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The Nine Fold Heaven by Mingmei Yip

The Nine Fold Heaven

by Mingmei Yip

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I received a free copy of this book in return for an honest review.

Just a few things to point out before I begin the review:
1. This book is part of a series and I have not read the other books, therefore i am judging this book as a single work.

2. I don't really read books like this, so I read it with as much of an objective eye as possible.

3. On the book I got, it says "ADVANCE UNCORRECTED PROOF: Please do not quote for publication without checking against the finishing book". Therefore I won't quote from the book nor will I assume that the book I've read is 100% the finished version.

Honestly I wasn't sure what to make of this book when I first started it. However, overtime I was drawn in with curiosity, in particular the tidbits of Chinese culture throughout the text, with lines from poems, parables and sayings that flavor this book in a culture I haven't read much about. The book is set in the underworld of Shanghai and Hong Kong, and even though there's not much description of this world beyond character description, it does add a nice flavor of danger to the story.

The story itself works, the protagonist is essentially trying to redeem herself and regain her family. There's a character arc here that works well, in the beginning she is a lot (I assume) like herself in the previous novel, but throughout the book she begins to change as the events conspire.

The book also works well as a standalone, with references to the events prior to the book littered throughout to keep you in the loop. I am surprised there's not a "Sequel to the novel...." anywhere on the book, either. The ending is satisfying, so if you end up taking this journey and read this book I don't think anyone will be disappointed by what they discover.

One thing that bothered me was that the main villain, Wang, came across as so cheesy that it really ruined that element of the book for me. This was a bad guy fresh out of comic books, laughing with every line he says and contradicting himself with his "I taught you to have no compassion! Yet I'm glad it didn't work!" nonsense.

Overall, I did end up enjoying this book and i hope that this book finds more readers. I read from one review that the book was like "a Chinese/romance/gangster/B movie", and I think that's an apt description, but a Chinese Romance gangster B movie" that I think works well or is at least enjoyable. ( )
  Merdoc | Jan 18, 2014 |
If you enjoy intrigue, adventure, and a walk through someone's life that includes a bit of espionage, you won't want to miss THE NINE FOLD HEAVEN.

The main character, Camilla, definitely led a captivating, dangerous life. The book walks you through the pain of her losing her only child, walks you through her quest to find her child, and also walks you through her methods of trying to steer clear of the gang she once was a forced part of.

THE NINE FOLD HEAVEN is narrated by Camilla and will keep you totally absorbed in her story. She is involved in some pretty harrowing situations. Her character is very deep and thoughtful as well as chilling. She would kill you as fast as she would love you.

THE NINE FOLD HEAVEN will pull you in, will sit you down, and will sail you away on an Oriental adventure filled with love, hatred, cunning deals, an abundance of Oriental thoughts, superstitions and sayings filled with words of luck and/or doom.

I enjoyed THE NINE FOLD HEAVEN. The story flowed nicely, with the added bonus of vicariously living Camilla's life. All of this was masterfully carried out. It felt as though you were in her shoes or her disguises feeling the fear of the situation or the warmth of her love for those closest to her.

I have never read a book by Ms. Yip, but her writing style is enjoyable, smooth, detailed, and absorbing. This is a sequel to SKELETON WOMEN, but I had no trouble reading it as a stand alone. 5/5

I received this book free of charge and without compensation from the publisher in return for an honest review. ( )
  SilversReviews | Sep 10, 2013 |
Skeleton Women‘s Heavenly Songbird Camilla returns in The Nine Fold Heaven by Mingmei Yip after a quick exit from Shanghai in the 1930s into Hong Kong. She’s hiding out away from the gangsters she betrayed, but this once emotionless spy now must endure guilt and longing. She does not know the fate of her love Jinying, nor of her lover Gao, but more importantly, she knows that her baby, Jinjin, is alive but not where he is. Yip has a firm grasp of the atmosphere during this period in Shanghai, a time when gangs ran the government, businesses, and held everyone else at gunpoint. The corruption, backroom deals, and fear permeate this novel, and Camilla is forced to return to Shanghai even though her life is clearly going to be in danger there. Using her skills as a trained skeleton woman — which include seduction — she is able to disguise herself and create plausible stories on the spot, but the trick now is not to let her emotions rule her, which in some instances they do, leading to trouble.

Read the full review: http://savvyverseandwit.com/2013/07/the-nine-fold-heaven-by-mingmei-yip.html ( )
  sagustocox | Aug 23, 2013 |
This book picks up pretty much where Skeleton Women leaves off, and by the end, pretty much all of the unanswered questions of are answered. I may not have enjoyed the book as much as Skeleton Women, but it was an excellent follow-up to the previous book and an excellent book on its own.

Like with Skeleton women, the narrative of the book carries the story forward and I found it was one of the main reasons why it was so hard to put the book down. While I did find that the pace was a little off in this book, it didn't seem to flow as well as it did with Skeleton Women, the narrative still had a very strong voice that kept me invested in the book.

The plot itself was also what kept me reading the book, which I finished in almost one sitting. While I was happing with how some things turned out there were other questions and pieces that seemed to be either unanswered or brushed off. I was hoping to find out more about Rainbow - but she seemed to be almost forgotten. In the book, her appearance was too short and I found she seemed to disappear from he book to soon. I was also hoping to see more of Shadow and Gao, although both of their endings to the book were very fitting, and consistent with who their characters were, I wanted just a little more from them.

My only other problem with the book was the ending, while I did like it, I did find it a bit predictable. It worked wonderfully with the story as a whole - but I was able to guess how things would turn out. It was a good ending though, everything came together nicely and I was happy (even the few predictable parts), with how certain parts of the ending turned out.

While I did enjoy Skeleton Women more, this was a excellent follow-up to the book - and like with Skeleton Women, I'd also recommend this one to read.

Note: I received a copy of this book in exchange for a review.

Also found on my book review blog Jules' Book Reviews - The Nine Fold Heaven ( )
  bookwormjules | Jul 14, 2013 |
While technically the sequel to Skeleton Women, which I read last year, Nine Fold Heaven works as a standalone novel. In essence, it's about a woman's quest to find her child, the father of her child, and some measure of safety.

Set in the 1930s, the story is narrated by Camilla, a former gangster's assassin and much lauded nightclub singer. Once a star, she fell from glory after a botched assassination attempt when she fell in love with her target's son and had a child with him. She betrayed her boss, stole from her target, and fled Shanghai in disgrace, wanted by both the police and all the gangs. Her old music teacher had lied to her and said her son was stillborn, but Camilla learned he was alive. Going between Hong Kong and Shanghai, Camilla revisits her past -- including her numerous lovers -- as she navigates her present, including a new, powerful lover. She struggles to remain hidden for fear for her life while her natural skills -- her singing and her beauty -- draws attention toward her once again.

Camilla is a hard heroine to like, although not surprisingly given her upbringing and childhood. A 'skeleton woman' -- a gangster's girl and assassin who turns men and women into skeletons -- Camilla was trained as a child to seduce and to kill. Only 20 in this book, she's shockingly worldly and has the bold arrogance of one not used to failing but she has the ability to reflect on herself and her decisions. (Refreshingly, she doesn't wallow in regret, angst, or remorse, which makes her hard, perhaps, to empathize with, but I found this to be accurate to Camilla's upbringing.)

Yip employs a very simple, almost story-like narrative style that feels deceptively plain (Chapter One has been shared online for this tour for those curious about the style). Camilla refers to poetry and classic Chinese literature as she tells her story, and the narrative is liberally peppered with quotes, which takes this rather grim story and gives it a fairy tale-like element.

Much of the plot is dependent on some seemingly improbable coincidences and a very zippy timeline, which normally would drive me crazy. But in Yip's hands, and through Camilla's eyes, there's a kind of formal aloofness to the unfolding action. Camilla isn't above bragging, but at the same time, she's not going to dwell on the grimy day-to-day details.

The historical feel to the story is thin, sadly, but I felt more a sense of Shanghai and Hong Kong in this book than in the previous novel.

I liked this one more than Skeleton Women, perhaps because Camilla's plight and adventure resonated more. As one refusing to love, Camilla is now a woman awash in love, struggling to do right by those she's impacted and affected, wanting her family because it is right.

As with Skeleton Women, I raced through this book -- there's non-stop action, sex, and intrigue -- and I'm interested in Yip's next offering. (Given the end of this book, not likely to be another story of Camilla's -- but I wouldn't mind a book about Camilla's mysterious friend Shadow.) ( )
  unabridgedchick | Jul 14, 2013 |
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"When Shadow, a gifted, ambitious magician, competed with the beautiful Camilla for the affections of organized crime leader Master Lung, she almost lost everything. Hiding out in Hong Kong, performing in a run-down circus, Shadow has no idea that Camilla, too, is on the run with her lover, Jinying--Lung's son"--P. 2 of cover.… (more)

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