Thursday, April 27, 2017

Update: #CrimeMonth

Hey everyone!

I have decided to go back to themed months here, on the blog.

The reasoning behind this is that is actually quite fun to feature some different books and authors and it gives me a chance to spread my wings a little.

Because of recently reading Bad Seeds by Jassy Mackenzie, I have had a crazy urge to read some more crime fiction. So I popped into my local secondhand bookshop yesterday and bought myself a copy of the first JD Robb novel in her epic 45 book series, Naked in Death. I am quite excited about this as it's set in the future and I believe quite romantic too. Who doesn't love a good action-romance, right?

Of course I am worried as, if I like it, it could become quite costly for me. Fortunately, the books are easy to find second-hand!

I also want to read some more of Jassy Mackenzie's Jade de Jong series, as I have only read a couple and would like to get to know Jade better.

I figure it might also be a good time to read a Dresden Files novel or two. Technically, it is crime fiction, even if it is supernatural crime!

There is also Castle to watch, a series I have been dying to see and is finally on ShowMax. It features an author who works closely with the police to solve crimes. That is completely up my alley. Besides, Nathan Fillion is a brilliant actor who makes any character he portrays come to life.

Because of all of the above, it makes sense to have May as Crime Month on the blog!

I will be reviewing all of the above, of course. I also want to do some fun features in between  the reviews!

Don't forget to enter in the giveaway to win a copy of Private:Gold! I will also be giving away an awesome US hardback of Bad Seeds! This is where us local readers can get their hands on a copy before it gets released locally! So you definitely want to enter this one!

If you have any reccomendations for shows I need to watch or books I need to read, let me know!

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Blog Update: Revival and Refurbishment!

Hey, everyone!

You may have noticed that the humble blog has had a bit of tweak over the past week.

Some of the changes include:

  1. Shiny new branding
  2. URL change:
  3. Variety in content
I have also had a change in e-mail address. You guys can now get in touch with me on monique(at)

This is all part of the effort to create a more professional image for the blog. I have a lot of big plans and dreams for the next few years for this little project of mine.

So, here are some of the exciting new things that you can expect to see at UrbanisedGeek:
  1. PC and console game reviews - I have dabbled in this before, but I would really like to expand of this a little as it is a big part of my interests. These will feature both new and classic games and may even include some video footage of yours truly playing like a noob.
  2. YouTube reviews - I hope to branch out a little and do some videos of book reviews to compliment the written ones. Let's see how it goes, but I am tentatively excited about this. It's also going to be a huge learning curve for me.
  3. Guest posts - I am going to try rope some other local bloggers into doing a few guest posts for me! We bloggers need to help each other out to grow our audiences, after all.
  4. Bookstagramming - Expect some pretty header images as I plan to use my photography skills to style some images of featured titles.
  5. Opinion pieces - After the good reception of my latest post on 13 Reasons Why, I definitely want to do more of these. They will keep with the general theme of the blog. As if I would ever be brave enough to voice my political opinions, anyway!
I cannot wait to bring some great, new content to the blog and have fun learning along the way!

If you have any suggestions, please drop me a comment below. :)

Stay awesome!

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Giveaway: Private: Gold by Jassy Mackenzie

Money. Betrayal. Murder.
That's a Private conversation. 
Hired to protect a visiting American woman, Private Johannesburg's Joey Montague is hoping for a routine job looking after a nervous tourist. After the apparent suicide of his business partner, he can't handle much more. But this case is not what it seems--and neither is his partner's death.

 Best-selling author, James Patterson, released a series of books last year which aim to create a thrilling storytelling experience in 150 pages. These books are aimed at busy readers who might not be able to commit to a full-length novel, but still want to fit in some quality reading without all that extra padding.

 The latest of these, Private: Gold, is co-authored by local writer, Jassy Mackenzie, who is well-known for her Jade de Jong series.

In celebration of the new-look blog as well as the local release of Private: Gold, I am giving away a signed copy!

To enter is simple! Leave a comment below naming your favorite fictional cop or Private Investigator with reasons why!

Oh, and keep an eye out for a review and Q&A session with Jassy!

The fine print:
South African residents only!
We will cover the costs of SAPO postage anywhere in South Africa for the winner.
Winners will be chosen by one of my rats in an impartial process.
The draw will take place on the 7th May 2017.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Opinion: On 13 Reasons Why and Media Responsibility

SPOILERS AHEAD - do not read further if you still want to see the show and are worried about having anything ruined for you!

If you have been hanging around Twitter and other Social Media lately, you would have seen the hype surrounding Netflix's latest supershow, 13 Reasons Why.

13 Reason's Why is based on the 2007 novel by Jay Asher. It was originally optioned for tv in 2015 and had Selena Gomez (yes, that Selena Gomez) as an Executive Producer. It focuses on the suicide of high school teen, Hannah Baker, who leaves behind tapes in which she explains her reasons for why she killed herself. She holds select individuals at her high school responsible and goes into detail on the series of events which ultimately lead to her death.

The show, released in March of this year in its entirety, has been binge-watched by everyone from teens to the adults who read the book as teens ten years' previously. It has also received pretty mixed reactions.

So, what is the problem? The show has been favourably reviewed. It's one of the most talked-about series of the year. And yes, this includes Game of Thrones. Rotten Tomatoes gave it an approval rating of 91%. IGN gave it 9.2 out of ten. Surely the critics know what they are talking about.

If we evaluate the show from a technical perspective, sure. It's good. The actors are excellent. The tension and build-up are well-executed. The cinematography compliments the whole feel. Netflix doesn't mess around and clearly have the budget to spare.

It was a chat with my bookclub that got me thinking and doing some reading over the weekend and that, ultimately, lead to me wanting to get my thoughts out there and perhaps facilitating more discussions around the problems with this show and similar media.

The events that unfold are mostly from Hannah's perspective. Clay, one of the recipients of the tape, also gives the viewers some insight, but we are still mostly dependent on Hannah to tell us what happened. This is problem number one.

Meet Hannah Baker.

Unreliable narrator, thy name is Hannah Baker. She is clearly suffering from some kind of mental issue which is never fully disclosed or dealt with in the series. Therefore how can we, as an audience, trust the information being told to us? I felt that Hannah's fallibility is never properly dealt with either. Instead of seeing the flaws in her character, the heat is constantly on the people whom she sends the tape out to.

Sending out those tapes is also one of the biggest acts of hubris I have ever seen. Hannah was focused on herself, her troubles. She obviously never considered the impact those tapes would have on the people listening to them. Or, maybe she did. It was a way to ensure that she would never be forgotten. And that someone would take responsibility and feel guilty for her death.

Wow. As I sit here, I cannot imagine how someone could think this is the best route to take.

Of course, Hannah was bullied. A lot of bad shit went down in her life. But who is the ultimate victim? Is it Hannah or is it Clay, the boy who didn't love her enough because he was afraid to.

Clay did nothing wrong, really. But he gets a tape too. And he gets the burden of survivor's guilt.

I am going to be frank. I was bullied in school. Badly. Physical and mental bullying. I was the kid who had a lazy eye, bad skin and zero boobs. I was reminded of all my flaws on a near daily basis. Kids are assholes. It's part of the high school experience.

But not once, ever, did I consider ending it all. Ever. Because I had the mental fortitude to deal with it.

The point here, which I mentioned earlier, is that Hannah had other problems. Clinical depression or the like where she was unable to deal with it. She was unable to cope mentally and eventually saw suicide as the only option. The show does not go into this and rather chooses to give the message that being decent will save someone. Being a friend will save someone. Which is complete rubbish. The issue is simply not that black and white.

If kids are entertaining suicidal thoughts, 13 Reasons Why is probably not the best show for them to watch. They may even be encouraged to leave their own tapes as some sort of legacy. There is also the issue where the audience might not be old enough to understand and rationalise that the suicide and tapes are basically a vehicle for the plot of the show.

The show has been criticised as glorifying suicide. That they are sending an irresponsible message out into the world where impressionable teenagers look up to media for examples. Yes, it is getting awareness out about bullying. That's all well and good. But being bullied is not the only factor.

The show could also be triggering for people who have tried to commit suicide in the past or have had someone close to them commit suicide. It also deals with two instances of rape, which could also be damaging. The show also has no tact in showing these scenes to the audience. It's pretty visual and disturbing.

Yes, we need to talk about issues like suicide. But, is running a show like this really the best way to raise awareness? If you have teens who love the show, chat to them. Make them aware of the differences between fiction and reality.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Review: Bad Seeds by Jassy Mackenzie

Title: Bad Seeds (Jade de Jong Book 5)
Author: Jassy Mackenzie
Publisher: Soho Crime (April 2017)

Johannesburg PI Jade de Jong has been hired by Ryan Gillespie, the charming security director at the Inkomfe Nuclear Research Center, to trace a missing employee, Carlos Botha, who vanished just days after an attempted break-in. But when Jade traces Botha to the quiet suburb of Randfontein, she discovers that he’s the target of a hit, and that she’s now in danger by association. It becomes clear that someone intends to use Inkomfe’s nuclear power to heinous ends, and Jade must figure out whether that someone is Botha.

So Easter is coming up and you have no idea what to read. You are also looking for books with an exciting plot and a strong female protagonist. You are tired of crime fiction that follows the usual tropey nonsense.

I suggest, if anything I just said rings true, that you get a copy of Bad Seeds. Do not be put off by the fact that it is book 5 in a series. It does pretty much stand alone. I promise.

Rather than give you a traditional review, here are ten reasons why you should give this book a try!

  1. Jade. She is awesome and resourceful. It's so refreshing to have a strong, female lead that I actually like.
  2. The sense of humor is clever and not over-the-top. They way Jade sees the world and her internal commentary on even the smallest things is so entertaining to read.
  3. It's fast-paced. You will fly through this, wanting to know exactly what happens next.
  4. It's set in my hometown. This one might not apply to all readers, but I found it so great to have landmarks I know referenced with accuracy. I also think it will give non-locals a great taste of our country.
  5. No info-dumping. You would think, with 4 books already behind her, that we would need to be caught up to a lot information regarding Jade and her past. This is tastefully done with smatterings throughout the book.
  6. The book deals with topical issues like Nuclear Energy in a way that shows research has been done. But, it also didn't bog down the pacing of the story with technical rubbish the reader actually doesn't care about.
  7. Carlos Botha. There. I added him. Just because I am tired of male leads hogging all the glory doesn't mean I want all my mental eye candy taken away. Bad guy or good guy? You have to read the book to find out what I mean!
  8. There is an actual mystery to solve. And it's not all that predictable. You as a reader find yourself in Jade's shoes as she has no idea who to trust.
  9. It reads like a film. I could picture everything happening like it would on-screen. I even have some ideas for the cast.
  10. The inclusion of other points-of-view really adds depth to the story as the characters put the pieces together. And Warrant Officer Mweli can definitely return in future books with her love of fast food and her cat, Chakalaka. 

You can get a copy of Bad Seeds here in hardback or audiobook. It will be published in South Africa by Umuzi Publishers soon!