BOOK REVIEW: Beneath the Same Heaven by Anne Marie Ruff

37795839-_sy180_Title & Author: Beneath the Same Heaven, Anne Marie Ruff
Publication Date & Publisher: March 2018, Open Books
Genre(s): General (Adult) Fiction, Literary Fiction
Length: 410 pages
My Rating: 4.5/5.0

Description (from Goodreads):

A story of love and terrorism.

Beneath the Same Heaven is a love story of an American woman and a Pakistani-born Muslim man, who seem to have bridged the divide between Western and Islamic world views. But when the husband’s father is killed by a US drone attack near the Afghan border, their cross-cultural family descends into conflicting ideas of loyalty, justice, identity, revenge, and terrorism. With candor, beauty, and unusual insight, their story reveals both how decent people can justify horrific acts, and the emotional power required to heal.

My review:

If you’ve read my WWW Wednesday from July 18, then you know that this book turned out to be so good that it just about broke me emotionally. It reads as a mystery combined with a love story combined with intense family drama.

The main character, Kathryn, is an American woman who marries Rashid, a Pakistani-born Muslim man.  Their love story is raw and believable in a way that draws you in without you noticing how attached you’re becoming to the characters.

Beneath the Same Heaven is broken up into Four Parts: The Book of Before, The Book of Kathryn, The Book of Rashid, and The Book of After.  When I first began reading it, I didn’t think I was going to like it. BUUUUTTTT…

I now believe Beneath the Same Heaven should be required reading! 

By the end of Part Two, I was so deeply committed and emotionally involved in the story of Kathryn and Rashid, that I had to take a break and walk away. This has never happened to me before! But mine and Kathryn’s hearts had been broken… our world was upside down… nothing had turned out the way it was supposed to, even though it seemed that things would be okay in the end… But things weren’t right!

I found myself talking about Kathryn as if she were a real person whose life was intertwined with my own. The problem (other than being that attached to a fictional character) was that there was no way for me to talk to her and give her my advice or comfort her at all! And her situation felt so real that I had broken right along with her…

My poor husband had to suffer the wrath of my intense emotional breakdown over what Rashid had put Kathryn and their children through. It felt as if he had just put me through it as well… I felt bad for abandoning her in her time of need, but my family needed me to take a break and come back to reality before proceeding with the rest of story.

And WHAT a rest of the story it was…

Anne Marie Ruff actually managed to make me root for the terrorist!!!

Still, I wasn’t all that thrilled with the beginning… to the point that I almost DNF’d the book! (Insanely glad I didn’t!!!) The problem was what seemed to me to be near gratuitous sex scenes between Kathryn and Rashid. I understand that the author was trying to show their deep desire & connection to each other, but it came across as forced and overly detailed at times. If it hadn’t been for this, Beneath the Same Heaven would easily be a full 5.0 instead of the 4.5 rating I gave it.

I definitely recommend picking up this book and devouring it as soon as possible!

What do you think? Have you read Beneath the Same Heaven? I’d love to hear your thoughts below!

Thank you to Open Books for providing me with a free digital copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Click Here to Purchase Beneath the Same Heaven from Book Depository.

 

 

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BOOK REVIEW: The Unkindness of Ravens by Abra Staffin-Wiebe

Title & Author:  The Unkindness of Ravens, Abra Staffin-Wiebe37786306
Publication Date & Publisher:  July 18, 2018, Bimulous Books
Genre: Sci-Fi & Fantasy, Literary Fiction
My Rating: 4.5

 

Description (from Goodreads):

The oba is dead.

The Eight Great Houses are under attack … and they are losing.

What’s worse than being ignored by your god?

As the royal heir from House Crow, Anari is desperate to protect his people from a plague-driven war.

Without the blessing of his god, he doesn’t have the magical power to compete in the succession battle for the beaded crown of the oba. He is easy prey for the strongest heirs. To stay alive, he must be quick and clever.

When his plans go wrong, he does the unthinkable.

Worse is having your god owe you a favor. Particularly when he’s a trickster.

Anari might not become the ruler of his people, but he has won his god’s undivided attention. If he can survive what he’s put in motion, he will have one chance to save them all. Fortunately, Anari has a few tricks up his own sleeve …

 

My review:

I LOVED THIS BOOK!!! (Sorry, had to get that out of the way before I went on.)

From the very beginning of The Unkindness of Ravens, Abra Staffin-Wiebe has you fully engaged in the world of House Crow and House Raven (two of the Eight Great Houses).  I didn’t even realize how emotionally attached I was to two of the main characters, Anari and Kayin, until Anari is close to death in the first few pages…

I knew he had to live.

According to the description of the book, there was no book without him.  And yet…

My heart was beating hard in my chest and I had tears in my eyes.  Not only was I worried for Anari, but for Kayin (who I was both feeling mad at and worried for at the same time)!  I couldn’t imagine this world without Anari in it and I couldn’t help but feel for Kayin…what would he do without Anari? What would happen if Anari died right in front him? I wanted to hug him and tell him everything would be okay and smack him at the same time!

This wasn’t chapters in where I’ve been given plenty of time to warm up to these characters, ya’ll…we’re talking the beginning of the story!

The description of both the action and the world is so artfully described that I felt as if I had left this world completely and been dropped right smack dab into the book.  At one point, Anari is hiding in plain sight on a battlefield among the dead.  I actually wrinkled my nose as if I could actually smell the rotting corpses.  Here’s an excerpt from that scene:

…He took shallow breaths through his mouth, but the stench of meat just beginning to go off wormed its way inside his nostrils.  He swallowed down an upsurge of bile. He had expected corpses to be stiff, but lying in the heat for hours had made them soft and squishy. They could not be mistaken for living flesh. One of the corpses sighed against his cheek like a love. The fine hairs on the back of his neck stood on end…

I could tell there were a lot of differences between each House.  Each member of a House had specific traits, abilities, and tendencies.  As you read through the book you learn more about the Houses, but mostly about House Raven and Crow.  For much of the book, I kept thinking ravens and crows are so similar, why are there even two houses? (This was explained.) But I got chills when I read Kayin’s explanation to Anari of the difference between Crow and Raven:

Crows like to flock. Together, they make a murder of crows. A group of ravens, called an unkindness, only comes together in two places: battlefields and graveyards, where the bones of men fall.

When I finished The Unkindness of Ravens, I was hungry for more! Not because the ending wasn’t sufficient, but because I feel emotionally invested in these characters and have a deep desire to want to learn what happens to them next.

I’m definitely going to need to pick up a copy of this book once it’s published!

Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!