by Kelli Stuart
Published: June 27, 2016
From: Kregel Publications
Purchase: Like A River From Its Course
The city of Kiev was bombed in Hitler’s blitzkrieg across the Soviet Union, but the constant siege was only the beginning for her citizens. In this sweeping historical saga, Kelli Stuart takes the reader on a captivating journey into the little-known history of Ukraine’s tragedies through the eyes of four compelling characters who experience the same story from different perspectives.
Maria Ivanovna is only fourteen when the bombing begins and not much older when she is forced into work at a German labor camp. She must fight to survive and to make her way back to her beloved Ukraine.
Ivan Kyrilovich is falsely mistaken for a Jew and lined up with 34,000 other men, women, and children who are to be shot at the edge of Babi Yar, the “killing ditch”. He survived, but not without devastating consequences.
Luda Michaelevna never knew her mother. Growing up with an alcoholic father, Luda is only sixteen when the Nazis invade, and she’s brutally attacked due to her father’s negligence. Now pregnant with the child of the enemy, she is abandoned, alone, and in pain. She must learn to trust again and find her own strength in order to discover the redemption that awaits.
Frederick Herrmann is sure in his knowledge that the Führer’s plans for domination are right and just. He is driven to success by a desire to please a demanding father and by his own blind faith in the ideals of Nazism.
Based on true stories gathered from fifteen years of research and interviews with Ukrainian World War II survivors, Like a River From Its Course is a story of love, war, heartache, forgiveness, and redemption.
Get to know Kelli...
This is always a tricky question to answer, because several books could make my favorite list. I have a deep love for Barbara Kingsolver’s The Poisonwood Bible. I love the way she manipulates language to tell each character’s story. I also love Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre, because…well, because it’s Jane Eyre!
I think my very favorite book of all time, however, is Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy. It is tragic and beautiful all at once. The love story between Kitty and Levin makes me weepy every time I read it, and the tragedy of Anna’s life impacts me no matter how many times I read the book. That’s the book that always comes out on top when I’m thinking of my favorites!
What are you reading right now?
I’m currently researching my next novel, so I’m knee deep in a book called The Whisperers. It’s a fascinating dissection of Russia’s history under Stalin, and the lasting effects that those dark and uncertain years had on the generations following.
Who is your favorite secondary character? One of my favorite secondary characters from Like a River From Its Course is Baba Mysa. She’s based off of the woman who inspired the story in the first place: Maria Ivanovna.
As soon as I met Maria, I fell instantly in love, and it wasn’t hard to see why. She was a small woman, her bright silver hair pulled back into a loose bun. Her blue eyes sparkled when she spoke, and the lines that crinkled her face revealed years of tenderness and laughter.
Her family called her Baba Mysa, an affectionate term combining the tender form of “grandma” with a word that translates “little fly.” When Baba Mysa spoke, the room got quiet. We wanted to hear what she had to say, wanted to soak up her grace and wisdom.
As I wrote my story, I knew I wanted to tell Maria’s story, but I also wanted to honor the Maria that I knew – the grandmother who exuded warmth and strength. I wanted readers to know both versions of the same woman.
The character of Maria Ivanovna is loosely based on my Maria’s story of survival during those dark years in the war. But the character of Baba Mysa is based upon the older, wiser Maria who gifted her story to me.
And I fell madly in love with this character.
Baba Mysa’s background and story is entirely fictional, but her mannerisms, humor, and strength are not. Baba Mysa exudes dignity, hope, and survival. I adored writing this character because through her I was able to honor the woman who endured indescribable hardships and refused to dwell on them.
No Pizza Delivery?
by Grace Marshall
Published: June 1, 2016
Purchase: No Pizza Delivery?
Ruth Deloach’s world is sent spinning when she finds out she is going to be ripped from America’s Dairyland to live in the embarrassingly small tourist town of Sainte Genevieve, Missouri. The blow is slightly lessened by the news that her father wants to start a horse ranch, but how enjoyable will it really be to live where there is no pizza delivery and a revolving door to the public? A public with a different idea of how things are done and said. To add embarrassment to her frustration she finds she knows less about horses than she presumed. Maybe the handsome ranch hand her father hires can brighten things up, then again, maybe not.
Get to know Grace...
What’s one thing you must have/do in the morning?
Guilty confession – play on my phone. It’s sometimes Twitter or Facebook, blogs, posts, or texts. It helps my brain to do something while it’s still waking up, which takes about two hours. Mornings are my nemesis.
Cats or dogs or both?
Horses! I currently do have an oversized Mastiff named Mini and a mischievous orange and white cat named Amerigo. What can I say, I like lots of animals? I do think cats are a little better, I love their snarky independent attitudes. Though I want to have a pet fox someday, too.
What prank would you play on your main character?
Don’t I get to do this all the time when writing? I’d like to take a Styrofoam cup, cut out a little hole in it, put it upside down, and take the little pieces to create a trail going out from the hole. I’d put the cup on her nightstand, then put a sticky note on the cup that reads, “Enormous, extremely aggressive spider under cup! Only move cup when ready to kill it!”