The Reading Habits
Are you a re-reader?
I am a re-reader when it’s a book I absolutely adore. I have read Anna Karenina at least ten times, and I love it more each time I read it. I tend to fall in love with really great writing, so if a story sings its way into my heart, I’ll likely pick it up again on a rainy day.
When is your optimal time to read?
Usually before bed. I can’t really sleep if I haven’t read for a few minutes at least. If it’s a compelling book that I can’t put down, I find ways to sneak it in during the day, too. I didn’t sleep or cook for a month when I read the Harry Potter series. My family seriously suffered…
What are your thoughts on novellas?
I honestly haven’t read many novellas. I like the idea of a novella, but haven’t had much experience with them. I don’t read electronically. I haven’t entered the world of the e-reader. I probably should, but I just love the feel of paper in my hands. Because of this, I tend to stick to full-length novels.
Are you faithful to a genre, an author, or simply quality writing?
I would say I’m faithful to quality writing. I definitely prefer fiction to nonfiction, but within the fiction world, I can get caught up in a myriad of different genres. I love everyone from Stephen King to Barbara Kingsolver to Stephanie Meyer. I adore the classics, and if I’m going to re-read a book it will most likely be one of those. But if you’re willing to tell me a good story and the writing is good, I’m likely to enjoy it.
Which factors most influence your selection of a book?
I want a story that’s going to hook me in. If I’m not compelled to keep reading after the first fifty pages, then the story hasn’t impressed me. I like character driven novels that make me think.
Like a River From It’s 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.
Your fiction pet peeve?
When there is zero redemption to the story. I’ve noticed a trend in recent years among mainstream fiction. Books start off sad, and they end sad, and there’s no thread of redemption at the end. The story can be beautifully written, but if I can’t find a single redemptive quality in any of the characters, I’m going to be disappointed. I’ve read a lot of critically acclaimed books that have left me feeling disappointed in the last few years.
How do you mark your spot in a book?
I fold down the corners. I’d love to morph into a bookmark girl to keep the books looking all crisp and pretty. But there’s something lovely about a dog-eared book. It shows it was enjoyed.
Whose debut novel impressed you more than you anticipated?
Rachel McMillan’s The Bachelor Girl’s Guide to Murder was just fun to read. I enjoyed it immensely and am really looking forward to the follow up books.
When reading, what makes or breaks a story for you?
Feeling like I can somehow connect with the characters. If I can feel their emotion, then the author has successfully pulled me into the story.
Snack/drink of choice when reading?
Coffee and chocolate. Writing is not friendly to the waistline.
Which author makes it easy for you to turn off your internal editor?
Barbara Kingsolver. She can spin a phrase like no one else. I love reading her books.
What book do you wish you had written?
The Book Thief. When it was over, I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I could visualize the entire story from beginning to end. That’s the feeling every author wants to leave a reader with.
Kelli Stuart is a storyteller at heart with an affinity for languages, travel, and history. She is fluent in the Russian language, and has spent the last twenty years researching the effects of World War II on the former Soviet Union. Kelli’s first novel, Like a River from Its Course, is an epic story of war, love, grief, and redemption set in World War II Soviet Ukraine. It releases in June, 2016. Kelli lives in Tampa, Florida with her husband and four children.