eustace’s transformation furthers his character development by forcing him to look at his attitude and behavior and change the way he treats people for the better.  Whereas Rome’s transformation is meant to be more in keeping with his destiny.  Confirming he is a dragon DOES change him for the better, but It’s more of realizing his future than trying to make up for past indifferences.  I do see the similarities though.  

What other authors are you reading now?  I read everything E.C. Meyers puts out because most of his books are cannon side projects to my favorite show RWBY.  I’m reading “The Breadwinner” by Deborah Ellis alongside my son for a school assignment.  I just finished “Sirens of Titan” by Kurt Vonnegut.  And, I intend to start “War for the Oaks” by Emma Bull on a friend’s recommendation.

Do you have any other series planned for the future?  Abso-lutely!  I do have the humblest beginnings of a second series in the works.  I have the plot of the first book and the “Legendarium” already put to paper (or hardrive).  That series will be a work of portal fiction mixed with destiny fiction and entail more adult themes as compared to The Talisman Series.  I came up with the idea in between writing books 8 and 9, and I WILL eventually get around to writing that series.  Maybe after I put out book five of The Talisman Series this winter.

Thanks again to Brett Salter for his great responses to our questions!

Two Reminders before you go:

  1. If you buy the book(s), please leave reviews on Amazon and Goodreads, as well as anywhere else you review books. This is very important to self-published authors.
  2. Please click on the “share” buttons below and share these books with your Twitter, Facebook, and WordPress followers. A little bit of help from all of us will help self-published authors go a long way!

Book Review: Children of the Origin Project

Jake, Alex, and Sarah are foster kids out on a joyride one night in a “borrowed” truck belonging to their group home. When they witness the crash of a UFO, they approach the scene and find a wrecked spaceship with a dying giant inside. The giant transfers his knowledge and memories to them before he dies, and the three lifelong foster kids suddenly find themselves part of a war between worlds.

This well-written middle grade to young adult sci-fi adventure will take readers to the stars. Jake, Alex, and Sarah find themselves being guided by the knowledge of the giant, Sawan, who has left them his memories, and they eventually realize that they are needed to go on a mission to save Sawan’s world, and maybe their own.

This is a captivating, literally out of this world story with vivid characters and thoughtful, purposeful world-building. Using a clever combination of technology and philosophy, Asa S. Rubin creates a story that is both exciting and thought-provoking. Jake, Sarah, and Alex suddenly find themselves with the growing ability to understand the language, thoughts, writings, and very nature of an alien race of people, the Kenali. The Kenali are divided into two opposing factions who are basically forced to work together in order to fight takeover from the evil Anatrus and their powerful super-soldiers. Jake often uses his experience as a foster kid to try and understand the situation in which the Kenali find themselves. Underneath all of this are deep philosophical questions about the origin and meaning of the existence of the Kenali, the Anatrus, and other peoples and worlds.

I have only a bit of constructive criticism, and it is regarding the dialogue. The character Alex has a speech impediment, and the way in which the author has chosen to add this to the dialogue is hard to understand and interrupts the flow of the book.

Fans of young adult/middle grade science fiction, philosophy, and friendship reads will enjoy this story.

I downloaded a copy of this book on Kindle Unlimited, where subscribers can read it for free.


Asa S. Rubin

(In his own words)

I grew up reading classic adventure authors like Jules Verne, sci-fi/action novelists like Clive Cussler, and more literary story-tellers like Richard Russo. As a kid, I tried my own hand at writing and quickly discovered that I couldn’t help but combine all my favorite genres together, so that any of my stories had plenty of action, extensive sci-fi, and a healthy dose of psychological or philosophical musings to go along with them. That trend I’ve never been able to stop, but now I’m finally ready to put my stories out there for the world to see. 

In between writing, I’ve gotten degrees in physics, aerospace engineering, and medicine, practiced as a physician, and even done some work for the government. It’s been an interesting ride, and all of these experiences I’ve sunken back into my stories to make them more realistic and authentic. I’ve also climbed a few mountains, gotten hardcore into ultralight backpacking, and most importantly, married my beautiful wife. 

I hope you enjoy my stories. If you’d like to reach me, please email me at And if you’re into hiking, maybe I’ll see you out there on the trail.



*Kindle Unlimited subscribers can read this for free, or the ebook is just 2.99 to buy outright.



Self-Published Saturday: June 12, 2021

Here is my weekly installment of Self-Published Saturday, which is devoted to helping self-published authors promote their books. As always, if you decide to buy this book, please make sure and leave a review on Amazon, Goodreads, and any other site where you review books. This week is devoted to Book 2 in the Juche Series, The Weeping Masses. You can find a link to my review of Book 1 and the Link to preorder Book 3 at the bottom of this page


This is now the second book of the  fantastic Juche series, which the author says is currently planned as a nine book series. As the book opens, something terrible has happened to Areum’s sister Nari, and Areum is reeling, trying to take care of her family but also burning with the desire for revenge.

 The  terror at the camp continues, and Areum does what she can to survive.  When she and Nari are assigned to a work group, more challenges arise.  Areum struggles to protect her family and herself as the terrors of a concentration camp rain around her.  She begins to make difficult choices and uses her skills as a gymnast and martial artist to survive. However, she takes risks for which there must be consequences. She also makes alliances which she knows may fall through at any moment.  Will Areum and her family survive, and what new horrors lay in wait for them?

This excellent dystopian series continues to shock and provide a realistic look at an evil military dictatorship. The first 20 percent of this book is very dark and bleak, but you have to expect that from a concentration camp.  Then the story picks up steam and the author throws in little glimmers of hope in the midst of all the darkness.  This is a realistic read and makes you wonder what you would do to protect yourself in a situation like this.  Areum is thrust into many ethical battles by her cruel overlords.  Areum’s struggles with evil captors, difficult choices, and her own rage are well written by the author.  Surprises abound in this novel, and the reader will be on the edge of their seat.  I would recommend this to anyone interested in dystopian fiction or historical fiction, as you will recognize the Kingdom of Chosun as a country that exists today.

This book is available on Kindle Unlimited, where subscribers can borrow it for free.  It is also only $3.49 to purchase outright on Kindle.







The Lavender Soul

Vera (Vera Xochiquetzal of Adowa) is a somewhat vain and spoiled teenager in the mythical world of Zerahlinda. She has a huge weight on her shoulders. Born with lavender eyes, she is known as a “lavender soul,” someone who will either save her world or devastate it. Protected by her guardian Yateem (Yateem Rukan Wulfgar of Xipili), she embarks on a journey to face the evil pursuing her and test her very soul. Along the way, she travels through magical lands full of fairies, pixies, moving trees, a shapeshifter, and more.

This is a well-written, highly descriptive tale of a magical world and its inhabitants. Although I do not normally read high fantasy, I feel that fans of young adult fantasy of this type are going to be thrilled with this land and its creatures. Although the character of Vera is a little selfish and spoiled, we get to watch her grow and learn along this great adventure.

The are only two things I did not like: First, Yateem is often described as Vera’s “handler.” I found this to be a very controlling term. I would prefer, guardian, advisor, and protector, because that those are the roles he serves. Secondly, I feel the cover of the book is a little subdued. It should be as colorful as the world of Zerahlinda.

My rating is 4.5 stars, rounded up to 5.

I received a free digital copy of this book from BookTasters. My review is voluntary and my opinions are my own.

Buy the Book on Amazon

L.K. Walsh’s Website