Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Jaz & Miguel by R.D. Raven Review & Giveaway

A girl from Seattle.

A boy from South Africa.
A painful past.
An uncertain future.

Seattle born-and-bred Jaz Curtis knows only one thing in her life: that she doesn't know where it's going. Maybe that's why, when she sees an article about a student exchange program in South Africa, it sounds like a great idea.

Portuguese South African, Miguel Pinto, and Xhosa-Speaking, Sandile Mabuyo, have been best friends since they were ten, but the harsh realities of the country they live in (and what can happen to loved ones in it at any moment) transforms their friendship into a veritable brotherhood in blood when they are only seventeen.

Two years later, Sandile is dating Afrikaner girl, Elize van Zyl, which, in the "New South Africa," should be fine--if not for the (allegedly) racially motivated killings that occurred in Elize's neighborhood only a few weeks before they met. 

Miguel, on the other hand, is not interested in love. What for? So it can be lost in a breath?

Enter Jonathan P. Abbey, freelance tabloid journalist, suffering a mid-life crisis at forty-two and desperate for his lucky break. Abbey has come to realize that luck comes to those who make it--and that veld fires, once lit, burn endlessly. Jaz, Miguel, and Sandile might just be the right veld fire waiting to be lit, one which will disgorge a torrent of reportable events, each worthy of being published in the finest newspapers across the world.

Will Abbey light that fire? Or let it light itself and simply take the pictures?

Jaz is drawn to Africa and spends much of her free time reading about it, even though she doesn't have a lot of free time since she's working to save money to go there.  She's going to a course at the University of Witwatersrand, and expects to be there for at least six months.  She even creates a blog so she can keep in contact with her parents and her best friend.

Miguel Pinto is also about to go to the university, even though it's very close to home.  He lives in South Africa and since his mom died, it's just been him and his dad.  He can't seem to move past her horrific death and he spends much of his free time with this best friend, Sandile Mabuyo.

When Jaz meets Miguel and Sandile, they become quick friends.  Sandile also begins a relationship with Elise, and the four of them hang out often.  Miguel doesn't feel that a relationship is for him but he's drawn to Jaz and she him.  She's leaving for home again in a few months so why start something that will just end tragically anyway?

But then a journalist, Jonathan Abbey, is determined to make his mark upon the world.  He's just been waiting for the right story to come along.  But with Sandile's drug using past, his illicit affair with Elise, he just needs to take the right pictures.

Raven paints a very vivid and detailed South Africa, complete with proper African terms I had to look up.  It didn't deter from the story though, but added to it.  I found the characters realistic and modern, with just the proper amount of humor speckled about to alleviate some of the intensity of certain situations.  A riveting read that I'd highly recommend.

*I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

One Print copy - USA
Two ebooks - WW

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*Contest ends August 6, 2013

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The old grey donkey, Eeyore stood by himself in a thistly corner of the Forest, his front feet well apart, his head on one side, and thought about things. Sometimes he thought sadly to himself, "Why?" and sometimes he thought, "Wherefore?" and sometimes he thought, "Inasmuch as which?" and sometimes he didn't quite know what he was thinking about.

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