As I’m walking through Target with my little sister, the kid somehow manages to convince me to take a trip down the doll aisle. I know the type - brands that preach diversity through displays of nine different variations of white and maybe a black girl if you’re lucky enough. What I instead found as soon as I turned into the aisle were these two boxes.

The girl on the left is Shola, an Afghani girl from Kabul with war-torn eyes. Her biography on the inside flap tells us that “her country has been at war since before she was born”, and all she has left of her family is her older sister. They’re part of a circus, the one source of light in their lives, and they read the Qur’an. She wears a hijab.

The girl on the right is Nahji, a ten-year-old Indian girl from Assam, where “young girls are forced to work and get married at a very early age”. Nahji is smart, admirable, extremely studious. She teaches her fellow girls to believe in themselves. In the left side of her nose, as tradition mandates, she has a piercing. On her right hand is a henna tattoo.

As a Pakistani girl growing up in post-9/11 America, this is so important to me. The closest thing we had to these back in my day were “customizable” American Girl dolls, who were very strictly white or black. My eyes are green, my hair was black, and my skin is brown, and I couldn’t find my reflection in any of those girls. Yet I settled, just like I settled for the terrorist jokes boys would throw at me, like I settled for the butchered pronunciations of names of mine and my friends’ countries. I settled for a white doll, who at least had my eyes if nothing else, and I named her Rabeea and loved her. But I still couldn’t completely connect to her.

My little sister, who had been the one to push me down the aisle in the first place, stopped to stare with me at the girls. And then the words, “Maybe they can be my American Girls,” slipped out of her mouth. This young girl, barely represented in today’s society, finally found a doll that looks like her, that wears the weird headscarf that her grandma does and still manages to look beautiful.

I turned the dolls’ boxes around and snapped a picture of the back of Nahji’s. There are more that I didn’t see in the store; a Belarusian, an Ethiopian, a Brazilian, a Laotian, a Native American, a Mexican. And more.

These are Hearts 4 Hearts dolls, and while they haven’t yet reached all parts of the world (I think they have yet to come out with an East Asian girl), they need all the support they can get so we can have a beautiful doll for every beautiful young girl, so we can give them what our generation never had.

Please don’t let this die. If you know a young girl, get her one. I know I’m buying Shola and Nahji for my little sister’s next birthday, because she needs a doll with beautiful brown skin like hers, a doll who wears a hijab like our older sister, a doll who wears real henna, not the blue shit white girls get at the beach.

The Hearts 4 Hearts girls are so important. Don’t overlook them. Don’t underestimate them. These can be the future if we let them.

You can read more about the dolls here: http://www.playmatestoys.com/brands/hearts-for-hearts-girls

*runs to target- i need to get my babydoll one for her 1st bday

ohmygosh and the one from Ethiopia has natural hair which you can’t get from the American Girl “just like you” dolls!

The Great Lynburn Legacy Re-Read

The Great Lynburn Legacy Re-Read

UnspokenReread Brennan

My copy of Unmade (The Lynburn Legacy #3) by Sarah Rees Brennan was shipped on Wednesday, and arrived in my PO box on Thursday morning (at 7am, the industrious little thing).

I was severely disappointed when I couldn’t get to the post-office on Thursday, but I went bright and early on Friday and liberated it from its cruel captors. And then had to bounce around at work for a Whole Day until I…

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the hunger games aren’t amazingly unique or flawless or anything but I think katniss as a character is very important and i think the media misunderstands

we aren’t in it for the cute boys. we’re in it for katniss. thousands of young girls were introduced to an introverted, angry girl born into poverty and watched her become the savior of the world and the media doesn’t seem to understand that she, as a character, is important to girls. not who she dates, but her



In case you’ve been under a rock this past week, here’s a rundown of something that has people on twitter buzzing:

On Friday, YA author Kathleen Hale published an article via The Guardian, entitled Am I Being Catfished (spoiler alert: no). Here is the article via a channel that won’t provide hits to the article itself: http://www.donotlink.com/framed?565129

In the article, Kathleen opens by saying that she received a negative review from a goodreads blogger. In case you’re pretty committed to life under that rock, negative reviews are pretty standard in an author’s career. Think of it as the first time a toddler faceplants. It sucks, we cringe, the kid gets back up and still has a reasonably good life. The review was really more of a series of status updates as the reviewer read and reacted in real time. What was said in those updates is of little importance. All you really need to know is that the review was completely about the work itself, was presented as 100% opinion, and did not make comment about the author or the author’s life in any way. In other words, a standard 1-star review.

The book community is a social one. When we love books, when we dislike books, when we cannot finish books, we talk about them. Readers, writers, and reviewers exist in a self-contained bubble of like-mindedness, and strive to create a safe place to share what we all have in common: books. So naturally, this goodreads reviewer shared her 1-star opinion with her friends. Let me emphasize again that the opinion was strictly about the book and had nothing to do with the author on a personal level.

Except Kathleen Hale did take it personally. So personally, in fact, that she spent months analyzing the situation. She closely monitored this reviewer’s instagram, facebook, and twitter, in addition to her other reviews. While this reviewer had presumably put this book out of her mind and gone on with her life, Kathleen google image searched her photos, and perused her facebook friends, and analyzed the photos of this blogger’s house.

When an opportunity to provide review books arose, Kathleen Hale found a way to acquire the reviewer’s address under the false pretense of sending signed books for reviews and giveaways. What she really did was rented a car and drove to the reviewer’s house. After that, she calls the reviewer at work, pretending to be taking a census type survey, in another attempt to gain information about this reviewer’s private life.

In her very lengthy Guardian article, Kathleen Hale justifies her behavior by insisting that the reviewer blogged under a pseudonym. In the online community, this is pretty standard, and it’s because of people like Kathleen Hale that many people lie about their real identities. Nonetheless, for whatever reason, much of the reviewer’s online persona appeared to be false, and so Kathleen used this as a platform to justify her obsession, putting on a sleuth hat when in fact all of this was a simple case of an author driving to a reviewer’s house for no reason at all other than that she didn’t like the review left for her.

She drove to her house. She called her at work. Multiple times. And then, at the end of all this, she posted a very detailed account of this horror show for The Guardian, with a cute title image and many giggles and winks to her neurotic quirks.

The reviewer, for her part, had merely posted a review of a book.

In the days that followed the article, I have seen plenty of people hoisting Kathleen Hale on their shoulders as a sort of vigilante against cyber bullying. All of these people are presumably pasting their own personal bullies’ faces over the blogger’s, and seem to have lost focus of reality, which is that the blogger merely expressed an opinion. The blogger was one person, on the internet, reviewing a book she did not like.

In an earlier post by Kathleen Hale, she blogs about her own mother allegedly molesting a child. Kathleen’s reaction was to follow that child into a movie theater, call her fat, dump peroxide on her head, and run away laughing. Her mother, over several glasses of wine, thanked her for this. Kathleen then spent several years stalking this child online. But I really can’t do the article justice. You can read Kathleen’s own blog about the event here: http://thoughtcatalog.com/kathleen-hale/2013/02/169836/ She seems proud of this action to this day, calling it revenge.

This is the person you’re enabling with your praise. This is the person you’re hailing as a hero.

And whether you review books or not, you have undoubtedly, at one point or another, shared an opinion on the internet. Maybe you don’t review books. Maybe you talk politics. Maybe you hate Taylor’s newest song. Maybe you’re just really fricking sick of Someone Like You. And for every one thing you dislike, there are thousands, if not millions, of people on that same social media outlet who like it. This blogger disliked a review and said as much in a benign way to her friends on a site designed for sharing opinions about books. The author showed up to her house. People clapped. Tomorrow, you’ll dislike a song, or the finale of a TV show, and you’ll say as much. What will happen to you then? Kathleen Hale is not the only Kathleen Hale out there. There are thousands of them. Millions. Unstable, predatory people who take it just too far, who spend months fixated on a stranger who exists to them only in photos or status updates. It cannot be predicted what will set these types of people off, but if we expect to be safe ourselves, we need to stand up for the opinions of others as if they are our own. Because if one opinion is unsafe, if one person “deserved it” then we all do, because we have more in common with that reviewer than we do with the person who showed up at her house.

Think of that the next time you click “post.”

I am so very grateful for authors like Lauren who have come and publicly spoken against Ms. Hale’s behaviour.

My first read of the article (some 30 minutes after it was published, when it hadn’t gone viral and had only 2 comments on it) scared me. I sat at my laptop, horrified at the breach of privacy this author had carefully, gleefully regaled us with.

That an author could take so personally a series of status updates about their book horrified me.

That an author could use sympathetic contacts at a publisher to verify a reviewer’s mailing address (which is most likely also where they live) terrified me.

The two comments (now hundreds) commending Ms. Hale’s behaviour, calling her brave, applauding her stalking of another person and then crowing about it in the media sickened me.

People were very quick to call this reviewer’s behaviour “bullying”. Saying you didn’t like something isn’t bullying. We all have a right to our own opinions and tastes, and in countries like Australia and the USA, we’re lucky enough to have the freedom to express them as long as we’re not endangering the safety and well-being of someone else.

Ms. Hale claims that the online bullying included turning other reviewers against her book, such that other reviewers were now vowing not to read the book, or were reviewing the book (sometimes favourably) but linking back to THAT review for an alternate take on things. How can this be bullying, any more than telling your friends that the latest Tom Cruise movie isn’t that great and they should perhaps spend their money elsewhere?

It’s long been known that professional, industry reviews are biased: against women, against genre fiction, against diversity. So if you’re a female writer with a YA novel, your publisher’s main marketing strategy includes teen magazines, online blogs, and yes, online reviewers.

When these online reviewers are praising the work, are encouraging their friends to grab it and read it, raving about it on their social media networks, the only people to stand up and say they are doing a disservice to the book-reviewing world are the traditional critics, who I assume are scared that the way they’ve always done things is changing.

No author stands up and writes articles in the Guardian about how horrible online reviewers are for giving their book 5 stars and buying multiple copies for their friends, and how their opinion doesn’t count because they’re only amateurs.

And yet, if an online reviewer has the gall to dislike something in public, there’s a group of authors (a vocal minority) that come out in force. The same reviewers who would have been their friends and their supporters if they’d given 4 or 5 stars are now accused of being jealous of an author’s success, pathetic wanna-be writers who can’t handle that someone else landed a contract.

These authors are contradicting themselves because on one hand they’re claiming that one bad review has the potential to ruin careers (which is absurd, given that the biggest online reviewer still only has a fraction of the readership of a newspaper), while simultaneously proclaiming online bloggers as unnecessary, as charlatans who peddle their book-hate on unsuspecting authors and who shouldn’t be allowed a voice.

They call us obsessed with authors and their success or failure while applauding an author for calling a reviewer’s workplace and pretending to be fact-checking the things she’d found out by obsessively viewing the reviewer’s Instagram and personal Facebook accounts.

They call us stalkers while applauding the author’s “courage” in showing up to a reviewer’s home.

And we don’t feel safe.

A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray

A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray

I loved everything about A Thousand Pieces of You! It’s a beautiful book and I know I’ll spend a lot of time raving about it.

Marguerite Caine’s parents are physicist who have unlocked inter-dimensional travel. Although they can’t send through physical matter, they’ve managed to send a consciousness using a device called the Firebird. One of the students, Paul, betrays them and steals the…

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Tsana’s October Status


Well the good news is that I’m less behind on reviews than I was last month. I still have some way to go to catch up, though. I’m hoping that when I am caught up I’ll have better luck resisting taking on too many review requests.

In other news, I interviewed Kaaron Warren and Jo Anderton about their past novels. And, as per usual, you can read my round up of spec fic reviews on the AWW website.

And in real-life news, the renovation hell I’ve been living in for the past six weeks is FINALLY OVER and I can sleep in peace. Such a relief. And as a bonus, we have a shiny new bathroom, which is not to be sneezed at.

What Have I Read?

Currently Reading


I’m about halfway through the latest anthology from FableCroft and edited by Tehani Wessely, Phantazein. It has a very strong fairytale vibe through it so far.

I also just started reading The Sorcerer’s Spell by Dani Kristoff, an urban fantasy erotica novel. I haven’t really read far enough to begin forming an opinion yet. I suspect I’ll end up reading it slowly, probably interspersed with another novel.

I’m also still part-way through Help Fund My Robot Army. It’s one of those books you can’t read in large chunks. Or at least, I can’t.

New Booksies

 Assume review copies unless otherwise stated. Smaller haul than usual, which is a relief to me.

  • Phantazein edited by Tehani Wessely (currently reading anthology)
  • Skywatcher by Donna Maree Hanson (sequel to Shatterwing)
  • The Ark by Annabel Smith (already reviewed)
  • Difficult Second Album by Simon Petrie (short story collection with a great title)
  • The Falcon Throne by Karen Miller (purchased, start of a new fantasy series)
  • Undercity by Catherine Asaro (set in the Skolian Empire world, same characters as a story in Aurora in four Voices)
  • Ancillary Sword by Ann Leckie (sequel to Ancillary Justice, already reviewed)




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National Theatre Live’s thrilling broadcast of Frankenstein returns to cinemas for a limited time, due to unprecedented audience demand.

Directed by Danny Boyle, Frankenstein features Benedict Cumberbatch and Jonny Lee Miller alternating roles as Victor Frankenstein and his creation.

The production was a sell-out hit at the National Theatre in 2011, and the broadcast has since become an international sensation, experienced by almost half a million people in cinemas around the world.

Playing from 30 October in the UK (varying dates internationally).

Find your nearest venue

I watched this last night, with Benedict Cumberbatch as The Creature, and it was absolutely breath taking!

They both play Sherlock :D (Yup, that’s all I could think about, seeing this post). I wonder if this will come to Australia.

EDIT: IT IS! IT IS! It’s even going to play in Canberra from Nov 29th to Dec 3rd. Life. Made. 

The Child Eater by Rachel Pollack

The Child Eater by Rachel Pollack

The Child Eater is BRILLIANT. It may just be the best book I have read all year.

The Child Eater is a fantastical story about two boys, born in different worlds and centuries apart, who are bound together by magic and fate, and a monstrous creature known only as The Child Eater. He has preyed on generations of children and their ghostly voices cry out for help, cry out for someone to end their…

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