Wednesday, 20 July 2016

Book Review: Like a River from its Course by Kelli Stuart

About the Book: An epic novel exposing the ugliness of war and the beauty of hope.

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 survives, but not without devastating consequences.

Luda is sixteen when German soldiers rape her. Now pregnant with the child of the enemy, she is abandoned by her father, alone, and in pain. She must learn to trust family and friends again and find her own strength in order to discover the redemption that awaits.

Frederick Hermann is sure in his knowledge that the F├╝hrer's plans for domination
are right and just. He is driven to succeed 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.

Purchase a copy:

My Thoughts: This is one of the most well-written books I've ever read.

Kelli Stuart has gathered true stories from years of research and combined them into a work of historical fiction that will break your heart yet strengthen your faith at the same time. Though at times difficult to read due to the subject matter, Stuart writes with sensitivity and tact while still conveying sheer horror at the level of depravity to which man can sink.

One thing I really liked about this story was that she was able to focus on four completely different characters who saw the war through four unique perspectives, encompassing both sides of the war through both Ukranian and German characters, and managed to make me invested in the outcome of every single one.  Often when stories are laid out this way you become impatient while reading about the less interesting characters and just want the author to get back to your favourite storyline.  Stuart made it impossible to pick just one and instead made you eagerly anticipate the continuing development of each storyline.

Stuart's characters come through raw, real and, even though most of us cannot possibly relate, still relatable.  The way she writes draws you completely into the lives of the characters and immerses you in their world.  Well done!

Thank you to Litfuse Publicity for organizing this tour and providing me with my complimentary review copy.

Thursday, 14 July 2016

Book Review: Journey to Heal by Crystal Sutherland and Naming our Abuse by Schmutzer, Gorski, and Carlson

About the Book: A path of hope and healing for survivors of childhood sexual abuse.

A woman who was sexually abused as a child is confronted with many internal questions: Am I worthless? Will I get past the pain? Do I matter to God? These and similar questions can carve a deep hole in an already wounded soul. Too often, the lies of worthlessness are believed, the pain becomes too much to handle, and survivors find themselves making choices that lead to more heartbreak. With over 42 million survivors (both male and female) in the United States alone, the need for a clear path to healing is great.

Crystal Sutherland---herself a survivor of CSA---knows that while the recovery process is complex, healing is possible with God's help. For women who want to progress from simply coping to living abundantly, Journey to Heal guides readers through seven essential steps to recovery found in Scripture. Candid and open about her personal journey of healing, Crystal comes alongside her reader as a friend who understands. Infused with biblical truths, stories of hope from other survivors, and practical wisdom, this book leads women to discover the life of wholeness God has for them.

Purchase a copy:

My Thoughts:  This was a difficult book to read due to the subject matter, and due to knowing (as we all do) victims of abuse.  It was a very well written book and would be extremely helpful as a tool to go along with counselling - this book is not a replacement for that!

After each chapter topic or step in the healing process, Sutherland includes a "Journey Essentials" section - a prayer, a scripture, a question, and some personal journalling space.

This book is helpful for those who would like to come alongside and support a friend who is in the healing process, and of course, extremely valuable for those working on their healing.  I highly recommend this book.

About the Book: A stunningly vulnerable look at the horrific realities of sexual abuse and how to overcome them.

Male sexual abuse is increasingly in the news, from scandals in the Catholic Church to exploitations at Penn State. Yet books and programs about healing are still overwhelmingly oriented toward the female survivor of abuse. As men who experienced childhood abuse, the authors of this book are uniquely qualified to address the healing process of male survivors.

Using the metaphor of a car accident, Naming Our Abuse leads the survivor from the Wreck to the Accident Report to Rehabilitation to Driving Again. This four-step model illustrates that healing is a process to be nurtured rather than something that can be healed in a single telling. Following the authors' examples, readers are invited to find solidarity with other male survivors and develop an understanding of their own wounding through journaling exercises.

Purchase a copy:
About the authors:

Andrew Schmutzer is a professor of biblical studies at Moody Bible Institute (Chicago) and a graduate of Dallas Seminary (ThM) and Trinity (PhD). He writes about integrative issues surrounding abuse, trauma, lament, and spiritual formation and speaks regularly on issues of sexual abuse. Find out more about Andrew on his Facebook: Andrew.Schmutzer
Daniel Gorski is a thirty-year veteran software engineer, having worked for AT&T, Lucent Technologies, Alcatel-Lucent, and Nokia. He earned a BS in Mathematics and Computer Science from the University of Illinois and an MS in Computer Science from Kansas State University, specializing in expert systems and software automation. 
David Carlson is a special education teacher, working in the suburbs of Chicago for the majority of his adult life. He takes great pride in being an advocate for his students and their families, helping them to navigate whatever challenges life may present. He is committed to encouraging and supporting male survivors through the various stages of their healing.

My Thoughts:  If the healing of abused women is seldom discussed, the healing of abused men is ignored even more.  This book is an incredible resource, both for those who have a loved one that has been abused, and for those men who have suffered abuse themselves.

This book moves through four steps on the journey to healing, each step told by all three authors, all of whom are survivors of abuse. This book lets men know that hope and healing are possible.  A desperately needed resource and one I recommend highly.

Thank you to Litfuse Publicity for organizing the tours for Journey to Heal and Naming our Abuse, and for providing me with my complimentary review copies.


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