Archive for June, 2013

June 26th, 2013

The Nine Fold Heaven by Mingmei Yip

by Gwen

The Nine Fold Heaven

Last year, I was given the wonderful opportunity to travel back in time to Shanghai in the 1930’s thanks to Mingmei Yip’s Skeleton Women. Now my favorite Skeleton Women, Camilla, is back. She laid low in Hong Kong for a time and is ready to brave the dangerous streets of Shanghai to find her son and the other two important men in her life.

Although this could be read as a stand alone, I think that one would garner a much better understanding of how much Camilla has to overcome just to even care about others let alone go off on what could be a suicide mission to find those that she has grown to care about if Skeleton Women is consumed first.

Yip’s writing again makes the Chinese culture so approachable without over explaining or creating uncomfortable lags in the story to get her characters motivations across. I found myself not only invested in the Camilla, but respecting the boundaries in which she was forced to live.

So much of the historical fiction I see is based in Europe, but Mingmei Yip shows us the glamour, suspense, and mystery of a country that we seem to overlook as Westerners.

I’m grateful for that peek into China’s past that allows me to see that it hasn’t always been that big bad “red” wolf that we are taught to fear and despise from today’s news. It’s rather beautiful.

The Nine Fold Heaven by Mingmei Yip

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Kensington (June 25, 2013)
  • ISBN-10: 0758273541
  • ISBN-13: 978-0758273543


Don’t forget to check out my review for Skeleton Women.

I received my copy from the author.


June 9th, 2013

2008 –2013 Reviews

by Gwen


31 Bond Street by Ellen Horan 2010

97 Orchard by Jane Ziegelman 2010 NF

The Absolutist by John Boyne 2012 (off-site)

Alice & Wonderland & Philosophy 2010 NF

The Alchemy of Murder by Carol McCleary 2010

Ambrose Bierce, Alone in Bad Company by Roy Morris Jr. 1995 NF

The American Revolution: A Grand Mistake by Leo Stauber 2010 NF

America’s Hidden History by Kenneth C. Davis 2008 NF

Among Thieves by David Hosp 2010

The Anatomy of Death by Felicity Young 2012 (off-site)

Android Karenina by Tolstoy & Ben H. Winters 2010

Apparent Danger by David Stokes 2010 NF

The Associates by Richard Rayner 2008 NF

Bedbugs by Ben H. Winters 2011

The Bell Tower:Case of Jack the Ripper Solved by Robert Graysmith 1999 NF

Between Two Worlds: Escape from Tyrany: Growing Up in the Shadow of Saddam by Zainab Salbi 2006 NF

The Breath of God by Jeffrey Small

The Butterfly Cabinet by Bernie McGill 2010 (off-site)

Beautiful Days by Anna Godberson 2011 (off-site)

The Bloodletter’s Daughter by Linda Lafferty 2012 (off-site)

The Boolean Gate by Walter Jon Williams 2012 (off-site)

The Boneshaker by Kate Milford 2010

Born Along the Color Line: The 1933 Amenia Conference and the Rise of the National Civil Rights Movement by Eben Miller 2012 NF (off-site)

The Breaking of Eggs by Jim Powell 2010

The Bucolic Plague by Josh Kilmer-Purcell 2010 NF

Buzz by Jeffrey Spivak 2010 NF

The California House: Adobe, Craftsman, Victorian, Spanish Colonial Revival by Kathryn Masson 2011 NF (off-site)

Clarence Darrow: Attorney for the Damned by John A. Farrell 2011 NF (off-site)

Comfort Living by  Christine Eisner 2009 NF

A Conflict of Interest by Adam Mitzner 2011

Crazy ’08 by Cait Murphy 2008 NF

The Dark Monk by Oliver Potzch 2012

Dear Neighbor, Drop Dead by Saralee Rosenberg 2008

Death at the Alma Mater by G. M. Malliet 2010

The Detective and Mr. Dickens by William J. Palmer 1990

The Devil in White City by Erik Larson 2002 NF (guest post at There’s A Book)

Dogfight: A Love Story by Mike Burgess 2010

The Duel & Other Stories by Anton Chekhov

The Devil’s Code by John Sanford 2000

The Devil’s Star by Jo Nesbo 2010

A Disposition to Be Rich: How a Small Town Pastor’s Son Ruined an American President, Brought on a Wall Street Crash, and Made Himself the Best-Hated Man in the United States by Geoffrey C. Ward 2012 NF (off-site)

The Doll by Taylor Stevens 2012

Doors Open by Ian Rankin 2010

Dreadfully Ever After by Steve Hockensmith 2011

The Dreyfus Affair: The Scandal that Tore France in Two by Piers Paul Read 2012 NF (off-site)

The Eternal Ones by Kirsten Miller 2010

Excuse Me! Your Life is Waiting! by Robert Boich 2009 NF

The Extraordinary Secrets of April, May, & June by Robin Benway 2010

A First-Rate Madness by Nassir Ghaemi 2011 NF

Flesh & Blood So Cheap by Albert Marrin 2011 NF

The Floor of Heaven: A True Tale of the Last Frontier and the Yukon Gold Rush by Howard Blum 2012 NF

The Formula for Murder by Carol McCleary 2012 (off-site)

Frank Lloyd Wright Designs: The Sketches, Plans, and Drawings by Bruce Brooks Pfeiffer 2011 NF (off-site)

Free for All: Oddballs, Geeks, and Gangstas in the Public Library by Don Borchert 2007 NF

From Every End of This Earth by Steven Roberts 2009 NF

Gated Grief by Leila Levinson 2011 NF

The Gendarme by Mark T. Mustian 2010

Genius of Place by Justin Martin 2011 NF

The Geometry of Pasta by Caz Hildebrand and Jacob Kenedy 2010 NF

The Girl Who Would Speak for the Dead by Paul Elwork 2011

The Great Plague by A. Lloyd Moote 2004 NF

The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin 2009 NF

Happy Home by Jennifer Paganelli 2012 NF (off-site)

Hard Time at Tehachapi by Kathleen A. Carims 2009 NF

The Healing Remedies Sourcebook: Over 1000 Natural Remedies to Prevent and Cure Common Ailments by C. Norman Shealy 2012 NF (off-site)

Hide & Seek: The Irish Priest in the Vatican Who Defied the Nazi Command by Stephen Walker 2012 NF (off-site)

Hiroshima in the Morning by Rahna Reiko Rizzuto 2010 NF

Hotel Angeline  2011

Impatient with Desire by Gabrielle Burton 2010

In My Father’s Country by Saima Wahab 2012 NF

The Irish Way by James R. Barrett 2012 NF

Isaac’s Storm by Erik Larson 1999 NF

Jane Talbot by Charles Brockden Brown 1827

The Jungle by Upton Sinclair 1906

Kill the Messenger by Tami Hoag 2004

The Lace Makers of Glen Mara by Heather Barbieri 2009

The Lady in Gold by Anne-Marie O’Connor 2012 NF

L.A. Noir by John Butin 2009 NF

Life, In Spite of Me by Kristen Jane Anderson & Tricia Goyer 2010 NF

The Life of an Unknown Man by Andrei Makine 2012 (off-site)

Lit: A Memoir by Mary Karr 2009 NF

Living Organized by Sandra Felton 2004 NF

The Lost History of 1914: Reconsidering the Year the Great War Began by Jack Beatty 2012 NF (off-site)

The Lucifer Code by Charles Brokaw 2010

Lucifer’s Tears by James Thompson 2011

Madame Bovary’s Daughter: A Novel by Linda Urbach 2011 (off-site)

Madness: A Very Short Introduction by Andrew Scull 2011 NF (off-site)

The Makers of American Wine: A Record of Two Hundred Years by Thomas Pinney 2012 NF (off-site)

Master Your Sleep by Tracey I. Marks M.D. 2011 NF

Of Men and Their Mothers by Mameve Medwed 2008

The Meowmorphosis by Kafka/Cook 2011

Midnight Fugue by Reginald Hill 2009

Midnight in Peking by Paul French 2012 NF (off-site)

Mini-Farming: Self-Sufficiency on 1/4 Acre by Brett L. Markham 2010 NF

The Monster of Florence by Douglass Preston & Mario Spetzi 2008 NF

The Moses Expedition by Juan Gomez-Jurado 2010

Mr.  Hornaday’s War: How a Peculiar Victorian Zookeeper Waged a Lonely Crusade for Wildlife that Changed the World by Stefan Bechtel 2012 NF (off-site)

The Murder of the Century: The Gilded Age Crime that Scandalized a City & Sparked the Tabloid Wars by Paul Collins 2011 NF (off-site)

Murder in Los Lobos by Sue McGinty 2008

My American Revolution by Robert Sullivan 2012 NF (off-site)

My Lost Daughter by Nancy Taylor Rosenberg 2010

The Name Partner by Carlos Cisneros 2010

A Nation Rising by Kenneth C. Davis 2010

The Necrophiliac by Gabrielle Wittkop 2011 (off-site)

A New Birth of Freedom: The Visitor by Robert G. Pielke 2010

A New Birth of Freedom: The Translator by Robert G. Pielke 2012

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern 2011

Nothing Daunted: The Unexpected Education of Two Society Girls in the West by Dorothy Wickenden 2011 NF (off-site)

On an Irish Island by Robert Kanigel 2012 NF (off-site)

The Only Living Man with a Hole in His Head by Todd Pliss 2012

Ordinary Thunderstorms by William Boyd 2010

The Orphan of Awkward Falls by Keith Graves 2011 (off-site)

Oscar Wilde and the Vatican Murders by Gyles Brandreth 2012 (off-site)

The Osiris Ritual by George Mann 2010

Painter of Silence by Georgina Harding 2012 (off-site)

Paula Deen’s Savannah Style by Paula Deen & Brandon Branch 2010 NF

Pinkerton’s War by Jay Bonansinga 2011 NF (off-site)

Pirate Latitudes by Michael Crighton 2009

Practically Posh by Robyn Moreno 2008 NF

Pride & Prejudice: Dawn of the Dreadfuls by Steve Hockensmith 2010

A Professor, A President, and A Meteor by Cathryn J. Prince 2011 NF

The Professor & Other Writings by Terry Castle 2010 NF

The Resurrectionist: The Lost Work of Dr. Spencer Black by E.B. Hudspeth 2012

Rock Bottom by Erin Brockovich 2011

The Romanov Conspiracy by Glenn Meade 2012 (off-site)

Rules of Civility by Amor Towles 2011

The Safety of Secrets by Deluane Michel 2008

Scoundrels in Law by Cait Murphy 2010 NF

Secrets of Eden by Chris Bohjalian 2010

A Self-Publisher’s Companion by Joel Friedlander 2011 NF

The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes 2011

Skeleton Women by Mingmei Yip 2012

The Small Fortune by Audrey Braun 2010

The Smart One by Ellen Meister 2008

Stained Glass by Ralph McInerny 2009

Stealing Mona Lisa by Carson Morton 2011 (off-site)

Suddenly Frugal by Leah Ingram 2009

Summer Blowout by Claire Cook 2008

The Swan Thieves by Elizabeth Kostova 2010

Taft 2012 by Jason Heller 2012

The Technologists: A Novel by Matthew Pearl 2012 (off-site)

Ten Tea Parties by Joseph Cummins 2012 NF

Think of a Number by John Verdon 2010

The Third Rail by Michael Harvey 2010

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher 2007

This Body of Death by Elizabeth George 2010

This Book is Overdue by Marilyn Johnson 2010 NF

This Charming Man by Marian Keys 2008

Thomas Ince: Hollywood’s Independent Pioneer by Brian Taves 2011 NF (off-site)

The Thorn and the Blossom by Theodora Goss 2012

Thumbing Through Thoreau 2010 NF

Trace by Patricia Cornwell 2004

The Traitor’s Emblem by Juan Gomez-Jurado 2011

The Tree by John Fowles 1979/2010 NF

Triangle: The Fire that Changed America by David Von Drehle 2003 NF

The Twilight Gospel by Dave Roberts 2010 NF

Unholy Business: A True Tale of Faith, Greed, and Forgery in the Holy Land by Nina Burleigh 2008 NF

Urban Farms by Sarah Rich 2012 NF (off-site)

The Unnamed by Joshua Ferris 2010

Walking to Gatlinburg by Frank Mosher 2010

The War Lovers by Evan Thomas 2010 NF

Wench by Dolen Perkins-Valdez 2010

What About the Boy? A Father’s Pledge to His Disabled Son by Stephen Gallup 2011 NF

What a Difference a Dog Makes by Dana Jennings 2010 NF

When the Thrill is Gone by Walter Mosley 2011

Why We Read What We Read by Adams and Heath 2006 NF

Wired for Story: The Writer’s Guide to Using Brain Science to Hook Readers from the Very First Sentence by Lisa Cron 2012 (off-site)

The Women by T.C. Boyle 2010

The Wrong Hostage by Elizabeth Lowell 2006

June 5th, 2013

The Doll by Taylor Stevens

by Gwen

the doll

The Doll by Taylor Stevens (Book 3 in the Vanessa Michael Monroe series)

I spend quite a bit of time on the Amazon Kindle forums helping people out with their issues and often that means looking at a book’s product page to see if there are compatibility issues, page numbers, etc. Nine times out of ten, I end up looking at really random books that I would never read and make me laugh. (Sometimes the titles give way more info than the poor Kindle user wants to, I’m sure)  Early last year, someone had a problem with borrowing the second book  book in this series, The Innocent, from the library. The synopsis grabbed me, so I grabbed the first book and never looked back.

Vanessa Michael Monroe, AKA Michael, is damaged and yet her strength and ability to carve a life out of her unique skills makes her a really strong female protagonist. She’s multi-lingual, an intimidating fighter and never fails to get the job done, no matter what the obstacle. She is the person you call when all normal channels are useless. She finds the information or the person gone missing in conditions that are unimaginable to us mere mortals. Yet, her past haunts her so much that you can see her fragility and desire for normal things that most of us take for granted. The juxtaposition is what draws me to the books again and again.

The Doll made my skin crawl a bit. The bad guy isn’t your everyday flesh peddler, he makes his captives to order…into living dolls which seemed so much more grotesque in my mind than a normal kidnapping. The Doll Maker may have bitten off more than he could chew when his henchmen grabbed Michael.

Even faster paced than the first two in the series, The Doll kept me at the edge of my seat with the twists and turns. It was one of those “Just let me finish this chapter and I’ll go do the dishes” books. Problem was…I couldn’t hold myself to just one more chapter.

Taylor Stevens herself has one of the most interesting backstory, check it out at Taylor Stevens Books.


The Doll by Taylor Stevens

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Crown; First Edition edition (June 4, 2013)
  • ISBN-10: 0307888789
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307888785

This book was given to me by the great folks at Read it Forward.