Josefina Montoya – American Girl Doll

★★★★☆

Josefina was the sixth doll in Pleasant Company’s lineup back in 1997 when I was sixteen and more interested in boys than dolls. I still wanted dolls, but I wouldn’t admit it. Oh, my sister and I bought the Spice Girls Barbies right about then, but as a joke. I mean, nobody expected we really liked those. The whole collection. And I found a Jonathan New Kids on the Block doll on eBay to keep them company. Again, as a joke.

Totally not my Scary Spice that followed me to adulthood

While I was aware Pleasant Company was continuing to introduce characters to their lineup, I was only thoroughly familiar with their first four (Felicity being the fourth, and she was the doll I saved up to buy). When Addy was introduced in 1993, I read her first book at the library, but I was twelve and didn’t want mom and dad to think I was still a kid, so I didn’t read any more (even though that first book was good), and I stopped looking at the catalog. I hated that time.

  1. You get your period. Thats horrible.
  2. You can’t like toys anymore, but your 10 year old sister can, so you encourage her to buy things you wish you could, and your parents yell at you.
  3. You don’t know what to do as an “adult” so you fall headlong into listening to all the music and decide to be a rock star (which didn’t work).
  4. You know next year you’ll be thirteen (a dreaded teenager) and start the lifelong mistake of trying to please people so they won’t think you’re one of “those” teenagers

But this isn’t a review of growing up — that would be a one star.

So Pleasant Company releases Josefina while I’m working at Claire’s, doing the most lackluster recitation of the piercing aftercare instructions. In 2000, Mattel bought out Pleasant Company and rebranded them American Girl, and redesigned the historical characters in 2014.

This review is for the BeForever (redesigned) version of the doll — more specifically the 2017 version where American Girl changed suppliers and upset the collectors. (I officially became a collector in 2015 when I went on a job interview and thought “Is this really what my life is? Why can’t I just play with dolls?” So I bought one.)

View this post on Instagram

 

Two sides of me in one day. In which one do I look happier? #suit #innerchild #agjulie #mta #americangirl #america

A post shared by Melanie (@melsurani) on

In general, I like the redesign. Josefina’s face is more refined and cute. Unlike the other characters, Josefina’s eyebrows are sparse, but wide, every hair detailed, and often arched to make her look concerned or surprised. Mine looks inquisitive and excited.

Warm, coppery highlights streaks her black hair, hard to pick up on camera, and falls about to her knees when unbraided. Because the factory first braids the hair, then cuts it in a straight line, once you take it down, that haircut is janky. I had to go in and soften it. The hair itself is silky and a bit heavy. Really satisfying to brush and style.

Her outfit is similar to her original one. White camisa and red skirt with flowers. This skirt is a brighter red with BRIGHT BLUE flowers, and a thick pattern around the bottom of the skirt. Bloomer-type underwear.

The shoes, though. Originally, they were made of leather, like the moccasins they’re supposed to be. Not incredibly detailed, but something on the doll’s feet to hold you over until you bought an extra outfit or shoe set. The BeForever version uses the same pattern, but in a thin faux suede fabric that smacks of being homemade. Honestly, I’m going to the craft store to buy some scrap leather and make my own version of the shoes using these as a pattern.

The next negative point is the eyes. Collectors complain about the new version of the eyeballs all the time, and it’s no wonder. Originally, the eyes had a soft, grey-ish white to them, an iris/pupil segment, all covered in a cornea of sorts. It’s seamless, they close all the way, and the doll generally has an alert, focused expression. The “new eyes” have WHITES with the iris/pupil set in them, and no smooth covering. You’ll feel a ridge where the parts meet. Also, when the doll is “sleeping”, the whites are still showing. While some aren’t as bad as others, these eyes tend to make the dolls look wall-eyed or downcast, not focused at all.

My Josefina’s eyes are the new type, but it took a little digging to know for sure (I felt for the ridge between the whites and the iris). American Girl might have used a transition eye in 2017 when they changed suppliers, because they aren’t as white or expressionless as the more recent ones I’ve seen. They’re even better than my Nanea’s, who I bought at the end of 2017.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

So pretty 🥰 . #agjosefina #josefinamontoya #agig

A post shared by Melanie (@melsurani) on


My mom bought this doll for me; my sister picked her out. Ever since I started collecting, I thought it would be fun if someone I loved surprised me with a doll — when my sister and mom went to the Madison Children’s Museum Benefit Sale this year, they did it. I’d asked her to pick up a $30 Addy for me (she did), but then I got the message “Addy picked out a friend” and I was beside myself. Of course, they toyed with me for a few hours where they didn’t tell me what they bought. I ran through the entire catalog trying to Sherlock Holmes out who the character might be, and landed on two possibilities: Melody (because she was also $30) and Josefina (because I’ve mentioned wanting her to my sister). Although Melody is cute, I’ve already got 2 Sonali molds and wasn’t interested in her (the hair flip). Josefina, though… 

Whatever details I nit-picked for the review, or noticed as a collector, whenever I look at this doll all I’ll really see is love from two of the people I care about the most.

American Girl has since gone back to their original supplier for the eyes and body fabric (which would have brought this review up to 5 stars). I recommend this doll, but while the stock transitions, be careful with your choice to ensure you get the right one for you — or have someone you trust (like my sister) pick one.


Dark Museum is now available on Amazon

Paperback UK US CA DE IT ES

ebook (also available on Kindle Unlimited to read for free) UK US CA AU DE NL ES IT MX BR IN

The Last Black Unicorn – Tiffany Haddish

★★★★☆

I’ve gotta be honest, I didn’t know who Tiffany Haddish was until she hosted Saturday Night Live a few months ago. After a few lines of the monologue, I liked her. I felt like I knew her.

Her book is called The Last Black Unicorn, which was a huge draw for me because I loved The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle. I knew when I started reading that Haddish’s Unicorn would be nothing like Beagle’s, but she had my attention.

From the beginning, she got me with her voice, which reads just like the SNL monologue. The narrative is conversational and intimate about her difficult life. Her stories are hilarious, heartbreaking, and vulnerable, and I couldn’t help but love her at the end.

While I’ve read meatier books, or ones that make a stronger point, as a matter of character, this is one of the better memoirs I’ve read.

The Devil and Jimmy Biscuits by Taylor Dunn

★★★★☆

Jimmy is a 15 year with some demands for the Devil (wishes, to be specific). As you might expect, ol’ Satan had his own ideas.

This story is an easy, quick read that left me smiling the whole way through. It has moments of humor, thoughtfulness, and because we’re dealing with a character as basal as Satan, it challenges ingrained ideas.

“I’m not sure you fully understand the implications of the proposition,” Lucifer replied slowly. “Your soul, the part of you that lasts forever, in exchange for three wishes. Wishes that I presume will benefit your temporal personage?”

Jimmy stared with a perplexed expression.

“Your earthly body, genius.”

“Oh,” Jimmy said brightly. “Yeah, exactly.”

“Go home kid,” Satan said, “before you get hurt.”

Lucifer is powerful, able to grant a wish, and already suggesting said wish will not be chosen well. The “Go home” suggests maybe he’s not as big a dick as culture portrays. 

Thinking Satan isn’t a dick goes against everything I learned as a lifelong Christian. Instead, I should wish him to sit on a tack (ouch!), not be afraid of him, and most of all: never, ever mess with him (this means not entertaining witches like Harry Potter, not hugging trees like those nature-worshiping faeries in Fern Gully, and not acknowledging someone else has power, like that hussy Synergy on Jem and the Holograms). 

The nice thing about being an adult and letting a piece of fiction be a piece of fiction is that I can read about someone who’s supposed to be my enemy and see the good in them. Or at least be curious about who they are.

But as great as the main characters are in this story, the supporting cast is just as good. Mig, I love you.

This short story is funny, it challenges ideas we already have, but also conforms to the idea that people get what’s coming to them. I mean, you don’t expect a story about Satan to be completely above board, do you?

Taylor Dunn is also the author of another short story called Fear and Loathing in Shanghai, which I beta read, but haven’t read the finished product. Also available is a full-length novel (also featuring Lucifer) called Clockwork Angels (which I beta read as well, and it’s one of my favorites). If these works are anything to go by, this author will be entertaining us for a long time.

http://www.taylordunn.org

Smashwords